Saturday, December 15, 2012

Raiden high score #4


Yeah man! Now this is a breakthrough game. Went right from playing Raiden II this morning and getting virtually nowhere to playing this and on my first credit, got about halfway through stage 7 before getting totally wiped out. I beat stage 6 without much fuss - which surprised me as I had never played it before. I dropped two bombs on the boss and blasted my way through to finish the stage.

If you have never seen stage 6, you start off after 5, landing back on the carrier from the beginning of the game and then taking off for space. Its a very cool moment and a nice break in the game. If the first 5 stages are a tribute to Toaplan's Sky Shark/Twin Cobra feeling titles, stages 6 and 7 are their take on a Tatsujin-like space stage - with a very similar midboss to one of the Tatsujin ones - a four-ship cluster that moves in a square pattern.

I'm not really sure how hard its gonna be to push through and get to the end of this one - pretty sure that's gonna take some time. I really should have practiced stage 7 with a few continues to see what's happening there, but there's time enough for that later.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Raiden high score #3


I use to think Seibu just put out some pretty blah stuff - especially compared to later Toaplan and early Cave, but this is yet anopther company that has snuck up on me and I find myself really, really digging their back catalog.

Raiden is pretty much a tribute to Sky Shark with about double the difficulty and double the cheapness of side field point blanking. There are quite a few frustrating moments where you are in the zone, feeling the flow of the game and whap - bullet from behind.

But I still can't get enough of this game. It's the intenseness of the stages and toughness of the game from early on. I find myself being able to glide through stages 1 and 2 most times, but from stage 3 on, it gets intense. As it stands right now, stage 5 is my sticking point. This score at 755,470 feels pretty good as I had near perfect runs of the first three stages, but 4 and 5 need a lot more practice!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Omega Fighter high score #3 - and second loop!




Man, I'm on a roll! After I finish got to the second lop in DDP, I popped on Sky Shark for a bit, got bored of it and popped in Omega Fighter Special and tried to up my high score. I hit 5.9 and 6.2 million and got so close to completing the loop - making it to the end of stage 8 a few times - I knew if I kept on it, I'd make it. Well, about 30 credits later, I did it! 7,370,700.

The last three stages are damn near impossibly with out being powered up but in stage 8, you get a chance to earn powerups - something you cannot do in stage 7, so if you can survive till the last stage and hold a red bomb heading into the boss - you got it made!

I made it about a stage and a half into the loop as the bullets are much faster and much harder to dodge - especially from the turrets. I also noticed I didn't have any lives left after suiciding on the stage 1 boss for the million bonus, so that might have been a dumb move.

Omega Fighter Special is such a great game, one of only two proximity scoring games I can think of, with Ketsui being the other. UPL's best by far.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Dodonpachi - high score #8 - 67,086,640 - and second loop!


Finally! After a few dozen runs over the last month, I finally made the second loop! I'm super stoked. The run was far from perfect and did have me playing just for the loop rather than pushing score (though I was hoping for 70 mill), but it all came together. I finished the first loop with over 50 mill and a 386 max hit count, which felt awesome.

The loop is pretty wild in terms of bullet count, but it also does allow for a longer timer on the hit meter, so chaining is easier - if you can avoid all the masses of bullets. I made it to 2-3, losing my last life right before the carrier with the 1-up. I literally died right at the last part of the ship that houses it and I was a bit bummed, but I'm pretty sure things would not have gone well against the stage 3 boss in the second loop. As it was, the stage 2 boss ended in a bomb fest - that tank gets brutal!

I'm not sure if I will go right back to this or not right now as this was my long term goal. I'd like to break 100 mill at some point, but that means chaining or building the multiplier and my chains need a lot of work. Working the multiplier will be a lot harder as it means very selective bombing to keep the multiplier up - and most likely a no-miss, no-hit run up through 1-5.

Think I'm gonna go celebrate!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Dodonpachi - progress for that second loop!


Man, I wish I had more time to work on this! I have been pretty busy socially lately and haven't been able to devote much time to DDP, but the time I have devoted has not been in vain.

