Coverage of Game Freak continues with two more games. First off, the puzzle game Yoshi, which was developed during that time post-Tetris that Nintendo was scrambling to create puzzle games with its mascot characters. The other is Magical Taluluto-kun, a fun little platformer for the Mega Drive based on an anime. It's sort of a simple game since it was made for kids in mind, but the graphical style reminds me of the Wonder Boy games on the era, so it's still quite a pleasant game.
Hotel Dusk came out around the same time as the original Phoenix Wright, at the forefront of a series of translated Japanese adventure games. At the time, it was certainly fascinating due to its art style, which channeled that old A-Ha "Take on Me" music video. Despite the second push as part of the "Touch Generations" line, Nintendo of America must not have been too happy with its sales, because it neglected to localize its sequel, though an English version was released in Europe. And then not long after, Cing went bankrupt.
Tough Turf is another one of those super obscure games for the Sega System 16 arcade board. Developed by Sunsoft, it looks and feels like a Double Dragon clone, but the mechanics are unique enough to differentiate itself (basically, everyone carries weapons all the time instead of just sporadically) plus the music is excellent.
Our highlighted article this update is Realms of Arkania, which covers the recent remake, Blade of Destiny HD. The next installment in the Best of PC Engine / Mega CD Music series includes tracks from Super Darius 2, Robo Aleste, and Shadow of the Beast. Episode 28 of Game Club 199x focuses on the legendary (and legendarily buggy) CRPG Fallout 2. And the most recent iOS Shooters update includes a number of Space Invaders-type games, including an official port from Taito.
Preorders have also opened for The Untold History of Japanese Game Developers DVD, which includes nearly four hours of video footage including chats with developers (watch Kouichi Yotsui play his own Cannon Dancer for the first time in a decade), a tour of the amazing BEEP warehouse of PC games, footage of unemulated arcade games, tours of Nakano Broadway and Super Potato in Akihabara, overviews of several design documents, a look at Yuzo Koshiro's studio, and very much more. These are being printed in a limited quantity for those who missed the Kickstarter, so be sure to grab one soon!
Today, everyone knows Game Freak as the developers behind Pokémon, which has taken up most of their time since the late 90s. But before then, they were quite the interesting studio, having worked closely with Nintendo on various properties while still remaining platform agnostic, creating games for the Mega Drive and PC Engine as well. We're starting an article series on Pre-Pokémon Game Freak titles, with the first entries focusing on Mendel Palace for the NES (AKA Quinty) and Smart Ball for the SNES (AKA Jerry / Jelly Boy).
The Weekly Kusoge column is still on hold for a bit, but we're still going to talk about some terrible games, and Dirty Pair: Project Eden for the Famicom Disk System is certainly one of those. It's a particular tragedy considering how well the property would lend itself to an action game, but nope, it got screwed up.
The latest installment in the Best of PC Engine / Mega CD Music column features Earnest Evans, another Motoi Sakuraba work; songs from both 16-bit CD versions of Prince of Persia; and Alzadick, a score attack shooter for the PC Engine. Our spotlight articles are Bushi Seiryuuden, another one of Game Freak's works for the Super Famicom, and Deception, since a new entry in the series is due out this coming week.
Recently, Japanese developer Neverland closed down, so we thought it would appropriate to commemorate them with an article on the Lufia series, which they created. The series originated on the SNES, and while the first game was a strictly middle-of-the-road affair, the second is widely acknowledged as the best non-Square RPG on the system, with some progressive gameplay elements and some fantastic music. Subsequent entries never quite measured up - the GBC game was focused on dungeon crawling, the GBA game was made by an entirely different company, and the DS remake of Lufia 2 changed around so much that its roots were only barely apparent, even though it's a decent game on its own.
We also have a review of the PC action cult classic Severance: Blades of Darkness. It was developed by the Spain-based
Rebel Act Studios, which eventually disbanded and formed MercurySteam. This was the company that developed the Castlevania Lords of Shadows games, the most recent of which was just released a few weeks ago.
In highlighting older articles, we're picking Rex Nebular and the Cosmic Gender Bender, a Space Quest/Leisure Suit Larry ripoff from Microprose that was recently released on Good Old Games. We're also highlighting Shaq Fu, considering the inexplicable Indiegogo campaign to bankroll a sequel.
