Monday, January 28, 2008

Dodonpachi Daifukkatsu - Cave 2008 (aka DDP V)

Cave's next game was announced early this Monday morning and it will be (drum roll please) a sequel to DoDonpachi Dai-Ou-Jou, entitled DoDonpachi Daifukkatsu, which roughly translated, means "great revival."

I couldn't be more stoked! Well, possibly, if Cave had done a Ketsui sequel. But they have one game left to announce this year, so here's to hoping...

Here are two threads going about this new release, one on Danmaku Dreamer and the other on Shumps!

Page down on the Danmaku Dreamer thread to see the rough translation of the text from the show flyer. Thanks to GP for the translation.

The composer for the game is my favorite by far, Manbu Namiki. His work is excellent, with only a few mediocre soundtracks to date (Futari, bit of a dissapointment there) and as long as it takes after the Ketsui, Mushihimesame and DOJ soundtracks, we'll be in for some aural delights.

I have asked myself plenty of times what new games I might want to buy in kit form, what games would get me excited enough to spend that kind of dosh, and a sequel to DOJ was on that list, so, maybe...

Truthfully, the cash outlay is huge for a new release, so if I bought it new, I'd have to spend a few months with it and resell to recoup most (if not all) the cash and then get it again at a later date if its good enough to warrant a second purchase. Although, Bee Storm aside, I can't think of a series that has had more solid games than DDP.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

The Wii is in everone else's home, why not mine?

I almost didn't do this post, but if I have to be honest, I feel good about it. I mean, yes, it's a certain kind of dorky guy that has a gaming blog that he semi-regularly updates for really only one or two people who already know this stuff cause he plays these games with them, but I'm OK with being that kind of dork. One that bought an imported Japanese candy cab and spent dozens of hours searching for the most revered shmups you could play. One that actually enjoys mapping the dungeons in Etrian Odyssey. One that watches superplays of Ketsui like I use to watch skate videos to get me stoked to go skate. That, to me, is a cool-kind of dork, if there is such a thing, and totally acceptable.

Owning a Wii is a kind of actual dorkiness, or casualness that really lacks any significant gaming credibility. Kind of like buying all the Pop Cap games and telling your friends about your high scores. I play Peggle, yeah, but I would never actually tell anyone.*

So, on Thursday, I left work with my friend Dave and we shot off to his bank to deposit his paycheck, which just happens to be near a Game Stop. I'm a big PS2 RPG guy (currently working on Persona 3) and I'm really spend too much time with my DS (thanks, Mary!) and was looking for a few things to keep me busy. I found Izuma, The Unemployed Ninja, another Atlus made, old-skool RPG dungeon hack-crawler and at $19.99 plus tax, I thought my day was done.

Then, I asked the counter girl if they happened to have a Wii. She whispered to me over the counter, hand-cupped for dramatic effect and all, "I have four."

I was in mild shock as they you still can't get them for love or money, like Venus's arms or Brooke Shields buttocks,** and they can command up to $450 on Craigslist ($200 over retail).

Now, the only reason I want a Wii is that I have an Astro City which provides me with shmup madness, a PS2 which has no shortage of good, traditional Japanese RPG's, a DS and a GB Micro which both provide me with portable gaming fun, but I lack a system that can provide me with a child-like kind of experience. I like to giggle. I'll admit it.

I know there are virtually NO hardcore games for the Wii. Atlus's Baroque is a few months away and other than Fire Emblem, there is very little on this system that appeals to my traditional gaming loves.

Which is why I bought it.

I like the idea of owning a system that is just made for having a good time. It's kind of like a bunch of MLB players playing kickball. It's not a true test of ability, it's just a helluva lot of fun.

And as I sit and play Super Mario Galaxy and Trauma Center: New Blood (Atlus again, so brilliant), I am reminded of those early days playing Haunted House on the Atari 2600. Easy, intuitive controls and pure, distilled gaming fun.

And after five minutes of playing Galaxy, I actually giggled.

*all references to Peggle are included merely for the sake of good blogging and holding together a good analogy. Any similarities to person or persons playing it in the real world are totally, 100% for the sake of a good narrative...mostly cause my Mom still ownes me on this game.

**soon-to-be-obligatory Red Dwarf reference. Do yourself a favor and check this show out.

Ketsui Rom fixed!

I got the chip yesterday and went home, pulled the old chip, plugged in the new one and I now have a glitch free Ketsui!

Kudos to Dan over at Southtown - Homebrew Specialists. Here's a link to them:

Thay also carry Neo-Geo and ST-V shockboxes for your loose carts or for those of you who want to keep those original boxes clean.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Etrian Odyssey

I'm already a huge fan of most of the RPG's that Atlus puts out (Persona 3, Tactics Ogre, etc.) and decided to pick this one up after I heard it was a throw back to Wizardry. It's a first person dungeon hack with very detailed anime-style graphics that remind me of Odin Sphere, but made for the DS.

The game play is pretty simple - create a party, go into the dungeon, level up, fight tough mini-bosses on each floor, etc. But where this game really shines is the difficulty. It is really hard.

I just finished Zelda - Phantom Hourglass and while that was a good game with a great story and typical Zelda-style game play (earning weapons/tools that help you progress further), I was a bit let down. It's really easy and the puzzles are simple to figure out, except for maybe one or two.

Etrian Odyssey, on the other hand,is very hard. The game requires you to constantly level up to fight harder and harder enemies. I blasted into the first floor of the dungeon and got slaughtered before I made it very far at all. Wow. I took a step back, remembered what playing the original Dragon Warrior was like, and tried again.