Numerous times, I have made the requirements for the second loop, only to have the wheels come off and lose like say, three lives on the third stage end boss or something equally silly. I have scored over 50 mil a few times now, gotten over 350 hits many times and I just need to have a day I can run through the game a few times in a row and make it happen!

I am still suprised at the fact that I still enjoy the hell out of this game after so many credits on it. I usually get fairly bored after a while and move on, but I cannot get this out of the cab!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Tatsujin high score #2


Man, now that I have an autofire circuit with a split autofire (A with autofire and regular A) wiring harness, I can finally attack this board with some seriousness. I finally blew past my old sticking point around area 90 and though I didn't make it much farther, progress is coming fast. It's brutal and fun at the same time, a great Toaplan title, but I already feel the pull of DDP after getting very close to the second loop a few weeks ago at caldwerts.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

1942 high score #1 (and final) NES


This past weekend I was at caldwert's place in St. Louis and while the meet was totally fun, Friday night was all about this marathon score of 1942, a game I played a bunch as a kid and constantly lost after like 3-4 stages. I think my best was stage 27 back in the day.

Like Castlevania, I thought it was an impossible game to beat. I mean, 32 stages? Too daunting for a kid.

At caldwert's on Friday, we were going through a massive box of Famicom games he just picked up and checking them out and ran across this, laughed and put it in, remembering my dissapointment as a kid.

I died a few times in the first few stages, coming precipitously close to a game over and then - I kind of got the hang of it. I plower through to the 20's, with Bob coming by every few minutes to check on my progress. I wfoulnd the bosses along the way who fired small bullet spreads and got their pattern down and plowed on. I made it into the teens, then declared if I rolled the counter, I would stop playing as it was taking some serious time away from enjoying other great games in the pile.

I counter stopped it and decided to go on and beat the game, seeing the ending screen on my first try of the game in 20 years and man, it was satisfying. The ending screen was short with simple "Congratulation" and some text and then a game over. I finished with 10 lives (which I think is the max) and a big smile. I love taking down games from my childhood.


Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Thunder Dragon 2/Big Bang high score #4


I was struggling for some time at around 1,49X,XXX and finally broke through, getting to the end boss of stage 6 and eating it very quickly. Right now, I am pretty addicted to this one - lots of fun, not nearly as hard as I remember it. There are 8 total stages and I have credit fed to the end a few times now, learning the later stages and trying to get the hang of the end boss.

I forgot to mention it in my previous posts, but the music here is done by none other than Manabu Namiki of Cave/Basicscape fame and its really good. I know now why i like this game - its because its fantastic. Not triple A, first party fantastic, but damn close.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

New PCB: Thunder Dragon 2/Big Bang - NMK 1993 and high score #3


I suppose as one gets older, they gain some perspective and are willing to try things they previously thought were a bad idea or just plain crappy or maybe, just something they didn't fully understand till they got older. This is the case with NMK and UPL titles for me. Back in the day, I just thought they were crappy, Toaplan-esque rip-offs and didn't really have much to offer. As I get older, I found that I am really starting to dig some NMK and UPL games - especially Big Bang/Thunder Dragon 2.

There is most definitely something great about this game, mostly in the gameplay system (simple) and dedication it requires to get good at it as the bullets are blue and can be hard to see from time to time depending on the enemy and back ground. No wonder Cave uses so many pink ones. 

I kept finding myself over the past few years going back to this game and having a blast with it, even though I couldn't figure out why, but I definitely dig this game. It's fun and hard and the game itself is actually 8 stages, which is pretty impressive. There are also a few fun things about the game if you have never played it like the text at the beginning of each stage being destructible and if you kill certain groupings of ships fast to get bonus enemies at the end of certain stages worth a bunch of points. 

This high score isn't a world away from my last one, but its worthy of an update as it was set getting to stage 5, even though I had no bombs and ate it pretty quickly. I do have a set of roms coming to convert this pcb to the Thunder Dragon 2 version, but as far as I can tell, there are actually no differences in the game itself, which will make it a bit of just a title screen swap, but we shall see. I really do like this game and its making me want to track down a copy of Gunnail and a few others and give them a run, especially as pcb prices seem to be getting up there.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Dodonpachi Saidaioujou (Cave, 2012) review and high score #1 A-S

video

Holy. God. Damn. This. Game. Is. Awesome.