A few months back, some folks on 4chan began searching for a game called Chu-Teng, a crazy first person adventure game from visual artist Osamu Sato. The mid-90s was a crazy time for these kinds of games, with the CD-ROM boom creating a new market of casual gamers thanks to the success of Myst, so all kinds of artists got involved in creating their own weird titles, usually with off kilter artwork. Tong-Nou (released in North America under the name Eastern Mind: The Lost Souls of Tong Nou) and its Japan-only sequel Chu-Teng are two of the games, which have already garnered a fan following due to their bizarreness.
The Cat Lady is a recent indie title, and the followup to Harvester Games' Downfall. It's a creepy horror adventure starring the eponymous cat lady, who attempts to commit suicide in the intro and ends up blessed with immortality to hunt down a group of psychopaths. Marvelous is a Super Famicom title, the first from Eiji Aonuma, who later went on to direct many of the later Zelda games. The basic gameplay seems to be based on A Link to the Past, but it's really more of an adventure game, one that challenges you to use the powers of three young boy scouts as they explore a mysterious island. And Moai-kun is a Famicom puzzle game starring a super deformed Easter Island head, who was kind of an icon of Konami thanks to their appearance in the Gradius games. The iOS Shooters article has been updated to include a number of River Raid ripoffs, a game called Space Deadbeef (which is sadly disappointing), and a couple of unique shooters that take place as notebook and chalkboard scribbles.
We're also highlighting Relentless / Little Big Adventure, since GOG had it on sale over the weekend. From this writing, you've still got a day to get both games cheap!
As a followup to the Mushihime-sama article from last week, please check out Ibara and Pink Sweets, two Cave shooters from Shinobu Yagawa, who previously worked for Raizing. Therefore, you can see the relationship between these and some previous games like Battle Garegga and Battle Bakraid. Personally I love the music in Ibara but I find it way too difficult. The vanilla Pink Sweets I also find so hard as to be nearly unplayable, but the arrange mode on the 360 version is fantastic. Beyond the scoring changes, you can actually fire and charge your bomb, which makes things much more manageable. It was released on a compilation a few years back along with Muchi Muchi Pork, and is not only region free, but is currently reasonably priced due to a re-release.
A truly bizarre adver-game, the Chex Quest games are official mods of the Doom engine provided as a bonus for Chex cereal. It's weird and deranged, but since at its core it's still basically Doom, it's still a very good game. Line of Fire
is an Operation Wolf ripoff, done Sega super scaler style. Kaneko's Fighting Roller / Roller Aces combines rolling blading with a 3D beat-em-up. And Gigantic Army is a doujin game, recently released by Nyu Media, which is heavily inspired by the Assault Suits series, otherwise known in North America as Target Earth and Cybernator.
Game Club 199X Episode 27 discusses the King's Field series, the second one in particular. And the Best of PC Engine / Mega CD Music: Pt. 8 column has samples from the Sega CDs games Vay and Devastator, as well as the Compile PC Engine shooter Spriggan Mark 2. Our spotlight articles focus on The Firemen and Vapor Trail, seeing how Monkeypaw Games has been awesome enough to publish the import PlayStation entries in these series on the North American PSN.
Heavily inspired by Pitfall!, Montezuma's Revenge s one of those games that fascinated me when I was a kid, since I actually had an Atari 8-bit computer, and later, a Sega Master System. This article taught me that originally, you were supposed to face a gigantic Montezuma at the end, but he was cut out. This article details all ports of the original game, plus the 3D "reimaging" released in 1997.
Cave's been in the news lately, mostly because they shut down all English language PR and appears to have given up on shooters in favor of social gaming garbage. Isn't that the way of today's world? Let's reminisce happily instead about Mushihime-sama, which takes some cues after Hayao Miyazaki's Nausicaa series, in that it takes place in a world filled with gigantic bugs. The game is also known under its localized iOS ports, Bug Princess, a literal translation of the game. Thankfully Cave's been reissuing some of their 360 shooters at lower prices, and since Mushihime-sama Futari is region free, it's worth checking out. (The re-release of the first game, Mushihime-sama HD, is unfortunately region locked.)
