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Thread: Opinions on poorly documented imports

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    Default Opinions on poorly documented imports

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    Hi, I'm new as a member to this forum, but I've been gawking at StealthLurkers awesome stuff for years as well as having enjoyed Steven's RVGfanatic site for quite some time as well. That said, I'd like to wholesale rip Steven off and post some opinions on some import games I have that don't have a lot of documentation online. I own several hundred imports and a couple of thousand games, and I got to a point where I tend to buy games more because they seem different than because they're rarities or collector's items, as I like to play what I buy and try new stuff.

    So, first off, Blade of the Darkness, or Kuro no Ken, for PS1. It's a traditional JRPG with a somewhat cliche anime style, but some unique twists to the combat system that made it fun.

    The game seems like standard turn-based fare in line with the likes of earlier Final Fantasies, but the way special techniques and Magic are used is the biggest twist. Your party regenerates Magic and Technique points every single round of combat, and hit points/MP with every step in the overworld/in dungeons. These techniques aren't particularly overpowered, but this system does a lot to actively encourage the player to use your full range of combat options in every encounter. This makes the random encounters considerably more fulfilling than in other games such as Paladin's Quest, in which you feel like every battle is costing you resources more than testing your thinking ability. As such, battles revolve more around deciding when and how to use your abilities instead of grinding for resources to sit on healing items and restoratives.

    The pacing is fairly quick, and the game is modestly linear, which in the case of an untranslated import to an English speaker is somewhat of a blessing; it limits the trial and error and keeps the story progressing.

    The menus aren't overly cumbersome, and I was able to figure all the basics of the combat and status menus without much effort. The enjoyable combat, dark fantasy theme, and pacing kept me enjoying it quite a bit. I'd really recommend it to anyone who is wanting to test the waters on untranslated RPGs and see if they can take them on. It's a great starting point for that purpose and an enjoyable game with nice 2D sprites, average music, and good cutscenes, and it costs next to nothing. I don't have a capture card, but I'll try to post some pictures of the case/etc. if anyone wants to see them.
    Last edited by celerystalker; 03-10-2016 at 10:25 PM.

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    Default Solo Crisis

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ID:	7961Next is Solo Crisis for Sega Saturn. The game is by Quintet, best known for their Soul Blazer/Blader Heaven and Earth trilogy with Illusion of Gaia and Tenchi Souzo/Terranigma, as well as the ActRaiser games.

    The game is definitively a strategy game, but it is a strange amalgamation of Tactics Ogre and Populous. You move characters around a grid-based map, upgrade classes, grow your army, and combat enemy soldiers. At the same time, those characters are also used to build buildings and other structures that are used to fortify your areas and yield bonuses and resources. The Populous part comes in where you can terraform the map as well in a god-like fashion, causing rises in elevation, formation of canyons, brush fires, etc. Where this really gets crazy is that the map has a top-side and a bottom-side, forming sort of a light/dark, yin-yang setting, with portals and the end of the map to allow transportation between the two sides. However, not only can you move between the two, the acitons on one side affect the other. For instance: raising the elevation on the top side of the map will cause a recess to form on the bottom side in the corresponding location.

    The game is broken into several levels/maps, in which you much achieve goals/cleanse each world. I am still figuring out much of the game's systems, but it's definitely intriguing. You have god-like powers very reminiscent of the Master in ActRaiser, such as lighning strikes and falling meteors, yet individual characters to move around, level up, and strategize. The options menus are in English, but the in-game menus are mostly icon-based with descrptions in Japanese. It is not immediately accessible at all, but sweet lord is it interesting to try to play. On the whole, I wouldn't recommend it to most players, as it's just a whole lot to figure out if you can't read the language, like me. However, if you can read Japanese or are willing to put a lot of time into understanding the game, it doesn't cost much of anything and is a pretty unique amalgamation of styles. I kinda dig it.
    Last edited by celerystalker; 05-12-2015 at 07:04 PM.

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    Default Downtown Nekketsu Koushin Kyoku: Soreyuke Daiundokai

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ID:	7962So, that title's probaly butchered. I'm on vacation this week and my wife's on a work trip for a couple of days, so sorry if I go overboard. I have a few years worth of nonsense most people in my real life aren't overly interested, but I really like to talk about. So, yeah, this one's not as obscure, but it's one of the lesser-known Kunio-kun titles, and one of the best that gets overlooked. So, Downtown Nekketsu Koushin Kyoku: Soreyuke Daiundokai for the PC Engine CD.

    I think to the US audience, most people who love the Kunio franchise have probably already played Crash 'n the Boys: Street Challenge and know it as a Downtown Nekketsu take on the established Track and Field button mashing formula that can be fun with other players, but is horrific agains a computer opponent. That game is a sequel to this one, which was never properly localized. This game, however, is no Track and Field clone!

    The huge difference between this game and Crash 'n the Boys is the way the game controls. This game is NOT played by alternately pressing buttons rapidly or jamming on one button to fill a gauge and then pressing the other. No, no... This plays with the exact same control you'd experience in River City Ransom or Kunio-kun Jidaigeki-it plays like a beat 'em up. You double tap a direction to run, you pick up items and use them... but in an athletic multi-sport interschool contest!

    There are four events: Cross-Country, Obstacle Course, Ball Breaking, and Fighting. Cross-Country and Obstacle course play the same-run from screen to screen, beat 'em up style. You can run, jump, climb, punch, and kick, as well as grab weapons to beat on rivals or throw at them, as well as energy drinks to refill your health. You can KO your opponents or race to the end, but you are awarded bonus points for attacking and using items, as well as by your finishing place on each screen and the race. The racer with the most points wins the event. Health matters, as only a small amount regenerates between events, so using characters in their best events is important, especially if you set each event to multiple rounds. The Obstacle Course mixes things up by throwing in environmental hazards, but functions identically.

    The Ball Breaking event partners two schools against the other two. The goal is like a wrestling ladder match, but instead of grabbing the belt, you punch a ball at the top of a pole repeatedly. The team that breaks the ball wins, and point are also awarded for violence. The last even, Fighting, is exactly what you think-a free for all four-way brawl. Points for attacks and knockouts.

    The game changes significantly if multiple rounds are selected, as conserving health and using characters strategically is a big deal, as some characters are SIGNIFICANTLY weaker than others. Sacrificing a round to save a big hitter becomes as important as beating your opponent over the head with a stray tire.

