Sunday, 21 October 2018

Snes game review:40 Acrobat Mission

So once again I am doing a review of a SNES game which started out life as an arcade machine before being converted, which you would think means once again I am going to be talking about things that were left out and changes that were made but no the main difference here is that the game I am talking about today is probably one you have never heard of as it was only released in Japan. I cant remember ever having seen or played the arcade machine so I am just not going to worry about that and judge it based on its self and to a least some degree its competition on the SNES.

When I tell you that the name of the game is Acrobat Mission you will probably say what kind of name is that for a game? Is it a game where you are an acrobat, some kind of platformer but no it is a vertically scrolling shoot 'em up

The first thing I noticed was that as the game began the story scrolled up the screen and I could read it, yes its a Japanese game but literally all of the language in it, the options, the story is in English which makes it pretty cool for importers.

To start with the graphics looked colourful but basic, in fact you could almost believe that you were playing a NES game, add to that the fact that I pressed all of the button and only one of them actually seemed to do anything and that was shoot, the next thing I tried was holding down the button assuming that there would be some kind of charge attack and well nothing happened. I carried on playing it not really expecting much from it then as things went on it hit me this game ran at a nice speed, even though the players ship seems to be a really basic sprite a lot of the enemies seem to be larger and more detailed. Then I began to collect power up's and found that not only did they effect the way my ship fired they also allowed me to do charged up shots if I held the button, and the bombs I collected actually appeared on the ship and disappeared once I worked out the button which you have  to press to fire them (So in the end there are 2 buttons to use). When you die, which you will because it is a reasonably tough game, instead of instantly exploding or disappearing your ship actually sort of limps along with steam coming out of it, while this is happening your  still in control and can steer your burning space ship, you can in fact steer it into something so that when it explodes you can take enemies with you, I found this to be a really neat and interesting little idea.

The graphics are not the best but there is a lot of variety it puts Super Stirke Gunner I played about 10 days ago to shame in this area. It also has large bosses the first is a large battleship which is so long it is actually about four screens in length and covered in guns. The bullets It fires are larger than your ship and it can be tough because it tracks your movement and shoots at you.An other interesting little fact is that you don’t die if you physically touch enemy ships, sure if you run in to bullets your screwed but you can fly through enemies and get away with it. There is also space debris which can get in the way of your ship and your shots, this is something I like sure its another simply touch but the beauty of this game is all of its simple touches.

OK as for the bad side, by shoot-em-up standards this game has a very limited selection of weapons pick ups, there is the standard shot and then two or three special shots you can get by picking up letters, compare this to the absolute tonne of weapons in other shooters at the time like UN Squadron and its a little disappointing.

Another problem some people have with the game is how short it is, this game relies on being very hard after the first 2 levels to kind of prolong the game, there are only 5 stages and when you think that this game was at one point a full priced retail game that seems to be just a little short of what I think would be a fair number.

I would give this game a hearty 7 out of 10, its not perfect but it was a very pleasant surprise. Unfortunately its not available either as a Pal cart or American but with its heavy use of English and the fact  that it ran on both a modified machine and a very simple converter this is not a bad game for someone who wants to start importing or at least it would be if you could find a cheap copy, the only copy I can see online at the moment is like £25, I brought this from someone as a package deal 7 Japanese carts for £14 all of which apart from this were sports games.

Saturday, 20 October 2018

Snes game review 39: James Pond Aquatic Games AKA James Pond Crazy sports

So you have your Sonic's and your Mario's then there are all the sort of lesser known platforming heroes some of which are in games which could rival the likes of the above others who are in games that are poor pale imitations.

If you owned an Amiga there were certain characters you were bound to know and love, one of these was James Pond, he was a well loved star of several games but they wernt Amiga exclusive in fact I think all of them ended up being on the megadrive /Genesis and the super Nintendo got everything apart from his first game (James pond 2 operation Robocod, was released on the SNES with the name Super James Pond, almost ignoring that there was a previous game)

Now you might think that I am going to be talking about Super James pond or its sequel Operation Starfish but actually the game I am going to be talking about today is The Aquatic Games or Super Aquatic Games as it is known as on  the Super Nintendo. Basically this game took the character of James Pond and used him to front  an aquatic-themed parody of the sports mini games joystick wigglers like Konami's Track & Field.