Two are different computer RPGs based off the Vampire: The Masquerade pen-and-paper game: Redemption, a Diablo-esque hack-and-slash, and Bloodlines, a first person adventure that's been compared to Deus Ex. Except really buggy. This article delves heavily into the lore of the RPG, which is necessary to understand the depths of these games. Consider it a crash course in V:TM.
Other updates: the latest iOS Shooters entry covers Buggy Blaster, another Moon Patrol clone; Galaga Remix, one of Namco's many attempts to update its classic arcade shooter; two Super Blast games; and Valentine's Day Sucks, which may be thematically appropriate for the upcoming weeks! Page 7 of the Best of PC Engine / Sega CD Music feature covers the PCE title Mystic Formula, the soothing underwater sounds of Ecco the Dolphin, and the synth rock of Compile's Seirei Senshi Spriggan.
We've also resurrected two older articles of lesser known series: Hudson's Dungeon Explorer, originating on the PC Engine, which takes the Gauntlet formula and rejiggers it into a classic 16-bit RPG; and Ninja Jajamaru-kun, Jaleco's oft-forgotten cutesy ninja mascot, mostly because very few of his games ever made to America.
Finally there are two new article translations into Spanish: Altered Beast and Hang-On.
I love cases where games are drastically different between territories. That's the case for The Jetsons: Invasion of the Planet Pirates for the SNES. In North America, it's based on the classic Hanna Barbara cartoon, but in its native Japan, it's known as Yokai Buster, a tie-in with a manga featured in a video game magazine. I wrote an article for 1up several years ago called Total Makeover which details many of these cases...my favorite ones featured on the site are Black Belt for the SMS (originally a Hokuto no Ken game) and Decap Attack, a Halloween-themed game that was originally based on an Arabian-themed manga/anime.
We've got two xtreme sports game from Data East Windjammers, the Neo Geo frisbee game that's been growing in cult classic status over the years, largely due to online play in emulators, and the lesser known Heavy Smash, which was released as a standalone arcade game. We tend not to cover sports games on HG101, but some of these more violent types are pretty fun. In spite of the terrible name, Deathrow for the Xbox is actually quite decent...maybe it's worth covering at some point in the future.
Two more obscure bits: Nester's Funky Bowling, the North American exclusive Virtual Boy title featuring the character created for Nintendo Power comics, who had previously only had a minor cameo appearance in NES Play Action Football; and Repulse, an early shooter by Sega, but designed by the core team that would eventually go on to found Toaplan, thereby making it an interesting part of shooter history.
The latest Game Club 199X discusses two oddball over-the-shoulder punching games: Wade Hixton's Counter Punch for the GBA, and The Super Spy for Neo Geo, along the way discussing some of the many Punch-Out!!-a-like games that have been made over the years. I was also a guest star on the Back in My Play podcast, which is mostly me rambling about all of the amazing qualities of Dracula X for the PC Engine, and also crying about another Castlevania Bloodlines prototype auction that slipped through our fingers. ARGH.
Donkey Kong Country was Nintendo's trump card as the 16-bit console wars were winding down. The big draw at the time was, of course, the computer rendered graphics, an aspect which hasn't aged so well. But the core games, despite being rather simple and straightforward compared to even Sonic the Hedgehog, are still remarkably fun, mostly well made games. And the soundtracks to them, particularly the second game, are just as amazing as when they were released. This article doesn't cover the entire Donkey Kong chronology - just the platformers, which is to say, the three SNES games, the three GB sequels/ports, the 3D platformer Donkey Kong 64, the oddball bongo drummer Donkey Kong Jungle Beat, and the most recent one, the 2.5D Donkey Kong Country Returns. The next installment, Tropical Freeze, is due out next month, which we're all looking forward to, considering one of the composers of the original game, David Wise, is returning to do the music.
We've also massively overhauled one of our older articles - the Pre-Street Fighter II Fighting Games feature. Capcom's seminal game was the title that brought the one-on-one fighter into worldwide popularity, but the genre exists long before then. It's just that most of these early games weren't terribly good. But some of them have some interesting concepts and designs, and they remain fascinating to read about. We've added over 17 games to the article, and rewrote and expanded on previous entries, with the full article working out to twelve pages long. The latest part of the iOS Shooters article has also been posted, which include two Cave Shooter games (which are literally shooters in caves, nothing to do with the high tier shooter developer), Bullet Boy , a Space Invaders derivative named Radiant (pictured) and Moon Patrol clone called Space Patrol.
