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Thread: Opinions on poorly documented imports

  1. #26
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    Default Roommania #203

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ID:	7983The Dreamcast was a fun time for me, filled with Sega's last age of bizarre experimentation in game design. We were privelaged to the good and the bad in the west, with Seaman, Space Channel 5, Shenmue, and Jet Grind Radio showing off a creativity no other designer was putting out there. We didn't get to witness all of the wonderful crazy, though, and Roommania #203 definitely beat up crazy and stole its lunch money.

    What Roommania #203 is, actually, is some sort of god simulator in which the player controls an invisible entity charged with helping some sad-sack Japanese student get his crap together and become whatever he's supposed to be. How do you accomplish this? By using your subtle influence (also known as throwing invisible ping pong balls at stuff you want him to interact with quickly and rhythmically enough to catch his interest), you coerce the young man into performing various tasks such as taking a nap, drinking water, watching TV, or taking a piss. Yes, urinating. Other times, when he is not present, you can inspect the room in first-person view, read his diary, move the furniture around, or even lock him out of the room, which freaks him the hell out.

    The game progresses on a calendar, and you have a range of usually 2-3 days to accomplish a task, which you are given clues for before starting each day. Each day can be selected at either morning or evening, and must be completed at a specific time. You get 3 tries to complete a task, after which you fail and move on to the next challenge. At the end of the calendar, you get an ending based on how well you influenced your unwitting protege by sending him to chatrooms, making him smoke, and making him think his place his haunted, and you get to see if you set him straight or made him into an even bigger loser who wastes all of his time watching professional mahjong matches on TV. Did I mention he loves to watch professional mahjong? 'Cause he does, and the game includes lengthly excerpts of real mahjong broadcasts... it's... breathtaking? Boring? Who knows, but it's there, damnit.

    Roommania #203 is nothing if not bizarre, but like Seaman, its charms are counterbalanced by a slow pace and some seriously dull challenges. Its strangely voyeuristic presentation and quirky premise make for a fun diversion, although its slow pace and repetitive play can detract from the novelty over time. Still, if you have a fondness for the time when Sega was throwing every idea they had out there to try to get back in the game, it's a fun little ride that is totally worth a look. Nobody does weird like Sega circa 2000.
    Last edited by celerystalker; 05-12-2015 at 08:26 PM.

  2. #27
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    Default Cubic Lode Runner

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ID:	7984The Lode Runner franchise is not exactly obscure, but this long way down the road sequel hasn't had a ton of conversation surrounding it. Cubic Lode Runner was released on the PS2 and Gamecube in the mid-2000s as part of Hudson's series of remakes and reimaginings of classic franchises, which included Bonk's Adventure, Adventure Island, Tengai Makyou II, and Star Soldier. I picked up the PS2 version many years ago, and it sat sealed on the shelf until one winter's evening after playing board games well into the evening with my brother's family.

    My brother had driven separately from his wife after work, so when she left, he and one of his daughters stayed late to play some video games with me, and on those rare occasions that we get to play games late at night, it's time to pop a sealed game and try it out. We chose Cubic Lode Runner, as we had as children spent a fun evening playing the NES version of the original. Expecting more of the same, we popped it in, and were we in for a surprise!

    Far more than a simple update with 3D graphics or new levels, Cubic Lode Runner takes the gold collecting, enemy avoiding gameplay of the original classic and moved it into truly three dimensional levels. Using the face buttons to dig in different directions, navigating the levels is as easy and pleasurable to control as its 2D forefathers, and has maddening new twists, requiring rotation of the camera to identify gold buried deep within 3D formations that require some thought to dig through to both collect the gold and escape. The designs are clever and devious, with good enemy placement and well thought out traps. The game even has a fully featured edit mode just like the classic games, and the levels can be saved and traded on memory cards.

    This game had us passing the controller back and forth in my basement gameroom well into the night, as my young niece watched on, smiling and occasionally offering her suggestions to puzzles as she played MineCraft on her tablet. We conquered many, many levels before switching games, and it will be one I go back to time and again. In my opinion, it is the crown jewel of the Hudson remakes, as the others just take old games and put the 2D gameplay into 3D graphic models instead of sprites, whereas this truly evolves the Lode Runner franchise. If you have a fondness for the series or would like to try an action puzzle game with its own flavor, I highly recommend Cubic. It's pretty much all in English to boot, so you just can't go wrong on the PS2. I absolutely love this one, both because it's great and because it gave me some fun memories with my family.
    Last edited by celerystalker; 05-12-2015 at 08:27 PM.

  3. #28
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    Default Rokudenashi Blues

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ID:	7985Based on the manga series of the same name, Rokudenashi Blues for the Super Famicom is a fighting game with a little adventure mixed in to twist things up. The game is about a hot-blooded bancho, which is slang for some sort of school bully with a heart of gold; sort of the chief bad-ass who may reign with an iron fist, but also protects his turf and his classmates when outsiders threaten. Your character wants to not only be the best fighter in the school, but the best fighter in the city, and with some help from his friends he might just do it!

    There are two main modes in Rokudenashi Blues. One is a simple one-on-one fighting mode that can be played single player or versus, selecting various characters from the manga whose names remain untranslated to me. Your characters are much smaller than those in other fighting games for the system, but they... well, actually, there's not a real counterpoint to outweigh that. The characters are small and somewhat lacking in detail, though each character does have his own distinct look. You have the ability to jump and block, and you have buttons to punch or kick. The real fun, though, comes when you learn how to do special moves, which are not initiated by direction sequences and those attack buttons, but rather only buy certain directional inputs accompanied by a press of the X button. Most are typical quarter-circle moves, and add a lot more depth to your fist fighting. There are no projectiles or crazy supers; the moves in this game are meant to look like high school students with some martial arts or boxing training, and they do very well. The pace is slow but not terribly so, and the buttons responsive enough to be serviceable. However, this mode is frankly dull and unimpressive.

    The second, more important mode is the story mode, which plays out some of the storyline of the manga. Your main character works to impress his main squeeze, take on the champion of the boxing club, and fight off local gangs in his quest to become the best fighter around, and he does so in a nice adventure format. You walk around horizontally scrolling areas such as the school building, construction yards, and city streets, going into buildings and talking to people to advance the story, pick up the odd item (most of which only serve to reduce your stamina), and of course get into some rumbles with the local ruffians. While the wandering around and talking serves as little more than a segue between fights, it still gives a relaxing, anime-like feel to the proceedings, and helps you feel more invested in fights that would otherwise feel lackluster. Watching your friends get their asses kicked or your girl get threatened play out on screen adds some weight to the situation that wouldn't come across nearly as well in little between-fight blurbs, and also make the character's motives relatable regardless of the language barrier. It is this mode that makes a lackluster fighting game feel like more of an experience, even if it is ostensibly just window dressing.

    I liked Rokudenashi Blues a lot. It's not particularly long, and the 2 player is basically pointless unless you are both fans of the manga. However, the adventure mode adds a lot of personality and atmosphere that can make the single player campaign feel like something worthwhile. It's not really expensive, it's not hard to play in Japanese. What it is, though, is a nice afternoon for an anime enthusiast.
    Last edited by celerystalker; 05-12-2015 at 08:29 PM.

