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Thread: Opinions on poorly documented imports

  1. #81
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    Default Sunsoft Memorial Series Volume 1

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ID:	8036Around the turn of the century, Sunsoft got a little weird. They started putting out the Sunsoft Memorial Series, a series of 6 discs, each containing emulation or ports (most likely emulation) of 2 NES/Famicom games, on the original Playstation. I call this weird for a few reasons. First, these are NES games, some very heavily associated with Nintendo for me (like Blaster Master and Journey to Silius), and it feels a little odd to play them on Playstation because of that. Secondly, with only 2 games per disc, compared to other compilations of the time, these discs barely use their storage space. Lastly, the choices of games... some are brilliant, and others so confounding that they would be how Sunsoft would choose to display their legacy thay one can only scratch one's head in bewilderment. I'm going to go over these all eventually, probably out of order, but I'll start with the first.

    The first game Sunsoft chose to represent its proud tradition was Ikki. Odds are, if you've heard of Ikki, you know the word "kusoge" and how this game all but defined it, but I'll be objective from my first-hand point of view. You play as a farmer rebelling and being assaulted by various soldiers and ninjas. Your actual goal is to locate all of the coins strewn about each stage, which are about a 4-screen grid in size. You automatically throw your weapon at the nearest enemy, which kind of works, but you can't lead an enemy as a result and have to be pretty close or have a good angle to hit. The only real powerup is a staff that works a bit like the hammer in Donkey Kong, only you can only attack upward and it actually decreases your range, so use it at your own risk. Couple this with the fact that you must get quite close to the edge of the screen to scroll, and you have a very difficult game. Still, you can work around the faults with methodical movement, and the pace is frantic. The graphics are a little below average for an early title, but not the worst you'll see, and there are only 4 looping stages. It's a bit of a mess, but can be oddly compelling.

    The other game on volume 1 is Super Arabian, which is a superior single-screen arcade-style game in the vein of Donkey Kong in which moving through ladders and platforms on a single screen, your goal is to collect all of the bags in each level yo spell out the secret word, such as "horse" or "flower." Picking up the letters in the correct order will net you a hefty bonus, and since the game loops after several varied screens, playing for score is where it's at. You are not defenseless inSuper Arabian, as aside from an invincibility powerup, you can kick the bejeesus out of any enemy as well with a well-placed kick. Hit detection is pretty solid, so I usually felt like it was my fault when I died. There are several varieties of enemies that fly, crawl, and climb at you, and the screens offer a surprising amount of variety in theme and obstacles such as moving platforms, ladders, vines you can hang from and shimmy across, etc. There's also an alternate mode where the bags are unmarked and MUST be collected in the proper order, adding another layer of challenge for veterans. It's all in English to boot, and I really enjoyed it.

    So, you have 2 games with no real language barrier here, both of which are probably measuredin kilobytes. Still, there's an early arcade addictive quality, especially to Super Arabian, which I liked a bunch. However... these Sunsoft discs are a mixed bag on price. People often try to get $30 out of this one, and the truth is you could buy both of these loose carts combined for less than $10, or boxed for about $20-$30, so in this case it's not a great bargain unless you hold out for a goid deal. I paid about $15 for this, and I feel okay about it, but I'd generally say skip Ikki and pick up a loose cart of Super Arabian for $5. It's all in English and old-school arcade fun!
    Last edited by celerystalker; 05-12-2015 at 10:03 PM.

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    Default Sunsoft Memorial Series Volume 3

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ID:	8037More Sunsoft fun! Volume 3 of the PS1's Sunsoft Memorial Series is another twin-pack of Famicom games, this time containing Toukaidou Gojuu-san Tsugi (I'm sure I made a mess of that title) and Wing of Madoola. These games are both pretty much entirely in English, which is one of the things that attracted me to this disc. So, on to the games!

    Toukaidou Gojuu-san Tsugi is a side-scrolling... er... I guess platformer, though platforms aren't really the obstacle so much as ninjas and samurais and such running wild. You are some sort of fireworks/explosives maker on the run from somebody, and your only defense is to throw your explosives at your enemies, who die in a delayed, comical fashion. Control feels a little slippery at first, as the momentum feels a lot different from the likes of Super Mario, but I was able to adjust and get a feel for it. Enemies come in fast and furious, though, so quick reflexes and memorization are the order of the day. There are tons of point bonuses hidden in that old style of oddly-placed invisible locations upon which you must detonate explosives. Your explosives can be thrown one at a time forward in an arc or dropped on a timer at your feet. Those thrown will detonate on impact, whereas dropped are really only good for picking up bonuses. It's a decent little game, and certainly better than the likes of Ninja Hattori-kun, but feels dated even compared to its contemporaries.

    Wing of Madoola is an early attempt at a side-scrolling action RPG, and it's full of a lot of interesting decisions as a result. You start of ridiculously weak and slow, but by going into doors you find along the way, you can pick up numerous powerups that increase your attack, speed, jumping ability, and grant you magical attacks such as fireballs that shoot from your sword. The game is divided into separate stages, so when you defeat the boss and move on, you can't just go back to find missing powerup items. However, there is a continue function if you hold select before pushing start after you die, which will allow you to choose which stage up to your current you would like to start from. You retain all found items and increases to your health and magic even when returning to past stages, so don't be afraid to go back if you need to find something you think you've missed (some levels do get a bit maze-like) or to rebuild your health, which refreshes at 1000 upon each continue, but can max out much higher. There are 8 main stages to traverse, and a lot of challenge, especially starting in stage 5, where the purple flying blobs starts to swarm you while you're attempting a tough series of jumps. Overall, I like this one a bunch, with its good-sized levels and non-linear continue system. It's no Rygar or Metroid, and would greatly benefit from a password save, but if you can set aside an afternoon for some archaic fun with solid early generation graphics, control, and music, Wing of Madoola's a lot of fun, and completely in English.

    So, again, the main issue with this disc is cost of disc vs. buying loose carts of the famicom games. Toukaidou Gojuu-san Tsugi is a fun but mediocre game, and usually sells for about $10 right now. Wing of Madoola is far superior and even quite fun, but the cart costs typically less than $5 if you don't fall for an overpriced buy it now... and Sunsoft Memorial Series Vol. 3 tends to go for $15-30 shipped. So, if you're already a famicom guy, this disc isn't a super bargain, but I guess it does have a manual, and boxed copies of these two skyrocket. So, it's not a great bargain for more than $15, but the games are quality, and both are probably worth picking up loose carts if nothing else, but Madoola is the better game.
    Last edited by celerystalker; 06-03-2015 at 10:09 PM.