Happy new year! Apologies for the long break, things have been busy around here, mostly working on some other HG101 projects to be announced in the future. This update brings reviews of: Battle Stadium D. O. N., a Super Smash Bros. style crossover fighting game for the PS2/GC featuring characters from Dragon Ball Z, One Piece and Naruto; H. E. R. O., the Activision title which originated on the Atari 2600 where you dive into caves controlling a guy with a helicopter backpack; Homura, a medieval Japanese-themed overhead shooter for the arcade and PS2 from the makers of Psyvariar; Borderline, an early Sega arcade game that made it in heavily modified form to the Atari 2600 under the name Thunderground; and Tranquilizer Gun, also known as Safari Hunting, another very early Sega arcade game. Both of those last two were featured on one of the Sega Ages budget compilations released for the PlayStation 2.
Also playing catch up with some new episodes of Game Club 199X: Episode 24 covers Fortified Zone and Operation Logic Bomb, two of the three games from Jaleco's Ikari no Yousei trilogy of military action games, and Episode 25 is the Mascot Frenzy, where the gang plays Gex, Plot, and Ardy Lightfoot. The next entry in the Best of PC Engine / Mega CD music features tracks from Lords of Thunder, The Adventures of Willy Beamish, and Efera and Jiliora. And we've updated and featured the articles on Galaxy Force and Altered Beast, seeing how 3D versions of these were recently released on the NA/EU 3DS eShop. Altered Beast is Altered Beast - it hasn't aged terribly well plus it's a port of the inferior Genesis version instead of the original arcade, but the 3D does look cool. Galaxy Force II, though, is an absolute much purchase, because it's the best showcase for 3D on the system. That might sound odd considering the game itself is over twenty five years old, but it's true!
Finally, we received an offer to have some HG101 articles translated into Spanish. The first one up is Space Harrier, which was featured in the last update.
La Mulana has been an indie darling for the past several years, initially released as freeware using graphics heavily inspired by Konami MSX games, and later upgraded to a commercial release with slightly more modern graphics. It's not as immediately playable as something like Cave Story, but it does call back to the old days when games were really, really, just obtusely difficult, and someone ends up all the more fun for it.
Jump Super / Ultra Stars is a duo of DS fighting games that's basically a Super Smash Bros. type game characters from assorted shounen manga. I remember the original Jump Super Stars being really popular with the DS community when it came back, because all of the licensing - it's - would make it impossible to be released outside of Japan, though even that didn't stop big America retailers like Best Buy from officially stocking it.
There are actually two King Kong 2 games from Konami, one for the Famicom and one of the MSX2. They're tie-ins with the 1986 theatrical movie known in the USA as King Kong Lives, and despite the low quality of the film, these spin-offs are actually relatively good. Momoko 120% is an arcade action-platformer from Jaleco featuring a cutesy female protagonist, likely competing for the same kind of audience as Namco's Wonder Momo. Weirdly, the company ported the game to the Famicom using characters from famous manga Urusei Yatsura, subtitling the game Lum no Wedding Bell. And two more older, offbeat arcade titles: the appropriately named Bullfight, putting you in a man vs. bull showdown; and Dr. Micro, which looks like it really wants to be Donkey Kong Jr.
The latest 500 Word Indies feature is Dustforce, an ultra stylish platformer where you take control of parkour-trained janitors. And the newest section of the iOS Shooter article focuses on Restrictive Shooters, which is to say, games like Space Invaders or Galaga, or at least games from spring from those roots. These games include Super Crossfire, Warblade, Space Inversion 1 & 2, and
Parsec (no relationship to the Texas Instruments game, sadly).
Additionally, Sega is finally released their 3DS classics lineup in North American and Europe. This is an amazing series with extraordinary amounts of care put into their conversions, far more than the usual ROM dumps that populate the Virtual Console. And they look fantastic in 3D too. We're featuring updated articles of two of the games that came out last month: Space Harrier and Super Hang-On.
