Text 1
Notes

Apr 15,
2014
Posted 8 hours ago
How do you actually indicate the changes? Click on the screen?

That’s it exactly. You use the joystick to move a cursor around the screen until you locate something on your side which doesn’t match the opposite side (in a two-player game, each player controls and clicks on their own respective side) and then press the button to identify the error, such as in the screen excerpt below where the player on the left has identified that the hilt of the sword does not match between the two pictures. Neither player has yet identified that the “bun” in the female’s hair does not match.

image

Less obvious differences are worth more points, based on size, shape and color. So, the hilt difference above is worth 50 while the hair might only be 15. The colored bars on each player’s side steadily count down and making a wrong “guess” drains it even further, so you can’t spam guesses and you have to be extra careful when the object you’re identifying moves, or during stages where the screen scrolls.

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TAGS: bailesu   Magical Error wo Sagase  
Video 9
Notes

Apr 15,
2014
Posted 11 hours ago

Selected scenes from Magical Error wo Sagase (translated as “Find the Magical Error”), a 1994 game about spotting mistakes between two nearly identical pictures, and released by Technosoft of all companies. There are something like half a dozen art styles represented in the game and while they aren’t all to my liking, some of them are quite lovely.

Obviously, these images, without their counterparts, don’t tell you whether or not your powers of perception are up to the task, but rest assured, they are not. The early stages start out easy, with the requirement to locate three obvious changes between pictures. By the end of the game, you’ll be tasked with finding up to five obscure alterations in a very short time period—I actually had to put some of them in Photoshop and contrast them against each other in order to advance. If you want an entirely different kind of challenge, here’s your fix.

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  TAGS:  Magical Error wo Sagase   Technosoft   arcade   1990s games   art in video games  
Video 2
Notes

Apr 14,
2014
Posted 1 day ago

Gameplay snippets from Konami’s 1988 arcade wrestling game, The Main Event. I’m not showcasing this because it’s a great game. It’s not a great game at all. The controls, combat and grappling results are haphazard at best, and the method of pinning an opponent where you have to jam on the buttons in order to secure the pin seems out of place when you’ve pounded them to within an inch of unconsciousness. In “real” wrestling, you pin someone just by laying on them. Sometimes just by touching them with one finger.

The game does have some good points, though. The American version allows you to make a tag team from any of eight different wrestlers, and the game features a nice variety of moves, especially for the time period. You can even fight dirty, like choking, biting or hitting opponents with a steel chair. It’s possible to get all four characters in the ring at once for brawling action, just like in the “real thing.” The game employs a “constaint drain” energy system like Gauntlet or Crime Fighters, which is a bit of a drag, but there otherwise is no time limit on matches, which is nice, especially if four players are going at it with each other.

The Main Event is a jobber up next to others like my favorite, Mat Mania, because the controls make playing against the computer less fun than actually watching the attract mode demo, but it still reminds me of the glory days of cheesy 80s wrestling, which is a huge win regardless of its other shortcomings.

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  TAGS:  The Main Event   Konami   arcade   1980s games  
Text 2
Notes

Apr 13,
2014
Posted 2 days ago

The Week-at-a-Glance

As visitor week two approaches its end, it’s time for a rundown of the games I featured this week—all from the 1980s:

Gladiator (Taito, April 7)
Moon Patrol (Irem, April 8)
Gun.Smoke (Capcom, April 9)
Qix (Taito, April 11)
Green Beret (Konami, April 12)
Journey (Bally Midway, April 13)
City Connection (Jaleco, April 13)

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TAGS: Byte Sized Week at a Glance  
Video 5
Notes

Apr 13,
2014
Posted 2 days ago

Gameplay snippets from City Connection, Jaleco’s 1985 hit. I’ve mentioned this game before and even released a gameplay wallpaper for it. In the convenience store that was located on my route to school in the eighties, this game was next to Gyruss, and when I wasn’t playing that game, I would take a crack at this one. You drive a car pretty much across the entire world, painting the roads that you travel on while dodging other cars (or shooting them with oil barrels and then spinning them off the road) and avoiding stationary obstacles like a rather out-of-place cat with a checkered flag.

As a child, I was enthralled by the variety of locales you could travel to, each with not only their own distinctive background (some of which I could never identify, not even today without the help of the internet) but also unique music, which was generally a variant on the main theme introduced in the first stage. As an adult, I can appreciate technologically how advanced the game was. To be clear, this game isn’t in the same league as Sega’s Space Harrier which came out the same year, but it’s still a cut above a lot of other hits from 1985. City Connection would mark the last time Jaleco was a major contender in the arcades, though, as they would thereafter be left behind by the emergence of Sega, Konami, Capcom, Taito and Namco as the arcade industry’s titans.

