Monday, December 13, 2010

New cab: Ghosts 'n Goblins - Capcom, 1985

Picked up a completely mint, totally restored Ghosts 'n Goblins today and I'm so stoked! Just like when I picked up a Tempest years back, I had to drive throughout the remnants of the big storm that ran through the midwest just a day ago, dropping 5-10 inches with 35-50 mile an hour winds and lot and lots of ice. Which certainly made the 5 miles on completely iced country roads off of 94 to my destination pretty hairy - especially on the return trip, having to do it in the dark! But it was well worth it and the game is in better shape than I could have ever imagined.

I found a posting on craigslist about a week and a half ago for it on the Madison, WI site for $200, which is pretty low for a machine that looked this nice. It's a game I have always wanted to add to my small arcade and one I have always wanted to 1cc. For the price, I expected a player - beat up, functional, but rough, much like my old Marble Madness cab. I offered $125 as the monitor had some screen burn (which actually is barely noticeable when playing it, the camera flash makes it look a lot worse than it really is) and the seller accepted. But when I arrived, I couldn't believe just how perfect the machine was. The CP was new, the actual panel beneath looked brand new - no rust at all -, the bezel had NO marks on the plexi and the marquee was just as clean.

Turns out, the guy who owned it before the current owner I bought it from totally restored it. The insides were so clean that you could have done heart surgery off them. The only oddity is that the previous owner covered the cab sides and kickplate with thick and strangely classy, certainly vintage wood grain. Think Frogger. It looks great with the edges of the thick panels beveled professionally. The original blue vinyl is under it, but I'm going to leave it as is. The stuff is super durable and actually looks fantastic. The cp graphics actually looks great with it with the tree branches on the cp bleeding into the wood grain very naturally.

The pictures here are the sellers as we disassembled it to move it up the seller's stairs and into the Element. It sits in my garage now, right next to the vs. cab, awaiting the apartment. Both will be installed upstairs before the meet in February and I cannot wait.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Makaimura/Ghosts 'n Goblins - arcade

Regular readers of the blog know that I tackled Castlevania 1cc'ing the vs. arcade and the NES console port as it was one of my most feared games of my past. Well, top of that list would be Ghosts and Goblins, a ridiculously hard and unforgiving arcade game by Capcom.

It was amazingly popular in Japan and it was ported to just about every system, including the NES/Famicom, Sharp X68000, Commodore 64 and Amiga, Gameboy Color, Playstation , Sega Saturn, Wonderswan, and the PSP.

It's a beautiful game, even today, with exceptionally well-drawn sprites and a very distinct soundtrack. The opening of the game, where your girl gets stolen away from you by a devil is still very cool and the music during the opening so distinct, that I can recall the piano-synth-organ sound at almost anytime.

Aside from being an excellently drawn and sounding game, it's brutally hard. Crazy, brutally hard. The kind of hard that breaks controllers and keeps you pissed for a while. It's nearly a total memorizer - sequences of events/enemies that need to be totally memorized in order to overcome them. I say almost because there is a fluidity to the gameplay, but one that requires perfect, split-second decisions.

I have just started playing this after loading mame on my Macbook as my Mame box is totally dead. It's a game I never could get far in as a kid, but one that I loved to play, just like Castlevania. And just like Castlevania, it's a game that I really want to 1cc.

I have been playing for a few days, about ten to fifteen credits a day, sometimes credit feeding to see just how far I can get and learn the more advanced patterns in the game. I can now get to the third stage without too much trouble, but the third stage absolutely kicks my butt every time.

I would love nothing more than to pour hours into this on the arcade and have a deal pending for one, which will hopefully be mine before the 2011 Chicagoland Winter Carnival coming up in February, the 18th through the 20th.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Sky Shark - Toaplan - high score #2

So, I found another older score I should have posted to at the very least link to the Sky Shark link on the side of the page - where I made the loop and then some (died at the final boss in loop two). I set a high score then of 1,180,770 at area 199.

It's no secret that I love this game and I did play afew credits the other night after taking a beating on Fire Shark and damn - it's so good.

