mars 31, 2013

Darkseed for Saturn

I played a very bad game yesterday, Darkseed.

The game was released on PS and Sat in Japan, and also on DOS (PC) and Amiga in Europe and maybe USA.
The game has Japanese text but all the dialogue is in English, and the artwork is amazing. I assumed the game would be a decent point and click adventure game. But, no.

Having all the text in Japanese is of course a problem, but this game is so weird that even with a walkthrough it is difficult to finish. The reason is that many things needs to be done at a certain in game time. The first time you enter the store, there is a bottle of whisky you can buy. But the second time you enter the store, the bottle will be gone forever. If you miss one of these things, you can't complete the game. You may not know until a much later stage.

The in game time lasts for 4 days and many things need to be done before a certain time.  On day 2, I think you should look into the mirrow at a specific time to reach a different dimension. I read this afterwards because I didn't get that far. I think there is a clue in the note stuck on the mirrow, but I couldn't read the note because it is in Japanese. So I never made it that far.

Walking around the town relaxing, and the music and speach isn't so bad either. The game has a certain kind of lame humor that is fun in its own way. It is really just the gameplay that is terrible. The game was made by an American, so don't blame the Japanese for this one.

What I wanted to know when playing the game without a walkthrough or any guide, was "is the game playable without reading Japanese?". My answer is "the game is hardly playable even if you know Japanese". Having all the clues in Japanese will make it close to impossible. But if you have played it to the end in the DOS or Amiga version, or you enjoy following a walkthrough, I think you might appreciate the Saturn/PS game for what it is worth. I priced it at 35 SEK, which is 5$ or so.

Here is a video someone made of the first couple of minutes of gameplay. I never made it this "far" in the game because I didn't pick up the scoth. I put "far" in quotations because if you miss something early on, the game will be unwinnable later, no matter how "far" you made it. A sadistical theme that was in style with many point and click games of that time by Sierra Online. (King's Quest, Leisure Suit Larry

Saturn videos often have bad graphics in youtube videos. With a good RGB cable on a TV it will look a lot better and brighter.

Looking at some other gameplay video, I also notice that I missed some other things.  You sometimes need to scan the screen with the cursor to locate a specific path or item on the screen. You have been warned, haha.

mars 29, 2013

My Game Boy Lights

I received a Pokemon GBL from Japan yesterday, so I took a picture of all.

They all work.

I still don't have the clear transparent one.

The only numbered limited of these is the Pokemon. Mine has the serial number PK02234. The others have normal serial numbers ("LXXXXXX") and so it is unknown how many were sold. 
The two Tezuka Osamu game boys were sold for a limited time after the death of Tezuka Osamu. The box for the red one says "Limited Shop 12jul -27 sep, 1998".

The clear transparent GBL I don't have is also number limited, I think. It was first released in a 5000 limited box, and then later as a mail order item. I think the clear transparent is the rarest one. I have rarely seen it for sale.

The yellow skeleton may be the second rarest. It was only sold at Toys r Us, but it probably didn't sell much., and people didn't take care of it. I don't think I've ever seen it being sold with its box.

The Pokemon game boy is probably third rarest. But you are more likely to find it in good condition than the Toys R Us version because I assume people bought it as a collectors item. That's also why it can be found for sale more often, you can usually always find one on eBay (for a high price). It may be more expensive than the Toys R Us version, because Pokemon items are collectibles over the world. The Tezuka Osamu game boys are also rare but they aren't collectibles in the same way. They do look real fine, however.

I don't care about collectors value or boxes and such, I just collect because they look good. So at least I have a few nice looking stuff in my collection.

mars 27, 2013

Dead Or Alive and Virtua Cop 2 for Saturn

Yesterday I received this item from Japan.

I have had hundreds of Saturn games and dozens of consoles, but never seen a Video CD card.  It allows you to watch Video CD (VCD) on your Saturn. What VCD is? It is a format developed in 1994 to view full length MPEG movies on CDs, before DVD came.

You shove it into the back just above the battery. It will also improve the video of a few games. I tried the intro of GunGriffon and it is a noticable difference. The animation or more fluid and you don't have the top and bottom borders. But it doesn't make any difference for gameplay so it isn't really useful.

A list of games show some other games.
The list says it may not be complete, so I got this idea that maybe lots of games had VCD support. I thought that if it said "TrueMotion" on the back, it could have VCD support. 