As a side note, this game made me want to buy a car just the one in it when I was a kid. Not even to drive it, just to have it. Even today, that car looks awesome. It’s a stylized early 80s Honda City, which is going to be a little tricky to come by. However, there are ultra-small Zip Car models out there that look remarkably like this. Repaint one all in red and you’re ready to cover the city.

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  TAGS:  City Connection   Jaleco   arcade   1990s games  
Video 4
Notes

Apr 13,
2014
Posted 2 days ago

The faces of Journey. I was going to do some game snippets from this 1983 Bally Midway title, then decided instead to dive into the game’s ROM, where the digitized faces of the band’s five members are stored. In the game, these faces are attached to cartoonish, far-too-small bodies which were clearly illustrated by game developers, but the images here represent possibly the earliest video game to use photo digitizing technology, more than thirty years ago. According to the internet, these were based on photographs taken while the band was on tour, which seems plausible. The photos would then be scanned and trimmed into a sprite-based format.

Not impressed? I can’t blame you. But consider that each of these images is only 32x32 in size (just over a thousand pixels) and contains a mere four shades of gray. Your Tumblr avatar is four times larger, and has unlimited colors. With that in mind, these are quite good representations of the band members which can easily be recognized—if you actually knew any of the band members other than Steve Perry, which I don’t.

The game’s memory also includes six non-band pictures (shown here) that don’t appear at any point while playing the game itself—hidden photographs of, I presume, the game’s designers. Anyone out there, 31 years later, looking to credit themselves with their part in the game?

Surprisingly, this game was not only not the first video game based on a band, it wasn’t even the first video game based on Journey. Before this was Journey Escape, an Atari 2600 title which is one of those games that, in retrospect, explains the video game crash of 1983 quite easily. Both games have poor gameplay and terrible controls, and both of them pit you against your fans (the Atari version also includes promoters and photographers as enemies)—a stunning commentary on the mindset of rock megastardom, perhaps? While neither of these are worth any more than a novelty laugh, at least the arcade game has some interesting technology behind it.

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  TAGS:  Journey   Bally Midway   arcade   1980s games  
Video 8
Notes

Apr 12,
2014
Posted 3 days ago

Gameplay snippets from Green Beret, more commonly known in the states as Rush’n Attack. Much like Raid Over Moscow and Balance of Power, this was an excellent game that was a product of its time: the Cold War, which was beginning to wind down in 1985 when this game was released but still had a grip on imaginations everywhere. The game never explicitly says that you’re facing off against Russians (virtually synonymous with the Soviet Union in media of the 80s), but the cold, Siberian-style climate, heavy-coated soldiers and military atmosphere felt like half the “Russkie” stereotypes out there all rolled into one game—not to mention the pun in the American release’s name (“Russian Attack” - get it?) All that’s missing is a Hammer & Sickle proudly displayed somewhere on the many hangars and installations you pass.

This one of the best pure action “lone wolf soldier” games you’ll find this side of Capcom’s Commando, which came out in the same year. Instead of an overhead shooter like that game, here you’re in a side-scrolling world, armed only with a knife and tasked with rescuing four “captives” (“prisoners of war” in the Rush’n Attack version.) You can occasionally kill elite solders to pick up a limited supply of special weapons (flame thrower, rocket launcher or grenades) but otherwise it’s just you, your knife, and steel nerves. You’re up against everything the Russians other guys have to offer: standard grunts, martial artists, riflemen, paratroopers, attack dogs, and even crazy enemies like pyro soldiers and helicopter pilots. The precision needed for controls and number of enemies makes this an ultra-tough game to get through, especially since, just like real life, there are no continues. Rambo made it look so easy. Why they send one man to fight an army capable of capturing four men, I can’t say, but if you can rescue the prisoners, I salute you.

Though the soundtrack is little more than some military cadence drum beats, the graphics were a revolutionary advancement for Konami. The characters may have a little extra caffeinated jitter in their step, but they’re animated quite well and manage to convey in a very small size exactly what they are. You quickly learn to identify enemies by their distinctive attire and color patterns. This game is notable for pioneering the “faceless” character design motif that Konami would go on to use, with slight modifications, in a large number of its games, such as Iron Horse, Double Dribble, and Jail Break the following year. It also became a staple of games they developed on the NES, including the Contra, Castlevania and Metal Gear series. It’s a distinctive look that would last for years, and started here.

