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Thread: Opinions on poorly documented imports

  1. #101
    celerystalker is a poindexter celerystalker's Avatar
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    Default Wrestle Kingdom

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ID:	8118Being from the American Mid-West, I am genetically predisposed toward watching professional wrestling. In spite of its absurd storytelling, mindless simulated violence, and predictable booking, there's something magnetic that at the very least keeps me checking in with news and rumors whether I'm interested in the current product or not. Hulkamania ran wild through my childhood. Fortunately, wrestling video games have had a proud tradition of taking wrestling's theatrics and putting them in your hands, sometimes tremendously, like Fire Pro or Aki's N64 games, and others, like Kinnikuman: Dirty Challenger can make your brain implode. Wrestle Kingdom for Xbox 360 (it's also on PS2, but I only have it for 360) takes the top 3 Japanese companies in puroresu, Pro Wrestling Noah, All Japan Pro Wrestling, and New Japan Pro Wrestling together in a game named for their annual combined Tokyo Dome Supercard. So, where does it fall in the quality spectrum?

    Engine-wise, Wrestle Kingdom runs on basically the same engine as the Gamecube's Wrestlemania 19, itself a descendant of Toukon Retsuden. The controls are not unlike Aki's N64 offerings, utilizing strike and grapple buttons, with post-grapple inputs for move execution and timed button presses for reversal attempts. A similar spirit meter is employed as well, which when fully powered, can allow finishing moves when activated by a taunt. If you've played any of those Toukon or Aki games, you know how to play this.

    Camera-wise, the game has a tendency to focus on a horizontal ringside view, which can get old after years of being spoiled by games like Wrestlemania 2000 for variety. The controls feel okay, but there are awkward moments due to the smooth animation being interrupted by move inputs and some slidey-floaty movement animation. The character models look good and are recognizeable for the most part, and the roster is huge. Pretty much anybody worth a damn in 2005 is represented along with a few legends. For me, this just means I get to kick the crap out of snotty up and comers like KENTA (NXT's Hideo Itami) and Hiroshi Tanahashi (Japan's John Cena) with Keiji Mutoh.

    There are the modes you'd expect from modern wrestling games, such as editing wrestlers, exhibition matches, and drama mode, which is your career mode here, complete with training minigames. Compared to WWE games, there's more of a sports presentation to this mode than entertainment, which is a nice change of pace and reflects the difference in how the product is presented regionally.

    Honestly, if you've played modern wrestling games, there's nothing systematically here to make it worthwhile. Wrestle Kingdom is really only relevant to puroresu fans, specifically those interested in the wrestlers who were popular during what was a tumultuous, transitional time in the Japanese industry. I can't recommend it to just a video game importer. Wrestle Kingdom is a game for puro die hards and no one else, as it doesn't offer new modes or gameplay, and it's not region free.
    Last edited by celerystalker; 06-08-2015 at 01:20 AM.

  2. #102
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    Default Gal*Gun

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ID:	8123I'm not exactly sure what to call Gal*Gun in regard to its obscurity. Depending on who you are and the sort of places you frequent, this is either quite unknown or a pretty well-known joke. Either way, it's certainly an interesting experience, especially to expose your friends to...

    What Gal*Gun is, though, is a rail shooter that plays out largely like Virtua Cop or Time Crisis, but with a SORELY different theme. The version I own is for the Xbox 360, though it was later released on PS3 as well with some additional content and perhaps most interestingly, Playstation Move support, which allows it to be played more like a proper light gun game. On 360, the only option is to play using the analog stick to move a cursor, like the many controller modes on other console gun game ports. So, given the previous unnecessary capitalization, clearly the theme of the game is what is likely to pique a prospective player's interest.

    No terrorist, no robbers, no rogue army, no robots... no, your foe in Gal*Gun is far, far more insidious: the hormone-stricken teenage girl. Droves of them, each and every one dumbstruck with affection compelling them to pursue you like animals throughout your high school grounds to fulfill their carnal needs. The problem? You have a crush you're trying to win over, and these crazy bitches won't leave you alone! It's not their fault, though...

    See, a well-meaning cupid has noticed how badly you want to woo your crush, which you select at the beginning of the game. In a moment of compassion, she lets fly what was meant to be a single arrow of attraction, but accidentally kinda sorta nails you with, like, 50 arrows. This causes every young lady to be overcome with a hormonal imbalance of lust, and you're the target. They'll chase you, blow kisses, read love poems, and otherwise attempt to subdue you. Realizing how badly she's mucked up your situation, cupid arms you with a love gun that fires little pheromone hearts at your would be assailants, overloading their senses and causing them to collapse in a heap of ecstasy.