Gun Frontier is a Taito shooter from 1990, which is mostly known to the shooter community as the basis for numerous Shinobu Yagawa games, like Battle Garegga, Battle Bakraid and Armed Police Batrider (for Raizing), and Ibara, Pink Sweets and Muchi Muchi Pork (for Cave). Of course, it also predates the days of bullet hell shooters, so its pacing is much slower, and anyone who wants to find a game just like Yagawa's more modern titles may be disappointed. I still like it though, and with a bit of research, I dug up the explanation as for why Metal Black, a game that otherwise seems totally unrelated, is called "Project Gun Frontier 2".
Other articles this update include: Genjuu Ryodan, a download-only Super Famicom strategy RPG similar to Advance Wars and Military Madness, designed by the folks behind Metal Max; OFF, a cult favoriteRPG Maker game that originated in French but has been translated into English, with some incredible strange outwork and a trippy soundtrack; Ali Baba and the 40 Thieves, an early arcade effort distributed by Sega, is a maze-type game similar to Pac-Man; Spatter, a fun cutesy Sega game featuring a weird little kid on a tricycle (who seems to be the inspiration from the Chaos from Sonic Adventure, though I can't find any solid evidence), which was also developed by the same guy as Flicky and Fantasy Zone; and Chrono Soldier, another early run-and-gun from Sega, not to be confused with ADK's Time Warriors, which was vaguely popularized on the Master System.
In our forum thread for last update's Mickey Mania article, we spent a bit of time discussing how 8/16-bit European developed platformers had elements which very clearly gave away their origins, and, on a broad level, just weren't as good as many Japanese developed ones. To counter that, Derboo wrote up an article on Lionheart, a forgotten Amiga classic that has the virtue of that gorgeous bright European style while still being an excellent game in its own right.
In general, we have a fascination with American or European games that get ported to Japanese platforms to see how they handle it. Law of the West originated on the Commodore 64 and Apple II, but also ended up on the Famicom and PC88, with some minor changes in the former's case to accomodate the console audience. The game itself is interesting because it might very well be the first instance of dialogue trees, even though it's not explicitly an adventure game or an RPG, but rather, more of a broad "sheriff simulator". I also posted the article for Murder on the Mississippi, which again originated on the Commodore 64 and Apple II platforms, but was ported to the Famicom and MSX2 courtesy of Jaleco, probably to capitalize on the murder mystery crazy due to the success of Yuji Horii's Portopia Renzoku Satsujin Jiken. In both of these cases, the Nintendo versions were not re-released out of Japan, making them weird little exclusives. I'd like to run a feature on more of these, someday!
We're rounding out these with an article on Trog, a single screen action game from Midway that uses claymation, and is generally like a more violent version of Pac-Man. It's probably most remembered for being featured prominently in the arcade scene in Terminator 2. The Secret Files article has also been updated to include a review of the third game in the popular German adventure game series, though unfortunately it seems to be pretty terrible.
The iOS Shooter article has been updated with more arena shooters, most of them taking after Asteroids in some way. The most interesting (or bizarre) of these is Facetroids, which makes enemies out of pictures from your Facebook account. And episode 23 of Game Club 199X discusses Sweet Home, Capcom's ur-survival horror game for the Famicom, which was also based on a movie from around the same time.
Finally, the HG101 Guide to Classic Graphic Adventures is featured as part of the Video Game StoryBundle, which includes eight quality video game related books and zines packed together for a low price. You can pay $3 or more to get our book plus Dreamcast Worlds by Zoya Street, Kill Screen Issues 1 and 7, Blue Wizard Is About To Die by Seth Barkan (a lovably goofy poetry book) and Vaporware by Richard Dansky. Pay $10 or more and get Rise of the Videogame Zinesters by Anna Anthropy, A Slow Year
by Ian Bogost, and Replay: The History of Video Games by Tristan Donovan. It's a great selection of stuff for a low price, so please do check it out!
There's quite a large variety articles for this update as we make our way through the posting back log. Grand Master is a Famicom action-RPG that takes some inspiration from the Zelda series, though it has plenty of neat gimmicks of its own, like branching story paths depending on which order you complete the levels. Mickey Mania is a conceptual prototype of the Epic Mickey games for the 16-bit/32-bit days, as it's a side-scrolling platformer whose levels take inspiration from classic Disney cartoons. It's not QUITE up to the level of Sega's Illusion series or Capcom's Magical Castle series, sadly, but it sure does look nice.