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  TAGS:  Green Beret   Rush'n Attack   Konami   arcade   1980s games  
Video 6
Notes

Apr 11,
2014
Posted 4 days ago

Gameplay snippets from Qix (pronounced as “kicks”), released by Taito in 1981. It really isn’t much to look at nowadays. The concept of even color video games was only a couple of years old at this point, and Qix did very little to advance technology apart from its scintillating, always-moving lines which were among the first dynamic, non-sprite based graphics in a game.

What Qix brought, however, was a new approach to gameplay. This was only 1981, so there was plenty of room for innovation and yet most games still revolved around either maze chases, shoot-em-ups, or some combination of both. Qix tossed that to the curb and provided a singular, unique objective: fill in boxes.on the screen by drawing lines with a digital, joystick-controlled stylus, while avoiding the eponymous Qix, as well as sparx, small sparkling bits of energy trailing along the lines being drawn. Completing a certain portion of the screen (as determined by the arcade operator) advances you to the next, more difficult, level.

If the Qix touches your stylus or any unfinished line you’re drawing—as seen in the first and second pictures here—then you lose a life. The Qix move randomly and, in later stages get faster and split into multiples. The unpredictable nature of the Qix makes this an extremely challenging game and one where having the highest score has little meaning. According to the internet, the game never really thrived in tournament atmospheres, and I believe the inconsistent nature of the game is the reason why. A skilled player can survive longer than lesser mortals, but amongst top players, an unlucky swerve by the dreaded rainbow lines can provide an unfair advantage to your opponent. Careful planning is important in Qix, which makes it a great gaming experience, but unfortunately even the most thought-out attack can’t defeat the fickle nature of the game.

Taito ported the game to a number of systems and even had some offshoots and sequels, but the series has mostly languished. The most popular games to take after Qix was Kaneko’s Gals Panic series, which uses a similar box-drawing mechanic (with different obstacles), the objective of which is to uncover pictures of scantily-clad anime style women.

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  TAGS:  Qix   Taito   arcade   1980s games  
Answer 2
Notes

Apr 10,
2014
Posted 5 days ago
Hello friend, first my congratulations for the beautiful work, really enjoyed! I would like to make a special request, make this work with my favorite game called: Green Beret, can be?
Anonymous asked

You’ve got it! Green Beret (known more commonly in the states as Rush’n Attack) is a great slice of 80s nostalgia for me. Look for a little something on this game in the next day or two.

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  TAGS:  Anonymous  
Video 11
Notes

Apr 09,
2014
Posted 6 days ago

Gameplay snippets from the arcade version of Capcom’s Gun.Smoke, circa 1985.This was a somewhat unusual shoot-em-up which featured not some sort of vehicle but instead a lawman out to take down criminals of the wild west, particularly ten bosses with special bounties and their own wanted posters. Your gunman, Billy Bob, has precious few power-ups available—a single increase in movement speed, bullet speed and shot range. You can also grab a horse which provides armor against three hits.

The human enemies and their rather organic emergence and movement patterns make this different from most shoot-em-ups. Enemies don’t generally come out in rank and file lines,instead pouring into the screen from all sides and often circling around your character instead of following a fixed path. Mind you, plenty of enemies step onto the screen, do their best to take you out and then run back the way they came, as well. The most common grunts had a special predilection for circling around behind you and shooting you in the back if you didn’t take them out before it got to that point. Three buttons were responsible for firing in as many different directions—off to the left, dead center, and off to the right. On the whole, this becomes quite a difficult game in the later stages. There are ten stages, which makes this a surpringly lengthy game, but as you can see in these pictures, there are several elements to the environments that get recycled a bit.

An NES version was released, which I’ll cover independently one day when I move on to home console games. Suffice to say, although it had the same general gameplay, there were lots of changes, fewer stages, completely different music, and the ability to buy different weapons, ammo and the horse power-up with your score points. You also had to find or buy a wanted poster in each stage before fighting the boss; the game would loop endlessly through the stage map until you did so. Despite that restriction, it was a much easier game (especially since the NES couldn’t throw as many simultaneous enemies at you as the arcade.)

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  TAGS:  Gun.Smoke   Capcom   arcade   1980s games  
Video 9
Notes

Apr 08,
2014
Posted 1 week ago

Gameplay snippets from Irem’s Moon Patrol, coming at you straight out of 1982. This game may not look like much, with its limited color palette and Hanna Barbera-esque buggy car, but it’s got one thing going for it in the history books: Moon Patrol was the first game to utilize parallax scrolling.

