Thursday, June 16, 2011

Kamen Rider - Raid of the Demonic CactoGuron

Hey everybody it's Kamen Rider Thursday! Why did I ever pick Thursday to write about Kamen Riders anyways? Oh well. Today's episode marks the beginning of the second story arc of the 1970s series "Kamen Rider". This is a particularly historic episode because the character Takeshi Hongo, the original Kamen Rider, has been officially written out of the story so he can recoup from his real life motorcycle injuries. While he'll be missed we get a brand new Kamen Rider to take his place: Hayato Ichimonji! And as it turns out, this new guy is actually pretty cool! But how is the episode over all?  Let's find out.

New Rider in town:  Hayato Ichimonji
The episode starts off in Shocker's headquarters in Mexico. Compared to Shocker's branch in Japan, the Mexican branch is actually very successful in ruining the lives of many people. This is all thanks to their resident monster CactoGuron who is actually one of the more cooler monsters to appear in the series so far! Great leader is so impressed with CactoGuron that he assigns him to Shocker Japan to defeat the Kamen Rider that keeps ruining their plans. FBI agent Taki intercepts the news of CactoGuron and requests backup only for CactoGuron to kill Taki's partner and assume his identity! Taki is nearly killed by CactoGuron before Tachibana interferes in the fight, but there's only so much two normal people can do against a cyborg cactus monster. Luckily Kamen Rider appears out of nowhere and evacuates the two to safety.

CactoGuron is smarter than most cyborgs.
During the course of the story we are also introduced to 3 new girls: Mari, Yuri, and Michi. They're all meant to replace Ruriko who has left the show for reasons unknown, and while Yuri and Mari are pretty cute, that Michi is total dog. I almost thought she was a shocker cyborg when I first saw her. They all wish to join Tachibana's motorcycle club but ultimately have zero experience with such vehicles. Really, I thought this entire part was pretty random and unnecessary, but I guess a little eye candy isn't bad. Tachibana and FBI Agent Taki seek Shocker's headquarters and soon realize there are a bunch of cacti lying about, little do they know is that those cacti are explosive! Hayato Ichimonji makes a rather non-chalant appearance telling them not to get near and eventually reveals himself as the next Kamen Rider. CactoGuron and a bunch of shocker minions then make their attack and an all out brawl begins and suddenly ends with a massive cliffhanger!

This is a great way to start off the new season, it seems like the higher ups enjoyed the first season so much that they now have a higher budget to make more elaborate costumes and special effects! The new Kamen Rider's costume looks great, and is currently proving himself to be a great character in his own right. The tough guy persona works very well, making not only a hero of justice but a badass as well! If you wish to check out the series then head on over to KITsubs and check out the latest episode! Next week, I'll be talking about a different Kamen Rider show entirely, so be sure to look forward to that!  In the meantime, I hope you enjoy the new season 2 opening I uploaded for you!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Bionic Commando: Elite Forces - Forget how to jump! Swing into enemies with your mighty claw!

The gameboy color was my system of choice during my time spent abroad in Germany. That was a rather turbulent era of my life so the games I played during that time are the ones I have the fondest memories of. While this particular game might not be familiar to you, as Bionic Command Rearmed 2 has been released less than a year ago. This game had some impressive features as it pulled off things I didn't think were possible on the little handheld at all. The question remains though if this game is worth your time? Read on.

Bionic Commando:  Elite Forces was released in 1999 and surprisingly enough it was developed by Nintendo Software Technology aka the Nintendo's American development team, are you aware that they even had one?!  Well they do and it turns out that they're not half bad!  This game is part of the long running "Bionic Commando" franchise that actually belongs to Capcom.  It borrows elements from the NES title so it almost feels like a remake but is actually quite different from it's predecessors in levels later on.  The premise is also different, as it takes place in a land called Karinia that is under constant attack by the Avars lead by evil mastermind:  Arturus.  Bionic commando Super Joe is deep within enemy lines having found the top secret plans of the Avars but ends up being captured, so it's up to the elite forces (THAT'S YOU!) to rescue Super Joe and stop Arturus once and for all!

You choose from either a male or female bionic commando but they both play the same and the one you don't end up picking becomes a side character that gives tips to you while you're inside a communication tower.  As an action-adventure title, you should know that there isn't a jump button anywhere in this little game.  In order to get around you have to rely on your bionic claw to take you where you need to go by swinging from point A to point B.  Stages start off simple enough as you clear simple gaps, but soon you'll be swinging above spike pits and climbing on ceilings but the difficult scales nicely so things won't get too hard too quickly!  You're also armed with an assault rifle but as you clear stages you'll be finding new weapons and equipment to take into levels with you.  There's also mini-games you can play like a "sniper" mode where you pick off soldiers from a distance and it features some surprisingly detailed blood for a game that has an "E for Everyone" rating.  Another gameplay feature is the top-down mode where the game plays something like Commando or Ikari Warriors as it's just straight-up run-and-gun gameplay which is always pretty fun.

For an Gameboy color game, the sprites are surprisingly well animated, particularly talking about the running and swinging animations.  Portrait sprites are goofy looking, mainly for the male commando, so the overall art style isn't so great.  Music is upbeat but nothing really amazing, it's just enough to get you pumped to do some shooting.  Amusingly enough, they managed to fit in digitized voice acting in this game, you hear the words "Sniper" or "choose your weapon", it's all pretty sporadic though, and you can barely understand it if you're not listening closely but it's all still pretty impressive given it's technology though.

All-in-all, this game was actually really good and it stayed true to the roots of the original Bionic Commando for the NES.  Whether it's as good as the titles before it is up for some heated debate though.  Don't get me wrong this game did a lot of things right, but it's just missing that special charm that made Bionic Commando so cool.  Still, this is a great Gameboy color game in it's own right so check it out.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Great Giana Sisters - Stomp some owls! Shoot some lobsters!

If you call yourself a gamer, then you should know this one already. In fact, years back I remember there being a lot of hurt feelings and flaming going on in online forums over this game. But if people could look past what's immediately obvious to them and keep an open mind, then there really wouldn't be anything to get mad about. So what's the problem with this game that people have a hard time overlooking? Hit the jump to find out.