    This game offers 4 player simultaneous play, and makes for a phenomenal party game. Beating a good friend's ass with a pipe during a foot race is hilarious, and the comfortable beat 'em up controls make the game a blast to play, as opposed to the exhausting button mashing similarly themed games present. The PC Engine version offers voiced cutscenes and interludes with intros for each school and joke cheerleader competitions like tug of war add to the festive atmosphere. The game is also on the Famicom and Game Boy, though from what I gather the events are different on the GB version. If you like the Kunio games, competitive party games, or want to try a track event game that is way over the top and doesn't wear your wrists out, I can't recommend it enough. This is not Crash 'n the Boys. It's a lot more fun.
    Last edited by celerystalker; 05-12-2015 at 07:05 PM.

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    Default Kickball

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ID:	7963For years, no console featured a take on the playground classic, Kickball. In Japan, though, the PC Engine got a mascot-themed Kickball game called, innovatively enough, Kickball!

    Mascots you say? Oh, yes, but not mascots that most people have any familiarity with at all. Most notably featuring Shockman/Schbibinman characters, in this game you choose team comprised of copies of one character and pit them against similarly goofy teams. Some of the teams are: Shockman, whatever the girl from Shockman is, a weird bodybuilder/wrestler, dolphins, sumo wrestlers, and so on. There are multiple terrain types, ranging from grass to ice, and different teams perform better on their preferred turf.

    For the most part, this is a bare-bones kickball game that plays very similarly to most early baseball games such as RBI Baseball. However, each team has 10 power pitches to use in any contest, which differ by team. Sumos and Wrestlers throw super fast, Shockman and Shockgirl's disappear, the dolphins zig-zag. The batter/kicker can use an unlimited supply of power kicks as well, but the timing to pull them off is extraordinarily challenging. Four strikes or fouls and you're out... but if you kick the ball in play, that's where the game gets fun.

    There are no home runs. The ball will always bounce back in play, and once you've fielded it, you have two options. One button throws to the base with a corresponding press of the D-pad. The other button throws at the runner running to that base. The throws at the runner are MUCH faster, but the runner has two dodge options-duck or jump. If they dodge successfully and the throw is not online with a base, it will go wild, and they will get extra bases. However, if you play the angles right, throwing at a runner that will be cut off by a fielder standing on a base can help you get force outs.

    The game is basic, but it can be a lot of fun for two players or a tournament. Given that the game is by Masaya, I'd have loved to see some Adon and Samson from Choaniki to go against Shockman, or maybe a Langrisser team, but it's still a decent game. In retrospect, this game, while fun but unimpressive today, might have had a chance at resonating in the US on Turbografx had it been given a chance. Sports games were big then with just about all players, and Kickball was a mainstay with the target demographic here... Eh, who knows. Today, though, it can be had for dirt cheap, especially for a loose HuCard, and if you have someone to play it with, can give you a fun afternoon.
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    Default Bakuiden: The Unbalanced Zones

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ID:	7964I've spent a lot of time in recent years taking chances on PC Engine and PC Engine CD games with little foreknowledge on what I was getting into. Awesome sites like the Brothers Duomazov offer some comprehensive information on the console, but it's still been a wide open frontier to me when running across games to try. Bakuiden: The Unbalanced Zones is a direct result of taking a blind chance on something without a lot of good info available.

    The game prominently features the J-Rock band Bakufu Slump, known for... something, I suppose. That's a cultural gap I haven't crossed. However, cartoon representations of the band crash into the game's main character's room while he is playing video games and send him on a quest. What quest? Good question. I'll let you know if I ever figure it out.

    What I CAN say about the game definitively is that it is meant as a comedy experience, and not as a challenge of your reflexes or thought processes. No, this is a direct take on the model set forth in games like Sega's Panic! for the Sega CD (which somehow got remade for PS2, but with more poop...). You find yourself on a screen with an absurd situation. You click on things and cause various comical situations to unfold. Choose incorrectly, and somethine really weird and usually humiliating will happen. Choose correctly, and... well, something humiliating will usually happen, but you'll get to move on. The goal appears to be to complete these "challenges" presented to you to please the toga-clad band members so that they will bless you with their rock and roll awesomeness. To be clear, this is not so much a game as it is a comedy experience, much like Panic!, and is meant for the fans of Japanese-style potty humor, such as Crayon Shin-Chan. You play it to see something stupifying and laugh about it. If that doesn't sound like fun, and I assure you that to most people it is not, then I'd stay away. Far away. If you loved Panic!, though, and have been wondering when someone would pick up its mantle and run with it, well... I'm sorry, and enjoy!
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    Default Treasure Strike

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ID:	7965Treasure Strike for Dreamcast is a real sleeper from KID. The game is a 3D platformer designed with 4 player competitive multiplayer in mind, and it's a wild one.

    For starters, you create your character, and it's a handful. Gender, height, weight, eyes, mouth, nose, skin and hair colors, hair style, and so on... and you start with the most basic equipment. You then begin your character's campaign. In this mode, you meet the monarch and get sent on treasure quests against rival treasure hunters, and that's where the basic gameplay model presents itself.

    Each hunter starts at their own starting location, and goes into the ostensible arena with the primary goal of discovering the target treasure, which is hidden in a chest in the environment. It is a 3D platformer like Super Mario 64, but there are three colored keys scattered throughout the level. The keys open chests of the corresponding color, and multi-colored chests require keys of each color to open. Brown chests require no keys. As you begin opening chests and collecting treasures, you will encounter your rivals, and try to take their keys and treasures by hitting them with melee and projectile weapons. Your initial weapons suck, but you can upgrade in between missions. If you manage to KO a rival, they return to their spawn point and drop all of their items. Once a character finds the target treasure, an alarm goes off, and everyone swarms to them to try and steal it before they can return to their spawn point. Successfully returning the item to the monarch results in a monetary reward that can be used to purchase new clothes and weapons at the shop... and even better, you can use the other treasures you found at a workshop to create bizarre new weapons!

