Saturday, August 31, 2013

#64: Thunder Spirits

Thunder... Thunder... THUNDER SPIRITS!
I had never heard of this game so I didn't know what genre to expect, until I saw the title screen. This is going to be a side scrolling shooter. Or maybe a top scrolling shooter. Seika is the company that has brought us Drakkhen and Lagoon which were definitely on the sketchy side of the RPG genre... How would Thunder Spirits compare to other shooters?
The first thing I try in a new game is to hit all the buttons on the face of the controller. Three of them did nothing (no bombs?) and one of them shot my guns. Very slowly if I held it down, or I could really mash the button to get a semi reasonable stream of bullets. Maybe it's just me getting old, but I don't like having to constantly jam the button that much to accomplish something. Give me autofire! Or a limited number of bullets so mashing is detrimental. Don't make the only way to reasonably play your game be to mash one and only one button!
I got some powerups along the way. Some of them seemed to do something, others did not. Then I noticed there were more icons at the bottom of the screen. Could I hit select to change them? Nope. But it turned out L and R both cycled through the options at the bottom. R would change my currently equipped weapon. L would change my current ship speed. Changing speed sounds good, because it means I could go slow through an intricate maze of bullets and fast to avoid sharply turning enemies but because you could only toggle in one direction and there were 4 speeds it didn't seem plausible to change on the fly. So I just set it to as fast as possible and hoped I wouldn't careen into things. I did. Changing weapons was interesting in that the powerups would only buff some weapons and death would only level down the currently equipped powerup.

The game had limited lives, and limited continues, but if you continued you got to keep going right from where you died. So it was more like slightly less limited lives. I still managed to lose them all without beating the first level. I may have made it to the dragon boss but he had a fire breath attack that seemed to be unavoidable. Once I ran out of continues I had no desire to restart from the beginning. Especially with my right arm going numb from all the button mashing.

Rating: D-

Saturday, August 24, 2013

#63: Super Soccer Champ

Taito strikes again!
Hot on the heels of last month's Super Soccer, today we have Super Soccer Champ. I'm wondering if Taito was making a Super Soccer of their own but when they asked Nintendo for cartridges they were told to stuff it since Nintendo was making their own Super Soccer. Was Super Soccer rushed in order to hit the shelves before Super Soccer Champ? And why does it seem to be so hard to make a fun soccer game?

I went into the option menu and one of the options was for the game to explain what all the buttons did! YES! Taito, you rock! Now can you explain to me why the Y and B buttons were overloaded to have 6 or 7 functions each while X, A, L, and R all had no game effect? Taito, you suck!
Super Soccer didn't give me power ratings for any of the teams, but I went with what I assumed was going to be a pretty good team: Brazil. It turned out Brazil was overpowered. They had one guy who was way faster than anyone else I played against. So I tried to pass it back to my right defender and then he just ran circles around the other team. I would run near an enemy in order to get him to follow me, and could end up kiting multiple players in a circle. Then I just had to run across the goal crease until the goalie was no longer in a position to stop my shot and score. I could only shoot every 45 degrees, so I actually don't know how I would possibly score without these cheating trick unless maybe the goalie can just miss a shot straight at him.

I've played two other soccer games recently and they both earned a D- rating. This game was slightly more fun than those were, because I was able to score and win. Instead of losing 40-0 I would win 5-0. Neither makes for a good game, but one was slightly more fun.

Rating: D

Saturday, August 17, 2013

#62: Super Battletank: War in the Gulf

Who is Garry Kitchen?
Does the video game industry create games glorifying current wars because they think that's what people want to play or because they're in some way propaganda? I don't know, but there were plenty of Kuwait/Iraq war games when I was a kid. I hadn't heard of this one before today, but from the name I expect to be driving a tank in the gulf.

Yep. I am in a tank. I am driving around, finding other tanks, and blowing them up. As far as SNES era tank games go, though, this is actually pretty good. I have four different weapons with ammo levels. It makes use of all 8 buttons on the controller! (Accelerate, decelerate, open map, shoot weapon, turn left, turn right, select weapon, and pause.) There are all sorts of gauges and doohickeys that make it feel like I might actually be driving in a tank.
The game has an overarching plotline that I assume mirrored the actual campaign in the gulf war in some way. Maybe? I don't actually know. But sending in a tank to take out a SCUD launcher sounds like the sort of thing that would have actually happened.

