While I was scouting around for a grand prize for the Winter Carnival '09 contest, I thought about getting the Hudson Shooting Watch, a counter in the basic shape of a Famicom controller which counts how many times a second you can hit a button. Maybe the most basic game concept ever devised, but back in the day, Takahashi Meijin made news in the gaming world as the guy who could hit a button 16-times a second, which earned him the nickname '16-Shot'.
Here's a great clip from the now-defunct and legendary 1UP Show (R.I.P.). Respect the master!
Parasite Eve was a Square title back when they were really into putting out RPG's following the success of Final Fantasy VII here in the states. They had a lot of daring titles, each with its own battle system and crazy plot, mostly with young boys having to save the world by collecting some crystals or dungeon hacking, but rarely did they have anything to do outside the fantasy realm.
Square managed to make an Parasite Eve during this time of prosperity which was actually a fairly good representation of current day NYC (well, 1996-vintage) with an interesting, if bizzare plot, which involved mitochondria rebelling and taking over.
There are a ton of items in the game and you can modify each of them as you go to allow extra shots, increase defense stats, add poision to your bullets and much, much more.
The game itself is a helluva lot of fun, with a good plot and a fantastic active/action-based battle system similar to Vagrant Story. The cut scenes are fairly good, though the in-game graphics are a bit jagged, but hey, this is the PS1.
I played through it in about a week, a few hours a night and it took just over 8 hours, which was refreshing, and after saving after the end game, I can play through the EX-Game, 77 floors of the Chrysler Building, which is pretty cool.
Highly recommended, especially is you like active battle systems, sci-fi plots, weapon/armour customization and lots and lots of loot.
Destroyed my old Score Attack score tonight after two-dozen rounds of pretty intense play for a new high of 536,300 - which puts me in second place on the shmups scoreboard for Caravan titles in Score Attack and Time Attack!
My left hand is cramped and my right thumb is quite sore, but I am most definately smiling.
I'm going to be hosting a shmup meet here in Chicago, IL in late February, so those of you who don't check the shmups 'shmup meet' section but do check out this blog, check out the post (click here to go there) with the same title. Email me at 'devilscoot' at yahoo.com, RSVP in the thread or shoot me a PM on shmups if you can make it!
Knocked a little off my time, finding some new bonus enemies for a good amount of points. Trying for a sub-4 minute score, but it will be very hard, and I'm not totally sure its possible.
There are a few groups of enemies early n that I can get through to trigger the dark triangles, which are worth 3000 if you take out the entire set. Later in the game, I can't seem to trigger more than a set or two (one around the mid-boss) so I have some work to do to find more.
Destroyed my old score this afternoon. I had a run of 4:43.47 right before it, knowing where I made a few mistakes and knowing how to fix them. I fixed some and got a new high score for Time Attack at 4:19.75.
There's room for improvement and a sub-4 min time is definately possible, if I can get a few more good combos together, mostly hitting the four spheres in a row each time, which I can't seem to do. I play mostly with c-type shot, so I may switch it up and see if I can take advantage of some new techniques.
After getting the NEC XM29 and my Japanese PS2, I knew I'd have to go for a HRAP at some point in time and I went for it after I saw a seller on the internets dropping them for $129.00 shipped new. This stick is awesome, no doubt, and a must for the STG or fighter fan.
All of the buttons and joystick are replaceable, just like my Astro City cab and it came standard with a Sanwa JLF, which stayed and some cheaper buttons, which got swapped out for some Sanwa buttons that originally came on the aformentioned Astro City.
It feels just like my cab, there is no lag when playing on the PS2 and I have been playing DOJ for the last few days, totally loving the HRAP + NEC XM29 + Japanese PS2 set-up.
Having played a number of Husdon made shooters for the PCE, NES and so on, I was familiar with the formula and its one I enjoy. There's a lot of fun to be had in a Soldier title, which is why I wanted to try out the rarest one of them all - Ginga Fukei Densetsu Sapphire.