    There are a few quirks in aid of this absurdist fantasy, such as the questions asked of you by cupid or your crush in between levels, which have dating sim elements, affecting your attractiveness to your prospective mate. Occasionally, there are also boss fights, some of which present a language barrier issue, but none are so tough that they can't be fumbled through. Each girl chasing you also has a preferred erogenous zone, and shooting her there will trigger an "ecstasy shot," subduing her instantly. Lastly, there's your heart meter.

    As you progress, you can fill an increasing number of levels to your heart meter, and by pressing Y, you, um... yeah. You get a super close up of the girl you shot. Super close. You can look her up and down, shooting her in various places to find what she likes best. Fill up her ecstasy meter, push Y again, and she will burst with pleasure, setting off a bomb attack that will make every lady on screen show her O face. Yeah... yeah. It's definitely a "Did that seriously just happen?" moment. Doing this will also make her viewable in gallery mode.

    If this all sounds ridiculous, it is. However, it is more tame than it sounds. No real nudity to speak of, no tentacle nonsense... just a whole bunch of gratuitous panty shots and moaning. It's silly, and tounge-in-cheek, much like the sort of nonsense you'd see in a Choaniki game, just slightly less insane and heterosexual in nature as opposed to the wondrous marvels that series has put out there.

    Honestly, as dirty as it sounds, it's all a pretty harmless love story that is very fun to watch others play and become uncomfortable. As a game, it's a decent rail shooter with very good cel-shaded anime-style graphics and a "mom just walked in" button that pauses the game and makes it look like a Famicom RPG. It's comical, and pretty enjoyable with a fun soundtrack. If part of your importing entails bewildering friends with Japanese insanity, Gal*Gun is a must. If you're into rail shooters and have a flexible sense of humor, it's pretty fun. Otherwise, feel free to shake your head and ponder where this world is headed.

    Edit: I should note that the Xbox 360 version is not region free, whereas the PS3 of course is.
    Last edited by celerystalker; 06-08-2015 at 01:22 AM.

  3. #103
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    Default Death Crimson 2

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    Death Crimson is not particularly obscure as a franchise. The original Saturn game is a bonafide kusoge legend in its native country, and Death Crimson Ox managed to eke out a late US Dreamcast release somehow. The middle child, though, is the one that gets largely ignored, in spite of the fact that it at least tries to do more. Like the other 2 games in the series, Death Crimson 2 is a light gun shooter with absolutely abysmal cover art. It wants to be House of the Dead 2 so bad it can taste it in its stage design and atmosphere, but it does some things that that game doesn't. Now, I'm not saying those things are executed particularly well, mind you, but they're there for what they are.

    The first big difference is the game's story mode. Designed to utilize the Dreamcast gun's D-pad for more than navigating menus, Death Crimson 2 has a would-be Resident Evil-style mode in which you control your character in a third person perspective using tank controls with the pad. This is a bit shoehorned in as between shooting stage exposition (and entirely in Japanese), and is rudimentary at best. The language barrier makes it difficult to figure out where to go, and there are quiz questions, too. The control is an overly sensitive mess as well, so be warned. Without language skills, these segments will slow you down while adding little other than atmosphere.

    The next difference is multiplayer. You can take on various stages as a team, and this was one of the first gun games to support 4 player simultaneous fun. This is actually quite cool and competitive, and is the main way I tend to play. It is compatible with both US and Japanese light guns, and the shooting is responsive. The music is dull, though, and the voice acting is noticeably bad even in Japanese. But...

    The last big difference is that you can plug in your old Seaman mic and record various voices and screams in 3 second bursts to replace the game's garbage voices! As one might imagine, the potential for childish vulgarity is endless, and you'd be amazed at what you can spit out in 3 seconds. This is a truly stupid and wonderful addition to the multiplayer experience, especially if you have enough guns and VMUs.

    The enemies are a bit repetitive and on the robotic/alien side as opposed to the demonic and undead imagery in House of the Dead, but the graphics aren't terrible. The single player campaign is artificially lengthened by the unique, fundamentally flawed adventure segments, but the multiplayer is solid fun that is only enhanced by the microphone support. If you'll be playing alone, this is probably bottom of the list for DC gun games. In a group, though, it's very much worthwhile, and gives some legs to that microphone that's been packed away since you got bored and screwed with your internal clock to see what your Seaman was going to be like all grown up.

  4. #104
    celerystalker is a poindexter celerystalker's Avatar
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    Default 7 Mansions (Nanatsu no Hikan)

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ID:	8127Here's one that Dreamcast enthusiasts may be aware of, but seems to have gotten swept away in the last 15 years. Nanatsu no Hikan, also known as 7 Mansions, is a Dreamcast survival horror game from the year 2000 (you can begin having decade-old Conan O'Brien flashbacks now), but with a twist that has been copied surprisingly little. Honestly, I'm surprised I haven't seen more talk about this game than I have, given the popularity of horror properties in this day and age. Okay, now that I've utterly wasted a paragraph thanks to being tired, the game.

