Text
Oct 21,
2014
Posted 3 hours ago

gear-project replied to your post “I just want to remind everyone who wasn’t aware—as I myself wasn’t…”

"Greatest game" is more opinion, and a disputed one at that. Speaking of FFIII though, the DS version of the ‘real FFIII’ was ported to PSP recently. It’s pretty good, even compared to FFVI.

Well, to be clear, I never said it was the greatest game. Even I don’t think that highly of Final Fantasy VI. But I do think it’s one of the greatest games ever, and while that is completely a subjective opinion, it’s an opinion shared not only by a lot of game players, but numerous sites and publications, like Electronic Gaming Monthly, Nintendo Power, IGN, Famitsu and so on, since the game commonly places in a slew of “best of” lists. And although I have fond memories of playing from my late teen years, it’s not just rose-colored goggles for an old game that lead me to that conclusion.

The game makes excellent use of everything the SNES has to offer, with rich, detailed environments, a stunning soundtrack, great character interactions, and just tons of details and secrets to be found. It’s not the only game that does that sort of stuff on the SNES, by far, but it does it so well. There are singular elements of other games, like the character animations in Chrono Trigger, Terranigma or The Secret of Mana (all great games in their own right), which make Final Fantasy VI look primitive. But the whole package together here is just magnificent.

I have never played the DS version of Final Fantasy III. I hear it’s a vast improvement over the Famicom version of the game, which would be a good thing since the original (unofficially translated and played via emulation) didn’t catch me. I liked the diversity of the job system, but surprisingly I found myself appreciating the more restrictive abilities of characters in FF IV and VI over III and V because I felt I was changing the personalities of characters by taking different jobs, which felt wrong in games with these kinds of stories. Don’t ask me why I had no problem with it in Final Fantasy Tactics.

The most divisive thing to me about the DS version of FF III has to be the graphics. They look really nice, but I really feel like they completely lost the sense of Amano’s artwork from the original (which, I admit, was not best represented on the Famicom—but still!) The game instead uses the cuter designs of Akihiko Yoshida, the man behind Tactics, and I think that drastically changes the feel of the game to me. Perhaps someday I can distance myself from that notion and give it a shot. I never did finish the original…

LIKE
  -   REBLOG

TAGS: gear-project  
Text 12
Notes

Oct 21,
2014
Posted 11 hours ago

I just want to remind everyone who wasn’t aware—as I myself wasn’t until this morning—that yesterday marked the 20th anniversary of the release of Final Fantasy VI in North America, where it was referred to as Final Fantasy III. Twenty years and still going strong as one of the greatest games of all time.

As an absolute, pure coincidence—but a kind of creepy one—I felt like starting some non-arcade gameplay wallpapers last night, so I made one for Final Fantasy VI. It’s not being posted yet, but I just wanted to point that out, because it’s kind of weird.

LIKE
  -   REBLOG

TAGS: Final Fantasy VI   Squaresoft   SNES   1990s games  
Video 20
Notes

Oct 20,
2014
Posted 1 day ago

Scenes from the opening and character select screens of Soukyugurentai (unofficially also known as Terra Diver), a 1996 Raizing shoot-em-up. This is one of Raizing’s more visually striking games, with a top-down, 3D feeling world composed of bitmaps and sprites, not polygons. Because of the added depth, it isn’t quite as crisp as Taito’s Rayforce, but it also looks less muddled than their polygonal RayCrisis.

Unfortunately, the version of MAME that I’m running crashes entirely upon any attempt to actually play a level of the game, even watching the in-game demo. Since during this entire chronological journey I have skipped over other games entirely that were not compatible, I made the executive decision to not try a later version of MAME to play the game for screenshots. So, you get these images.

Even here, though, it’s interesting to note that while the character and ship designs appear original, the presentation method borrows very heavily from Neon Genesis Evangelion, the original anime broadcast of which had begun a year before this game was released. (Yes, that’s right, Evangelion is almost 20 years old; let the lamenting about our ages begin.)

  LIKE
  -   REBLOG

  TAGS:  Soukyugurentai   Raizing   arcade   1990s games   Art in Video Games   Terra Diver  
Video 24
Notes

Oct 19,
2014
Posted 2 days ago

Art and images from the attract mode opening of Samurai Shodown IV: Amakusa’s Revenge. The developers kind of cheaped out here and used character select images for most of the flair in their opening. Don’t get me wrong, they’re nice, but other SNK fighters like the Fatal Fury or King of Fighters games tend to throw a lot more “unique” art at you to entice the dropping of a quarter into the slot. For fun and contrast, I also included a second shot of the game’s castle, taken from its ending. Please disregard the fact that they do not appear to be the same building.

