Thursday, June 21, 2012

Game of the Day - Makyou Senshi

Makyou Senshi (aka "Gondomania") is a quasi vertical shooter with a constant and clear set of goals and power-ups.

The controls for MS are complicated and there are many ways you could play it in MAME. Like many omni shooters, there was originally a rotary joystick to go along with two buttons. You moved your avatar with the js and used the rotary to spin your secondary weapon around 360 degrees. Your two buttons related to the two different weapons: Your main weapon on your vehicle (you are flying in an old-timey looking landscape) always shoots straight ahead like a vert shooter - that's the first button. The second button is for your secondary weapon which is the one that uses the rotary. So, if you have a dial/spinner, you can use that to aim your weapon. However, since you have one hand on the js and one hand on the spinner, you still would need to do some fancy maneuvering to push the two buttons to fire. Luckily, I have a push/pull spinner that has switches built in. Push it down to fire or pull it up to fire the alternate weapon (or some setup like that). More on the controls later...

The game makes great use of a money for upgrades system. Practically everything you shoot turns into a little coin with a number on it (7, 10, 15, 30 are common). Those numbers are money you then collect by running over them. So you have your score AND your coin collection. But there are no shops in the game. Instead, as you are on the fly, upgrades for each of your weapons and for your ship's speed and shield are spread out everywhere - and they all have a number on them too. It is their cost. So, if you have enough coins, fly over an upgrade or power-up and you immediately add it to your ship and the cost is subtracted from your coins. It's a very cool system that keeps you constantly collecting the coins after you lay waste to the evil guys. And they ARE guys. Not ships. Most of the enemies are primitive looking dudes that your blast (told you it was old-timey).

If you fly over a power-up that you can't afford, nothing happens - it just stays there. Keep in mind, that you may want to save your coins for bigger stuff and you may not want to change the type of primary or secondary weapon you have and therefore will find yourself skipping some upgrades on purpose.

The graphics aren't great - but typical for the time. However, the unique setting/universe does add some interest to the game. But it's the controls, upgrade system and great battles that make this game so good.

More about the controls... If you don't have a dial/spinner, don't fret. In fact, I actually enjoyed the game more when I just let both weapons fire straight ahead. It plays like any vert shooter and you don't really miss out on being able to shoot at 360 degrees - there aren't many things that come at you from the side or behind. If you really want to use the rotation of the weapon and have no spinner, you can always use two buttons in MAME as "rotate right" and "rotate left". Additionally, if you have a spinner and don't have enough hands for the js, spinner and two buttons, I actually played the game with both weapons mapped to one single button - making control easier and the game was just as fun. Lastly, this is a perfect game for an Xbox Wireless Controller. You can use the triggers for rotation (or one of the analogs), the analog or d-pad for the js and any of the buttons to fire.

The options in MAME really add a lot to the possibilities for this nice game.

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