Sunday, January 30, 2011

Update - 1/29 - The Last Express, Cyvern, Body Harvest, Monster Maulers

I've got like three fairly sizable shooter articles coming up, but it's taking quite a long time to format and edit them, so this update will just consist of a few shorter reviews. That's okay, though, because there's still some great stuff. Good Old Games recently released The Last Express for $6, so I dug up the article for the adventure game book and posted it up. It's a bit hard to get a grips on at first, since part of the game involves being at the right place at the right time, but it's the most fascinating piece of historical fiction put into interactive form.

Other reviews include Body Harvest, the free roaming shooter from the Nintendo 64 that was the precursor to Grand Theft Auto 3; Cyvern: The Dragon Weapons, a shooter that takes the daring step to combine cyborgs and wyverns; and Monster Maulers, an interesting hybrid between a belt scrolling beat-em-up and a 2D fighter, put in the context of a sentai show and featuring a handful of Gradius cameos. Your Weekly Kusoge is Gordo 106, which is about an escaped lab monkey and is as dumb as it sounds, and we're re-featuring Hideo Kojima's Snatcher, because it's that damn good. This article was originally one of the first on the site, but I heavily reworked it last year to include tons more screenshots, so it's worth another look if you haven't visited it in awhile.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Some Video Game Books

1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die

I saw this book at Borders the other day and thought it looked pretty cool. Apparently it's part of a "1001 _____ You Must Do Before You Die" I haven't previously heard of, but it's an absolutely huge full color manual of essential games as determined by some of the folks at Edge Magazine. The retail price is a bit on the high side (fixed by ordering on Amazon or taking one of those 30%+ coupons to Borders, but there's a ton of content and it's quite nicely written. Some of the Amazon reviews are slightly critical of their choice of games, but it's quite broad and it works well. The only thing that stuck out in my mind is the inclusion of Cruise for a Corpse when there are far more interesting adventure games to choose. Then again, the recent Retro Gamer also featured the same game in its excellent "best adventure games that aren't made by LucasArts" article, making me think it just must be a European thing.

100 Videogames (BFI Screen Guides)

This book is a few years older and isn't quite as broad. It's shorter and in black and white, but the articles themselves are longer, and usually fairly interesting essays. They aren't marked as "essential" or anything, just 100 games that the author thought were interesting and worth writing about.

The Video Game Archaeologist

A series of self-published books focusing on a variety of retro subjects. There's a Sega Master System Game Guide as well, although it appears to mostly focus on US releases, as far as I can tell. I haven't picked these up myself but you can check out the author's website at for some samples.

Graphic Adventures

This book on graphic adventures largely consists of re-compiled Wikipedia articles, but there are a handful of original interviews that are quite good. You can also download the whole thing for free at the author's site, although part of the profits for the book are being donated to the Wikipedia foundation.

Art books

Udon's been putting out some absolutely fantastic art books lately - my favorites are the Mega Man Complete Works and SF20: The Art of Street Fighter. It's worth keeping an eye on Okami Official Complete Works too, as it seems to go in and out of stock regularly, and the jackasses on the second hand marketplace immediately quintuple the price any time Amazon runs out of copies. A couple new books have cropped up lately too, to be released in the coming months:

Valkyria Chronicles: Design Archive

I've seen the Japanese version of this book at conventions and it's brilliant, filled with both character and mechanical designs. Given the quality of Udon's other art books, they'll probably be translating the many interviews and design notes, too.

Atelier Series: Official Chronicle

I'm not really a fan of the Atelier games, but some of the artwork, especially in the more recent games, is quite pretty. I'm not sure if this is published by Udon or not, and information appears to be slim at the moment.

I may as well solicit suggestions for any other decent video game book that's been published recently. There's still too few them in an era where book stores have shamefully devoted whole shelves to "supernatural romance" sections.


Oh, Gamespite Vol 7 is out now too!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Mad Stalker: Full Metal Force – PS1 (PSN)

After an impulse purchase on the Japanese PSN, I reveal why Mad Stalker on PS1 is one big fat turkey. It went up about a week ago, but whatever you do, don’t waste your 600 yen on it.

Actually, Mad Stalker is a great game, if you get the correct version. For you see it was available on the X68000, Turbo Duo (or PCE CD-ROM2 if you’re a semantics pedant), FM Towns and PS1. I recalled THIS TOPIC on InsertCredit, where people sang the game’s praises and after which I dabbled in emulating the Duo version. What I forgot was the description of the PS1 game, which said it was a complete remake of the original. If I had remembered this, or looked it up before buying, I would have known to utterly avoid this turkey.