It is very rarely that I get into a game so totally from the outset that its all I want to play. Most games, especially most of Cave's newer efforts are a slow burn that take a while to take hold and for me to enjoy them. Most of the time, I can take or leave a new title, especially the last DDP title, DFK, which was a bit of a bummer for me as I am not a big fan of bullet-cancelling games.

Saidaioujou however, is the shit.

There is only one other game in my entire history of my gaming, from 1980 to present that has made such a strng impression on me after the first few credits - and that is Ketsui. Which is probably the best compliment I can pay it, especially if you check the sheer number of Ketsui-related posts on the sidebar.

Usually, and ceertainly in the case of Ketsui, a game has to be the total package - OST, mechanics and graphics - to totally blow me away. Ketsui, DDP, and Garegga all fit these requirements. With SDOJ, its all about the mechanics. The OST and graphics, while good, are not great. In fact, I tend to mix up stage tracks in my head as they all sound a bit the same to me.

The mechanics. Holy hell, just awesome stuff and really where the game shines. The game itself is a direct sequel to DOJ and follows the same basic mechanics - shot, laser and hyper. Where SDOJ takes off is the build up and use of the hypers and the subsequent GP Bonus and increase in rank. For the most part, the first few runs I took, I popped hypers when ever I got them and the rank went up high and I died easily without much of a leap in score. If you hold onto your hypers, the multiplier increases as does the points you get. I have found that popping six hypers at a time seems to be the best for my current strats and makes for a doable rank heading into stage 4. It also has an auto bomb feature, which is great for learning the stages.



As it is right now, I have a high score on A-S of 1,294,867,667 where I headed into stage 4 with three lives in reserve and finally lost it on the stage 4 boss which I have very little experience with. I really only have a good hyper strategy up to stage 3 and then, it falls apart. I'm sure I'm missing a lot of points after that, but as I cannot stay alive for huge chunks of 4, that makes saving hypers pretty hard.

This pcb is on loan from rancor in Japan, who is a goddamn saint. I have it for about a month and I play it as much as I can without driving my lady crazy and I am making real progress. I have to start credit feeding stage 5 and get some good strats for the later half of the game, but as it is right now, I am still totally in love. It's an amazing game, one that keeps you working hard and keeps throwing new patterns at you. No Mushi style tap dodging here - you have to learn and adapt to new stuff all the time. It's very rewarding and very fun and very old school. I absolutely love this one.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Radiant Silvergun - Gamest Vol. 44 VHS + T-3 0001 VHS superplays




Radiant Silvergun is a game that I have played a number of times, but almost like watching it more than playing it. It doesn't hurt that the soundtrack is just amazing - atmospheric, conjuring images of Tron and Blade Runner in equal measure.

The gameplay has been referred to as a puzzle shmup and that's pretty accurate. 6 shot types and three different colored enemies that will chain together for big bonuses if you only kill those of the same color. Your shot types also power up as you use them, so strategy is key to scoring and distance in this classic.

Both of these VHS tapes were recent buys in Japan and both were fairly inexpensive, with the Gamest tape around $40 and the T-3 one at $50. Both have been on my list for a while and showed up at almost the same time. The quality of the VHS tapes is excellent and the runs through the game are amazing as well with the Gamest run including the whole anime intro to the game.


The T-3 superplay is from T3-Wiz and he kills the game (stage 4) with a final score of 26,015,290. The Gamest tape is done by ECM-S.I, who finishes just shy of Wiz with 24,099,790 (also stage 4 route). Both runs are amazing to watch and though Wiz has since eclipsed this score in 2009 with a 27,550,780, which is the current WR.