The Twin Galaxies high score is something like 3mil, which I have no doubt I could get after maybe a weekend of play as bullets get faster in subsequent loops, but good core patterns will stay the same. You just need to move tighter and quicker. It would be fun to have that record, but I have a feeling it would feel like an empty accomplishment due to the fact that there are a number of players who could and have beaten that score but never cared to submit to TG.

Either way, it would be fun to see if I could do it - so who knows? Maybe just go for the counter-stop?

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Fire Shark - Toaplan - high score #1

A while back, gunbird18 loaned me his Fire Shark pcb, a stellar and brutally difficult Toaplan title and the sequel to Sky Shark. It's super fun, but demanding and you do have to do a lot of memorizing, more so than Sky Shark.

It does not have side-fields, which is unusual for a Toaplan title, so what is on screen is all there is. Which somehow sounds like it's easier to deal with but trust me - it isn't. The enemies, popcorn or large are all very tricky and the first few time you play this game you will take a shot or to to the face when you thought you would be within distance to seal bullets from the enemy ships.

The music is very cool and it has a bit of the same feel of Sky Shark, but not as good. I only think of the stage one music when I think of this game and I cannot even remember what the later stages sound like, but maybe that's because the game gets silly hard really quick.

The difficultly lies in two places in this game - the usual shot-dodging and anticipation mechanic of most Toaplan titles and dodging unwanted power-ups. Yup - dodging power-ups.

At first, you'd think that you'd want to snag a few and change shot types, but you really only want to stick with the standard blue spread shot, a carry over from Sky Shark or the red fire laser, which is stellar for bosses. The green shot sucks and should be avoided at all costs. The problem lies in that the power ups bounce around the screen from top to bottom, side to side in an almost random pattern. Unlike Twin Cobra where the power ups stay in the middle of the screen for the most part.

The other downer is that there are a lot of power ups that appear throughout the game and in some places, there may be 5-6 item carriers and the screen quickly becomes filled with a ton of power ups. Ugh.

Besides that, the game is awesome. The ship controls like the Sky Shark ship and you get the same satisfaction of killing scads of popcorn enemies when you use the spread shot and taking down bosses are sweet tapping fests that feel like real accomplishments when you take them out.

I set this high score after bringing the pcb out again after a number of months on my first credit, finally making it past the 4th stage which had been giving me trouble earlier.

Big thanks to gunbird18 for the long term loaner!

Friday, October 29, 2010

DDP high score #6: 48,704,340 - 1-All


So, I kinda missed updating this blog with this score as it was a while back, shortly after the Mid-Missouri Shmup Meet at 48,704,340, with C-S and a (low) max hit of 303. I think at the time I was so close to the second loop, I didn't think to update the blog with this score.

I did think enough of it to update the thread on shmups with the score though. I only caught it as I was taking over the DDP high score thread over on Cave-STG and knew my score hadn't been right there for a while.

I'm in the process of wiping and reformatting my MAME box as it kinda crapped out on me and then getting back to this bad boy. One of the few games - along with Sky Shark and Castlevania - that I can play anytime and enjoy it.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Dodonpachi DFK for X360

Looks fantastic and I am really sorry that I do not own an XBox yet! Ketsui, Mushi Futari, Deathsmiles, Guwange and now DFK. Yup, it's about time to own one...

I have never been a big fan of console ports, but this system is really making me change my mind! After playing Ketsui at gunbird18's meet a while back, I was impressed by how true to the pcb it was. And seeing as how I can't just go out and buy DFK, Deathsmiles and Mushi Futari, never mind shelling out a healthy chunk for Ketsui, I might be tempted to pick up a 360 and go with the flow. Cave certainly seems to be very interested in pushing the colsole port format. Some have even said that it looks like they are using the arcade to test for the home market.

In any case, it's hard to argue that a $200 system and $60-$80 games are a bad choice when pcb's are easily double or triple the cost of the system + game in any instance.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Ys Books 1 & 2 - PCE Duo-R - Review

There are so many great RPG's out there and quite a few I have never played but very much wanted to, namely the Legend of Mana series and Ys. Ys definitely has its fans and after the DS remake of the game, I felt I needed to hunt down a copy and give it a shot. I zipped over to People Play Games on Clark and grabbed a copy, feeling pretty lucky the actually had one there!