The Great Giana Sisters was released in 1987 for the Commodore 64 among many others later down the line and it was a game that was made as a substitute for those who can't afford a NES. Which game exactly? Well, I'll give you a hint, the slogan for The Great Giana Sisters is "The Brothers are History". I honestly don't even have to point out what that even means, if I do then you're reading the wrong blog. The plot revolves around a girl named Giana who goes to bed one night and suddenly finds herself in a nightmarish dreamworld. In order to find her way back home she must find a special gem at the end of the 33rd level. Not the best premise for a story, but at least she doesn't have to rescue a prince, or worse, a plumber.

If you played that NES classic that will not be named in this blog post, then you know how this game works. You start off as a regular little girl, and collect power ups one of which works the exact same as a certain "fire power-up" in a game you might have played before. The game is a bit challenging, as you're going to find quite a few tricky jumps that require proper positioning and timing to make the jump, and if you lose all your lives its all the way back to stage 1 for you! There's a alternate 2-player mode where player 2 takes control of Giana's sister Maria.

A lot of you remember that wonderful song composed by Koji Kondo for that certain NES title, it just so happens that the Great Giana Sisters have a surprisingly memorable tune of their own composed by Chris Hülsbeck. In fact, it's one of the more fondly remembered aspects of this game as the song has been remixed countless times by fans over the years. It's a smooth beat that gives this scrappy little platformer a relaxing vibe, which is great because there are too many games out there that just seek to do nothing else but stress you out so this is a perfect game to relax with if only to listen to the music.

As it turns out, that company who made the NES saw this one coming and with plenty of legal pressure this game was never released to the general public. Luckily, this game was leaked and many people got a hold of it, some even altering the sprites to resemble a certain plumber. Eventually the whole thing is a non-issue nowadays, because the Great Giana Sisters has been ported to many systems, there was even a remake for the Nintendo DS which was pretty great! Similarities aside, all the levels are completely different and I honestly feel that it can stand on it's own as a great game in it's own right. If you have Java installed on your browser, you can play the game RIGHT NOW! And if you don't want to play it, at least watch the video and dig the trippy music.  You know, sometimes being a rip-off isn't such a bad thing if you manage to do it right.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Earth Defense Force 2017 - Join the most brotastic alien fighting force ever!

Before we delve into today's topic I'd like to explain my logic for choosing what to write about each day: there isn't any. I use a random line picker to choose what system I'm going to write for the day and I immediately know the game I want to talk about, today it told me to talk about the Xbox 360. In a system that is plagued with first person shooters, brown and bloom, and crying children in online communities, we get a game that truly makes a stand. It doesn't stand for high definition, it doesn't stand for innovation, and it certainly doesn't stand for plot. This game stands for one of the most important things we often forget about in video games today: FUN.

Earth Defense Force 2017 was brought to us in the states in 2007 by D3 Publisher and developed by Sandlot games. This is the first game of the popular "Earth Defense Force" series to make it to the United States as most of them have stayed largely in Japan, with one release making it to Europe. Being a third-person shooter, this game is a homage to cheesy alien invasion movies everywhere, you're sure to spot more than a few references. The long and short of the premise is this: aliens known as the ravagers have appeared before earth and are suddenly dropping GIANT ANTS AND ROBOTS to kill us all. Not just any giant ants, mind you, but giant ants that SPIT ACID. You are part of the elite known as "Storm-1" and it's up to you and your fellow EDF brothers to save the planet from extinction. As with many of my games, the story isn't all that important, but there are cutscenes with a news reporter that help give you the impression that serious s*** is going down.

Just from the first stage, you're given an assault rifle and a rocket launcher to defend yourself with. And they both have unlimited ammo. You're going to need it. From the get-go you and a handful of A.I controlled EDF soldiers are taking on an entire wave of giant ants and the game is basically telling you not to worry about civilians, allied soldiers, or even buildings all you need to do is survive. More often than not you're constantly under attack from ants coming in all directions and I'm sure one of your many rockets is going to miss and hit a building, bringing it down to rubble. But that's ok! There's no penalty for collateral damage so feel free to raise as much hell as possible while fighting off the alien invaders. Soon enough you'll be finding weapons on the field that you'll be able to use in the next stages, in fact there are over 150 weapons to use in the game that range anywhere from sniper rifles to heat seeking missile launchers! Each weapon has a use because soon you aren't going to be fighting giant ants for long, they're going to make each stage more and more difficult adding in giant spiders (Oh god no.) and flying spaceships until you end up fighting godzilla and then, ultimately, the DEATH STAR! Well, not exactly, but it's very similar to it.  There's also vehicles you can use like a mech and a helicopter, but the controls for them are pretty awful so you're going to stick to being on foot for a while.

Graphically this game isn't much to look at, animations are stiff and all the ants have this plastic look to them. But it adds to the humor to the game, like when you run right up to a giant ant and blast it in the face with your shotgun, you'll send that ant flying off hundreds of feet away just from the sheer force of your weapon, it's all very unrealistic but totally awesome. My favorite thing about this game though is the voice acting of your fellow EDF soldiers. While this game may not have online play, there's a sound icon over the head of each soldier that is currently talking and they always have something to say when it hit's the fan. They'll mourn the loss of one of their comrades, they'll scream in pain from being burned alive by acid, they'll express sheer anger and rage at their enemies, but they'll also cheery loudly just before and after battle chanting "EDF! EDF! EDF! YEAAAAAAAAAAAH!", while many would write the voice acting off as "bad", I think the voice actors enthusiasm really enhances the experience of the game. You'll start to feel attached to your fellow soldiers, and a smile will come to your face when you find out one of them has survived the onslaught.