Other articles include Shark Attack, one of the first arcade games to feature voice acting (though like the Journey arcade game, it was played by a cassette in the cabinet, rather than through digitization); Special Force 2: Tale of the Truthful Pledge, a first person shooter bankrolled by the Hezbollah, the Islamist political party that opposes Israel and is filled with militant propaganda; Calorie-Kun vs. Moguranian, an early Sega arcade game developed by Vic Tokai, which is a maze game that looks similar to Dig Dug and Mr. Do; Robo Wres 2001, a robotic wrestling game from Sega/Sanritsu; and Palette, (also known as Forget Me Not: Palette), which was born from the same RPG Maker mold as Yume Nikki and Corpse Party, and is a largely monochromatic trip through a young girl's disturbed psyche.
As far as regular columns, Episode 22 of Game Club 199X discusses Bit Blot's 2007 masterpiece, Aquaria, and indie games in general. iOS Shooters: Arena Shooters Pt. 4 covers Warp Fighter, Air Combat, Aero Masters, AstroPhobia! and Coloroids. And 500 Word Indies covers Parameters, a greatly reductive simulation that satirically exposes the tedium of classic JRPGs.
Finally, please make sure to check out the Kickstarter for Wrestling With Pixels: The World Tour Of Wrestling Games, a project to document wrestling video games, including numerous interviews with developers. This project is being run by Audun Sorlie, who wrote the Aki Wrestling article, as well as Tecmo World Wrestling piece. He definitely knows his stuff, especially as far as classic era games are concerned, so do check it out!
Double finally, also check out a cool project going on at Sega Masters, a blog that, like Chrontendo and Chronsega, seeks to go through the entire Sega Master System library in chronological order of release. Right now they're up to Ghost House (a title I'm rather fond of, so there's still quite a bit left to go, but it's a good start!
Ordyne is game I should love. It's essentially a Gradius clone from Namco, with a cartoony makeover. But it's not QUITE as cartoony as Parodius, so it's not quite as funny, and the power-up system, which is stolen from Fantasy Zone, just doesn't work well enough. It's still okay though, and the music is very good. Guerrilla War is an offshoot of the Ikari Warriors series (kind of), a Commando-type run and gun from SNK. It's mostly infamous for its Japanese release, entitled Guevara, where the player controlled Che Guevara and Fidel Castro. Seeing as how US-Cuba relations have never been the best, this scenario and title was changed for the overseas release, though nothing else was altered. Aselia the Eternal: At the End of This Earth is one of the few non-ero games from JAST USA, a combination of a visual novel and a strategy RPG.
Völgarr the Viking is one of the more recent retro-style indie games for the PC. After a successful Kickstarter campaign last year, this 16-bit arcade-inspired game was released on PCs last month. It's incredibly difficult, in no small part to the sparse checkpoints, but it's very deliberately and fairly designed. And Blast Wind is one of the last shooters from Technosoft, and like Hyper Duel and Shinrei Jusatsushi Taroumaru, this is another Saturn rarity. It also has some unique history - it appears to be a retooled version of an unreleased arcade game called Inazuma Saber.
The latest 500 Word Indies covers Cogs, an interesting puzzle game where you build awesome machines that mostly consist of cogwheels. iOS Shooters: Arena Shooters Pt. 2 & 3 covers ten games: A.C.E.: Air Combat Elite, Asteroid Dust, Retro Dust, AstroZapper, Aerolite, Cataica, roids79, SpaceFight, AstroRaider, and Realms. And the Best of PC Engine / Mega CD Music: Pt. 5 features music from Ys III, Galaxy Fraulein Yuna and Stellar Fire / Stellar 7: Draxon's Revenge.
Sorry for the delay, I was out of the country on vacation, but hopefully we'll be back to weekly(ish) updates after this one!