This game is the only James Pond title not to be a platformer, you cant help but think that the programmers had the idea that they could spin the character off in to other genres and in doing so might help him to grow in fame and begin to approach Mario levels.
The First thing I noticed when booting this game up was that I knew the opening music, I more than knew it, it was something I have found myself humming before and then it hit me it was a particularly cheery 8 bit version of Ode to Joy (from Beethoven's 9th). I have to say this was a good start as I put a smile on my face before I had even pressed a button.

Now in talking about Super Aquatic games I have to admit that some of these issues are not really raised in relation to the game but to the whole genre at that time...  theres only so much you can do when its bang buttons like mad till you win or loose, it tires your fingers you get blooming scared you will break the pad. The game does nothing to teach you how to play it so you end up spending so much time just messing around working out what you are supposed to be doing, sure in the day you would have had the manual and that would have helped but it wouldn’t have been that hard to put some in game instructions, some text on the screen before an event ? All of the games are really basic and despite my best efforts I couldn’t come anywhere, I admit I didnt hammer the pad as hard as a kid would have done back when this came out but who really wants to risk breaking a joypad from an old system when the number out there is finite ?

I loved the 3 James Pond platformers as a kid, I found them funny charming and enjoyable, I even enjoyed picking up the DS re-release of the second one so the problem here is I was and am invested in the character I think James Pond rules and if you cant manage to sell a spin off to someone who clearly loves the original franchise then you are clearly barking up the wrong tree.

Its just a shame, the games bright, has good music but just doesnt deliver, it feels souless and shallow and well I feel I need to give it a 2.5 out of 10 ….a sad sad day for James Pond. At first I thought that it didnt even hit these shores as all the copies I saw were American and between the realms of £10 to £15 add to the fact that a modfied machine wont even play it without a heavy duty Datel Universal Adaptor and well its expensive, but then I realised that in the UK it was called James Pond Crazy sports on the snes and its about a £8 to £10 pal game, its still not worth it

Friday, 19 October 2018

SNES Review 38: Road Runner's Death Valley Rally AKA Looney Tunes: Road Runner

What is in a name? I often find it funny when the name of a game gets changed from region to region, sometimes there are legal reasons sometimes they just think a particular name will help something sell better to a certain group of people. Here we have a game known in Europe as Looney Tunes: Road Runner, in America as Road Runner's Death Valley Rally,and in Japan as  Looney Tunes: Road Runner vs. Wile E. Coyote. The game is based off the Looney Tunes characters Wile E. Coyote and Road Runner, maybe the name has something to do with the cartoons popularity or image in each region who knows. What I do know is I probably like Japans title the best as Wile E. Coyote is the star of the show in my mind. Sure we are supposed to like Road Runner but why? Because he runs away a lot and makes cheeky little meep meep noises? I cant help but relate to Wile the guy/animal who is just trying to do what is expected of him, who is trying to eat, to survive and keeps having life backfire in his face.

I kind of walked in to this game expecting a mediocre game, largely because it is made by SunSoft and its a Looney Tunes game, so I was judging it a little bit based on my thoughts to Tazmania which I played a while ago.

The graphics are pretty decent, they have a fair degree of character in them but don't get bogged down with to much detail, the sprites for Wile and the runner are cool and the graphics automatically remind you of the old cartoon while still managing to be clear and not get in the way of the game itself. If I have one major gripe in this area however it is the fact that the backgrounds are the same throughout the entire level, this does make things seem a little more boring at times than they perhaps should but I guess its not the worst thing in the world.The sound in this game is a little hard for me to judge sound effects wise there is very little, there's the typical skidding noise, a jump noise, a pecking noise, the odd meep meep and a few noises associated with things attacking you. The music for the levels well it sits right on the middle of the fence between being catchy and annoying to the point that I cant even come to a conclusion if I like it or hate it....all I can say is you wont find yourself doing a Mario and humming any of this latter when you have moved away from the console.

