Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Nintendo Power Retrospectives - Part #26

This week I'm taking a look at Nintendo Power #16, for September of 1990.


Please support my Patreon at http://www.patreon.com/countzeroor

Games Reviewed (Starred titles are picks of the issue):

  • Maniac Mansion - Lucasarts - NES
  • Rollergames - Konami - NES
  • Snake, Rattle & Roll - Rare - NES
  • Kickle Cubicle - Irem - NES*
  • Mission: Impossible - Konami - NES
  • TMNT: Fall of the Foot Clan - Konami - GB
  • Cosmo Tank - Atlus - GB
  • Quarth - Konami - GB*
  • Skate or Die: Bad 'n Rad - Konami - GB

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Nintendo Power Retrospectives - Part 25

With the term over, I'm getting back to the series with a look at Nintendo Power's second strategy guide issue, covering Ninja Gaiden 2


Wednesday, March 26, 2014

A new Kenji Eno game


Last year I had the good fortune to interview Katsutoshi Eguchi, friend and colleague of the late Kenji Eno. Along with other colleagues, they're planning to create a game (in fact, several games) based on the ideas of Mr Eno which were never fulfilled. They're using Japanese crowd-funding platform Motion-Gallery, and in a few days have nearly reached the halfway point. A detailed explanation of the game in English is HERE. If you want to support the project, HERE are step-by-step instructions, in English, for navigating the Japanese menus. Even if you don't back the project, I think it's worth spreading the word and talking about this. It's a significant event in games history. Films and books have been published after the creator had passed away - but I personally cannot think of an example in videogames. Furthermore, Mr Eno himself is legendary for his maverick ideas. This is the same developer who created a purely audio-only game, Real Sound, which could be enjoyed by blind people. Meanwhile his trilogy of horror games are cult classics - if you've never played D, Enemy Zero, or D2, it's worth reading HG101's article on them. Personally I'm excited about KAKEXUN, not only because of this game, but what it means as a precedent. As Mr Eguchi explained, there were many ideas which Mr Eno had documented in great detail but never made use of.


Sunday, March 16, 2014

GC9X Livestream: Please Register Your Shareware

COMING SATURDAY, MARCH 22ND, 9 PM EST/8 PM CST...

GAME CLUB 199X PRESENTS: PLEASE REGISTER YOUR SHAREWARE



Next Saturday, fire up NetZero, crank up your Linkin Park CDs, and check your ICQs for the next GC9X livestream! This time around, we're focusing on the many, many shareware games floating across the internet, and we'll be getting together taking a look at them!

The good...



The bad...



And my favorite type, the strange and obscure!



Using the combined powers of DOSBox for DOS games and Oracle VM VirtualBox for Windows 95, 98, and beyond, we'll be playing through 1,000 GREAT GAMES!* I'm busy gathering up any shareware compliation CDs I can find, so that together we can see what kind of stuff we can find on these things. So, while I'm collecting games, if you have any special requests, PLEASE put them in the thread, so I can collect them and play them live on stream for you!

It all begins Saturday, March 22nd, 10 PM EST/9 PM CST! But remember, you can only watch us 5 more times before you have to pay for our extra features. (Note: This is not actually true. ...Yet.)

The link, once the stream begins, will be found here: www.livestream.com/robertenaytor

* We won't actually play 1,000 games. And they're not all great. We can't even promise all of these will work.

EDIT: I made a small error on the time the stream starts, so I want to apologize for this. I meant to say 10 PM EST, or 9 PM CST.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Early Japanese Computer Gaming: Emmy (エミー) (NSFW)



In 1966, Joseph Weizenbaum published ELIZA, a computer program that was meant to replicate human conversation. In its most famous implementation, ELIZA acts as a psychologist, asking the user assorted questions, and then using the responses to formulate further questions.


In 1984, Kogago developed (and ASCII published) Emmy: The Funny Game, released for the Japanese PC8001 computer. It too mimics human conversation, except there's a visible representation of a girl. The goal is to get her to take her clothes off.

Some images further down are not safe for work!



The parser and response is incredibly simplistic, compared to even the earliest implementations of Eliza. If you say things she likes, she'll react positively. If you say something she doesn't like or doesn't understand, she'll react negatively. Occasionally she'll take note of the things you say and repeat them back. Sometimes she just sits there and giggles. If you manage to make her happy, eventually her image changes, slowly removing her clothes. If you irritate her, she'll show you the door and dump you at the command line. If you have a printer, you can have it print out a record of your little chat.