    I first learned about 7 Mansions from a preview in the long defunct, but fondly remembered (apparently by only me) Silicon Magazine, which was given away for free at my local Game Xchange stores which have now been closed for many years. They had a single paragraph preview that at the time, I glossed over and never thought twice about it. Years later, taking a trip down memory lane, there it was. Knowing that it never released in the states, I did a little research, and 8 bucks later, BAM!
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    This was the snippet that caught my attention.

    The big deal here is not that the items and menus are in english (though they are), that it's a relatively unknown horror game, or even that it's from Koei, who at the time mainly made historical sims, and since has been a pile of Kessen and Dynasty Warriors I'd prefer to forget. The big deal is that it's 2 player co-op.

    Sure, you can play a single player campaign from the point of view of either character, which isn't bad, but contains tons of escorting. The controls are traditional tank controls, but there are some neat tweaks. For one, with a press of the X button, there are 3 different camera angles: third-person cinematic (like RE), third-person over the shoulder, and first-person. You have your full range of motion and actions in any view, which is cool, and allows you to play in your own style. The different campaigns are unique, and offer varying visions of the plot, which is pretty cookie cutter, but at least you're vacationing young adults instead of special forces grunts, even if their sense of fashion is highly questionable.

    Two-player mode, though, is good fun. You can trade items, go to different buildings, choose horizontal or vertical split screen views, and fight bosses in tandem. The puzzles are different as well, so it's not just a rehash of the one player mode, which is cool as well. The one quirk, though, is that both players must be standing in front of a laptop to save. Still, a minor quibble, and this mode is a great time if you have an adventurous friend.

    The graphics are about average for a DC game of its time, and the music is appropriate if forgettable. What 7 Mansions is is a very competent Resident Evil clone with english menus and item listings, a convenient map screen, easy targeting, and an awesome co-op mode. I know this is a bit disjointed due to my being extremely sleep deprived, but 7 Mansions is no joke. If you're a Dreamcast fan or horror afficionado, it beats the pants off of Carrier or The Ring even without a second player... but the co-op really works, making this somewhat of a unique animal having such a concept in the traditional survival horror mold. Neat!
    Last edited by celerystalker; 06-13-2015 at 02:19 AM.

  5. #105
    Strawberry (Level 2) sfchakan's Avatar
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    I had forgotten all about 7 Mansions. I don't recall hearing about the co-op mode in the game. I know the later survival horror game Obscure had one.

  6. #106
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    Default Speedball

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    Speedball for Sega's Master System is a futuristic sports game from Bitmap Bros., the famous Spectrum/Amiga jockeys responsible for loads of Euro-style action such as Soldiers of Fortune. Various iterations of this game have arrived in the states such as Speedball 2100 on Playstation and Klashball on NES, but the Master System game was exclusive to Europe.

    The game is a 5 on 5 futuristic sport that functions like a mix of lacrosse and American Gladiators, where armored combatants attempt to throw a ball into the opposing teams goal. You can throw, punch, and jump around the arena, which has a goal at each end, spherical barriers in various locations, tunnels through which you can pass the ball Pac-Man style through the wall, and a cannon that randomly fires the ball from mid-court for face-offs. Each round has a differing barrier configuration, but the strategies are basically the same for each.

    During the game, you can collect powerups to briefly increase your speed or skill, and money that you can use between rounds to do things such as power up your skill, bribe the official to keep the game going if you lost, or reduce opponent abilities. You automatically control the player closest to the ball, and you simultaneously control the goalie, so you must pay close attention on defense when jockeying for position. The control is solid, but you move faster diagonally, and it is easy to get stuck on your own players.

    The single player game is the knockout game, in which you progress through a series of opponents in a best 2 of 3 series in order to advance your way through to the championship. There is also a 2 player vs mode, which is considerably more fun in my estimation, as the computer will always fall for the same few strategies. There is also a demo mode in which you can watch the computer play itself if you are bored or confused.

    The graphics are okay, but the background blue dominates what you see. The character animations are about par for the time, and there is the slight blur that finds its way into many Master System games. The music/sound effects are minimalistic and overly simple, and at best don't detract from the experience.

    Speedball is a fun game if you have someone to play with you, but a fairly repetitive single player game. It's certainly not a shining jewel that should be sought out at all costs, but it can be a pleasant diversion if you stumble across it. There are some neat ideas with the power up and bribery system, but this sort of thing is better implemented in other games like Super Baseball 2020. At least it's inexpensive.