The gameplay is kind of what you'd expect your the runner and you run, Wile is constantly after you and you are trying to escape from him. So each level has you running past obstacles, making jumps and trying to find your way until you reach the finish, usually at the end of the level there will be some quick confrontation with Wile for example in the first level he chases you with a steam roller, you win and you get to see him beaten usually in the end somehow by one of his own devices in typical comic fashion. The ways that he tries to stop you may change but the strategies and weak points are always pretty easy to work out and adapt to on the fly. The largest flaw is that the gameplay is repetitive, which gives you no incentive to play the game for extended periods. The speed at which the game can move sometimes because an issue as things fly past without giving you adequate time to deal with them, it was almost enough to make me wish that I was playing a Pal copy on a Pal machine to see if the usual drop in speed pal games can experience helped. Knowing other games I have set aside to review though I know that this is an issue quite a few platformers bumped into, some of them could really have used a good long play on the sonic the hedgehog games to look at how they deal with this issue.

Road Runner: Death Valley Rally is an average game in every single way. It just leaves you with a feeling of complete and utter averageness, its not good enough to remember nor is it bad enough to laugh at or get mad at, it just exists in the middle neither good nor bad. 5 out of 10 all day long. If you want to try it a Pal cart will fetch you about £10 you might get an American for closer to £5 but strangely the Japanese copies I have seen have been more money, maybe people don't realize that its the same game or maybe not may came out over there, who knows sometimes the retro video game market is a beast with no rhyme or reason.

Tuesday, 16 October 2018

What have I been doing with my time and why are the posts here so few and far between

I am not a big fan of having to do these why am I not posting very much posts but I feel that every so often they are kind of important. I guess part of it has just been that I have been a little bit busier than I would like in my personal life, but there is a little bit more to it than just that in this case, in this case I have also spent a decent amount of time doing some editing work on a podcast/

I edited the last two episodes of the GRcade podcast as well as editing a sort of bonus episode. If you are interested in hearing me and many other talented individuals talking about the video game world then you can either look up the GRcade podcast on Iplayer or you can click on the following link

This is not the first time I have been involved in a Podcast, I used to produce and edit the podcasts for a site called ONM Haven and even carried on doing them after the places downfall, but to me the GRcade stuff is much more important and is a big step up. For one on ONM Havens old Podcast Podcast Zero, I was the only real participant it would either consists of me talking on my own or at max me interviewing one person. The GRcade podcast is a much more group related podcast which although harder to edit is ultimately in my opinion a lot better product and as a person who can at times be socially awkward I think its a great thing for me to be involved in. The editing I have done on these few episodes though has taken up a fair amount of time and has therefore kind of limited my posting here, so I wanted to mention it.

So what does the future hold? Hopefully more Podcast related work as well as hopefully a few more YouTube videos, I have to admit though in all honesty I find this part of the year a bit of a complex time for me. I am not very into Christmas largely as things get a lot more stressful, so if my output here is to increase much then it will probably either go down again around Christmas or you wont see much of an improvement till next year.

Sunday, 30 September 2018

My Retro Purchases September 2018

My monthly retro purchasing started on the 3rd of the Month when I spent £22 on a small bundle of games from an indy place. This bundle consisted of Lemmings for the Philips CDI complete, lego harry potter years 1-4 complete for the wii, trauma center second opinion complete for the wii, prince of persia the forgotten sands complete for the wii, blazing angels complete for the wii, trauma center second oppinion complete for the wii, pokemon stadium n64 cart only, Banjo kazooie for n64 cart only, snowboard kids for the n64 cart only and DiddyKong racing for the n64 cart only.  I kind of consider the CDI game as the jewel here in a way not because of worth but because of the fact its not that often that I actually come across games for this system.