    The single player campaign is essentially a window to character development and customization so that you can then bring it on your VMU to play against other humans, which is where the real fun kicks in. It is an absolute riot to blindside another player with an entirely unknown weapon you built that can't be purchased and see their reaction. The treasures gained in multiplayer tend to be better, and you don't have to give the valuable ones to the monarch. Creating and unweildly blue-skinned bunnyman with a chansaw hand and homing rainbow gun is absolutely priceless when warring against a friend's bald, cross-eyed warrior with a bomb launcher and machine gun. If you can convince other people into playing the game with you and taking the time to make their own characters, it is tremendous fun. Finding four people willing to muddle through the Japanese menus to make this happen is the biggest challenge. If you have friends up to the task or who will at least play with characters you make them, it sure is a blast. The multiplayer is where the money is at, though, so I wouldn't expect to be thrilled playing alone. I love this one, and my brother and I sure shot the crap out of each other a few times. For the record, he was the asshole with the rainbow gun, and I'm still jealous.
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    Default Super Okumon Chouja Game: The Game of Billionaire

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ID:	7966On the Super Famicom, the Itadaki Street games really came into their own. I enjoyed them a ton, and they were a gateway drug into Culdcept for me. The series inspired ripoffs as successful games do, and this one, Super Okumon Chouja Game: The Game of Billionaire came from Takara. This is only notable because Takara in Japan had the license to make games based on the game of life, the Jinsei Game series, and this game tends to get confused in that series, whereas it is actually very much an Itadaki Street/Fortune Street/Boom Street ripoff.

    As a matter of fact, it doesn't even try to change much of the established Itadaki Street formula. You still traverse a game board, purchase properties that can be upgraded by investing cash or owning multiples in the same district, and buy stock in those districts to multiply your earnings from investment. Players pay rent when landing on opponent-owned properties Monopoly-style, and collect paydays when they reach the bank.

    Where this game differs is that there are no suit squares like in Itadaki that require players to explore the entire board before getting paid. Therefore, optional routes are much less useful, and the investment system can get a little broken if one player manages to get back to the bank quickly. There are a few differing transportation and event squares as well, but even in Japanese the game is very easily understood if you have any familiarity with Itadaki Street.

    Honestly, I bought this just to basically play Itadaki Street on new boards, and that's more or less what I got. However, the game is not as well-rounded due to the lack of requirin players to traverse the whole board, and the game does not have any personality compared to its source material. I would only put it as a recommendation for people who just adore Fortune Street and need more however they can get it. I would exhaust the real deal first. There are several good games in that franchise to play before dipping your toes into the deep end of the pool.
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    Default Nemurenu Yori no Chisana Ohanashi

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ID:	7968Another PC Engine game that I had trouble finding much on when I purchased it, Nemerenu Yori no Chisana Ohanashi is essentially an interactive children's storybook about a cat and its adventures in town. Almost like a Japanese Richard Scarry game, it uses what I can only assume was a popular children's series as a framework for an interactive experience for very young children.

    The game functions like a point and click adventure, only with no real puzzles of which to speak. You simply explore a quaint little town as the cat character, interact with other characters in nice ways, and experience the world of this book series. There is not much "game" to be played here... I get the feeling that it is meant more as a companion piece to the book series for its young fans. As such, I would recommend staying away from this one. It's not funny, it's not a game... It's children's interactive software in Japanese. For what it is, it is quite cute and atmospheric, but the only American adults I can envision purchasing this on purpose with full disclosure of what it is would be collectors looking to complete a library. If you play your games, it's useless.
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    Default Dokioki

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    Dokioki for PS1 is an adventure game very much in the vein of MYST. The screen scrolls one still at a time, but there is considerably more animation in the backgrounds than in MYST. You point and click with a cursor, exploring a truly alien environment, filled with strangely fungal organisms and strange robots. It seems almost as if your character crash landed in some sort of pod and has to figure out what is happening in the world and leave, but I could be wrong about the objective. The game is full of Japanese text when interacting with objects instead of speech, so for a Japanese illiterate like me it's all but insurmountable. I've been able to fumble my way through a large area of the game and explore some sort of underground laboratory, but truthfully I have no idea what I'm doing. I enjoyed MYST a lot, and am a huge fan of interactive FMV adventures like D, Mansion of Hidden Souls, Lunacy, etc. However, the amount of text inovlved in this game makes it more difficult than many others of its ilk in a foreign language, being open-ended as it is. Still, the environments are bizarrely imaginitive, and the world is fascinating enough to explore for a time. I fear that finishing this one will probably be outside of my patience, but if you can read the language or fancy yourself clever enough to complete a game like this in the absence of its clues, by all means, it's nothing if not creative. Otherwise, it's one to pass on.
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    Default Bokan to Ippatsu! Doronbo

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ID:	7969Based on the Time Bokan anime/manga franchise, Bokan to Ippatsu! Doronbo is a vertically scrolling shooter on PS1. This one is not , all that obscure, but there seems to be confusion as to which one is the shooter, and this is it.

    The premise of Time Bokan centers around the Doronbo Gang, a comical villain in the Tatsunoko mangaverse typically thwarted by Yatterman or the Gatchaman team. In this game, you control the various members of the Doronbo Gang, choosing a different one of their trademark vehicles (which are comically large and animal themed). One or two players can play simultaneously, rumbling through the levels in typical vertical shooter fashion toward an inevitable face off with one of their rival heroes.

    The graphics are very good, with very little slow down on the PS1, even in 2 player mode. The vehicles are very animated, with rumbling and shaking effects telling the tale of their crappy manufacture. The sprites scale well, and the backgrounds are quite colorful.

    The music didn't stand out to me, as it is overwhelmed by the action and sound effects. The game is quite fast-paced, and as the vehicles have a large hit box, dodging isn't easy. However, when you take too much damage, the outer shell of your vehicle explodes, leaving your little villain on a bike, shooting partially neutered until the level ends or death overtakes them.

    On an odd note, the back cover of the instruction manual is a closeup of a finger poking the Doronbo Gang leader, Doronjo, in the breast. It has no bearing on anything, but I admit I laughed when I opened the case for the first time. It was kind of like when I first opened Super Magnetic Neo on Dreamcast to be greeted by a teddy bear hanging from a noose. Just caught me off guard.

    For shooter fans and Time Bokan fans, Bokan to Ippatsu! is a load of fun.
    Last edited by celerystalker; 05-12-2015 at 07:26 PM.