  3. #83
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    Default Sunsoft Memorial Series Volume 5

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ID:	8038Continuing with both the Sunsoft Memorial Series and my love of the Hebereke series, volume 5 of the PS1 compilation series contains rAf World and Hebereke, a pair of legitimate minor classics on the Famicom. So, the games!

    rAf World is Journey to Silius. It's not really obscure or an import exclusive, so I'm not going to waste much time on it. Oh, but your character sprite has a helmet, making it look slightly more robotic, and I didn't notice any other significant differences. As Journey to Silius is widely available on NES for very little, there is no reason to buy this disc just to play it, though it is an excellent run and gun... and the Japanese title screen is cool.

    Hebereke was Sunsoft's marquee franchise in the '90s, though every friggin' game in the series was left to Europe and Japan until download services took hold in recent years. I like to view the series as Sunsoft's Mario; it began as a platformer, then spun off into a puzzle series akin to Dr. Mario with Hebereke's Popoitto (and the Puyo/Columns hybrid Hebereke's Popuun), then a picross series with O-Chan no Oekake Logic, then a party board game Hebereke no Oishi Puzzle, a racing game in Hashire Hebereke, and even a fighter in Sugoi Hebereke! Oddly parallel, eh? Hell, the Hebereke gang was the face of the Famicom Barcode World, even. This game is the original Hebereke, the platformer known in Europe as Uforia, but without the weirdly deformed sprites.

    Hebereke is a free-roaming adventure a la Metroid or Rygar, but considerably more adorable. You begin as the penguin Hebe (or a goofy-ass snowman called Bop Louie if you're European, and if so, you did it wrong), and you must scour the world, make allies with the likes of O-Chan, Sukezaemon, and um, Jennifer by defeating them, and eventually fight a big-ass cyber frog. The graphics are great, the map is big, and the control is solid with a few quirks.

    You can jump on enemies, but only if you hold down on the d-pad to thrust your feet downward. Once stomped, the enemies become little blobs that you can pick up and throw. Each character has their own abilities-O-Chan can float and walk on ice with his claws, but is slow. Jennifer can swim in deep water, and Sukezaemon can float... and you can switch on the fly. You'll pick up health powerups, a map and compass, and other helpful items that will enable you to eventually traverse the entire map. There is a password-based continue system, but when you die you start from the beginning of the game, which can get old, but isn't a deal breaker. Cap it off with pleasant music and this game is a winner.

    So, once again, the burning question, is this disc a good deal? Probably the best one yet, really. Journey to Silius csn be had for less than $5 still at the moment. Hebereke, though is typically about $50-60 for a loose cart or so, and this disc can be had for $30-$40, so it can be a money saver, and the cheapest way to play the original game on a physical copy. Whether as Hebereke or Ufouria, I'd recommend it to Famicom/NES enthusiasts as one of the better games we missed out on in the States.
    Last edited by celerystalker; 05-12-2015 at 10:05 PM.

  4. #84
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    Default Sugoi Hebereke

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ID:	8039Well, since I've been going on about Hebereke in this thread...

    Sugoi Hebereke is the Hebereke fighting game on the Super Famicom based on Sunsoft's cutesy mascot franchise. In keeping with the Mario parallel, it's a non-traditional 4-player brawl, but that's where the similarities end. Sugoi Hebereke employs an overhead perspective much like Bomberman, but you use a combination of punches, kicks, special moves, and items randomly dropped in the arena to pummel your friends/opponents instead of strategically placed explosives... though there are explosives... You have special moves activated by Street Fighter-like button presses to go along with your basic punches, kicks, and jumps. Also, once beaten, you turn into a blob like the enemies in the platformer, at which time you can hop about and generally get in the way until the round ends.

    The arenas present their own hazards as well, such as pinball-like bumpers, moving platforms, and springboards to keep you on your toes. There are also seemingly random atmospheric effects such as fog, rain, sun, and night to add flavor and chaos to the proceedings, but there's a catch... for stages with a lot of moving parts, slowdown gets all Gradius III on you, and it's a bit of a dampener on an otherwise chaotic experience.

    There are four options on the title screen. The bottom two are configuration and options, respectively. The top option is the arcade/story mode, where a single player goes out into the world to rumble. The second is the exhibition/vs mode, in which there are 5 options that correspond to the number of players, the bottom being a "watch" mode. By default, it's first player to win three rounds for the win. As short as your life bars are, this makes for a fairly frantic and reasonably-timed length.

    The graphics are bright and colorful in the best SNES tradition, and the music is peppy. Overall, it's... well, it's super easy in single player mode. While fun and aesthetically appealing with 8 playable characters, multiplayer is where you can get the most out of Sugoi Hebereke. Still, it can be had for less than $10 for a loose cart right now, and if you're a Hebereke fan like me, it's good fun... but if you have some friends to play with it's great fun.
    Last edited by celerystalker; 05-12-2015 at 10:06 PM.

  5. #85
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    Default Hebereke no Oishii Puzzle

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ID:	8040Deeper into to world of Hebereke games lies Hebereke no Oishii Puzzle for the Super Famicom. Much like Mario took his pals into a competitive board game setting, ol' Hebe took O-Chan, Sukezaemon and the rest into a board game. So, since the Hebereke gang has been showing these concepts earlier than Mario's pals, how does it hold up?

    Well, it's definitely not the frantic pace of Mario Party, that's for certain. Up to five players can play Hebereke no Oishii Puzzle, and you take turns similarly moving about the board, which is comprised of blank spaces, traps such as missing turns or returning to the start, and more than anything else, colored squares. Each color corresponds to a different mini-game type, but, well....

    The mini-games are puzzles. Simple, childish puzzles that, while maybe briefly amusing, certainly don't make for a compelling, competitive experience. The four colors are red, which triggers a "find the differences between two pictures" puzzle, blue, which gives you an actual puzzle to put together in a time limit, purple, which puts you in a very easy "Where's Waldo" scenario, and yellow, which gives you an all kana crossword to solve. So, if you don't read the language, you're screwed on these. The puzzles are simplistic and repetitive, clearly designed for children. Japanese children.