On the 5th I managed to grab Vandal Hearts for PS1 for £15 complete. I don't often like to pay much for PS1 games but its a game I have wanted to own for a long time. I remember playing it when younger I am pretty sure I never owned it and that I had simply rented it or lent it from someone. The funny thing is that despite now seeing this as a very good Fire Emblem clone I had actually played this long before I even knew what Fire Emblem was. The simple truth is that I had dived on this now because I got the feeling that if I didn't jump on it now it might have ended up becoming one of those games you remember but can simply never get your hands on again without paying an absolute ransom.

On the 9th of September just after work I grabbed The Cyber Shinobi, Strider, Bank Panic, Alien Storm and Arcade Smash Hits all for the Master System all cart only for £8 which I was pretty darn happy Alien Storm particularly is a personal favorite of mine.

On the 27th I got a few N64 games just loose carts. I spent £6.50 and got 1080 snowboarding, Forsaken and Wrestlemania 2000 which Is pretty good going as far as I am concerned.

On Friday the  28th I managed to grab 007 From Russia With Love for the GameCube Complete for £3.50, Mario and Sonic Olympics for Wii complete for 95pence, and Mario Strikers charged for wii complete for 95pence with the added bonus of also having a Wii Mario Kart disc in the box of the later. All in all I wouldnt consider this a bad little haul at all.

 I ended my month of retro purchases by buying Spiderman 2 complete for the GameCube for 50pence from a charity shop on the way to my fiancee's place, which in fairness as its an excellent game and a good price is a pretty good way to end the month.

If my mathematics skills are correct then I spent £57.40 this month on retro games which although quiet a calm month by my standards it is also quiet a lot more than I spent last month. In general it is a month I am pretty happy with. I guess I would have to call the star buy of the month Vandal Hearts partly because I think it was a great deal and partly because its one of the things I purchased with the most personal meaning behind it. What will I get next month? Well I guess time will tell.

Friday, 28 September 2018

Its funny what used to scare me I now love.

''And I don't think the world is sold, On just doing what we're told, I feel something so right Doing the wrong thing, I feel something so wrong, Doing the right thing, I couldn't lie, couldn't lie, couldn't lie, Everything that kills me makes me feel alive''  OK so I don't often start blog posts by quoting song lyrics but it seemed like in this case it might be the best way, you see what I am talking about today is how so many of the things terrified me as a kid went on to be things that I loved. You see there is something kind of cool about being scared a little bit, something about it which makes you feel full of energy and makes you feel alive.

I remember being young and two things I would see or at least hear in my house absolutely terrifying me these two things where the War Of the Worlds music and in particular the noise of the Martians there cry which I can only describe in text as some form of loud cry which if I was to try and write it phonetically would probably be written something like this OOOOOOOOLAAAAAAAAA. It wasn't just the cry of the Martians though it was the whole thing the description of the cylinder unscrewing the crash of the heat ray. My dad would play this while I was in bed and I can remember laying under my blankets up in my bedroom trembling at all of these sounds. Yet as an adult I really love the War Of the Worlds and it has had a lasting effect on me but its not the only thing that has.

War of the Worlds wasn't the only thing which would frequently scare me at night as a young child the other thing I remember scaring me silly and causing me to panic in bed, the other thing was Michael Jackson's Thriller. The music might have contained some creepy lyrics at points and sure the video was pretty darn scary but the bit that really got me was Vincent Price's part of the song when he says the following.

 Darkness falls across the land
The midnight hour is close at hand
Creatures crawl in search of blood
To terrorize y’awl’s neighborhood
And whosoever shall be found
Without the soul for getting down
Must stand and face the hounds of hell
And rot inside a corpse’s shell
The foulest stench is in the air
The funk of forty thousand years
And grizzly ghouls from every tomb
Are closing in to seal your doom
And though you fight to stay alive
Your body starts to shiver
For no mere mortal can resist
The evil of the thriller

 I am not sure if it was the words or the way he said them or even his miniacal laugh afterwords but it used to make me scared out of my tiny little mind, but the really funny thing is that this is actually what introduced me to Vincent Price and now he is actually one of my favourate actors I find such delight in watching his films, in seeing him perform in each and everyone of them, for not only do I find him to have been an incredible actor but he also seemed to have such a love for his craft that his joy is somehow infectious.