I found that Dead Or Alive and Virtua Cop 2 said TrueMotion, so I set out to try... I was wrong! But I got to play a lot of Dead Or Alive and Virtua Cop 2.

Dead Or Alive is probably my second favorite fighting game, after Street Fighter II Turbo. I also played it on the PS2 once. I don't think adults should waste time with modern consoles like PS2 or Xbox, but I was at a friend's house, and the gameplay is alright. Coincidentally, the two games have the same rating on gamefaqs: 8,6.

I haven't tried other games in the DoA so I can't compare with for example the Dreamcast version. I assume they are all well playable. Though as usually with fighting games expect the Sat version to play better than the PS1 game if you get to chose between just those two.

I like that the basics play is simplistic: you block and counter attack. The game doesn't depend on long combo moves or weird meters and complicated special moves. You can start off by some button mashing, and after a while you'll find special moves and combos that work.

The characters are also appealing, I mean they are well animated. Here is a random video I found.
The manual lists the special moves and they don't seem too complicated. When you improve you can combine your moves. The graphics is nice and the gameplay is fluid. I think you'll enjoy this game. I wouldn't mind playing it some more but as usually with fighting games it will take a while to get the hang of all the moves.
Good thing with CD games that in 95% of the times you will get a manual with your game so you'll get the special moves.

After that I played Virtua Cop 2 with my normal controller. I felt that it was easier to play with a normal controller than with the light gun. Maybe I'm a bad shot. However, I don't think it is technically possible to avoid getting hit with the controller because it moves too slowly. But since the enemies are always in the same spot, you'll be able to memorize them after a while. If it is too hard, you can increase your lives and continues.

As with other arcade ports, your goal is to get a high score. It gets saved to battery memory. Most likely you'll play it just to enjoy shooting around. The game is not that different from Virtua Cop 1, if you happen to own that.

You have to hold the controller like an arcade stick sort of. The A button shoots, B-button speeds up the controller (probably keep this pressed all times), and the C button reloads.

I admire the fluid action and the arcade feeling. It is also fun to shoot all around the place to hit the items and see what happens... 

When I get the Saturn mouse I'll report how it plays with it.

As for the video card, I think it was a good idea, but I think there were these problems:
* The developers would need to put both a VCD version and a normal version on the CD, which require extra space.
* Slightly improved cut scenes doesn't improve a game much.
* The Dreamcast was being developed so why bother.

Of course the DC is a much better machine with full 3D graphics, but retro freaks like me continue their dedication to crippled consoles like the Saturn and all their weird accessories.

mars 25, 2013

Sega SG-1000 AV mod

My colleague wanted me to show the mod on the SG-1000, the first Sega console, relased in Japan in 1984. I think you won't find it modded anywhere on the internet. It is a rare and expensive console, around 2000 SEK (300$).

Some people would prefer to keep everything intact, but then you wouldn't be able to use the console. My TV, that plays famicom and Pc Engine through RF, only has a rolling image with the early Sega consoles.

Here it is from the front. One of the controllers is attached to the console, the other one is connected to the side. We have sent it to Retrospelsmässan.
I kind of admire the design on the console. The appearance is an interesting combination of sci-fi and toy. A bit yellowed, as they often are.

As for games, you don't really need the console. You can use a Japanese Master System or Mark III to play SG 1000 games. Still, there aren't a lot of good games for it. Most early games are primitive looking.

mars 24, 2013

D for Sega Saturn

Yesterday I wrote about some Saturn adventure games. In a youtube video of R?MJ, a guy said that game was like D. So I looked into D, because I happen to own a copy of D. I never cared about it before because it looks kind of cheap and boring.

I sell it for 29 SEK, which is around 5$. The game was also released in the US and PAL countries.

Turns out that the game is perfectly playable even in Japanese and that I enjoyed it. Some  reviewers say it sucks, has aged badly and so on, but I liked it. I think it is mainly because the game is short and I could beat it in 4-5 hours. It also has a low frustration level.

The game has a very slow pace, you move very slowly. But after a while you get used to it. The developers took care so that you never have to walk very far. At most I think there are only 7 or so rooms you can walk to in each scene.

