Video 14
Notes

Sep 21,
2014
Posted 1 day ago

Various backgrounds from Gratia - Second Earth, a 1996 Jaleco side-scrolling shoot-em-up. A significant portion of the game’s graphics don’t work on my version of MAME, so it would be unfair to give it a full review, but the backgrounds do and they’re quire nice, if a little bit on the more bland side. That makes sense within the confines of the awkward story, which involve an overpolluted and dying planet that will supposedly be saved by the appearance of the three forms of “Simulacrum” of which only two forms are currently known. All I know is that I supposedly saved the world from overpollution by blowing the crap out of a bunch of cities and military enemies. If conquering people in wars and blowing stuff up was the key to a healthy planet, we’d have the most robust world in the galaxy.

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  TAGS:  Gratia Second Earth   Jaleco   arcade   1990s games   Art in Video Games  
Video 27
Notes

Sep 20,
2014
Posted 2 days ago

Take a tour with backgrounds from Unico’s Fancy World, a 1996 Bubble Bobble style game like so many others. Here you’ll conquer the monster denizens across five continents, ultimately facing a boss rush in… Heaven? It’s unclear, but entirely possible. Inbetween “worlds” is a brief intermission where seemingly random, completely clothed women seemingly congratulate you on a TV screen. All in all a strange experience that contains at least 75% world, but doesn’t quite reach the level of fancy.

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  TAGS:  Fancy World   Unico   arcade   1990s games   Art in Video Games  
Answer 3
Notes

Sep 18,
2014
Posted 4 days ago
VG JUNK did an article / play through of Crazy Fight recently if you fancy reading about it. Regards, Gavin.
Anonymous asked

I wasn’t aware of that. I’m going to admit I don’t read VGJUNK that often—not because it’s bad, mind you, because it’s not. I really like the site and the writing, especially for bad games, is excellent. The reason I don’t read it often is because it’s a time vortex that will devour your day, like TV Tropes, except just a little less so. It’s very dangerous for someone like me who barely has the time to squeeze in a little gameplay between posts as it is!

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Video 7
Notes

Sep 17,
2014
Posted 5 days ago

Backgrounds from Crazy Fight, a 1996 game from Subsino. I assume this game is a lightgun shooter, but uncracked game protection in my version of MAME means the game can’t actually be played. The attract mode is kind enough to show off at least six of the game’s stages, and you can put in a credit, but the game won’t accept any sort of input otherwise, so the game can’t even be started.

Artistically, the game is a bit of a mish-mash—decent backgrounds (much larger than these here, in fact) combined with unusual, almost MAD Magazine-esque characters to shoot. These enemies pop up from behind backgrounds with minimal animation, like a modern Hogan’s Alley. Overall, the attract mode demo doesn’t exactly make me feel like I’m missing much by not being able to play it.

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  TAGS:  Crazy Fight   Subsino   arcade   1990s games   Art in Video Games  
Photo 37
Notes

Sep 16,
2014
Posted 6 days ago

Have an enjoyable anime-ified image of Cleopatra, courtesy of Cleopatra Fortune, a 1996 Taito puzzle game. I don’t have much to say about the game itself since I couldn’t really understand the entirely-in-Japanese rules it was giving me, and that made it difficult to really evaluate its gameplay with that in mind. But I appreciated this nice, almost entirely clothed image that forms the basis of the game’s attract mode.

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 TAGS:  Cleopatra Fortune   Taito   arcade   1990s games   Art in Video Games  
Video 12
Notes

Sep 16,
2014
Posted 6 days ago

Character win screen portraits from Breakers. This 1996 Neo Geo title from Visco proves that even four years after Street Fighter II, companies thought it was a good enough effort to bring out fairly straightforward fighting games with little in the way of innovation, and some fairly uninspired character designs. The game wasn’t a commercial powerhouse, but it obviously did well enough for them to update it and release a new version two years later, Breakers Revenge.