This game is a cult classic on the Xbox 360. Many who played it simply can't stop playing it because it's one of the most addicting games out there. While it lacks online play, there is 2 player split-screen co-op which is all kinds of awesome!  I'd dare say it's one of the best co-op games of all time.  This game is kind of hard to find in public now, but luckily you can find it on Xbox Live's games on demand service as a downloadable title. Despite it's simplicity, it got really popular among niche audiences and now a sequel is in the works and due out on July 5, 2011! Be sure to check out Earth Defense Force: Insect Armageddon when you're done with this game, it looks like it's going to be great!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Battle Lode Runner - Get trapped in holes! Rage uncontrollably before your untimely demise!

Nowadays, everyone has a hard on for online gaming. I admit that it's nice to have especially if you moved away from friends, but there's something about that same-room multi-player experience that just beats all. In fact, I'm sure many of you have had an old-school multiplayer experience whether that would be Toe Jam & Earl or one of the many Bomberman games and I'm sure friendships have been broken because of the highly competitive nature of our hobby. Let's talk about one of the more unusual multiplayer games out there today, shall we?

It's hard to tell, but this guy is f***ed.
Battle Lode Runner was released only in Japan in 1993 for the Turbografx-16 by Hudson Soft. It's part of the classic Lode Runner series originally made by Brøderbund in 1983. Apparently, in the classic video game "Bomberman" for the Nintendo Entertainment System, Bomberman earned the ability to become human at the end of the game and ends up being the lode runner guy! That is why the bad-asses on the cover look so similar to our favorite explosive buddies! All the plot for the game is explained in the 30-second long intro. A black bomberman goes into a rocket, and the white lode runner man sees him escape. I guess it can be assumed that the black bomberman stoles a bunch of gold, because that's what you do in the single player puzzle adventure: collect a bunch of gold.  There's no real plot to talk about, and even the ending is barely an ending at all, you're just treated to an awesome running portrait of the lode runner guy!  But seriously, I wouldn't expect a story out of a game like this and neither should you.

The gameplay is simple yet taxing. You must collect all the gold in the level while avoiding the enemies that chase after you. Your only means of self defense is a laser gun that destroys a block on the floor so the enemy can fall in. You can't attack the enemies directly so you must rely on proper timing to trap your pursuers. You can't jump so if you happen to fall into one of the holes yourself, then you're screwed! It's a "trap or be trapped" game as you rush to find all the gold and then find the exit to escape with your life! There are over 100 levels in the game and you can even create your own, so that's a great little extra for you creative folk. The puzzle levels are all well and good, but it's the multiplayer that I found to be the best part.

Green is raging his balls off right now.
In multiplayer there are 3 modes of play for up to 5 players: Survival, Escape, and Tag Match. Survival is the most straight forward as it's a 5 player free-for-all where everyone runs around stages trying to trap each other in holes with the last one surviving winning the match. Avoiding getting trapped by your friends is actually pretty easy if you keep your wits about you, but eventually some monsters will be let loose into the arena chasing after the players, so that will certainly complicate matters for you! In "Escape", the players aren't after killing each other so much as looking for the ladder that will let them escape the level as monsters are let loose into the arena as well, and if everyone dies then the match is a draw. Then there's the tag match which is only up to 4 players (so there's an even amount of players), and it's your typical 2 vs 2 team battle where you try to trap and kill the opposing the team.

Even though this game was only released in Japan, Hudson soft saw fit to release this on the Wii's virtual console in the United States region. There's no Japanese in it what-so-ever, so this game is easily playable to anyone of any native language. The Lode Runner men have tons of personality in the victory cut-scenes, they remind me of mini-Captain Falcons. Again, if you have the friends then you must check this out, and even if you don't this game is kind enough to have multiplayer A.I bots for you to mess around with which I am always grateful for! Have a good one, everybody.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Phantom Dust - A card battle game that has no cards!

I think games that deal with psychic powers are cool, I pretty much enjoy any title with the word "Psychic" in it. This game is no exception, and it actually did rather well critically and has become something of a cult favorite for the original Xbox.

Phantom Dust was released in the U.S in 2005 by Majesco in partnership with Microsoft Game Studios.  The setting is your typical post-apocalyptic wasteland where everyone is suffering from amnesia.  Nobody knows what happened, but they are forced to band together and live underground because of the dangerous dust that is everywhere in the surface world.  Certain humans, called Espers, are able to manipulate the dust and into psychic powers to combat the monsters that roam the surface.  Because they have these powers, it is the espers primary responsibility to explore the surface to find scavenge anything of use and hopefully find clues that might reveal what really happened to the world.  The main character is found by a group of espers in a chamber, and just like everyone else, he can't remember a damn thing, and so the game's story begins.  I actually find the setting to be very intriguing, everyone you meet can't even remember their own names so they choose new ones which either sound really badass or just hilariously goofy.  A thin guy goes by the name of "Chunky", and another goes by the name "Cuff Button" but they seem to have no idea what their names really mean.  It's funny yet a little bit sad as the memory loss seems to be a pretty big deal in this game.

The gameplay is surprisingly unique, there really wasn't a game like it back then.  As mentioned in the title, this plays out like a trading card game, but all the fights are in real time.  You run across dust orbs that have psychic powers  in them and you bind them to buttons on your controller.  The orbs you find are part of your arsenal (read: card deck) that you can customize before missions.  Each orb has a different psychic power like fire blasts or energy swords that can be used either many times or only once so you have to play smart with your powers and try not to miss as you may be dead before you get a chance to use that one power again!  This game actually has 2 vs 2 online multiplayer which can get pretty intense,  but you'll never get that opportunity to play it now as online servers are closed down now.  At least the campaign is still great!

Besides the unique setting, one of my favorite things are the destructible environments.  It really gives you the impression that you are a powerful bastard whenever you blast apart an entire chunk of a highway or other random acts of destruction, it's like you're really watching an episode of DBZ without the ridiculous pacing issues!  The music is comprised of very interesting remixes of classical music.  For instance, the Club Baroness bar features the habanera of Carmen remixed into a haunting jazz beat.  Aside from the classical references, most of the music stays out of the way as you're going to need to be focusing on formulating strategies on the fly and dodging any oncoming projectiles.