I cleaned off the PCE and fired it up when I got home, eager to see what the hullabaloo was about. First of all, because its a CD game, the audio is of stellar quality, but also some of the best RPG music I have heard in a long time. Fantastic.

The game itself is almost like a cross between Dragon Warrior and Zelda - Dragon Warrior for its level-grinding and Zelda for its action-based gameplay. In Ys, you don't have random battles or cut scenes for the actual batttles - you just run into enemies the appear on the field. Yup - you just run into them. Which at first, I thought was kinda lame, but after playing for a while, really, really started to enjoy. It makes level grinding waaaaaaay easier and really speeds up the game. Especially since you have no magic to use in the first game.

The game follows the whole overworld/dungeon mechanic with the last level being a giant tower that is much longer than any other dungeon in the game. I did find it kinda funny that I maxed my gold out halfway through the tower where I could never seem to have enough to buy the stuff you need early in the game, but whatever.

The inventory screens are simple to navigate and you don't have to do the sell something to get a stronger weapon mechanic - you can keep all of the weapons you buy or find in the entire game and never run out of room. The items in the game are also easy to find uses for - there are no cryptic puzzles or adventure-game style item matching components in the game.

The story itself is good and simple and there are areas of the game with voice overs and very nicely drawn anime-style sprites to represent the characters talking to you, which adds a kind of dreamy quality to the game as for most of the game you are blasting through enemies and running from place to place on kinda of a rampant tear and they are the few moments where you get to sit and chill for a moment.

I beat the first Book of Ys in about a day and a half, maybe 8-10 hours of game time and its excellent. Lots of fun and something I will definitely play through again. I have started on Ys Book II and I'm about four or five hours into it and it's also excellent. They didn't really mess with the formula too much, adding magic spells, which you can shoot, which is very cool. The two games tie into each other back-to-back, so that in the first game when you finish collecting all the Books of Ys and kill Dark Fact, you start the second game needing to replace the Books on the statues that correspond with on a floating continent. Very cool and a lot of fun for sure.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Akai Katana - Cave - 2010 - Preview

For those of you that haven't seen it yet, here is a 15-minute long video of Cave's newest effort Akai Katana.

The almost decade old Military-style of graphics come back, with no lolis in sight. It's a horizontal prospective, much like Progear with graphics similar to that of Ketsui. The scoring system still seems a bit tough to pick up - at least from this video. It looks like a bullet deflecting/absorbing into gold kinda thing. Could be pretty addictive. I'm just stoked on the graphics! The bullet spreads are similiar to Futari and Guwange, a pretty cool mix, with some of the organic-ness of Ketsui.

I'm pretty excited to see more videos of this, but reports from Japan say most op's are waiting for the 1.5 or BL version as seems customary with Cave's newer efforts.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Mega Man 3 - NES and update

Damn - a month and a half between posts. That's waaaaaay too long! It's not that I haven't been gaming, but I have been doing a lot of stuff in my free time - namely playing guitar and riding - and just haven't updated.

Gaming wise, I have been playing Mega Man 3 - the stellar NES title that introduced so many things to the Mega Man franchise like Rush and Protoman. It's not harder than Mega Man 2, but I find myself struggling with it from time to time as I really want it to have a Castlevania-like fluidity and Mega Man has a very stop-and-shoot mechanic that can wear on you as you kill something, run forward a few steps, pause and kill something else. Not that it always is like that, but unless you want a swarm of enemies or want to run into a storm of bullets, you'd be wise to move slowly.

Along with Mega Man, I have been playing Twin Hawk and damn if I can't break 150k. There is a two-tank boss that absolutely owns me everytime and I really just have to keep practicing it. It's a pretty fun but also pretty brutal. I certainly wish I had an autofire pcb.

Along with those few games, I have been playing a ton of guitar and am trying to get two bands off the ground right now - which is mostly have been so slow to update. It'll be the first time in quite a few years I have played in a band. I spent most of my teen years and college years in different punk bands and had a lot of fun. I'm looking forward to playing out again and having that energy that a loud amp and a live show can provide.

