Friday, 31 May 2013

Doujin Shmups #8

Ray-Hound (2007)
By: Hikware Software Genre: Shooting Players: 1 Difficulty: Easy-Medium
Featured Version: PC First Day Score: 160,800
Also Available For: Nothing

As usual, the hi-res graphics don't like being resized...
Since beginning coverage of the immense ocean of fan-made games here at Red Parsley I've discovered some impressive but somewhat generic titles, but also a few creative, slightly more unusual efforts. The oddly-named Ray-Hound is definitely one that falls into the latter category. While technically a shmup, it also contains strategic and puzzley elements, and even features mandatory mouse controls! There are no intros or options or anything like that though - when you start the game you'll find yourself in control of a small rocket which starts the game in the middle of a circular 'arena' featuring a hexagonal honeycomb pattern and measuring approximately three screens in diameter. Somewhere within this arena are several gun turrets which automatically track your ship and fire lasers at it in a repeating pattern. The object on each of the many stages is simply to destroy all the gun turrets within the time limit. The only problem is, your ship has no weapons!

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Lynx Round-Up #1

Not long ago I spent a good while playing many arcade conversions on Atari's bulky handheld which culminated in a list of what I felt were the best ones - the Top Five Lynx Arcade Conversions. However, if there's any system that's famous for how much of its back-catalogue is made up of games of this type it's the Lynx, and, as I learned, there are more than just five good ones! To that end, here's a random selection of five more including, I hope, some corkers:

APB (1990)

This overhead cops 'n' robbers game was was an eye-catching and intriguing title in its day which saw you, as 'Officer Bob', charged with taking down a set quota of wrongdoers per stage. There were a few conversions (including an excellent Speccy effort) but, like most Atari coin-ops of the day it also saw a release on the Lynx where, to my surprise, its vertical view is not used. This means the action is confined to barely two thirds of a horizontally-viewed game area and accordingly things are quite a bit slower than the nippy arcade game and feature less-complex stages as well, but that doesn't mean it's any easier! Indeed, you're not playing a rogue cop so anything you do remotely wrong earns you a 'demerit', and enough of these can swiftly result in you being fired and therefore game over. APB is tough and can often be frustrating, but it's a decent conversion all things considered, and also proves to be a fairly original and rather addictive overhead racer... 7/10

Sunday, 26 May 2013

Overhead Racers #14

Championship Sprint (1986)
By: Atari Genre: Overhead Racing Players: 1-2
Difficulty: Medium Featured Version: Arcade
Also Available For: Commodore 64, Amstrad CPC, ZX Spectrum
Download For: PlayStation Network

'Super' and 'Championship' - both great title screens...
It was a long time ago now but I'm quite confident the first time I ever played an example of an overhead racing game was when I received a a shiny cassette copy of Super Sprint for my Speccy sometime back in the late 80's. It ruled and it wasn't long before I sought out - and found, surprisingly - the mighty arcade machine from which it was derived. This ruled even more as it came equipped with three whirly steering wheels with which three players could wage an asphalt-based war. However, later the very same year that Atari released this instant-classic, they also released another game called Championship Sprint which was far less well-known. It even came bundled with my Speccy version of Super Sprint but I don't remember ever getting around to playing it. As with so many other such related matters though, it's lingered somewhere in my mind until today when this very blog gives me the chance to finally see just how different it is from its big brother.

Friday, 24 May 2013

3DO Games #5

Return Fire (1994)
By: Silent Software Genre: Strategy / Shooting Players: 1-2 Difficulty: Medium
Featured Version: 3DO
Also Available For: PlayStation, PC

The culmination of RF's dramatic title sequence...
As technically impressive as the 3DO was for its day, it's a sad fact that anyone who met the rather immense outlay required to own one had little in the way of high-quality games to play on it, and even less that actually made use of the new machine's impressive abilities. One game that appeared to do just that, however, was Return Fire, and it was an exclusive too! Well, until the 3DO started floundering at least, at which point it was also released on the PS1 and PC, but still - for a while, 3DO owners had something to show off, and it was a game worthy of envy. It's a simple military-based strategic frolic at heart which pits two forces against one another - green and brown. Player one controls the latter while a second player or the console itself controls the former, and the object is simply to seize your opponent's flag and return it to your base. As you might expect, however, it's not quite that simple.

