Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Complete Super Nintendo Collection

Things have slowed down as I have been busy with Xmas duties.  Will get back in earnest here soon...

Saw this on Headline News.  It's a listing on Ebay for the entire collection of Super Nintendo games ever sold in the US, Mexico and Canada.  The listing even has graded ratings of the condition and contents (manual, etc) for each game. 721 games.  $25,000.  Got get it.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Game of the Day - Slap Shot

There are many different reasons games are enjoyable.  Graphics, gameplay, challenge, depth, complexity and theme are all important aspects.  Some games lack many of these elements yet benefit greatly from competition.  The mano a mano ass-kicking floats many games because it's just plain fun to kill your buddy or destroy him in a simulated sport.  Of course, the competition itself would not be any fun without effective gameplay, and that's what Slap Shot does well.

Let's not kid ourselves, Slap Shot is just a suped-up version of pong.  It's one-on-one hockey in super fast style.  The graphics are weak and cheesy, the story, set-up and backgrounds are silly and weak, but it all doesn't matter when you start playing against your opponent and you start laughing your ass off with the high-octane fun.

You use the joystick and two buttons (MAME info says 3 buttons, but I can't figure out anything button 3 does).  One button hits the puck normally, the other gives you the ability to curve it by moving the joystick after you make contact.  Your "goal" (pun intended) is to score a goal on your opponent.  Each game goes until a preset number is scored by the winner or time elapses.

Like most Vs. fighting games, you play two out of three games to determine the winner of the match.  Also, like Vs. fighting games, if you are playing the computer, you play successively more difficult opponents if you keep winning.

But make no mistake, while the game is fun against the computer, the game is built for two humans to go after each other with each goal/volley only lasting a few seconds.  High intensity fun for all.

There are a few other features, for instance you have a power bar, and when it fills up you can execute a special shot by pressing both buttons simultaneously.  Also, your goal starts with shield/blocks in it to repel the first shots and then the blocks disappear when hit by the puck (breakout style) leaving your goal exposed.

The venue changes between matches and some of the rinks are shaped differently, changing some of the angles.  But in the end, the game stays very simple, very fast, and very fun.  And in fact is one of the most fun 2-player "versus" games I play with my friends (yes I have some friends).  As such, I will be inducting into the Hall of Fame for 2 player Versus games.

Sweet Retro Atari

Yeah, you probably have some version of this, but cool is cool, so here's another retro console reborn with 5 or 6 dozen built in games.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Game of the Day - Captain America and the Avengers

Capt America is just about at the apex of popularity for games I'll feature.  Essentially, if you are a little older, you probably played it in the arcades, and if you are a little younger, you probably never bothered with it on MAME.  Because of that, it is necessary for me to feature it as today's GOTD, for if you haven't tried it, you are missing out.  (You can see a little more about determining a game's popularity here.)
CaptAmer is a beat-'em-up featuring several favorite Marvel comic characters that is well done enough to give you the feeling that you are actually playing a comic book from the inside.  The characters are relatively small, giving a feeling of vastness to the screens and backgrounds, and allowing for great animation even though this game was made when graphics were still not top notch.  The cartoon style and the rich colors, enemies and backgrounds make it a visual feast only rivaled by the great gameplay.

There are two buttons you fight with along with the joystick - attack and jump.  But it's not as limiting as you might think.  Each character has special moves based on button combos and joystick moves and more importantly, the context and position of the current fight.  Moreover, each character also has a special attack (Capt Amer throws his shield, Iron Man sends out a beam, etc.) when you push both buttons at the same time.  Combine this with jumping and adept maneuvering for all kinds of crazy-cool fighting.  The enemies are cool and imaginative and some of them are uber-difficult.  And, occasionally, you get help from non-player characters for some good tag-team action.

Wait, but that's not all (just like the infomercials say), there are actually levels where the gameplay changes and it becomes a horz shooter.  You can see in the pics accompanying this post.  And lo and behold, it's a damn fine horz shooter at that.

So CaptAmer is a great comic book beat-em-up with sumptuous graphics, fun fighting and horz shooting thrown in for good measure.  It should not be missed.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Friday, November 30, 2012

Game of the Day - Ajax

Ajax is really two good games in one.  Levels alternate between a very solid vert shooter (with particularly good sound) and a great 3D airplane shooter (over-the-shoulder-space-type).