I'll be back to updating more frequently in the next few weeks - especially after I borrow Golvellius from Andi and get some Master Syetem goodness in the house.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

New PCB: Twin Hawk - Toaplan - 1989

A few weeks ago, KLOV member Braido shot me a pm about his Twin Hawk ocb, saying he found an earlier WTB post I made on KLOV. He asked if I'd like to buy it and to shoot him an offer. Unfortunately, I was saving every penny I had for a new amplifier and had to pas, sorry, but I could link your sales post over to shmups. He offered to just sent it to me anyway and I excitedly and politely accepted!

It arrived while I was in Seattle and it was waiting for me on my desk at work when I got back. As soon as I got home, I fired it up and went to town. It's an old school Toaplan style game, even for 1989, much like Hishouzame/Sky Shark, but with a twist. Your bombs are actually a swarm of planes that cover the bottom of the screen and fire up at the same rate you do. They can take enemy fire and go down, but if you stay near the top of the screen they tend not to get hit. If you tap the b button once, the planes appear at the bottom, but if you tap it twice before they get into formation, a bomb drops right in front of your ship of pretty impressive power. You can also tap the bomb button once after the planes have formed up and they will all dive bomb into the nearest objects.

The game required some new types of strategy besides the shoot, dodge and bomb standard for older Toaplan titles. It seems that the most effective way to play is to stay in the top 1/3 of the screen and take out large enemies very quickly and allow the drones to take out all of the popcorn enemies.

I set this first high score at 198,700 at area 33 after the third mid-boss/boss and I have trouble with him ever since. It's a pretty tough game but massively enjoyable and it has a very unique mellow, soundtrack, which I quite enjoy. I played the first night for about three hours, trading off playing time for time with my new amp - a gorgeous Orange AD30R and my new guitar - an ebony black 1981 Gibson Firebrand SG.

Big, big thanks to Braido for the pcb!

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Dragon Warrior II - NES - 1990, review

I needed a bit of a break from shmups for the time being and the past few weekends, I have been spending time playing Dragon Warrior II, the excellent sequel to the original hit. Though, I'm not so sure how much of a hit it actually was as the first game was given away free with subscriptions of Nintendo Power. I think almost everyone I knew back in the day had a copy banging around somewhere.

The first Dragon Warrior pitted a singular hero against the world and required lots of leveling up to progress. Having to kill slimes for an hour or so before you could even make it to the second town was not exactly the most fun thing in the world, espoecially as Final Fantasy gave you much more story, a party of characters to work with and required much less leveling.

Dragon Warrior II fixed some of the weak points of the first game, giving you a party of three characters to work with, a stellar story (though it also revolves around killing a singular bad guy, in the case, Hargon) and good in-game mechanics, like very, very fast moving text in battles and an intuitive menu system.

The game is a lot of fun and still enjoyable after 20 years, though I had never played the original NES version, only the Gameboy port. It is a bit cryptic and confusing at times, requiring you to take notes when NPC's give you vague hints. You have to make sure you follow up on them as a lot of the key items in the game are found in fairly innocuous places. If you don't really want to take notes, there's a lot of good FAQ's out and they will most definitely save you some time.

I'm enjoying the hell out of the game and very close to the end with only the final battle sequence to go through. I'm sure I'll be back to the DP series soon, but first, Hargon is calling.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Ketsui review - translated into French!

I got an Pm from Hydeux on Shmups a few weeks ago who represents a French shmup site ( who wanted to translate my Ketsui review over at Cave-STG into French and post it on their site. Needless to say, I was pretty flattered.

I gave them the go ahead and it is now posted on their site. I can't read French, but the site looks pretty cool. Pretty neat to see your work translated!

Here's the link to the review for my bilingual readers:

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Flicky - Sega - 1984, review, high score #1

Things just weren't coming together right on Tuesday. I got beat down on DDP, Galaga '88 and Tatsujin even before Andi made it over. It was just one of those nights where you do everything wrong and swear the controller is malfunctioning. I actually think it was, too.

Andi came over, we jammed on a few games, didn't really kick too much ass (though Andi did really get into Gigawing) and decided to end the night on an old Sega title, Flicky.