The graphics does look quite bad but it was made by a small company. Later they made Enemy Zero, and later followed D with D2 for the Dreamcast. D2 has a cult following for its goriness and dark weirdness. I just researched these games, and read that the master mind of those games, Kenji Eno, sadly passed away a month ago from a heart condition, 42 years old.

In a detailed interview with him that is linked from the 1up link, he says that the normal ending of D is actually the bad ending, because you wouldn't normally think of doing what is necessary to get the good ending.
I also got the Bad End, but I don't care as long as the game gets beaten. I will make up my own translation for the text above:

BAD END - You got eaten by your own father and will never understand what this game was about. Nor did you stop the terror. PLEASE TRY AGAIN

The game has some puzzles that are not too hard, but they can be tricky. The limited inventory and lack of items to click on makes this game the most FMV (full motion video) of the adventure/horror Saturn games I've played so far.  Not counting Brain Dead 13 and Strahl but they are more like movies than games.

mars 23, 2013

Sega Saturn games today

I received some Saturn games yesterday, so I happily started investigating them. ( I didn't know what titles I would get ) The usual stuff: some RPGs, many sports and adventure games, many fighting games, a lot of quiz and  "misc" games, a few shooters, and several rally games. So it is quite normal of the Saturn releases in Japan.

I was happy to see a game called Transport Tycoon because I played that a lot when I was younger, on the PC. It is sometimes voted the greatest game ever. A few years ago I played until it said "you can't build more stuff unless you replace your other stuff". I had hoped that the Saturn version would be an improvement on this issue, but what a disappointment...

The graphics is only in 640x480 mode, and you can't zoom out. The controller is more clumsy than the mouse, and the game is entirely in Japanese. The good thing is that I was able to rip the soundtrack from the CD, so now I can listen to it. (legally, I think, because I own the CD) I made a video of track nr 5, so you can read this blog to some nice background music.
I think the music was made by a professional jazz musician.

Another game was Destruction Derby, that I also played that on my PC when I was younger. In destruction derby, you get points for pushing the others' cars and not just win races. I played it for some 5 hours or so. The PsOne version has better graphics but the Saturn version is fun too.  The save function is weird, because you save in a save slot, but the newest save slot will always be placed last. So if you have 5 save slots, and you replace save slot 2, then your new save will actually become number 5. This cost me 1-2 hours before I understood.

Here is a video from the Ps1 version:

I also received some of the horror/adventure games that the Saturn had a couple of. I have already revied Resident Evil (Bio Hazard) here. I don't think I have mentioned Enemy Zero, Virus and Deep Fear. All of these games have a strange English/Japanese mix of text and language, and they are "import friendly" but may require a FAQ at times.

Enemy Zero has a lot of first person shooting in it. But it isn't actually "Quake" good. If I remember correctly: In Enemy Zero you have a stupid weapon that needs to reload after each shot while you are being chased by invisible aliens. The frustration level is high. A lot of running around narrow corridors, Alien (the movie) style. The game was very popular in Japan, but it is too slow paced for me.

I tried out Virus and I liked the control scheme. Virus also has the anime graphics that is nicer than the "pseudo 3D" of most games from that time. Since the game is point-and-click, and the items are all pictures, I think it should be well possible to play without knowing Japanese. Unlike Enemy Zero it was only released in Japan so you have no other language choice. But maybe not very exciting if you can't understand Japanese. All those FMV (Full Motion Video) clips take a long time, and there's a lot of dialogue for the story. 

Let's go to Deep Fear. I haven't tried it out so I'll just show a video of it. It is definitely well made with a good atmosphere. This game was released in Europe, but it is quite pricey. The Japanese version costs like 10$ ( I sold one today for 75 SEK = 10$), while the European is 100$ or more these days.

Here is a video of someone who plays the Japanese version, so you can see the mix of Japanese text, English speech, and English menu. 

After that I had a look at R?MJ, which is an adventure game only released in Japan for the PS1 and SAT. And I liked it, unlike other reviewers.

All the dialogue is in Japanese but it can be played with no problem. The game is more FMV than all the others I have mentioned and seems to be linear. You don't need any save game slots because I don't think you can die or get stuck. The game autosaves for you if you want to quit.

You have two buttons: One is for Use, and one for Investigate. There isn't any point and click, and no action moments. Just walk around and Investigate and Use in every place you face.  When you have done right, you will be able to progress.