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  TAGS:  Breakers   Visco   Neo Geo   1990s games   Art in Video Games  
Answer 5
Notes

Sep 15,
2014
Posted 1 week ago
Omg please continue blogging about the adventures of UltraceGambit and JetWolfRogue!
Anonymous asked

Sadly, that’s unlikely to happen. We had a blast playing this weekend (going from Level 1 to Level 45), but unlike the now-defunct City of Heroes—where we had several pairs of characters we would play together like Hero Brand X and Penance Healer, Brutus Ultimus and Pale Ryder, or Conqueress and Benchmark—Marvel Heroes doesn’t really lend itself to impromptu storytelling and putting yourself in the mind of the characters as well. That’s probably because you’re only ever playing as (and against) well-established characters from the Marvel universe. Way back in the day, I went so far as to run a Livejournal blog about my City of Heroes characters. They were my characters with looks and personalities that I had created. Doing that with Gambit and Rogue would feel like a weird sort of video game fanfiction, I think.

The game is still fun, though, and there’s every possibility I’ll still bring it up from time to time, with pictures even!

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  TAGS:  Anonymous   Marvel Heroes   City of Heroes  
Video 19
Notes

Sep 15,
2014
Posted 1 week ago

Battle Garegga is the very face of Hell—Bullet Hell, that is. This game, released by Raizing in 1996, is what I consider to be the first example of what would eventually become Bullet Hell today: complicated, screen-swarming bullet patterns that have to be evaded with the most delicate of control and a fair bit of reflexes. This game is iron tough. It doesn’t help that it uses an increasing difficulty adjustment (oft-referred to as the “rank” system) that makes the game harder the better you perform. As you destroy enemies, score points and even just survive, an internal counter creeps ever higher, making enemies more aggressive and their shots more numerous. The only way to lower the counter is to lose a ship, which comes with its own problems, like powering down. Making it all the way to the end of the game on one life is a monumental feat (one I can’t even fathom, much less perform), especially if you have the audacity to actually try for a high score. Battle Garegga isn’t satisfied with being your opponent, it wants to be your arch-nemesis, arming itself with ever-greater weapons that are fueled by hatred at your success.

Although your ultimate success in completing the game relies on the ability to dodge bullets and shoot down enemies, the secondary goal of big points requires multitasking to snag medals and emblems that drop from all sorts of enemies, quickly falling off the screen. Grabbing them consecutively without missing any as they sail by is key, since they get bigger and more valuable as long as you don’t miss any. But never forget that the more points you score, the bigger a target you become for enemies. The game provides autofire for each ship’s one weapon type (which can be powered up); you can also acquire up to four mini-ship options, and, interestingly, these can be arranged in at least five different formations and behaviors with the press of a button, which is quite handy.

The graphics are dull in color, but decent in detail, filled with destructible environments and infeasibly large enemy craft. The spritework is admirable although the enemy variety could be a bit better. Bosses are multi-part affairs, arranging and rearranging themselves as you destroy pieces of them. The final boss, which comes in three stages, starts out hard and escalates to just plain ridiculously fast and sadistic. The soundtrack is clean and peppy, which you’re going to need to keep your mood up. Overall, Battle Garegga is an awesome game that will simply be too much for all but the most hardened gamers. People can talk all they want about modern gaming feats like Mile High Club from Call of Duty: Modern Warfare or any number of enemies in Dark Souls, but ask them to beat Battle Garegga on a credit or three. Now that’s an achievement.

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  TAGS:  Battle Garegga   Raizing   arcade   1990s games  
Photo 46
Notes

Sep 13,
2014
Posted 1 week ago

Today’s gaming adventure—a Marvel Heroes match-up 20+ years in the waiting. When my wife and I first met way back in the day, it was on the then-equivalent of an internet forum about comics. I took Gambit’s name as a handle; she took Rogue’s. Now, with Rogue’s release in Marvel Heroes yesterday, we finally get the opportunity to play together as our old namesakes. Firestar and She-Hulk are our team-up characters tagging along for the fun of it.

