Friday, July 31, 2009

Playing Castlevania III on the road, some changes soon to come to the gameroom...


In much the same way I have a hook up for my PS2 when I am on the road, I realized that I could very easily bring my NES with me on the road, which is exactly what I did this week.

The best part is that I don't need a connector as its the old coaxial hook up. Easy peasy. I brought along The Goonies, The Goonies II, Bionic Commando (I swear, I will learn to like this game), Castlevania and Castlevania III as I am attempting to play through it again to work up to the 1CC.

There is one thing you should not do when on the road though and that's throw the controller in the room. Most hotel rooms are small, mine being no exception. After a pretty tricky section and subsequent cheap hit in III, I lost my last life in a pretty egregious manner and started to whip my controller forward and realized there was a very large mirror in the way.

I forced my hand downward just in time and released the controller against the ground, which hit the nearly empty dresser and made a very loud ka-thunk. I waitied for the sound of someone comming and sheepishly sat there - but nothing happened. I felt like a baby, but hey, Castlevania can get the blood up and the Italian in me is very demonstrative.

I have been working the early levels repeatedly and now I am starting on level 7 and above to playthrough the lead up to Dracula's castle. The opening stage of the castle is sooooooo cool - Vampier Killer playing just like the first part of the original Castlevania - that it makes me smile.

My downtime this week has been split between the NES, running and the internet, where I have recently bought quite a few new additions to the collection that I am VERY excited about.

The first actually started last week when I found a Nintendo vs. Golf cab for sale about an hour and a half from me and worked it out with the seller to come by and get it this Monday. Now I have a home for my vs. Castlevania boardset! Yeah!

Shortly there after, I saw a posting from oregonarcade on KLOV selling a vs. The Goonies kit and snatched that up, along with a few black vs. kit cases.

I also grabbed a NOS marquee from Scott over at Hyperspace arcade for the vs. Castlevania and lastly, contacted a guy about getting his Donkey Kong 3 arcade, a game I really love and probably the only other Nintendo cab I could see owning. Pretty busy weekend for sure!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Classic Game Boy titles and hidden gems


It's amazing what was possible on the Game Boy. I remember thinking when I was a kid that a portable Nintendo would be just about the awesomest thing ever and I wanted a Game Boy like nothing before. Luckily, I did get it for my birthday the year it came out and got a few games shortly there after, like Super Mario Land, Castlevania Adventure and of course, Tetris.

I hadn't picked up a game for the original Game Boy for ages, having moved on to the Advance and then the DS and left all those black and white (or black and green) games behind. But recently, I started to feel nostalgic for SML and decided to get a few other gems for the system while I was at it.

SML is an excellent addition to the Mario universe - if only an easy one. I beat it time and time again as a kid and loved every minute of it. The music is so good in the whole game that when I think of SMB music, this is the game I think of. The levels are strange for sure (Mario in Egypt anyone?) but the game play is classic Mario and really, really fun. The graphics are a bit smaller and the game is very short, but it's a very fun quick game for sure. I did beat the game on my first playthrough after 20 years, but I still love it.

In the cavalcade of GB fun, I also picked up a copy of Metroid II, which I have been interested to play for quite some time. Metroid II is kind of a typical Game Boy game: larger sprites to match their graphic design to their console counterparts and tinny music, but the game is much more than just these two weaknesses. The game play is actually fairly linear where you are only able to access sections of the world after beating other sections. There is no map but one isn't needed. You just keep pushing forward. It's pretty enjoyable overall.

SML 2 followed shortly there after and what an improvement over SML! The sprites are more inline with other Mario titles of the 8-bit era and the worlds feel like they fit into the Mario universe better. There are alot of good moments in the game. It is much longer and really is a more realized world that does justice to that era of Mario titles.

Castlevania Adventure is not one of the best titles on the GB - Simon moves slower than a sloth and the game is ridiculously hard. Back in the day, I could only get a level or two in. But with Castlevania II: Belmont's Revenge, all those problems are fixed and the game, while my time with it is limited, is one of the best Game Boy titles.

There are also the Dragon Warrior titles (1-3), two of which - 1 & 2 - are included on one cart. They are slightly easier than their console counterparts and awesome RPG's for such a small system.

But the absolute creme of the crop has to be The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening. It's so close to a console feel on a pportable system that its hard to believe its about 20 years old. The game is super fun with an awesome story and remains one of the best Zelda games period. No kidding.

The game takes place on an island and there are a number of typical Zelda game play elements - getting weapons/items to solve dungeon problems, collecting things after beating the bosses to lead up to the end encounter (in this case, it's musical instruments) and a fun, sprawling, open world adventure complete with all your classic Zelda favorites.

I have been playing it non-stop for a week and I forgot just how good the game is. It's massively engaging and has a great story, which I won't spoil here, but it does keep you wanting to see what's next, which is really all you could ask.

I only hope Nintendo realeases some of the classics on DSi-ware - but you can always get out your Super Game Boy, or your GB Advance SP, or even the original black and white GB, relive - and possibly discover - some great GB titles.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Same! Same! Same! (MD) high score #1


The Sega Mega Drive (Genesis) is not one of my favorite consoles, but you can't completely turn your back on a console that has a unique-to-the-platform Castlevania title in Bloodlines and a ton of shooters. I actually own a Mega Drive and a Genesis, so for not really liking the console, I seem to have all the bases of it covered.

What I do like, however, is a change of pace from time to time and console shooters, at least back in the day, usually offer an easier challenge than their arcade counterparts. This is most certainly the case for the Toaplan titles that ended up on the MD/Genesis and everyone in a while I track on down for a buck or two on the internet and go to town.

Same! Same! Same! (Fire Shark in the US) is the sequel to Hishou Zame (Sky Shark in the US) and is a pretty decent title. It doesn't quite compare to Hishou Zame, with kinda bland sound, strange power-ups for your weapon and the need to actually dodge weapon change icons for a long time on screen lest you lose the needed red fire shot or blue spread at a critical stage of the game. The same thing happens in Twin Cobra (can't spell the Japanese equivelent off the top of my head), but the power ups dissappear off the bottom of the screen fairly quickly. In Same! they seem to hang around for an age and it gets annoying pretty quickly, but you do eventually have to accept it.

I busted out my copy, which is actually a Fire Shark cart, but when plugged into my MD, it comes up as Same!, which is pretty cool. I believe the same thing happens for Tatsujin/Truxton and Twin Hawk/Daisenpuu.


I played through the first loop of the game on my second or third play through on the default settings - which are marked as 'easy' - and then gave it a few more runs through to get to this high score at 4,487,740, ending the run in the second loop at stage 18. Not bad and a pretty fun game. It put me up pretty high on the shmups scoreboard for the MD version and I may attack it on normal and see what I can do.