Yep, this is another game I would easily recommend.  They were trying out something completely new with this game and it actually worked into something wonderful!  I'm not entirely sure if it was a financial success because we would probably be seeing more of the same if it was, everybody was still high on Halo when this game came I guess.  I enjoyed my time with this game especially since I found it brand new on cleareance at a  Toys R us for $3.  A great deal that is easily worth 10 times that amount.  Check it.

Friday, June 10, 2011

DJ Boy - Fight an obese black woman and a male stripper to save your true love!

It seems like everyone in the late 80's/early 90's did all their fighting on roller skates. I mean, the idea of this game has certainly been done before so surely roller skater-on-roller skater violence must have been a rampant issue back then, there's simply no way to explain otherwise! What we got here is yet another in the beat-em-up genre, and while it's definitely no Sengoku 3, it does have that quirky style that draws me in just like Bravoman. It is also very racist! Why? Read on.

DJ Boy was released in the states in 1990 by Kaneko for the Sega Genesis/Megadrive, it's also a solitary experience in that it features no multi-player at all so those looking to grab a buddy for a beat-em-up adventure will simply have to play something else.  The main character of our story is Donald J. Boy aka DJ Boy, he participates in a fight-race known as a "rollergame" (where have I heard that before?) while simultaneously trying to save his girlfriend Maria from the "Dark Knights" gang who also happen to be participating in the contest.  The "Dark Knights" must be an equal opportunity gang, because they have no qualms hiring a flatulent obese black woman or a flamboyant Chippendale wanna-be to mess you up.  They even have an evil twin of DJ Boy!  The Japanese version gets a few extra cut-scenes which were cut out in the English versions because they were probably too "manga"-like for any English speaker to appreciate.  Of course it's not like the story is very important here. In fact I'd almost claim it's non-existent if it wasn't for the text in the finale.

You start the game perpetually moving to the right via roller-skates in a fight-race dodging incoming punches from advancing enemies and obstacles in front you.  You must learn how to control your skating speed and time your punches and kicks perfectly to stop anyone in front of you as well as behind you.  Every now and then, everyone will stop advancing forward and you get to move around freely to fight those who have been harassing you up until that point.  Enemies will drop coins which can be used to buy upgrades in the shop between stages, so this plays out a bit like River City Ransom.  Combat is pretty shallow for a beat-em-up as there's no real combos to mess around with, but it's pretty forgiving as you're going to be worried about dodging that traffic cone more so than chaining attacks on the fat kid advancing behind you.

You won't see her in the U.S version.
It should be noted that the Japanese and English versions are quite different from each other.  In Japan, the first boss of the game is a fat black woman who uses farts as a projectile attack.  She has stereotypically huge red lips and when you defeat her she will comically falls down revealing her undergarments.  In the English version, her skin color is changed to pink and instead of farting she will throw pies at you.  Amusingly enough, her black portrait is still kept in the cut scene afterwards with DJ Boy standing proudly for beating up a fat lady.  They also took the resident black kid and white-washed him as well so DJ Boy wouldn't be committing a hate crime.  Amusingly enough, however, they kept the male stripper in the English version, and not only that but they also added in billboards that focus on the bikini area of a woman.  So they removed one offensive aspect of the game, and added in some fan service.  Fair trade?  Eh, not really, that black lady was pretty funny in my opinion.  Also, most of the levels are revamped in the English version to make it more difficult than it's Japanese counter-part, and if that doesn't bother you then I think you should know that you only get one life to complete the game!  Good luck!

This game is really short, you can beat it in an hour or less!  While the game seems difficult at start, you'll be learning from your mistakes and you'll always play a little bit better each time.  Really, this game has that 90s style that I seem to enjoy so much and some absolutely wacky boss fights, that male stripper was really tough!  If you want a mildly racist good time you should find the Japanese version and play that one, if you want a more hardcore experience with some fan-service then you would want  to get the English version.  Or, you can just pass because this game isn't really that spectacular.  Have a good weekend!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Kamen Rider - Lizardron and The All Monster Army

It's Kamen Rider Thursday already?! Woo woo woo, you know it, bro! This is episode 13 of the legendary 1970's tokusatsu series that helped spark a costume superhero phenomenon! Like last week's episode, the actor playing Takeshi Hongo/Kamen Rider is currently out due to a motorcycle accident so they had to rely on recycled scenes, re-dubbed dialogue, and the supporting cast to carry the show but they put their best into this episode as it's supposed to be the season finale of the series as every monster since the first episode comes back! Definitely one of the best episodes so far.

Lizardron and friends.
The episode starts off with two security guards walking the perimeter of a science lab when they are suddenly ambushed and murdered by BatMan and ScorpionMan from episodes 2 and 3. This is interesting because they were certainly killed off by Kamen Rider in those episodes. After a little bit of bloodshed, they try to jump the fence to break into the science lab but end up being electrocuted because it's being protected by a barrier! A barrier, which the narrator points out, can stop even an atomic bomb! Now that's some security! The great leader of shocker is pissed off as always, and demands that a monster to be created that is capable of breaking through that barrier. So they kidnap a jerk of a soccer star who is well known for his kicking power and transform him into Lizardron, a giant lizard that will kick a special bomb to destroy that infernal barrier once and for all!

Kamen Rider actually encounters Lizardron before the attempted break-in and actually loses the fight because Lizardron's kicks are just too powerful! Kamen Rider acknowledges his loss, and escapes to train himself in the mountains by trying to catch boulders! Eventually, he masters the art of boulder catching, which I'm sure was an entirely pointless training exercise as he then learns how to RIDER KICK boulders into oblivion! With renewed strength he sets out to fight Lizardron again, but this time Lizardron didn't come alone. Every single cyborg monster Kamen Rider fought has been revived once more because you can never truly kill a cyborg. And so begins the awesome 1 vs 11 fight, it's definitely one of the best fight scenes so far and shows us how far Kamen Rider has come in his trials and tribulations up until this point.