It has that same style of battle layout as well, with turn based combat and a first person perspective. The combat is fast and simple. No five-minute CGI cutscenes ala Final Fantasy summons. Just straight ahead fighting.

It's much the same with the game on a whole, actually. In town, you don't walk around a map. You just scroll through a few screens and all shops and locations are available from a central map. It makes it easy to go into town, heal and rest (as you will do many, many times).

Items and weapons are actually created by selling the items you get from enemies you kill to the shop keeper, which is a fun way to go about it. No more 20 different shops on the world map and wondering where the hell the such and such sword was for your fighter...

It's a game that relies on your love for a good, old fashioned dungeon hack and enjoyment of the battle mechanic, both of which, I love.

But, much like Dragon Warrior, you will get frustrated running into enemies who take your party out very quickly where you didn't expect them. You learn to tread with caution very quickly.

I'm on the third floor of the dungeon after about six or seven hours of play and rumor has it there are about 25 levels to go through. I can't put it down and find myself wanting to power up my DS in traffic during my commute and do some grinding, which is a first for any DS game for me.

I can't wait to see what's lurking on floor four.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Mushihimesama high score Maniac #1

After playing Ketsui for most of the last week, I decided to plug in Mushihimesama for a change. It took me about two or three runs to get the feel for the game again and I plowed through Original, making it to the fourth stage boss before loosing all of my lives.

Now, Original is fun, but Maniac is really the killer version on this pcb (Ultra is another story...). I really think that Maniac is the way this game should have been released. The pace is perfect Cave-pace and the bullets are 'bullet hell-ish' enough to really enjoy.

Previously, my high score in Maniac was a paltry 14.4 mill, but I had never really worked on keeping the counter up. So, for this run, I abstained from using any bombs until the end of the Stage 3 right before the boss battle, with the arm pieces and head where you get the 1up (I got totally boxed in). I made it to the boss of Stage 4, but had to use alot of bombs to get that far and I didn't last very long.


At the end of Stage 3, my score was something like 31 mill, so I didn't add that much, but I'm still pretty pleased. Hell, I'm psyched! I feel pretty close to 1cc'ing the game on Maniac, though I'm sure there is actually a lot of work to be done, but I'm stoked to dive in.

Ketsui Revised ROM

For those of you with an original Ketsui pcb, you may have noticed or may have already known about the ROM bug, or what's known as the 'free play' glitch. This is an error in the code when you hit start during the 'DEMONSTRATION' screen, where game takes control of your ship and flies it to its death with no sounds and the game locks. This can be easily reset by powering down your board or by opening up the test menu and exiting back out.

Here is a link to a Shmups! forum topic adressing the same thing:]

The good news is that there is a fix available for those who didn't get the pcb repaired by Cave originally.
Southtown makes a ROM chip that fixes the bug. I just ordered mine and I will update once I receive the chip and try it out.
Thanks to rtw for the knowledge.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Ketsui High Score #1

I thought I should start charting my progress and I set 30 mill as my goal for the morning. I've only have about three days of playing on it, for about 6 hours total, so I feel pretty good about this score. Although I really want to get to 1 CC the first loop more than score well, but the two seem to go together.

Dave commented that it's hard to try and go for distance as you are constantly pushed to get the 5 chip and I agree. Ketsui really shines when you get into the scoring system.

I got to the third stage mid-boss and ate it shortly afterwards (no bombs left). I'm going to shoot for 40 mill this weekend and I'll send a score to EOJ at Damaku Dreamer when I get to 100 mill (when and if that ever happens...).

I'm really stoked on this game and think it may my favorite shmup ever, but we'll see. There's a lot of playing to be done.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

My background...

I got into this whole shmuping thing after playing a bunch of Dragon Spirit. In case you don't know, Dragon Spirit is an old-skool, hard-as-hell Namco shooter. You control a dragon (big surprise) and have to make your way through fast moving spread bullet patterns with wonky control and none of the fluidity that comes with later games.

So, after playing Dragon Spirit and its sequel, Dragon Saber, I played a few more Namco System 1 games: Blast-Off, Dangerous Seed, etc. I had a sort of epifany - I really enjoy vertical scrolling shooters!

I have been an avid video game enthusiast for years, but I played mostly RPG's and puzzle games. I fell in love with 'maniac' feeling games in the early years, like Robotron and Tempest, which required a high level of accuracy and skill and games tended to be over pretty fast (though, in later years, I could get to level 47 or so in Tempest on one credit and play Robotron for nearly an hour on one credit). I like my gaming in small doses.

Looking around on the interweb, I found the Shmups! site and learned about Cave, Raizing, and others and got drawn in to DoDonpachi. A whole new world opened up and the rest, as they say, is history.

So far, I have collected, Espgaluda, Strikers 1945, Mushihimesama and finally Ketsui, which has to be one of the best games I have ever played, for any system, in any format.

I'm sure there will be many posts about it in the months to come...

Ketsui arrives!

Ketsui arrived yesterday and I immediately left work with my friend Dave (on lunch break...) to his place where he has an Astro City and we plugged it right in and credited up.

I have to tell you, all the stories of this game are true. It is beautiful, very hard, and one of the most addictive shooters I have ever played. The scoring is intuitive and constantly pushes you to get closer to enimies, which drives up the fun immesurably. Usually, I go for distance when first playing a game, to see how far I can get on one credit, but with Ketsui, I spent a few hours working on patterns for the first and second levels and constantly trying to increase my chip count.

It really is friggin' brilliant.

Unfortunately for most, the game is also very expensive right now with kits selling for upwards of $1600 and bare boards going for $1000. I spent a good amount, but the board looks brand new and hell, you only live once, right?

If you can pull the money together it, buy it. It is worth every penny.