  7. #107
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    Default The Legend of Xanadu II

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ID:	8134The Legend of Xanadu II on PC Engine CD is a game that deserves so much more of a following than it has. It is an action RPG adventure that is part of Falcom's long and diverse Dragon Slayer series, and is a spinoff of sorts of Xanadu, but that's another story you can poke around HG101 to read. What is so interesting about the Legend of Xanadu games, and specifically the second in this case, is how they take just about every lesson Falcom had learned in creating action RPGs and manage to apply them all to create a game that brings together different styles of play and systems to create a game that is not only fun, engaging, and acessible, but also displays the company's legacy in a way that even the Ys series should envy.

    Speaking of Ys, that's what will first leap to mind to any new player tackling the Legend of Xanadu II, as it initially seems to employ an update on the Ys formula: a top-down adventure in which combat is performed not with the press of a button, but rather by rushing headlong into your enemies at a good angle as attacks happen automatically. This is a method Falcom has employed for years in games on systems with limited inputs in order to conserve buttons for other functions. What is satisfying here, though, is that you actually get sword swipe animation instead of just walking through your enemies, with attacks bouncing them back. It is as quick as Ys, but for those who grew up on the likes of Zelda or Soul Blazer, it adds a level of comfort to combat not present in Ys. In these overhead portions, you'll explore dungeons, fields, and towns, completing tasks and killing enemies to move forward.

    The towns... these towns are big and detailed, with a lot to see and people to talk to. The graphics are top-notch for a PCE game, having all of the detailed sprites and backgrounds you'd expect even from the best SNES RPGs. Navigating towns isn't too bad, though, as icons denote important shops easily, and important characters generally have distinct sprites, making the usual trial and error of playing Japanese games a tad easier. You'll also meet party members who will join you, up to two at a time of which will follow you on the map, attacking alongside you with pretty fair AI.

    Once you've found your way forward and through the dungeons, you'll inevitably hit a boss, and all of the sudden you find yourself in a stunning 2D side-scrolling battle with wonderful sprites reminiscent of the Sega CD Popful Mail, also from Falcom. These fights play out much like that game, ans you now can jump and have an attack button, but that isn't all... you'll notice that you get asked a question before each boss fight. What it's asking is, do you want to fight alone, or do you want to bring one of your companions into battle... which can be controlled by a second player! It's strange that multi-player only exists in these scenes, but for what it is, it's pretty neat. This will generally seem awesome to many players, as the scenes and sprites here are huge, and some of the coolest 16-bit bosses around, but if you're a veteran of the first game, they may be a disappointment, as that game had full-blown stages in this style leading up to the bosses instead of just a fight.

    Systematically, you level up in interesting ways based on what you do. Taking damage gets you more max HP in the long run, and taking hits levels up your armor. Attacking makes your sword stronger, but items take damage and must be repaired. This sounds annoying, but the game never puts you in a situation that is too much for your equipment, and leveling up weapons happens fast enough that it's less cumbersome than, say, Secret of Mana or Evermore. It's a simple, elegant system that is so well implemented that you'll generally find yourself where you need to be through normal play with all but no grinding.

    I can't overstate how great looking The Legend of Xanadu II is. It's simply one of the prettiest games on the system, and that's not including its excellent anime cutscenes. The music is also great and appropriate, though it often uses the sound chip instead of CD or redbook audio for music. Production values here represent Falcom at its pinnacle in design, especially in those wonderful horizontal segments.

    The only people who will find anything to dislike here either hate action RPGs to begin with or just wish it was as long as the first Legend of Xanadu, which was immense. Still, this is every bit as long as a Soul Blazer or Illusion of Gaia, and is so superbly designed and balanced that it's a treat to play, and is pretty darn navigable even in Japanese. In fact, that is why I wanted to write about this one before the original; it is so accessible and about a third of the length of its predecessor, so while its story does continue the adventures of those characters, it involves far less back tracking and guess work, making it a great primer for those larger, more tricky games on the PCE. If you like Ys or Zelda and want something better than Neutopia could ever be, give it a shot. It's a load of fun.
    Last edited by celerystalker; 06-23-2015 at 04:15 AM.

  8. #108
    Strawberry (Level 2) sfchakan's Avatar
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    Love the Xanadu series but haven't played this one yet.

  9. #109
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    Default Lupin the Third: Densetsu no Hihou o Oe!

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ID:	8138Lupin the Third for Super Famicom is not particularly obscure. Heck, at the time of this post, its between level intermission is a gif in Tanooki's signature, so it's all over the site. So, while I will discuss the game's basics, the main thing I'd like to disambiguate is what "Barcode Battler Enhanced" means in relation to this game, as it does support Epoch's Barcode Battler II/SFC interface.