What a way to end the season, they made the best out of a very bad situation with an injured actor and churned out a great tribute to all the episodes that proceeded it. Lizardron was as goofy looking as the others, but he still gave off the impression that he wasn't anyone to f*** with. I was happy to see CobraMan back in action too! As usual, if you want to check out the Kamen Rider series for yourself then head on over to KITsubs, now would be a good time to do as this episode ends the current story arc and the next episode will be start of something new: Another Kamen Rider!  I'm looking forward to it, until then there will be more video games to talk about!  Later.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Pocket Bomberman - The game where Bomberman learns how to jump.

When the Gameboy Color first came out, this was the first game I ever bought for it. Why? Well, just look at the box art! It features Bomberman in battle armor (with flowing cape!) about to fight a skull dragon near a waterfall. I don't care who you are, it left a cool impression on me when I first ran across it. But the game itself was actually pretty cool too, it tried to do something different with the classic Bomberman formula.  While I wouldn't call it a resounding success that forever changed the way Bomberman games were made, it was still a very interesting experiment for sure.

Pocket Bomberman was released in 1998 for the original Gameboy, but had a "Color" version come out a few months later. As usual, Hudson was behind the development of this little handheld game. Normally, bomerbman games are multiplayer experiences, but this game joins the select few titles where such a mode isn't available as this is purely a solitary experience. Starting up the game, you're treated to brief well-made cinematic intro telling a story about a land shrouded in darkness. In order to restore the light to the world, it's up to our hero, Bomberman, to find the 5 power stones and save us all, from darkness, yeah this isn't too exciting. Bomberman brandishing his sword was pretty cool though.  Too bad that sword is a huge lie as your only means of attack are nothing but bombs!  A bit more on this a little bit later.

This game has 25 levels, each split into 5 areas: jungle, wind, ocean, cloud, and evil. Instead of the over-top-camera view that most Bomberman games use, this one is 2D-sidescroller where you can jump! All the levels are pretty self-contained, as your objective is to kill everyone before you can enter the "exit" door. You pick up traditional Bomberman powerups like "bomb up" or "fire up" to upgrade your firepower, but be careful not to blow yourself up first! Really, the game itself is pretty easy, the biggest threat in the game is YOURSELF! There will be plenty of times where you try to be clever by using bombs as a jumping platform only to miss the timing and end up trapped in a hole with a bomb ready to go off right above you. On the 5 level of an area, you fight a boss who can pretty much move anywhere it wants to. You need to rely on pattern recognition and trap the boss in your bombastic fury.

This game's graphics are pretty colorful, but they look just as well on the regular gameboy as they do in color. It's a shame that the Bomberman sprite doesn't have the cool armor that he uses in the cinematics and the box art, that loses major points with me! The enemies and bosses are based off of monsters from previous games, so there's nothing terribly special going on here. True to the franchise, however, is the great music. As expected, this game is chock-full of classic bomberman tunes. In fact, I guarantee you'll be remember the first area's theme pretty well if you're bomberman fan!

It's a cute little game that is a bit on the short side with only 25 levels. To extend longevity, there's a special mode called "Jump Mode" where Bomberman is jumping forever and you need to plant bombs, avoid attacks, and climb upwards as far as possible before blowing yourself up. Beware, though, because this even on "Easy" this mode is pretty tricky! My biggest gripe with this game however, is that there is no swordplay in this game. Bomberman has a sword in the box art and cinematics, but NEVER USES IT! What the hell, man? That's like false-advertising or something but if Bomberman used a sword instead of bombs then he'd be known as Swordsman, right?!  Oh god. Other than that, this game is pretty cool with me. Of course, this isn't the only game to feature a jumping Bomberman, there's actually a few of them!  We'll talk about the N64 game sometime down the road.  In the meantime, check out some gameplay footage.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Bravoman - Punch people in the face from 50 feet away!

As a weird guy, it's only natural for someone like me to be drawn to weird games. Games that are just so crazy, that it will make it a normal person's head hurt just trying to comprehend it all. So when it comes to games like Bravoman, I'm drawn to it like a fat kid on cake. Is this game truly amazing? Not entirely, no, but it trumps many with an absolutely amazing super hero. A hero who makes a shocking return in "Namco X Capcom" and yet hasn't made a single appearance since.

This game was originally released in Japanese arcades in 1988 by Namco. This game is simply too much awesome for America, but they made a Turbografix-16 port in 1990 to be released overseas with a simply amazing English translation. Bravoman is your traditional "tokusatsu"-styled hero among the same veins as the Power Rangers or Kamen Rider. The evil Dr. Bomb is making a horrible "end of the world"-type weapon, and it's up to insurance salesman-turned-superhero Bravoman to save the day! Now why is he called Bravoman? Because he always yells out "BRAVO!" when he attacks! Why does he say "BRAVO!"?  I have no idea.  His powers enable him to punch and kick things from across the screen with stretchable limbs, it's like an action title where you play as Street Fighter's Dhalsim, except you can't set things on fire.

As far as mechanics go, this game is very simple. You simply run to the right of the screen while punching whatever that might get in your way. The controls are a bit wonky for game made in this era, so you really need to learn the limit of your limits quickly if you want to survive later on. At the end of the level you'd run across your sidekick known as "Lottery Man" who is simply a robot with a unicycle, usually saying "Hey Bravoman, want to eat?" and throws a couple onigiri your way. If you're so inclined, you can be a complete dick and punch the living daylights out of Lottery Man much to his own annoyance. Do it enough and he'll just appear in the next stages only to taunt you, but eventually he'll forgive you because that's what bros do, they forgive one another.

Bravoman has a cute little theme that you hear in the first level and in jingle form at the end of each level. Other than that, the music isn't particularly noteworthy as I can't even force myself to remember any of the game's tunes. Graphics aren't much to look at either, but for a 1990 game it was pretty great especially since I was still play NES games during this time! At the very least, Bravoman has a great running animation, he truly looks like he's moving with a purpose.

