Tuesday, 27 February 2018

SNES Game Review 144: Indiana Jones' Greatest Adventures

Pretty much everyone will have played a movie license at one point in time, heck I have played a couple of movie tie ins during these reviews but what I don't think I have played yet for this series is one game which is based on an entire trilogy of movies. The majority of movie tie ins usually release either to coincide with a films cinema or home release, but occasionally you will get a game made for a film that came out ages ago, here we have a game made which is a video game interpretation of three films Raiders of the Lost Ark, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom , and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade the first of which was released 13 year before this game and the last of which was released 5 years before this game. Nowadays this kind of thing doesn't seem as strange as it did back then, after all nowadays we get all kinds of trilogy games usually made in lego but back then this really was an original proposition.

So how did it come about? Well apparently it came from the success of Super StarWars and Super Empire Strikes Back made by Sculptured Software that led to Lucas Arts believing that maybe they should take the Indiana Jones films and do the same thing. Apparently the game was made using the same engine as the above games (and Super Return of the Jedi) but it wasn't made by Sculptured Software it was made by Factor 5 an independent software and video game developer which was co-founded by five former Rainbow Arts employees in 1987 in Cologne, Germany. Factor 5 only actually made 3 games on the SNES Super Turrican, Indiana Jones' Greatest Adventures and Super Turrican 2. With the fact that I will only review games I own and the Turrican games are pretty darn expensive this is really my only chance to talk about them. I adore Factor 5 they are probably best known by most people for being the developers of the Star Wars Rogue Squadron series the 2nd of which Star Wars Rogue Squadron II: Rogue Leader was the first ever game I grabbed for the Nintendo Gamecube, it was in fact what made me get a Cube about a week after the machine was released. Still with the first Turrican under there belt and the engine from the Super StarWars games in there hand what could go wrong?

I remember there being quiet a buzz about this game before it released I would have been around 14 so in one of my later years of secondary school, which was sort of one of the best times for me games wise. You see I hung around with a small bunch of lads and all of us gamed, some of us had Super Nintendo's and some had MegaDrives I was one of the only ones to have both. We would go to each others houses and play games, we would occasionally manage to beg one of our parents to have all of us around to play winner stays on street fighter 2 tournaments we would play each others games, trade games, pretty much all the games related stuff you can think of. One thing we also did was to show each other our gaming magazines and discuss up and coming games. Everyone was excited about this Indy game both the SNES and Megadrive gamers, you see originally this game was supposed to be coming to the MegaDrive in fact it was apparently finished and ready to be released some time between the summer and autumn of 1995, heck it even got reviewed but it never came out. This cut off half of the groups interest in this game the other half seemed to get wrapped up in excitement about the playstation but what about me? In all honesty I have no idea I just guess with everyone stopping talking about it I just forgot all about it. So when was my attention brought back to it? Well that would be years later when walking round a local carboot. It was one that used to be held every Thursday evening at 5pm. I frequently visited it and there were a lot of regular sellers who I had forged quiet friendly relationships with and one Thursday this cart was sitting on one of there tables with a fair bit of dirt on it and a sticker on it saying £3. Suddenly everything came back to me and I grabbed it and paid quickly. How could I have forgotten this game and ignored it up until this point? I guess I had gotten excited about the upcoming next generation of machines and I had forgotten all about my Love of Indiana Jones, how could I forget that after the approximately 300 times I had watched The Temple of Doom, after I had waited for The Last Crusade to come out and with the fact that I had an old EX-rental copy of Raiders of the Lost Ark sitting on my shelf given pride of place as something I wanted to draw peoples attention? What did I do after I paid for it? Well basically I walked back to my house whistling the Indiana Jones theme and then instantly played it.

OK so what do you do in the game? Well most of the time its an action platformer you play as Indy and you go through most of the main events in all three movies in order. This starts with twelve stages based on Raiders of the Lost Ark, including the iconic bit with the giant giant boulder, then you have eight stages based on Temple of Doom, and then you get eight levels based on The Last Crusade. So what can Indy do well he can run and jump around, do a tactical roll, punch and once you pick it up you can swing his whip and the same goes with Indy's gun find it and you can use it, there are also grenades to find which are like powerful screen clearing attacks. The whip though its so satisfying to use, the noise it makes the cracking animation and yes there are castlevania style bits where you can use the whip to swing over gaps or to reach previously unreachable extra lives and other pick ups. What about when its not an action platformer? Well basically you have levels that total change the game style completely for a start instead of being 2D they are 3D and they use the SNES's much loved Mode 7. You have for example a stage where you control a rubber boat sliding through the snow, a mine cart chase and a biplane riding level all of which are based on events in the movies. These levels have there own objectives and well they are really good for just braking things up a little bit, if there is anything I can say about them it is that they are all pretty awesome and the game probably could have done with a few more of them.

OK I have already said that the game is based on the films and that the levels reflect the films but there are also lots of cut scenes made up of digitized pictures from the films and dialogue in text form. Add to that the fact that the game contains great 16bit versions of some of the music from the movies which if your a fan you will probably recognize but its worth noting that almost all of the tracks are taken from the first movie, with only a tiny amount of them being taken from the second and not a single tune taken from the third film. There are also a few little pieces of digitized speech, not much but it is cool, I really love when the level starts with Indy saying ''lets go''. The presentation in the game is just top tear and it makes the game feel like a love letter to the movies which is brilliant when most licenses don't get this right and instead end up feeling like crummy cash grabs with no heart. Some people have complained that this game is hard but in all honesty I find it pleasantly challenging. I realize that I haven't mentioned the graphics at all, well there OK, if they were early in the SNES's life I would say there good but for late end of lifespan SNES graphics there not that wonderful. Still you know what I say gameplay is king.

OK so to cut to the chase I had a lot of expectations when it came to this game and in honesty I think it lived up to all of them. I would give this game a very positive 8 out of 10 sure its not perfect but its a darn good game particularly if you like either the Indiana Jones films, action platformers like this or both. So if you wanted to buy a cart of this well the cheapest I have seen it for now days is £25 with it often going for a lot more. If its worth this kind of cash or not well that's up to you and how much you are willing to spend on Super Nintendo games. It might be worth looking for a copy of Super StarWars first if you don't have that as its a very similar game and you can try that to test the waters and see if your likely to like this or not. You can get it for not too much cash on the Wii virtual console but if you haven't heard then that's closing down soon so if you want to get it that way then you'll have to try and be quick about it.

Monday, 26 February 2018

SNES Game Review 143: Hiryu no Ken S: Golden Fighter AKA Ultimate Fighter

OK so the game I am going to be talking about today is called Hiryu no Ken S: Golden Fighter and it is the first game in a series of games often refereed to as either the Hiryu no Ken or Flying Dragon series to be released on the Super Nintendo. I guess your probably imagining that given the fact this game is on the Super Nintendo that the S stands for Super? Well actually I will put you out of your misery with a little bit of trivia here and tell you that the S in the title actually stands for Special.

The Flying Dragon series started in 1985 with an arcade fighting game called Shanghai Kid, when I say fighting game this might put images of Street Fighter 2 in to your head but this game actually predated the original Street Fighter by around 2 years. Flying Dragon Secret of the Scroll is the sequel to this arcade game and it was on the NES. The NES game was less of a one on one fighter and more of a sort of walk along fighting platformer. After the first NES game there were about 4 more NES games and then a GameBoy game (which was a one on one fighter again) and then this which as I said earlier is the first gamer from this series on the SNES. So basically this is the first SNES game in a massive series, a series which most likely hardly anyone in the UK has even heard of after all this game never came out here and the only one of the series up to this point which made it over here was the GameBoy game which was called Fighting Simulator: 2-in-1: Flying Warriors which is a heck of a mouthful, and in all honesty I had never even heard of it until doing research for this review (Until now my only experience of this series was playing the N64 game). This game I am reviewing didn't make it out over here it did make it out in America two years latter with the name Ultimate Fighter. OK so that's enough of a history lesson lets get onto talking about the game itself.