Sapphire is one of the hardest to find titles for the PC-Engine, thanks to its late release and scant few copies that made it to market. It is also an Arcade Card title, so you also need to invest in the Duo or Pro Arcade Card, which is the cost of two or three pretty good games for the system alone.
Unfortunately, Sapphire is not one of Hudson's better titles. In fact, it's pretty far from perfect and lacks alot of the polish that classics like Gunhed and Super Star Soldier have. The stages themselves are pretty blah as is the art in general. There seems to be a great lack of consistency among enemies in the games and it almost feels like two different teams were creating art assets in two seperate studios without much conversation between the two.
Even the status bar at the bottom seems badly designed. The silver-brushed aluminum look is too heavy and looks bad, especially compared to, say, Summer Carnival '92 - Recca, which is a fantastic looking status bar - one that's done on the Famicam no less!
The sound effects are sub-par as well. The shooting sound each ship makes all grate on the ears with a high-pitched screeching that sounds more akin to a broken vaccuum cleaner running at twice speed with no lubrication in its engine than a laser cannon.
The gameplay is also pretty awful with many enemies point blanking you due to their sheer size. Even the most basic of popcorn enemies can fire a few bullets at you in a small space, making it necessary to memorize their appearance in the game to get past them without losing one of your very precious lives. There is so much memorization that goes into passing the first two levels that it just gets tiring after a while. There's also enemies that pop up from underneath you (stage 2) and plenty of bullets that move too fast to actually dodge them, unless, of course, you memorize where they are comming from.
For the most part, the game seems to favor larger enemies, as if to show off the ability to use polygons, rather than crafting smaller enemies, much like the rest of Hudson's STG titles. Even the popcorn enemies are fairly large and make the art seem bloated and unbalanced.
There is something to great gameplay that makes you want to keep playing, a kind of aural and physical delight in seeing and controlling your character and hearing the sound effects and music in the world they inhabit. A great game invites you in to sample its delights. Sapphire seems to want to shut the door on you as you are still walking up the stoop.
For being such a rare and sought-after title, you would hope that the gameplay lives up to the hype that a physical copy generates, but it really doesn't. It feels unfinished and unbalanced and really very frustrating. With so many other good Hudson STG's out there that can be had for very cheap, there's really little reason to play this one.
Caravan titles are like STG-crack. My hand is cramping as I type this because I have been playing this non-stop, all morning. If I close my eyes, I see destructable towers and ships, a-type shot blasting them away, ready to switch to d-type shot for the large cylinders comming up...
This is the second title of 1992 for the Summer Carnival series, the other being the sublime and brutally difficult Recca for the Famicom.
The game has only a time mode and a score mode. The time mode is to see if you can score 1 million points in 5 minutes or less and marks your goal with the time you achieved the mil in.
Score attack is a 2-minute mode to see how many points you can score in 2-minutes. The world record is somewhere between 530K and 555K from what I have read and I'm struggling to get 500K. But I am really enjoying the struggle.
It's a pretty intense experience and one that I really love. You can just pop it in, play through a few times and put it down to go do something else. That is, if you can put it down.
There's something about caravan titles that I just love and I imagine its that there is a finite time/score to achieve and it's that concrete and quickly achieved goal I like.
Or, at least that's what the brochure calls it. What it really is is a super bad ass tatable gaming monitor which displays tri-res, high-def and has a crazy fast refresh rate. To show it in relative terms, I think it looks better than my Astro City monitor. For reals.
I started this side business of buying and selling games and wanted to get myself a little present for doing well in my first month, so I started looking for a gaming monitor that I could tate to play all my Sega Saturn and PS2 STG's on that would look better than the not-really-tateable 13" TV I use in my bedroom.
Being me, I had to find out what the ultimate monitor was and caught a bunch of threads on shmups.forum about the NEC XM29 series. johnny5 sang its praises and a few other peoples talked about how easily it tated with its industrial strength casing and how the remote had a degaussing button, as well as buttons for horizontal and vertical picture adjustment and all four imputs selectable with just a button push.