Sometimes you need to bring up the Inventory (press Start) and take an item from there. Then use it while you stand in the right spot. Note that there are 3 screens of inventory, and you press Right several times to go from the first to the second screen.

The game doesn't require much of you, and I think that's nice. It is also interesting to try and see what has happened inside the Mystery Hospital. I didn't get very far though, because it took a long time to figure out these things with the inventory and the buttons and stuff. I couldn't find a video that wouldn't spoil the game, so here is a commercial.
If I had more time I would have played it more.

mars 20, 2013

Ninku for Game Boy

Maybe I should take my own pictures from now.

There are two Ninku games for Game Boy. The one to the right is some board game that the Japanese market enjoyed, but hardly was popular anywhere else.

The one to the left is a fighting game. There are not that many good fighting games on the game boy. I recall that the Takara fighting games (Fatal Fury, Toshinden and others) are playable on the game boy. But I would stay away from Street Fighter II and Mortal Kombat unless you are true fan of those series, or for their collectors value. I just read many people saying that Killer Instict for game boy is an impressive game. But I have never tried it, after having played the other two SNES ports I mentioned, I assume Killer Instict would be just as bad.

As for Ninku, there is a well acclaimed fighting game Ninku for Game Gear, and a Saturn game called Ninku with the psuedo-3D that the Saturn often used.

Alright, I'm back to my handheld now... And it isn't pink, it is raspberry.

Many fighting games have the problem that they are either to complicated, such as Street Fighter II Alpha for Super Famicom, or that they play badly, such as Ultraman for the super famicom and many others.

But I kind of liked Ninku because the controls worked well and the game was relatively easy. It took 30-45 minutes, which is around the time i had available.

Ninku is a Japanese anime and manga series. The game supposedly follows the series, although I can't say myself. Ninku is the name of a fictional fighting school and the main character is an odd looking 12 year old boy called Fuusuke of the Wind. ( I have to do a lot of research for my writings... )

The game has a story mode and a 2-player mode if you have two games and a link cable. In the story mode you follow Fuusuke as he battles some opponents. You start off by playing as Fuusuke. Later, you get to chose 2 other characters you can play as. The first one is rather weak, but the second one has some good special attacks.

As with many fighting games, the fights are hard until you find an attack that most opponents can't deal with. I discovered that Ninku's "crotch punch" is an effective attack against the opponents. You press Forward, Forward, B to do this special move.

There are other special attacks too.  All characters have the same pattern. You can press the basic Down, Down/Forward, Forward + button (A or B). You have Forward, Forward and Button (A or B). And I think there was a down, down/back, back and Button combination too.

There is also a second special attack. After you hit the opponent five times, a little meter will flash up near your life bar. To activate, press A+B. You "special special" move depends on which square the meter is right above. For Ninku, I found that the first square was very powerful.

Your health is a bit odd. You don't recover health you lost during a battle, but there are two mini games that allow you to win some health back. You can also change to one of the other characters that join later. If you die all your available characters you are game over. You do however have two (or three?) continues that restores the health of all characters.

In the story mode there are only 8-10 or so fights to go through. Until I discovered the powerful crotch-punch I had to restart at least once, but after that I came rather quickly to the last boss. He wasn't too hard, but I think I had to use one of the continues to restore my Fuusuke and his crotch-punch.

I enjoyed the Ninku characters and story of the game, even though it is in Japanese and I can't understand it. I guess that the anime must be a non-serious mixture of humour and adventure. In the first picture I am playing as a half naked guy with thongs who has powerful farts and can extend his limbs. (technical note: in the anime it is the penguin who has the farts, not Toji) Fuusuke looks absurd too.

Playing a game to the end means I enjoyed it, and so I rate it 4/5.  

mars 18, 2013

Twinbee Da for Game Boy (again)

TwinBee Da!! (JP) Pop'n TwinBee (EU) Released in Japan in 1990 and as Pop'n Twinbee in Europe in 1994.

I think I wrote about Twinbee earlier, but I played it again yesterday so I wanted to write a little about it again. It is my favorite game.

The game was criticized because the black and white screen makes it difficult to see what happens. But you can just play on a GBC, GBA or SGB (Super Game Boy). So many options! As often I couldn't find any good pictures of a particular good color set up so I had to take one myself.

Here it is with the Left+A color scheme (Press Left+A when the GBC starts). I think every moving object is clearly distinguishable. I tried all the other color schemes, but I found this to be the best. It isn't great but definately acceptable. The Super Game Boy have some decent color set ups too.