    The actual game itself is a platformer/action game of sorts with a Die Hard twist. Lupin (or Rupan for those who bought the old AnimEigo releases) is out to rescue a captured Fujiko, his personal femme fatale, who is tucked away at the top of a skyscraper. Lupin must use his wits, athleticism, and gadgets to traverse each stage, figure out how to open and reach the exit, and once in a blue moon fight a boss. The levels are large and maze-like, and traps are a bigger hazard than enemies in most stages, be it electrical discharge, spikes, falling blocks, or exploding armor.

    To navigate these roadblocks, Lupin has a bunch of good tools to play with, such as his trademark sleeve grappling hook, a gun, healing tonics, and spring shoes. He starts with a limited number of most of his items, and can find more scattered throughout each stage, so stockpiling can be as important as combat. These items control pretty well, and their use, coupled with the trap-laden mazes of the building, can create more of a puzzle feel than an action game at times.

    The graphics are pretty solid, but the metallic backgrounds can get a bit repetitive. The cinemas, though, are dynamite for an SNES game, even if the music doesn't quite filter out right through the sound chip. Seriously, the cutscenes and large character portraits during dialogue really aid this game in feeling like a Lupin game and not a generic action puzzler, and they do it well.

    So, the always cryptic Barcode Battler Enhancement, which the internet states allows "extra content to be unlocked." This is not accurate. The Barcode Battler interface works like Donald Duck in that it's another game in which you swipe barcodes in at the password screen to get various cheats, such as skipping levels, viewing specific story cutscenes, or having unlimited use of your items. While interesting, getting the complete story and level content of the game is possible without utilizing this feature at all. Disappointing... I'd have liked to have seen some bonus stages or content.

    What Lupin is is a competent puzzle-based action game that does a decent job representing its license without being a digital novel. It is a thoroughly average game, but if you're a big fan of the property, there's a lot to like... but seriously, Barcode Battler enhanced my ass...

  10. #110
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    Default Kishin Korinden Oni

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ID:	8139Kishin Korinden Oni for the Super Famicom is a traditional JRPG in the mold of a Final Fantasy or Dragon Quest, and comes from a similarly expansive series from Banpresto. Honestly, it seems like every time I think I have seen every game in the franchise, another Game Boy game or something pops up. I wanted to start with this game because it was my entry point into the series, and because the Super Famicom entries are still my favorites. So, why play this instead of the many translated RPGs out there?

    For me, it started with the anime Rurouni Kenshin, which I was watching in the late '90s on VCD, and I was in the mood for some samurais, and feudal Japan provides the setting for Kishin Korinden Oni, a theme not present in any of the US released RPGs of the time. The colors, youkai-inspired monsters, and anime portrait art in the packaging all convey the anime samurai flavor I was hoping for. That setting was the first thing to really separate this game for me.

    Next, the game has a cool hook in which you search for special weapons for each party member you find in order to unleash their Oni form. This functions quite a bit like the dragon transformations in the original Breath of Fire, in which you remain a demon for the duration of the battle. This unlocks powerful attacks and abilities, which adds a strategic layer to the game's later battles.

    Aside from those unique elements, the core of the game is an extremely high-quality RPG with the feel of a Breath of Fire or Lufia II with a very standard, fast-paced battle system. The menus are not overly complicated, and can easily be figured out even without any knowledge of Japanese. The game remains fairly linear with modest town size, which makes progressing through the first 3/4 of the game through trial and error extremely doable.

    It's difficult to recommend a 20+ year old JRPG in Japanese when there are so many other options in English these days. However, if you're in the mood for that anime, feudal Japan flavor on the SNES, it does it so well that it deserves a look. If nothing else, at the rate SNES games get fan translations, it's worth keeping an eye out for one if it hasn't happened already. Anyhow, I wanted to talk about it, as it was my first JRPG that I played through in Japanese years and years ago, and this is apparently the 100th little game discussion I've done in this thread. I'm a fan, and its sequel, Bakumatsu Korinden Oni, offers more of the same on the system with even higher production values.

  11. #111
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    Default Dragon Slayer I

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ID:	8146Few series are as long, enjoyable, and convoluted as Falcom's Dragon Slayer series. Most often action RPGs, although there are a few side-steps, these games are often looked at as a large part of the foundation of the Japanese RPG development history. This Game Boy game, Dragon Slayer I, is a portable version of the series' progenitor. So, having loved so many games in the franchise, how well does this one hold up the legacy?

