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.