ELIZA was never really a game, and more of a Turing test, to find out how long it could fool users into thinking they were interacting with a real person instead of a computer program. This differentiates it from Emmy, where trying to figure out what she likes is ultimately the goal. Of course, what she likes is seemingly arbitrary, because the game's vocabulary recognition is not very extensive. Genial pleasantries like "ogenki desu ka" and "konnichiwa" tend to be shrugged off. You can get dirtier, and she may or may not like it. She's very hard to predict. There are canned phrases that she looks out for, like "kimi wa kirei" ("you're pretty") but you can't use them too often.




The art is designed in 160×100 pixels in 8 color mode. The coloring is stark - Emmy's outline is white, while both the background and her skin are dark black, with yellow used for her dress, red for her lips, and purple for her panties. In spite of the extremely low resolution, the artwork is quite expressive, and it makes it very clear when you've pissed her off. Some of the coloring of the "props" she poses around are very odd though.



A sequel, Emmy II, was later released. It was published later in 1984 for the PC8801 and FM-7, and in 1986 for the MSX2. In-game the title is "Emmy Virgin II", but the "Virgin" is crossed out and replaced with "Version". Ha ha! Sex humor.



The concept is identical, though this version of Emmy is easier, in both manners of speaking. She won't abruptly kick you out of the game like her predecessor, at least as often, and seems more willing to engage in nonsense lovey dovey talk. At one point I misspelled "konnichiwa", at which points she repeated by mangled word and then told me she loved me.



The cover of Emmy II uses a non-Asian model. In the PC8801 game, she's a manga-styled blonde. But the MSX2 game uses digitized photos for a real life Japanese girl. The "adult" aspects of this version were removed. The visuals in both versions are very much improved over the original game, though it is missing its unique stylization.



Considering that most ero games revolve around adventure games/visual novels, dirty mahjong competitions and gambling sims, the fact that the Emmy games are based around conversation makes it more noble than other similar types of games. It's also easy to imagine some poor sap purchasing this game back in 1984. "WHAT DOES SHE WANT FROM ME?!?" he might say. "I JUST WANT TO SEE SOME NUDITY!"

This 2009 article on Kotaku Japan suggests that Emmy might be the world's first "gal game". Of course, given the number of early Japanese computer games that focused on naked woman, that designation only makes sense depending on how you define "gal game".



Emmy's influence on Japanese PC games was not ignored. Yuji Horii's 1984 text adventure Hokkaido Serial Murders: Ohotsuku Ni Kiyu, the followup to Portopia Serial Murders, features a hostess named Emmy as an homage.

OTHER IMAGES

Emmy (PC8001)











Emmy II (PC8801)






Emmy II (MSX2)






Article on adult games on Japanese PCs
Blog article on Emmy
The works of Kogado (including Emmy)

Monday, February 3, 2014

Nintendo Power Retrospectives - Part 24

This time I'm taking a look at issue #14 of Nintendo Power, for July of 1990.

Games covered:

  • Chip & Dale's Rescue Rangers - Capcom (Pick of the Issue)
  • Snake's Revenge - Konami
  • Golgo 13: The Mafat Conspiracy - Vic Tokai
  • Solstice - CSG Imagesoft
  • Crystalis - SNK
  • Double Dragon (Game Boy) - Tradewest
  • Wizards & Warriors X - Acclaim

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Dark Age of JRPGs (8) - Do Dutch Wives Dream of Electric Eels? (オランダ妻は電気ウナギの夢を見るか?) - PC-88 / FM-7 (1984) (NSFW)


Most computer RPGs in the early days (and even in the modern era) are based around some fantasy or swords and sorcery universe. Yet that wasn't entirely the case - see Danchizuma no Yuuwaku, previously featured in this column. This game here, Oranda Tsuma wa Denki Unagi no Yume Wo Miru ka? (オランダ妻は電気ウナギの夢を見るか?), is the successor to that game, another entry in Koei's "Strawberry Porno Game Series". It was released in November 1984 and both developed and published by Koei.

The title of this game translates to "Do Dutch Wives Dream of Electric Eels?" Two things to note: "dutch wife" is the Japanese term for a sex doll, and the title is a reference to the Phillip K. Dick story "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?", the basis for the movie Blade Runner.

The game is half RPG, half adventure game. The story is that some advanced sex dolls, code name North Pole #6, have become sentient and are masquerading around the city as real women. Your goal is to find them.  At least, that's inasmuch as any internet guide can figure out, which mostly consist of listing very vague memories from when the game was released.


What follows is NSFW.

The game begins with a dice roll to determine your stats: Strength, Agility, Intelligence, Physical Strength, and Vitality, as well as an indicator which determines how often enemies will appear.