    You get 2 "help"s to use in a game, and a strict time limit to solve each puzzle. Failure will cause you to spin the penalty wheel, which can send you to the start, cost you a turn, lose 1000 points, and so on. Success grants you points, along with bonus points for your remaining time. The game ends when a player reaches the goal (first to reach it gains 1000 points), and whoever had the most points in the rnd wins.

    Really, there are only a handful of boards, and the puzzles tend to recycle the same pictures. The single player game challenges you to traverse the entire board with no opponents. However, if you fail, you lose, and you have a limited number of continues. The goal is to make it through all of the boards... so if you don't speak Japanese, you'd best not hit a crossword or it's just game over.

    Up to five players can play, but good luck getting four friends to play this one. It's meant for kids, has a significant language barrier with the crosswords, and has uncharacteristically repetitive music. It is easily the worst game associated with the Hebereke franchise, and just for a different audience than me, which is a shame, as I love both video board games and Hebereke. Ah, well, you can't win 'em all...
    Last edited by celerystalker; 05-12-2015 at 10:06 PM.

  6. #86
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    Default Hashire Hebereke

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ID:	8041Okay, okay, I promise that this will be the last Hebereke game that I write about... for awhile...

    So, I've already talkef about the Mario/Hebereke franchise parallel, and in that we've hit the platformer, the fighter, the Dr. Mario-style puzzler, the picross game, and the board game... so unless there are edutainment games to discuss, that leaves us with a racer to parallel Mario Kart, and Hashire Hebereke for the Super Famicom is, well, exactly that.

    Okay, so, for starters, this is not a kart racer. It's a foot race between the cast members of the Hebereke games held in an isometric view with a couple of wrinkles thrown in for good measure. You hold Y to move, and in the options you can change a few things, such as turning with left or right for a more RC Pro Am/Biker Mice from Mars feel, or true 8-directional movement. Turning gives the game more of a racing game feel, but it is frankly way easier in 8 directional mode. There are other options as well, such as diagonal movement for an angled D-pad in 8-way mode and such, but the turning or not really has the biggest effect on your in-game experience.

    Next is the characters, who have wildly different attributes. Hebereke can outrun Sukezaemon, but being a ghost, Sukezaemon can float and turn in mid-air allowing him to bypass clusters or racers and cut corners... but if ther is a large drop, he floats down so slowly that it's extremely tough to win with him. So, depending on your character, this can be a wildly different game.

    Thirdly, each track has checkpoints that you MUST cross in order for your lap to count, so be careful when attempting shortcuts, or you'll find yourself running the lap all over again from last place. There are shortcuts and obstacles such as climbing, jumping, and swimming, so choosing the route that suits your character makes all the difference.

    Now, to what's the same: items to throw your buddies off course with a press of the shoulder buttons, turbo spots, colorful tracks, fun characters, and peppy music. While a different style of racer, Hashire Hebereke never forgets its whimsical platformer roots, and has a similarly upbeat flavor, and while not nearly as well balanced as Mario's first racer, it is rather lovely to play.

    As far as modes go, you have your story mode where you go around challenging everyone on the all-to-familiar-by-now Hebereke map if you've been playing any of these games. You also have a practice/time trial mode to put together your finest laps, and, um... poop tag. Yup. You have a turd on your head, and you have to see how quickly you can chase everyone else down and, um... I guess rub poop all over them.

    For multi-player, you have a typical split-screen mode for racing, and also battle mode, where you chase one another about hurling blobs at one another in attempt to be the first to score 3 hits. I don't know why poop tag isn't available here, but it's depressing that it isn't still, as the game only supports 2 player split-screen, the battle mode won't be what you're here for anyhow.

    Altogether, Hashire Hebereke is a fun little racer with great tracks, a unique feel, and strong challenge. However, the two player modes are very limited, as this game could have been almost as crazy as Nekketsu Koushinkyoku: Soreyuke Daiundokai if it supported four players. Still, if you like cartoony racers or are a Hebereke, go ahead and pick it up, as you'll have your fun here, but if you aren't sure, try some of the less expensive games like Sugoi Hebereke first to see if it's an atmosphere you like, as a loose cart for this one is usually at least $15. I like it, but clearly I am the target audience... okay, so no Hebereke or Sunsoft next time, I promise... probably something Barcode Battler-related or something more obscure.
    Last edited by celerystalker; 05-12-2015 at 10:07 PM.

  7. #87
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    Default Robot Poncots 64

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ID:	8042Well, I know that this title can be (and is usually) spelled many ways, but I'm going with Robot Poncots 64 because that's how it's Romanized in the instruction manual. Anyway, Robot Poncots 64 for the Nintendo 64 (shocker, right?) is one that I'm surprised I haven't seen more noise about. If that name is looking awfully familiar to you, that's because it is in fact the N64's counterpart to the Game Boy Color game, Robopon, of which there were 3 versions in Japan. In a lot of ways, this might look like Robopon's version of Pokémon Stadium, and while there is a little truth to that assumption, there's a ton more here to get excited about!

    Robopon is a light RPG much like Game Freak's series, but you train robots to fight for you. Robot Poncots 64 takes the RPG format to the N64 in some nifty ways uncommon to the system. You get pushed out to sea in your grandpa's submarine with a Robopon that he gave you. It's your mission to travel about, fighting off pirates, taking on missions, and entering competitions in order to become the greatest Robopon controller of all. You have a tilted bird's-eye view of your sub as you travel, but you can go below deck at any time, which is your main hub. Here, you'll make and train your robots, take on minigames that can benefit them, and get advice from your team (and save). When you make contact with an enemy or enter a competition, battle mode begins as a one on one fight. You can also dock at various islands and stations to fight and interact with various people in order to gain access to new cores to build more Robopons.

    Things mix up even more here, as you can move your Robopon in real time during battle instead of essentially playing rock/paper/scissors in Pokémon Stadium. The stronger your bot, the faster the attack gauge fills, and when it's full, you can choose your attack by pressing a button. The real-time combat is considerably more engaging than the Pokémon Stadium battles, and kept me more engaged in playing.