The word demake would be more appropriate, since they took most of what was cool in the earlier versions, stripped it, broke the combat mechanics, and generally changed it for the worse in the PS1 game. To bullet point the changes:

* Combat is slightly more sluggish. Some might argue it’s meant to be like this because you’re controlling huge robots, but things were definitely a bit more nimble in the earlier games. And that’s saying something, because the original wasn’t exactly fast.

* You can’t choose your character. You can unlock more robots by typing in a code, but in the Duo version you had a choice by default. This is unforgivable – why is it the older games allow choice but this doesn’t? I mean, I tried selecting a different character, but it forced me to use the blue guy by default.

* The graphics now suck. The main sprites are pretty cool, I will admit, but gone are the detailed pixel-art backgrounds, instead replaced with large static images that look like they were drawn in MS Paint. They have some nice sprites overlaid on to them, but behind these the far backgrounds are ugly and the whole effect is ruined. I also don’t like the zooming effects it uses. Some people say they prefer how the PS1 version looks, I can’t even begin to comprehend such an opinion. I mean, I like chocolate ice cream, but I guess some people might like raw pork-mince flavoured ice-cream, because hey, it takes all sorts. The earlier versions look gorgeous though (compare the above to below).

* Gone are the voiced cut-scenes and stage intros. The Duo version had a voiced intro and some dialogue intros before the levels, whereas on the PS1 you get none of this. There are cut-scenes but they aren’t voiced and they aren’t properly animated, making the thing appear like a poor man’s Axelay. A lot of people say a story is irrelevant in an action game, but I like them and, more to the point, their existence adds to overall production value of a game. The PS1 is just cheap in every regard.

* The earlier games had a much cooler attitude. You get a portrait of your pilots with stats and you decide who to choose, then you get some intro chatter and suddenly you’re dropped into a cyberpunk-styled night city to fight off other robots. I mean the whole was bad-ass and awesome. In the PS1 game you get nothing – you just start the game and there you are, in the daylight. During the day. A sunny day in a peaceful town. Why would anyone remove a night city stage? Night city stages are always awesome, plus in the earlier games there was a cameo of the bike used by Kaneda in Akira (very cool).

There’s an easy to prove all this to you. Here are two videos, one of the Duo game and the other of the PS1. Keep an eye on the far background for the PS1 version to spot the static bitmap they use. Yuck. Hands down the earlier games are better, and it’s sad that any company would drop the ball with such a cheap update for the PS1. What the hell were they thinking?!

Well, I’ve wasted 600 on this crap, which I won’t be playing again, and I advise that you stay away from it too. Get the PC-Engine CD-ROM2 version though if you can, it’s pretty good. The PS1 version though is just awful and nothing at all like the original versions - in fact it's more like cheap nasty sequel which is best avoided.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The joys of navigating the Japanese PSN

A nifty guide to signing up for the Japanese PSN. Considering that the demo for Catherine, the Atlus/Persona team's first HD game, hits the PSN in Japan sometime TONIGHT, I figured it was a great time to check it out.

Some nifty things I happened upon in my journeys:

-A demo for the PS3 Wizardry title, prospects of localization = bleak [DLC is plentiful. Stats and gear?]
-Videos for Catherine, in beautiful HD
-Demos and videos for dang near every obscure import you can think of, such as Umineko no Naku Koro ni -The Ronde of the Witch and Reasoning-, a neat visual novel recently ported to the PS3.
-Nifty Super Robot Taisen content, and clips for games that are getting US releases, such as No More Heroes PS3, and Final Fantasy XIII-2. Why the US PSN isn't sharing these, I can only wonder.

Creating an account took a matter of moments. I suggest using another user on your PS3, then going nuts. There's literally nothing to lose, and quite bit to gain. (Unless you want to start buying stuff, then it gets tricky.)