So I have already talked about sounds which scared me but there's one more that I can think of and  it is the Alien who laughs at you in the attract mode in the Arcade game Rolling Thunder. His laugh is awesome but he actually used to scare me as a child, I'd go to the American Adventure theme park and to one of the arcades which had that machine in it and I'd basically try not to look at it and run past before the Alien face came up and laughed so that I could get to the games I liked. Once I got a little braver I loved Rolling Thunder. I still do think that its an absolute belter of a game even if it is a little bit on the tough side. 

So I leave you with these parting words   
A little terror now and then should be savored my most ghoulish friends.

Friday, 21 September 2018

Some of my current thoughts on the PlayStation Classic

OK so I already did a post about the possibility of a mini PlayStation console back during June 2017 but since then what once was a fantasy has actually turned out to be something which is coming up on the horizon in fact it should be out by Christmas. If you want to read my previous post before I start getting in to things then I will make this as simple as possible by dropping a link here.

To quote from my original article  ''Imagine a PS TV ,now instead of it being black imagine it receiving a redesign, imagine it in classic PlayStation grey, imagine it looking like a shrunken original PlayStation complete with original logos and everything but with A hdmi port and all the modern trimmings. Now think about what it would be like if instead of giving it all kinds of settings options and download channels and such you replaced all of this with a user friendly game selection screen and a choice of around 15 classic PlayStation one games and you market the heck out of it just before Christmas appealing heavily to those of us who lived through the original PlayStation years.''

Well what has gone and happened? Several days ago Sony announced that  they will be releasing a miniature PlayStation which will be released on the 3rd of December 3 this year in the US and Canada. I was a little off with the numbers as I had predicted 15 games and Sony has bettered this by telling us that the system would come with 20 games on it. I kind of talked about the games that I thought would appear on the console, it wasn't a list of dream games it was more of a list of games I had come up with while thinking about memory restrictions and other boring serious issues this list consisted of Tekken 2, Battle Arena Toshinden 2, Ridge Racer Revolution, WarHawk, Air Combat, Rayman Krazy Ivan, Loaded, CastleVania Symphony of the nigth,  Parapa the Rapper, Gran Turismo ,Twisted Metal, Vandal Hearts, Suikoden and Wild Arms. So far though Sony have only announced 5 of the games that will be on the machine and these are Final Fantasy VII, Jumping Flash, Ridge Racer Type 4, Tekken 3, and Wild Arms. So basically I got it right with Wild Arms and I was right to say there would probably be a Tekken and a Ridge Racer on it but I am actually surprised to see Sony offering up newer arguably more complete titles in this series. I also think the inclusion of Final Fantasy VII shows that I was wrong in thinking that they would look at titles which would take up a less storage space in order to keep costs down, here we have them sticking a multiple disc game on the machine and one which I think rightly deserves its place on a mini console, I am just very happily surprised there not skimping on storage. I guess to see exactly how close or far I end up being with my predictions will take a bit of time, so here I sit waiting to see what other titles they add to the list and if there is any more cross over with my own list.

When I stop and think about things now though there is one certain little disc which will have been a lot of peoples first experience of the PlayStation and in fact to me is as quintessential part of PlayStation  history as any game you can think of and this disc is Demo One. You see a lot of people really wanted a PlayStation and saved up for one and simply couldn't afford to buy a game at the same time, so would end up spending weeks or even a month simply messing around with Demo one, not only playing the demos of things like loaded but also watching the music video which showed off quick flashes of various games on the console as well as playing with the controllable manta ray or T-Rex, and using the V-CD player application which would put up trippy on screen visuals when you put your own music CD's in to the console. I doubt we will get to see anything like this but to me DEMO ONE was such a huge part of the PlayStation that I would like to see it included at least in part on the PlayStation classic just to make things authentic.