  4. #29
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    Default Titan

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ID:	7986Before you go thinking about mythical giants, super robots, or megalithic spaceships, let me put any of those lines of thought to bed. Despite the name, Titan for the PC Engine has somewhere in the neighborhood of none of those things. What Titan is, though, is an action puzzle game that plays like some sort of hybrid of Breakout and Gauntlet. Not necessarily the best parts of those games, mind you, but significant pieces.

    The game is a scrolling maze game with levels designed similarly to the early Gauntlet games, but instead of a small warrior traversing a dungeon, you control a glowing square that can move in all direction whose purpose is to bounce a ball or balls against all of the breakable blocks in those mazes before a time limit expires. The time may seem limited at first, but leftover time carries over from each level of a given stage to the next, and "T" powerups grant you generous amounts of extra time, so it rarely becomes an issue.

    There are other powerups and enemies as well. In fact, there are 2 whole types of enemies, with... not even a pallet swap for either. There are little green caterpillars that move in straight lines from the block they were inside and then walk back and forth along the first wall they touch. But beware, if they touch you, they, they... freeze you for a second, and then you keep doing exactly what you were doing before. You can kill them by bouncing the ball into them. The second enemy is a special kind of blue block with a skull in it. If you touch these with your square, it freezes you for a second again. However, if your ball touches them, it explodes, and THAT is the only other way than running out of time to lose a life. Other special types of blocks can release multiple balls that will careen through the stage until destroyed, one that causes your ball to start spiraling for a limited time instead of moving in straight lines, blocks that give you a one-up when struck, and perhaps most importantly, speed blocks. The speed blocks rotated between green and yellow, and which color is showing determines whether your ball will increase in speed or decrease upon impact.

    Your ball will increase in speed gracually with each impact, so at times, the speed decreases are vital. There are 2 powerups you pick up with your square as well. First, as mentioned, the "T" powerups give you extra time. Secondly, there are pentagrams with "B"s in the middle that seem to increase the speed at which your square moves through the levels. Powerups must be grabbed before the last block in the level is destroyed, so grabbing time powerups right away is probably the most important thing you can do to ensure success. You can also go fast enough while holding one of the buttons to stop the ball dead, and it will stay that way until you bump it again.

    There isn't much more to say about Titan. There are passwords for cleared stages and some sort of odd sci-fi backdrop that the game posits without ever expounding upon, but really there's you bouncing a ball around a ton of configurations of the same old obstacles. Your ball can only bounce in 8 directions, so the game tends to be overly easy to play and more of a test of your patience instead of your ability to manipulate the game's physics. It doesn't cost much and is a little fun for a few levels, but the lack of any dynamic change throughout the game makes it a lot more dull than it could have been. If you can't get enough of block-breakers, by all means, it's not a train wreck. It's just not amazing at all.
    Last edited by celerystalker; 05-12-2015 at 08:30 PM.

  5. #30
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    Default Terra Phantastica

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ID:	7987Terra Phantastica for the Sega Saturn isn't the most obscure game in the world, but sometimes I get the feeling that some of what I've read about it was written by people who looked at a few screenshots instead of actually sitting down and playing it at all. The game is a turn-based strategy game that on the surface looks like it's going to be yet another Tactics Ogre/Shining Force clone, what with moving characters around on a grid, choosing the way they face, using skills and action points, etc. However, this game being worked on by the same folks who put together Dragon Force means that it can't be just another strategy game, and it's not.

    As a matter of fact, you can see the same sort of concept thinking when you actually initiate an attack on an enemy soldier, as the battles are far from typical. What happens is that the screen shifts to a diagonally-oriented battlefield with each commander facing each other and surrounded by their lackeys of various troop types. These play out almost like a miniaturized take on Dragon Force, as you select your attack/defense formation, choose to use magic attacks by your leader, and choose what type of attack to execute, where your soldiers will rush in formaction through the enemy formation and results will calculate.

    You click through story sequences in between battle missions and sometimes conversations take place on the grid map as well between opposing officers, and these are how the plot progresses. However, what this game is really about is using different types of soliders against those that they are strong against, using your magic attacks wisely, and choosing formations wisely in order to win the fast-paced skirmishes moreso than the class-changing micromanagement of the Tactics Ogre/Final Fantasy Tactics model. If you'd like to play a polished, unique strategy game that uses more realistic instead of chibi character porportions, innovative battles, and that Sega flare, Terra Phantastica is a lot of fun, and it tends to cost pretty much nothing. I paid $5 for a mint, complete copy, and that's not uncommon.
    Last edited by celerystalker; 05-12-2015 at 08:31 PM.

  6. #31
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    Default World Champion Dodgeballer

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ID:	7988D3 Publisher's Simple Series on the Playstation 2 was loaded with a remarkable array of oddities, some of which spun into whole franchises. Others, though, were less original, and rather aped existing franchises in an attempt to cash in on a perceived gap in the market. The latter is where World Champion Dodgeballer checks in.

    World Champion Dodgeballer is a truly shameless clone of Super Dodgeball, especially the arcade versions. Kunio's Downtown Nekketsu franchise had been mostly dormant for several years at this point, and D3 had tried the same thing on the PS1 with poor results. So, aiming more toward the Neo Geo game for style and adding some fairly high resolution sprites, this dodgeball game came out considerably better.

    When I mention the style of the arcade games, I am not just referring to play, but especially the graphical style. One large character with three smaller cohorts take each side of the court, and three outer court players surround the opponent's side. You can still pass, throw, jump, catch, and execute super throws in the exact same way the Super Dodgeball games allowed. However, this game is made as a world sports contest, so the teams represent and are themed as stereotypes from their countries.

    The music is forgettable, the graphics are pleasingly high res, though some differences in each of the small character sprites as opposed to simple clones would have added some personality. The control is pretty well tuned, though it felt to me like catching the ball was a little on the easy side after getting the timing down. Four players can play using a multi-tap, which adds to the fun, and there are three unlockable teams to get from the single player mode.

    Whether or not this game is relevant to you hinges on a few factors. If you're fond of games like Super Dodgeball and want some variety with new characters, arenas, and super throws, World Champion Dodgeballer is for you. Likewise, if you collect the Simple 2000 series, it's a no brainer. If you're on the fence, I'll say this: it's quite fun and just as shallow. It works best as a party game. Personally I enjoy it, but in the years since I've had it, it's been relegated to a certain group of friends, and otherwise collects dust.
    Last edited by celerystalker; 05-12-2015 at 08:32 PM.

  7. #32
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    Default Buffers Evolution

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ID:	7989The WonderSwan is a handheld I've only spent a modest amount of time on, as I've only stumbled across a handful of games for it in the wild. Still, what I have played has been interesting, and my starting point with the system was Buffers Evolution, which is definitely not run-of-the-mill.

    At first glance, Buffers Evolution looks (and kinda feels) like a Sonic the Hedgehog clone. However, digging a little deeper, things start to change. For one, there's a timer that is there to rate your speed runs for each course, which is a primary objective. The levels are less platforming stages, regardless of jump mechanics, and more race/obstacle courses, almost like a mix between Sonic and Uniracers. In each level, about ten parts are hidden that you need to collect to clear the level properly, kind of like Chaos Emeralds that heal you. There are 9 stages to clear, and it seems like collecting all parts within time restraints is how to truly beat the game.