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    Default Battle Heat

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ID:	7970For people in the know on PC-FX games, Battle Heat is usually one of the first games you get, alongside Team Innocent, being early releases from Hudson that are of the more common games for the system. However, I meet less people who know what a PC-FX is than those that do, so I figure it's worth a discussion, because it, along with the Tengai Makyou game for the same console, are a unique gaming experience.

    Battle Heat is sometimes labled as a fighting game, and others labeled as an FMV game. The truth is, it's both! Imagine if you will, a head to head game of Dragon's Lair, where instead of reacting to pre-scripted cues, you react to your opponent's inputs, triggering a back and forth string of cutscenes until one of you screws up, resulting in being hit. That is exactly what Battle Heat is! With art from the illustrator behind Fist of the North Star, one player chooses from the roster of good guys, and the other from the bad guys, and then the game begins. There are weak attacks, strong attacks, special moves, and dodges, and the game displays the attacker's cue to the defender by way of color and speed of lights at the bottom of the screen as the attack animation plays out. If the defender reacts in time, his counter or defense animation begins, giving an even faster return cue. Players react quickly with rock-paper-scissors like commands to counter, and there are secret special moves a la Street Fighter to boot. The play style takes some getting used to but is fascinating to play with a friend. Trash talking quickly ensues, and the experience is memorable.

    While there are some rough edges such as repetitive animation, the experience is such a unique one that I would recommend trying it if you get the chance, and if you're a fan of the laser disc games of yore, it's a welcome twist on the formula. Battle Heat represents a wildly interesting evolutionary dead-end, and if you decide to take the PC-FX plunge, it should be one of your early pickups, due to its both being unique and one of the most accessible, inexpensive titles on the system. I've picked up games since, but it's the reason my PC-FX gets the most action.
    Last edited by celerystalker; 05-12-2015 at 07:26 PM.

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    Default Last Imperial Prince

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ID:	7971Another PC-FX game, Last Imperial Prince represents one of the only action RPGs for the system. The game is a side-scrolling adventure starring the eponymous prince and his entourage on their journey to drive evil out of the land.

    Like most PC-FX games, the game carries a heavy anime influence, featuring a lengthly opening and occasional cutscenes. Parts of the dialogue feature large animated portraits of the characters as they speak, and the background graphics are quite colorful, showcasing very rich greens and browns. It's a different color palette than many anime influenced games, showing a more realistic color scheme for building interiors and plants, and it's refreshingly different.

    Combat is a little different from any other game of this type I've played. The closest I can say is that it's like a dumbed-down Princess Crown. When you reach an encounter, and they are not random, you cannot progress until completing it. Your party is on one side of the screen and the enemies on the other, and your front character fights their front character one on one in real time. You can block, dodge, attack high and low, and use magic abilities. Each character uses different weapon and armor types, and you can change them out at any time during the battle. When you kill an enemy, the next in line comes to the front and so on until you've exhausted their ranks. Each hit tends to yield cash rewards to collect, and after each brief exploration area you move on to the next town. There is very little backtracking, and the game utilizes almost no vertical space. The game moves along the same horizontal plane the vast majority of the time, and each town is usually comprised of a brief collection of fetch quests and entrance and exit battles.

    On another system, compared to a stronger selection of action RPGs like Popful Mail or Legacy of the Wizard, Last Imperial Prince would feel linear and underwhelming, but on the PC-FX it is a rare game with some action and adventure to it, and that's no small find. The production values are quite good, and it gives some legs to a console that could use it. There are way better action RPGs out there, but not on the PC-FX.
    Last edited by celerystalker; 05-12-2015 at 07:41 PM.

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    Default Wolf Fang SS

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ID:	7972Wolf Fang SS for the Sega Saturn isn't completely obscure, but it tends to get generically described as a Cybernator/Assault Suits Valken clone. Truthfully, this game is similar in concept, but plays quite a bit differently.

    Originally an arcade game from Data East, this port was done by Xing and is much more of a horizontally scrolling shooter than an Assault Suits game. The screen auto scrolls, and though you typically cannot fly in most levels, there tend to be background slopes on which your giant robot can slide up and down on, giving more of a flight shooter feel to the game insteal of run and gun. You select your weapon at the beginning of each level, but it's not particularly of consequence, as powerups will drop throughout each level to change weapons at will. Your robot can run, jump, and take momentary bursts into a double jump, as well as collecting comrade soldiers, who will cling to your robot and fire to cover your rear. As you get hit, they fly off, but can be re-collected. You have typical vulcan and laser weapons at your disposal, as well as a swirling shot.

    Wolf Fang also differs not just systematically, but also features almost no platforming at all. The game will occasionally change scrolling directions, but is largely flat, scrolling left to right. The emphasis is on shooting and dodging, and dodging is difficult. When you get hit too many times, your robot blows up, and your pilot hops out in a jet pack with a reduced-power version of whatever weapon you had, which gives you one last chance to fight your way through the level without losing a life, which is fun. You can only take one hit in this form, but your reduced hit-box and increased speed make it actually feasible. The order in which stages play out varies as well, as between most levels you have a choice as to which stage to take between a hard and an easy course. Easy courses are of course less challenging, but to get the more satisfying endings, the hard courses must be challenged.

    Wolf fang is short, but the varying routes give it a measure of replay. Although the 2D sprites and backgrounds aren't much of anything that the SNES or Turbo CD couldn't handle (actually, given how great games like Gate of Thunder play, the Turbo would probablly hum through this one), but they are colorful, and the action is fast enough that you probably won't be paying much attention. The music is so-so, but the anime presentation with nice portraits of your commanding officers accompanying dialogue are pleasing, though they cannont be skipped. The opening cinema, however, features a more realistic war scenario in mediocre CG, and it feels tacked on and unrelated.

    If you're into Saturn shooters, this one's nice inasmuch as that it's a little different from the glut of vertical and space horizontal shooters out there. It's not quite a platformer, it's not quite a shooter... it's somewhere in between, which keeps it feeling fresh and arcade-like. It's very, very short, though, and can be completed in about 20 minutes with unlimited credits, so if you're not going to take the time to complete the alternate routes or try for a limited-credit clear, you won't get much legs out of it. The fact that there is 2-player simultaneous play is a bonus, but just don't expect a ton of actual play time for the buck. I like it, the arcade speed and look are great, and it's not terribly expensive, but it just isn't going to blow an experience shooter fan away.
    Last edited by celerystalker; 05-12-2015 at 07:42 PM.