So I guess the first question to answer is well what kind of game is it? Given the fact that the series seems to have swapped its play style around from game to game it leaves you wondering what type of game this will be, well I think its probably best described as a Walk along beat em up. Unlike games like Final Fight or Streets of Rage you can only move forwards and backwards you cant move up and down, so its a walk along beat em up which is on a fixed level much like one on one fighters like the aforementioned street fighter. This in itself is a little bit strange as you cant really avoid enemies and they cant try to flank you like they would in other games, they will be coming at you either from the left or the right and that's it.OK this is not the only game to work like that in fact if your a MegaDrive/Genesis gamer and have played either Altered Beast or Last Battle then yeah its sort of like those. You would think that this would have its advantages that maybe if the SNES's processor only has to think about one plain then its got less grunt work to do but when you play this game you will soon find that it is well the best word I can come up for it is janky. the game moves quiet slow, suffers from a sort of stuttering slowdown at times and just feels like its always in a low gear. There is no choice of fighter your simply the bloke it gives you, there is a punch button, a kick button and this sort of flip forward button and you jump by pressing up, some of the kicks and punches you can do also involve pressing up or down so although it feels like there is a decent range of moves but that there not quiet as easy to use as they could be.

OK so what do I actually like about this game? Well it does have nice big sprites which I think gives the game a good look, there is also quiet a few different enemy sprites which should help keep the game from getting repetitive but unfortunately it doesn't. The games levels just seem to be really long and slow. The game also has pretty decent music and effects. To me this game just feels like a giant vat of missed opportunity. When you are playing it you just get this overwhelming sense that there is a nugget of goodness in there somewhere, that if they had just tweaked a few things here and there increased the speed and made a few alterations that they could have had something worthwhile here but alas I am not here to review what could have been I am here to review what was and is.

I would give this game 3 out of 10, I think if you picked this up and played it then for the first 10 minutes you would think hey this game is not bad at all and think I was being harsh but if you gave it another 10 minutes you would start to see why I feel the way that I do. If you really wanted to own this then Japanese versions pop up on eBay from time to time cart only between £5 to £10 but I have never seen the altered American version being sold here, if your willing to import it from America then it seems to go for around £25 to £30 after postage but it is in no way worth anything near this. I strongly recommend that you ignore this game.

Sunday, 25 February 2018

SNES Game Review 142: HyperZone AKA HaipāZōn

HyperZone AKA HaipāZōn is a shooter video game developed by HAL Laboratory, , yep the fellows responsible for Kirby obviously its a SNES game as I am reviewing it. HyperZone's gameplay is usually defined as being a cross between a racing and shooter game, if I wanted to describe it I would do so as follows basically the game is Space Harrier meets Fzero. If you have played those titles which I guess the majority of people will have then this will probably start to put you in the right frame of mind for this game. 

OK so the object of this game is to try to safely navigate each level while shooting enemies and earning points when you reach the end of the level then you will do battle with a boss. If you earn enough points then the next time you start a new level your ship will be replaced with a new upgraded ship, I have to admit I really like the fact that you see your guy leave his old ship and enter the new one its just a neat little touch. There are 8 levels to the game and there are six available upgraded ships so its worth trying to rack up as many points as you can.

The game this game most closely resembles is definitely F-zero. The spaceships you pilot would not look out of place in that game at all, then there is also the fact that your on a track with very obvious boundaries which look quiet a lot like those in Fzero, you have the same flickering engine lights at the back of your vehicle, you also have similar glowing panels on the floor that recharge your power bar, the whooshing noise made by the engine is also pretty much the same. The game is obviously using mode 7 and all of these what feel like little node to Fzero kind of make it feel warm and familiar despite the fact that before I began playing it for this review I had never even touched it before.

So how does it control? Well your always constantly traveling forwards, you don't have to press an accelerator if you need to slow down then there is a button for this but doing so actually causes your ship to slowly be damaged. There are only actually two buttons needed one to break and one to shoot, although the controls are mapped so A, Y and R all shoot and B X and L break, this is kind of neat because you can then work out what feels more comfortable for you. Your Dpad moves the ship both from left to right but also up and down the screen so that you can steer and avoid enemies and obstacles. All of the controls feel nice and responsive so whenever something goes wrong it feels like your fault entirely which is always a good sign. As I stated earlier HyperZone contains eight levels however if you finish these then the game restarts from the beginning with you continuing in your final ship and then the game loops, apparently infinitely. If you like score chasing then you will probably like this game as its very arcade like. You can pick up and play this game in a second, its very easy to get to grips with, my daughter came into the room while I was playing it and soon she was having ago and doing very well at the first level with like sod all help. The thing is though that the game might be easy to pick up and the first level might be pretty easy but boy does the difficulty really shoot up. The game is a darn hard game, your going to have to develop some mad skills to get all of the way through it.

OK so I guess it is time to score this bad boy, well I would give it 7 out of 10. I find the game very enjoyable especially when played in short bursts, it is easy to get into but soon becomes hard, I think a lot of people would say too hard but if your the sort who likes a challenge then this would appeal to you. I was pretty darn certain that this game never came out in Europe, I did some research I talked to other collectors who seemed to agree and yet there are currently a bunch of Pal carts on ebay. So how much did I pay for this game, I spent £4 on a Japanese cart, if you want to try it well to be honest prices seem to be all over the place, people seem to be asking for £18 for Japanese carts in this country with an American import loose cart being a similar price after postage. Pal carts also seem to be selling from £18 to £25 but I really cant remember ever seeing this in the UK while I was growing up, maybe it just didn't come out here but did release in other Pal territories.I guess sometimes with these old games some of the info about where they were released and in what kind of numbers are just sort of lost to the past.

Saturday, 24 February 2018

150 SNES games reviewed: #7 Krusty’s Super Fun House

No TV series makes it past 20 series without someone realising it has the potential to sell a lot of other stuff by association.

The Simpsons was a largely adult-humoured comedy which children seemed to become obsessed with. So it was no surprise when the Bart vs. this and that games started to pour on to the NES. It didn’t even take the programme being around long for it to begin to happen. Bart was the main Simpsons character who was focused on when it came to games, so when a Krusty the Clown game was announced it almost took me by surprise. I can’t remember who had it first, but it seemed to be one of those games that almost all of the SNES owning guys at school got hold of.
What neither I nor the rest of the guys knew back then was that Krusty’s Super Fun House originally was not a Simpsons title at all, it was a game called Rat Trap. So whatever you think of the game you cant really call it a rushed cash-in on The Simpsons’ name, as the game was completed in its original form long before The Simpsons was attached to it. Acclaim, bought the finished game and decided to make a large return on it they would make alterations and turn it into a Simpsons vehicle. This made it the first Simpsons game not to feature Bart as the central character (although he does appear in it).
Rat Trap was developed as an Amiga game, and non-Simpsons versions of the ROM/disk image can be found for those interested in that kind of thing. Whether the game ever saw any kind of limited release in its original Rat Trap form, I have no idea, maybe it was and that’s how its ROMs ended up online, or maybe it was leaked by someone close to it. What was originally intended to be an Amiga game ended up having the Simpson’s license added and then ended up being released for the Amiga, DOS, Game Boy, Game Gear, Master System. SNES and Sega Mega Drive. From a business stand point I cant say I blame them, the more machines it is on the higher sales potential it has, which is something a lot of companies seem to have forgotten nowadays while they try to court exclusivity deals and pay cheques from various system owners.
The main goal of the game is to slaughter the rats by leading them to what I can best describe as semi-automated killing machines. Back then no one saw anything wrong with the murder of cartoon rats. I can only imagine what would be said if something like this came out now – PETA would have a field day. After all they already think that in order to become raccoon Mario, Mario takes his super knife and slices his way into a live racoon pulling its guts out with his teeth, which until they put the idea in to my head I merely thought it was magic, or that he slipped on a raccoon onesie and gained new powers due to mental illness (wouldn’t you be ill if you saw bullets with talking faces and dinosaurs who could eat things twice their size?).
To get the rats into the killing machine, Krusty needs to do a bit of puzzling, lifting up blocks and putting them in the right place for example. The graphics and the way this works has a bit of a Lemmings feel to it, which is no bad thing in my opinion (I just wish it was a little more like Lemmings).
Krusty is also armed with a small supply of weapons in the form of custard pies or balls. These have no real use when it comes to the rats but there are other characters around such as snakes which will attack Krusty and he can use these to defeat them. Strangely, there are massive parts of levels the rats never even go near, and in fact they couldn’t even reach if you messed up, but you can explore these areas and kill the enemies there, for points I guess. To finish a level you need to kill all of the rats and then return to the starting door to hear a little jingle and then move on to the next one. Sometimes the level will be made so you can’t just go back and you need to go forward and then around to get back, beating the enemies in your way to get there.
The graphics are bright and functional, if not amazing. The Krusty sprite looks good but the fact he is constantly smiling seems a little strange given the Krusty we now know and love. I guess this game came out quite early in The Simpsons’ run so Krusty was a little more child-friendly back then, and he hadn’t been fully characterised as the alcoholic, only in it for the money scumbag we all know and love.
The game is functional and at times fun, but I really believe no one would even bother to play or look for it now if it was not for the attached Simpsons license. I score this game five out of 10. It is just plain average. So average that at times it hurts. I am sure I enjoyed this more when I was younger. I rate this game much higher as an example of good business decisions than as a game.
I paid £3 for my NTSC cart of this game not long ago, but looking online £8 seems to be about the going rate for it in either PAL or NTSC. So for once I am actually showing you a game you can get without needing either a import machine or a wad of cash.