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 TAGS:  Marvel Heroes   Gambit   Rogue   X-Men   keyofnik  
Video 5
Notes

Sep 13,
2014
Posted 1 week ago

Scenes from Bang Bang Ball, an action puzzle game from Banpresto in 1996. The gameplay itself is rather like Puzzle Bobble//Bust-a-Move, if the pieces you are trying to match up keep floating around an arena trying to kill you while you evade them in the role of a mouse on a skateboard. So, really, it’s nothing like Puzzle Bobble//Bust-a-Move apart from the color-matching bubbles thing.

The story seems to involve a female mouse being kidnapped by a group of dogs, just for a change of pace from always messing around with cats. To get her back, you’ll have to complete numerous puzzle stages. So, in reality the dogs are also… Genius masterminds? I’m not entirely sure. Also, they either stole your car or you steal their car at the end. Or you both just happen to own the same kind of car. In a story where dogs are kidnapping mice and forcing their friends or lovers to do puzzles, any explanation is possible.

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  TAGS:  Bang Bang Ball   Banpresto   arcade   1990s games   Art in Video Games  
Video 3
Notes

Sep 12,
2014
Posted 1 week ago

Occasionally, instead of talking about old games, I’ll discuss more recent titles, especially indie-style games that try to capture the feel of the olden days. This is one of those times, and Hammerwatch is one of those games. If you’re only here for the truly classic and vintage titles, then move along; otherwise, read on. This gets lengthy, so I’ve provided a cut in order to spare your dashboard.

Read More

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  TAGS:  Hammerwatch   Crackshell   PC   2010s games   Humble Bundle  
Video 25
Notes

Sep 11,
2014
Posted 1 week ago

Art from Aquarium, a 1996 competitive dropping-pieces puzzle match game from Excellent Systems. This is an almost completely standard example of this type of game—except for the selectable characters, who are all denizens of the sea. Despite the name, I can’t see all of these creatures inhabiting the same aquarium, and if they do it would need to be one that puts Sea World’s best offerings to shame.

There are no banters back and forth between the characters, no win screen quotes, not even any specific graphics for when your particular aquatic creature wins the game, which makes this particular assortment of characters a bit unusual. Did Excellent Systems know something we don’t? Are complicated puzzle competitions how things in the fishy underworld—or undersea, for that matter—are settled? I have to call no way, because I see no representation for those most devious fiends of the ocean, the jellyfish.

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  TAGS:  Aquarium   Excellent Systems   arcade   1990s games   Art in Video Games  
Video 30
Notes

Sep 10,
2014
Posted 1 week ago

When Toaplan closed shop in 1994, four companies spun off from its remains, like so much shrapnel from an exploding grenade. In this analogy, the piece of shrapnel that managed to fly in the opposite direction from any of the intended targets would have to be Gazelle. Perhaps they were poorly managed, or that too many shoot-em-up companies had been suddenly unleashed on the market and something had to give. Who knows. But the fact is that Gazelle only ever created two video games before themselves closing, neither of which had much commercial success. The first game was Pretty Soldier Sailor Moon, a beat-em-up that I previously covered which, for all its spirit, just didn’t seem to come together. Their second and final game was Air Gallet.

Air Gallet is a strange beast. Visually, it’s both astounding and a letdown. The backgrounds in the game as well as some of the boss designs (both of which incorporate not only multi-layered tilemaps but mobile and destructible sprite elements) are simply phenomenal. As a huge fan of in-game cityscapes, the environments here had me nearly mesmerized at times. Their beauty manages to defy the slightly dull color palette used. Lovingly detailed large buildings and unexpected backdrops like an expansive castle on a European countryside never failed to impress. Small wonder, as the art is credited to Junya Inoue, a lead graphics designer who would work on several Cave hits like Deathsmiles and ESP Ra De. one of my personal favorites. At the same time, though, the standard enemy assortment, as well as the shooting effects from both your ship and the enemy, are underwhelming and your own weapons never provide the sense of power you would hope, even at maximum levels. The music is fitting for the setting but isn’t likely to stick with you long after playing. During each stage you’ll be treated to voiceovers from various characters which range from dramatically hammy to hilariously cheesy.