Even better is that you can buy something called Konami GB Collection. In Europe it was on the Konami GB Collection 3, while in Japan it is on the GB Collection 2. However - the European version has full GBC support! Here is a snapshot from the European Color version. The Japanese version is not GBC, for some reason. The Jap version is identical to the original game boy version, except for a nice looking intro animation. On that GB Collection you will also find the awesome Ganbare Goemon: Sarawareta Ebisumaru. As with most Goemon games, it had not previously been released outside of Japan.

But there is a bad difference too. The original game boy version has support for 2 player co-op, while the GB Collection does not. If my fellow blogger friend stopxwhipering reads, I think she should try this Twinbee on the Super Game Boy 2 some day.

For even better graphics, a PSP version was released in 2011. It looks nice, but I don't play that system.
The last time I played Twinbee, which was more or less my first time too, I found the game to be quite difficult. As soon as you lose your powerups, you are in for a hard time. But yesterday it was a breeeze. The main difference is that I didn't mess up with the bosses. If you don't go to far up the screen, you can usually regain your powerups from your dead body. It is also better to die on the left side than the right side.

Facing the last boss  ( Cyber Poppo ) fully powered up, with the shadow planes and the spread fire, makes him die in a few moments. With no powerups it will take a long time and is difficult to avoid the stuff he shoots out.

The bell system is surprisingly confusing to some reviewers. It works like this. When you shoot a bell five times it will become a power-up, unless you have already taken that power up or something that negates it. Shooting it again will change the bell back, but it could become some other powerup after 5 shots. So basically, shoot the bells, but don't think they are completely random.

Another important thing about the bells: for each bell you take, the score is increased (This may only apply to the bells that are not power up bells). The first bell gives 500, but after 5 bells it will be 10 000 points per bell. If a bell drops of the screen, the score is reset to 500 points again.

You get an extra life with each 100,000 points and it is not hard to stack up on extra lives if you take the bells. As you can see in my picture above, I had 7 before I faced Cyber Poppo, and I must have died 6 times or so (you start with three extra lives), I'm not sure exactly what my death count would be.

My score may seem low because I skipped the first three levels. You can do that from the options menu. The options menu also allows you to set the Turbo speed of your ship, which is very helpful from the developers.

I think I already rated this game, but I think that because it is my favorite game you can guess what my rating is of it.

mars 17, 2013

Stop That Roach! (Hoi Hoi Game Boy Ban) for Game Boy

Hoi Hoi - Game Boy Ban (JP)Stop That Roach! (US) 
Released in the US and in Japan in 1994.

The boxed copy of this game is apparantly quite expensive. Even the Japanese version.
I sold my boxed copy for only 75 SEK (10$) a couple of months ago. I had two, so I didn't think it was rare... I had actually forgotten about it until I made a google search and found my own image.
I had it up for sale for a year. I would have taken a better picture today.

Anyways, I decided to try the game out. There are some vids and pics of the game, but I couldn't find any past level 8. Only at level 9 you start to place "hoi-hoi" , a Japanese trap for cockroaches.

(pic from )
A video of the first levels.

The challenge is that your actions will affect nearby roaches, depending on where you stand and what direction you face. And you only have five moves.

Here on level 11, I will place the trap as in the picture, then move left, scream for the roach to move, he will move right, I will go right and scream again.
And he will fall into the trap.

It is more complicated than one might think, and it gets more complicated later. In total, there are 100 levels.

I have never played one of these puzzle games all the way to the end because it takes such a long time. I guess that it will take at least 10-20 hours to complete the game if you haven't played it before.  Probably longer.  The good news is that you seem to always have 5 moves, so in theory you could solve every level in less than a minute.

This is a 100% puzzle game with no action moments involved. Play until you find the solution. It puts it in the same category as games like Kwirk, Boxxle, Mario's Picross, the simplistic Q-Billion, and also Lazlo's Leap that I have reviewed earlier. I also know there are other games but they don't stick in my memory.

For example, I have played very many levels of the action/puzzle game Solomon's Club for Game Boy, but I can't remember a single level. I also played many levels of Snoopy's Magic Show, but I only remember it for how the moving balls slow the entire game down and make it unplayable.