It's also interesting to note that the Designer of the T-3 package was none other than C. Cat CHAKO, otherwise known as Curious Cat, who has done numerous doujin art books on ESPgaluda and ESPrade.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Ketsui - Game Inn Namiki DVD superplay - 3.7 mill 2-All with B-Type



Those of you familiar with some of Japan's more famous game centers may recognize the game center here - Game Inn Namiki, where a number of Japan's top STG players play.  For a time, they released their own superplay DVD's and this one is Namiki Vol. 4, which is a 2-All run of Ketsui.

It's only a 3.7 million run, which has been eclipsed by subsequent DVD's by a healthy amount, but this DVD was made when most were still learning the game and features some early paths through the game and runs that are not seen on later DVD's and makes for interesting watching if only for that reason alone.

It's presented with your choice of tate or hori viewing modes, which is pretty cool and has a fairly rudimentary title screen, but its a charming package nonetheless. The accompanying booklet is a commentary on the path through the game and all in Japanese, but still impressive. I'm still hunting down the other Namiki titles, but like most doujin releases, they are very hard to find.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Nintendo Game & Watch - Lifeboat + Squish





Ok, so I'm on a bit of a tear with G&W games. Both of these kinda fell into my hands within a week or so, with Lifeboat being a game I snagged from Zespy at Logan Hardware and Squish being a game I bought on eBay for a whole $23.00 shipped.


Squish is a cool maze game where in the Game A mode, you move the maze on the bottom screen while it scrolls left or right, up or down, all controlled by the guy on the top scren who changes the scrolling from time to time. It takes a while to get speedy and I found it kinda boring. Game B, on the other hand, is excellent. Instead of just moving through the maze, you need to touch the guys at the four corners of the maze to move on. It's fast and fun and very challenging when it gets moving. It does take a few games to get use to the controls as instead of a D-pad, its two seperate controls for up/down and left/right.




Lifeboat is the shit. This game is super fun, gets totally crazy pretty quick and once you pass 400 points, becomes a high-level maniacal reaction-fest. Which is awesome. It's like you need four or five cups of coffee before you can even get your brain moving that fast. I couldn't stop playing it this weekend in between bouts of the Wimbledon Men's Final and Raiden II (which I played the hell out of at Zespy's).

I'm sure there will be a few more of these that will get added to the collection - and maybe some other brands at some point as there was a lot of competition for Nintendo at the time. I have seen photos of a Captain Harlock and a Space Battleship Yamato, both by Bandai, that I would love to check out at some point.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Dodonpachi - Vol. 43 Gamest superplay VHS



This is the last of the Gamest DDP VHS's I needed for my collection. It covers the A-type and B-type ships on one VHS and has been totally elusive! I couldn't find one through YAJ or the shmups forum or Cave-STG. Bored one day at work, I checked through Amazon.co.jp and there it was - for 5000 yen!

rancor, my man in Japan, hooked it up for me and I got it in a two package lot with tons of superplays - which I will post up about here shortly. The copy looks brand new and plays perfectly, which for an old VHS is key. I have been silly lucky with the quality of the VHS stuff I have been buying - old anime (Dominion Tank Police, Kishin Corps, Bubblegum Crash, etc) and superplay stuff - and I hope it continues!

It's a great, super professional superplay which is something you can always expect with Gamest. The content has since been uploaded to youtube, superplay.co.uk and nicovideo and should be pretty easy to find.

Nintendo Game & Watch - Donkey Kong II + Mario's Cement Factory


When I was a kid in the early 1980's, I was game obsessed. I had a penchant for portable gaming as well, having a few LED tabletop games and a few Game & Watches, which I absolutely loved. There was something about the graphics and the design that drew me in in a big way and the gameplay totally sucked me in - especially platformers like Donkey Kong and Donkey Kong II.

Both titles were stand-alones from the franchise and while the games retained some of the elements that made the arcade games popular (jumping barrels, rescuing the girl), they also changed the gameplay and added new elements, making them very fun in their own right.

The game play of most titles is easy to understand and also very challenging once the game gets going, especially titles like Chef, Lifeboat and DK II. They are pretty addictive and still totally enjoyable, even after all these years.