Friday, 23 February 2018

150 SNES games reviewed: #6 The Rocketeer

So I tried to play The Rocketeer and prior to the game starting there were a few screens with drawings and words, but with my Japanese copy they were of very little help.

The game starts and what I am met with is nothing like I imagined. In my head this game was a 2D R-Type style shoot ’em up, where I flew from left to right as the rocketeer saving the day and instead here I am flying a yellow what looks like a crop dusting plane against a red and a blue plane round and round these pillars in a race.

The controls are clunky at best and things seem to favor the AI controlled planes. If I hit them it send me towards the ground. If they hit me the same thing happens, I head towards the ground. I failed to finish the race time and time again. I just can’t seem to manage the 10 laps but I push on with the hope this is just the start and if I can somehow get through this there will be the glorious treat of seeing my character strap on the rocketeer’s rocket pack and I will be flying shooting and doing something much better.

Eventually I finish the race but in second place, I am shown the same failure screen I have been met with so many times before, but I try again and again spurred on by the hope of something better – eventually. I finish first I scream to the heavens in triumph – rocket pack here I come – but no I am robbed. I am back in the plane racing again but this time I need to complete 15 laps not 10. Another hour passes, I get better at managing 10 laps, but can’t manage 15 so I am stuck. I press reset and leave the machine in the hope it will play a gameplay demo which will at least show me some future stages. I need to see something worth playing to renew my hope.

So I watch with bated breath and the first thing it shows me is what I have just been doing. I wait a little longer and there he is The Rocketeer…. and he is flying around and around racing with the same bloody planes on the same course. This is when I simply gave in, I decided the game might change, you might finish one more race and get the rocket pack and then one more and fight crime but it doesn’t matter because I will never bloody see it.

I got this game in a lot of four Japanese games for £10 and that kinda seems too expensive. I won’t claim I am the first person to say this – that honour goes to Dara Ó Briain of Mock the Week fame – but:
“Video games are the only form of media which withholds content from its users unless they are good enough at it. A book or film has never quizzed anyone or made them pass a test to be allowed to continue reading or watching.”
When I first heard him say this it didn’t quiet make sense, after all it’s the challenge that makes video games what they are, is it not? Now I have flown around this course 300 times it makes a little more sense. When I reviewed fellow movie license Hook I said how good it was that Tinkerbell just flew in sprinkled you with fairy dust and got rid of the need for levels which would have featured a boring powerless Peter Pan and by playing fast and loose like that with the source material had led to a better game. Well, this kind of treatment would have been very welcome with The Rocketeer, just skip the dull plane flying and races and slap him in the suit from stage one.

The graphics are about as basic as you can get on the SNES and I can say pretty much the same about the sound. I haven’t mentioned them until now as even if this was the best 16-bit game I had ever seen or heard it would not make up for the awful gameplay. Another thing that annoyed me is the two player mode. I foolishly thought maybe you’d race against each other but no it’s one of those you watch me play a life then I will watch you. A further annoyance is that despite the two player being of a take turns variety it still expects you to have two joy-pads. If it’s only one at a time then a pass the pad system would have been a nice little choice. Overall I have to give the game two out of 10, its that blah.

I already mentioned what I paid so how much would you have to pay if you fancy being a video game masochist? There does not appear to be a PAL version as far as I can tell but if you hit eBay you can get a Japanese cart for £5, but again you will need a foreign console, modified machine or converter and a lack of self-preservation.

I recommend you don’t bother. In fact I am going to go so far as to recommend a modern game which you can get much cheaper. A game which I think represents the idea of being a rocketeer much better than this piece of excrement, despite being its own IP.  The game I recommend is Dark Void. Sure it didn’t get brilliant reviews, but I really enjoyed it and its now super cheap I saw it in Game the other day for £2, and although its never going to be considered a classic I consider it something of a flawed gem.

Thursday, 22 February 2018

SNES Game Review 141: Lode Runner Twin: Justy to Liberty no Daibouken

Of all of the reviews I have done this must be one of the hardest to write, part of this is because the particular game I am going to be talking about has not been talked about a great deal in the past even though it comes from a famous series. I don't read many video game reviews nowadays but back when I was a kid when the SNES and MegaDrive/Genesis were the in thing I used to read tonnes of reviews, so even if this was a long time ago, I will have read reviews of all of the typical SNES games like Mario World and Zelda etcetera. I didn't know that this game existed till very recently though, I have never heard another persons opinion on it at all. I guess though that this is why I got into the whole SNES review thing to try and introduce people to games they might not have played and to give my opinion on a whole range of different video games.

The game I am talking about today is Lode Runner Twin: Justy to Liberty no Daibouken. This game only ever came out in Japan on the Super Famicom (the Japanese version of the SNES) and despite the fact I played on a lot of imports as a kid this totally went under my radar. I might not have played this game as a kid but I did play a whole tonne of the original LoadRunner on the ZX Spectrum and fundamentally despite the huge step up in terms of hardware this later game in the series is not all that different at least gameplay wise. The game is made by a developer called T&E Soft Incorporated a Japanese-based video game developer which was founded in 1982. Although they made games in a variety of genres, they are mostly known outside of Japan for their video golf games. From what I can see they no longer exist but they did make it into the PS2 era the last game I am aware of them making was Disney Golf, known in Japan as Disney Golf Classic which came out in 2002 in Japan and a whole 3 years later in 2005 in Europe.

I guess you would call Lode Runner Twin a platformer but unlike most platformers you cant jump, so if you cant jump what do you do in order to kill enemies? Well actually you don't kill them its more a case of avoiding them. You cant jump but you can however dig. You only really use three of the pads buttons in this game one button lets you dig to your left, the other to your right and the third button lets you well basically its a quit button, if you get stuck you press this and you die, you loose a life, but its basically there in case you get stuck and cant finish a level. You can dig a hole if you need to drop down quickly but you can also dig a hole so that an enemy can fall in it and become temporarily trapped in it, and while they are trapped well you can walk over there head so this is how you get past the enemies in the game. If a bad guy touches you in anyway apart from his head touching your shoe as you run over him and your dead. The gameplay is pretty darn basic all you do is just avoid the enemies, collect all the gold in each stage and then use the ladder provided to move on to the next stage.

There have been a whole bunch of different versions of LoadRunner on a whole load of different machines but I need to say that this version is perhaps the cutest version your going to see, gone are the stick man visuals of the early games and in are cartoony anime style characters which have a SNES era rpg sort of look to them. You also have bright backgrounds fluid animation and playful music which just goes absolutely perfectly with the games sense of style. Sound effects are spare but fitting, you have a falling noise, a noise when you pick up gold and a spinning noise when you die. OK so one question people are going to want answering is does the game being in Japanese throw up any language barrier which could stop you enjoying it? In all honesty not really, it looks like your missing out on a bit of a story but its very easy to start the game and its so arcade like and simple that even with no help or instruction I managed to work out everything I could do and how to do it within minutes. The game is a very easy game to just pick up and play, unfortunately for me despite its simplicity and its good presentation it just doesn't have a hook, it feels like it is trying hard to grab me but it just doesn't manage it. If I did not need to play it reasonably thoroughly to give it a fair review I feel I would have turned off the SNES and popped something different into the cartridge slot a lot sooner than I did. The funny thing is I cant quiet put my finger on why the game has failed to grab me, it controls well, it looks good, it sounds good its just fundamentally boring. This also makes it incredibly hard to score as it doesn't really do anything wrong really it just is not enjoyable as I would like it to be.

Pushed to give this game a score well I guess that I would give this game 4 out of 10. I know that kind of means that I am saying that the game is less than average, which possibly doesn't reflect a lot of what I have said in this review but the simple truth is that games need to draw you in and make you stick around, games need to be fun or at the least engaging and this one simply in my opinion is not. Looking on ebay now the cheapest copy of this game is £20 when you add the postage on to the price, I actually paid £5. If you can get it for £5 and have a converter or a modded machine then it might be worth a shot to see if you enjoy it more than I did but £20 is definitely far too much and I would advise you to try something else.

