Monday, July 30, 2012

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

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 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, 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!