It's not touched upon much in this blog entry, but this game is seriously bizarre. I'd love to talk all the weird stuff you'd find, but it would actually be a lot funnier if you ran into the hidden jokes by yourself (Try punching the telephone booth!). Your head would probably explode in confusion, or you might end up laughing your ass off like I did. As mentioned before, Bravoman teamed up with fellow obscure videogame heroine Wonder Momo in the game "Namco X Capcom" which was released only in Japan. With a much more updated art style, he still remains goofy-looking badass who can throw a mean punch. If you grew up on modern video games I really wouldn't recommend this title to you, it requires some precision and the gameplay hasn't particularly aged too well. But if you're aching for something truly different, then go ahead and try out Bravoman!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Power Quest - A.K.A "Spam AXE's low kick to win the game" game!

Fighting games on portable handhelds were something of an oddity back then. On the Gameboy, you only had 2 buttons and the D-pad to do all of your actions, and for most fighting games back then it simply wasn't enough. How can you keep a fighting game interesting if you could only use two buttons? It's a legitimate technological limitation, but Power Quest stood rose to the challenge, and gave us handheld fanatics a fighting game worth talking about today.

You can't hear it, but "1995" is playing right now.
Power Quest was released in the U.S in 1998 by Sunsoft for the Gameboy Color. Looking at the box art and super generic (but awesome sounding) title gives you the impression that this is an action game rather than something that belongs in the fighting genre. In fact, in Japan it went by the much more unique name "Gekitō Power Modeler" and it was published by Capcom! I decided to talk about this game today after talking about Gotcha Force as this game features a similar premise. The entire setting is that there's a new craze in town where every kid had miniature remote control robots that would battle with one another. As a kid in town, you win a contest for a free power model which you then use to fight your way to the top of social ladder and become world champion. Along the way, you take out a gang of cheating punks, put a misandrist girl in her place, and tragically part ways with a life-long friend. Not nearly as dramatic as I like to put it, but the game's story mode definitely tried to make things interesting for people who crave a single player experience.

There are only 6 playable characters that you get to choose from in this game. MAX is great for his punching power, GONG is the brutal-but-slow power house, LON is the Chinese martial artist, AXE is an alien-type who is also known as one of the cheapest characters in the game, SPEED is your speedy quick girl who specializes in kicks, and BOROT is just laughably useless as he only has one punch and can't block or jump. The names aren't the most creative, but they're just remote control models and don't really have personalities of their own. In the story mode, you buy parts to upgrade the attack power of your model and help enable it to pull off super combos. There's a surprisingly amount of variety in the moves for only two buttons, you'll find the fighting system to be very fun with it if you can find a friend who also has the cartridge, but that was impossible for me as a kid back then. The story mode has some cheap A.I but if you stick with Axe and use his low sliding kick, you'll be breezing right through it. AXE would probably be banned from tournaments because he is totally broken.

AXE's low kick is devastating.
Graphics are nicely animated for a Gameboy color game, which is great because each character has a surprising amount of moves they can use. AXE has a particularly notable victory animation where he lashes out his alien tongue which is pretty cool. Most of the story is carried out by goofy looking portraits of the kids and various adults you run across during the events of the game. A lot of them look like borderline Asian stereotypes, which I find a bit surprising as this game was made in Japan. They changed Louis's sprite to look more "American" in the international version, but he still looks like a jackass in both, so nothing to rage about here. The music is actually pretty great though, filled with many upbeat chip-tunes. The best song, according to many, happens to be "1995". Why the song is called "1995" is anyone's guess, but it's a great thing that they let you listen to the game's tunes at anytime via the sound test!

I never met a single human being who has played this game, as a I kid I would ask everyone if they had this, and they would assume I'm talking about something else like Quest 64. I know I'm not the only one who enjoyed this game though, as someone even went through the trouble of ripping the game's soundtrack which is a very noble endeavor indeed!  Even if you factor in the fact that AXE is overpowered, this game is still a lot of fun and it's one of the better fighting games you can find on the Gameboy Color.  Be sure to check out the video as "1995" plays right through it!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Gotcha Force - Wage battles for the sake of humanity in a child's sandbox!

I remember being very excited for this game when I first read about it in a magazine. It sounded like it had everything I could want in a game, from team-based multi-player to free form combat. And then the game came out and every critic hated on it, and like a sucker, I believed them. Years later when the gamecube was on it's last legs, I happen to run across this game at the gamestop for a used price that was unusually high. As it turns out, this game is something of a collectable, so I snatched it up just for shelving purposes. What surprised me was that I ended up having more fun than the critics would expect me to have! This is a crazy awesome game here people, it's a victim of a conspiracy!

Multi-player is a blast
Gotcha Force was released in 2003 for the Nintendo Gamecube by Capcom. It's about these toy-sized aliens called "Gotcha Borgs" who from the sky and are out to conquer Earth. Going by the name of "Death Force", it also seems like every normal weapon is useless against their tiny onslaught. So what can defeat the Death Force? Other Gotcha Borgs! Enter: Gotchaborg G-Red and his annoying child partner Kou. Seems like friendly gotcha borgs only team up with kids and not tactical-minded adults, and thus the fate of the earth is left in their incapable hands.  It's not the best story ever written, but kids would really get into it since apparently they are the only ones capable of saving our world from a tiny-sized threat.  Seriously, if it wasn't for G-Red specifically saying "Only Gotcha borgs can defeat gotcha borgs", I'd just run them over with a car and save the entire world.

Seriously though, this game has an arcade-style experience. IF you ever played Mobile Suit Gundam: Federation vs Zeon, you got the same exact battle system here. In fact, Gotcha Borgs is what started it all! You set up a team of gotcha borgs to fight the opposing team, when a borg is defeated their life points are deducted from the team's lifebar. Deplete the opponent's lifebar completely and you win, it's all very simple. What makes this fun however, is the sheer variety of borgs you can use! There are over 200 of the little guys and you'd be collecting and trading them like you would pokemon! And those 200 borgs are split up into 20 different classes, offering you plenty of strategic options to create the best team for your needs. Each borg has their own cool style varying from vampire swordsmen to pop idols. You have borgs for strictly offensive roles, and borgs who administer first-aid. It seems like this was a game MADE for online play, which it sorely lacks.