    The look of the game is a refreshing change for a N64 game. Sure, you have your typical polygon models and muddy textures, but your characters are lovely, detailed, colorful, scaling sprites laid upon those backgrounds, giving the game an utterly unique look for the system. The music is fitting if forgettable, but the graphic presentation really brought me in with its nifty style. Honestly, had they completed Earthbound 64 in this style, I think I'd have been happy with it.

    Now, were that all there was to it, it'd be just another tragically lost import RPG that the US market could sorely have used. However... like Pokémon Stadium, Robot Poncots 64 allows you to choose up to 3 Robopons and have fun vs battles with a friend in vs mode. This is a fun little fight to be sure, but to make things better, this game also supports the Transfer Pak as one of the all-too-few games that did, and allows you to bring in your Game Boy Robopons! This is a delightful reward for fans of the series, and gives you a reason to dust off that Transfer Pak, or to try one out if you don't have one.

    There's a lot more game here, as the single-player game is fully fleshed-out, and I've barely scratched the surface with the minigames. Honestly, it'll be awhile before I finish it, because RPGs in Japanese are a slow go for me, but I will get through it, as the style, fun battles, and opportunity to get more use out of the Game Boy save file are enough to keep me on board. If you're an N64 importer who's already done the Sin & Punishments and Rakuga Kids of the world, take a look at Robot Poncots 64. It looks great, and if you're a fan of the Game Boy game, you can get a ton of mileage out of this one... and the vs mode is pretty accessible either way. I dig it, but be wary of the language barrier for the story mode.

    I guess I should add that if you're looking for more on this game, you'll have better luck calling it Robot Ponkottsu 64... it's possibly more accurate, but again, I was using the spelling from the actual manual, for whatever that's worth. Oh, one last bit... if you're a collector, a complete copy should come with a bonus Robopon card game card, as apparently there was a customizable card game in Japan. Nifty!
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  8. #88
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    Default Super Black Onyx

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ID:	8043Well, I'm not sure this one is super obscure so much as forgotten by time more than anything. Super Black Onyx is a Famicom exclusive remake of the PC game, The Black Onyx. The game was fairly well documented in its time as one of the earliest Japanese exposures to the RPG formula put forth by games like Wizardry, being somewhat of a first person dungeon crawl with a lot of mapping (or for modern kids, FAQ searching) to do.

    You start off by choosing your character from a large pool of presets, class and all. There are heroes (basically fighters), mages, and monks, and you have stats and skills for all three, which you can change with a simple change of equipment. After a brief look at the surrounding sea, you journey into the town level of a looming tower in which your goal is to find the Black Onyx, which bestows great power. You will quickly begin to experience random encounters, in which you have three options: run, fight, or talk. Running does the obvious, as does fighting. By talking to characters, though, you can recruit them (up to 5 in a party) to join you. Select the team members you want, then hop into the lower dungeon layers to earn money and fight some lower-level goblins and the like.

    Fighting is what made this game stand out to me. In battle, after choosing to fight, turns begin to be taken automatically, with your party lined up on the left, and your foes on the right. Your character's weapon will rapidly fly across the screen, pause next to the enemy, then come flying back. This is where it gets unique. Your characters will throw their weapon straight forward at the enemy opposite them. By pressing up or down mid-flight, you can change its trajectory to go toward a different enemy. In the fraction of a second in which your weapon pauses next to the enemy AFTER touching it, you must press the A button to atrack. Bad timing sends it back with no inflicted damage, so battles become much more actively engaging than you would expect from a game of this type. By pressing B, you can pause the battle to change your direction... try to run or talk it out, change which weapon you are using, take on a defensive stance if you have a shield, or use items like potions to recover or gems for new magic. The fast-paced battles are surely the centerpiece of this game and what made it worth writing about for me.

    Exploring the first person maze is very typical of the NES/Famicom games of the day, with no real scrolling; you jump from screen to screen rapidly. If there is a floor or ceiling, just press A to travel through it. There are black walls, and touching one will warp you to the last one you touched, making a convenient warp network. The backgrounds are decent, but not great, and do get old after awhile. There are tons of shops and NPCs to encounter, so working hard to upgrade your equipment is pretty easy... and did I mention it's all in English? Menus, descriptions, shops... you name it, it's in glorious, readable English.

    I'm not often in the mood for these old-school dungeon crawls. I'm a console and arcade guy for the most part, and the oldPC style isn't in my wheelhouse. However, I like combat here enough that when I do get in the mood to bust out the graph paper, this will be near the top for me, along with Shining the Holy Ark. Much more enjoyable than I would have expected, but I wouldn't expect it to make a bunch of converts. If you're into these kinds of games though, this is one of the more impressive ones I've played!
    Last edited by celerystalker; 05-12-2015 at 10:08 PM.

  9. #89
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    Post Densetsu no Ogre Battle Gaiden: Zenobia no Ouji

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ID:	8044Densetsu no Ogre Battle Gaiden: Zenobia no Ouji is not all that obscure. I just want to talk about it, as it is the game that turned me into an Ogre Battle fan, and a big one at that. See, I tend to shy away from overly complicated strategy games and RPGs. Not because I find them difficult, mind you, but because I don't enjoy micromanaging in video games. I hate staring at character sheets, skill trees, or item creation menus, having to churn out hours worth of prep just to play a 40 minute battle, then do it all over again. That's one of the reasons I love Dragon Force; it streamlines most of the nonsense and gets you fighting. Ogre Battle was a game I'd read about quite a bit, because Nintendo Power had a massive boner for the game, and did so many epic center features about it... it always looked fascinating, but reading about alignment, reputation, class trees, weapon bonuses, terrain effects... I was completely turned off to the idea of playing it, despite being intrigued by the nifty artwork and great presentation.

    Fast forward to about 2003. I owned the SNES game, but never really played it. I was super into my Neo Geo Pocket Color, and had been snapping up anything I could find for it... and one day at the now gone, but not forgotten Game Trader, I saw this one on the shelf, and it dawned on me... I'd recently played through Langrisser Milennium a couple of years before, and it wasn't too tough in spite of the language barrier. I knew I could play and beat strategy games in Japanese... and here was a version of Ogre Battle, on a system I was into, and being in Japanese was just the excuse I needed to completely disregard the game's menutia and just friggin' play it! So, $20 later, I found myself at home with what would become one of my all-time favorite portable games.