This game is leagues better than Samurai Shodown III was, with better controls, balance and, to me, much more appealing character designs that return to the feel of the early games. But it still has a few problems. The fighting has now advanced to the point of a little too complex for my tastes (which I fully admit are not in line with most fighting game enthusiasts), the in-game dialogue is laughably bad (which may be a plus for some folks) and the “true ending” time limit is both an irritation and a demonstration of the short value of the single-player game.

Essentially, when you start a game, you are given eight or nine minutes to get through all of the enemies leading up to the final boss—six in total, I believe—and reach the castle pictured here. Complete that task in time and you’ll get to fight Amakusa—who should have stayed dead in my opinion—and Zankuro. Fail, and you’ll get a bad ending that involves your own death. So, you either zip through your token’s worth of play at a breakneck pace, or you get a poor ending. I get what SNK was going after by locking the best ending behind this kind of challenge, but it’s not really as respectful to the players as it could have been. I would have preferred a “health” challenge that unlocks the true ending if you manage to make it to the castle while taking x amount of damage combined from all enemies instead.

  LIKE
  -   REBLOG

  TAGS:  Samurai Shodown IV   SNK   Neo Geo   1990s games   Art in Video Games  
Audio 1
Notes

Oct 18,
2014
Posted 3 days ago

And finally… Possibly the biggest mystery of Salamander 2 remains the omake songs—four fully composed musical tracks included in the game’s ROM that aren’t used anywhere within the game itself, in first nor second loops. When the soundtrack was released, Konami included these tracks at the end of the CD and it’s a treat to listen to them—but a puzzling treat at that. These themes were certainly good enough to be used in the game proper. One of them—Thunderbolt, heard here—is another of the updated Salamander original themes (from the Egyptian temple themed stage), yet it wasn’t used during the second loop of the game, where there were stages it could have been placed in? Why wasn’t it, and the others used? We may never know.

  LIKE
  -   REBLOG

  TAGS:  Salamander 2   Konami   arcade   1990s games   Video Game Music   Salamander  
Audio 5
Notes

Oct 18,
2014
Posted 3 days ago

Fans of the original Salamander will no doubt recognize this piece—and maybe even get a little chill while listening to it. Who among us can forget dodging waves of fire and hostile phoenixes during the Prominence Stage, whose cascading flames to this day remain impressive for a 1986 arcade title. Here, you get that same energy, only now infused with 1996’s sound technology which includes a few extra musical elements thrown in. It is understandably shorter than the standard music of Salamander 2. This music plays as part of the second loop of the game and in an astonishing error on the developers part, does not occur during the fire-themed stage.

  LIKE
  -   REBLOG

  TAGS:  Salamander 2   Konami   arcade   1990s games   Video Game Music   Salamander  
Audio 1
Notes

Oct 18,
2014
Posted 3 days ago

Music from the final stage of Salamander 2. Here you’ll face everything the enemy has to throw at you, and yet, as in the first Salamander game, the mood here isn’t menacing at all. Admittedly, the triumphant feel of soaring through open space is a little muted when you’re on your third credit since the stage started, but as a musical piece, it’s still quite enjoyable.

  LIKE
  -   REBLOG

  TAGS:  Salamander 2   Konami   arcade   1990s games   Video Game Music  
Audio 1
Notes

Oct 18,
2014
Posted 3 days ago

And now, some music from Salamander 2. This is the second stage of the game, the first of two vertical stages. Although the stage musics in Salamander 2 were slightly longer loops than those of Salamander, they still maintained the bright, chirpy feel and crisp instrumentation of the originals (whereas Gradius, a game with a more mechanical motif to start with, was glad to have a much more pronounced synth sound.) This pieces is appropriately light, cheerful and filled with wonder, since it’s likely the last stage in the game where you will be doing anything other than frantically gripping the joystick and pounding buttons.