As with all decent puzzlers of this kind, you have a password feature and can always restart the level. The first 20 levels also include an "ANSWER" option, that will simply tell you the answer.

The game has some Japanese text in the help menu, but I think that it shouldn't be a big problem once you have figured the game out.

There is nothing remarkable about the game, but it is a decent game. I rate it 3/5. If you enjoy spending hours solving puzzles, you will like this game. Otherwise you probably won't.

mars 14, 2013

Doraemon Kart for Game Boy

Doraemon Kart
Doraemon Kart was released only in Japan, in 1998. It is a pretty late game, at this time most games were Game Boy Color games.

The game is not very good. It has one somewhat original idea: you pick up a little power up that does something, such as giving you extra speed. The idea comes from Super Mario Kart, I assume. Maybe this is the closest we will come on the Game Boy.

Doraemon Kart Screenshot
There is super game boy support, but a bad one.

The game is playable even if it isn't that good. I think most Doraemon games were made for a younger audience, so don't expect any deeper strategies. 
There is at least two different ways of playing. In the first one you start as the boy, and he is a bad driver. In the second mode you can chose character, and Doraemon is a much better driver.

I don't know what the aim of the game is, but there are some different courses and I assume you should win them all. 

The game has some serious flickering and the music is just annoying. Still, I'll rate it 3/5 because I think it is playable. But you should be 7-10 years old and fancy Doraemon.

mars 13, 2013

Roadster for Game Boy

Sorry about another boring review, but this is my home for Game Boy reviews at the moment.

Roadster was  only released in Japan, in October 1990. It is entirely in English and well playable. And you drive a cool car.

If you play with the Super Game Boy, you can have a nice looking red sportscar.

Else it will look like this. But it looks alright on the Game Boy Color too. You may know that you can change the color scheme on the GBC if you press different key combinations when it starts. Left+A always works.

Roadster doesn't actually have any special Super Game Boy support. The game was released long before the SGB.

How to play?
Your car has a Tire meter and a Body meter (see pic 1). When the Tire meter runs out, your car will be hard to control. Low body meter and I suspect your car might stop running. You can fix this by going into a pit stop which is goes surprisingly fast.

Your opponents are made so that they drive slower when you are behind, and faster when you are ahead. This is an unreal scenario, but I find it a good thing for a racing game.

There is a "S----G" meter that shows how far you have to the goal.

The arrows on the course will show you where to turn. That's another feature I really appreciate about a racing game, because it makes it so much friendlier to play. You don't have a map while you play, but you don't need one.

The car drives without any greater annoyance, which is otherwise often a problem with racing games. Just know that A starts your car (low gear) and B turns it to high gear.

What's the story?
You race the computer in 5 or more of courses. If you select a 5-course race, it is only 5 courses and I thought it was pretty simple to win it.
This is all the ending you get.

If you select a 10 course race, you first play the first 5 courses and then just continue with another 5 ones. Course 6 is a dirt course with stones and stuff that make you fly around, but after that they gets simpler again. Still the same ending though, if you win. It is also pretty easy to win, and the game is generous with giving you points and the opponents are nice enough to take turns winning.

If there is a different ending after a 20-course race it would be nice, such as end credits. But I actually doubt it.

The game has a 2-player mode, and there is a link cable icon on the cart. It would be  interesting to try and see if you could race your friend. I don't have two carts so I can't try.

My verdict for this game is that I think it is fun to pick up and play. I wouldn't mind taking this game with me if I went away on some trip somewhere. But there should have been more to the story mode. You could unlock something, or have a continue function, or see a different ending depending on the character you have.

The graphics work well for this type of racing game. I don't think the game could have been improved much even if you used 64 bits (or whatever they have these days).

Had this been on a modern console, I think they would have put many different buttons to do different things: driving fast, driving slowly, look in the back mirror, breaking, hand breaking, honking, changing view, hold while turning, and what not. Roadster uses two buttons, and even that is one too many. You don't actually need the low gear button.

The music is more bad than good. Luckily the developers realized this and you can turn off the music before you start to race.

As said, the car drives without greater annoyance. I remember how annoyed I was with the similar Game Boy game Micro Machines because of how hard it is to control the small bastard cars in that game.

Thanks to the arrows, you can often win a course the first time you play it.  Despite a boring story mode, I'll give Roadster one 4/5 until I find some other fun racing games on the Game Boy.

mars 12, 2013

Monster Truck for Game Boy

Monster Truck (JP)
Game Boy games are so short, I can write a review every day.