    While the Sonic parallels are obvious, the game feels to me closer to Dashin' Desperadoes or Uniracers. I'm not sure if it's hard or easy to come by, as mine came with my WonderSwan when I bought it. What I can say, though, is that it is one of the most playable games I've played on the system as of yet, and I enjoy playing it as a diversion as I'm working through the WonderSwan Macross strategy game, which I hope to give a take on as I get further into it.
    Last edited by celerystalker; 05-12-2015 at 08:33 PM.

  8. #33
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    Default Combat Queen

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ID:	7990A long time favorite of mine on PS2, Combat Queen is a delightful mess of FMV game for the new millennium. I enjoyed it so much when I first got it over a decade ago that I even opened a short-lived user name on GameFAQs just so I could write a review of it, although I'm pretty sure it's one page that's never been viewed. Anyway, yeah, the game.

    Combat Queen is a genre-blending FMV game that puts the player in control of the Combat Queen androids and their sweet pink jeep. There are two main types of play in the game that I've experienced, which are cursor shooting over FMV backdrops and early Resident Evil style horror/adventure stages. Your Combat Queens have an energy bar that has health on one side and gun battery on the other, and energy must be transferred between the two sides to work your way through the levels. The difficulty of these segments is surprisingly appropriate, and managing your energy flow is the key to success. The insectoid creatures you shoot at are superimposed CG over real-life footage of a cityscape. While this sort of concept on the Sega CD or 3DO might've felt... I don't know if passable would be an appropriate word... maybe at least in-step with the technology available, in high resolution with DVD clarity, it's perhaps even funnier in motion. There are boss stages that use what looks like rubber suit monsters that are played much the same way, and it has a very kaiju/super sentai feel to the way everything moves and the footage is shot.

    The other adventure levels feature the same old, same old Resident Evil tropes, but are simply levels to complete instead of an over-arching story segment. You have fixed camera angles with what appear to be pre-rendered backgrounds and 3D models of the characters that look decent in the way that a good D3 Simple Series game can look good. I found them to be a little slow and dragging after playing the cursor shooting segments, but they aren't unbearable.

    I'm not sure who Taito was making this game for, but I can only imagine it was me, as I just like to play oddball stuff when I get the chance. The game does offer a few extras, which are mostly behind-the-scenes footage or just bonus footage of the actresses doing mundane things such as bowling very poorly. Still, even in Japanese the game is very playable, and it allows saving between levels, so it's not such a chore to play through. It's probably an incredibly niche audience that would be interested in Combat Queen, requiring interest in both import games and FMV games, but if that's you, it's probably exactly what you want it to be. It was for me.
    Last edited by celerystalker; 05-12-2015 at 08:34 PM.

  9. #34
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    Default Dragon Drive D-Master's Shot

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ID:	7991Dragon Drive is a collectible card game from Japan in the vein of the Yu-Gi-Oh or the Pokemon card game in which players collect dragon cards and supplemental support cards in order to play out dragon battles competitively. Like these sorts of franchises, Dragon Drive also had accompanying manga, anime, toys, and video games. Most of the video games are card collecting RPGs of sorts, but this one happens to be an action game by Treasure of all people.

    Dragon Drive D-Master's Shot on the Gamecube is a 3D shooter that is mostly arena-based, but does feature some scrolling rail shooter levels. If I was going to compare it to another game, it's actually a lot like Bulk Slash or Virtual On with a dash of Panzer Dragoon. You usually fly around 3D arena levels, destroying all targets and collecting power ups until a boss shows up to try and put you in your place. Most of the usual control elements from these types of game are included-dashing in all directions, automatic melee when in close proximity to an enemy, lock-on, etc. The shoulder buttons are used to go forward and backward, A shoots, B raises a shield, X locks on, and Y dashes. The Z button is used to change dragon forms as you collect the appropriate cards, and the D pad has power up cards assigned to each direction. In the rail shooter levels, the lock on is disabled, but everything else remains the same.

    The cards are the biggest difference between this game and other 3D shooters. You can only carry 4 at a time, and they seem to be of three main types-recovery, attack strength, and whatever the yellow type does. Each card has its own artwork and can be viewed in a gallery, as well as in the multiplayer mode, which I still haven't dug very deep into.

    There are well done anime cutscenes spread throughout the game, and not just in between levels, as they will sometimes cut in at appropriate moments to add some drama to the proceedings such as boss approaches or story events. The game also comes with a bonus disc that has an introductory episode of the anime to give you some back story. While these are all in Japanese, they add a nice atmosphere to a game that benefits heavily from it.

    Your dragon is awarded experience points based on your performance in each stage, which will then allow level ups that increase its strength and stamina. There does appear to be a New Game + option that allows you to maintain your abilities as you play through again, but I'm not sure if there is extra content therein.

    There are a couple of other modes such as a Dragon Genome Code thing I haven't figured out and a 2 player split screen versus mode that play like a flight-based Virtual On. There is also a card gallery that allows you to view cards you have encountered in the story mode, which is kinda neat. The graphics are solid if unimpressive, and the music feels like pretty basic J-pop/anime fare. The control is responsive, but the pace is a little slower than some other games of this type.

    I like Dragon Drive D, if for no other reason than because it is a fun import exclusive for the Gamecube. Treasure fans will find a pleasant game, but if you're looking for Panzer Dragoon, this isn't it. However, if you've already played the crap out of Virtual On or Bulk Slash and want to try something different, it's a neat little game with heavy anime flair. I enjoy it, anyway.
    Last edited by celerystalker; 05-12-2015 at 08:35 PM.

  10. #35
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    Default Hyokkori Hyoutan Jima

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ID:	7992I've seen this romanized several ways, so I'm kinda guessing on the spelling here. Anyhow, Hyokkori Hyoutan Jima for the Mega Drive is a truly tough game to get info on. I bought it based on its neat puppet box art and the screenshots on the back with sprites reminiscent of the clay models from Earthbound. So, on to what in the world this is.

    Hyokkori Hyoutan Jima is a long running children's show in Japan that largely centers around an island and the pirates around it from what I can tell, and this Mega Drive game is a board game played in that universe. Getting started for up to 4 players, human or CPU controlled, is easy enough, but what to do and what spaces do is the problem. So, I finally sat down to figure it out so I can share it with anyone who wants to know.

    Much like Momotaro Dentetsu, the main point of the game is to reach selected destinations first to make money. After all of the chosen destinations have been reached, the player with the most money wins. Simple enough, right? Well, you also have a meter at the top of the screen that holds 10 balls, which can be red or blue, and you get the number of balls times 100 or more every time someone hits a destination, at which time it resets. So, how do you fill it and what do the spaces do?

    Red Skull and Crossbones spaces cause a bad thing to happen, typically as a slot machine where you lose the amount of money shown when it stops or a bingo ball where you lose the amount shown times the number of red balls on your meter. Hitting these additionally adds a red ball to your meter.

    Island spaces do the opposite, usually gaining you money in the same way, but multiplying bingo ball money by your blue meter balls and adding an additional blue.

    Blank green spaces are gambling spaces where you play a simple high/low dice game where you bet 10% of your cash and must roll higher than your opponent to win. These can also cause a red or blue ball on your meter.

    White spaces with a P over them are properties you can buy for 10% of your cash, and you collect a toll of around 1/3 of that if it gets landed on, and buying/landing on your own nets you a blue ball.

    There are ? spaces that allow you to draw cards that give you items or cause events, and a shop where you can get items like roadblocks or extra dice, and the lighthouse that I'm not sure what it does.