  LIKE
  -   REBLOG

  TAGS:  Salamander 2   Konami   arcade   1990s games   Video Game Music  
Video 8
Notes

Oct 18,
2014
Posted 3 days ago

Over the course of three decades in a hobby, you get a lot of opportunity for disappointments. The premature death of a loved console; finding out that a series has been permanently canceled with no more sequels; and, of course, games that didn’t live up to expectations. Games like Salamander 2. I remember reading about this fondly during 1996 and seeing pictures in magazines. A sequel to Salamander, one of my favorite games ever? It had been 10 years since the original game and I never would have expected this. I imported the soundtrack right away and found it completely lived up to my expectations—fresh, energetic melodies that combined the feel of old-school Konami with modern 90s synthesis and flair. And the game looked great, too. I had to play it.

Unfortunately, it was unlikely to ever show up in any arcade I would visit, but when I heard about a Sega Saturn port, as part of Salamander Deluxe Pack Plus, I knew what I had to do. I ordered it—at an exorbitant amount of something like $50 (about $75 today) from Japan, and was able to play it with the help of my Saturn’s GameShark. I excitedly popped the disc in. I played the arcade Salamander and Life Force for old times’ sake, got my butt handed to me and loved every minute of it. Then it was time to head on to the main event Salamander 2.

And oh, the disappointment. Salamander 2 was nothing like what I expected. It had the looks and sounds of a modern Salamander, but it didn’t feel like Salamander. In truth, Salamander 2 seems more like Konami testing the waters of Bullet Hell than a traditional Gradius or Salamander game. Despite callbacks to the original game like the brain boss Golem, or the four-armed Tetran, the gameplay is too fast and far too unforgiving. Games in this series were intended as quarter munchers, but this was just egregious. There is at times so much to keep track of on the screen from so many different angles that I couldn’t find any fun in the game beyond the first stage or two. The final stage, if you make it that far, actually has segments like closing doorways that are designed to almost definitely kill you unless you have played enough to memorize them. The abundance of power-ups in the game betrays the developers’ expectations that you will die frequently and need to get back on your feet. To make matters worse, the developers ditched the pod-based power up system the series is known for and went for Life Force’s “pre-determined” power up types dropped by enemies. Your weapons have two levels of firepower—but the second is only temporary, lasting less than a minute and requiring you to pick up another power up to keep it going. You can fire your options as a sort of “super blast”, weakening them in the process, but it’s a dangerous prospect in tough stages.

Are there good points to the game? Absolutely. As mentioned earlier, it looks and sounds great (although the further along you go, the more generically outer space the levels become), and will provide a whopping challenge for anyone who thinks the more traditional Gradius family games are too tame. Beating the first loop of the game will send you through a second, even harder, completely ridiculous loop, the only real benefit of which is some changed music (including updated mixes of the original Salamander themes.) If all this sounds like your thing, then I invite you to take the plunge. For me, I’ll continue to listen to the soundtrack and let Salamander Deluxe Pack Plus sit on the shelf until times when I feel my self-confidence needs to take a beating.

  LIKE
  -   REBLOG

  TAGS:  Salamander 2   Konami   arcade   1990s games  
Text 60
Notes

Oct 17,
2014
Posted 4 days ago
Why should I care what happens to Anita Sarkeesian? She’s just a fake internet celebrity. Don’t you think it’s more important that we concentrate more on the people closer to us, than focus on internet non-issues?

This is why I try to spend less time online. Because there’s so much nonsense to get caught up in. I don’t even care about her views on games. If she was shot tomorrow, I might feel a little sad, but it wouldn’t ruin my day. I just don’t know her.

Thank you for replying to this, it does give me ample opportunity and cause to clarify. Anita Sarkeesian is not the issue here—she’s a symptom of the problem, the disease that is a part of far too many cultures, definitely including video gaming. Sarkeesian is one person. Whether you classify her as a “fake internet celebrity,” the fact remains that for speaking out about the (sometimes deplorable) treatment of female characters in gaming, she’s received threats of physical violence and death—threats that have extended even to people who just associate with her.

But you know, Anita is just a commenter. That sort of thing doesn’t happen to women who are actually, you know, part of the video game industry, right? I wish that was the case. Take, for instance, Jenn Frank, a games Journalist who has written for numerous publications and even did voices in games like Super Hexagon. She quit the games industry over harrassment she received, including doxxing (publishing personal information about someone online in order to make harassment even easier and more dangerous.) Want closer to the core of games? Jennifer Hepler, a writer at Bioware, received not only a slew of insults, such as those about her weight (calling her “Hamburger Hepler”) but also death threats which were extended to her family, including children. Who threatens to kill a child over something like this?  Or Zoe Quinn. Last December, long before the debunked accusations that went on during GamerGate, she submitted Depression Quest on Steam and received her fair share of the female hatred pie, right down to sexually harrassing phone calls at her house. You can find stories like these all over the internet.