It is usually used for video editing, conference room presentations and work enviornments where perfect picture clarity is key. Yup, this thing definately makes a good video game monitor.
I started looking on craigslist, figuring I may have to settle for something else or traveling a long distance to get one, and typed in 'professional monitor' in craigslist Chicago and realized sometimes it pays to live in a big city! I found an NEC XM29 Plus, exactly what I was hoping for in the suburbs of Chicago for crazy cheap, with the remote and all the paperwork in next-to-new condition. I starred at the monitor for a second, took another second to laugh and call him up, arranged pick-up the next day as we were in the middle of a blizzard and picked it up the very next day.
The imputs for component cables are BNC connectors, which is great for video editing stuff, but Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo still use component cables, so I found BNC to Component connector plugs at Micro Center for $4.99 a pop, bought two and headed home. It also has 2 connections for VGA, S-Video and RGB, not to mention hook ups for external speakers and dip switches that, among other things, allow you to turn off the internal speakers.
I tested Batsugun on my Saturn and f**k me silly, it's gorgeous. Like I said, this thing is possibly better than my Astro City, certainly the best gaming monitor I have ever seen. I meant to try DoDonpachi on it, but got sucked into Batsugun, hence the recent high score activity.
I did go out and get a Japanese PS2 and a copy of ESPgaluda and have started playing that again, trying to drum up a high score for Cave-STG.com's monthly tourney. It's fantastic, a really perfect port, which is totally amazing. It was the first Cave pcb I bought and sold it to try other stuff out and I'm glad I have the exceptional PS2 port to play on now as I never 1CC'd the pcb. I'll be working on it now, that's for sure.
I'm still totally blown away by the picture on this thing and the fact that I found one locally, in perfect shape, with all the paperwork for waaaaaaaay less that I ever thought possible is just stupid. I've gotten lucky on my finds on a few occasions and I'm really happy to have this in my gaming stable.
For anyone contemplating the purchase of this to go with a supergun or just a console set up - go for it. This 29" tri-sync monitor is just as good as an arcade monitor - if not better, no doubt. Truely and totally worth it.
Started playing this again, working for the clear and I feel soooooooo close!
Made it a good way into stage 5, dying stupidly right before the end boss, the 'Ground of the Galaxy,' whatever that means. I ended my run with a new high score at 5,927,700.
I have been credit feeding to get patterns down for the last boss and think I can nail him with maybe only 1 death. He's got some tough stuff, but I think there are a few safe spots to exploit early on.
Amanda, my roommates friend came by last night as I was working on that last boss and she checked it out for a second, paused and asked, while watching me seemlessly and effortlessly dodge his patterns - though I have no idea how I was really doing it - "are you really that good?" I smiled, and as I was about to talk about how it was actually a lot easier when you knew the patterns - I died.
I've been on a bit of a PC-Engine kick (if you didn't notice already) and have been picking up a number of games for the system, including Sapphire, Dracula X, Gotzendiener, Valis IV & II and R-Type I.
To tell the truth, I never got into R-Type back in the day, mostly because it was hella difficult, at least for my younger self. I also never got a chance to play it in the arcade and was then just subjected to some bad ports, hence the lack of interest in the game, until I spied some gameplay footage on pcengine.co.uk.
First of all, the music hooks into me right from the start up. Ther's a kind of building rush of electronic sound that then launches into the stage 1 music and it never fails to get me stoked to play, just like the stage 1 music from the Cave masterpieces Dodonpachi Dai-Ou-Jou and Ketsui.
The graphics are excellent 2D fantasticness with beautiful level design. There are so many sections where you get a chance to spy the level design as you try and find a path through the stage that you can really appreciate the work that went into it while you play.
Progression through the stages is also near perfect, with a gradual difficulty curve and great progression in design as well, opening up the stages from the early claustrophobic feel to the later open-space feel.
The R-9 ship controls very well, with good tap-tap-tap imputs possible to dodge around enemies and their fire. But what really makes it shine is the organic nature of the detachable weapon, which you can fling off the back or front of the ship and ram it to reattach it. It fires on its own while detached and also works as a bullet absorbing shield, which you most definately need in the later levels.