    So, if you're unfamiliar with Ogre Battle, the basic idea is that you and your rag-tag army start out in a castle on a map, and your opponents start out on the other side in theirs. You have a few separate units with a leader and up to four subordinates, and you move them around the map with a simple point and click interface not unlike moving a unit in an RTS like Command & Conquer or Warcraft. Come into contact with an enemy unit, and battle ensues. Battles last 2 rounds, and you only select a general strategy for your group, which will automatically play out, such as "attack the weakest" or "best overall." You can also play tarot cards, each of which have their own effect, once per battle, which cast helpful and often devastating magic spells. Win by either eliminating all of the opponents' characters in the unit, in which case they disappear, or doing the most damage, in which case they are pushed back a bit from where they last stood. There are also towns and temples all over the place. Land on a town to liberate it, and you get a tarot card, and in some you can find items or shops. Standing still on a town not only allows you to guard it, but you recover there as well for free. Work your way across the map, destroy your opponent, and maybe make a few allies, then it's off to the next map!

    Now, if you know Ogre Battle, you know there's a HELL of a lot more to it, but to just play the game for the first time, this was all I needed. The menus are almost exclusively icon-based, so they are easy to navigate regardless of language, and even easier if you know the SNES or Playstation version, as the NGPC admirably replicates March of the Black Queen's look, feel, and systems. The music and graphics are awesome, and with 13 main maps and 4 secret levels in the endgame, there's a lot of game packed into this portable version... and a ton of ways to play it.

    Now, for my first play, I just played it like I'd play any strategy game... build up a few powerhouse units and beat the holy hell out of everything that moves while camping on towns (which any veteran will tell you is exactly the wrong way to do it), and I beat the game handily with mediocre alignment. Now, did I get the best ending? In no way, shape, or form. However, did I have fun? Tremendously. This was exactly what I needed to fall in love with the game... an excuse to ignore the parts I don't care about and focus on what I was interested in to begin with.

    I already owned the SNES game, so I decided it was so much fun I could take the time to learn to play Ogre Battle in English, and it's probably my favorite strategy game these days. I'm not going to take the time to go into all of the ins and outs... if you really want to know, feel free to ask or PM, and I'll gladly go on about it. The important thing is, this Neo Geo Picket Color side story is phenomenal, and eschews the complete change in direction of Tactics Ogre and the tweaks of Ogre Battle 64 in favor of acting like its big brother on Super Nintendo. If you like portable strategy, NGPC games, or Ogre Battle, play this game. It made me into a believer, and now I have the Super Famicom version, the Saturn version, the SNES version, the N64 sequel...
    Last edited by celerystalker; 05-12-2015 at 10:09 PM.

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    Default Blue Breaker

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ID:	8045I'm always happy to play something new on my PC-FX, so when I found a dirt cheap auction awhile back for Blue Breaker, I decided to give it a shot. In truth, it's also available on Playstation and Saturn, but given the option, I go with PC-FX, because A) I have one and want to use it, and B) PC-FX handles anime better than either of those due to its fast disc access speed, and Blue Breaker, like just about everything else on NEC's white tower, is loaded with anime cutscenes. So, I loaded it up, watched the full-length opening credit cutscene, and got rolling.

    Blue Breaker is an RPG with a heavy focus on its anime presentation with full voice acting for all dialogue, tons of cutscenes, painted backgrounds, and huge animated character portraits during any interaction with NPCs. However, the game's mechanics aren't just the typical RPG trappings of the '90s. Had this game been in English, it would be considered brief and overly linear. However, its design choices make it much easier than it would have been to play in Japanese!

    First, the way you travel the world... the world of Blue Breaker is comprised of a series of islands floating in the sky connected by a series of land bridges. On your nicely painted world map, you select an adjacent island with a cursor, which will set you into what looks like a belt scrolling (but is really just a flat 2D) stage, going left or right toward the next destination. You can access your party menu, search the ground, and walk left and right, but every so often you'll be interrupted by an enemy encounter.

    It appears more complex than it really is. All you do is select an icon for what you want your character to do next, and they will automatically continue to execute that action each time their turn pops up until you interrupt and select a different choice. Really, fights border on auto-pilot for much of the game, and you'll likely need to grind out a few levels in order to get going. There is little penalty for dying, though, so don't be afraid to check out a new area and see what's what.

    Once you reach your destination, you have four choices: move to a new island, go to the local inn, your party menu, or enter the area's dungeon. At the inns, you can sleep, save, shop, get into your party menus, etc. The dungeons of course house the necessary items and encounters necessary to advance the story, and while they play out exactly like the land bridges with little in the way of exploration, they do have tougher encounters and a few alternate paths to try out. This limited selection from menu to action to result makes Blue Breaker far more accessible than a traditional, more wide-open world in Japanese. Hell, it's downright playable. The items have icons to indicate if they're weapons, armor, health restorers, or EP restorers (Blue Breaker's MP), so even using and equipping items is a breeze.

    Blue Breaker has outstanding anime art, nifty chiptune-sounding music, and some nice sprites over colorful, painted backgrounds. If you'd like to play an accessible, if simple, JRPG on the PC-FX (or Playstation or Saturn) and are an anime enthusiast, it's pretty nifty and loaded with atmosphere. The PC-FX version can be had pretty easily at around $20, so if you've considered it or are looking for something to play for the system, this one's not bad at all.
    Last edited by celerystalker; 05-12-2015 at 10:10 PM.

  11. #91
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    Default Game-Ware Volume 1

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ID:	8046You may have seen the Sega Saturn's Game-Ware discs floating around out there and had a vague curiosity about exactly what they are. Demo discs? Digital catalogues? Well, a little bit of both... it was a five or so issue digital magazine with not only news and ads, but demos and interactive advertising. So, to elaborate... After a commercial for UFO Ramen, you get to the psychadelic main menu that looks like 1990 vomited all over a still from Myst. So, I'll go through the basic contents.

    At the top left is the Sega Saturn Masterpiece Collection, which allows you to play a demo of Last Gladiator Pinball. You are able to watch video clips of several tables, but you are only allowed to play a round of the Warlock table. It's a decent if a little simple table, but it gets the point across. Last Gladiator was a pretty good pinball title in its day, so this trial, while not a selling point, is nifty.