Japan actually got toys based on the game.
The voice acting is hilariously bad. It's almost like English-as-a-second-language bad. As you wage war in the battlefield (read: your little sister's room), you end up hearing a lot of chatter coming from the kids, so while it is irritating to some, you might actually find yourself engrossed in the action as you hear the kid cry when a borg is lost, and cheer for victory when the battle is going your way. Graphics are what you'd expect for a 2003 gamecube game, plenty of bright colors to appeal to kiddies though. Sorry FPS fans, no signs of brown or bloom here.

I think this game is great, but it's just short of being absolutely perfect. If online multiplayer was as strong back then as it is now, we'd have a seriously real game on our hands. And this is coming from a guy who doesn't even enjoy online multiplayer that much. It has all the strategic elements that you'd expect from such a game, over 200 playable characters, and chaotic gameplay to keep you interested, it just lacks that extra special seasoning that would have made this game truly delicious. Kiddy game this is not, people. Check it out.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Gitaroo Man - Go from beta as **** to an actual GUITAR HERO!

When people think of Music video games, usually the first thing that comes into their minds is either "Guitar Hero" or "Rockband". Of course, that's not really the case for a guy like me, I only think of the true guitar hero: Gitaroo Man. For anyone who played this game, they will agree that it's an overlooked instant-classic with an amazing original soundtrack, unique personality, and a heart-warming story that will still move you to this very day.

Released in the U.S by Koei in 2002, this game has quite a devoted following. It tells the story of a kid named "U-1", a dorky kid who has incredibly low self-esteem and confidence issues. He has his eye on a girl named Pico but ends up being cock-blocked every time by the popular rich kid Kazuya who is not only rich and popular, but a gifted skateboarder and straight A student as well. U-1 just can't compete with that! His only friend in the world is a talking dog named Puma who teaches him to play guitar by strumming on a tennis racket. It turns out though, that Puma was really prepping him for combat training as a little devil named Panpeus appears in his room demanding the gitaroo that U-1 had no idea that he owns. Puma then transforms in a robot and throws a futuristic looking guitar at U-1 which transforms him into Gitaroo Man who immediately engages Panpeus in an amazing battle of dueling instruments to the death! Turns out that Panpeus is just an angent of an evil emperor who goes by the name of Zoey who is out to capture all 8 gitaroos and rule the universe with it, so it's up to U-1 and Puma to gather all the gitaroos, free his people, and defeat Zoey once and for all. It's all a crazy plot, but it definitely adds a lot of color to this game.

Unlike Guitar Hero or Rockband, this game does not use a plastic guitar controller. It's style of gameplay is completely different as you rely mainly on positioning of your control stick and well-timed button presses as the game tells you what to do. Each song in this game is a battle between Gitaroo and a evil Gravillian agent that starts with a "charge" phase where Gitaroo Man must play to the best of his ability to obtain the optimal amount of health for the fight. The "Attack" phase has Gitaroo Man on the offensive dealing damage to his opponent. The "Guard" phase puts Gitaroo Man on the defensive where he must dodge all incoming instrumental attacks and any missed step will result in damage. If Gitaroo Man survives the duration of the song, he goes into the "End" phase which is a rather lengthy guitar solo that will defeat his opponent for victory. And with each victory you give a Japanese woman an orgasm as she says "You wiiiiin!" in the most inappropriately sexy way possible.

So, let's talk about the music itself. Simply put: I think it's one of the greatest video game soundtracks out there. There's something to like for everyone here. You fight a synth-board-using flying robot in a J-Pop song, you fight a trumpet playing guy in a bee-suit in a funky jazz song, you serenade a girl with an acoustic guitar, you fight skeletons with Spanish guitar, a shark with turn-table pectorals in reggae, and almost anything a guitar is used in is well represented in this game. The graphics might not suit everyone, but there is plenty going on in the background but you can't pay attention to ANY of it unless you want to lose.

Length-wise you can beat this game in 2 hours, maybe less, but that's only if you're REALLY good. You're going to end up repeating songs over and over because the later stages get really crazy. And even if you do manage to clear it, there's "Master's Play" which makes all the songs even harder and mixes up the songs a bit! Originally, this game was pretty rare because of it's limited print, but it got a reprint in 2006 due to the crazy fan-following it got. So this game should be pretty easy to find if you know where to look. I got the game before the reprint, showed all my friends the game and they went crazy for it. One of them even went as far to spent over twice as much as I did just to get his own copy of the game and he still think it was worth it (and it is.). The game was even re-released on PSP as "Gitaroo Man Lives!" featuring a co-op mode and 2 new songs!  If you want a truly unique music game and you're sick of Guitar Hero then you need to check this out.

Friday, June 3, 2011

King of Demons - What are you willing to sacrifice to save those that you love?

You have to love the times that we live in today. Normally, an obscure game from Japan would only stay in Japan and we would never know about it. But with the era of fan-released English patches, we get to experience a whole new world of games we never got a chance to experience before! This happens to be one such game, it's easy to guess why this game never got released in the states, we weren't so open to demonic subject matter back then, or at least for Nintendo of America.

This isn't even the first boss.
King of Demons, known as "MajyuuOu" in Japan, is an action-platformer by KSS released in 1995. What makes this game worth talking about is it's premise. A guy named Bayer sacrificed the wife and daughter of a man named Abel in order to revive the King of Demons and be granted tremendous power. Abel doesn't look upon family abduction too kindly and sets out to rescue them before he's notified in the beginning that his wife is already dead but his daughter is still alive. With the spirit of his wife taking the form of a guardian pixie, Abel sets out to rescue his daughter.

Armed with only a handgun, Abel can handle himself against the demons of hell pretty well. His pixie wife can attack demons while you focus on those in front of you, and if you happen to fall in battle, she will sacrifice herself just so you can keep going. Now that's true love right there, but now you're without a pixie so the game gets harder! After a boss fight the game will present you with an interesting situation: Do you want more power? The boss will drop a mysterious orb, if you grab it, you'll be transformed into a demon and your attack options improve considerably with each orb you gather. But you'll be sacrificing your humanity for this power and you can never go back. Of course the game gets more awesome when you accept the demons power to save your daughter, and your choice will ultimately change what ending you get. The obvious answer might not always be the one that leads to the best ending ending however, so be sure to choose wisely.