Wednesday, 21 February 2018

150 SNES games reviewed: #5 Super Bowling (Revisited)

Super Bowling was made by a developer called KID and was published in Japan by Athena and in North America by Technos.

Sometimes it is unofficially called Super Turkey Bowling as the game and its cover is full of cartoon, humanized turkeys. I have quite a history with this game basically it came into my life when I saw it in my local games shop called Games World. It was a Japanese copy and it was sat there for the low, low price of £5 for the cartridge. The main thing that drew me to it was that it was a cheap game I could grab with my pocket money. It turned out I didn’t actually have to pay for it as my brother stumped up the money and got it for me. He knew I had played a lot on a Neo Geo and arcade game called League Bowling and he was basically hoping that this would be something a little bit like that.

There are three play modes. The first is called Turkey Bowl, and is basically the main game and its straightforward bowling. Then there is golf mode which gives you a set situation with certain pins to knock down in a set number of throws (par). It’s actually a neat little attempt at something different. The last mode is practice which basically allows you to set up whichever pins you would like so you can try and train yourself for the best way to knock down the pins if certain situations arise.

The bad part is that there is no story mode, league mode, or AI characters to play against to give this any real longevity as a single player game. All you can really do is play rounds of bowling again and again to try and get better at it and to try to get a higher score. Where the game shines is in its funny cartoon presentation and in the fun you can have with it as a party game. Get four of you around this game laughing and competing and it can become just as good a stable of a multiplayer SNES party as Super BombermanNBA Jam or Street Fighter II.

The game plays not unlike a pad controlled version of Wii Sports bowling. You pick your bowler, which hand they will use, what weight of ball and then when it comes time to throw you get to control where you throw it – the power you put into it and if you want to try to put any kind of spin on it. When you score spares or strikes there are short cartoon animations of little dragons flying over your head or angels shooting devils with a bow and arrow and it really adds to the cartoonish glee of the game.

To cut to the chase, what would I score this game? Well I would give it a respectable seven out of 10. It would score higher if they had added more to the single player game but as it stands its a great piece to play with friends but maybe not that necessary now that Wii Sports and Wii Sports U are out and so easy to get hold of. But I do wish someone had used the power and abilities of the Wii to make a modern version of this game. Sure I love Wii Sports bowling but I do think there was room for something with cartoon turkeys twirling in the air, crazy tunes and fun anime style characters. I think the fact that to my knowledge no one made a crazy but good bowling game for the Wii like this is a real shame.

When I did a quick bit of research on Super Bowling, it seems you can grab the US version for about £10. If you look around hard enough and I even saw boxed copies for £15 (my version is Japanese cart only and was a gift). If you want to look for this game you need to realise that there is no PAL version so you need to buy an imported copy and then make sure that you have the means to play it. Also ideally I would say make sure you have the friends to play it with.

Tuesday, 20 February 2018

SNES Review 140: Joe and Mac Caveman Ninja

 Joe & Mac AKA Joe & Mac: Caveman Combat AKA Caveman Ninja, is a platform game released for the arcades by Data East. Which was later adapted for the MegaDrive/Genesis, Nintendo Entertainment System, Game Boy, Amiga,PC and obviously as I am talking about it now the Super NES.

This arcade game might have been ported to a whole bunch of systems but it was done by a wide variety of developers Eden Entertainment handled the Sega Megadrive/Genesis version, Elite Systems developed the NES version, Motivetime developed the GameBoy version and the Super NES version was developed and published in 1991 by Data East. The MegaDrive/Genesis version is considered to be the closest match to the arcade version with the Super NES version being a sort of reworking, its similar in style but its more of a special different version than a direct port of the arcade game.

The prehistoric period is a great time to set a game in particularly a platforming game like this. You need an impressive boss well just pick up any old dinosaur book and turn one of the larger creatures in it into a big impressive cartoon version of its self and bang there you go, the same can obviously apply to the little ones. Yeah technically dinosaurs and cavemen didn't exist at the same time but what the heck its only a game right no need to be too worried about accuracy. Joe & Mac does a great job of doing just this it is absolutely full of gigantic bosses that look very impressive for a relatively early SNES title. The game has a very cool cartoon aesthetic the main guys Joe and Mac are just so full of character. The backgrounds are also nice and bright and really pop, I don't have any issues with I guess you could say that I am a really big fan of this games characters and graphics. I am a huge fan of Little Shop of Horrors so when I found a boss that looked like Audrey 2 I was over the moon.

I feel that the music really fits the game it has a sort of happy tropical vibe to it to start with and then it starts to show beats of whimsy and then layers on a bit of intensity when theres a boss. Overall I really like it and I feel it fits both the graphics and the style of game in general. The sound effects are quiet simple and very much what you would expect. The dinosaurs roar, boomerangs swish through the air or a bone, you'll hear it swishing through the air and Joe and Mack make ouch noises when hit, its all exactly what you would expect but also rather charming.

To start with your jumping about and swinging your club but there are four  weapons you can grab and use these are Bones, Boomerangs, Flames, and Rolling Stones. This is how they work The bones are weak but you can shoot three of them at once. The boomerangs are pretty much the same but with a much better range on them. Flames are only shot out one at a time but they are very powerful. The last weapon the Rolling Stones is probably the best weapon, its pretty much as powerful as the flames but you can shoot two at once, and they can travel up walls. As well as attacking with the club and the other weapons you can also jump on most enemies heads and sometimes you can use this to reach things that you couldn't otherwise get.

Ok so if this game has any downfall it is the fact that the levels are in general very short and very easy, in honesty it's a very short and easy game. You will finish it and you will finish it quickly sure you have limited continues and no battery back up or password system but there really not needed. In honesty though if your anything like me then you wont care if you finish it you'll just be glad you played it because you will have found it to be really fun, its something that you can sling on in the future just because its enjoyable. I would give it 8 out of 10, it would gain a higher score if it was longer or had extras like a boss rush mode but as it stands its a fun little game.

So how much will a copy of this game cost you if you wanted it? Well loose carts of Joe and Mack no matter which region you pick tend to go for about £14 minimum, with boxed copies going much higher so its not like you can grab an import to save cash. It is intresting to note that recently a Joe and Mac Ultimate Caveman Collection  SNES Cartridge was released by retro-bit and its currently around £23 on Amazon and contains all 3 Joe and Mac SNES games. As for my copy well I got a deal on a bunch of Japanese Nintendo cartridges about 5 or 6 of them for £35 and this happened to be one of the games so I cant give an individual price I paid for this.

Monday, 19 February 2018

NEWS RANT The Goverment should grant Alfie's parents wishes and an update to my Oxfam rant.

OK so I am back News Ranting again

So the Home Office have denied a family's plea for there six year old boy to be given medical cannabis. So Six year old Alfie Dingley, from Kenilworth in Warwickshire, suffers up to 30 violent epileptic seizures a day. You might wonder why I am talking about this and well one of the key reasons is that I am an epileptic myself. For those of you who are not epileptics I am not going to get massively technical here but just let me tell you that having a fit sucks. You suffer not only from the fit, but from the injuries you take while falling the pain you feel in your head after, the disorientation and headaches after, its not the same for everyone but its certainly not happy happy fun time.

Anyways Alfie was taken to the Netherlands to take a cannabis-based medication in September. While he was there he was prescribed cannabis oil by a pediatric neurologist, and this saw his seizures reduce dramatically in both number, duration and severity.At one point while in the UK, Alfie had 3,000 seizures and 48 hospital visits in a year, but while abroad he went 24 days without a single attack. When you are having fits every day or practically every day when you are feeling ill because of this almost constantly you get to the point where you are just so sick of being ill, where you would look for anything to help, would do anything to help. It is hard to be a sufferer of epilepsy but as someone who had it from around the age of 6 I can tell you I think it is even harder for someones parents. Alfie's mum knows how much he suffers and knows that something could help her little boy to be happier and live a better life and yet here the home office is telling her he cant have it.

The Home Office when asked about this said that the drug "cannot be practically prescribed, administered or supplied to the public". They also added that it can only be used for research. I know some people will just say its the law and expect this to be answer enough but its about time we cut the crap here. The UK is absolutely full of drugs, Cannabis is pretty much everywhere, the police are fighting this war on drugs and they are absolutely losing. We can not hold Cannabis down, we can not stop drug dealers from making huge wads of money on it, so lets screw it all and just legalize it. Lets make it legal and tax it and actually make an on the books profit from it so the money goes somewhere decent and helps the country but more importantly so that little Alfie can get the few drops of Cannabis oil he needs a day so that he doesn't have to needlessly suffer. I think its about time we came up with a way to make other people feel our illnesses even just for a second as no one should have to tell Alfie's parents that he is not allowed the medication he needs to make his life better without having to first walk a day in Alfie's shoes without having to feel what he feels and struggle the way he struggles. All I can say to end this is that I hope things get better for Alfie somehow.