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    Default Time Gal and Ninja Hayate

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ID:	7973Now, I know that both of these games were released in the US on the Sega CD, but this Saturn release has started to command a remarkably high price on the secondary market, especially for being ports of fairly easy to get US versions of laser disc games. This Saturn compilations contains both Time Gal and Ninja Hayate, released here as Revenge of the Ninja.

    The biggest difference between this collection and the prior releases would be the video quality. This Saturn version features much clearer picture that uses the whole screen without frames, and the animated outlines are less grainy. The sound quality is also much better, which is of course a huge plus in a game in which audio and visual fidelity comprise 90% of the experience. The input response feels slightly better to me on the Saturn, which is a plus as well.

    The games each come on their own disc in a double case. There isn't a ton in the way of extra content or anything... just upgraded ports of some of the better laser discs games to originate in Japan. I'm not sure what has driven the demand and price so high on these... I'm pretty sure I paid $20 for this a couple of years ago for a pristine copy with a free copy of Revenge of the Ninja with a dinged up case. I can't imagine anyone getting so excited as to pay the more than $100 this seems to go for now, but if you can find it cheap and enjoy the laser disc games of the past, these cleaned up versions of two Sega CD "classics" are a lot of fun.
    Last edited by celerystalker; 05-12-2015 at 07:43 PM.

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    Yeah, I noticed the rising prices on Time Gal/Hayate and just had to scratch my head. Sad too as I kinda want that set. Wasn't there a similar one for Road Blaster and Cobra Command?

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    Default Delta Warp

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ID:	7974Delta Warp for Neo Geo Pocket Color is an interesting little puzzle game released only in Japan. In the game, you play as a small, flipping, triangular tile on a board full of identically shaped tiles. One side is black, and the other is white, and using the thumbstick to move, you flip your tile in the direction pressed. The goal is to land on the black tiles with your black side and the white tiles with your white side, clearing them as you land. Clearing each clear the stage. Pressing the a and b buttons causes your tile to slide clockwise or counter clockwise, allowing you to move without flipping.

    As you progress through each stage, new types of tiles are introduced, bringing with them new hazards, such as cracked tiles that break, tiles that switch which color is on which side of your piece, and launching tiles to let you reach upper levels. Yes, some stages go beyond the simple single screen formula, with up to three vertical levels to bounce between to clear all tiles.

    Delta Warp uses its hazards well, and stays engaging for short sessions. It can get a little old after awhile, but it changes things up often enough to not lose my attention entirely. It also features a nice edit mode a la Lode Runner, letting you make custom levels to trade or challeng friends with, and a battle mode in which each player takes a color and seems to attempt to string together chains or groups of their color. I'm not entirely sure how this works, as I don't have anyone else with the game with which to try this mode out, so I can't really comment on if it really adds much. If anyone is familiar with this one, I'd love to hear if that mode is fun, as I do have friends with an NGPC I may be able to talk into getting their own copy with a little prodding. As for the single player campaign, though, it's a different type of puzzle game that doesn't involve falling tiles or shooting bubbles, and in that light it's a welcome addition to the small but excellent NGPC library.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Edmond Dantes View Post
    Yeah, I noticed the rising prices on Time Gal/Hayate and just had to scratch my head. Sad too as I kinda want that set. Wasn't there a similar one for Road Blaster and Cobra Command?
    Yeah, I think there is, but I haven't ran across that one. I like the Saturn port, because it really does clean it up quite a bit, and you can mess with the dip switch options as well. The only shame is that all the bonus content like interviews, art, etc. are all in the instruction manual, and are in very small print.

    Edit: Double checked, and there definitely is a Cobra Command/Road Blasters set, but it uses the Japanese title for Cobra Command, which is Thunder Storm.
    Last edited by celerystalker; 09-25-2014 at 08:33 AM.

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    Default Langrisser Milennium

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ID:	7975Langrisser Milennium on the Dreamcast is not so much unknown as it is, in my opinion, unfairly reviled. For anyone who doesn't know, the Langrisser series is a fairly long, proud grid-based strategy series that has spanned nearly a dozen systems and is known for its unique leader/troop movement and attack system, artwork by a renowned hentai artist (I forget the name), and challenging missions. Langrisser Milennium (on Dreamcast, as the Wonderswan version is completely different and more akin to the rest of the series), on the other hand, has been almost universally panned for being, well, a completely different game. I can understand people saying that this game shouldn't be a Langrisser game, but it doesn't deserve the reputation of being an awful game. It's really quite good.

    This was one of the first few games I bought for my Japanese Dreamcast in the summer of 1999. I had played Warsong and Langrisser IV, so I was familiar with the name, but what really drew me to purchase it was looking at the back of the case and seeing something that looked a hell of a lot like Dragon Force.When I put the game in my Dreamcast, I had a few quick impressions at the time. One, the blocky 3D characters look like a late-gen N64 game to me. Two, and more importantly, hell yeah, this is a lot like Dragon Force!

    After choosing a general (just like, um, Dragon Force) and sitting through that character's opening cutscenes, you are taken to a map screen that is flagrantly reminiscent of said game. A series of fortresses, castles, and cities are spread across a continent with colored flags representing their monarchy, and the routes between them are shown in eerily familiar fashion. You separate your forces into different parties with a leader and up to three subordinates, and move each over the map to challenge the enemy and attempt to take their holdings. When you come into contact with the enemy on a road or in a holding, combat begins, and here's where things get unique.

    You are dropped onto a small map of whatever area in which you are fighting, and the attacking army is positioned at the bottom of the map in formation. You have a set of options at the beginning of the skirmish, such as the typical retreal, select formation, etc... and perhaps most interstingly, and option by which you can attempt to recruit an opposing character to join you. This is not a token option, as I was highly successful at recruiting enemy soldiers in this way, which also leaves them short handed on the battlefield. When it is time to choose your formation, attack patterns are shown, looking almost like football plays, showing where each of your characters will go and what route they will take. After launching your attack, you then have full, real time control of your leader character, having the ability to move, strike, and use special abilities to take on your foes. It's fun, quick, and novel, and it never really got old.