    Each turn you can roll or use an item. Once you roll, you can move in any direction, but you must move on a continuous path. You must land exactly on the destination for it to count, and the player that hits it gets a huge reward that increases each time. At the end, extra cash is awarded for certain conditions, and the highest total wins.

    So, that is how you play Hyokkori Hyoutan Jima. It's fun and accessible enough to play, but it is random and requires little skill. The language barrier makes using items tough, but not impossible. I don't know that I'd recommend it as a one player game, but if you have friends that are brave or dumb enough to try, there is some fun to be had, and it's cheap.
    Last edited by celerystalker; 05-12-2015 at 08:47 PM.

  11. #36
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    Default Deep Sea Adventure

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ID:	7993Another oddball game I've not seen much mentioned regarding is Deep Sea Adventure for the Playstation. If you look at the back of the case, a few things will stick out to you as they did me, which is what led to my purchase. For one, the back of the case is entirely in English! Second, and even stranger, is the mixture of screenshots to go with that English, which display both 3D submarine exploration and 2D, 16 bit style RPG screens. When I held that in my hand at my favorite game store that no longer exists (cries for a second), I figured that it would be 10 bucks I wouldn't regret. Was I right?

    Deep Sea Adventure is the story of a boy named Chris and his trusty submarine, the Seamax. His father has gone missing doing underwater research, and so Chris has decided to start scouring the globe in search of his daddy and adventure. You start in your home town of Poseidenia (not even vaguely clever, but hey), from which you can select various regions of the island to traverse in 2D RPG style. You'll visit shops, buy supplies, and talk to citizens for clues before stepping out into a great big sandbox or exploration. First, though, you'd do well to go underwater from your home dock where you can go through an easily understood tutorial, even if it is all in Japanese that will acquaint you with your sub operations.

    Operating the sub is simple enough, but the part that makes this game difficult to dive into is its open nature. You can talk to different people to learn about or be ferried to various locations you can explore, so it's tough to know where to begin. Shopping for weapons and supplies is easy enough, and loading your sub from your dock at home is easy, but when you're in the wide open ocean searching for treasure or clues, it's easy to get a little confused as to what's next. Still, your instruments are easy to read in English, so you'll know what you need to use and when, and you can surface or return to dock at any time in your select button menu, where you can also view a mini map, reload, and check out items. The trick is finding some action.

    When you do find action pinging on your sonar, you'll run into giant crabs, industrial mining subs, and according to the back of the case even a ghost ship, so there definitely is some adventure to be had, but you'll probably end up running out of supplies and restarting a few times before you start to get on a roll. You can save easily enough by going home and going to bed, though, so once you find your way, you'll at least be able to keep it going forward.

    Deep Sea Adventure is easy to figure out how to play, but it's a trip trying to figure out where to go. Still, if you're in the mood for something with a calmer, relaxed pace with the ability to get you riled up when the time is right, it's a game with some legs, and with its two discs, it has some real length as well. I'd only recommend it to the patient, though. Or, you know, if you're an old submarine pirate looking to relive your glory days.
    Last edited by celerystalker; 05-12-2015 at 08:48 PM.

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    Default Osomatsu-kun

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ID:	7994Osomatsu-kun is a manga property known for its off-the-wall satire. It had TV, comics, toys, and way too many video games... or... not enough...? Maybe? The Bakuiden the Unbalanced Zones game I mentioned earlier in this thread is a part of the franchise, and this Famicom game, Osomatsu-kun, seems like it might be the first console game based on the property. So, a comedy satire comic adapted to a game. How's that gonna work?

    Osomatsu-kun decides to take the whole satirical schtick into games by becoming a parody of a popular genre of the time: the ever popular bane of the importer, the Famicom detective games. In these games, you typically wander around a map, enter buildings whose interiors are represented by a static screen with a character and objects with which you can intetact to advance the story, and click on everything. These games are typically very inaccessible due to being almost exclusively text-based. However, in this case it's slightly more doable due to the property's nonsensical approach to pretty much everything.

    First, the interaction menus are easy to understand visual icons that clearly communicate what action you are performing, so even though the story remains a jumble, it's easy to advance. Secondly, the over the top situations and extremely Japanese sense of humor guarantee the game would be a mess of trial and error in any language. Finally, San Dimas High School Football rules.

    The first quest is the search for a missing pair of dentures. There are robots, mini-clones, scientists, and buck-toothed stereotypes. You know, the usual folks you deal with when looking for missing synthetic chompers. If that doesn't tell you what you're walking into, this isn't for you. Really, it probably isn't for most, but wandering around town talking to random people, finding $10,000 on a shelf, then gambling it on a rice ball guessing game definitely both recalls the good old days and sends the old detective series up with a bang. I can't say it's for everyone, but I chuckled a bit, for whatever that's worth.
    Last edited by celerystalker; 05-12-2015 at 08:48 PM.

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    Default Le Bizarre Avventure di GioGio

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ID:	7995If that title looks an awful lot like something familiar to you, like, say... JoJo's Bizarre Adventure, then you're right. Le Bizarre Avventure di GioGio for Playstation 2 is a fighter/beat 'em up based on (I think the fifth story arc from) the popular manga featuring the Joestar clan and their struggle against evils such as the vampire Dio and evil psychics looking to use ancient artifacts to rule the world. The characters in the JoJo universe generally speaking have a sort of symbiotic psychic projection known as a "stand" that provides them with immense powers, and these psychic warriors tend to find themselves at odds with one another.

    As player, you take on the role of GioGio, whose connection to the Joestar lineage is explained at the beginning of the instructions which are in Japanese, so unfortunately I can't elaborate on the finer details of the story. Anyhow, you start on a train in Italy and find yourself embroiled in a conspiracy involving a group of asexual fighters trying to, to... stop something from happening involving some sort of gold artifact. So, useless attempt at describing the story and setting aside, how does one play in this world?

    The game plays out as a series of one on one 3D fights against rival warriors that have somewhat of a beat 'em up feel, despite the lack of generic thugs. You have a moderately limited collection of attacks you can use to conquer your foe, and an alternate set utilizing your stand's abilities. Your goal is typically to defeat your opponent within a certain timeframe, but there are missions with other victory requirements such as simple escaping a chase or holding off an opponent's assault until a time limit passes. For the most part, though, you're really playing an arena-based one on one fighter.

    Your primary mode of play is Super Story Mode, in which you control a fighter for a few stages until switching to another character's perspective, at which time your control switches to that persona. Most of the game (if not all, I haven't finished it yet) takes place in Italy, and the stages offer a good deal of variety, ranging from trains to city streets to an opposite side of the mirror dimension where your control gets reversed. Many of the missions require a puzzle solving approach to how to fight or damage your enemy, which provides much of the game's challenge, but you do get to save in between levels.

    After completing each mission, you are ranked on a scale of 0-200 based on a combination of how much health you have left and points gained from fighting style and discovering secrets to be seen from exploring the levels or performing certain moves at the right time. Your high scores pile up, unlocking various articles for your gallery mode and eventually "another story" mode after completing the game. The gallery mode allows you to explore the levels in detail on foot without enemies or time limits, view concept art, and view extra action manga sequences that play out like partially animated comic book panels exploding onto a page. You can replay completed levels at any time, which gives the game some replay value in trying to maximize your scores and unlock extra content.