Comiket 79

One of the things which I find alluring about Comiket is not necessarily what they have on the show floor, but rather all that I potentially missed over the years. A little as two years ago InsertCredit would have run several entries with the convention’s highlights. With their demise though (something which pains me every time the topic of videogames enters my mental framework), an excellent source for Comiket info is gone. With that in mind, here’s an entry with stuff cribbed from a variety of other places. Do NOT look at this while at work, since while I have endeavoured to keep it clean, you really shouldn’t be wasting office time on it. (Comiket bunny girl courtesy of Kevin Slong’s Flickr account)

Comiket 79 took place from 29 to 31 December at the Tokyo Big Site in Japan. We’re a month late, but meh, more coverage online is better than less. The Comiket convention being a place where hobbyists distribute their doujin wares. It started in 1975 and now has over half a million people attending every year. There’s an entire sub-culture surrounding the event, and the official English page contains a neat PDF with images and information explaining its history. Worth a read!

Lee from HG101’s forums (who also write the Philippines entry) started a topic on Comiket 79: The Comic Market (Comiket 79) came and went in Japan last month, and I have been searching the net for doujin games sold there. I have found two noteworthy titles, Umineko Ougon Musou Kyoku and Touhou Koumajou Densetsu II.

Umineko Ougon Musou Kyoku is a 2-D fighting game developed and published by 07th Expansion. It is based on the Umineko visual novel series. The game play is pretty tight, and graphics are more impressive than Melty Blood.

Touhou Koumajou Densetsu II is the second Touhouvania. The game has been improved greatly, and the soundtrack is very nice. I highly recommend this one. Here is a link to a page with more info.

I found another fighting game released at the Comiket. This one is called Hinokakera: Chaotic Eclipse. It is a revision of an older doujin fighting game of which I never knew existed. The action is primarily 3-D on a 2-D plane, kinda like the old Tobal games. The graphic looks pretty average, but this video I found of the super moves is awesome. Moves do not get much more over the top than this:

Feyman added: Crimson Clover saw its full release at C79 as well. It's a pretty awesome vertical shmup, and certainly leagues beyond those lame Tohou shooters everybody's always raving about.

El Diabolico from SomethingAwful forums also started a topic, with plenty of information and links: What once had humble beginnings as a small local fair meant to promote and distribute "Doujinshi", independently published books, has since grown in to a massive beast with thousands of groups and individuals over the years hocking their own "doujin" works no longer limited to just books but to just about everything: Books, Comics, Music, Anime, etc. etc. Even the larger Companies have taken note and use their opportunity to sell their branded goods to the otaku masses. Of course this triggers a large otaku migration which grows larger and larger as the years go by.

His topic includes a Torrent to the Comiket 79 catalogue, which sounds promising, though I’ve never been able to get Torrents to work with my firewall. As El Diabolico points out, the whole event is usually ignored in the west. It's spoken about only by the super hardcore (hypercore?) and followers of Japan. The games released also often end up stupidly rare or even impossible to find
later without paying exorbitant sums. Many are forgotten. With recent insidious trends for people to hate on Japan and those who like its games, it is now quadruply as important for the remaining faithful to preach the good word and foster greater awareness of all games Japanese.

Comiket is also never mentioned in print magazines – the one time I twisted my editor’s arm to get a half page of coverage into Retro Gamer, entire forum boards exploded with hatred for me. Well, fuck the haters, because obscure shit like this is my goddamned mojo - and I will relentlessly man the ramparts. I’m cribbing pretty hard from SomethingAwful, simply because this year they appear to be the biggest English resource – or very least the most easily accessible. Thanks to all those whose shoulders I’m standing on.

El Diabolico also provided several links to lists of what turned up, and shops where you can buy this stuff. Some recommendations he listed:

Akamajou Densetsu 2 by Frontier Aja
Ehh.. The spelling on the title may be wrong but it's a Castlevania pun. And this? A sequel to last year's Castlevania X Touhou mash-up. The last one was pretty snappy. Hopefully, this one will be the same.

Umineko no naku koro ni: Episode 8 by 7th Expansion
The 8th installment of this celebrated visual novel series.

Ougon Musou Kyoku (Song of Golden Dreams) by 7th Expansion
Umineko.. the fighting game?! Maybe it'll be interesting? Maybe it'll flop? Who knows? It'll certainly be one of the more interesting fighting games to come out judging by future releases within the genre.