OK I also feel I need to do a quick update on my Oxfam Rant. I commented that I didn't care about the whole prostitution thing and that if people wanted to pay for that as long as it was out of there own money and not the charities money then I simply didn't care. Well it seems that what was first announced was the tip of the iceberg. If I had known more at the time then I would have said more. I have thought about revisiting this topic several times over the last few days but the story has just never stopped growing but now seemed as good a time as any to do a quick catch up.

Since I last wrote about the situation all sorts has been said there have been allegations that there were big parties thrown with prostitutes, where girls were wearing Oxfam T-shirts, running around half-naked, full on orgies, that some of the sex workers were between 14 and 16 years old and therefore below the age of consent. There were other allegations of things such as bullying, intimidation, harassment and the use of 'pornographic and illegal material' on work computers the story just seemed to grow and grow without an end. The government said they were going to look into Oxfams funding, one of there celebrity ambassadors stepped down many people stopped donating to them.

Now I don't want to go into massive depth about all of this but I just want to say that... Yes bad things have happened in regard to Oxfam if you want to you can read up on them in far more detail on various news sites as I don't want to do a massive in depth piece on it, but what I do want to say is that some people have been shockingly quick to stick the boot into Oxfam in general. Now stop and think about it Oxfam is huge and many many people work for them, they have lots of volunteers working in shops doing there best to help the cause while also gaining some experience for themselves, yes some people have done wrong in one way or another but lets not tar everyone with the same brush. Yes I condemn anyone who has generally been a dick but lets not be a dick about those who have been doing nothing but good.

Well thats it for now join me for more News Rant basically the next time something in the news causes me to want to moan and go on a bit.

Sunday, 18 February 2018

150 SNES games reviewed: #4 The Duel: Test Drive II (Revisited)

New day, new game, I figured I would do something I haven’t done so far; I would review a driving game. I picked the game via a simple method; it was the first driving game I pulled out of my box of SNES carts.

TheDuel: Test Drive II is a racing game developed by Distinctive Software and published by Accolade, a name I am sure most of you have heard of. It came out between 1989 and 1992 on the Amiga, Amstrad CPC, Apple IIGS, Apple Macintosh, Atari ST, Commodore 64, MS-DOS, MSX, SNES, Sega Mega Drive and ZX Spectrum. So just about everything you can think of at the time but I will be focusing on my experiences of the SNES version (which came out in 1992).
The presentation on the game strikes me as a little bare bones. There is very little to choose from and very little you can alter. It gives you the impression this is very shallow for a game people were paying £40 for back in the day. You start the game and you are given a choice of three cars. They are basically extremely popular sports cars from back in the day – a Lamborghini, a Porsche and a Ferrari (I can’t remember the exact models). Your choice of difficulty determines whether the car will use automatic or manual transmission. You get to choose one of four courses to race on, each labeled with an indicator of its level of challenge. You then either pick one of the games three cars to race against or you pick a stopwatch to merely treat it like a time trial.

You control the car from an internal view, so you can see all of the dashboard and it is different depending on the car you pick. Once you start the game you race along a highway stopping for petrol when a big stop indicator tells you to. If you don’t stop for petrol you will run out of gas and lose a life, and if you hit another car you will also lose a life. Each level also has one or more police cars along the course who I assume try to either crash in to you or arrest you causing you to lose a life. I am not sure because in all honesty I was never caught by them, I  didn’t even seem to see them. If you’re going above the speed limit at a set point on the road then you will hear a siren, but every time this happened I just kept my finger on the gas until the noise disappeared.

I am going to cut straight to the chase with this game If I had been reviewing it back in 1992 then it might have scored better, but as it stands I think I need to give the game a three out of 10. Some people hold the SNES up as a golden era when everything was great, and in some genre’s this might be the case, but I don’t think semi-realistic racing simulations was one of them.

Don’t get me wrong, it is not awful to play – it looks decent enough and it controls well enough – but it commits a huge cardinal sin of gaming with the simple fact that it is just boring. There is no music, the graphics are functional and the choices of cars and tracks are just too limited for me to recommend it.
The game feels a bit more like some kind of tech demo. It feels like there are things there which you would want to see in a full game but the ideas just haven’t been pushed far enough. If I had paid full price for this on release I think I would have soon found myself very bored of it, especially if it was the case that I had the money to grab this game and then had to wait and save again for my next game. I guess that this was probably better if you were an Amiga, Atari ST, or other home computer user as it was a whole lot less cash on release on those formats. I am starting to think that the SNES is at its best when getting games designed specifically for it instead of various ports.

As for the price you might pay for this now, copies seem to be quiet thin on the ground. There is currently a boxed UK copy on Amazon at the time writing for £15, and I can’t see any others elsewhere to compare it with. I can’t remember what I paid for mine, it’s an NTSC cartridge only and I have had it since my childhood. I can’t really recommend anyone spend more than £5 on this game I am afraid. There are many better games out there both retro and modern especially in the racing category.

Saturday, 17 February 2018

150 SNES games reviewed: #3 The Combatribes (Revisited)

The Combatribes started off as an arcade game which came out in 1990. It was a beat ’em Up of the walk along variety released by Technos Japan. A lot of you might not have heard of The Combatribes, but most of you are far more likely to have heard of Renegade and Double Dragon. Technos made a game called Nekketsu Kōha Kunio-kun which Taito converted into the game we know as Renegade (basically by removing the Japanese related stuff and changing the theme of the game to one they thought would do better over here) Technos also made Double Dragon but again Taito distributed it over here. 
The Combatribes has a lot in common with these games, but you get the feeling that Technos had looked at some of its competitors and picked up a trick or two from them. When I first came across the arcade machine in a local pizza parlor I had no idea that it was in any way connected to the above games, what struck me was that it was in a nice big cab and it had three joysticks each one was for a different character. This is where it started to remind me of the likes of Final Fight a little bit.

You had the blue player Berserker, a blond-haired man in a blue outfit, he is very much your Mr Average, he has an even split between speed and strength, so in Final Fight terms I guess he is the Cody of the piece. Then there was Bullova, a black man in a yellow outfit who is all about strength but is also very slow. The third and final member of the team is Blitz, a long-haired man in a red outfit, who is weak but very fast. He is one of those characters who you’re supposed to get the first hit with and just keep peppering away at your enemy so quickly they don’t have the time to strike back.

I suppose this leaves me with two questions to address, one being now I have given you a little history how does the SNES game compare to the arcade machine, with the other being which is better, Final Fight or The Combatribes?
The SNES version of The Combatribes made a few changes to the game.  Some of them can be seen as attempts to add to the game, some can be seen as ways of getting around some of the machine’s limitations and then there are the usual Nintendo reasons.

The SNES version features story sequences before and after boss battles, as well as an opening intro explaining the plot. It also has a different ending. I think all of this is just basically an added layer of polish it’s nice but it’s not the important bit.

The gameplay itself remains more or less the same, In the arcade version the characters’ health was represented by a bunch of numbers. Here it is represented by the standard life bar method. In the SNES version, the stages are also simpler, there are also enemies missing and the final boss is different.  None of this is really going to matter though unless you’re a big fan of the arcade machine and played it enough to know every little piece of it.

A one-on-one versus mode has been added to the game in it you can perform standard one-on-one beat ’em up moves (Street Fighter II type-stuff fireballs and and the like with some characters). The game’s enemies and bosses can also be used in this mode. You gain passwords by playing the regular mode which you input here to unlock them. It’s no Street Fighter, the moves are a lot clunkier, and on its own I wouldn’t really rate it, but as a bonus mode a bit of knock around fun you’d have to be a bit of a Scrooge to complain about it.

The game was ‘cleaned up’ in lots of ways from its arcade counterpart. Blood splattering effects were removed. Blood was removed from cut screens and both characters and gangs were renamed to less violent names. I am also sure one of the bosses in the arcade had some sort of racist or taboo name but what it was exactly escapes my mind.

As for comparisons to Final Fight well the graphics are very different. The characters in The Combatribes are a lot smaller, the backgrounds are colorful and there’s a lot going on. The buildings look tiny but then you get to see a lot of them and a lot of neat flashing signs. The first thing people will pick up on is that The Combatribes can be played by two players, it also has all three of its arcade characters in its SNES port unlike Final Fight which only managed two of them. Both games have their selling points and I won’t take it further than that or I will give away so much of my opinion on Final Fight that my upcoming review of that will be pointless.