Scramble Spirits is a fairly typical overhead shooter from Sega, mostly designed to show off the high resolution of the Sega System 24 board, which also ran Gain Ground and Bonanza Bros.. Pig Newton is another early Sega title from their cooperation with Gremlin, which has a rather clever name. Most of us know Namco's Time Crisis series as one of the most popular light gun shooter games ever made, but before that they put out Steel Gunner, using entirely 2D sprites, and looking rather impressive for the early 90s. And moving away from arcade games, Primordia is the most recent publication from Wadjet Eye Games, an indie point-and-click with incredible lore and atmosphere.
We've updated two older articles - first off, Samurai Shodown has been revamped. Since we initially published the article six years ago, there's been some progress with Hyper Neo Geo 64 emulation, though it's still not perfect, so at least we could grab some nicer (albeit glitchy) screenshots from those two games, which to this day remain sadly unported. We also included a review of the most recent game, Samurai Shodown Sen, which was ported to the Xbox 360, and is generally regarded to not be very good, though the review gives a more positive look at the title. There are also some new screenshots of the Nakoruru Dreamcast game, amongst other improvements. The Amnesia article, covering the creepy underground first person horror games, has also been updated to include a review of the latest entry, A Machine for Pigs.
And finally, in celebration of Columbus Day, please remember to check out our own adventure game work-in-progress Christopher Columbus is an Idiot, to see if you can figure out how to scam Queen Isabella of Spain, round up the three famous ships, and escape to the New World!
This update, we have a look at Taito's confusingly named Ray~ series of shooters. The first game has FOUR different names: RayForce (Japanese arcade release), Gunlock (European, I think, arcade release), Galactic Attack (American Saturn release) and Layer Section (Japanese Saturn release). The assorted "ray" titles don't make them easier to keep track of either - the second one is RayStorm and the third is RayCrisis. The first one, whichever name you want to call it, is fantastic. It's definitely one of the star shooters on the system, and is pretty cheap too, compared to all of the other pricey ones on the system.
Next up: Denjin Makai and its sequel Guardians, two supremely excellent beat-em-ups. I think most people look at either the Capcom beat-em-ups like Alien vs. Predator or Streets of Rage as being the best examples of the genre, and they're definitely high class, but I think Guardians here might actually be the best, on sheer content alone. Eight characters, branching routes, an astonishing amount of detail which compares to the likes of Konami and Capcom, an outstanding combo system and tight mechanics, all produced by an obscure studio named Winky Soft.
And finally, we have Mr. Mosquito, a weird little PS2 game series where you play as a mosquito, pestering a family. The first one was released worldwide under Eidos' short lived Fresh Games label, which sought to publish niche titles, though sadly inflicted with ugly yellow covers. Sadly, the second game stayed only in Japan.
Cowboy Kid is one of those late-generation NES games that barely got any distribution, and as such, is a little pricey to get a hold of on the secondary market. Seriously, I never saw any reviews at the time, and even after years upon years of retro game prowling, never happened upon it once. Anyway, conspiracy theory time - I have no proof of this, but this game almost feels like Konami was trying to make an Americanized version of Ganbare Goemon 2, but was cancelled, and covertly shipped off to another publisher. It just rips it off so closely, and it's such an odd game to make a clone of.
For oddball Sega stuff for this update: In the comic book scene, there's continual growsing that all kinds of superheroes have gotten movies, yet Wonder Woman has been continually neglected. The same thing happened in the realm of video games...with the (kind of) exception of Flashgal. We say "kind of" because it's not an officially licensed Wonder Woman game, but the protagonist is so closely modeled after her that she may as well be. Additionally, a few months back we covered an arcade game called Bullet, a three player run-and-gun that was suspicious similar to Capcom's Mercs, despite predating it by some time. A few years later, they put out a game called Desert Breaker, which patterns itself after Mercs so closely it's almost uncomfortable. Still, if you're going to steal, might as well steal from the best, and it's actually a fairly decent game.
For everyone's that missed the Weekly Kusoge column, we bring you a thrashing of Pyongyang Racer, the browser-based racing "game" that's meant to, somehow, promote tourism to the North Korean capital. And we reach deep back into the realm of the mid-90s shareware scene to dig out Thor's Hammer Trilogy, a very early first person shooter with a fantasy theme. It's...well, it's not Hexen, which is putting it lightly. And the iOS shooter column now covers arena based shooters, including MiniSquadron, Space Miner Blast, Space Junk and XPilot.
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