I find myself playing the hell out of this when I play my PCE-Duo R, which is very often these days. After an hour or so of Valis IV, this is a perfect, short explosive burst of shmup goodness that always satisfies.
Rather than compile some boring list of my favorite games from 2008, most of which I have probably blogged about anyway, I figured I would try something a bit different - a 'best stuff of' post chronicling the things I enjoyed the most during the past year. It'll give me a chance to shine a light on things that I’m into that aren't video games. Well, not all of them anyway.
Best Stuff Top Ten
10. Valis77 on youtube.com - So, this is a strange one. After getting into the Valis series, I cought some of his videos on youtube where he does some of the 'Let's Play' series and I became totally fascinated by the guy. He's awkward, but in a good way, he's pretty good at gaming, he can translate some Japanese and he does food reviews as part of the 'Let's Eat' series, which I never knew existed, where you can watch him eat Long John Silvers. Seriously. He also has 2210 videos on youtube.com. 2210. Wow.
9. Egyptian Lover: Greatest Hits – Egyptian Lover is not a new discovery, but he just dropped his Greatest Hits album and it’s hot. Having been a fan of electro since sometime in 1985, I have always liked his tracks and they still seem fresh. It’s kind of like how 2001: A Space Odyssey still seems futuristic, even though it’s 2009 now.
8. vs. Castlevania - Ok, ok, so this one is a game, but it's a game that I never thought I'd own and I'm happy to say now I do. Playing Castlevania on a dedicated vs. cabinet is just the shit.
7. Porsche Cayman - My pops is a big Porsche nut and car fanatic, as am I, and recently traded in his 2007 Porsche GT3 for a Porsche Cayman. I was just a bit bummed to tell the truth when he told me. I mean, the GT3 is the dogs bollocks and I was so stoked on that car I dreamt about it. Twice. But the Cayman is so cool in its own right that I hardly miss the GT3. It’s the perfect combination of engine, handling and Porsche fit and finish. I was just down to see him over the holidays and I got a chance to check it out. Now I need to find a way to afford one for myself...
6. 2008 Formula One Championship - If you weren't a fan before this year, now was the time to tune in. It was a tight battle all year with McLaren, Renault, Ferrari et al, with Scuderia Toro Rosso even looking strong and the race for the championship went down to the last lap of the last race of the season and went to the Englishman Louis Hamilton, in only his second year as a pro driver.
5. Bubblegum Crisis/Snatcher/Blade Runner - I watched/played all of these around the same time period and they are all so perfectly realized that I wished there were a dozen more series/games like them. Cyberpunk certainly has its golden moments.
4. Rockband 1 & 2 - Another game, I know, but I haven't blogged about it. My roommate, George is huge into the game and I am as well (though way less talented at it) and he holds Rockband parties every month or so, which have become an absolute blast with lots of beer, cheering and 20 people all letting out their inner Bon Jovi.
3. Michael Connelly (author) - I read alot and I'm always looking for fun detective/crime novel authors I never read before. I took a chance on Connelly, picking up a novel earlier this year and I have to say, he's fantastic. His detectice, Harry Bosch is worldly, but not overbearing and tough and the writing is smooth and easy with great plot lines.
2. Vans/W-Taps collab high-top - I'm also a huge sneaker geek, and Vans hit it out of the park with this collab, blue/black and stunning. I never tire of wearing them or just looking at them with a glass of Hennessy in my hand.
1. Dupont Gatsby Intersected Lines, Silver Plate Lighter - Having been a regular cigar smoker for the last ten years, I have a thing for the nicer acutraments that go with the hobby. My father bought this lighter a few years back when he was a regular cigar guy as well and has since given it up. He gave me this lighter when I was down for X-Mas and it may be the most stunning accessory a guy could own. So beautiful, so classy and the signature Dupont 'ping' never gets old.
Thanks to the regular readers of my blog and to all of you I've met this year through gaming or otherwise. Happy New Year to you all!