    Next is some interactive advertising, the Super Hard HG Cup, brought to you by Super Hard Mousse and Hair Gel! You hop around as a penguin, and the goal is to slide underneath all of the gates strewn throughout the level and in igloos. You can spike up your hair with some gel, which allows you to break blocks, and... well... it's friggin' hard, even with the mini map. You can get super hard, though. There's also Telecom Town, in which you use your Telecom phone card in a belt scroller, throwing it at enemies and using it in phone booths for special attacks by dialing 0088. It has cute pixelated sprites, repetitive, poppy music, and plays fairly well... though it doesn't seem to end from what I can tell.

    Next is the Forum, which is basically a gallery to view commercials from the companies that funded this disc. UFO Ramen, HG Super Hard toiletries, Pioneer, and Sweetie.

    At the bottom is Shopping, where it appears that you can browse a catalog and place orders if it's 1995 and you have your NetLink hooked up. Good luck with that.

    In the lower right, there's Information, where you can view CG pictures, Japanese language interviews, and an image gallery regarding Panzer Dragoon II. There is a music section with similar info about the music of the time including Shonen Knife, Oasis Space, and Bjork. Yeah. Lastly here, there is a music section where you can read about Horror Paradise Vampire and Vampire in Brooklyn, and view trailers. Holy crap, I need to watch Vampire in Brooklyn.

    Lastly, there are serial games for the magazine. First is a "find the hidden kanji" game, where you find the one symbol in a where's Waldo type scenario. It's actually playable, but absurdly simplistic with jazzy music. Next is a game in which a boy walks the surface of a sphere, and you must move a cursor and spin road tiles to guide him to collect all gems in a time limit. It's a cute puzzler, and can be fun for a few rounds. Lastly, the crown jewel, Series of Dreams, an FMV game where you make decisions for a salaryman trying to have a date that suffers from supernatural intervention. It's strange, slow, and to me, oddly compelling, always driving me to choose other paths to see what strangeness will unfold.

    Game-Ware is a true oddity with some unique content. Not quite a demo disc, not quite a catalog, and a dash of original if simple games make it a real head-scratcher. It's never impressive, but a nifty look at mid-'90s Japanese culture, advertising, and gaming trends. The advertisement games are fun to try, and the original games are silly. I wouldn't recommend this to just anyone, but if you like to try stuff that's just weird for weird's sake or are interested in Japanese culture, Game-Ware is an interesting... well, whatever it is, and there are several more.
    Last edited by celerystalker; 05-12-2015 at 10:10 PM.

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    Default Hokuto no Ken 3

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ID:	7958Hokuto no Ken 3 on the Famicom is one of the very many games based on The Fist of the North Star. I love Fist of the North Star, and have long been curious to try some of the many different takes on the property that are floating around. This one is an RPG, and seems to follow the first few chapters of the manga. So, how is it, and how playable is it?

    Well, there's a heck of a language barrier on this one. The English language must have been afraid that Kenshiro would know its pressure points, because it stayed far, far away from any in-game text. What you have here is an interface very much akin to Dragon Quest, where pressing the A button pulls up your menu and you go from there. You have your typical talk, check, items, equipment, status, etc., as well as a couple of oddities like teleporting to different locations. It's about what you'd expect from an RPG of its era, and it requires a lot of memorization to play.

    Battles use a typical interface as well, choosing fight/items/techniques/etc. from a menu. What's neat here is that the characters are represented by anime-style portraits that portray the look of the series neatly. The downside here is that it doesn't allow much in the way of animation, so while good looking, the whole affair is rather static.

    The biggest issue here is that Fist of the North Star does not lend itself well to the old-school RPG format. Kenshiro is so thoroughly bad-ass that anything other than random encounters exploding in a spray of blood and entrails is anything but Hokuto no Ken, as only the very strongest can so much as trade a punch with him...

    Graphically, the sprites flicker a lot and have particularly goofy walking animation. Everything is gloomy enough, but the baxkgrounds are pretty generic. The music, though, is well-done and quite atmospheric.

    I want to like Hokuto no Ken 3, but the property does not blend with the Dragon Quest mold. If you're a huge fan or speak the language, awesome. If not... it's less accessible than taking on a later-gen RPG, and I just want to annihilate people with Kenshiro and I can't.
    Last edited by celerystalker; 05-12-2015 at 05:35 PM.

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    Well, I took a couple of hours today while feeling under the weather to take pictures of all of the games I've posted about here. Don't know if it'll be useful to anyone, but my thought was that it might help in identifying games bought in lots with pictures, but no list of games. These were all taken of my personal copies in my basement, so that's why some are cart-only and others complete. Anyway, for anyone who actually reads any of my nonsense, hope it adds something positive.

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    Default Donald Duck Mahou no Boushi

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ID:	8080Loosely translated as Donald Duck and the Magical Hat, this Super Famicom game is a 2D platformer from Epoch that I originally purchased a little while ago as part of my Barcode Battler research project. My younger brother and I have been working through each of the games that support the Barcode Battler II interface in order to discover exactly how it is used to enhance the compatible games. Last night we completed our research on this one, so I finally feel like I have experienced all of the game's features enough to talk about it reasonably.

    The game has an unusual opening for a platformer with unique stages completely different from the rest of the game, which represent odd jobs done to earn $300 to buy Daisy Duck a hat that she sees in a store window... expensive taste! The story is related through cutscenes before/after each stage, and is completely in Japanese, but the pictures tell the story understandably enough, and they can be skipped with a press of the Start button. You can choose between four stages here, each representing a different job with a different payout. My favorites were the window cleaning and mail delivery stages, but they're all super easy if you're a 16-bit platforming veteran.

    After earning enough money and returning to the hat shop, Donald is confronted by a floating magical hat, which sends him through a haunted tower stage in which he must hop gears and swing from various objects in order to turn on the light at the top and drive away ghosts. Afterward, he is spirited away to the kingdom from which the hat originated, in which he can now press A to hide inside the hat for a second for brief invincibility, but only while standing still. Clearing this stage opens up four more, all of which do unique things such as mazes or rotating rooms. The platforming is easy, but some of the mazes can take some time to figure the best path through, as there is no map. Clearing these allows you to access the final castle, which is an expansive multi-part stage mostly comprised of a lengthly maze, at the end of which you confront the final boss.