You start in the vertical shooter mode.  You are flying a helicopter and three buttons control your weapons.  You have normal fire, bomb, and super bomb.  The bomb is for ground targets and has a typical cross-hair that flies at a fixed distance out in front of you so you know when to drop.  One little added cool feature is that the cross-hair changes from a plain cross-hair to one with a white circle around it when you are lined up over a target and it is time to bomb.  The super-weapon (button 3) blows up most of the screen (not all) but is very limited in quantity and is not often replenished.

There are power-ups when you kill some enemies.  In fact, you can tell what they are because they have indicators at the bottom of the screen - better bombs, vulcans, 3-way shot, triple and laser.  That's right, 3-way AND triple.  As I mentioned above, the sound is exceptional - especially for 1987,  Rich bass resonates with each shot, not the tinny little crap sound in many games of the 80s.

The 3D levels (even-numbered levels) are my favorite.  They are very well done,  The 3D is good and smooth.  The battles are busy and balanced.  And the graphics are great.  In level 2, you find yourself flying straight DOWN thru the clouds toward a fleet of ships.  And yet in level 8, you are flying thru space avoiding asteroids and shooting down spaceships.  On these levels, you only have two buttons for weapons.  Normal fire and missile.

There are other little touches, for instance on the first level, there's a hole blown in a large wall and you have to fly through it - anywhere else and you crash into the wall (you can't fly over it).  Of course, all the enemy fire is concentrated in that small space.

In all it's a really great game enhanced by the fact that it's really two very good games in one.

Ajax - simple name, simple design, but all put together very well.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Funny PacPrint

Some art is beautiful, some is witty.  It's the Pac-Man food pyramid and it got a laugh out of me.  There's a link below if you want to check it out/buy it from the creator on Etsy.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Game(s) of the Day - Space Invaders Sequels (2)

It's crazy how old games are still compelling - Pac-Man, DK, Joust, Galaga.  Admittedly, Space Invaders was something I hadn't played in a long time as it was a little too simplistic, but it was still a buttload of fun.  Enter Return of the Invaders (1985)  &  Space Invaders '95 (1995. duh).

They are updated and snazzier sequels to the classic that manage to add significantly to the game without changing the core.  Both have very colorful updated (and sometimes goofy) graphics.  Both have imaginative and updated gameplay and both are a blast (pun intended).

Return of the Invaders (above) is a more straightforward game with some great additions.  The invaders don't just march down and across, but some circle and hover Galaga-style.  Also, the shields that are in front of you that you can hide behind are more complex than the originals.  They change color as you hit them and they deteriorate so you know how close they are to collapsing.  Also, they have parts that can be hit and split apart to leave openings and separations in the shield.  The final difference here is that also like Galaga, you can hit an enemy ship floating across the top that will release a ship it's carrying - if you collect this ship as it falls down, you increase your firepower.

Space Invaders '95 (above) has more details going on.  The backgrounds are crazy goofy colorful.  The enemies are aliens and animals and food and shoot all kinds of crazy crap at you.  Some levels start with a few BIG aliens that break apart into smaller ones when you hit them.  There are bonus stages (again, like Galaga) and Boss Stages (they are dominated by one big dude that takes tons of hits, but there are other enemies there, too).  You also have a wide variety of bonus stuff and power-ups to collect.  You can wind up with better shots and even bombs.

In the end, here is a quick comparison...

Return is much harder.  Return is closer to the original.  Return has a more serious tone.  Return has more enemy flight variation.

'95 is more colorful.  '95 has bosses.  '95 has scrolling backgrounds.  '95 has more surprises.  '95 has power-ups.  '95 is goofier.

Most importantly, both are lots of fun.

Monday, November 26, 2012

GOTD Charts

Had a commenter point out that there is a serious lack of Games of the Day on my blog from 1990.  Since I find games mostly randomly (they are organized alphabetically, but I jump around) it would seem that the years should all be proportionately represented.  Thus, it seems that for whaterver reason, 1990 was a particularly slow year for good games.  Of course, these are only my GOTD games and that means that none of these were very popular. And certainly, the years before 1983 had many games that are famous and therefore will never become my Games of the Day, so those years are underrepresented - but that doesn't really apply to 1990.  It just seems that it was an off year for some reason.

