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juli 27, 2014

Metal Flame Psy Buster, famicom


So I sat down to play another "crappy" and unbeloved game, Metal Mech.
Metal Flame: Psy Buster, 7$
 
Known in Japan by its longer name Metal Flame: Psy Buster, whatever that means.
Of course I thought the game was awesome. Such an original idea, amazing graphics, and bullets flying everywhere, and you just keep moving fast. Amazing.

I had a lot of problems at first trying to understand what the shit was about. But then I read the guide on gamefaqs (seems like I say this in every blogpost) and really got a good understanding on how to play this game enjoyably.

What I enjoyed the most was how powerful the robot is, so you can walk around with the robot for most of the time and ignore all the enemies. Imagine if Contra had been like that, wow.
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In case you don't have the manual and have no clue, I will provide for you the basics.

1. You need the key in each level in order to exit it. If you don't know where the key is, you could spend weeks looking for it. On level 1, the key in in the sewers. On level 2, it is at the most top right of the level, in a camera. In level 3, it isn't the far from the exit. In level 4, you need to take a special powerup before you enter the water, or else you will die. Also, there is a teleporter (big black opening) you enter by pressing Up, and the key is if you walk left from there. On Level 5, the key is if you keep going on the left side while you walk down (sort of). Level 6 however, is a very hard shooter stage that I couldn't beat.

2. Press Select while in the machine to change weapons. Unfortunately, it changes automatically back to a weak weapon every time you exit the machine so you have to change back. For example, I forgot this in the video above around 18:30 so I had difficulty killing the enemies.

3. Press Select + A to eject from the machine. If you die your guy, you restart by the mech. If both Mech and Gyu die, you have to restart the level. If only Mech dies, you can continue on your own without Mech for a while.

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The levels are pretty big and feel advanced. A bit like Metroid. The last level was too hard for me, but at the end of it there is the mother-alien of some sort you have to defeat. I don't enjoy shoot'em up stages with difficult controls though, so I won't be trying more of beating the last level. Up to that point the game was very much fun.

juli 18, 2014

Youkai Club, famicom


Hmm, youkai, that sounds familiar from other games, such as Youkai Yashiki, FDS or Youkai Douchuuki (pc engine, famicom, arcade). Yokai means something like "mythical japanese creatures".

Famicom console with Youkai Club

Youkai Club is a standard action/platforming game. I could compare it to a Castlevania type of game if I wanted to be nice, but there are many other similar games, such as some ninja games I wrote about recently.

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At first the game seems pretty standard, but you'll notice there is an Experience bar as well as a health meter. You think it is an action/RPG game? No, not really. If you lose your health, you will lose a part of the experience points and be restored. If you lose all Exp points, you are game over. Also, if you don't have enough experience points at the end, you won't be able to complete the game.

Thankfully gamefaqs has this walkthrough: http://www.gamefaqs.com/nes/578411-youkai-club/faqs/62167. The walkthrough also explains the different items you collect and which items are essential for being able to beat the game. It says:
Sunglasses: This item should be used in stage 6 when you require 
more EXP to move blocks out of
your way.

So keep that in mind.

Activate items by selecting it with Start, and then press B+Up (a bit tricky to figure out on your own).

At times it can be difficult to find the way around but I think it isn't too challenging. Figuring out I had to go down the well (08:30) was something I found by accident when I ducked for the fox.

There is nothing in the game that is amazing but it is still a nice little game to play around with. Nothing really bad to say. The controls are alright, the graphics is typical from this "middle era" famicom games, and while the music isn't memorable it is still alright.

As the gamefaqs article says:
I have enjoyed writing this guide and playing the game, and wish that anyone
using this guide finds the game just as fun and this guide helpful.  Good luck
with the game.
 
I found this facebook post too: https://www.facebook.com/opcfg/posts/10202714089234735?stream_ref=10 
Youkai Club, released by Jaleco in 1987. It's a horror-themed side-scrolling platformer, but has a few minor RPG elements that help it stand out from other, similar games released at the time. It's pretty fun, and worth checking out if you can.
 And this http://strategywiki.org/wiki/Youkai_Club
While fun to play, it is otherwise a rather unnoteworthy release for the system. The player controls a character who must make it through six stages filled with apparitions and other afterlife creatures in an attempt to save the world. He attacks by throwing a weapon known as the Psycho Stinger. It was never release outside of Japan.

I think what is lacking is that there isn't any real story to it; no real intro and no great ending. You won't feel any intense atmosphere. And the level design is not too inspired either, albeit okay.

It is still a fun game to play around with. A nice touch is the way you die: you lose Exp points but can still play on. At the last stage you have to have full Exp so you might have to grind there for a while. But as you improve your skill, you probably can play through the earlier stages without losing Exp. This method of playing is more pleasant than having one-death and need to restart the level.

However, the game has no continues, so don't die too much. Also, if you fall into a hole, you are game over. I read there is a cheat that allows you to start on stage 2 or 3 though.

I only played the first two stages so I can't say how hard the game becomes later on. The first two stages felt relaxed with many powerups and nothing really demanding.

The game was only released in Japan but is relatively unknown to most, so it is inexpensive. Around 10$ loose or 25$ boxed. I recommend that you give it a try if you enjoy Castlevania style games. Let's call it Castlevania light.


juli 11, 2014

Galaxy Odyssey, famicom disk system


I asked at the famicomworld forum about this game and was told that it is quite playable.
Ginga Densou: Galaxy Odyssey


So I tried it out and recorded a video.