Motto!? Fushigi no Gensoukyou ~Under the Moonlight~(More!? Mysterious Gensoukyou) by Aqua Style
A sequel. A touhou themed rogue-like done in the style of Chun Soft's 'Mysterious Dungeon' series of games. Like any rogue-like, half the fun is figuring it out.

aiHD also posted a link to a PDF guide he made for westerners thinking of attempting a Comiket visit (search:
overnighting guide). He also did what appears to be a translation hack for those who have the Comiket catalogue CD. It’s also worth stopping by their thread to check out aiHD’s level-headed discussion on the quality of porn at the convention, and an in-depth explanation of everything else you can expect at the show, from the cramped conditions, to available music, other products and general advice. Well done that man (or woman).

And while we’re on the subject, here are some scans from Technopolis magazine from our Japanese PC article, courtesy of Tokugawa, covering Comiket of the past.
As you can see, every year the convention produces a large quantity of content, a lot of which ends up obscure and forgotten.

Finally, random Google crap I found. The lack of English stuff only highlights how limited the coverage for this actually is.


Hunting the Elusive


Armored Core

Club Nintendo advocates drugs

It’s true, the proof is in the photograph...

Taken from the Rad Racer section in Club Nintendo magazine, the “Classic” issue circa sometime around 1990? Right there in print, it says: rush, as in high on drugs.

There is technically an explanation for this, but I thought I’d let this stew for a while before giving the explanation in the comments section. Full images of the DPS is below.

I will say this: the image is not a hoax. I have said issue of the magazine, and it does indeed say that, and it was officially printed on behalf of Nintendo in its Club Nintendo magazine.

The simple answer for this that I can work out is: it's actually the South African edition of Club Nintendo and, due to geographical isolation at a time when the internet didn't exist, a physical copy was never checked by the London/European head office.

In the credits on the inside cover, while it says Published by Nintendo Europe, the editorial office was in Doornfontein, South Africa. Now it has to be said, the NES never really sold in SA. I've heard reports from people who swear they saw official PAL units being sold in some places, but I never saw them my entire childhood over there. The Famicom Clone reigned supreme since it would have been considerably cheaper.

Which means this magazine is probably their only real attempt at generating publicity in South Africa. At least that I saw. It was a free supplement in the first issue of a magazine called KIDZ, which was sold through schools. It featured puzzles, comics, film reviews, short stories, game coverage, and other cool stuff that 7-12 year-year-olds would like. Which makes the drug reference all the more strange.

If you check out this link:

You'll find a PDF download of what I presume is the UK edition. Notice how the design and colouring is different, though the content, assets and cover are similar. There were obviously editions made for each region, since googling Club Nintendo brings up a German version of the cover. There is no equivalent Rad Racer page that I could find in the above linked version.

My educated guess is that South Africa wasn't high on the priorities of Nintendo, they set up some kind of tiny editorial office which knew the NES was never going to make it even before it came out, and so when redesigning the magazine took liberties with it which were never checked. They would have either have had to send physical copies to Europe for verifying, or faxed them. Assuming they were printed in South Africa. Whatever the case, it's obviously an example of someone given free reign with captions and not being supervised.

Still, it was officially endorsed by Nintendo, so is a fun historical anomaly especially given Nintendo's early sanitised image.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Update - 1/22 - Police Quest, Yume Nikki, Primal Rage, Gundemonium, Blandia

Good Old Games recently put Police Quest up for download, so I'd figured I'd put up this article that I'd written several months ago. I wasn't entirely sure I should post it, since it's sorta incomplete. It was done for the adventure game book, so it only covers the "main" Police Quest series - the first four games, PQ: SWAT, and the clone Blue Force. It briefly covers the other SWAT games, but there are at least four of them (two for the PC, a few more for the PSP and mobile platforms) that I really didn't want to bother with. Still, by that point they'd dropped the Police Quest name anyway, and solely spun off to the "SWAT" series, so I don't feel too bad. Also, if it weren't already featured here, Police Quest: SWAT would absolutely be going into the kusoge column. It's an incredibly pretentious FMV game in fancy dressing, basically a compilation of those timed action sequences in adventure games that everybody hates. Except that's practically the whole game, with the rest comprised of stupid shooting gallery sequences for what seems like hours on end. Terrible.