So, here is the chart of GOTDs on my blog by year, and just for good measure, another chart of GOTDs by company...

 In the chart below, the first number after the company name is the number of GOTDs for that company and the second number is the percentage of all the GOTDs that that represents.  So for Sega, there have been 21 GOTDs which is approximately 8% of the total.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Game of the Day - KiKi KaiKai

Another one for the Best Names Hall of Fame.  Kiki is a Japanese omni shooter where most of the enemies are ghosts, apparitions and anything else the Ghostbusters might have fought (Who ya gonna call?).

The controls are simple and a little like some modern vert shooters.  You have two buttons along with the joystick, they are long range attack and melee attack.   The two diff attacks dispose of the enemies in different ways and both come in handy depending on the situation and enemy.

You wander the countryside shooting fun ghosts of all types.  Also skeletons, girl-headed snakes and creepy stuff galore.  Some enemies fly straight and are easy to kill, some jitter around like they are on meth and take several hits to vanquish.  The beautiful part is that the game doesn't always play the same way.  In general, the same enemies are in the same place, put some come sooner or later based on your progress (or lack thereof).

There are power-ups and bonus items.  The way you get most of them is by using your melee attack on what looks to be glowing computer terminals (???).  Anyway, hit these and they will stop glowing and SOME of them will release items to collect.

There are bosses at the end of the levels, they can be messy, but aren't as difficult as bosses in other shooting games.

The graphics are typical of this age and serve mostly as cutesy and fun - it's the running around like a kook and firing at everything that moves that makes the game fun.

One additional little token...  This game has a feature I have never seen in another video game BUT IS in almost every pinball machine.  The match feature.  At the end of the game, a "random" 3 digits appear on the screen - if they happen to match the last 3 digits of your score, you win a free game.  Cool.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Game of the Day - Zunzunkyou No Yabou

Sorry to disappoint you, but Zunzun is NOT the last MAME arcade game alphabetically - that distinction goes to Zzyzzyxx.  Zunzun is a fun, more modern take on Space Invaders or Galaga in that it is a vertical shooter where you tackle one screen at a time (no scrolling).  It's goofy and fun and challenging, with graphics that prove that Meth was popular in the early 90s.

You shoot at many different types of enemies, but most are human(oid). Dancers and knights and Buddhas and all types of cartoonized weird things.  There are some differences in the game play from Space Invaders...

1.  You can move your avatar in all directions, not just left & right.

2.  The enemies swirl and dive from all around in every direction and often times attack you from underneath.

3.  The enemies come in waves - just when you think you've cleared the screen, more appear.

4.  The game is split into stages and levels. Several stages that are themed together make up each level.

5.  At the end of each level (approx every 4 stages) there is a boss who tries to fuck you up bad.

6.  Even before the boss, many of the enemies take more than one hit to vanquish.  Some humans first turn to skeletons, then hit them again and they die.

7.  You have a second weapon, a bomb.  It is operated by button 2 and causes a weird psychedelic effect on the screen and blows (most) everything up.

8.  There are power-ups (more bombs, shields, double shot,etc).

Okay, so that's a lot of differences from how Space Invaders plays, but the biggest difference is the wild and goofy graphics and the aggressiveness and difficulty of the enemies.

Easy to learn and quick to play, Zunzunkyou No Yabou has earned its right to have you pronounce its full name (if you can).

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Great Graphic Art

This is actually a few years old, but if you haven't seen this guy's work, you should check it out.  his screen name is retronoob on deviantART.  This is his take on Super Mario 3.  There are more good ones where this came from...

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Game of the Day - Avengers in Galactic Storm

Nice name.  I don't make a lot of fighting games Games of the Day.  The reason is really two-fold.  First, most of the good games are too widely known for me to make them GOTDs.  The other reason is that while I really like fighting games, I am not an expert at them and therefore am underqualified in reviewing the depth of the moves and other aspects.

I'm making an exception for Avengers (as I have a few others) because I enjoy it somewhat more than other run-of-the-mill VS. fighters and the control scheme is straight forward enough so that idiots like me can effect special moves and controlled fighting (not just button mashing).