Flicky is an arcade platformer where you are a bird catching chicks and dropping them off through a door without getting killed or your chicks get taken from you by the two cats roaming the levels. You get incrementally more points from returning multiple chicks and if you finish a stage quick enough, you get bonus points. There are also bonus stages and you get a hefty bonus by catching the birds without dropping one.

The play control is excellent, with your bird (who I would assume is Flicky) able to hover for very brief periods of time and who can run much like Mario in the early SMB titles. Its a game where once you get the hang of the controls, you start to really click with the game, diving in and out of tough spots and making use of all the mechanics in the game. Andi and I both got really into it and traded high scores until I dropped this 185,950 - right after Andi left for the night.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Mid-Missouri Shmup Meet 2010

We left on a Friday afternoon, Andi, Dave and I all taking off from work a bit early for the road, which really didn't help at all as we caught crazy traffic leaving Chicago, taking 2 hours to go 15 miles. Ouch.

But, luckily, we all are good friends and can actually all converse together, so we just bullshitted, played some hip-hop and made time fly as quickly as possible.

We got there at about 11:30 and loaded in in seconds and got right down to playing and we really didn't stop until we left at 1 on Sunday afternoon.

The surprise of the meet for me was just how much I enjoyed playing pinball. gunbird18 has a Pinbot and a Bride of Pinbot in his house and both were played constantly all weekend. There's something about such an organic game that can be fun from time to time. I ended up playing so much, my arm and hands hurt from repetitively hitting the flippers. It was even hard to type when I got home. Awesome.

Fire Shark was the surprise game that gunbird18 bought for the meet, finding one locally on craigslist of all places. It was not s much of hit as I was hoping it might be, but I did enjoy the hell out of it and luckily got a chance to borrow it from Todd.

What was a hit was Game Paradise's Time Attack mode, which must have been on one of the cabs for 6+ hours. Caldwert killed it with most every character and it was impressive.

The scoring contest was the 2-Minute Mode of Soldier Blade and Dave took home the title, beating out a bunch of people who, just like my previous meets, really dig the Caravan titles, making it a pretty impressive run.

I had a blast playing DDP as I have been working on it for the better part of a month. I did get a chance to 1CC it right before the scoring contest, raising my high score to 45 mil+. I made it to the last boss with two extra lives and a few bombs. I basically had a bombfest on the last boss and came up short for the loop, but that will hopefully be along in a future post...

As always, it was good to see everyone and play together and good to meet new people.

A HUGE thanks to Todd, aka gunbird18 for having Dave, Andi and I over for the weekend.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

New PCB: DoDonpachi Dai Ou Jou, Cave 2002

Dave and Andi both came by for our regular/semi-regular gaming night and toward the end, we plugged in the DOJ pcb I have been borrowing from Dave for about 6-8 months. We played a handful of credits and I got stoked to play some more, excited for the week to come.

Dave, on the other hand, decided he really didn't like the game enough to keep it, so we worked out a trade and viola! New pcb.

There's so much about this game that I love - the music by Manabu Namiki is one of his top three best OST's (the other two being Garegga and Ketsui), the graphics and feel of the stages is vintage Cave and the play control and system are just brilliant. The chaining is a bit tedious at times to get a big score, but I'm nowhere near working on the harder stuff.

I remember the first time I saw footage of this game and was actually scared to play it - it looked so hard and punishing that I thought my anger toward not being able to play it well would override my enjoyment of just playing it and it would be a dud. It turns out to be quite the opposite. I love playing it and I love the difficulty. Games stay short and just making it to stage four feels like quite an accomplishment. I'm very glad I now have this in the pcb line up.

I haven't yet set a high score of sorts, even a crappy one, but I have been working on chaining the first level and think I will post something once I get that down fairly well.

Monday, April 19, 2010

DoDonpachi 1CC + high score #5

Oh yeah! 1CC! Been working on it for three days and finaly took down the last boss for the 1CC. Holy crap, that feels good.

I ran out to get Chipotle right after and, man, the air smelled cleaner, the block looked nicer, I just wanted to tell people I was passing that I 1CC'd DDP!

The score isn't too troubling at 41,587,830 for the scoreboards and I really haven't worked on chaining the stages like I should, concentrating on the 1CC more than anything, but damn - this feels good.