Also up is Yume Nikki, which you should consider a companion piece to the LSD article from a few weeks ago - it's a pretty similar experience, but done with RPG Maker instead of trippy PSOne-era polygons. I'd never heard of Blandia before, but it's actually a follow up to Great Swordsman and Gladiator, mentioned in the Pre-Street Fighter II fighting games article. It's also notable as one of the first weapon-based fighters, predating Samurai Shodown slightly. It's got some nice graphics, although it's terribly glitchy. Primal Rage also isn't a terribly good fighter, but it did remind us of the days one would spend playing with dinosaur toys and having them gnaw each other to bits. It's rather fondly remembered as being better than most Western-developed fighting games at the time, mostly because it was riding on the hype of Jurassic Park. And finally, Gundemonium is a trilogy of doujin shooter released for the PC and PSN last summer by Rockin' Android, which we're only now catching up on. They're not exactly the cream of the crop as far as shooters go, but they're fun, and there's not much else that's quite similar on the PSN, so they're worth a look.

The Games of the World section has been updated with a bit about the scene in the Philippines. Our Spotlight Article is Segagaga, which is always a fun topic. I remember a few years ago when the British magazine Edge featured this game, and snagged some quotes based on the dialogue I had written for this article. It was actually just rewritten from this translation FAQ, which was incredibly stilted and needed to be redone, but the original translator was also properly credited, whereas Edge didn't reference my article at all. It's not quite plagarism but I was slightly annoyed. Oh, Games Journalism! And Your Weekly Kusoge is Record of Agarest War, which was mostly known for its scandalous special edition featured a boob mouse pad and a body pillow cover. I bought this game on clearance months ago and never opened it, where it still resides in shame in the closet. Amusingly, the side of the packaging contains this slightly salacious imagery, which apparently the folks at Micro Center felt was too suggestive and covered up with a Post-It note. The author of this particular piece admitted that he kinda sorta likes the game, but the absurdly complex alchemy system just begs to be mocked, and we'll take any opportunity we can to rail against the terribleness of Idea Factory (which has an amusing nickname amongst Japanese fans - please read more for details.)

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Asian script used by Western developers

Everyone knows about Engrish, where a non-English speaker attempts to use English text often with humorously incorrect results. But what about when the west attempts to use Asian text? Wielding a foreign language without knowledge of it, especially one wholly unlike your native tongue, is as dangerous as handing a blind urologist his scalpel. It’s just asking for trouble... We’ve had a great time on the HG101 forums discussing this matter, and I bring you a sample of our thoughts.

Two things made me think about this. First, I saw an image from my recent Metal Wolf Chaos article, showing neon signs displaying Chinese characters in the San Francisco stage. And then it reminded me of a recent video I saw on Deus Ex 3’s Hong Kong stage, which was full of neon signs with Chinese text. Now with a Japanese company like From Software I would trust their use of Chinese text, since there’s a lot of overlap between Japanese and Chinese, seeing as Japan adopted sections of the alphabet in the past. I’m no expert on the subject, but there’s a myriad of fascinating facts pertaining to the similarities and differences between similar Chinese symbols used by different Asiatic regions. It’s totally worth reading up on.

Having seen around 30 neon signs in the DE3 video, if not more, I was instantly curious to know if anyone had double checked these to avoid mistakes. I went and screen-grabbed all of them, and you can find the results on page 2 of the HG101 forum topic. Also, if you visit the Hanzi Smatter blog you’ll find not only incorrect Asian tattoos on Westerners, but also Western attempts to use the script in everything from music rap videos to T-shirts and website design - and it only makes them look foolish when it goes wrong. Would DE3 find a place on there I wondered? This in turn reminded me of the furore over Sony’s Little Big Planet inadvertently containing Koran expressions in one of the music tracks, which resulted in a recall. DE3 has enough trouble trying to live up to the expectations of DE1 fans such as myself, without embarrassing itself through incorrect text or – even worse – getting recalled because it inadvertently proclaims something offensive in Chinese.

Discussion on the forum brought up a few interesting stories.

Mystery Dreamcast Game
This isn’t Western companies using Asian text, but I wanted to share it anyway. On NTSC-uk’s forum about six years ago, I recall a Dreamcast game where someone had taken hi-res images via VGA, and then enlarged some background textures which had English text. As it turns out they were ripped from the English instructions of office supplies. The text said things like keep away from humidity and so on – it was perhaps less Engrish and more copying verbatim what you found on the inside sleeve of a DVD-R box. It also raises the question: do Japanese people find English text exotic? It was for an action game I think, and so the reasoning would be that English text has more of a militaristic feel than Japanese script? Otherwise why would they go to the trouble of copying English text when it would probably be quicker to just type something yourself? I can’t recall the game (it may even have been a PS2 title, but I’m fairly sure it was Dreamcast) – does anyone else recall something like this?