    That first time I sat down to play the game with my brother in law hanging around, I ended up finishing it in a massive all-day run, as at the time I was 19 and had nothing more important to do. It was a real blast, and while, yes, it was nothing at all like prior Langrisser games, it was fun, fast-paced, and required very little micromanagement. It's a great strategy game for people who like to play, but don't like to spend hours in menus tinkering with stats. It's the closest thing that the Dreamcast ever saw to Dragon Force, and that's how I prefer to think of it, instead of as the black sheep of a once-proud franchise. Also, a complete copy will come with a collectible Langrisser card. Neato!
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    Default Super Robot Shooting

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    A lot has been written about the Super Robot Wars series. Even some of the weirder spinoffs have had some decent mention... even the sumo wrestling famicom game got mention on Hardcore Gaming 101. However, I've not seen a lot mentioned about Super Robot Shooting on the PS1. I got a call that I got a promotion I'd interviewed for last week yesterday, so to celebrate, I decided to take the shrink wrap off of the copy that's been sitting on my shelf for years and see how it is!

    Super Robot Shooting is a rail shooter for the PS1, and plays much like Panzer Dragoon or Space Harrier. In fact, it kinda feels more like Space Harrier, as the levels tend to go in a straight line withough too many twists or turns at all. That's not to say they're bland; some levels have some neat hazards such as falling plants, bursting volcanoes, and asteroids whirling in. However, in this type of game in full 3D not using the camera angles to make some twisting and turning for flying super robots feels like a missed opportunity.

    The cast of 7 robots is small, but most people can probably find one they like (I bought it to blow stuff up as Shin Getter Robo), such as original Gundam, Mazinger Z, and of course the all mighty Shin Getter Robo. Each of the 7 stages is themed after the universe of each lumbering giant, but can be played with any of them. After clearing each of the seven stages, there is a final boss fight, and then an ending cinema before the credits (I did the whole damn thing in my Getter, because that's what makes me happy).

    The game took me about an hour and a half to clear with having to continue a couple of times on my first play. It's relatively easy, but the pacing is fast, and you're rarel lacking things to shoot. Each robot has 3 attacks: a standard shot, a gauge charge attack, and 3 super attacks that function like bombs, so you can fight in a decent variety of ways. The bosses call back to each respective anime, which is fun, and the music reeks of campy '70s robo music. The graphics are crisp and nice, and the stages at least offer a nice variety of settings (snow, space, caves, overrun jungle, etc.), and there's no slowdown anywhere to be seen. It's a fun ride, but there are definitely some missed opportunities...

    I already mentioned the flat levels, but there are also not a broad selection of enemies. Each stage seems to have about 3-4 types, a miniboss, and a boss, which isn't awful, but it feels like more would've been nice. A huge missed opportunity is a lack of any discernable scoring system, making actually destroying your enemies feel less important, and if I'm in a giant machine of destruction, I wanna feel like a wrecking ball, not a fighter jet. Finally, there are seemingly no unlockables, no extra modes no options to change... It's just a really bare bones game for what it is.

    Despite lacking any robust feature set, the game that is there is a good, solid rail shooter that at least justifies its existence for what it is: a fan service game that actually plays well. Given what Banpresto's track record looks like, that's not such a bad thing. I'd recommend it to fans of super robots or rail shooters alike, but I don't see it winning anyone over if they don't alreay have a predisposition toward at least one of those. I'll come back to it again and play as some of the other robots sometime when I want some shallow fun.
    Last edited by celerystalker; 03-10-2016 at 10:35 PM.

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    Default 10101 Will the Starship

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ID:	7977Now here's one that I've never been able to find much about online, and it's pretty interesting if a little slow. 10101 Will the Starship for PS1 is a starship simulation/RPG that came out in 1997, and probably has the least useful instruction manual of all time, clocking in at a whole 6 pages that say almost nothing useful. If you don't speak Japanese, you'd be hard pressed to glean ANYTHING useful from it, including even how to save or MOVE. However, damned if it's not proud of its voice acting talent.

    So, you start on the bridge of your starship, the eponymous "Will," in the midst of a firefight. Fighting takes place in real time. You select your action from choices that include evasive maneuvering, escape, different weapons, and diverting power to shields (healing). Once you select a weapon, you control the on-screen cursor, and you only have a few seconds to shoot. Your cursor blinks when the opposing ship crosses into it, and then you press fire and your shot will home in on it. You are then greeted with a nice opening introduction to your ship and its crew (with more reminders of who their voice actors are), who salute you and leave you in charge.

    Once in charge on the bridge, you can talk to your crew members at their station and give them orders. You have various positions like First Mate, Communications, Engineer, etc., who can use various systems, divert power, identify salvage, and replace ship parts. By pressing X, you go to an overhead view of your ship in space, and that is the next part people get stuck on, because your power goes down as you move, and clicking around with your cursor seems to do nothing, and your ship inevitably gets stuck in an asteroid belt, so you push X to go back to your bridge and try to figure out how to turn or save or something until you finally give up. So, if anyone actually wants to try this one, the trick is to HOLD DOWN THE O BUTTON while your cursor is on the direction you'd like to be headed, and your ship will slowly turn! If you don't know that, you might just get frustrated and quit. So, anyway, if you head to the nearby satellite, you can do a few things.

    For one, you can spend your currency (VP) you get from battles to refuel your ship. Secondly, you can I believe sell salvaged parts, third, you can SAVE YOUR GAME, and lastly, you can return to the ship.

    Once back aboard, you can steer toward various points of interest such as blinking dots to try and capture salvage and explore, occasionally hitting random encounters. To get started, you need to grind for cash around the space station to better your equipment so you can take on better enemies and explore farther out, and that is how you get started in this game. If you just sit on the bridge, you don't use fuel, and will get random encounters on occasion. There may be ways to attract enemies. It seems as though when I have the communications officer use various options, my encounter rate increases, but I am just not sure.

    Everything is voiced, and the 2D sprites are a somewhat unique style, with cool art for the anime portraits. There's a pleasant atmosphere, and the soundtrack is okay. I doubt many people have attempted to take this one on, as it's not very accessible from the get go, but there's a nifty little game there for the persistent. Just don't expect any help from a tutorial or the instructions, but someone did post a speedrun video on YouTube from what I've seen. It is super cheap, very obscure in the west, and I'd imagine there's a very limited audience for it, but if it sounds neat to you, hopefully the tips on how to get started can, you know, help you get started. I'll be spending more time with this in the future, because I didn't spend my time figuring out how to play to not try and finish it.
    Last edited by celerystalker; 05-12-2015 at 07:47 PM.