    Well... um... for starters, no matter how you slice it, the original Dragon Slayer sucks. Archaic in all of the wrong ways, it manages to apply one of the harshest grinds I can think of to what to a new player would feel like Diablo's special needs cousin without all the loot. It appears as an early top-down adventure, and your goal in each stage is to power up and slay a dragon. You can only power up by finding power crystals and killing enemies, and you are woefully underpowered to begin the game. I cannot overstate this, as it is an enormous stumbling block to getting started. Combat simply involves being adjacent to an enemy and trading hits, and even the enemies on the first screen can annihilate you with ease. Not only this, but you must take items back to your home to get the money and experience, so you basically have to run around and collect crystals until you're finally badass enough to kill the equivalent of a Dragon Quest Green Slime.

    This is not hyperbole to create some comedic effect; it's just a really brutal beginning to a game that never lets up. No saves, no continues. Just you trying to stay alive and somehow get tough enough to kill a dragon. It can get almost like Stockholm Syndrome, where you find yourself masochistically forging ahead at a snail's pace in order to finally feel like you've conquered something megalithic, but it's never particularly rewarding.

    The graphics are pretty average for the Game Boy at the time, but what music there is is ass. Very little here is set up in a way to be immediately appealing to anyone other than those diehard players of the PC-88 original looking for a version on the go, which I am decidedly not.

    Truthfully, I wouldn't recommend this game to anyone other than a collector trying to collect the whole series. It's a brutal experience here, and in my opinion the only reasonable way to play it and get even a modicum of enjoyment out of it is by playing Falcom Classics Vol. 1 on Saturn. It is truly difficult, unrewarding, and despite the fact that I absolutely love this series, I recommend it to no one. At least there's no language barrier!

  12. #112
    celerystalker is a poindexter celerystalker's Avatar
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    Default Nadesico the Mission

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    Martian Successor Nadesico is one of my very favorite anime shows. It had such a great and bizarre cast, and if you saw it and didn't love Gai to pieces, you are a heartless animal. Anyhow, Nadesico had a couple of Saturn games that were largely digital comics. This Dreamcast version, Nadesico the Mission, is actually a turn-based strategy game with some digital comic elements in between missions that picks up on the Prince of Darkness movie storyline.

    Taking command of the Battleship Nadesico with Captain Ruri is a nice change of pace from your typical grid-based console strategy. Instead, you have a movement radius represented by a blue streak you can move about not unlike a shot in Mario Golf. As long as the streak remains blue, you will also have the opportunity to take another action such as firing, doing repairs, or defending with shields. If the streak becomes red, you can move, but you will be unable to take any other actions that turn. Depending on the mission, you may have support vessels or Aestevalis' to maneuver as well. Aestevalis' operate as they would in the anime, and must remain within a certain proximity in order to receive energy from the Nadesico. You have a wide array of attacks, ranging from Gekigan Flares to the Nadesico's mighty gravity cannon.

    In between missions, the digital comic elements are played out. As a chibi version of your character, you roam the ship, interacting and building relationships with your crew. Most often, you'll have simple, pre-scripted conveesations that are occasionally interrupted by questions. These segments serve to tell the game's story and improve your team's efficiency. I'd like to be able to share details about this, but the segments are entirely in Japanese, and I honestly fumble my way through them to get to the next mission. Thankfully, they are quite brief and navigable.

    There are a nice variety to the missions, ranging from limited resource skirmishes, open-space war, and Aestevalis battles in enclosed spaces. The graphics are solid, and the music is straight from the anime, along with the voice actors. While far from the flashiest game on the Dreamcast, it does convey the look of the show well. The menus are almost entirely in kanji, though, so be prepared to do some memorizing or taking notes if you intend to get into it.

    I have fond memories of this game. My old roommate and I ordered copies together, and had a great time playing it side by side all day one day, seeing who could get farther (it was me). It really capture Nadesico well, and is a solid strategy game to boot. If you're a Nadesico fan who is looking for a Nadesico game to play, this is the one to play. It's easily the most accessible and has the most actual gameplay to offer. If you just want a strategy games
    , you have other options that are easier to get into, but if you want Naf
    desico, it's doable. I'm a fan, for what it's worth.

  13. #113
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    Default Bastard!!

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ID:	8166Anime fandom tends to go hand in hand with the import scene, and I am no exception to that trend. Bastard!! on the Super Famicom is based on the manga, which spawned a brief OVA. It chronicles the re-awakening of the dark sorcerer Dark Schneider, who for years has been sealed away in the body of a child. Released, he sets out to reclaim what is his in the kingdom of Metallicana.
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    Dark Schneider in action figure form, spiked codpiece and all

    I love this series. It's over the top, loaded with metal references, and violent. Dark Schneider is a depraved asshole of an anti-hero that would make Ronnie James Dio smile. As the series is essentially a series of fights between Dark Schneider and whoever he's pissed off, it makes perfect sense to translate the story into a one on one fighter. Rather than go the conventional route here, though, they chose to make a unique game that forces players apart, causing it to be more of a battle of foresight and magic than counters and combos.