Being a demon does have it's perks.
If you look at the game's atmosphere, you'll might find it really creepy. It's not entirely terrifying like something out Silent Hill, but the mood is definitely there. You're facing horrible abominations, and the idea that you must become an abomination yourself just to even the playing field is a bit unsettling especially when you check out the "good" ending. The music is actually a bit on the catchy side, I quite enjoy it especially during sub-boss fights. The stage map has the most disturbing tune, however, it just reminds you that you're going deeper and deeper into hell.

This game is pretty fun, I'm glad I got a chance to play it. Also, unlike most of the games I recommend to you guys, the game is actually pretty forgiving in terms of difficulty. It was actually pretty hard finding info about this game, so I'm not quite sure about the game's popularity in Japan. Still, if you got an emulator on hand, be sure to try it out.  It's not too hard to find if you know where to look!  See you guys tomorrow.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Kamen Rider - Murderer, GeckoGelas

So I guess it's Kamen Rider Thursday! That means we talk about Kamen Rider today! Ready for some more awesome tokusatsu action? I know I am! This is episode 12, and it's honestly not the best episode of Kamen Rider out there. As you might know, the actor for Takeshi Hongo/Kamen Rider has suffered a debilitating motorcycle injury and the makers of the show tried to make the show go on without him by using recycled footage, and a suit actor for the super hero scenes. It's not so noticeable in the past two episodes but in this episode it's REALLY BAD.

GeckoGelas about to shoot down an Airplane.
Episode starts off with a pair of scientist having perfected a dangerous weapon that suspiciously looks like a flashlight with red tinted glass. This heat ray can turn any living being into a skeleton in a few seconds. Due to the potency of this new weapon, the head scientist has a morality crisis and deems the world is not ready for such a device because if it were to fall into the wrong hands, well, let's just hope it doesn't fall into the wrong hands. So the weapon is destroyed, but the assistant successfully convinces him to keep the plans somewhere safe. Little did the head scientist know, his assistant was an undercover agent for SHOCKER! The great leader of shocker rewards the spy by transforming him into the cyborg monster GeckoGelas who has the power to scale walls and trap people in cocoons!

In Japan, everyone has paper bones.
Shocker's goal this time is to steal the plans by taking the scientist's sister hostage and then force him to build a better heat gun that can take out air planes! Trolling the skies in the worst way possible, that's Shocker for you. Again, due to the actors injury, most of the episode had to be carried out by the supporting cast, mainly Ruriko in this case. She does most of the investigative work in tracking down the scientist who is currently being forced to develop a super weapon. And when things just got a little bit too dangerous with GeckoGelas suddenly appearing, Kamen Rider would just appear out of nowhere to bust some heads in.

The episode wasn't that bad, but it still wasn't as great as the GebaCondor episode. We got roughly 5 minutes worth of Kamen Rider fighting and the rest was all investigative filler. Of course, things are going to get better because I hear episode 13 has a pretty special surprise! Of course, if you ever decide that you want to check out Kamen Rider then please check out KITsubs. They release a new episode every week and are doing everything they can to bring this unknown classic to the masses.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Burning Force - Dat Hover bike! Dat Ass!

Most of my childhood is a blur but the games I played back then I remember clear as a bell.  How I even acquired most of the games I owned back then still eludes me to this day.  Of course the obvious answer is that my parents bought the game for me, but I wonder what went through my mind when I got this game.  Now that I'm man, I completely understand now: it's for dat ass.  Ha!  Just kidding.  What we really got here is a solid arcade/genesis action title.

Namco's Burning Force for the Sega Genesis was released in 1990, but was originally released for Japanese arcades in 1989. We never got the game in American arcades so we have to make due with the genesis version, which actually fixes the game's difficulty a bit by allowing you to take multiple hits! The game is still hard but not nearly as hard as say....Pick Axe Pete.

Day 3 was kind of trippy.
You play as a cadet named Hiromi Tengenji who aspires to be a space pilot. You guide her on a 5 day training mission fighting a whole bunch of robotic enemies. If you ever played Sega's "Space Harrier" then you get the right idea. Each training day is broken up into 4 parts. The first 2 parts take place in the morning and afternoon as you ride a hover bike dodging bullets and enemies coming at you from all directions and you're only limited to moving to the left or right so you're not very maneuverable. The boss of the day takes place during the evening and your hover bike is upgraded to a full-blown fighter space ship that enables you to move up-and-down as well as side-to-side. Which makes this whole game kind of weird because that makes the boss fights EASIER than the stages leading up to it! Of course this game is hard enough to make you thankful for the extra advantage given with spaceship flight.

This OST album art isn't suggestive at all.
Of course, as the Japanese game poster might imply, you do spend a good amount of time staring at the behind of Hiromi, too bad it's only 16-bit and very far away! Plenty of other games have much better fan-service so there's no point in talking about it really, but hey it did make you read this blog post! Admit it! Graphics aside, the game is backed up with a fitting soundtrack. Each day has it's own backdrop and song with the 3rd day standing out as you race across what seems to be a giant chess board. The game actually had a soundtrack released for it under the name of "Namco Game Sound Express Vol. 2" which features remastered versions of the songs in the game. It sounds very early 90s, so check it out!

Overall though, there's nothing too terribly special about this game. I enjoy the fact that it reminds me of both F-Zero and Space Harrier, and the gameplay is fast paced if not difficult. I spent a ton of time with this game as a kid, probably more than my other genesis games at the time, it was tough but it was also fair in that you get continues to keep going, so this game is VERY beatable. What's interesting though is that somebody actually remembers forgotten videogame heroine Hiromi Tengenji and put her in the Namco X Capcom game released for the PS2 in Japan back in 2005 with a remixed theme song to boot! I'm glad, because I felt the entire character was wasted potential when they did nothing with her after this game. Oh well, check out the footage:

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