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    Default Azito

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    When I was a kid, I really got into SimCity. I always liked building things and seeing the minute details in the graphics moving around on screen. As I got older, I didn't get into the increasingly complex sequels, but I still break out SimCity from time to time. When I was a teenager and got into anime, I started to enjoy giant robots as well. So, when I found Azito for Playstation, a couple of heart strings were tugged, and I had to give it a try!

    Azito is very reminiscent of Sim Tower at a glance, with its cross-section view of a mountainside, upon which you can build cities, businesses, etc. However, underneath that mountain, you get to build your giant underground lab, complete with research facilities to start new shell corporations, power stations, and HANGERS TO HOUSE YOUR DAMN GIANT ROBOTS YOU GET TO BUILD TO SAVE THE PLANET!

    Yeah, forget the disasters like plane crashes, earthquakes, and nuclear meltdowns of other sims... we're talking giant monsters and aliens attacking, and your base is the first line of defense! Different robots arise from your research. I wish I could get into what parameters lead to what result, but there is a language barrier that makes all of that a little random to me.

    Most of the menus are icon based, so it's not too difficult to get started building your base, but for a non-Japanese speaker, a lot of the final options are kanji, and that's where I have to guess and try to memorize results. This can make getting started tough, because running out of money does result in a game over, what with the imminent threats to earth and all. You make your money through your surface companies, so balancing between your underground operations and your surface work is vital to success. You can also sell robots you develop for cash, or trade them with other players on their memory cards.

    This was actually the first game of 3 on the Playstation, and the series was recently resurrected on the 3DS in Japan, apparently. This original version features nice anime art, a fun, dramatic opening with robots and kaiju monsters, and nifty detailed 2D sprites representing your creations, with little scientists running amok. I should mention, you do assign scientists to research positions, and in a very basic way have to allow rest periods and manage the occasional interpersonal conflict. Breaks are easy enough, but the only way I found to really solve the conflicts was to reassign scientists to different work areas.

    I really, really like this game, but it's still a bit of a crap shoot for me to do really well due to the language barrier. I'd really recommend this to anyone who is a big enthusiast for simulation games if you're willing to suffer through some growing pains in the learning curve and language barrier. It's a neat anime twist on an also-ran genre, and I dig it.
    Last edited by celerystalker; 03-10-2016 at 10:42 PM.

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    Default The Adventures of Robin LLoyd

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    Okay, here's one that just doesn't have a lot of love out there online save for an odd forum post here or there, and that's The Adventures of Robin Lloyd for PS1. The game is a 3D action/adventure from Gust, starring slightly more than effiminate detective Robin Lloyd in 1920s England in the anime syle that British detectives are known for... yep. Anyway, about the game.

    This game is mostly an investigative adventure, where you roam about locations such as a museum and a ship (actually, only a museum and a ship in my experience), push O in front of an object you'd like to take a closer look at, and if it has potential, the game will give you a close up of the item isolated against a generic background. On this screen, you can zoom in and rotate the object, scanning it for secret panels, hidden pockets, etc., clicking on anything suspicious until you find an item, switch, or clue. You do this along with speaking to the people around in order to progress through the game until you encounter an Action Scene (capitalized because the game does it as such).

    Action scenes are usually boss battles or small arena fights against a group of minions, but there are instances such as falling rocks rolling at you down a hallway Indiana Jones-style, in which you must get... past the rocks. Your nemesis is a man called Colonel Doil, who seems to be motivated by greed to steal artifacts and repeatedly kidnap your even more effiminate buddy Ryile Rockwood. Anyway, one neat option is that at any point, you can adjust the difficulty of the action scenes in order to keep the game moving at your own pace. Anyhow, these scenes are simple, pattern-based affairs that do add a nice change of pace from the investigating that dominates the majority of your play time.

    The 3D graphics are decent enough for a late Playstation game, and the music is pretty fitting for the game. There are only the two missions through the museum and the ship it seems unless I'm missing something, as the game ends with a cliffhanger about Ryile going missing yet again. The language barrier is pretty passable by trial and error, though the ship was pretty maddening for me at the very end, trying to figure out what the hell the ghost captain wanted from me, but that's another story. If you knew what you were doing from the beginning, it wouldn't take you but a couple of hours to finish, tops. However, as an import that is fun, accessible, and still not too pricey, it's pretty neat. I don't regret the purchase, though I did cuss for a bit while wandering around the ghost ship at the very end of the game trying to figure out the last couple of things to do. If you're thinking about picking it up, go ahead and do it, Robin Lloyd's a good time. Plus, he has a dog butler named Butler. You can't buy that kind of genius. Or, well, you can. Yeah. Probably on ebay.
    Last edited by celerystalker; 03-10-2016 at 10:49 PM.

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    Default Ninja Hattori-kun

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ID:	7980Ninja Hattori-kun for the Famicom is a platformer for Hudson for which I definitely overpaid. I bought it blind at a used game store not having any idea what it was, but seeing its oddly colored tan cart and the Hudson logo, I figured, how bad could it be? Surely it'd be worth the $9.99 I threw at it...

    I should stress at the start that this is a very old, early generation Famicom title, and that shows in the rudimentary graphics, simple, looping music, and plain, flat colors. However, that usually isn't a deterrant for me, as I do get some nostalgia for that time period. What I couldn't brace myself for, though, was the sloppy inertia in the control.

    This is a very, very straight-forward platformer in which you travel from left to right, attacking or, more often, jumping over enemies as they move toward you rapidly. While you can turn around, the screen does not scroll back to the left, so if you want to get your powerup or attack an enemy, you really had better do so before they get past you, or you're probably out of luck. Your running starts out incredibly slow, and though it picks up with a little forward motion and powerups, it's still awkward in the very least. Yes, you can get used to it and play the game with reasonable skill, but with the quality of games that existed for the system even when this game was new, it's stiff and below average. The way powerups and score bonuses appear on screen out of nowhere, not just from attacking enemies, takes some getting used to, and is somewhat reminiscent of very early japanese arcade platformers. You can take several hits before losing a life, but with the speed at which enemies move, one hit is not usually isolated, as others are very likely to come before you've recoverd from your silly damage animation.