If you’d rather focus on people close to you than worry about these others, that’s fine by me, I even understand and respect that. What are total strangers compared to close friends and family? But my entire point is that this behavior is potentially everywhere that gaming (and other activities) is. If people see it happen and you can’t, or won’t lift a digital finger to help squash it, all we have to look forward to is a future with less women who are willing to make video games. And if you think that women haven’t ever been behind games that are worth playing, or that it wouldn’t be a loss if they all up and left, then you must not have ever played River Raid, or Centipede, or M.U.L.E., or King’s Quest, or, more recently, Portal.

LIKE
  -   REBLOG

TAGS: mbchips  
Video 14
Notes

Oct 16,
2014
Posted 5 days ago

Characters from Quiz Nanairo Dreams, released by Capcom in 1996. This is one of the first Japanese quiz arcade games I ever tried, many years ago when arcade emulation was still in its early days, and I’m no more fluent in Japanese now than I was then. The best I can tell is that it’s part quiz game, part dating simulator. As a young man, you’ll answer questions as you move through a game board, occasionally interacting with one of seven women. How you respond to various situations will determine your respective relationship with each and who you could ultimately end up with. There’s no nudity of any kind involved, which is a thankful contrast to many other Japanese arcade games with elements of “romance.”

This is all brought on by a fairy that crashes into your window one night during a spree of shooting stars; she not only tells you how each of these girls has a fallen rainbow crystal fragment inside of her, but to beware of the forces of evil working against you. So, it’s kind of like part of the first season of Sailor Moon, except retrieving the crystal fragments is more about being able to identify the Japanese prime minister in 1980 and less about painfully extracting them by force with evil magic.

While the game has a very small following, it’s mostly been forgotten about, with the lone exception of the character Saki—pictured here in front of the ferris wheel—who, in her alternate persona as a member of a space defense force, appears in both Marvel vs. Capcom (you can see her in one of the wallpapers I made for the game here), Tatsunoko vs. Capcom—the only series that allows you to punch Street Fighter characters in the face with Gatchaman heroes—and SNK vs. Capcom Card Fighters Clash.

As a total sidenote, according to various sources, the game was sponsored by candy companies and, in the arcade release the characters are actually named after these candies, though I saw no mention of such candies while actually playing. Thanks to a few of my followers for pointing this out.

  LIKE
  -   REBLOG

  TAGS:  Quiz Nanairo Dreams   Capcom   arcade   1990s games   Art in Video Games  
Text 58
Notes

Oct 15,
2014
Posted 6 days ago

When Enough is Too Much.

If you’ve folllowed gaming news or possibly even some other news in the past day or so, you might have heard how Anita Sarkeesian was forced to cancel an appearance at Utah State University after threats of a massacre were made if she carried out her talk. Utah’s gun laws wouldn’t permit police to search or restrict properly permitted firearms at the event, and school shootings motivated by anti-feminism are a legitimate possibility, so Anita did the smart thing—the responsible thing—and canceled her appearance.

But this isn’t a win for anybody. The person who made these threats didn’t accomplish anything but further the impression that an ever-greater portion of gamers suffer from a range of psychological problems, from social maladjustment to psychopathic urges. Whoever it was, they thought it would be funny, or cool, or heroic to put a stop to all this feminine nonsense. But they were wrong. There’s nothing “funny” about shooting someone, it isn’t “cool” to try and keep someone from speaking their mind, and there’s no heroism in threatening to murder a bunch of peaceful unarmed people.

If you agree with me, then you share the same responsibility I do: to stand up against this kind of sick, twisted, bullshit behavior. You don’t have to take to the streets waving a sign to make a difference. When you see a threatening, harassing, misogynist or otherwise just fucked up tweet, respond and tell them the truth: that shit ain’t cool. Got friends on Facebook who think its fun to call women cunts and bitches, joke about raping or even killing them? Make those ex-friends. Use those downvotes on Reddit. Let a socially primitive Tumblr user know what you think. We live in a socially empowered world. The people who don’t feel this kind of behavior is okay ought to be able to use it as well.

This is a poison in our culture and it needs to be stamped out, or whatever the appropriate analogy happens to be. It won’t be fixed overnight, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t start now. I don’t generally use this space as a soapbox, but there are times when I have to speak up on things. This is one of them, because it’s behavior we tolerate from fellow “gamers” which shouldn’t be tolerated from anybody. Threats of rape and violence—whether intended to be carried out or not—aren’t acceptable, no matter what the reason and especially not because someone has the audiacity to speak about something you like. If you disagree, then you’re just flat wrong, and if you disagree strongly enough that it affects your view of me, then find the unfollow button.

