Archive for the ‘Arcade’ Category
For whatever reason, the West gave up on the scrolling shooter genre back in the 90s. Sure, games came and went after the 32-bit generation, but for the most part series that had existed for decades like Gradius, Darius, and even R-Type ceased development. In Japan, however, the shooter – sometimes called shoot-em-up or the divisive shorthand of shmup – has evolved along with new franchises and coveted developers. Otaku, weeaboo (foreigners obsessed with Japanese culture), and shoot-em-up fans like myself remain aware and hungry for the new and challenging titles that come from the East. Of those modern franchises, there are few developers more notable than Cave and there are few franchises more recognizable than DoDonPachi. The name is a pun on both the literal meaning, angry leader bee, and the fact that “don” is onomatopoeia with bullet fire in Japanese. The story is somewhat irrelevant at this point, mostly because we never saw a release of any of the DoDonPachi series outside of limited release in arcades, but suffice to say it revolves around fighting various human fighters under the control of a large bee set on world domination. The “don” is fitting as well because your ship will be putting out literally hundreds of bullets every second and a sea of bright pink and blue bullet-fire will be coming back at you in retort. This sub-genre is known as danmaku (“bullet hell”), which is a fitting name given the minute-by-minute gameplay. Why does any of this matter? Because we’re finally getting a Western release of DoDonPachi DaiFakkatsu (aka Resurrection) on Steam that is part of an impressive resurgence of the genre for this region. DoDonPachi Resurrection is gorgeous, brutal, and feature packed to the point that both the veteran shooter fan and newcomers can find plenty to do and enjoy every potentially frustrating second.
DoDonPachi Resurrection will premiere on Steam October 14, a title previously exclusive to Japan. Here Fred takes a look at the initial stages and describes basic gameplay. This footage was captured at 4K/UHD resolution (3840×2160) and then downsampled to 1080p.
This quick look was originally posted on The B-Team Podcast (www.thebteampodcast.com) and have partial co-ownership with this site. This is re-posted with permission.
Developer Aicom had a slew of interesting titles in the late 80s and early 90s, one of which was called The Astyanax or Lord of the Kings in Japan. Oddly enough the game also had one of those infamous ports to the NES that changed and extended the original arcade concept, which Fred loved as a kid. In this episode Jam and Fred discuss their discovery of the arcade original and a replay of the Nintendo port.
This week the mod conversation continues as the guys move into the CD-based consoles and the wonderful world of modchips. There were many ways to get different things done in the Playstation era and beyond. Finally the show wraps up with soft modding and the various things that can be done from consoles only a few generations old.
Altered Beast was a game that lived in screenshots. Like it or not, the arcade System 16 classic was less known for the roller skating rinks, bars, and bowling alleys that it was intended to get popular on and instead became the poster child for early Genesis advertising. I say this as someone who was under 10 years old at the time it premiered, though, so perhaps it was burning up the arcades, but all I seem to remember was it coming home. I did get a chance to play the title in coin-op form at my local bowling alley, but after a handful of attempts that never got me further than the second level I gave up on replaying the game. When it came home, however, I needed it on my Genesis and I replayed it constantly. In fact, for a game that is not only easy but also quick to complete (probably about 30 minutes), I find myself replaying it more than most other games from my past. This even more odd given that, sadly, Altered Beast is not a very good game.
