Saturday, May 31, 2014

#103: Space Megaforce

By Toho!
I didn't know what this game was going to be, but I had a pretty good idea it was going to be a scrolling shooter of some kind from the name. Speaking of the name, when I saw what game was coming up I instinctively said 'SPACE MEGA-FORCE' out loud. And then the game itself did the same thing in a clear voice. It was a little trippy, and a little awesome. I already like this game!

So many powerups!
This game is, in fact, a scrolling shooter. One with at least 8 different power-ups you can collect. There's a 1 and a 4 on the screen in the screenshot above. It didn't seem like there was a way to switch between them other than collecting a different one again later, but each time you picked a given number up that attack got stronger. So it seemed like just picking everything up to see how they were leveling up was a perfectly valid thing to do. I ended up liking missiles best.

*sad trombone*
Unfortunately this game suffers from the same problem as pretty much every scrolling shooter. If you ever die you lose all your power-ups and respawn in a part of the game designed for having lots of power. I made it all the way to the first boss without dying, but then he killed me. And I couldn't get more than a couple screens forward from the checkpoint after that because I was shooting 2 bullets instead of 6 and 6 missiles.

That said this game didn't seem to suffer from sprite slowdown. It seemed to have a decent selection of power-ups. I think it could be really fun if a scrolling shooter is what you want to play. I didn't want to play a scrolling shooter so I didn't have a ton of fun, but I can't blame the game for that.

Rating: B

Saturday, May 24, 2014

#102: Sk├╝ljagger: Revolt of the Westicans

This game has quite the title. It sounds like it means something, a sequel or a movie tie-in or something. But I've never heard of a Skuljagger or of a Westican. I have no clue what kind of game this is going to be. The opening music is pretty high quality though, so it has that going for it right off the hop.

Ahoy matey!
Ok, it turns out to be a platformer and I'm a pirate of some kind. There was a lead-in plot screen so you'd think I'd know what was going on... But I don't. I know Skuljagger is searching for a sword of some kind, but I don't know who Skuljagger is. Am I Skuljagger? I already have a sword. But maybe there's a cooler sword... I don't care if I'm Skuljagger or not, I want the cooler sword!

I picked up some grapes and when I hit a button that presumably ate the grapes I turned into a giant purple ball. You can see my limbs trying to escape from my prison. But I seem to be invincible and kill anything I touch when in the ball... It's like a weird, slow starman.

There were some other fruits I could pick up, which actually seemed to be flavoured gum. Orange let me spit bombs. Cherry let me fly, I think. It let me blow a big bubble which made me float but it quickly popped. I don't know if it was just me blowing too hard into the bubble or if I hit something or what. I never found another cherry to test with.

The platformer movement actually worked out pretty smooth. The sound in game was a good quality. This game felt like a game designed to use the SNES hardware as opposed to some of the recent drek that was just a sloppy port of an old game.

I didn't beat the first level because the game actually seemed reasonably hard. I had the problem that I kept needing to make blind jumps and landing on enemies I couldn't see. Those are the sorts of things that are annoying when you're playing a game once but if I'd rented this as a kid I'm sure I could have learned where to jump and this would have been a good game to play.

Looking the game up on Wikipedia it sounds like the game came with an 80 page comic/manual! Which presumably explained that Skuljagger was the bad guy and I'm a Westican trying to revolt out from under his slavery. And it has a password system. This sounds great!

Rating: A

Saturday, May 17, 2014

#101: Race Drivin'

Nice vanity plate.
Race Drivin' may actually be the worst SNES game I've played. There have been some really smelly ones so far in this little adventure of mine, but this one may just take the cake.

I drove into the road.
I don't know what the point of the game is. I guess there's a score meter up at the top so probably I'm just driving around trying to get a good score? I don't know. On the plus side the game only gives you enough gas to drive for 65 seconds at which point you game over so the misery doesn't last long.