Way back when, I owned a Donkey Kong, a Donkey Kong II and a Donkey Kong Jr. I played the hell out of all three titles. The birthday I got the DK, I ripped it open and ran to the couch to play, almost toitally ignoring my other gifts! I guess I have had a love affair with Nintendo for sometime.

Today, these little LCD gems go for big money on eBay and on the second hand market, with some titles going for a couple hunderd dollars - easily the cost of a new DS! I bought the Mario's Cement Factory here, which is in awesome shape, for $60 shipped and the DK II from a girl on Chicago CL for $25. Both are fun as hell and I want to add a few more to my collection.They are great little diversions and fun to have sitting around the house for when you need some quick gaming fun.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Twin Cobra high score #8, 1-loop clear!


I didn't expect to get the loop clear so soon! Played one credit this morning after doing some housecleaning and made the loop, taking down the final boss with only one death - which feels pretty good for the first time playing that boss!

Autofire certainly helps, but the later stages really require you to be able to anticipate and dodge bullets much faster than the early loops, and you have to have a lot of practice under your belt to get those stages down.


Making it to the last stage for the first time, the stage 5 music plays (stages 6-10 have the same music as 1-5) and its my favorite song in the game,  making me smile as I started the stage. It's a tough stage, but not too much more so than 7-9, so I did this one by the seat of my pants and made it to the end boss. My level of excitement flying into the stage end boss was sky high and it felt so great to get there after a few years of playing this one seriously from time to time.

The second loop was pretty brutal, but totally doable. Like most Toaplan titles, its all about the fast bullets as the enemies stay the same and their placement is identical. Bullets also do not seal unless you are basicaly right on top of the enemy, so you do have to be careful.

It feels great to loop this one, especially since I have spent a lot of time this weekend on it and Deathsmiles (which I recently 1CC'd without worrying about scoring). Toaplan forever!

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Twin Cobra high score #7


Back at this now that I have an autofire pcb, thanks to rancor! Autofire is a must - especially for the later bosses. Some are so brutally hard, that even with autofire, its damn near impossible to score enough hits to take them out. That being said, it's still a fucking awesome game.

I do find it odd that the Japanese version allows for 5 shots on the screen and the US version only allows 3, making it that much harder, but also allowing you to lose a life and continue in the run of play, rather that the checkpoints in the Japanese version.

This run saw me actually survive fully powered up until stage 7 and after that, I never got back to full power. I'm still learning the later stages as I have never really credit fed the game. There are 240 areas in the first loop, so I was getting damn close here...

Saturday, June 23, 2012

New PCB: Koutetsu Yousai Strahl - UPL 1992



UPL is one of those lesser known developers who get over looked pretty easily by some of the shmup incognoscenti but one who has a few excellent titles to contribute to the genre. Omega Fighter, I still consider to be their best work, but Strahl is quickly becoming a favorite.

I bought this from Sofia in Japan, one of the few times I have used a dedicated PCB business, and as usual, its well worth the few extra dollars you will portion out. The pcb arrived in two day from Japan via EMS, T. Onihara at Sofia was painless to work with and the pcb even came with original artwork, something I had never seen before. The packaging was perfect and done with the utmost care and just opening the box felt like an event. I felt like I should have a glass of scotch and bright lighting rather than my desk at work.

The game itself is awesome,  a great futuristic military shooter with a decent soundtrack. The game play is actually very good for a horizontal with a kind of medium level of difficulty - but I am typically pretty bad at hori shmups, so you can take that with a grain of salt. Your ship has a forward shot with a rotatable missile shot both by tapping A, where the missile shot can be adjusted for numerous positions by tapping the A + B buttons simultaneously. B is a bomb and the game allows you to select from four different shot, missile and bomb types at the beginning f the stage, with each coming at a weight penalty with only a certain amount of weight being able to be carried by your ship. It's an interesting system and one that allows you to get a big amount of bonus by loading up on small bombs and keeping them still the end of each stage, racking up a big bomb bonus.

It gets some negative criticism for being able to counterstop the game due to the high bomb bonus, but its still excellent fun and as much as I would love to counterstop it, I think that may take some time. There does seem to be a strange link to SDOJ with its inflated scoring bug as both games are super fun to play but ultimately suffer from some scoring issues, but scoring aside, this is a fantastic game.