The biggest draw here is probably the challenge. You’ll find a relentless, unforgiving master in Air Gallet. Its enemies won’t hesitate to surround and open mercilessly fire on you (the very first ships in the game take shots as soon as they appear on the screen—no warmups here) and the bosses are absolutely Bullet Hell material, escalating toward the game’s final conflict which provides some insanely patterns to dodge—not as complicated as modern Bullet Hell games, but actually faster than some of them. This was completely beyond my capabilities without cheating around stage five or so. Those who feel the manic enemy assault isn’t hard enough on its own can try mastering the bonus score system, which involves picking up gems throughout each stage. The gems rotate through various stages of luster; catching them at their most golden will net you 2000 points (and a like amount when the stage is completed) while the dullest gets only 10 points. Regardless of point value, catching all of them in a stage—no easy feat—will get you an extra 100,000 points. Timing these pickups to try and make a perfect run while facing the enemy can provide enough action for even the most skilled veterans.

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  TAGS:  Air Gallet   Gazelle   Banpresto   arcade   1990s games  
Video 7
Notes

Sep 09,
2014
Posted 1 week ago

I know what this looks like, and I agree, it’s weird to be reviewing a city-building simulation arcade game. Or rather, that would be weird if I was. But these background images are actually from Air Attack, a 1996 shoot-em-up from Comad. Par for the course from Comad (whose titles are almost exclusively either bland shoot-em-ups like S.S. Mission, or watered-down puzzlers and other arcade titles whose main attraction is naked women as a reward.

Air Attack is squarely in the former category, an almost completely forgettable entry into the shoot-em-up genre. Its gameplay is drab and the only thing more repetitive than the soundtrack is the enemy design. Even now, only a short period after playing it, I can’t remember any of the bosses or most of the stages. But there is one aspect that sticks out: the background for the first stage, a landscape that looks more like an organic city than the nebulous space sectors, vague cloudy skies and generic sci-fi style backdrops that plague the rest of the game. The first stage, however, boasts a background that’s a 4096-pixel strip of great-looking cityscape. How did Comad manage this level of quality? They stole it, of course.

The cool buildings and objects within that first stage were all lifted from other sources, most being from SimCity 2000, which was released just two years earlier in 1994. Can’t see the the resemblance? Check out this SimCity 2000 picture featuring a stadium:

Once you’ve seen it, you quickly realize that simple palette-swapping accounts for most of the terrain in that first level. They even left the gridlines in for empty land! A little bit of searching online informed me that much of the rest of the game was also lifted, with classic DOS shoot-em-up Tyrian 2000 being a particular victim.

Air Attack isn’t just one of the many unauthorized bootlegs that have occurred in arcade gaming, or a graphics and sound reworking like the insane Ninja Gaiden hack, Dragon Bowl. It’s something entirely different—some sort of Frankensteinian creation that comes out to be far less than the sum of its parts. If only they’d used these powers for good and perhaps taken the buildings from King of the Monsters and King of the Monsters 2 and created the ultimate city-building arcade game or something…

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  TAGS:  Air Attack   Comad   arcade   1990s games   Art in Video Games  
Text 6
Notes

Sep 09,
2014
Posted 1 week ago

It’s my wife’s birthday today, which is something you likely didn’t know unless you already follow her over at keyofnik. So, if you have the time and inclination today, feel free to drop a note or message to my favorite co-op gamer (not to mention love of my life) and wish her a happy birthday.

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