    There are passwords between levels represented by selecting 2 Disney characters and 2 pictures, so continuing your progress is easy... but you probably won't need it, as the game can be cleared in a little over half an hour if you know where to go. This screen is also where the Barcode Battler II Interface comes into play. With this game, you simply scan in barcodes on the password screen, which will simply start the game at various points stages, and even at the ending with some. This game had the least variety of effects from using the Barcode Battler of all of the games that use it, simply working as a stage select cheat code, and it used the least amount of barcodes of all of the games I've tried. Most games at least had other effects such as giving extra lives, items, or invincibility when used through the password screen, but Donald had nothing but stage select and ending view effects after over 100 barcodes. It's an utter waste of the interface, and hardly an enhancement.

    That said, Mahou no Boushi is a quality platformer with slightly annoying mazes and short length, but a good variety in level design, great graphics, and okay sound (the banjo music can get old, though). It completely wastes the potential of the barcode battler, and if you intend to use that function, don't worry about needing a complete copy, as it doesn't come with any extra scannables to enhance the experience. If you're a Disney platformer fan, it's fun and accessible, but it's alsoquite short, but the language barrier is a non-issue. I liked it a lot, but was rather disappointed at its take on "Barcode Battler Enhanced."
    Last edited by celerystalker; 05-23-2015 at 03:06 PM.

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    Default Salaryman Champ

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ID:	8085Sometimes I look at all the minigame collections on Wii and start to cuss to myself about flash games and the like, but there are other roots there as well. Salaryman Champ for Playstation is a port of an arcade game, and a direct one at that, which is a collection of minigames all designed around the average, work-a-day life of a Japanese business man. So, the question is, do you have what it takes to become the salaryman champ? Should you even care? Are you afraid of transexuals?

    You see, Salaryman champ is designed around three coworkers vying for supremacy on the corporate ladder... er, staircase. Starting with waking up and eating breakfast, you live out the day's challenges in a series of mini-games, just like in real life. From running upstairs to claim your forgotten briefcase to answering phones, giving presentations to running from trannies trying to kiss you, and singing karaoke to not getting caught slacking off, you'll be playing games built around a three-button scheme, where square is left, x or triangle is middle, and o is right. There's a brief tutorial before each, and then it's off to the rat race.

    If variety is the spice of life, Salaryman Champ's challenges are rice. They all revolve around the same few setups: mash all buttons, hit the corresponding button to match the prompt, or mash on buttons alternately. This works fine in a competitive multiplayer session, and is good for some laughs, but is annoyingly difficult for a single player, betraying its arcade origins. Alone, it wears thin quickly, and is more of an endurance challenge.

    The graphics are mostly simple chibi anime characters cheaply animated to upbeat music. It's cute if predictable, and it does portray a silly tribute to Japanese business, but it needs to be played communally for maximun amusement. It's very much a precursor to games like Raving Rabbids that would come later, for better or worse. There was also apparently a special controller setup available in Japan, though I've never been able to track one down. It's no great prize, but if you have friends amused by Japanese culture, it can be a great time. As a single player, you'd be better off with something like Incredible Crisis that has more variety. Still, mine was less than $10 brand new, so if you think it sounds like your thing, there's little risk. Just watch out for those aggressive newhalves, will ya?

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    Default Downtown Nekketsu Koushinkyoku: Dokodemo Daiundoukai

    That title may seem familiar if you've seen the first page of this thread, as I went on about the PC Engine CD version of this game, which is awesome. This time, I wanted to talk about the original Game Boy version of this Kunio classic, which has quite a few differences.
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    You're still looking at a track meet extraveganza, and still utilizing excellent beat 'em up controls familiar to the Technos faithful. However, there are changes to the event lineup this time. The cross-country race is almost identical to the Famicom and PC Engine versions, and the final brawl is basically the same as well. But... there is still an obstacle course, but it is frankly easier by a mile. No blackout room, less spring platforms... it's simpler, to be sure, but still fun. The ball-breaking event has been replaced by a free-for-all bread eating event in which you must try to eat bread during a fight, but realistically you're just gonna beat the holy shit out of each other while the last man standing eats. Lastly, there is an all-new bomb tag brawl, in which you fight while one person has a bomb attached to them, and tries to pass it off by picking up an opponent. It's like hot potato with tons of violence, which makes it awesome.

    Graphically, the game looks great, and by default takes on a blue/green hue in the Gamecube Game Boy player. The music is solid, but is better in the other versions. Jumping is a bit different, as you no longer pick up momentum mid-air, so it actually slows you down. It does still maintain 4-player support, but getting that hookup together is far more cumbersome than in the other versions to get a multi-player party going. It's a shame, because the unique versions of the games in this version are a fun twist. Still, if you can arrange it, it's a great time, but this is definitely best with four players.

    Next, I think I'll talk about the same damn game again. On PS3. Because it's awesome.
    Last edited by celerystalker; 05-28-2015 at 01:55 AM.

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    Default Downtown Nekketsu Koushinkyoku: Soreyuke Daiundoukai

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ID:	8109All right! Time for a game for which I've had a ton of requests (read: zero), the re-imagined Downtown Nekketsu Koushinkyoku: Soreyuke Daiundoukai for Playstation 3! I'm rather fond of just about all of the mighty Kunio-kun's exploits, but the PC Engine CD version of this game is one of my very favorites. I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw this hit the listings for sale this spring, on a glorious disc, no less. So the question is, what's different this time around?

    Well, there's a lot to talk about here, really, so I'll start with what's the same. Free Battle mode is essentially the original game. The course layouts are basically the same, the events are in the same order, and you have basically the same customization options for number of rounds, time limits, etc. This, however, is just the foundation they used to build a game just littered with Kunio/River City fan service and insanity.

    Mode-wise, you now have online battling, which I'm sure is awesome if you have someone to play with, options, which let you edit text speed, window colors, volume levels, etc., as well as the chance to listen to a sound test, view command lists for all of the old and new abilities (and good lord are there a ton of new techniques), and even profiles of all of the game's characters. Then, there's Story mode and Create mode.