I'm interested to try the game at the Missouri meet over at gunbird18's place on a cab. Hopefully someone will bring it.

For now, I'm gonna eat my well-earned dinner and smile for probably most of the night.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

DoDonpachi high score #4

Working for the clear today and haven't made it yet, but did manage to set a new high score at 34,595,940 toward the end of stage 6.

Got to the last boss of stage 6 four times this morning on 6 credits and failed to take him out. Most every time, I had an early death or wasted lots of bombs trying to learn some of the tougher patterns and ended up getting to him with only two or three bombs, but no lives. On this run, I actually didn't make it to him, but I did chain all of stage 1 with the chain breaker at the midboss and chained a good portion of stage 2, which I still have trouble with.

Each run I've been taking starts as a distance run and as soon as I make a mistake (read: die) I starting playing more aggressive to learn how to best work stages 5 and 6. I can usually do fairly well on the later stages, but consistency is my problem. I usually make a few mistakes in each run and I just need to keep practicing those later stages to make the 1CC.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Donpachi (ARC) review, high score #1

I have honestly never clicked with this game until recently. I was always dissapointed in it, what essentially was right after the masterpiese of Batsugun. Donpachi is slow, plodding, and chaining more than 40+ is really, really hard, so don't get your hopes up of stage long chains like in DDP, DOJ and DFK.

But it's not all about chaining - it's about memorization and skill and for some reason, after Andi mentioned he passed the first loop, I was intrigued to try myself and I have been switching off from this to DFK - the first and last in the series of five DP games.

I still maintain it's not one of the greatest of Cave's efforts, but it does have its bright points. Being able to make it just halfway through stage 4 feels like quite an acomplishment and the powered-up type-3 ship is a lot of fun to play with.

It does have a lot of tough, enemy-coming-up-from-behind moments where you will end up using bombs - luckily for the player, there are plenty of them in the game.

The announcer is terrible, but in a good, laughable kind of way. The OST is awful, but the sound effects are excellent, especially when you are tearing through popcorn enemies.

It also drops the rank when you bomb, which is pretty awesome. I try and bomb at least twice in each level and it makes the game much more managable.

Set this first high score at 4,393,710 at stage 4 when Dave was over Tuesday for some STG goodness.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Dodonpachi Daifukkatsu high score #2

I played about 50 credits last night, working on getting consistent in activating the Ura bosses, which is not easy to do! I'm also working on chaining the stages once driving up the counter, which is not nearly as hard as previous DP titles.

It's a pretty easy technique to scoring, which follows this basic pattern: 1) Use a hyper at the beginning of the stage to drive up the hit counter. 2) Kill stuff the second half of the stage to get crazy points. Your multiplier from your hit counter will only kick in if your hyper meter is full, so you need to fill that as soon as possible after that counter gets jacked up. Bees give you big boosts to your hyper gauge and it also charges while cancelling bullets in Boost mode, but not Normal mode, which just increases your hit counter more rapidly. You end up flicking back and forth from Normal to Boost to Hyper, to laser to rapid fire pretty often, making it inperative to learn and get comfortable with the button layout. More than once I have dropped an awesome hit counter from hitting the wrong button. Mostly when I get excited - like heading into the second stage Ura boss and needing to hyper right off the bat to continue the chain.

The game is pretty forgiving and amazingly awesome. I haven't been into a game this much in a long time. I really hope to lay down an actual good score (5x what I have here) soon and I'm using this high score post as more of an update on my progress more than anything.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Omega Fighter - UPL review, high score #1

I'm typically not much of a UPL fan, but for some reason, I couldnt stop playing this today. In fact, I spent most of the afternoon playing, trying for the clear. I think I got to the last section of stage 5, heading inside the ship to destroy the mother computer or something.

There's something about the dated graphics, the pretty good for its time soundtrack and the Ketsui-like aggressive play style. In fact, the game heavily rewards aggressiveness, giving you a multiplier based on how far you are from an enemy when you destroy it.