Monday, 20 May 2013

Adult Games #3

Gals Panic! (1990)
By: Kaneko Genre: Puzzle Players: 1-2 Difficulty: Medium
Featured Version: Arcade First Day Score: 38,000 (one credit)
Also Available For: Nothing

The more I look into these so-called 'adult games', the more I discover the same old formula. Take a liked, well-known, simple title, copy it, and add some naked (or at least scantily-clad) girlies while doing so. It's not a very complicated process and neither are the games that generally result from such unions. Arriving courtesy of the reasonably-prolific Japanese arcade outfit, Kaneko, this effort graced a small number of the world's arcades at the start of the 90's and followed a similar trend. The game on which it's based is Taito's classic 'space-filling' puzzler, Qix, and that means that, unless executed with exceptional incompetence, it should at least be a pretty darn addictive game!

Friday, 17 May 2013

Top Five Master System Arcade Conversions

Some of the harsher critics of Sega's charming Master System might suggest that one of the few reasons to own one would be for the generally splendid quality of its arcade conversions. Many of these were conversions of Sega's own arcade games of course but, strangely, it wasn't the only place to find most of these. Games such as OutRun, Space Harrier, After Burner, Shinobi, etc, could be found on the NES, PC Engine, and other rival systems which meant the MS didn't always host the finest home versions of their games. It did still receive some spiffing conversions though, and here are five of the best:

Games-Related Top Fives Disclaimer: I've traditionally stuck to the games I know and love so far, and these game-related top fives reflect that. One of the purposes of this blog is diversify my gaming experiences, to play games I haven't played before, so I will do new game-related top fives in a few years to see how different they are!

5. R-Type (1988)

Considering its popularity, I've always found it amazing that R-Type was never converted to more systems, especially certain consoles. The PC Engine version is of course amazing (although split over two HuCards) but, unless you were lucky enough to own NEC's box of tricks, this MS version has long been widely regarded as the next best thing, and such a reputation is more than deserved. It suffers from the usual sprite-flicker, some sprites are a bit smaller, and the scenery and background graphics disappear to accommodate the large bosses, but apart from these points the MS has produced a splendid version of Irem's classic. The stages are well reproduced (and there's even a secret one!), the music is great, and the most difficult part of the arcade version to duplicate - the fancy graphics and large bosses - are also mighty impressive. A sterling effort then, and one of the best shmups on the MS.

Monday, 13 May 2013

Shinobi Series - Part 5

Shadow Dancer (1990)
By: Sega Genre: Platform/Fighting Players: 1 Difficulty: Easy-Medium
Featured Version: Sega MegaDrive / Genesis First Day Score: 395,200
Also Available For: Nothing
Download For: Wii Virtual Console

It at least has a better title screen...
Sega's mighty MegaDrive was their most popular console and one of the reasons for that is the many ultra-spiffing arcade conversions it played host to. Among these must surely have been the second Shinobi game which had graced arcades of the world around the time the MD itself was being unleashed. Oddly, however, Sega instead opted to release a mostly-new game bearing the same name, but with the added subtitle of 'The Secret of Shinobi'. They seem to have had some trouble deciding whether to follow the same story or not though. The hero in the white pyjamas is either the legendary Joe Musashi in the UK version, or Hayate (Joe's son, as in the arcade game) in the Japanese version, both of which grace my collection. The objective in both versions is more akin to the original Shinobi than its sequel though, which sees you rescuing various hostages taken by evil terrorist organisation, Union Lizard, who have occupied New York City and run amok.

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Arcade Shmups #17

Raiden (1990)
By: Seibu Kaihatsu Genre: Shooting Players: 1 Difficulty: Hard
Featured Version: Arcade First Day Score: 96,400 (one credit)
Also Available For: PlayStation, PC Engine, FM Towns Marty, Lynx, Jaguar, Falcon, PC

For the longest time now I've been meaning to give the much-revered Raiden a thorough once over. I've played it a couple of times over the years and, while it never exactly blew me away, it did tickle me enough to leave this nagging desire to dissect it properly. Its name is arguably more famous than the game itself, which is understandable since, as well as giving rise to a long series, it also happens to mean 'Thunder and Lightning' in Japanese! A fearsome name like that certainly gives it a lot to live up to but you wouldn't know it from the story which is the usual nonsense: set in 2090, you (and a friend) are charged with seeing off some invading alien buffoons called the 'Cranassians'.