    Create mode is a delightfully insane treat for fans, in which you can edit events by redesigning course layouts, time limits, and playfields, allowing you to save customized events for use in Free Battle and Online Battle modes. There a loads of options here for making the events of your dreams and nightmares, which is awesome, and really gives legs to the multi-player experience. But then... then... you can start creating your own characters and teams in the style of the Downtown Nekketsu universe! Hairstyle, eyes, color of hair, skin tone, clothes... it's your chance to get neck-deep into Kunio's world and join in the hot-blooded battle! Modify your attributes, even assign special abilities, and create your own team!

    Creating your own team is great, as there are a load of options for what to do. You get 20 points to divide amongst your team, which can be anywhere from 2 to 6 members deep. You assign a number of points to each character, which determines the degree to which you can improve that character's attributes. So, depending on your style of play, you can have a small team of tanks, a balanced team, or a large, spread-thin team with very specialized abilities. Point is, you have a long creative leash. One bummer... no English characters to use in naming your creations.

    Lastly, you have story mode, in which you can play a default or create a character to join up with Nekketsu High and compete against the diabolical Toudou along side your captain, the all-mighty Kunio! You play through skippable story scenes that introduce characters and set up conflicts that can only be resolved through competition and violence. Here, you'll start off as a weakling, but you'll level up and gain techniques by fighting along-side your heroic captain. It's fun and lengthly, and gives the game a much-needed single player mode that feels worthwhile.

    Now, the other changes. The graphics are an interesting mix of realistic 3D belt-scrolling backgrounds littered with high-res 2D sprites that capture all of the glory of the NES days, but now with no flicker! There are tons of new weapons and abilities to use as well. The controls have been tweaked oddly, and you now have a separate jump button. It works, but for those of us who have been playing these games all along, it's an adjustment, and there's no classic control option. The production values in the menus and story scenes, though... they are astoundingly cool, and must be seen in motion by fans to be appreciated for how well they represent the series.

    This is far beyond being a remake. It adds so much good content that it should be an absolute must for any Kunio fan. The control quirks took me a few minutes to adjust to, but it's still absolutely an authentic experience, and a love letter to the franchise. The creation and single player modes coupled with unlockable teams and abilities make this game go far beyond where any game like it has even considered. If you like Kunio or the Crash 'n the Boys/River City games, make this your next import. It's worth figuring out the Japanese menus for the awesome payoff.
    Last edited by celerystalker; 06-03-2015 at 10:26 PM.

  18. #98
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    Default

    Long-time reader, first time poster. Digging this thread. It reminds me of when Steve used to post on my own forums years ago.

    Thanks.

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    Thanks very much! I'm just happy to have a place to talk about this kind of thing. Glad to hear you've had some fun with it!

  20. #100
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    Default Conveni Wars: Barcode Battler Senki

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ID:	8110The centerpiece for the Super Famicom Barcode Battler II interface is Conveni Wars: Barcode Battler Senki. The game was designed from the ground up with the use of barcode swiping in mind, and as such contains some unique features that can only be enjoyed with the full setup. This requires the use of a Barcode Battler II unit, the Super Famicom Barcode Battler II interface unit, the game cartridge, a Super NES or Super Famicom, and any barcode cards, stray UPCs, or other standard barcodes you can print off at home. Got it all together? Then we can set it up.

    SNES controller in port 1? Check. Barcode Battler Interface plugged in, one end into the Barcode Battler II, the other into controller port 2? Great. To turn on your Barcode Battler in interface mode, hold down R-Battle and R-Power while turning on the Barcode Battler II. This can be done at any time, before you turn on the system, after you turn it on, or you can even just leave it on if you're switching between Barcode Battler enhanced games. The holding the R-Power and R-Battle buttons in while switching on is what most people who think their unit doesn't work do wrong. Okay, so, we're set up, and hopefully we've got a pile of barcodes ready to swipe. SWITCHING UNIT ON! (Sorry, I just like Martian Successor Nadesico.)

    Now, on the main menu, you can choose to play Story Mode, Barcode Battler Mode, or check your options. Both Story and Barcode Battler II mode are compatible with the interface. I'll talk Barcode Battler II Mode first.

    This mode is essentially a graphical representation of the Barcode Battler system itself. In this mode, you swipe in your character for each side, then swipe in any equipment/support characters, and then you fight like Pokémon. You can fight, use magic if you're a wizard, or charge power, which is typically a waste. You basically trade hits until someone dies. Some characters have other abilities such as gaining or taking away HP or weakening opponents' attacks. Anyhow, it's very simple, and the game keeps track of character/player win and loss records. Kinda neat, but if that was it, it'd be pretty weak, and often the on-screen characters will look nothing like your cards... but it is fun, and more importantly, it gets better.

    Story Mode is a hex-based strategy game in which you bring in an army to destroy that of your enemies. When beginning, you can take a default team, which makes this mode playable without the interface. However, you can choose to scan in up to four characters to be on your squad, which typically start off much stronger than what you'd get by default.
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    (My intrepid team)

    You play this like you'd play Shining Force, Nectaris, etc., but once you enter attack or defense, you fight like you would with the Barcode Battler. Killing opponents nets experience to power up your fellas, and winning the overall battle also nets you an upgrade. There are also convenience stores on the map. Stopping in will allow you to buy items and heal, but if you have your handy dandy interface running, you csn scan yourself in a little arsenal to keep ahead of the game. Missions play out quickly, and you can save in between to come back later.

    The graphics are pedestrian but passable, and it would have been nice if my pal Dr. Recycle looked like himself instead of a generic monster when I swipe him in, but it's a minor quibble. You can edit the names of your scanned-in creatures in both modes, and the quest is a decent length. Despite the language barrier, there are only a few menus to figure out, and the hard part is knowing how to set it up.

    This game is a mixed bag. Using the interface is fun, and adds a unique flavor to the game... but the battles and scenarios are somewhat limited in scope. For what it is, which is a showcase for the technology, it's pretty well-realized, and can be fun. If you're thinking of exploring Barcode Battler/SFC compatibility, this is your starting point, and probably the most complete experience to be had with it. As a strategy game, it's honestly mediocre. As a curio or novelty, it's fun and tremendous. I like it.

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