New PCB: Rally Bike - Toaplan 1988



Rally Bike is one of those games that I have wanted for a while, but not bad enough to search out unrelenting till I found one. It's a top down, vertical scrolling motorcycle racer made by Toaplan with the happiest music in any Toaplan title that I can think of. It's not gritty, its not militaristic and its fun as hell.

The game has a lot of hidden bit and pieces to it, like in stage 1, where you can jump your motorcycle at the end section of the stage into the back of a farmer's pickup filled with a few pigs and then you can control the truck through the end of the stage, running over other motorcyclists and plowing through to the finish line.

It's a great non-shmup Toaplan title. I picked it up this past weekend at caldwert's meet from the man himself at the same time I got Same! from gunbird18.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

New PCB: Same! Same! Same! - Toaplan 1989


This is now at the top of my Toaplan collection, a game I love, one that I hoped to own and finally came into my hands, courtesy of gunbird18.

It's Same! Same! Same! by Toaplan, the sequel to Sky Shark and one of Toaplan's greatest efforts. It's brutally hard and unbelievably fun, especially if you like your shmups hard.

I found this PCB for gunbird18 a while back, spotting a Fire Shark machine on the St. Louis craigslist for $250. I had bargined with the seller for about four months, trying to get them to just sell me the pcb and junk the cab, to no avail. I needed to get the whole shebang or nothing. I finally let gunbird18 know about it and he went over and picked the whole thing up.


I had borrowed the pcb a while back and converted it from the US version of Fire Shark to the rare 1-player Japanese rom version of Same! Same! Same!. And then after a few years of Todd owning it, he decided to sell it on and here it is. Awesome.

I just got an autofire pcb from rancor in Japan and played about ten credits last night and now I have to relearn the game with autofire. I got a few 300K+ games in and retired for the evening, smiling broadly.

I have been on a bit of a pcb buying tear recently and have a couple new acquisitions to go over in the next few days...

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Omega Fighter Special high score #1


Set this high score on Omega Fighter Special this past weekend up at caldwerts meet in St Louis. We kept a steady stream of tough games in the candy cabs there and this game got some love from the peoples there and I got seriously hooked on it. This run saw me get pretty far - I think to the fifth stage before I ate it. I used the 1,000,000 point suicide trick on every boss and damn if this game hasn't got under my skin.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Otogi Matsuri signed - Joker Jun + Btooom! rancor lot


Shmups forum gentleman rancor has become my go to guy in Japan and over the last few months I have been picking up superplays, games and other stuff to satiate my gaming palate. This lot of goodies arrived about a month or two ago and had rancor's trademark Japanese Kit-Kats and hand wipes from game centers in Japan. I finally got a copy of the official Akai Katana superplay by Cave and its pretty awesome- also pretty strange as they used the X360 port for all of the three versions of the game.

I also got the INH The Aces High Raiden superplay DVD, which is fantastic. It covers runs in Raiden, Raiden II and Raiden DX as well as having two CD's full of music from the series and "rare tracks".

But the cream of the crop out of this lot was the Joker Jun mangas. Now, I have just started in on reading a few series and I'm digging manga stuff a lot at the moment. Junya Inoue has to be one of my favorite game artists of all time and I decided to take a look at his manga work via some scanlations on the web and got totally sucked in. His Latest, Btooom! is like a combination of the series Lost and the game Halo and I won't say any more for fear of spoiling it. Check it out, really good stuff.



Otogi Matsuri was Joker's first manga, and it has a lot of characters from ESPrade and Guwange and is about teenagers saving the world from traditional Japanese evil spirits and I dig it. The art, of course, is fantastic. This issue I got has been signed by Joker Jun himself and has one of the characters from the series exclaiming "Fight" - which is pretty bad ass. It's a welcome addition to my collection and at somepoint here, I have to frame it and give it the treatment it deserves.