The control scheme of The Combatribes is simple, which means you can pick it up and play it in seconds, as far as beat ’em ups go though there is not a massive selection of moves. It also has a few issues with the fact some of the bosses can be a little bit unfairly difficult. It often seems like they can move faster than you and to put it simply at times they are incredibly cheap. So this game can be fun if you like this sort of game but it can also occasionally make you want to scream a little bit now and again.

Visually The Combatribes is a little bit mixed. I think the characters themselves look pretty darn good and are animated pretty well. The backgrounds are also quiet bright but a bit repetitive. The presentation is not too bad with nice little cut scenes.

So what about the game’s sound? Well the music in the game is pretty darn catchy and I think you could definitely claim it has its own original sound. The sound effects are also very well done.

Whether you like The Combatribes or not will depend on what kind of games you like. If you don’t like walk along beat ’em ups, well The Combatribes is not going to change your mind. If you love them then you will most likely eat this up. If you can forgive a game a few flaws and want to smash heads with a buddy then this game gets a reasonably hearty recommendation. There are far better walk along beat em ups on the system but there are also a heck of a lot worse games. I wouldn’t recommend this as the first and most important beat ’em up to grab but if you’re looking for one you haven’t tried before and you can find this then I would give it a bash.

I would score it six out of 10. If my memory is correct reviewers back in the day were a lot harsher some scored it as low as 30%. I think the highest I remember seeing it get was 65%. Maybe my opinion of it is a little more positive than others because playing it takes me back to a time in my life when I would go to the local one screen cinema, watch a film and then head to the takeaway pizza joint after to enjoy virtually kicking thugs in the head while a man made me and my buddies a takeaway pepperoni pizza – but that is one of the best things about retro games is it not? They all come from a time in the past and have all sorts of stories and histories connected to them.

From a little bit of research it looks like you would be lucky to get a cart of it for about £15. It never came out in Europe to my knowledge so you’d have to either get an US or Japanese copy, again meaning that you would need an import or modified machine or to have an import converter.

OK so I originally reviewed this about 4 years ago, so has my opinion changed much? Not really I still think this is an enjoyable but far from perfect game. Prices do seem to have changed though it actually seems harder to get an American copy of this game, your talking more £25 instead of £15, the cheapest copies I can find are Japanese cart only copies being posted from japan for £10 but there would probably be quiet a wait on these, there is certainly a lot of games you could get more easily for less so that needs taking into account when deciding if you want to purchase this game.

Thursday, 15 February 2018

SNES Review 139: Desert Strike: Return to the Gulf

It is funny how you sometimes consider a game to be a SNES game or a Megadrive game or a playstation game not because it was exclusive to that machine but because thats just the machine you most associate with it. For me Desert Strike: Return to the Gulf was always a Megadrive game, I owned a SNES and an Amiga at the same time as I had my Megadrive but back in the day I never even realized you could get Desert Strike on anything other than the MegaDrive. Desert Stike came into my life because of one of my brothers, he brought it home one day and began playing it, at first I just watched him but eventually I started having a go at it myself. I have to admit that other than Thunderblade I hadn't actually played many games were you controlled a helicopter at least not any that automatically spring to mind so this made it stand out.  In fact helicopters were not something I had thought about much at all with my only real exposure to them being airwolf and Howling mad Murdoch flying one in the A team.

So Desert Strike is a military themed shoot 'em up released by Electronic Arts in 1992 originally for the Sega Megadrive/Genesis I think my brother must have gotten it pretty soon after its release because of my strong association between the game and this format. The truth of the matter though is that the game made it to all kinds of formats obviously the SNES as I am talking about it here, but it also made it to the , Amiga, MS-DOS, Mac OS, the Master System, the Lynx, the Game Gear, and the Game Boy.

The game is clearly inspired by the Gulf War and depicts a conflict between an insane Middle Eastern dictator, who despite having a made up name is obviously a stand in for Saddam Hussein and the United States. The game came out after the gulf War had ended but there is a certain degree to which this game kind of has an America F*** Yeah propaganda sort of feel to it and there actually was some small degree of controversy regarding the game's subject matter back in the day with some people criticizing it saying it was a little bit distasteful with its  release being so close to the end of the Gulf War. Looking at it now and thinking of the context of it all sort of makes me think of Team America but still even noting this as insensitive as it might seem of me I personally don't really care if the game is semi based on reality if its a fun game thats enough for me. As far as plot goes it doesn't extend much beyond where the good guys and we are going to stop a nut case dictator by destroying his weapons but really for this sort of game what more do you need?

OK so when your playing Desert Strike you control an AH-64 Apache helicopter and ''if there's one thing you can be sure of, it's that nothing is more powerful than an Apache helicopter. An Apache helicopter has machine guns AND missiles. It is an unbelievably impressive complement of weaponry, an absolute death machine.'' to paraphrase Patrick Stewart. Well you use this absolute death machine to go on missions which involve all manner of objectives such as destroying enemy weapons and installations, rescuing hostages and capture enemy personnel. While doing this you need to be mindful of your ammunition it is possible to run out of both shells for your cannons and rockets but you can find more and pick them up. When I described this as a shoot em up it might have brought all kinds of ideas to the brain of someone who has not played it, usually shoot em ups are fast and your either going up the screen or left to right but Desert Strike is not like this at all. There is less emphasis on quick moving and more on strategy. The action takes place on open, multi-directional scrolling levels viewed from an isometric perspective, your not forced to keep moving you can go towards enemies at your own pace and you can back up, strafe and even retreat, this makes it have more of a thinking edge to it. Do you fly in all weapons blazing or slowly strafe towards a target or even decide your not ready and go seeking extra missiles and ammo?

As previously mentioned the levels in the game consist of several missions, which are based around the destruction of enemy weapons and/or enemy installations, rescuing POWs, or capturing enemies. How you do this though is where your grey matter comes into the equation, you need to look at the map work out the direction you need to go in and then meet whatever enemies you find with the appropriate response, obviously you could fire a hydra missile at a stick man holding a pistol but then what are you going to do when you have used all of your missiles and your stuck trying to knock out an anti air missile defense with a low powered machine gun most likely your going to die. So given this some of the strategy comes in knowing which weapon to use when, which target to eliminate first, when to fight and when to run. Your Apache has a very limited amount of armor, which is depleted as the helicopter is hit by enemy fire, when the armor is gone well then its bang bye bye helicopter time. If this happens three times then its game over.You also have a finite amount of fuel which is steadily depleted over time. Should the fuel run out the Apache will crash, again bye bye helicopter. You can however refuel by collecting fuel barrels. This means that really you need to plan mission routes carefully in order to maximize fuel efficiency.so there is a lot of balancing you need to do making this more thought based than a lot of shooting games.

The game controls well if there is anything I would add it would be cross-hairs to show where your missiles and guns are pointing and likely to hit but I suppose this would lower the challenge really. The game is fairly short but is pretty high on challenge its not one for those who are easily frustrated due to the fact if you just go in guns blazing your armor is pretty shoddy and you'll soon find yourself facing a game over screen, slow and steady wins the race here. Its also not the best game for re-playability as once you have it done and dusted your probably not going to pick it up again for quiet a long time as outside of the main game theres nothing to help prolong your time with it (no multiplayer or score attack or anything). The graphics are simple but functional, everything looks as it should even if its not overly flashy. It all sort of looks like highly accurate military toys which is kind of cool. The same can be said for the sound its all very functional, you have your helicopter noise your missile and machine gun noises your crashing noise but if you want music then your sadly out of look as the game simply doesn't have any. I know music would potentially hurt the realism but I would have personally liked the option.

So what do I think of Desert Strike overall? I think its a pretty darn good game really, I wouldn't call it perfect and I do have some issues with it but for me I would call it a 7 out of 10. I did grab my megadrive version and have a quick go on it and maybe its just me but it actually seemed a little bit better on there, having checked though apparently the main developer much prefers the megadrive version so if you have both machines id look to the megadrive in this case. I spent £5 on an American SNES cart of this game and having a look the going rate seems to be around £10 for either a Pal or NTSC cart with boxed copies being more between the £25 to £35 price range, obviously these prices vary but this gives you a rough idea of what to expect.

Tuesday, 13 February 2018

Tanglewood an upcoming new Sega Megadrive/Genesis game

Ok so early last month I talked about. Paprium the hopefully upcoming new Megadrive/Genesis walk along beat em up. This is not the only new Megadrive game thats headed our way in fact there is a new platformer coming called TangleWood.