The premise is that of a centurion of Greece brought back by Zeus to save Athena, his daughter, who has been kidnapped. Upon your resurrection, you now gain the ability to take the form of different animals in a sort of “were-” hybrid (werewolf, weredragon, werebear, etc) that can be accomplished by collecting power-ups in the level. Beyond that Altered Beast is nothing more than a walk to the right and beat up everything in your path game, often known today as a brawler, but given that it pre-dates most of the Konami licensed brawlers and Capcom’s Final Fight, it was significant for the time. Levels can vary in length, but if you know the game in the least – and what needs to be done – you’ll clear each one in 5 minutes or less. Given that there’s only 5 levels, that’s a short time span. When I refer to knowing what needs to be done, that’s the need to destroy the albino wolves in each level, which contain the power-ups needed to make your character’s strength grow and eventually trigger “beast mode.” Each level rotation has 3 albino wolves and it takes 3 power-ups to go into beast mode, so you have to do it right the first time through or go through another rotation of the level that is usually harder than the first. Beast mode refers to your character transforming into the aforementioned were-beasts from earlier and has even crept its way into pop culture as a meme. While there are new enemies in each level, they all take basically the same amount of hits to defeat and aside form some basic change in behavior, don’t differentiate very much. That’s still not to say this game didn’t have talent behind it because designer Makoto Uchida would earn some notoriety for his future work on Golden Axe and a personal favorite Dynamite Deka (Die Hard Arcade series). Co-designer Hirokazu Yasuhara is even more notable with his planning and design on the early Sonic the Hedgehog titles before moving on and being involved in the design of Jak & Daxter titles with Naughty Dog and eventually the first Uncharted.
One of the most common questions I have been asked in regards to fighting games is, “why is Street Fighter II a sequel? Where is Street Fighter?” An understandable question, especially when you consider that the original Street Fighter was released in arcades a whopping four years later, plays completely different from its sequel, and was called Fighting Street in its only US console release (on the Turbografx-CD no less). If you’re a fan of Street Fighter II, the concept of getting to see where the series starts is tempting to say the least (and now completely possible without expensive hardware thanks to the virtual console and Capcom Collection), but you’ll soon find that Street Fighter is much more of a proof of concept rather than a fighting game that pre-dates the record setting sequel.
Switching It Up
A lot happened both in the talent pool of Mortal Kombat players and in the game design overall between the release of Mortal Kombat II and Mortal Kombat 3 (MK3). For starters there was a mass exodus of on screen talent due to royalty disputes, so almost no one from the original two games returned for the third release. In addition, Boon and his team were trying to turn Mortal Kombat into a viable fighting game with things no one had ever seen before and mechanics that could compete with the massive rush of fighters in arcades. The game was completely Americanized, with all hints of Eastern influence including symbols, locales, and the soundtrack completely absent without a trace and instead replaced by urban stages, 90s hip-hop soundtracks, and cyborgs replaced the signature ninjas. These locations were now composed of pre-rendered 3D backgrounds and the character sprites were almost totally digitized as opposed to the digitized/hand drawn hybrid of the previous games. Along with it came an overhaul of the controls, including combos and a “run” button to address rightful claims that defensive players ruled the previous title. It’s all one giant 90s metaphor but that doesn’t change the fact that MK3 (and it’s update Ultimate MK3 or UMK3) stands as the moment I felt the series went into the mainstream fighter territory. Couple this with the fact that it was on just about every console that existed at the time, still dominated arcades, and had more content than rival Street Fighter II could ever dream to do with its iterations and I see why it’s creator Ed Boon’s favorite. Mortal Kombat 3 definitely upped the ante.
This week Fred and Jam wax nostalgic on their favorite arcades from the past. It’s always been our belief that not only were the cabinet games themselves impressionistic, but the particular arcade you would visit and games you selected at those arcades to be just as significant. We talk about the locations, interiors, moods, feel, and of course our favorite games.
This week for Retro Game Night we go all light gun shooters (yes, they can be captured and streamed).
First up is arcade 3D shooter Crypt Killer, which was horror themed and moved from arcades to Saturn and the PS1 (Saturn version shown). Sorry about the sound on the game being much louder than my voice, it was live and no one told me.
Next up is the 1990 “classic” Mad Dog McCree, one of the first laserdisc arcade games that was almost perfectly ported to the Nintendo Wii. Here it is in all its glory (and in 720p!)
If you want to check out Retro Game Night, we do it every Friday night at 11:30 pm est on our Twitch channel (twitch.tv/gh101). You can also follow us for random live broadcasts and check that page for our ongoing replay of Resident Evil HD Remaster on the PS3, which comes to the US on January 20.