The game controls well, and matches the theme well, but it really isn't my cup of tea. Maybe I would have played it a bit as a kid, but I'm pretty confident it wouldn't have been a two-renter. I died on the second mission this time (I tried to figure out what an icon meant on the map by driving near it, and I think it was a mine field) and decided I didn't really want to start over. This game is what it is, and what it is isn't for me.

Rating: C-

Saturday, August 10, 2013

#61: Space Football: One on One

That is a lot of level code digits!
What in the world could Space Football: One on One be? It's got football in the title, so I'm thinking an 11 on 11 sports game. But then there's a little clarification that there are no teams here. It's one on one. But one on one football doesn't sound very interesting. Who do you pass to? Either you can outrun the other guy or you can't. And what does being in space have to do with anything?

The game appears to be played in hovercraft things, but it isn't clear what I'm supposed to be doing. I have a missile meter that goes down when I hit a button, and a projectile launches out of me. That seems good. I tried shooting the goal but it didn't do anything. I tried shooting the other player, but it didn't do anything. I tried shooting the orb that's floating around on the map, but it didn't do anything. I have a health meter, but the enemy couldn't seem to hurt me. I could hurt myself by trying to drive out of the arena. I can see why they'd put that mechanic in, since I sure didn't want to stay in the arena!

Everybody loses.
Eventually time ran out and the game was declared a draw. I couldn't figure out how to score so it's no surprise I had no points, but what was the enemy's excuse? I spent half the game shooting my own net and ignoring the ball! At one point I did manage to glitch things and get the enemy stuck in a wall, so that probably slowed him down. I even managed to pick up the ball, but then it turned red and bounced away.

Even Google wasn't much help. Normally I can find a manual or at least a control scheme for a game. Not this one! Even gamefaqs had nothing, at all, for this game. It had a page, but no FAQs. No guides. No manual. Nothing.

As best I can tell this game was made to teach someone how the mode 7 graphics worked, and then some company decided to make some money tricking consumers into buying it even though it does nothing.

Rating: F-

Saturday, August 3, 2013

#60: Krusty's Super Fun House

Evil ratses!
Movie and TV tie in games tend to be very bad. I believe The Simpsons games in particular are widely seen as being terrible. Tie in games get to be so bad because people who don't play games see something they recognize and buy it regardless of how good it might be. For movie ones there also tends to be a pretty harsh deadline... No one wants to buy a tie in game two years after a movie comes out! I owned Krusty's Super Fun House as a kid. I'm pretty sure it was a gift from someone who recognized The Simpsons.
Whoa there Krusty, don't fall!
In this case that wasn't actually a problem. Krusty's Super Fun House is actually super fun. Back then, and now. It's essentially Lemmings with a different coat of paint. You have little rats that spawn and walk in a straight line until they die. Unlike in Lemmings, however, the goal is to kill all the rats. There are 'exit' locations on the map but instead of saving your rats, they kill them. Bart will smash them with a giant punching glove. Homer will zap them with a gigantic laser. Your goal is to make sure the rats make it to their doom by picking up and dropping different blocks. Krusty can only hold one block at a time, and the placement of the blocks needs to be precise, which is where the game finds it's challenge.
On top of the Lemmings game there's also a passable platformer pasted on top. Krusty needs to jump around and find all those blocks he needs. There are enemies to kill or avoid, points to collect, extra mans to earn. Puzzles are awesome, passable platformers are fine. Especially compared to some of the other drek I've played recently.

The Simpsons franchise actually adds to the game. Lemmings is a fine game, but it's pretty bland. Getting all the trappings of The Simpsons made the game more entertaining. There are signs in the background from various Simpsons characters. Unlike Super Soccer where the signs in the background are advertising other games these ones are just there for comic relief. The Simpsons world fits in well with a game designed around murdering a bunch of innocent and stupid rats.

Rating: S-