The other main reason I really love the game is the graphics and their proportion. The fighters in Avengers are bigger and take up more space relative to the screen than most other fighters.  This bigness adds to the impact of the fighting and the illusion of control.  Capt America, Iron Man and others stand tall, fight strong and readily convey the impact of your attacks.
The game plays like most in the genre.  You choose your character.  You choose a story or a VS mode.  You have a health bar, a power bar (for desperation moves) and a companion bar.  A full companion bar allows you to call in a strike from your pre-selected partner.  There are four buttons to contend with, two for punch and two for kick.  And, of course, there are many combos of joystick moves and buttons to initiate combos and special moves.

As I said, there isn't a lot different here than others in the genre, but the nice, BIG look, and the nice control scheme (simple YET lots of combos and things to figure out) make this one of my favorite fighters.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Game of the Day - Toggle

Another game that ended its life in the prototype stage, Toggle is a quick, down & dirty maze battle game you can play for some quick fun.

There are two tanks - red & yellow.  You choose one and set out onto the battlefield in order to change all the tiles to your color.  If the tiles are neutral and your drive over them, they change to your color.  If they are your opponent's color and you drive over them, they change back to neutral.  There is a running count at the top that shows how many tiles you and your opponent have captured.  The rounds are timed.  At the end of the round, the one with the most tiles their color wins the round.

You play three rounds and the game shows you the final results of round winners and total points.

I haven't played a lot and I can't find any detailed info on the web so I don't know all the rules, but here's what I do know... Each of the three rounds has a different map.  Round 1 is wide open.  Round 2 seems to be random and different every time. Round 3 has holes in the maze that you fall through. This costs you valuable time before you are resurrected while your opponent changes lots of tiles in the meantime.

The other thing that costs you time is being shot, that's right shot, by your opponent.  Each tank has a gun mounted on it that shoots bullets in two opposite directions when you push the button.  If you hit your opponent, they are sent reeling around the battlefield - out of control for a few seconds - incapable of changing any tiles.  The weird/cool thing is that the guns are mounted and fixed and that the red tank ALWAYS shoots up and down the battlefield while the yellow tank ALWAYS shoots left & right (you can choose to play either tank).  So maneuvering to the right place to get your shot in quickly matters a lot.

There are many special tiles and I don't know what they all do. There are tiles that speed you up, tiles that turn whole rows or columns at once, tiles marked "1" and "2" that you have to change to your color and if you do it apparently flips all tiles to your color in between them (or something like that).  Then there's the BIGGIE.  The Toggle All tile.  It is a flashing red/yellow tile that if either tank runs over it changes ALL the tiles on the board to the opposite color.  So, in fact, you are never out of it as long as this tile is out there floating around.  All these special tiles add to the strategy, but they can be a little difficult to get as the tanks go so fast around the battlefield, they can be hard to control and steer to a particular tile.

Control issues aside, Toggle is a very quick shot of adrenaline and a good game for parties as it is easy to learn.  I would have like to have seen it developed further into many more levels and mazes and multi-player competitions.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

GOTD Played Poll (part 3)

Nearing the end of the GOTD polls.  Please fill out the poll on the right whether you've played all, none or some of them.  Trying to gauge the popularity of my top rated GOTDs.  And by the way, if there are games in the poll you haven't played (and there probably will be)  - go play them when you have a chance, they are all awesome.

Mega Man Plush Hat (and others)

There's a seller on Etsy called Game Punk Arts.  They make plush hats and toys with video game themes.  Lots of good stuff.  Here's a pic of the Mega Man hat (but there's plenty more)...

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Game of the Day - Magical Crystals

Magical Crystals is a 2.5D top-down maze/adventure shooter with lots of charm.  The graphics are fun and nice, and the imagination in the game runs wild.

You are some sort of little wizard dude.  You are adventuring around a track/maze apparently floating in space.  You have to collect (rescue) little crystals that turn into pixies and follow you till the end of each level.  If you die, you lose your current complement of pixies, so getting to the end intact means you rescue more pixies.  And you get bonuses proportional to your success.