The setting is Kabuki-cho, in Shinjuku, the major red light district in Tokyo. The area is divided into nine screens on a 3x3 grid. You begin in a different spot in the city every time you play, but the layout is the same. You can walk around with the numeric pad. Most actions are carried out by the function keys. You can press Enter to get a summary of what they all do. So let's do that.


So the options include Look, Talk, and...Rape? Yikes. Yes, this is that type of game. Since you're supposed to be finding a human-esque sex doll, one of the easiest ways to do this is by testing them first hand. You can do this to any of the female characters, which include schoolgirls and call girls. This will bring up "Fuck Mode".


Here, the function keys determine your actions - F1 is lick, F2 is massage, F3 is pinch, F4 is to use a toy (if you have one) and F5 is to move your hips. An indicator in the upper right corner indicates the sexual intensity of you and the women. If you perform poorly, you'll prematurely ejaculate, and the woman will get pissed off. This means she'll take some of your cash and then leave. It seems to imply that the "rape" option is really closer to "proposition", since all women in this game seem to be hookers, and are okay with anything you do as long as you can pay up. If not, you'll usually get attacked afterwards by someone else.


Of course, you can't just run around doing this willy nilly either. There are cops and yakuza around too, and they can and will engage you in combat. Here, again, the functions act as different attacks. I've never beaten anyone in combat, actually. Sometimes I end up facing the old guy cops, who seem to go down easily, but then more keep popping up and eventually wear me down.


You can also try to have sex with the male characters. On the map screen it'll just call you an idiot. Try it on one of the male sex shop workers though and they'll attack you.


Most of the stores in the city are either love hotels or sex toy shops. The game operates on a timer - one minute per move - and certain shops are open at different times of the day. Other areas include cafes, fast food joins and flower shops. The function keys also perform different commands. F2, F3 and F4 all determine the tone in how you talk to someone - carefully, normally, or threatening. F5 will seduce, F6 will fuck them (this is exactly what the help command reads - "fuck suru"), F7 to attack, F8 to run away, F9 to take (or eat) something, and F10 to give a present. You can buy flowers at the flower shop, or regain stamina buy eating food. Randomly, you'll find a naked waitress at a cafe, whom you can also engage in coitus, if you'd like.



There are also telephone booths and banks scattered about. Apparently actually winning the game requires calling certain people at certain times. You can also get a PIN code to use at the bank, though inputting the wrong one four times will get the cops called on you.


You can only enter love hotels by calling a certain phone number, which are found on certain phone booths. This will schedule an appointment, but the location of the love hotel is randomized every time you call. You only have thirty minutes to reach the hotel, and considering there are eight across the entire city, it's impossible to reach most of them in the time limit. So, you have to keep calling and calling them until they schedule a meetup at one of the hotels nearby.


The visuals were created by Yoichi Erikawa, one of the founders of Koei. According to a 2007 Forbes report, him and his wife (and co-founder) Keiko Erikawa have a net worth of $780 million. It probably says something about the early PC gaming industry that one of the richest people in Japan found their start developing games focused on raping random people in the streets. Nonetheless, it's regarded as something of a bizarre cult classic amongst the Japanese PC gaming retro scene.





Friday, January 17, 2014

Kickstarter Alert - Chatbox Shamus: From Sloth to Sleuth


It's been a long time coming, but I've finally elected to go live with the Kickstarter campaign for my visual novel, The Chatbox Shamus: From Sloth to Sleuth. TCS is a detective mystery set in 1984 that follows 25-year-old Bastion Crowley, a failed college student who runs his amateur investigation service from a university BBS. He investigates everything from insurance fraud, to kidnapping, to drug distribution, and eventually even organized crime. Not all of it goes as well as expected, given Bastion's amateur nature.

For those who want something tangible to show that this is not just me blowing smoke, you can download Case 1 here, though it is missing character artwork and music. If you would prefer to get more information first, read on.

While TCS shoots for the style of a traditional film noir (monochromatic backgrounds, general moral ambiguity), it's not all dark and depressing. I've aimed for more of a deadpan humorous style throughout the story. It's not madcap zany like a Phoenix Wright game, but it's not dead serious like an episode of Perry Mason, either. Even though Bastion has spent a large chunk of his own life absorbing detective mysteries from books and movies alike, he really isn't as professional as he thinks he is.

TCS's planned five cases involve quite an array of unique people, but here are some of the recurring cast members and a little bit about them.

Bastion "Bass" Crowley
"That's 'bass' as in the fish. I swear, I spent all of high school trying to shake that stupid nickname."