    All battles feature scaling sprites hovering over mode 7 backgrounds. One player is in the foreground, and the other is in the background, and you begin by dashing about tossing projectiles at one another in a manner not unlike Psychic Force. The control scheme to support this is unique. For a basic projectile, press any of the 4 face buttons. B curves downward, Y left, X upward, and A curves to the right. Anticipating your opponent's movements will score you hits, but these attacks are weak. The real money is in your spells. You can hold down R, and then input a series of button presses shown in the manual and then releasing R. These attacks are powerful, but if you are hit while performing them or even while a projectile is moving, your attack is canceled, so you must pick your spots. Pressing L will cause you to fly into the foreground or background, changing places with your foe.

    As it probably sounds, battles are fast and frenzied, and if you don't know what you're doing, impossible. However, master the odd control scheme and you get a very fast game of anticipating and setting up magic strikes. The music is a nice attempt at heavy metal for the SNES sound chip, and works for the fast fights. The graphics are unique in perspective, with nice scaling and a very different use for mode 7 graphics.

    There are three modes: story, which follows the manga's beginning, free battle, and team battle, in which both sides select the order of six characters and battle endurance style, one after the other. They're pretty basic, but there are some nice cutscenes to relate the story.

    Bastard!! takes some getting used to, but has a nice payoff for fans willing to dig into its systems. It's another fine and unique fighter to go alongside oddities like Choaniki Bakaretsu Rantouden on the system, and does a decent job portraying the property's atmosphere. I should note that there is an FAQ/movelist on GameFAQs, but it is wildly inaccurate. If you're interested, I'd recommend getting a copy with the manual so you can see the correct inputs for magic, or ask me and I can provide photos. It's a really solid game for fans of the manga or anime, and fun for people who like oddball fighters. If not, you'll likely find this one cumbersome and uninteresting with its small roster. Personally, I like it quite a bit.

  14. #114
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    Never played the game, but I've watched the anime. I'll have to check it out sometime.

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    It's pretty neat, and that complete copy cost me less than $10 on ebay, so it's not a super high risk. If you liked the anime, the manga was really great. It restored all of the altered names back to the metal references they're meant to be in the english translation, and the story of course goes on much farther than could be fit into the handful of episodes. I did like the anime a lot, though... especially when he goes off on the fire elemental and burns it to death.

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    Default Makaimura for Wonderswan

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ID:	8176So, not even sort of obscure as a franchise, the Makaimura (Ghosts 'n Goblins/Ghouls 'n Ghosts) series is one of the best known among classic game players. However, this Wonderswan edition is one of the least talked about, and it's pretty much entirely due to being a Wonderswan game. Wonderswan fans will already be more than familiar with this one, but I wanted to talk about it anyway, as it's an entirely unique Makaimura game that's almost entirely in english, and while the game can get a little pricey (about $25-30 for a loose cart), a Wonderswan can be had for cheap, as black and white versions (as is this game) typically sell for about $15.

    So, yeah, Makaimura for Wonderswan is a fully unique Ghosts 'n Goblins game featuring all new levels, bosses, and an extras gallery that isn't available in any other format. It follows the typical side-scrolling format, with the usual 2-hits-per-life gameplay that likes to leave you dead in your underoos. The controls are true to the original game, with no double jumping to be done, no re-direction mid-air, and the jump/turn/throw mechanics that series veterans will find comfortable. Everything feels correct, and the difficulty is maybe a tad on the easy side given the series pedigree.

    This all comes together in a form that works really well for a portable system. The game auto saves between levels and has reasonable checkpoints, so playing on the go works like a champ. The music is true to the series with familiar tunes, and the graphics are great, though the view is a tad zoomed in compared to other entries in the series. It allows for detailed sprites, but when fighting larger bosses, they are rarely entirely on screen to enjoy.

    Makaimura for Wonderswan is pretty great, but it has one real drawback: it looks like shit in typical indoor lighting unless you have a Wonderswan Crystal. It was designed as a black and white game, and is compatible with all variants, but I had to play it either outside on my patio or in my basement, where I use overhead flourescent lighting, where I can get direct, bright light without glare. Still, it is very much worthwhile for any fan of the series, as its unique stages are a fun experience. It's a tad easier and shorter than most, but for a Wonderswan game, it's a treat. If you're a fan, don't be afraid to dive in!

  17. #117
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    Default Akumajou Dracula

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ID:	8214This is a weird one to talk about in a thread about lesser-known imports, but there are two reasons I want to talk about Akumajou Dracula for Playstation 2, which is part of the Oretachi Game Center line, which if you're one of the few fans of Castlevania that don't know, is an emulated port of the arcade game, also known as Haunted Castle. The big things I want to talk about with this one are: first, the extras packed in with the game, and second, the fact that this game is regularly taken to the woodshed for being terrible and impossible.