Monster Truck was only released in Japan, in October 1990. It was released after Motocross Maniacs (Jan 1990), a game that is considered a defining racing game on the Game Boy. Personally I think it was too complicated though.

These kind of 2D from the side racing games, including Motocross Maniacs but also Excitebike on the NES/Famicom, have fared better than the 3D race-into-the-screen games (F1 Race, Mach Rider). Racing games from an above perspective are playable too (Super Sprint and Micro Machines).

Nice to see gamefaqs has pictures.

You are racing in American cities such as Anaheim, "Huston" and "Indiana Polis".

Pretty alright graphics.

A store after each course. Upgrade your engine and stuff. All in English.

I spent longest time getting stuck, trying to figure out how to pass a car in front of me. I think it took 30-45 minutes until I understood you should drive into them nose down, then change to nose up, and the car will fly up into the air. It is unrealistic.

I don't think I need to say more on how to play because it is standard racing controls.

After some 12 races and 1-2 hours, you will be declared winner and see the end credits. 

Well that's it. It wasn't very hard, but I enjoyed it while it lasted. You die if you receive a lot of damage. I had to use two continues, so if I had died once more I might have been game over.

Since I played it to the end, maybe I should give it a 4, but the gameplay is very simplistic. The music is what you can expect, it sounds like a short loop of "dudelidudli".  You might make the game more challenging if you don't buy upgrades, but that's not really a good way.

I saw that the game was reviewed in a British gaming magazine in 1991, surprisingly. So I used my google skills to download the magazine and took a screenshot of the review.
If you click the image, and it is too small, you can right click and chose "view image".

I remember that games were harder on the old "brick" game boy. That probably explains why the reviewers said the game was hard.

I will only give the game 3/5, even though I enjoyed it. But it is not a game I will remember much about, because there isn't much to remember. I agree with the first reviewer: You shouldn't spend £25 in 1991's money on this game. You can probably get it for £1 in todays money.

It was depressing to buy an expensive crappy games in those days. If you did it too often, you got tired of buying games. I think that happened to me after the unplayable (at least for a kid) Rescue of Princess Blobette. Why couldn't I have gotten Metroid II or Zelda:Link's Awakening? They gave me the discounted games, I think.

mars 10, 2013

Velious II (Rolan's Curse 2) for Game Boy

Velious II: Fukushuu no Jashin (JP)Rolan's Curse 2 (US)

Among the games in my action box I picked out one that looked interesting. I was sceptical at first because it looked like an RPG with lots of text -- and the text would be in Japanese  -- but I trusted my instincts and played along. What a fine little game it was.

I got stuck on the first of the big enemies in the game (aka "bosses"), but I looked up the game, and it turns out you can save at any time from the menu. Then start right where you died. I think that is brave from the developers because they have to make sure the game is good enough to make it challenging.

You walk around in an over head perspective, here in the graveyard course, and again I must compare with Zelda: Link's Awakning. However, in Velious II you don't have to solve any puzzles and you don't need to move back and forth. You can always move forward. That's good for me, who don't read Japanese.

You pick up other characters in the towns. Just talk to them and they'll join you. You can have a max of four characters, and after that you have to replace one of the older ones.

TP is a kind of secondary attack point. Each character has their primary attack and also a secondary attack.
 You level up your characters by taking chests that contain their heads, as in this picture. The trick is that each chest contains one particular head, but if you don't have that member in your party, you will only get a small life powerup. Levelling up makes the characters strong and gives him more HP, as usually in RPGs.

 Here is a map and you can save in one of two slots.

After you beat the last boss you'll see a picture with each party member and their specific ending scene.

The game isn't super hard, and doesn't require any grinding.  Some of the later Big Enemies (aka "bosses") take a couple of minutes to beat. They are usuaully not super hard, but take a lot of hits. You don't actually need to beat them though, except for the end boss. Beating the big enemies might change the ending for the character that has that quest. For example, the Vampire you see in pic two has his quest in the graveyard scene.

Which character that has which quest is well explained in the game, I suppose, but I don't have the American copy.