    At the end of most levels is a shrine at which you can catch a bunch of score bonuses before starting the next, which for the first couple of levels I thought for sure were just the same level looping. However, if you stick with it, you do get new enemies, new traps and bonuses, and some new backgrounds, so at least that isn't is bad as my first impression was.

    I spent an afternoon playing this with my brother once after we had been going back and forth trying to get high scores on Ninja Jajamaru-Kun on the Famicom, and while we did have a few laughs and play fairly deep into the game, it definitely won't be one we end up going back to again. It's just too sloppy and unrewarding to have legs against the vast library of platformers available on the NES, and even though I love Hudson games, this is not one of their high marks. Unless you collect Famicom carts just for kicks or because they're colorful, this one's not terribly fun, and I wish I'dve paid less or nothing for it, as I don't think I got my money's worth out of it, and I don't think I'd have even cared for it as a kid. If you want an old, cheap Famicom game to play for score, I had a lot more fun that day with Ninja Jajamaru-kun, and it was purple... maybe I should've been writing about it all along.
    Last edited by celerystalker; 05-12-2015 at 09:16 PM.

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    Default Team Innocent

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ID:	7981Time for another dip into the shallow end of the PC-FX pool for a game called Team Innocent. This is another of the PC-FX games that tends to be somewhat popular with people when they first pick up a PC-FX, as it is inexpensive, widely available, and from Hudson. However, given that the system itself is an oddity to the west, just about any game not called Zerogair, Zenki, or Chip Chan Kick hasn't seen a ton of writing. So, what in the world is Team Innocent?

    Thankfully, this is not a digital comic or an FMV game, but is instead most aptly compared to early Resident Evil/Alone in the Dark games with an anime twist. Because just about everything PC-FX has an anime twist. Everything from pre-rendered still backgrounds, limited resources, and even the now-goofy tank controls are all there in their full glory, only in space and with nifty scaling 2D sprites instead of polygonal characters. You control a team of three young ladies (of somewhat alien origin) who go on trouble shooting missions to various installations and clean out the mutant/alien menace in each, solving mysteries along the way. There are 3 missions to complete of ascending length, and a reasonable time limit attached to each. Overview aside, how is it?

    The first thing you'll notice with this game is the startlingly high-quality anime cutscenes, which play clearer and smoother than just about anything you'll ever see on a Playstation or Saturn. This is no fluke, as one of the brightest hallmarks of the PC-FX is its excellent disc access speed, which allows FMV to play particularly well in just about every game. You have a nice vocal song and then a story opening leading into the first mission. The pre-rendered backgrounds have a fun, '70s space sci-fi atmostphere in style and color, and your characters scale fairly well given the amount of angles and animations required to convey 3D movement in what is essentially a 2D game. The controls, while distinctly of the tank model used in most early survival horror games, serve the game well enough, and the action moves at a modest pace. There are a good amount of enemies scattered throughout each mission, and the puzzles, while largely varying takes on the key/door model tend to be understandable enough to prevent the language barrier from derailing the experience of playing. If you've played either the first Resident Evil or Alone in the Dark, nothing about how to play this game will confuse you.

    If I have any real criticisms for the game, it would be that it's not really scary in even a remote way, and that most of the enemies are disappointingly small, which makes fighting them less than satisfying to kill. So, while it is lacking in intensity, it does supply a pleasant sci-fi anime atmosphere, which is only amplified by the excellent cutscenes.

    The main reason I'm mentioning this game, though, is for anyone who is thinking about buying a PC-FX or looking for something to play on it. It's cheap by PC-FX standards, the language barrier isn't too tough, and the 2D anime flavor really makes it feel like something different from what it is, which is an early survival horror game with all the tropes you've seen before. If you're on the fence about it, I'd take the plunge. There's not a huge amount of games that aren't digital comics or anime fan-service on the system, and this one is pretty fun to play with a unique look, and I don't believe it was every ported elsewhere. Also, it's one of the big box games for the system, for which I really like the packaging. it's just a little different to look at than most game cases out there, and the manuals for them are big and colorful if you're the type of person who enjoys flipping through them whether you can read them or not.
    Last edited by celerystalker; 05-12-2015 at 09:17 PM.

  25. #25
    celerystalker is a poindexter celerystalker's Avatar
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    Default Hello Kitty's Magical Block

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ID:	7982Sometimes, you search and search until you finally find a game you've been wanting to play for a long time, and you get to fulfill your ambition. Other times, you throw out a 99 cent bid on ebay on something you've never even thought about, but you were bored and your smart phone was in your hand. That was the case when I won an auction for Hello Kitty's Magical Block for the Dreamcast, not to be confused with Hello Kitty's Cube Frenzy. I wasn't sure what I'd be getting into, but now I know, and I'll share. Not because anyone really wants to know, but because I bought it, I played it, and I feel like something needs to be said about it so it'll mean something. What, I have no idea, but maybe something.

    So, there are several Hello Kitty-themed games for the Dreamcast, even to the point where there was a custom pink edition of the console itself with the kitty on it released in limited quantities. I'd played Hello Kitty Cube Frenzy on Playstation, and it was actually a somewhat amusing puzzle game. So, how could I go wrong for a buck? It arrived in the mail, and when I got home from work, I slapped it in, and... basically spent about an hour playing around with little more than a flash game.

    The basic premise is that of a single screen maze game in which you can push and kick most of the blocks that comprise the maze, which is patrolled by little grey ghosts on a black background, like something out of an old NES game. The goal is to destroy all of the ghosts within increasingly tight time restraints by squashing them with blocks. To complicate things... well, nothing really complicates things. It's an incredibly bare-bones game that feels more like a free cell phone game than a Dreamcast release. The cutscenes show Hello Kitty and friends frolicking in colorful environments before blue block mazes on black backgrounds with grey ghosts take over for the actual play. It's bland on every conceivable level.

    It's hard not to get a dollar's worth of entertainment from a video game, but this game truly tests that hypothesis. I don't know if I'll play it again, and I think I'm okay with that, but it felt a little like a wake-up call from a time where I used to buy just about any game that was cheap just because I didn't have it instead of being truly interested in trying it, and that's no way to be for me, at least. Unless you're a Hello Kitty enthusiast, there is really no place for this game in your library. It sucks truck nuts.
    Last edited by celerystalker; 05-12-2015 at 09:18 PM.

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