Here's how it works.
In the shooter stage you collect some kind of power, I will call it Air, that you use when you are walking on the ground (top-down stage).

You collect air either by taking K letter in the shooting stage. You can also collect the glass bottles from enemies in the top-down stage and activate them in the shooter stage as I did the video around 00:10, to fill up the Air meter.

There are some other glass bottles too that I don't know what they do, and I have a talisman that I think increases the gold you collect, but I'm not sure.

In each top-down stage it seems that if you go as far north as possible, you collect that letter for that stage. It will then be shown in white in the select screen. From the manual, I suspect that if one collect all letters A-D, it is then possible to press the WARP option and change around the lit letters, and maybe reach new levels. That's my speculation.

The game has a varied shooter/top-down perspective, and in that sense it is somewhat similar to Guardian Legend that is also a shooter/top-down hybrid with some RPG elements.

Galaxy Odyssey was released with a cassette tape you could listen to. I don't have it though. The manual is half art/text book, with a 100 page story in traditional Japanese writing top to bottom. It has a diagram that explains what cryptic alien writing is in the Japanese hiragana alphabet. I feel sorry that I can't understand any of this. Possibly it is necessary to understand.

I feel that the game is a story driven adventure game more than anything. You are uncovering a story. I haven't played enough to say more.

The shooting stage is quite easy if you have a turbo controller, as I did.
Hudson extension port controller, Famicom


Without a turbo controller you need to have enduring fingers because there is a lot of shooting. Apart from that, the enemies are not hard and you don't need fast reflexes.

The top-down stages are not particularly hard either. With trial and error, and pen and paper, you can get through most of them in 3-4 tries and find everything in them. At least in the earlier A-D stages that I played. But be prepared that they are long ...

If the stages go on through all the letters in the alphabet it might get harder and longer. The game could be quite long. If you enjoy playing longer adventure games where you always seem to be making progress, then this could be worth a try. Personally, I might not be the biggest fan but someone at Famicom World Forum said he loved it!

In the manual there is a screenshot of someone at level 8. It took me an hour to reach level 2 with ONE weapon (20:50 in the video)... The stages feel like a very, very long cave in the Legend of Zelda maybe.

Because of the save function, you will always make progress. So, again, it is like a action/RPG hybrid, but I still feel that due to how simple the action stages are, it is more like a adventure game.

I haven't found out exactly how the Select screen works but I don't think it is too hard to figure out. The game isn't deep enough to be overly complicated. It shouldn't be much problem to play for a non-Japanese speaker, unless it has some hidden secrets somewhere. It is a pity that a non-Japanese won't understand the story then.

Because the game is quite unknown to most, it can often be found at a cheap price. Loose disk 5$. With manual and box 15-20$. Complete with cassette tape is more expensive, around 50$.

juli 07, 2014

Athena, famicom


Athena

I was asked "why is Athena so expensive? It doesn't look fun."
Athena for famicom costs around 20$. Well, it isn't very common for one thing. I thought I should try it out and write about it.

After googling around, Athena is known as a pretty bad game... The game was released on NES in the US.


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The game does have several typical things for crappy games:
  • No invincibility when hit. You can die all your health just from bouncing on one arrow or being cornered by an enemy.
  • Graphics is badly drawn, as if a child created some of the enemies.
  • Graphics jumps around sometimes and screen flashes.
  • Pressing Select brings up a black screen... Some items get put there, but no one knows what use they have.
  • Weird jumping system. The first jump is small, then second and third jump is high.
  • Really hard bosses! After two hours I finally beat the first level boss. I didn't even know if I was hitting him but I think I'd keep on trying and suddenly he died. From what I've read, many later bosses become almost impossible.
All of this would have been okay had it not been for one problem: No continues! It says "continue" at the start screen, but you can't select it. I have searched the internet. As a result, very few people have beaten this game. I read one comment on a blog post who said it was the hardest of over 200 NES games he had finished ([unrealitymag]).

However, the game is definitely playable. I played it for two hours and it felt okay. While it is hard, it also has some charm to it, and it isn't unfairly hard like Fudou Myououden (Demon Sword) that still has me scarred ([blogpost]).

It isn't all bad either. Trust me! I have played many really bad famicom games. The A button jumps and B attacks, as they should. And the controls are definitely playable.

Gameplay is a bit like Makaimura (Ghosts n Goblins). The charm of the game is that you pick up different rather cool powerups. I felt it was rewarding that as I played the first level, I always found new powerups that made it interesting. And it is fun to go around breaking stuff.

I didn't make it very far and I won't be playing it more so I can't say much about the stages after the second. A good thing is that the first two stages are short. I made it to the end of stage two in the video, as you can see, and it was my second try ever.

If you are one of those people who enjoy playing the same stuff over and over, such as Makaimura, and you want a challenge, I think Athena might be worth trying out. Not everyone hates it, as can be seen from gamefaqs reviews.

Other reviews:
* http://voices.yahoo.com/retro-video-game-reviews-athena-nes-7712838.html?cat=37 ("This video game looks like the aborted student project in coding class by a high schooler who never paid attention.")
* http://www.flyingomelette.com/reviews/nes/athena.html ("The game is somewhat playable, until you reach the third level, where the play control becomes even more impossible to manage when you have to swim")