    Graphically, Le Bizarre Avventure di GioGio employs cel-shaded graphics that suit the illustration style from the JoJo series well. The backgrounds are crisp and the animation is solid, but the game plays fairly slowly, especially for a Capcom game. I wasn't expecting Power Stone, as that would be too fast for this game, but a little faster pace might've been nice. However, given the puzzle style approach to the fights, sometimes the slower speed is a blessing. The difficulty is generally fair, but I have one big complaint. I don't know if it was because I was playing too late at night or because it's just so unintuitive, but in the mirror dimension, when the control is reversed, only left and right are reversed, while up and down remain the same. This is very counterintuitive and frustrating to say the least, as the character you fight against is very fast and is one of the few that utilizes projectiles, as well as having a throw attack that has animation that takes seemingly forever to finish if you don't dodge it. It was just needlessly frustrating to me, though I did clear it after a couple of tries, but believe me when I say that this fight was more irritating than it needed to be.

    Still, most of the game is fun and atmospheric, and you have the option to skip story cinemas with a press of the start button if you aren't in the mood. The feel of the JoJo universe is very intact, and the music is appropriate if forgettable. The variety in the fights keeps the game feeling fresh, and the challenge to reach high score in fights touches the arcade dork in me. I personally really have enjoyed Le Bizarre Avventure di GioGio, and I'd recommend it to anyone who enjoys the property in some fashion. It can also be fun to a non-fan who simply wants what boils down to a competent 3d beat-em-up boss rush, so if you've been thinking about it or that just sounds like a good time, give it a shot. It's pretty neat.
    Last edited by celerystalker; 05-12-2015 at 08:49 PM.

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    Default Puffy no PS I Love You

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ID:	7996I bought Puffy no PS I Love You on the original Playstation when I saw it in a store and found out it was a light gun compatible game. This, I think, understandably piqued my interest, as how or why anyone would make a gun game based around J-pop group Puffy (or Puffy Amy Yumi if you will) was completely beyond me. It probably should have beyond Sony/Epic, too, but since it exists and it was cheap, I had to see what the hell happened here.

    When you power up the game, you'll find yourself at a menu that is a circle with rainbow rings emanating from the center with four mushrooms bouncing in a circle to the beat of a tympani. You can choose any of the four mushrooms to begin a mini game. Now, I use the term mini game in a very loose sense here, but it's as close as I could come up with.

    The first mushroom on the left, you can choose to... watch a Puffy music video!!! By shooting different frames on screen, you change which camera is the primary point of view between the choices of Amy, Yumi, or a center-stage view. You can also just choose to watch the whole thing from a fixed perspective. There are two songs you can watch here, and they... well, they're songs all right!

    The second mushroom at the bottom starts a gallery shooting game in which you shoot at soda cans superimposed flying over the background of yet another music video. Shooting red cans is good, and shooting blue cans is bad. Throughout the course of the video, randomly chosen formations of cans will come in waves, such as just shooting a ton of cans, two cannons shooting one of each and you have to hit the red one, or shooting cans in ascending size order. Clearing all of the waves by the end of the music video will win you a brief congratulatory message from Amy and Yumi. Be proud of yourself! The challenge here is non-existent, and the cans look like crummy flash animation, but there is definitely some Puffy playing in the background.

    The third mushroom, the one on the right, allows you to-get this-watch two more Puffy music videos in full screen mode! Plus, you can fast forward, rewind, and slow motion the crap out of them! Yeah!

    The final and top mushroom is the "Photo Get" shooting game, in which you repeatedly shoot at a static file cabinet to find rolls of film, which in turn unlock still gallery images you can view from a view screen. By unlocking all of these pictures, you... will definitely have a bunch of photos to look at. Yep. Lots of photos.

    Puffy no PS I Love You can be played without a light gun as a cursor shooter. Honestly, it's dumb. This is pure fan-service, and its total contents can be viewed inside of half an hour with zero challenge. There is just nothing about it that will appeal to anyone trying to play this as a legitimate gaming experience. You'd probably need to be a Puffy superfan to want this, or an idiot like me who sees something weird and has to try it. I don't love this, but to get my money's worth, I do make friends play it from time to time. I have a lot more forcing others to play to do before I'll be satisfied, though.
    Last edited by celerystalker; 05-12-2015 at 08:50 PM.

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    Default Monster Paradise

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ID:	7997Char De Pudding the 13th found a fortune during the California gold rush. In 1852, he died of a stroke, and for 150 years his treasures have been lying dormant in his mansion. The spirit of Char De Pudding longs to meet another adventurer as brave and perverse as himself, and so he filled his mansion and its grounds with monsters, inviting the bold to seek out his treasure and conquer the Monster Paradise.

    Monster Paradise for the Playstation is a board game with RPG elements, not entirely unlike the Dokapon Kingdom games. Up to 8 players can play together, roaming the mansion grounds in attempt to reach the inner sanctum and claim the treasure to win. In the process, they must fight off monsters and each other to win by rolling the dice, finding items, and playing cards to be the one to claim it all.

    The intro is in English, so understanding the point isn't difficult, and playing isn't as cumbersome as many other board game style games from this era. There are only 4 main types of spaces-Blue spaces where you gain health, red spaces where you lose health and/or get trapped, green spaces on which you can gain items and cards to use, and portal spaces that advance you to the next area of the map. You must manage your hit points while advancing, creatively use items to advance, and once you get to the star in the inner sanctum, Char will roll a die. If it is a one, you get a shot at a final boss monster to win!

    When you roll the dice to move, you can go in any direction to use up the number of steps shown to land where you want. Upon landing, regardless of type of space (portals aside), you will either gain HP on blue, lose HP/get trapped on red, or get an item on green. However, you may randomly be attacked by a monster first, in which case you must battle!

    Battles are simple affairs. You can attack, run, use an item, or use a card. Items/cards highlighted in red are for the map only. Cards will do things such as allow you to roll extra dice or escape easily, and I have yet to discover the effects of items, as so far they seem to do little. If you chose attack, you simply roll dice and do as much damage as what is shown. If you roll doubles, you do double damage. Drain your opponent's HP before yours to win. Lose, and you will return to the beginning of the area of the map in which you are exploring and recover a small amount of HP.

    Playing cards on the map will take your turn, unless they are movement cards to move a specific amount of spaces. Some cards restore health, control movement, turn rivals to stone, or cause monsters to attack an opponent of your choice. Managing movement versus holding back rivals while managing your HP by landing on blue spaces are the keys to victory.

    The game has a cute anime/Halloween vibe, much like games such as Cotton or Harmful Park. Ghosts float about the map, trees have eyes and mouths, and eerie/goofy music plays in the background.

    Up to 8 humans can play, which I would imagine could be a great time if you could get enough people interested. As it is, a one player game is not so satisfying, as the computer will flagrantly cheat, as it is wont to do in these electronic board games. I found the game to be a blast, and am dying to get enough people together to really tee off on this one. It is simple and entertaining, and a very obscure game. If you like video board games and want something shallow but fun, Monster Paradise is pretty nifty.
    Last edited by celerystalker; 05-12-2015 at 08:50 PM.

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    Default Cowboy Bebop

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ID:	7998Cowboy Bebop is basically an anime institution, and this game for the original Playstation was a greatest hits title in Japan. However, I've heard surprisingly little conversation regarding this one given the notoriety of its source material and the immense popularity of the system it was on.