Big thanks to rancor!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Soukyugurentai (Raizing) high score #1


It's been a few years since I picked this up, but after setting up the game room the way I like it and settling in, I thought it was time to give this under appreciated Raizing title some time on the Saturn.

The first thing that grabbed me about this game back in the day is the music, then the graphics, then the gameplay. The music is killer - beautiful and rolling, perfect for this futuristic, cyberpunk-ish world. The graphics are also excellent - and I'm not a graphics whore either - but the stage back grounds and boss designs are extremely cool and slightly moody, bringing a feeling of life to the world.

The gameplay is what will totally hook you though. Your ship can fire with the a-button, but if you hold it, your ship will cast out a net, targeting everything within that net and when you let go of the button fire powerful shots out to destroy the ships targeted. It also works as a multiplier - the more enemies you snag, the higher your multiplier. Each ship has a limited number of ships they can target with one cast of the net, and each ship also has two different types of net, selectable with the c-button. B, of course, is bomb.

I've been hooked on this for the past two days and played it a bunch when a few friends came over last night to play a bit. I've kinda hit a wall with it, trying to learn the stage 4 and 5 boss patterns and dying a lot in the process. I'm playing on arcade difficulty (5) and plowing ahead and this is as good a place as any to mark my first high score. Its good enough to get me to 10th on the shmups board, which is pretty satisfying.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

New PCB: Black Heart - UPL/NMK 1991


The video was a little teaser (probably mostly for myself) as I have been looking for this for a while now, hoping not to pay silly prices for it. Black Heart is a cute-em-up designed by NMK and released by UPL and its a super fun early 1990's STG with a swords and sorcery theme. It's got a great OST, matching the lightheartedness of the game and pace really well.

This happens to be the Japan version, which does not have autofire built in, which I really don't mind at the moment. It seems doable without autofire, but I will be getting an autofire pcb from rancor shortly anyway.

The pcb was misslabeled on ebay as 'Black Hert' and I happened to stumble across it just looking through all the pcb boards. It does have a small bit of sprite corruption, but the seller has already agreed to pay for the repair costs and it will be going back to channelmaniac (guy who repaiured my Battle Garegga and Twin Cobra) as soon as he gets back from a work trip.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

VIDEO: Black Heart - UPL - 2nd Loop clear




Here is a 2nd loop clear of Black Heart, an NMK designed, UPL released cute-em-up. If you have never played it, its a fun game with the International version coming with autofire while the JP one does not, strangely. The mechanics are simple and the gameplay is challenging, but not crazy. The second loop however, is a different story. Gets real serious around the 6:20 mark in the first video.

Interestingly enough, when SYO was interviewed by INH for the DVD release of Ketsui, he mentioned he was playing a lot of Ketsui (naturally) and 'a certain looping game by UPL' - which happened to be Black Heart.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Dodonpachi high score #7, 53,761,940 - and working for that second loop


This run could have been so much more awesome than it ended up being! Not only did I get over 350 hits (396 on stage 5), but I scored over 50 mil - which, if I could have held it together, would have got me into the second loop!

As it is, I'm happy with this score, the first time I have broken 50 mil. There were a ton of mistakes, including a death on stage 2 and two deaths on the stage 4 boss, who I never seem to have that much trouble with.

I died with five bombs left, which kinda sucks, but really, I have been working on getting my first loop play solid so that I can start hitting the second loop and working that. I have also been working on my chaining, with full chains coming in stage 1 and good, partial chains coming in stages 2-4. 5 and 6 are mainly survival, but 5 only seems to have a few chain breakers, so I hope I can get those down and get some serious scores coming in!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

New Pinball: Big Game, Stern - 1980









It is amazing when you start to look for a game and you find one, not only local, but for a good deal. It also seems to be pretty rare here in Chicago as there are a multitude of collectors and the competition to get local games is tough - good deals on Craigslist going fast.

After I got my Iron Maiden back together, I realized that I absolutely love early Stern games, especially those around the 1980-1981 period, and I decided to try and track down a Big Game. I decided on it after watching the PAPA Classics final game on it on the Pinball Archive and loved the set of three drop targets, the exposed and dangerous pop bumpers, the spinner shot in the upper left and the complexity of the scoring on the bingo cards. It's also Harry Williams last game he designed before he passed away and its a fantastic layout.