    To knock out a brief overview as a courtesy, this game is one of the many re-tellings of Simon Belmont's encounter with Dracula, who steals away his newly-wed wife on their wedding day. Simon puts on his best Conan the Barbarian cosplay, grabs the Vampire Killer, and heads out to beat the holy hell out of the unholy hellions. The game is a traditional scrolling, level-based Castlevania in which you power up your weapons (oddly to a mace and sword in this one), grab the right sub-weapons, and kill the undead, but now with big, bad sprites reminiscent of the other side-scrollers of the era like Rastan and Shinobi.

    So, first off, the extra features. On disc, this is straight emulation of the arcade game with very few options, such as stretching the screen. However, the packaging contains a manual, hint book, collector's card, and two mini-discs to sift through. The manual is pretty straight forward, but does contain pictures of the arcade pcb, which is kinda neat. The hint book is entirely in Japanese with a handful of screenshots, and is ostensibly useless if you only speak English. The collector's card is pretty neat, and features the artwork from the arcade flyer on a thick, glossy card. The mini-discs, though are the best part. One contains a DVD with commercials for Hamster products, a music video feature with a medley set to dark imagery, game background information, and what is supposed to be a superplay video, which is played somewhat poorly and only covers the first three levels. The second disc is a CD containing some cool songs from the game's soundtrack. For what was a budget release, pretty neat!

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    Secondly, though, Haunted Castle is NOT a piece of shit. It is not impossible. It is simply difficult, but no moreso than Ghosts 'n Goblins or Ghouls 'n Ghosts. The graphics are dark, and the sprites are a tad under-animated for an arcade game of the time. Simon's walk is especially stiff, and enemies, while large and appealing, have startlingly little animation. Castlevania fans spoiled by the NES games that really suited the hardware well will usually be a little put off by the game feeling and looking just a bit more stiff than they'd like. However, if you're a Rastan Saga fan, welcome home, because this game feels oddly closer to Taito's awesome game. The levels are extremely diverse, and in a change for the series, use less enemy patterns and more set pieces like an attacking wall, flames bursting from a graveyard, warping to an alternate dimension to fight harpies, furniture springing to life, collapsing bridges, etc. Overall, you'll fight less total monsters, but fight through more cinematic situations, which give the game a different yet cool feel.

    The difficulty, though, stems mostly from the fact that you only get 2 additional credits. You can use them either as continues or to extend your life bar. What is usually overlooked here is that you should use these strategically in order to get through the game. You recover health from finishing levels, so why max out your life bar at the beginning? Using one continue as needed and saving one for the last level to make the bridge to Dracula's keep passable by taking hits and refilling my life for the fight worked best for me the first time I finished it. It didn't take months of trying, either; just solid platforming skills and the willingness to figure out the best approach to the intermittent set pieces. I found the game to be a pleasant challenge, and it was considerably less frustrating than the likes of Magician Lord.

    This PS2 package should be in your collection if you're a Castlevania fan. As far as I know, it's the only physical console release of the game, and it has some nifty extras. It just requires the right approach to the gameplay in order to take it down, so just don't think your NES skills will translate. Adapt, and you'll find a nice, tough challenge to get your Castlevania fix in a new way.
    Last edited by celerystalker; 07-28-2015 at 02:03 AM.

  18. #118
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    This is a very cool topic, I've been enjoying following it. I love seeing discussion of genuinely obscure imports like PC-FX games and N64 imports other than, like, Sin & Punishment.

    Yeah, I believe the PS2 port of Haunted Castle is still the only way to play the game outside of the arcade board or emulation. I agree that the game is not as bad or difficult as people make it out to be. I beat it after a few days of practice, and I had fun with it. Heck, it's worth playing just for the music alone. I never did find a use for lives/continues myself. Pumping up the life bar to the maximum at the very beginning seemed to work best for me.

  19. #119
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    That's really cool. I tried Haunted Castle way back when a little hole-in-the-wall pizza place had it and Daytona USA (Daytona had no sound ). I'd be happy just playing Haunted Castle if its PS2 port came to the Japanese PSN store (or even better, the North American one!)
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    Thanks very much for all the positivity. I really enjoy digging into this sort of thing, and it's been nice having an outlet for some conversation about it. I mean, games like Sin and Punishment are really great, but I feel like they're pretty ubiquitous at this point.

    It always seems like those dive pizza places and bowling alleys had the best games tucked away in them. I developed a bit of a Black Tiger addiction back in the day from a local place.

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