You have a choice of two different shot types - the spread shot and the laser shot. The spread jiust gets wider, taking up a good half of the screen on full-power while the laser gets more powerful with each pick up - and shrinks - vertically. If you haven't played this game before, take a second to think about this. Not only does your shot get more powerful, but it gets shorter, forcing you to run up on enemies to take them out, giving you a higher and higher multiplier when you do. You can power it up so much that the beam only will extend out from your ship about one ship length. That's very short.

I found its best to collect about four or five power ups, giving you about a four ship length beam and go to town.

You don't have a typical bomb, but you do have a slow-down button, which can make all of the enemies on the screen move slow with slow shots while you remain the same. Each slow bomb is collected by picking up small satellite power-ups, which also act as shields and disappear when they take a hit. After you play for a while, you won't use these so much to get through the stages, but to slow down time to get right up on big enemies and get a 10x multiplier (the max).

The stages are all based around a mothership and destroying each of its sections - the tail, left side, nose cones, right side and the central core, which is a few sections long. The first two stages are tough, but not too bad while stages three and on are brutally hard and require some good movement.

I really, really like this game and pushed myself for the clear today, but only made it to the third part of stage five inside the ship for a first high score of 2,567,190 - which is pretty good considering my high score before that credit was just under 1 mil.

Most of you who read this blog know I'm mired in the old school and this game is now right up there with my favorite classics.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Dodonpachi Daifukkatsu 1.5 pcb - review, high score #1

Rarely do I get a chance to play something which totally stuns me. The only games that have knocked me off my feet similarly would be playing Star Wars in the arcade in 1983, the first time I played Super Mario Bros in 1987, and more recently, after five credits of Ketsui over at Dave's house when I got the pcb in the mail during lunch at work.

DFK already has a hold on me so tightly that I am thinking of selling off my prized Cinelli Supercorsa pista to try and cop a pcb! Not only is the game fun and graphically beautiful, but the scoring system, chaining and music are all top notch.

The first few credits I played I just blindly choose a ship, shot type and went to town. I made it halfway through stage five on my first credit - then I noticed brentsg had set the pcb to difficulty 1 with the max ship stock (5). I reset the system to default settings and started playing ship C, power type and just fell in love. The lack of bombs is a little disconcerting at first and you hate the autobomb right off the bat, but the truly amazing thing is that you can play this game anyway you want.

Each ship type has good and bad, just like previous DDP titles, each shot type - bomb, power and strong - have their benefits. Unlike older DDP titles, the chaining is fluid and fun and becomes addictive like any good scoring system. It requires less memorization and allows for more seat-of-the-pants chaining, which helps you to learn and enjoy the game right off the bat.

I have enjoyed learning this game more than any other STG in recent memory, including Ketsui.

I set this high score at 968,405,432 after playing it this afternoon, trying to play for distance more than score and died off about a third of the way through stage 4.

It is an easier game than previous DDP titles, but more fun as well. I really do hope the port this to the 360. It'd certainly give me a reason to buy one!

Recca VHS superplay

As i am a huge fan of this game, I have wanted to see this superplay VHS for quite some time. I know that there was one copy in someone's hands on shmups but the chances of getting it were slim.

So I practially jumped at the chance to get a DVD copy from cstarflare on Cave-STG (Yagawa game - Cave employee). Not only is the copy totally flawless, but he mailed it without charge. Awesome!

The superplay is without fanfare and hoopla, no intro screen, just the game's title screen as if you had just popped in the cart. The player plays through Normal Mode in a no-miss 1CC, then plays through the Harder mode you unlock by beating normal mode as a no-miss, 1CC, which is followed by the Score Attack mode. He hits the mil in 3:47 - very impressive, never once dropping his medal chain.

There are a ton of good strats on the DVD and some pretty impressive playing. It's a super daunting game, but oh-so beautiful in its 8-bit near-bullet hell glory.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Vimana high score #1

Vimana always feels like a lost Toaplan title to me - a game that fell by the wayside while other games like Out Zone, Batsugun and Hishou Zame took center stage. It's not the greatest game in the stable for sure, but not the worst either. It's simple and fun and kinda broken with autofire which makes it enjoyable for a time.

I have played this on and off for the last three nights, having spent a few weeks kinda plodding around with shooters like Raiden and Battle Garegga, trying new things, but not really gaining any progress.