    Cowboy Bebop is a rail shooter in the vein of Panzer Dragoon in which you take flight as Spike Spiegel in control of his fighter, the Swordfish II in search of bounties. You have two weapons by default, which are a machine gun and ruby laser, but the weapons can be upgraded with points earned in between levels and switched out with upgraded lasers and missiles. By chaining together explosions and taking out entire formations you increase your score with which to upgrade, and... that's about it so far. I haven't finished it yet.

    The controls have some idiosyncracies compared to others in the genre, such as an inverted y-axis, which is adjustable in the options menu, and the method in which you use your secondary weapon. You first press the square button to narrow your cross hair, and then press square and x to fire. Simply pressing x will continue to fire your standard machine gun. Your secondary weapon has a charge gauge that refills within about 3 seconds. Also, using the L1 and R1 buttons, you can initiate rotation and rolls to dodge and fit through narrow canyons, however I have found the maneuver to be largely for show to the point of the game I've reached.

    The enemies are blocky and somewhat nondescript, but the familiar character portraits chiming in with concern or adulation during the mission add some flavor from the show. Some of the made up characters for the game, though, feel oddly out of keeping with the tone of the show and closer to the goofier nature of some of the manga upon which it is based. The biggest missed opportunity, though, is the music, which lacks all of the jazz/bluesy flavor of the show in favor of oddly upbeat synth and guitars. It's a waste and takes away from the show's tone entirely. It's a shame, really, as a few tweaks could have really enhanced the feel of this game to make it feel like an extension of the property's universe instead of a rail shooter with a tacked-on license.

    Cowboy Bebop is an okay rail shooter that really fails to cash in on an excellent license. It plays okay, but it may as well have just been called Space Fighter and been a Simple Series generic. Even as a rail shooter, there are games with much more action such as Super Robot Shooting, Gamera, or Vanark to satisfy you before settling for this game. As a fan of the anime, I really feel like they missed the boat with this one, but it's not an abject failure. I'm not mad at Bandai, I'm just disappointed.
    Last edited by celerystalker; 05-12-2015 at 08:51 PM.

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    Default Super Family Tennis

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ID:	7999When I picked up Namco's Super Family Tennis for the Super Famicom, I wasn't aware that I already had familiarity with the franchise, but it turns out I did. Although the game is a sequel to Family Tennis on the Famicom, it's also cousin to World Court Tennis on the Turbografx.

    What that meant to me was a hope that the quest mode of many of Namco's early sports games would be included. I had a blast taking down the Evil Tennis King of Chicago in World Court's Dragon Quest-style mode, and enjoyed a similar experience with Final Lap Twin's racing RPG. Sadly, Quest mode turned up absent from Super Family Tennis. However, a little research turned up Story mode, in which tennis matches are interspersed between grapic novel-like cutscenes to tell the story of a young tennis heroine's journey to the top, accessible by a code. While not as deep as the RPG modes, this does work well, move quickly, add passwords, and give some heart to an otherwise bare-bones tennis game.

    The control and strategies used in the game are simple, direct, anf effective, but make playing the computer simple. Hit deep to the back corner, rush the net, and put down a harshly-angled shot that they can't possibly catch up to and you'll make quick work of the game. Multiplayer works more evenly, but there is not a huge variety of strokes to use, limiting the gameplay in comparison to something like Super Tennis.

    Graphics and sound are okay. I like the variety of courts and cute background details like time of day, active ballboys, or mountain climbers scaling a cliff. The music, though, is average and repetitive. I didn't feel a ton different using different characters, either, but I did feel like the game was pretty fair from both sides of the court.

    I had some fun with Super Family Tennis, but I can't recommend it over other tennis games on the system. Super Tennis is lighter on modes, but the variety of play styles makes it much more fun to actually play.
    Last edited by celerystalker; 05-12-2015 at 08:52 PM.

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    Default Tokyo Dungeon

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ID:	8000I'm sure a couple of people have heard of this one, but on the whole you don't see a whole lot mentioned about Tokyo Dungeon for the Playstation. It's a first person perspective RPG set in a cyberpunk world in which you play some sort of detective attempting to solve a conspiracy by jacking into a Matrix-like virtual reality themed on various cultures to get information, defeat bosses, and progress the story. So...

    The game starts with a very high quality anime opening to introduce the setting and characters that is very reminiscent of anime such as Ghost in the Shell or Armitage III. It really sets a great tone, and coupled with the robust and detailed manual, getting you pumped and primed to play.

    Naturally, the blocky 3D of the early PSX just can't live up to the exciting intro. You find yourself in a bizarre hub world witha police station, subway station, and the entrances to the various themed worlds. The envirnments have nice futuristic color schemes, but the ploygons are very blocky with splotchy textures. The character models are bizarre and blocky as well, and I'm not sure what the giant bears/furries are about. The tone here is at least vaguely in line with the opening, but soon after that atmosphere dissipates into something... different.

    When you find yourself in ancient Egypt or the old west through the virtual reality, the mood really shifts. The plot revolves around people dying while in the VR space, so by diving in you begin to gain clues. There are puzzels to solve all over (incliding a weird English alphabet puzzle that ate up a lot of time), hidden doors to find Wolfenstein-style by clicking along the walls, and hidden level-up teddy bears(?!) that let you access higher experience levels.

    Random battle encounters occur in each area with a background reminiscent of the Genesis games Shadowrun or Phantasy Star II. Enemies are themed on the level and fights are one on one. The enemies a large, scaling sprites, but there are only a few different types per area. Battles are fast paced and contain the usual fight/item/escape stuff you're used to, but there are basically only healing items to use here. Attacking is unique and timing-based, in which you use a meter not unlike a golf game to start and stop. The farther along the meter, the more damage. However, going past the sweet spot, which varies in size based on your level, will almost always result in a miss, whereas the sweet spot will incur maximum damage. If you have good timing, it's a cake walk. If not, you are in for a long game.

    Your level resets each time you start a new stage, and you have a level cap. Finding the hidden Teddy Bear in each stage will let you level up just a bit more, but that little bit makes a big difference. You must clear each area in order to access the next, so the game is pretty linear. After each clear, you generally get another sweet anime scene to develop the VR murder story until finally taking down the mad man behind it all.

    Despite not quite living up to the production values of its packaging and opening, I really, really liked Tokyo Dungeon. It's been a few years since I beat it, but I think back on it fondly. As RPGs go, it's very accessible even in Japanese, and even if it shifts a lot, it offers a lot of atmosphere. Old West, Egypt, Feudal Japan... There's a lot of variety in a relatively short game. If you have any stomach for playing RPGs in a foreign language, I highly recommend it. Even the story is somewhat understandable, and the quick battles keep the game moving. Especially if you like cyberpunk anime, check it out.
    Last edited by celerystalker; 05-12-2015 at 08:52 PM.

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    Default Cho Aniki: Bakaretsu Rantouden

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ID:	8001The Cho Aniki series has a bit of notoriety due to its... let's call it slightly homoerotic overtones. Realistically, though, the games are just plain weird. They are the poster child for the cultural divide in video games between east and west, as the mix of bizarre imagery, suggestive posing, carnival music, and arcade gameplay just isn't the sort of thing we put together and then debate its artistic merit. No, Cho Aniki is the most Japanese thing a person can play, and this Super Famicom entry, Bakaretsu Rantouden takes that foreign design and pastes it into one of the most unique fighting games on the system.