Matt Phillips the creator of  Tanglewood, has been working on this new Sega Mega Drive, for a few years now. It was a kickstarter and it has like a lot of kickstarters missed its initial target date but unlike in other cases plenty of information has kept coming forward and it looks like it should be out sometime this year. Here is a link to its Kickstarter page so anyone interested can have a look Tanglewood Kickstarter: 

Having a look through all the various Kickstarter options £20 will get you a downloadable rom of the game that you can play on your Megadrive via an everdrive or through an emulator ecetera. Then you can get a real cart for £50 or a boxed copy for £60 (there were cheaper early bird deals but they are no longer available). There are also more expensive options for limited carts and such.

Matt Philips claims to have taken inspiration from the art and movement of games like Another World and The Lion King, with his aim being to create something like them from the ground up. Having looked at concept art, screenshots, videos, and having even played the prototype rom I can say that from what I have seen it looks like this will be a pretty good game. Its also interesting to note that this game has been made with proper megadrive development hardware, he has been using an original Mega CD development kit alongside a computer running Windows 95 to program the game.

Its also nice to see that he has thought everything through and has answers for how things are going to be made, apparently he has an agreement with a factory in China who will produce plastic Sega style cartridges for him, he also has a contact in Canada who is the engineer and proprietor of a company called DB Electronics making the PCB game circuit boards to go inside the plastic. Apparently this guy is an expert and will be making sure this PCB works just like a real MegaDrive game from back in the day. He also tried to approach Sega to get the game officially licensed which would have been really cool. Unfortunately, Sega apparently no longer has the resources in place to test and do quality assurance on a project of this nature, apparently though they were supportive and friendly. Matt Philips also has some time working for well known studios on games which have been released under his belt as do all of the other people he has gotten involved in the project so its not like one of those projects where someone says they are going to do something they have no hope of doing, theyve all basically done this before just on different formats with different funding methods (basically paid by a studio to do it on there behalf).

I do like to see projects like this especially when they seem to be so well thought out. I never do tend to support Kickstarters though as well I guess I am just cynical after having seen so many fail or not measure up in one way or another. I don't like to pay for things I will get in the future, heck I don't even preorder games even if there like triple AAA titles from studios that have no chance of bankruptcy etc, I tend to like to hand real cash over and get a product straight away or at worst pay on card and it be shipped out the following day. There is also the issue that I personally wouldnt know what to go for, I own a Everdrive so could just get the rom but then part of me says well you have over 200 megadrive carts so your not usually a just a rom guy but then there different because there old classics and this is a new thing. This aside though I really do hope that the project is a roaring success as the maker seems to have seen this as a sort of childhood dream and seems to have really poured his heart and soul into it. As a kid I always wanted to write a novel and I know how much it meant to me to finally have done that, so I guess this is his novel and I wish him the utmost success with it.

Monday, 12 February 2018

NEWS RANT: The Oxfam Situation and Peters been a bad wabbit.

Oxfam's deputy chief executive has resigned over the handling of a sex scandal involving aid workers. So whats all of this about in short well Oxfam (which is a British Charity for those reading this from other parts of the world) is accused of concealing the findings of an inquiry into claims staff used prostitutes while delivering aid in Haiti in 2011.

Penny Lawrence said she was "ashamed" and takes full responsibility. I personally don't think she should but we will get into that later. Part of Oxfams funding is gotten through donations but they actually get more money from the government. Oxfam which denies a cover-up has met with the International Development Secretary in a bid to prevent its government funding from being cut.

A million and one things have been said about this whole situation, apparently this was being investigated but kind of on the hush hush. The government is now wanting all of the gory details and from my point of view it is wanting Oxfam to get on its knees and beg which if you ask me is pretty rich when you look at some of the things politicians have been caught doing. It was only just before Christmas when seven Conservative MP's were facing various investigations one of which had allegedly acted inappropriately  towards a young activist, as well as having“extreme” pornography on one of his government computers. Add to this the fact we used to have a Prime Minister who apparently put his John Tomas in a dead pigs mouth and this feels like it is all a pointless witch hunt.

I have but two questions I want answered about this whole situation and those questions are who paid for the prostitutes, and did the people using them pay out of there own money or was government money or donation money used? If they paid themselves then hey thats there own business and I don't really want to hear about it. If they spend there time working in other countries helping other people get valuable aid then what they do in there free time is there own business.

I wouldnt personally pay to have sex with a prostitute but I dont feel I have the right to take the moral high ground and to tell people that they cant do that or to say I am better than someone who does, that would make me a judgmental asshole.

OK so thats not the only thing in the news I have felt the need to talk about I have also felt the need to talk about Peter Rabbit. The makers of the new film Peter Rabbit have apologized after facing a backlash over their depiction of a character's allergy. OK so obviously the Peter Rabbit film is based on the books of the same name. In the film there is a scene in which a character who suffers a blackberry allergy is pelted with them by a gang of bunnies. Now I need to admit I haven't seen the film yet but I know the character pelted is the son of the man who turned Peter's dad into a pie. So I am going to go out on a limb here and imagine that most likely he is the bad guy of the piece and if he is anything like his old man then he wants to turn the bunnies into a pie, so this pelting is most likely in self defense and also its in a film and being done by cartoon rabbits so its also incredibly fictional.

Well apparently campaigners condemned the scene and some Twitter users adopted the hashtag #boycottpeterrabbit. The charity Kids with Food Allergies Foundation said in a Facebook post "food allergy 'jokes' are harmful to our community". Well I don't have a food allergy so maybe I just don't get this whole thing, I do however have a whole heap of other issues all of which I am perfectly willing to take the piss out of. Yet apparently a petition calling on Sony Pictures to apologize also attracted thousands of signatures. OK so now even if someone wants to murder you and eat you then you cant take advantage of a medical condition they have to save your life because that would be wrong? It is getting to the point where you cant make a joke about anything in even the most gentle way without somebody trying there darn best to be offended by it.

When you get down to it both of these stories are about people choosing to be offended, they are getting all mad and getting there panties in a bunch, what they are actually wanting is to impose there will, they don't want anyone else to have the freedom to laugh at something they personally don't find funny or to do something they wouldn't do. Well as always I hope this gives you all something to think about.

Sunday, 11 February 2018

SNES Review 138: Fatal Fury 2 AKA Garou Densetsu 2

OK so quiet a long time ago I reviewed Fatal Fury and at the time I said that Fatal Fury 2 and Fatal Fury special also hit the SNES but I wouldn't be reviewing them as I didn't own them, well guess what since then I got Japanese cartridge copies of both games. So here I am now about to review Fatal Fury 2 AKA Garou Densetsu 2.

OK so first lets put things in to a little bit of perspective. The original Fatal Fury 2 was a head-to-head fighting game released by SNK for the Neo Geo arcade and home platforms originally coming out at the end of 1992 (Early 1993 in the home). The first Fatal Fury came out at the end of 1991 so its sequel only came out one year later, but what a difference a year can make. The original Neo game was 55Megs with its sequel being the second game in SNK's 100-Mega Shock series making its cartridge almost twice as big (Apparently it was 106Megs). Looking at the size of Roms for Fatal Fury and Fatal Fury 2 on the SNES the first is 1.0MB and the second is 1.9mb So once again the second game is nearly double the size of its predecessor but I think its obvious that both of these games are very cut down versions of there Neo Geo counterparts. This doesn't make them bad games though as if you look at it a lot of the games we got in the home back in the old days be they on home computer or console were cut down versions of arcade hits it was all about how could you best cut a game down so that it would run on home hardware without cutting the life and soul out of the game. 

With the first Fatal Fury I said that the main problem with the SNES version laid with the conversion that unlike with the SNES version of Street Fighter 2 it was just to far removed from its arcade counterpart.  Well the SNES version of Fatal Fury 2 was made by Takara the same people who made the SNES version of the original but hold on its not as bad as it sounds.

One of the main things I found annoying about the original Fatal Fury was that if you played the arcade mode you only actually had a choice of three different characters to play it with, in this sequel you have a choice of eight this includes the three from the first game but also five others. After defeating all eight playable characters in the single player story mode (including a clone of the person you picked), you then face four bosses much like the original street fighter 2. This was true in the Neo version and its also true in the snes version.

OK as basically most fighting games live or die by there character rosters I think its about time I talked about the guys on offer here starting with those who are Playable fighters in the main game mode.