Our protagonist (most of the time); Bastion was born a few years before the beginning of the Vietnam War, to which he lost his father. Since then, he grew up with a high respect of his father's military career, but mostly spent his school years watching Hitchcock and reading Hammett and Chandler. He never managed to get accepted into the local college, and spent the early portion of his twenties doing odd jobs and barely keeping on top of his rent. Somehow, though, he managed to scrape together enough money to purchase a Radio Shack TRS-80 home computer (already some years out of date by the time this story takes place) and a modem, which he uses to connect to the bulletin board of the college he failed to attend.

Antonia "Ruby" Travaglia
"Bastion, you dumbass! I spent two hours out here yesterday waiting for you to wake up, and you were already gone!"

Born to an Italian mother and an absentee father of dubious origin, Ruby works at the Pacific Daily News office as the editor of the police-blotter section. She has known Bastion since high school, even though she has not seen him since going away to college up-state. She is quick to anger and possesses quite a foul mouth, but she can show compassion when it counts, and is often more helpful to Bastion's investigations than either of them really want to admit. Despite the friendship, Ruby and Bastion reject the idea of a romantic relationship between them, as both of them realize that it would never work out. That said, though, Ruby does have some feelings for Bastion, though she would never confess to it.

Irma
"The cheese is fresh today, hon, it came from that farm down the freeway. Y'know, their cows are the only herd left in the state that don't have tracking devices on 'em?"

The owner and operator (and most of the time, sole employee) of Irma's Diner, a holdover from the 1950's in more ways than one. Although Irma cooks a mean grilled cheese with bacon, it's really her dinner theater (i.e. constant rambling about conspiracy theories) that keeps her customers coming back. She doesn't quite realize that she has become the butt of a few jokes, but her heart is at least in the right place, which is more than can be said for her understanding of social cues. Bastion is a frequent patron of her diner; neither he nor she can quite figure out why Ruby doesn't enjoy the diner.

Albert Cervantes
"You know work starts at seven, right? The chief doesn't like it when his people are tardy."

Ruby's arch-nemesis and the editor of the Pacific Daily News obituary column, Albert represents all that is wrong and unjust in the world of office ethics. Albert constantly defers his work to other employees in other departments, in addition to demanding that his co-workers fetch his coffee. He is especially harsh towards Ruby, who is the only Daily employee to ever actively resist his domineering personality. As Albert is the only qualified obituary writer in the Pacific Southeast, he is practically impossible to fire, a fact that he becomes increasingly aware of as the story stretches on. Although Bastion's primary career is investigation, Ruby "hires" him to observe and keep logs of all of Albert's behavior toward her.

Detective Greg Standish
"Alright...you there, state your business. I got a nap to get back to."

Since becoming a police detective, Standish has been relegated to the most boring desk in the entire department: Missing Persons. He is all too content to spend his on-duty time sleeping or working on crosswords in his office, until Bastion practically solves one of his cases for him. From that point on, Standish becomes a vital contact to Bastion, who does not always have the needed authority to order searches or seizures. That said, Standish's job is dead-end in more ways than one; there are avenues that even he cannot hope to enter, and he tends to be a victim of bureaucracy and red tape within his precinct. He does, however, possess a reasonable knowledge of most of the Pacific Southeast's defense lawyers, which Bastion finds useful on more than a few occasions.


The art style primarily consists of greyscale photo backdrops, though I plan for all characters to be represented on screen by sticky notes with portraits sketched on them. The above example is my crude attempt at it.

TCS's development has been progressing nicely; I currently have two cases finished with a third about half-done, and a further two planned. My major obstacles, however, are art and music, which is why I have set up a Kickstarter campaign. My funding goal is only $5,000 USD, but this will go entirely towards the hiring of a character artist and a musician to give the game the style it needs. Again, here is a link to the Kickstarter pitch, and if you'd rather play the first case beforehand, here is a link to that as well. I look forward to any feedback and suggestions.

Yours sincerely,
Corwin "wildweasel" Brence

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

GC9X wishes you a Happy New Year!

We here at the GC9X crew would like to wish all of you a Happy New Year! And what better way to start off 2014 than to watch us fumble around with games for 3 hours? Presenting the first GC9X livecast of the year:


Nintendo Power Retrospectives - Part 23


This time on the Nintendo Power Retrospectives, we take a look at the Best of the Rest of the Nintendo Power Top 30 for the magazine's second year.

Games Reviewed:
  • Adventures of Lolo
  • Baseball Stars
  • Battle of Olympus
  • Back to the Future
  • Ghostbusters
  • Goal!
  • Nobunaga's Ambition
  • Jordan Vs. Bird
  • Wheel of Fortune