No one lives forever
Again not Asian text, but Derboo’s anecdote is worth reprinting: I remember some signs in the East Germany levels in No one Lives Forever reading "Bewachung heraus!", which obviously meant to say "Watch out!" but made no sense at all in German.

The Apprentice on CDi
Probably the only Western game which features lolicon porn (Google Hot Coffee and the game’s name for the story). The game was western developed, and one of the staff must have had a serious hard-on for anime, because the whole game is full of this really awful pseudo-anime artwork, with random kanji in many places (I would photograph all the kanji used, but my camera is on holiday, so I could only find these few on Mobygames).

The first - 城 – makes sense, as explained by Trickless: In Chinese, it would usually be read as 'City', as in '城市'. In Japanese kanji, it would usually be read as 'Castle', as in '悪魔城ドラキュラ' Although I think those definitions can be used in both languages, sometimes it depends on the context. Yuan on the forums elaborated further on the symbol, and his unedited explanation on the forum highlights some interesting points: As for the example above, 「城」, it actually means EXACTLY the same in both languages, which is kinda like "brick wall" or "surrounding wall". However, depending on context and usage, you can interpret the "word" differently on BOTH languages.

Which is all fair enough. But then why does The Apprentice have random boxes with the kanji for horse on them? The game is set in a sickly sweet cartoon environment, I highly doubt the castle’s owner has a penchant for forcing his horses to live in a box. Perhaps it’s boxes full of my little ponies?

Red Steel
Kobushi made an interesting example regarding Red Steel on the Wii: I think they just don't care. When I mentioned Red Steel, I was talking about the Japanese version of the game. They didn't even try to fix their mistakes for the gamers in the one country that would be 100% guaranteed to notice. The Japanese signs and billboards in Red Steel were laughably bad. Weird text, incorrect katakana, and some of the signs were completely upside down, IIRC.

Fear Effect
A game where the Asian text features in puzzles. I’ve not played it so can’t comment.

Not really text based, but I was fascinated to discover this tidbit about the spoken Mandarin in-game. As explained by Ganelon: Tong Pu speaks proper Mandarin with no noticeable accent. Followed up by Yuan: Yup, in Strider the Mandarin sounds like from the North. And it is a native Chinese-speaker.

Deus Ex 3
Which leads us on to DE3, the game you mainly want to hear about, right?

Trickless posted first after seeing the video, saying the only thing that stood out for him was老果奴水果店 – which means Old Fruit Slave Fruit Store. A quick Google of this compound brings up Chinese forums, where they’re apparently amused by it.

We discussed this for a while, with Yuan playing detective for this seemingly strange word combination:

Let's unravel the mystery!!

水果店 ----> water pulp infrastructure = fruit store PASS TEST

老果奴 ----> old pulp slave = someone who loves fruit PASS TEST

老果奴水果店 ----> old pulp slave water pulp infrastructure to sell
= Fruit Addict's Fruit Joint ----> PASS TEST

So, nothing about old fruits slaving anyone, or selling them back in fruit form. It is a possible name for a fruit store, and not even too far-fetched at that.

This was backed up by Ganelon: Yeah, I entirely agree with Yuan. If some folks object to "Fruit Slave's Fruit Shop," then they either don't know Chinese very well or they think it's supposed to be a common term when it's not. Some of the signs are proper nouns. How silly would it be if every fruit store was just labeled "Fruit Store?" All the stores in Deus Ex 3 have proper Chinese store names. There are no obvious errors. My guess is they have an employee with a Chinese background.

I find this quite re-assuring. Not only is the fruit store name correct, but it appears to have an element of jovial slang to it – something informal which suits the context of the setting. It’s an extra layer to an already rich environment which almost no one in the west is even going to notice. If a company is willing to go to such effort, or at least have a member of staff with a Chinese background handle this content, compared say against the lazy efforts of Red Steel, then I’m optimistic for DE3. Even though almost no one would have been aware of such things, there was that extra bit of thought which went into it. Now I only hope they make the game as complex as the original, and don’t dumb it down for the mass market.

There was a lot more discussed, far more than I’m willing to retype here, so if you’ve seen western games which incorrectly use Asian script, or you’re curious read more, pop by the forum.