    In a time when most fighters were putting their own take on Street Fighter or Mortal Kombat to market, Cho Aniki chose to take an adventurous design route and get off the ground and into the air, and before Dragonball Z: Legends or Psychic Force. Familiar characters from the horizontally scrolling shooters such as the well-known body builders Adon and Samson, Elvis-looking ship Sabu, and series mascot Uminin take to the skies once again, using free 8-direction flight to dash about and take each other down, man to oily chested man.

    The game controls quite well, if a bit sluggish at first. However, a double tap of the D-pad initiates a dash, and that is where your strategy begins. Dashing about to gain optimal positioning, players will use directional strikes and kicks, Street Fighter-style special moves, and the all-powerful Man's Beam to best their opponents. The shoulder buttons block, B kicks, Y punches, A seems to be involved with grabs. X is used for special things. Oh, and just a tip, if you don't move, the game will automatically center you vertically.

    Special moves are regulated by a meter, which starts half full. By pressing any direction and then the opposite+X, the player will pose, which charges the meter. Dashes also consume a portion, as well as blocks. A nearly full meter can be spent to fire the Man's Beam by rotating the D pad and pressing X. If it hits, it's devastating. However, allowing your meter to fully deplete will trigger a dizzy, leaving you prone for about 2 seconds. Balancing your maneuvering, posing, and attacks makes for ab intense, well-rounded experience.

    Really, though, if you're playing Cho Aniki, you're probably in it for the weird, and it brings it. The backgrounds are colorful and littered with bizarre details, the character designs are off the page, and the music is dopey and fun. This game, though, is actually a high-quality fighter that actually offers something unique on the system. It's worth a go if you're into fighters or oddities for sure.
    Last edited by celerystalker; 05-12-2015 at 08:53 PM.

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    Default Sega Memorial Selection Vol. 2

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ID:	8002A part of the then-new Sega Ages series, Sega Memorial Selection Vol.2 for the Saturn collects six vintage arcade games onto one disc. These are mostly forgotten games, but a few gained a little notoriety back in the day. So, to judge an old, smaller compilation, I'll get to the games!

    First is Samurai, a very, very primitive arena fighter in which rival samurai approach from all sides like the world's slowest Robotron. The focus us on high and low stances from which to defend and strike, almost like a precursor to Great Swordsman or Bushido Blade, and it executes this mechanic well enough. The real problem is just that it's plain slow and boring after just a few minutes. minor variances like shuriken to deflect pop up, but it's just not engaging, even compared to other games of the time.

    Next is Monaco GP, which is the best-known game here and pretty much the only home version out there of the original. It feels immediately like Spy Hunter, but has checkpoints and a timer instead of enemies, and you score based on distance traveled. It's very simple, but it is fast and fun, and is even steering wheel compatible. You can really see the roots of later classics like Outrun and Sega Rally in an overhead perspective. I enjoyed it a lot more than expected.

    The third game is Star Jacker, a vertical shooter that will bring to mind early games like Star Force or Star Soldier. Your weapon is weak and enemies take a lot of hits, but the hook is your multiple ships flying in formation behind you. In a time before games like Gradius gave us options, this was a unique way to regulate health and firepower. The graphics are small but quaint, and the control is responsive, but it's just reall outclassed by what came later from Hudson and Konami. It's decent, but I wouldn't buy this just to play it.

    Up next is Sindbad Mystery, a colorful maze game that reminds me a lot of Crush Roller. You wander the maze collecting pieces of a map that will reveal the treasure. Once you've done so, collecting the treasure will allow you to proceed to the next board. There are of course enemies chasing you, and you can crush them by pushing boulders onto them and dig holes to temporarily block their pursuit. If you like maze games, it's good and rather easy on the eyes.

    The penultimate game in this collection is Penguin Land, and you must work your way down vertical levels, safely rolling your egg to the bottom. Honestly, it's okay, but there is a better US Master System version widely available, as well as a PS2 port in Japan on another collection that offers this arcade version as well as a nifty, prettied-up re-make, so this inclusion isn't all that special.

    The last game is my favorite of the bunch, and that's Ninja Princess. Much like Kiki KaiKai or Pocky and Rocky, this cute overhead shooter takes you through scrolling levels with your trusty shuriken and invisibility technique, during which you can't attack. The power ups are mainly points, but you can improve your weapon as well by making it larger, faster, and stronger. The levels are well designed, and give you reason to use your invisibility in a balanced fashion. The bosses are small and repetitive, but the game is so lively and has such great personality that it can be overlooked. There was a US Master System version called The Ninja, but it removed the main character for a generic ninja and lost a lot of personality. This is the only compilation with the arcade version, and it's a blast.

    Overall, I really played a lot of Ninja Princess and Monaco GP. Star Jacker and Sindbad are fun, while Samurai is dull, and there are better ways to play Penguin Land. If you're a Sega nut it's great. If you like vintage arcade games, give it a go for its exclusives. Otherwise, be aware that these are more primitive Sega games, so don't expect to discover your new favorite if you're not already into these kinds of games. For me, Ninja Princess alone was enough.
    Last edited by celerystalker; 05-12-2015 at 09:05 PM.

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    Default Fantastep

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ID:	8003Fantastep is another obscue Saturn game from Jaleco. It's most often mislabeled as an RPG, but I assure you that it's a point and click adventure. You play as a young boy who, upon writing his name on the last page of a storybook, finds himself whisked away to the world within. You then must solve the problems of the characters in order to progress through the adventure of a lifetime.

    The game uses fully 3D models for the characters and most objects with 2D scaling sprites in a sort of crayon-drawn style to flesh out the backgrounds. There aren't real textures to speak of, buf the models are solid for the time. The music is appropriately atmospheric, but not in a way that'll make you want a soundtrack.

    You traverse a map by pointing and clicking on locations, and when inside, you assume full control of your character. The game is compatible with the Saturn 3D controller, which makes it a little more playable. By pressing B you can run, and A or C brings up your cursor, which will flash when in contact with a manipulable object. Pressing the button again will bring up a menu of pictures showing the ways you can interact. Pressing a shoulder button opens your backpack to select items you've found. It's all very intuitive, and makes the game quite playable even in Japanese.

    The game unfolds in chapters in your book, and completing each will take you to a new map, but you can go back. The pictoral menus, flashing cursor, and so far in my experience lack of death make the game easy to play. In fact, it feels a bit like it was designed for children. Still, its sense of whimsy is enjoyable, so don't let that be what puts you off. If you enjoy point and click games, this one's not terrible. I would first spend time with other games for the system like Blazing Dragons, but for a storybook stroll, Fantastep is rather pleasant.
    Last edited by celerystalker; 05-12-2015 at 09:06 PM.

  22. #47
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    Default Super Robot Wars: Scramble Commander

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ID:	8004The Super Robot Wars franchise isn't exactly an obscure one. However, Super Robot Wars: Scramble Commander is such a departure for the series that I think it deserves a little more discussion. If you were to simply look at screenshots or even the back of the case of this Playstation 2 game, you'd think this is just more of the same old grid/hex turn-based strategy. The menus are set up in largely the same style and order of those games even, so it does really give the appearance of the same old Super Robot Wars, just in 3D. It isn't.