Some of the scenes are a bit like a maze. Not that I mind that. It can be tricky to navigate around the courses but none of the quests need to take more than 30 minutes to reach the big enemy.  I wouldn't say that there are any extremely difficult parts of the game. You do need to figure out how to beat the big enemies, as you would in any game. Either learn their pattern, or take a chance and stand close and beat them with your characters one after the other. 

The music is well composed and the graphic is excellent for this kind of game. For a game that you just pick up and play I think it is great. There might be a better ending available but that's hard for me to tell. Maybe if you complete all side quests,you get to see the credits. I didn't actually complete them all.

I couldn't read any of the story but still thought it was great. Someone might complain that the game is too short. But that's the limitation with the Game Boy, because the carts are small. It's still a pretty big adventure that will keep you occupied for at least 4-5 hours if you want to complate all quests. I rate the game 5/5.

Pc Engine handhelds, and a PI-AD18

Last week I received some junk pc engine stuff from Japan. One of the things I got was a PI-AD18, which is a connector adapter between a the handheld Pc Engine LT and the Super CD-ROM unit.

There is the "cheap" Pc Engine handheld called GT which only costs around 150-200$ in working condition. The GT was released in 1990 for 250$. As compared to the Game Boy that sold for $89 in 1989 and later dropped to $49.

Usually the GT will need some restauration, similar to the Game Gear. I once bought a non working GT, had it fixed, and sold it together with a power supply.

Playing R-Type I am. Considering the time and effort, and risk involved, I don't think it was worth it for me to buy it.

The screen is a bit muddy, but the GT is alright if you just want to play and are not too picky. It has a color display and pretty impressive sound for such a small thing.

It really consumes batteries, so you probably want a power supply if you don't want to buy a pack of batteries every day.

The Pc Engine LT is a different business. This console can cost from 1000$ and up on eBay, and they are not cheaper Japan. I had to borrow a picture from

I think LT stands for Lap Top and it has a high resolution LCD screen.  I don't think it can be used on batteries though, you have to keep it plugged in.

So in my Pc Engine junk bin I found the connector thing. I didn't know what it was when I bought it because it looks almost like a Ten No Koe 2 (I will explain what that is some other time).

The PI-AD18 allows you to connect your LT with a Super CD-ROM unit. As i don't think anyone will buy it in Sweden in the next year or two, I went onto the forum and put up an ad for 80$. I quickly had three people telling me they wanted it.

It makes me wonder if I should have put up an auction instead. I found that one sold on eBay in 2005 for 50$, so 80$ seemed reasonable either way. The buyer is from Germany. He told me he already has mostly everything Pc Engine related.

My junk bin also contained a Super CD-ROM unit, a Duo, a CD-ROM2 with IFU, and a TV Tuner for the GT. There's a lot of gadgets in the Pc Engine world.

mars 09, 2013

Tekkaman Blade for Game Boy

A side scrolling action game only released in Japan, in 1992. Based on the anime with the same name. I think the game is uncommon because I only got it recently.

In case anyone wonders, I now have 530 Japanese game boy games, only counting grey carts, and almost exactly 300 boxed games. In my calculation, there are around 775 or so in total... Hard to believe there are so many games I don't have. Not that I aim for the complete collection though. But every new game makes me happy when I get it, so I keep on collecting...

You are sidescrolling around as you usually do in these games, killing  enemies as you see them. You can't shoot, but you have a blade. You have a grappling hook that sticks to the ceiling, activated with Up+B. You can jump very high if you press Down+A.

I like the typical 80's video game action music. Maybe it comes from the anime.

The colors on the Super Game Boy (SGB) always seem to look best with color option 2 as in the picture. Why they didn't make it the default?

At the bottom of the screen are some boxes that fill up slowly. When you press Start, as in my screenshot, you will see a little menu where the letters stand for something. For example, GR might stand for Gravity. If you use the GR box, you float up for a short while.

There is a stat called "Lv". It means how strong you are. If you take small power-up items, you increase your Level and enemies will take fewer hits to kill.

The action is fairly standard side scrolling action-hero action based on licensed game. I think it is about the same in Judge Dredd, Terminator, Turrican and RoboCop type of games. With the grapling hook, the game reminds me of Bionic Commando. The levels in this game aren't very exciting but I think the original concept with items makes the game a bit more interesting.

You have three lives and there are some checkpoints on each level. There are two continues, after that it is game over. There is nothing spectacular about the game, even if it has cool music and a grapling hook. I will give it 3/5.