I looked on RGP and Pynball for anyone selling one and struck out. I then checked the Pinball Owner's Database for anyone who may have one they would even consider selling. And just like the Iron Maiden, I found one, for sale, very close by. As I was planning on selling off my Firepower, I offered up a trade, he accepted and I went to get it this past Saturday.

The good news was that he had installed new Pinscore displays, rebuild two of the flippers, none of the plastics were cracked and the game was complete with two backglasses and the original legs. Only downside was that the sound could be flaky, the game was in dire need of a cleaning and full shop job and the playfield glass was missing.

The sound issue turned out to be two bad ribbon cables, which I replaced with the ones from my IM temporarily. The playfield glass will cost me $47.34 from a local glazier and I will be picking it up in a few days. I spent all day Saturday shopping the game out with new rubbers and cleaning the playfield with a combination of Magic Eraser and de-natured alchohol and listening to Destruction's "Live Without Sense".


The Magic Eraser treatment is tricky but the results can be simply amazing. The playfield was dull with many, many swirl marks and the white was damn near gray. It took about two hours alone to do the playfield, but now with two coats of wax on it, it looks fantastic. There are only two wear marks near the lights I need to touch up, but that will come later.

The gameplay is awesome for a widebody - very fast and satisfying. The spinner shot in the upper left is a super cool design. When you hit the ball through the spinner, it wraps around into a kicker hole and stays there until the spinner is done counting. It also scores the lit 'BIG GAME' lights you have lit - and the kicks the ball out, like a mini-bonus count down. Every flipper has a number of shots and these early Stern Flippers have so much touch and feel, that you can pull off some great techniques. I certainly prefer them and the Bally versions to Williams powerhouse designs.

Thjis is one that will stay in the collection for sometime. So good. Thanks to Zespy for again letting me shop a game in his place and joining me on the trip.

Friday, May 11, 2012

New PCB: vs. Gradius - Nintendo 1986


So, I have been on a vs Nintendo kick recently, buying roms for vs. Mach Rider and getting a vs. Pinball and vs. Dr Mario in trade for some work and then buying a set of vs. Gradius roms to round everything out.

Next to vs. Castlevania, this may be the game I have most wanted to own for the vs. system as its A) a mega classic shmup and B) an iconic game. The beginning music is the first thing I hear whenever I see pretty much any Gradius/Salmander title being played. I sucked mega at this game back in the day, but I am excited to play the hell out of it now.

Luckily, after getting the vs. Pinball, I had the PPU I needed in the Pinball PPU and the daughter board needed in the vs. Goonies daughter board, so I only needed two roms to get it rolling in my cab, a whopping $15 shipped. vs. chipsets are confusing things, but to make sense of what you need if you have a system, check out John's Arcade site (the first site that comes up if you Google "vs Nintendo") and there is a great listing there of games and PPU compatability.

UPDATE: I played this for a night in the cab and made it about 80% through the game. It's as fun as I remember, but a lot easier than I remember too! The constant tapping on an upright wore me out, but with a bit of practice, I think I can give this a run for its money!

vs. Mach Rider high score #1


This is a hard game - but damn fun. I've only dropped maybe 20-30 credits in on it, but this is by far my best high score. I reached stage 6 and was very close to the end of the stage - like 2km - before my time ran out.

Early enemies give you few points, but later enemies in stage 5 and 6, gray quads specifically are 10K a piece if shot (I think they take like 20 shots) and 20K if you ram them into barrels. I managed to get one of them into a barrel and there were something like 4 or 5 of them in the stage, so some careful playing and aggressive bumping may get you a silly amount of points on later levels.

The Twin Galaxies world record score is listed as 170-something thousand for this version, the Endurance Course, which is very low. I'm guessing there is no end to the game here, but just like DK 3, I wonder of there is a point at which the game gets no harder. In any case, I'm having a lot of fun with it right now! It may be moving out of the cab as I just got in my vs. Gradius roms...