LIKE
  -   REBLOG

Video 11
Notes

Oct 15,
2014
Posted 6 days ago

Scenes from the opening of Puyo Puyo Sun, Compile’s 1996 entry in their flagship puzzle series. The gameplay here is what you would expect from Puyo Puyo, with the addition of new sun puyos that drop even more debris on an opponent when you use them to clear sections of your board.

The storyline involves Satan pulling the Sun closer to the earth in order to raise temperatures and turn a remote island into some sort of vacation resort. Whether or not shredding on the ukelele is a requirement for carrying out this feat or if he does that just for fun. As you might expect, different characters react to this in different ways, but it seems everyone wants to know what’s up, and competing in dropping-puzzle contests is the only way to find out. I did not take this game to its conclusion, so I don’t know exactly how things resolve in the end.

As usual, I’m not a huge fan of the Puyo Puyo gameplay (which is well constructed but simply not my cup of tea), but I enjoy Compile’s character designs and art style.

  LIKE
  -   REBLOG

  TAGS:  Puyo Puyo Sun   Compile   arcade   1990s games   Art in Video Games  
Video 125
Notes

Oct 13,
2014
Posted 1 week ago

Bonus: Backgrounds (with some foreground elements included) from Osman. These show off some of the creative and immersive environments you get to play in without the characters and interface cluttering it up in the screenshots from the general overview.

  LIKE
  -   REBLOG

  TAGS:  Osman   Mitchell   arcade   1990s games   Art in Video Games  
Video 40
Notes

Oct 13,
2014
Posted 1 week ago

Imagine going on that old TV show Password—the one where you have to describe something without actually saying what the thing you’re describing is—and the password was “Strider Hiryu.” You would mention the nifty graphics, cool character and world designs, fluid animation, wall-scaling acrobatics, tight and challenging gameplay, and so on. Now stop imagining, because the results of such an experiment are before us: Mitchell’s Osman (known in Japan as Cannon Dancer), a 1996 action platforming beat-em-up that is the closest thing to the original Strider anyone has ever created. And that’s because many of the original staff from Strider (including the game’s director) worked on Osman and it was intended as an “unofficial sequel” to that game. In this respect, it is an uncontested success.

These two games are so similar, in fact, that it’s probably easier to just talk about the differences between them. Strider’s milieu was a Cold War-era Soviet-themed Kazakhstan, while Osman takes place in various Arabian locales. Both games feature futuristic, bright and colorful backgrounds and environments indicative of what the “future” held 20 or 30 years ago. Whereas Strider’s namesake character wields a specialized sword known as a cypher, Osman—the eponymous hero here—fights with his bare hands. More often, he also uses his feet, unleashing torrential barrages of martial arts on enemies (who are still severed into slightly bloody halves a great deal of the time.)

The story of Osman is, if anything, harder to follow than Strider’s. Despite there being more cutscenes and dialogue to help you along, you’ll probably find yourself quite lost. According to Wikipedia, this is because the plot “supposedly mocks director Kouichi Yotsui’s experience at Capcom after Strider.” All I know is that as a character I was asked to save the world from Abdullah the Slaver. A couple stages later, the person who asked me to stop Abdullah told me to beware an uprising due to Abdullah’s increasing power. Seconds later that same person shot me and told everyone else to leave me in the desert to die. What I’m getting at here is, try to ignore the story as you play. It might also be a good idea not to focus on the music which, in sharp contrast to Strider’s unique and stylistic sounds, often comes off as drab and repetitive; it’s definitely a low point considering everything else the game has going for it.

Osman is a great game. It has detailed graphics that take the stylized feel of Strider from its original mind-blowing incarnation in 1989 to the modern times of 1996. The gameplay is as sharp as ever, and actually harder this time around, with some obstacle-laden zones that I never did manage to pass without taking hits, and boss fights that require intense strategy and reflexes. The quality of the game is inherent from the first time you see an auto-playing demo. In the sea of fighting games, polygonal racers and puzzle titles that the mid-90s had become, Osman is a refreshing breeze that deserves to be inhaled slowly and savored.

  LIKE
  -   REBLOG

  TAGS:  Osman   Mitchell   arcade   1990s games