    Scramble commander is actually a real-time strategy game surrounded by Super Robot Wars trappings. You still control a group of famous anime bots (you start with Mazinger-Z and Mazinger-G), move them around a map, and wipe out enemy forces. However, you give each of your mechanical monstrosities its marching orders in real time, so none of that down time in between moves. You give each a general trajectory toward a location, set default attack weapon in case of enemy encounter, and then move on to thr next, no grids here. As fast as you can command, you can get things going.

    When a robot encounters an enemy, it will automatically begin the skirmish. You can intervene with instructions, though, such as changing weapons, using restoratives, or retreating. Multiple machines can gang up on one foe to make short work of them, so positioning is key. Given the individual unit control, it never quite feels like Command and Conquer, but rather more like General Chaos on the Genesis with a bigger map.

    Control is limited in a game like this, but the right stick can help you move the camera with ease, and the left will let you swap robots in the direction tapped for a quick switch. It's a pretty intuitive system that makes commanding on the fly a breeze. You can also zoom out to a map, letting you effectively pause to make some rational command decisions.

    Super Robot Wars: Scramble Commander is a fun, faster-paced take on a familiar theme that works. I like the quicker battles and easy controls, and who doesn't want to see Getter Robo teach a Gundam or Eva unit how it's done? If you like the concept but hated the lengthly missions of the old series, give this one a spin.
    Last edited by celerystalker; 05-12-2015 at 09:07 PM.

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    Default Lack of Love

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ID:	8005Sega's Dreamcast was loaded with the idiosyncratic. However, Lack of Love climbs up to at least near the top of the pile, like a tumor on a Seaman's head. A few sites have put out some history on it due to the cult popularity of developer Love-de-Lic, but less has been said about the actual gameplay.

    Much like the video game equivalent of a silent film, after a wordless opening cinema depicting a world being terraformed by a robot in a spaceship, Lack of Love puts you in control of an insect-sized organism. No tutorials, no training mode, and no dialogue. You need to eat, sleep, and urinate, and you need to find a reason to exist. So, it's off to explore your little world and find out where you fit into the ecosystem.

    By watching how creatures interact and stumbling onto brief interludes that display functionality of the local flora and fauna, you can find out ways to help other creatures or kill your prey. You can at first subsist on plants, but soon it becomes kill or be killed. By performing tasks that define your role such as killing prey or developing synergy within the ecosystem by helping other organisms or producing their food, you will be surrounded by a glowing orb. Gaining three and taking them to some special crystals, you are able to evolve into a more potent life form, and then a new cycle begins.

    As you progress and grow, the scale of your universe will change, and you will begin to explore a larger world, but the method of development remains consistent. No one comes in to tell you what to do, and the only cutscenes tend to simply display your new sense of scale. There is no language barrier. There is only the challenge to survive and find a reason to live. On one hand, it can be repetitive and frustrating, and on the other... it's a pretty damned interesting microcosm of life and existence, as well as a thoughtful metaphor to ponder how much of our actions are motivated by survival instinct.

    The game is not perfect, and in many ways it's like learning to play Myst: there's a wide open world to figure out without the aid of usual narrative. However, it is nothing if not interesting, and it is quite playable regardless of language. It can get a little pricey, so just know what you're getting, and that's an intellectual adventure or a boring slog of trial and error depending on your point of view.
    Last edited by celerystalker; 05-12-2015 at 09:08 PM.

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    Default Mario & Wario

    I'm surprised there hasn't been much said about Mario & Wario for the Super Famicom. Mario games are as popular as anything in existence, yet this one was not only left alone in Japan to never be heard from again, but aside from a recent write up on HG101, seems to be ignored by much of the gaiming-enthusiast internet. Even good friends and store owners I've spoken to haven't really heard of this game, which I had figured would be a little more common knowledge.
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    Anyway, Mario & Wario was made as another selling point for the then-fledgeling mouse controller, even being sold as a big box pack-in like Mario Paint before it. As a premise, Wario, pissed off after losing to Mario in his Game Boy debut, tracks down Mario and pals and starts dropping buckets and objects on their heads, causing them to blindly stumble about and into peril. As the wand-wielding fairy, Wanda (clever), you whip about the screen, placing/removing obstacles tosteer Mario, the Princess, and Yoshi to Luigi at the end of each stage, who is apparently the only person smart enough to pull the buckets off of their heads.

    It starts off as single screen danger, but quickly the levels grow into lengthly, labyrinthine traps. You can view each stage in advance of starting to help plan, but once you begin, the screen scrolls around the bucket-headed moron and not Wanda. This forces the player to think about what theycan do as the character moves instead of running ahead, and that's where the challenge starts to pick up. Oh, and you have a time limit to boot.

    There are bonus points for finishing quickly, and you can get more time by collecting mushrooms. Coin boxes can be struck to gain coins, which award lives at 100, and collecting all of the stars in each level also awards a life.

    The levels are arranged in groups of ten stages, and the order can be selected. As you progress, more enemies and traps arise, and the game does begin to challenge you. At the end of each set of stages, a boss fight occurs, and you get to bop Wario for your troubles.

    It's a fun little action/puzzler, and gives you a more compelling reason to own a mouse than drawing weiners on Mario Paint. The game is loaded with English... I don't think there is any Japanese pretty much at all. It's bizarre that it was never ported, as it wasn't a late release, and no localization was needed... just slap the ROM in a US shell, make some cover art, and make mouse owners feel less neglected... but who knows why they decided not to bring it to the English-speaking world. This game isn't rare or expensive, but no one seems to talk about it. If you import SNES and somehow missed this one, pick it up and make your mouse useful for something other than King Arthur's World.
    Last edited by celerystalker; 05-12-2015 at 09:09 PM.

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    Default Arkanoid DS Paddle Controller

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ID:	8007So, Arkanoid DS came out in the US, and played reasonably well I suppose with its touch screen controls. However, any fan of the Breakout-style games has had years of muscle memory built into paddle controls, and that is what led me to import the controller bundle from Japan when the game originally launched. Years later, people barely seem to remember Square's attempt at relaunching the Taito brand on handhelds, so I wanted to go over this controller for anyone who was curious about it.

    The paddle plugs into the GBA cart slot of an original DS, and as far as I can tell, is only compatible with the original-style models, so beware if you're running a more recent system. The paddle sits comfortably away from any obstacles that might impede its use, but being in the bottom center of the unit, it plays more comfortably if set on a table or other surface where you can reach down from above. The paddle is highly durable and spins nicely on bearings as opposed to an old potentiometer with 1 to 1 location and movement. It also has a bit of weight to it, and it feels good to my hand. The outer edge of the paddle has a subtle texture to allow for good grip and feel for precise movement.

    When in game use, control is spot on. I can barely express just how improved the feel of Arkanoid is with a paddle over touch control, as the movement is remarkably precise and comfortable. Additionally, the Space Invaders Extreme gamessupport this controller, which while very different from traditional Space Invaders, does add a unique feel to an akready unique experience.

    If you love any of these games, the paddle is a must, and for me makes it worth keeping my old original DS very much worthwhile. It gives a considerably greater arcade feel to a portable, and made what would have been a diversion one of my favorite DS games. If you like Arkanoid and don't have this, you are truly missing out, and it will work with the US version.
    Last edited by celerystalker; 05-12-2015 at 09:10 PM.

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