Which makes looping Vimana all the more enjoyable. I finally hit the loop and made it a good way throught the second loop before caving in at 2,049,050 at area 187.

I don't expect to come back to this one anytime soon, but for those of you who haven't given it a shot, load it up in mame, turn on autofire and go for it.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Good Parenting Award: gunbird18

Regular reader and friend gunbird18 sent me this pic of his two kids - Nathan and Hayley - playing some DDP over the weekend and it's too adorable not to share.

Keep 'em at it gunbird18 - we need some Western shmup record holders!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Muchi Muchi Pork - high score #1

brentsg let me borrow his copy of MMP for a while and I have been playing it on and off for about two weeks. It's almost a perfect melding of a Cave title with its scoring mechanics (ala big bonuses like Futari) and the stage layout and feel of a Yagawa game.

Unlike a lot of games I like, MMP does place very heavy emphasis on its scoring mechanic and this is especially troubling during boss fights where you have no idea where their health bar is. If you don't wait for the right time to pop the boss, you lose millions. For example, if you pop the mid boss of the first stage and the end boss at the right time, you can leave the stage with 6 mil conservatively (without milking). If you don't 2-3 mill is probably a good average score.

So you tend to look for the right moments to trigger big payouts and that takes away from the game for me. It takes so long to figure out timing and places to score well that you don't pay attention to the stages or the music or the layout. Since most of the enemies are very tame through the first two stages, you can play them with almost never looking at the whole screen, just tap dodge and score.

Where MMP gets it right is the games mechanics. The beauty really comes out when you start to figure things out and put high scoring opportunities together and make it happen. So there's a relatively steep learning curve to score well - most games are like that anyway. When you do start rocking the pork gold, it's immensely fulfilling.

This isn't a crazy high score or anything, just a starting point. I'm working on stage 3 at the moment and want to work on the game without thinking of scoring well to try for the 1CC, but that's kinda hard to think about most of the time as I just want to see the screen filled with gold. So satisfying.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Taking a break with NES - The Legend of Zelda

When I get tired of playing too much of a game I am working on, I like to lay back and dig up an ol' favorite to blast through tp clear the palate. The Legend of Zelda for the NES is one of my favorite games for doing that. So simple, so fun and it brings back a lot of memories.

First time I saw this game, I had trouble understanding it. I knew about RPG's, but there were no turn-based battles. No experience either. But, you crawled through dungeons, collected stuff to gain access to other stuff and had upgrades to your weapons and shield.

I think it was the first action-RPG I had ever played and I totally fell in love with it. I never bought it back in the day, but got it a few years after it had come out and played it a ton. I even made a board game with pieces of the entire game - simplified of course - though I never played it with anyone.

I played through the game this time in four days, each time, working on two or three dungeons at a time. I stopped after mapping most of nine, partially because I had stuff to do that day, but also because I have been playing MMP (thanks brentsg!) and that seems to take up most of my time.

I may go back and try the second quest as I never completed that 'cause I couldn't find one of the dungeons, but I think I am back to shmups - MMP and BG - for the time being.

Always good to take a break and get refreshed!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Battle Garegga high score #5

Man, I just love this game. Just as I said in my Best of the Rest post for 2009, I have become a crazy Raizing fan. Garegga is one of the few titles where I can keep playing for two hours and not get angry or hate the game. There is so much strategy and so many possibilities, that I just love playing it.

I started in on trying to go for distance and made it to stage 5, through the platforms to the first of the four end bosses and gave up the ghost shortly there after. The score sucked, but it was the first time I ever made it to the 5th stage and faced the platforms, which I took out without a problem. I think I gained a lot (no pun intended) from watching the INH and Gamest replays of those stages and studying the patterns. I was actually pretty blown away that I made it that far.

For this run, I wanted to start scoring well and worked on keeping a medal chain and working over some of the bosses for points, though Madball still is on my to-do-later list. I made it to Satanic Surfer - the boss of stage 4 - for this run and died very stupidly on some of the crossing fire.

I think I will be sticking with Gain ABC for a while - I was playing using Miyamoto for a while, but found that I like Gain better - for the speed and scoring possibilities.