Terry Bogard - an American street fighting champion from a place called Southtown. Terry is somewhat cocky. For those into there street fighter 2 you can consider this guy here to be the Ken type of character. Although in all fairness he feels like a character in his own right not like a street fighter 2 rip off cut and paste job.

Andy Bogard - Terry's younger brother who fights using ninjutsu. He might be younger but he is far more disciplined and serious he is kind of a Ryu to Terry's Ken. 

Joe Higashi - the Bogards brothers friend and also a Muay Thai champion. Imagine if your in to your street fighter 2 a small faster Sagat (Street fighter actually got a character more like that later)

Big Bear - an Australian wrestler formerly known as Raiden (as he was called in the original Fatal Fury). It is pretty easy to see he is based on the real life wrestler Big Van Vader. He is your slow hard hitting guy basically.

Jubei Yamada - an elderly Japanese judo master once known as "Yamada the Demon" during his youth. Having grown up on a lot of old Kung Fu type films this guy basically reminds me of your 'Old Master' type figure.

Cheng Sinzan - an tubby master of taiji from Hong Kong seeking to open his own training hall. This guy is probably my least favorite character in the game.

Kim Kaphwan - a Taekwondo master from Korea. This guy is kind of interesting as his offense is pretty much all kick based, it actually works out a lot better than it sounds and I find him quiet an interesting character.

Mai Shiranui - she is the daughter of the head a ninja clan and Andy Bogards's love interest. Also the games token chick fighter basically.

The Boss characters are

Billy Kane - a staff-fighting master from the UK. Now I actually like that we have a Character from the UK in this game especially seeing as thats where I am from.I am not so keen on the fact he was apparently designed to look like the Dynamite Kid an English wrestler who to put it mildly is a bit of an ass but none the less I think he is a pretty cool character both in looks and in his fighting style.

Axel Hawk - a retired heavyweight boxing champion who quit to maintaining his health until he was hired by this games boss to be a sub boss. He is based on former heavyweight champion George Foreman which I think is kind of interesting seeing as Street Fighter 2 had a character based on Iron Mike Tyson.

Laurence Blood - a former matador who uses a fighting style based on a mix of bull fighting and fencing. His matador look is intresting and he certainly stand out.

The main boss is a guy called Wolfgang Krauser - a German nobleman seeking to defeat the men responsible for Geese's downfall. I don't really like the design of this character in all honest I do however like his fighting style its a mix between the German martial art named Kampfringen, the ancient Greek fighting style of Pankration and a bit of wrestling thrown in on top.

The game has very nice colorful graphics, I think all of the above characters are represented well both in how they look and how they move, I also have to say that I am very fond of both the games backgrounds and the tunes in it.

Now on to the bit that matters the most the Gamplay. The original Neo Geo Fatal Fury allowed you to jump between two different planes on the screen to avoid attacks but this was missing in its SNES conversion, this is in the SNES version of Fatal Fury 2 however and I think it really does help this game stand apart from other one on one beat em ups. Other than the ability to change the plane your standing on the gameplay here follows the usual formula of one on one fighting games from this time period, with you playing against the computer in a best two-out-of-three contest. Each of the characters in the game has their own special attacks that are performed by inputting specific commands and combinations many of them being the same sort of motions you would find in street fighter 2 but unlike the first Fatal Fury where they were an absolute pig to pull off here they are with a little practice pretty straight forward. For me this game is a huge improvement over its predecessor, more selectable characters to play through the game in one player, more tactical options and better control just makes the whole thing feel like quiet a big jump forward.

I do think that the game is a little limited as a one player game, but that is something that can be said about most one on one fighting games hey at least there are 8 diffrent characters to try and complete the game with which should keep you coming back to it for a bit. Where this game really excels though is when played with friends, with all of its bright and different characters it has a great roster for multiplayer. This game works at its best when there are a bunch of you and you all sit round and see who is the best maybe with a bit of a winner stays on tournament.

I find myself giving this game an 8 out of 10, yes that is the same mark I gave the original Street Fighter 2 the world warrior and I think thats rather fair because while the first Fatal Fury was lacking and looked a bit like a poor cousin this game is more of a serious contender. If you like your fighting games and want to give the Fatal Fury series a go on your SNES then just skip the first one in total honesty as its sequel is just more of the same but with a whole heap of extra polish. If you want this game well I spent £3.50 getting a Japanese Cartridge of this game, which is a decent price looking online its not hard to get a Japanese cart for around the £5 mark, if you want a pal cart though your talking more around the £35 figure which I think is far too much when you start looking at that kind of figure you should probably look into a download version or a compilation. There was a PS2 fatal fury collection with 4 Fatal Fury games on it for example, or you could look on some of the modern download services where you could get a download of the original Neo Geo version of the game for probably £6 to £8 less if you happen to find it on sale.

Saturday, 10 February 2018

SNES REVIEW 2: Ka-blooey aka Bombuzal (Revisited)

The game I am reviewing today (18 August 2014) was originally called Bombuzal and was made by a company called Image Works.

It was originally released for the Amiga, Atari ST and Commodore 64 but in 1990 they brought out a SNES version. For a reason unknown to me the US version which is the one I own was retitled Ka-Blooey. I don’t have any opinion if one title is better or not and as I never played this as a kid there is not a name I am more used to.

Image Works didn’t usually make games. They were usually known for being publishers. They published around 40 games and only made about four games themselves, and this is the only one which made its way to the SNES. So this is the last time I will be mentioning them in this series. Strangely enough despite being mostly known for publishing games they didn’t actually publish this on the SNES. This game was in fact published by Kemco, whose name is an abbreviation of Kotobuki Engineering & Manufacturing Co. They were a Japanese video game developer and publisher established in 1984. Kemco is probably best known by SNES owners as the publisher of the Top Gear series but that’s a story for another day.

The whole idea of Ka-Blooey is to try to set off every bomb on a level without killing yourself. At first this seems a little easy – you step up to a bomb, you hold a button, a countdown starts and then you move out of the way just before detonation. I know this sounds very simplistic but think about most good puzzle games. Tetris is just a game where you spin blocks around and form lines and yet that was probably one of the most popular puzzle games ever wasn’t it? Yes, the game starts off very simplistic but more or less every level something new is thrown in to the mix, and new problems are presented for you to try and overcome by using your grey matter to formulate a plan using everything you have learned up to this point.

There are apparently more than 130 levels and they get more and more challenging as you go. The graphics at the time were trying to be all 3D and cool, your sprite is large and has quite a bit of characterisation but in this regard the game hasn’t aged well. The water for example is just made up of blue rectangles. Sure everything is functional and easy to see so you can never blame the graphics for your failure so at least it has that going for it. The music can best be described as what elevator music must sound like to a man on acid. Add to this the fact that there are only something like five actual in game sounds – a teleporter sound; an explosion sound; a sliding sound; a dying sound; and a voice saying ”get ready”. The game is far from being either an audio or visual treat.
If you’re into games with a story then it is important to note this game has literally no plot at all. Sure a lot of great puzzle games don’t have plots but with this game having a central character you look at I do think a tiny bit of a story would help push you to make your way through the levels.

As you get further you will see that there are different kinds of bombs and you need to get used to how they blow up, how you can use this to your advantage and how to make sure you don’t end up blowing yourself up. On later levels there are enemies such as boulders and some weird looking things (I have no idea what they are actually supposed to be) which go around and which you need to blow up. There are also obstacles like ice blocks that make you slide and cracked blocks that fall after you walk over them and hard blocks that can’t be blown up.

The game controls OK, but it moves very slowly which doesn’t work in its favour. I never once found myself being particularly excited by it. At times you felt smart for working a problem out, but really from my perspective there was far more grind than there was enjoyment and that’s not the sign of a good game.

If I am to be totally honest I rate the game smack down the middle five out of 10. If you want to buy retro games there are a lot of better games out there to spend your money on.

It’s a functional puzzle game which both frustrates and rewards but at the end of the day it is deeply forgettable. I think I would have been a lot happier if I had played this game back on the Commodore 64 or the Amiga as it probably would have been a reasonably cheap game but if I had paid the price of a standard SNES game for this at launch I would have felt pretty darn annoyed.

As far as I can tell this game never got a PAL release, so if you want to play it then you’re going to have to buy an American Ka-Blooey or a Japanese Bombuzal cart. There is no real need to read anything for this game so either would probably be fine as long as you have either an import machine, a modified machine or a convertor. The price for this game cart only seems to be around £7 to £10. I got mine years ago when I was in Canada in what can best be described as a giant charity store for about CAN$3 after tax was added (they add tax at the till on top of the price you see on the shelf/tag, unlike ours which is included in the price you see).