I appear to be driving a regular car on a stunt track. I went off a ramp and then exploded when I landed. Maybe there's a way to actually land the jump? I suspect it involves going slower so I land on the down ramp on the other side instead of flying over it.

The music is _terrible_. The sound is abysmally bad. And not bad in the sense that the emulator is screwing it up like what happened with some other games. No, I'm pretty sure this is how the game was supposed to sound. It reminded me of Pole Position on the C64, though at least in that game I knew what my goal was.

Apparently it's a port from an arcade game. Race Drivin' was ported to a bunch of systems and apparently was terrible on all of them because the system hardware couldn't handle what they were trying to do. Now, I don't think I'd like the game even if the SNES could have handled it. But it couldn't, which just makes it all the worse. You suck, THQ.

Rating: F-

Saturday, May 10, 2014

#100: Q*Bert 3

Q*Bert: A Real American
We're up to the 100th game released on the SNES in the US and what do we find? Is it a hidden gem? An all time classic? Something that really shouts Super Nintendo? No. We get a bad port of a 1982 arcade game.
@!#?@! indeed, Q*Bert. @!#?@!.
Now, Q*Bert is a game I played a fair bit of as a kid, on I believe the Atari 600XL port. It was a pretty good game for that sort of low tech system. A directional joystick and no buttons needed. No real computational power needed since there wasn't much going on on the screen at any given time. It was fun.
This game? Really not so much. The controls just don't work with a SNES controller at all. Q*Bert is set up so diagonals are the things that matter, and I seem to recall back in the day you could just rotate your square joystick into a sensible orientation. Try as I could here I couldn't repeat the feat with my xBox 360 controller. The odd shape kept moving back into my hands the way it should, so up was up and right was right. Only this control scheme had up being up-left and right being up-right and if you pick the wrong one in a split second decision you were dead...

I was dead a lot.

The enemies were so slow that I didn't really need to go fast and make split second decisions. So I was actually able to beat a few levels by concentrating really hard on keeping my diagonals straight. But concentrating really hard on the controls for a game isn't fun. It's the mark of a terrible game. Besides, I want the enemies to move fast enough that I need to make split second decisions! That's the essence of Q*Bert! Make snap decisions properly over and over or die. I want the decisions I'm making to be figuring out enemy movements to chart a safe path, not how do I move down-left.

Even in the game where I beat some levels, disaster struck. I jumped out of bounds somehow and ended up in a glitched out, frozen game state. I don't know if that's an emulator issue or part of the actual game but I don't like it.

The game's music and imagery were all really silly, as though the people who put it together remembered playing the game from when they were kids and decided they had to make it feel very kid-like. It didn't really fit.

Now, on the one hand, this was actually Q*Bert. So I don't know that it deserves an F... It was a legit port that just couldn't work with the SNES controller. Or couldn't it? I'm pretty sure diagonals actually work fine if you code the input handler properly. Which means they didn't. Q*Bert is a fine game. Q*Bert 3 is terrible.

Rating: F

Saturday, May 3, 2014

#99: Phalanx: The Enforce Fighter A-144

Phalanx: The Super Long Subtitle
I'd never heard of this game but the very descriptive title gave me a pretty good idea of what to expect. A SNES game with a fighter is going to be a side scrolling shooter, I bet!
Water sucks, yo.
There's actually not a whole lot to say about this game. On the plus side you have 3 health so you aren't instantly dead if you get hit. On the minus side when you do get hit 3 times you lose all your power-ups like in most other games of this genre. I've always found the level of perfection required with that stipulation to be a little much, though I did practice Gradius III enough to beat it so I guess I didn't mind it too much when I was younger.

At any rate, while this game didn't seem to be anything special it also worked just fine. It wasn't mind blowing and the rate of gaining power-ups after you died was on the slow side but all in all I think I could have really gotten into playing this game as a kid. It isn't bad.

Rating: B-