Along with the joystick, there are two buttons: fire and jump. The jump comes in a lot as the game plays like a vertical platformer.  In addition to the first button being normal fire, you can hold it down for a charged shot - in fact, if you don't hold it down long enough for the fully charged shot, there are nice partially charged shots also.  There are also power-ups that make your normal shots, bigger, wider, more plentiful and more powerful.

Since you are floating in space, you can fall off the maze.  I died a lot this way.  You need to jump across tons of space/chasms.  Also, sometimes you are going too fast and run off the edge... what's cool is that if you do, you hang on and struggle for a second, giving you a chance to hit the first button (NOT jump) and climb back up onto the platform.

By far the funnest part of the game is the imagination in the gameplay.  You shoot enemies of all types with all kinds of behaviors (they split apart and re-attack, blow up, take many hits, etc).  Also, the maze itself goes crazy.  There are tiles that once you step on them, they disappear for a while - leaving a hole you can fall thru. However, wait a while and some of the tiles reappear.  There are lots of moving platforms and puzzle type gates and doors.  And of course, at the end of each level is some super boss that takes a million hits and splits into many different types of entities.

Strangely, there are even bonus levels that are mini-games, different than the normal gameplay.  The first of which is a Tug of War that relies on how fast you can push the button, Track & Field style.

Scoring is good too.  It has many factors including the end of stage bonuses based on rescues, time remaining and shot accuracy.

Another game that I had never heard of and seems very obscure, it's hard too not enjoy Magical Crystals.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Gratuitous Youtube Fun

If you like video game AND politics, this video is double the fun...

Friday, November 9, 2012

GOTDs Played Poll Chart

I've now conducted two polls on how popular some of my favorite GOTDs are.  I've combined them into this one chart.  It represents the percentage of you who have played the games.  From the least (Valtric - only 9.7% have played it) to Total Carnage (61.3%).  Obvsiouly I love all these games, so my suggestion would of course be to try the ones that you haven't.  Amazing that one of my favs like Valtric has been played by less than 1 in 10 of you and my fav crazy modern platformer Biomechanical Toy barely scraped out a quarter of you.  On the bright side, you know that there is still tons of gaming out there for you to discover.  I'll be doing the third part of this poll with additional games soon.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Game of the Day - Kicker

Some games are just better than others.  I know that sounds obvious, but sometimes the reason they are better is hard to describe.  It's just a knack or a feel.  Why is Pac-Man more popular than other maze games? Tempest?  Donkey Kong?  Joust?  All these are games that would be difficult to describe to someone who has never heard of them and make them understand why they are so great.

I'm not saying Kicker is a GREAT game nor am I saying it is in the league of the others I mentioned.  But, Kicker is very simple and yet totally fun and compelling.  It's one of those almost-old-school games that they just got "right".  The quickness of the controls and the subtleties in the programming turn standard stuff into something just a little bit more.

Kicker is a karate/fighting game (no surprise there!).  It's ridiculously simple.  Just one button to kick (or what looks like a head-butt if you are close) and one to jump.  However, that jump is for use in combo with attacking - it's just a small jump that keeps you on the same level, combine it with a kick for a strong attack.  A bigger jump - to the next story/level on the screen is accomplished by move the joystick up.  Move it up and you leap up a story to the roof or ledge above, move it down and drop down a level or to the floor.  This is where the game becomes fast and fun.

The A.I. of the enemies is pretty vicious.  So you quickly learn (especially as you advance levels) that you have to jump up and down and all around with the joystick to avoid AND attack the enemies.  Jump to the roof with the joystick, get in a quick kick, jump down to avoid the retaliation  etc.  Soon, you are being chased level by level and are using the joystick more to jump up and down than left and right.  It's this simple quick-wristed playing that makes the game feel like an old school game where mastering the controls and quickness win out.  By the way, when you are on any level, you can fall off if you get to close to the edge and don't jump, so be careful.

There are many power-ups in the form of colored balls (insert your own gross joke here).  Some are weapons, there is also a shield.  When you have the weapons, you use the kick button to fire them.

Your health and lives are counted down for you as you get four hits before you lose a life.  After each hit, the game shows you what number you are on (and there is a gauge up top).

Kicker has some crisp, spartan graphics (typical for the age) and a simple control scheme - but if you start playing and stick with it a minute, you'll quickly see how it becomes fun and compelling and why I made it today's Game of the Day.