What is this parallax scrolling that I’ve mentioned before? Quite simply, it’s using more than one layer of background to simulate more realistic movement. Have you ever looked at the horizon on your right or left while riding in a car and noticed that the trees right next to you zoom by while stuff in the distance moves slowly? The folks at Irem did. So, instead of scrolling just one tilemap (which was itself a somewhat recent development in games), they developed hardware that scolled three tilemaps, providing an impressive display of motion. The ground beneath your buggy moved by rapidly; the green mountains and space cities behind you a little more slowly; and the mountains far in the distance crawled in comparison. Even in 1982, Irem was pioneering graphical excellence.

The resulting effect was novel enough to make up for the fact that Moon Patrol is a pretty repetitive game with some extreme difficulty spikes. All you have to do in this game is jump over obstacles, steer left and right to avoid having stuff dropped on you, and shoot everything you can. It never gets any more complicated than that, although it gets quite difficult. Passing through twenty-six mini zones sends you into a harder loop and awards you with—gasp—a red buggy to play with. The gameplay of Moon Patrol won’t win any awards, but we owe its technology a debt of gratitude.

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  TAGS:  Moon Patrol   Irem   arcade   1980s games  
Video 4
Notes

Apr 07,
2014
Posted 1 week ago

Gameplay snippets from Taito’s Gladiator, a less-known title from 1986. Whether or not you are an actual gladiator in this game is unclear. The game is divided roughly equally between segments of walking through sections of a castle blocking and avoiding hazards (including bats, boomerangs, spears and even giant rolling weights) and facing enemies in one-on-one combat, the latter of which is presumably the source of the Gladiator name.

This game was truly unusual. Rather than provide your character with a traditional measurement of life, as was the norm for any sort of adventuring or combat game where one hit didn’t mean instant death, you were instead covered with a variety of armor pieces, as were your opponents. Any successful hit which got past the shield would knock off the appropriate piece of armor, and a second hit to the same location meant death. The sprite details were a little below average for the time, and the characters often animated like epileptic meth junkies, but that’s because they were composed of almost a dozen sprites each, all articulated—it was the only way for the game to display the changes in armor that would occur as you incurred blows to varying spots.

This game is extremely tough and requires supreme precision just to make it through the castle halls, let alone successfully combine blocking enemy shots with your shield (controlled with up-down on the joystick) while frantically trying to land the killing blow (accomplished with three buttons for high, medium and low attacks.)

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  TAGS:  Gladiator   Taito   arcade   1990s games  
Text 1
Notes

Apr 06,
2014
Posted 1 week ago

The Week-at-a-Glance

Things were a little on the slow side this week due to guests, a condition which will continue through next week as well. Look forward to more “snippet” posts as I don’t have the time to do full playthroughs right now. Also, my workplace has graduated from blocking the “messages” portion of Tumblr to blocking the site entirely, which doesn’t help matters since I can’t write up anything on lunch or break. Anyhow, here are the games covered this week, in case you missed them.

Karnov’s Revenge, “quick post” (Data East, March 31)
Karnov’s Revenge, full write-up (Data East, April 2)
The King of Fighters ‘94 (SNK, April 4)
The King of Fighters ‘94, Bonus Post (SNK, April 4)
Mr. Do! (Universal, April 5)
Marble Madness (Atari, April 6)

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TAGS: Byte Sized Week at a Glance  
Video 12
Notes

Apr 06,
2014
Posted 1 week ago

Gameplay snippets from Marble Madness, released by Atari in 1984. Although distressingly short (the game can be be beaten in under 10 minutes, and indeed, must be beaten in under 10 minutes because of the timer for each stage) it’s still a game that provided, at the time, a high-tech and unique approach to gameplay, with 3D-styled levels stored as 2D bitmaps in the console’s memory and interpreted as having differing amounts of slope and acceleration through programming.

Designed by Mark Cerny—who would many years later go on to contribute heavily to powerhouse Sony franchises like Crash Bandicoot, Spyro the Dragon, Ratchet and Clank, and Jak and Daxter, the gameplay is deceptively simple. Your only goal is to get your marble from the top of the course to the bottom in the time limit. Mind you, that gets a lot more difficult when you factor in enemies like sinister black marbles, hungry worms and acid puddles as well as a plethora of obstacles on the courses themselves. The arcade used a trackball for movement; under emulation, analog gamepads work well. Both gameplay methods, however, are quite difficult to conquer.

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  TAGS:  Marble Madness   Atari   arcade   1980s games  
Photo 3
Notes

Apr 05,
2014
Posted 1 week ago

For those nights when you’re with folks for whom Cards Against Humanity is not appropriate—say, for example, your mother-in-law, Dominion is a great alternative.

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 TAGS:  Dominion