A big thanks to everyone who helped with the translation and explanation of things.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Update 1/15 - War of the Dead, The Dark Eye, Metal Wolf Chaos

Three articles up for this weekend's update. Taking inspiration from a variety of horror stories and films, War of the Dead is an action-RPG that started on Japanese computers and eventually graduated to the PC Engine. I haven't gotten a chance to play it yet myself, but I also dig these sort of games with side-scrolling combat - there's more than a few resemblances to Zelda II. The Dark Eye focuses on the re-telling of a number of Edgar Allan Poe stories. This in itself is pretty cool, but it's got a totally unique, incredibly creepy visual style - most of the characters are puppets, and look pretty damn freaky. And Metal Wolf Chaos is a mecha-action game from From Software, and pretty much the only JP-exclusive Xbox title worth playing. Too bad it's so expensive. You play as the President of the United States, who defends himself from a coup by the Vice President with a gigantic robot. The dialogue is all in (really bad) English, and it's a huge shame this never came out in the US. What is also hilarious is that the Google ads seem to be calling up gun rights banners. How much more Super American could you get?

We also posted our results from the Galaxy Fight contest, and received no less than three votes for goofy sidescrolling shooter Harmful Park, so that's our Spotlight Article of the week. And Your Weekly Kusoge is Awesome Possum.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Galaxy Fight comp winners!

We announce the winners of our Galaxy Fight competition, and showcase the entries!

To our pleasant surprise there was actually a healthy diversity of entries, with only one game (Harmful Park) being mentioned by two entrants. Some of these are probably unlikely to see re-release even in Japan, due to licensing issues, but it sure is nice to imagine. Quite a few entries here I’d never even heard of, so well done guys! Finally, I’m fairly sure Ark of Turus and the Admiral gave us fake names – come on chaps, no need for anonymity on here.

Below are the entries (including staff entries), then the winners, then some commentary from myself, finally followed up by an interesting bonus taken from the WAHP podcast.

Enjoy, and thanks to all who entered!

In alphabetical order, with images taken from anywhere we could find them...

Being a fan of Irem’s Disaster Report games, I think this sounds really interesting. It’s a survival adventure game where you control five characters trapped on a South American mountain. I first discovered it through HG101 actually, and was excited by the fact the voices are in English. (Julie Campbell)

Arthur to Astaroth no Nazomakaimura: Incredible Toons
I’d love to see this brought over to PSN. I’m a big fan of the Ghosts ‘n Goblins and The Incredible Machine series and I first found out about the game when I was reading through fansites. The game looks really fun. (Paul Nguyen)

Fire Pro Wrestling G
While it’s true that if you have a backwards compatible PS3 you could simply buy Fire Pro Wrestling Returns for less than fifteen bucks, most people don't have those. That being said, the chance to get FPWG for five or six would be a pretty great deal. The last of the series made by series originators HUMAN, it’s a great entry in a series known for being the best 2D pro wrestling games ever made. (Joe Drilling)

Harmful Park
Too many ‘serious’ shmups seem to make their way to the PSN. I think
Harmful Park should be released because it will show people that
shmups aren’t all techno-laden guns-blazing laserpaloozas. Nothing
wrong with serious, but there needs to be some balance. Harmful Park
is a great place to start! (Alice Eidson I)

Harmful Park
If any one game jives with MonkeyPaw Games’ motto of retro games with today’s graphics and intensity, it is Harmful Park. It is a great-looking, great-playing game with lots of style that requires little translation. Also, the range of difficulty settings makes it easy for anyone to appreciate.(Joshua Goldberg)

Hermi Hopperhead: Scrap Panic
I remember reading about this in GameFAN and always wanted to try it. It’s a cute platformer which had a lot of praise, especially for the number of parallax background layers it had. The eggs which follow you remind me of Yoshi’s Island, except instead of shooting them they act as platforms. (William Legerton)

Mobile Tomodachi
I want to see Hamster’s Mobile Tomodachi on the US PSN. The game can be best described as a communication game with cell phones. This game would be good for fans of the Sims and similar types of games. It would be good for many fans of other communication games. (Joshua Main)

Panzer Bandit
I'm a sucker for a good beat-em-up, and the Japan only Panzer Bandit looks to be a great one. Anything that draws comparisons to Guardian Heroes is great in my book, and the music and overall presentation are quite good. I'd love to get a chance to finally play it. (Ark Of Turus)

Real Robots
The Real Robots series are Super Robot Wars styled games from developer Banpresto with a focus on a smaller set of four Sunrise properties. Acquiring rights therefore shouldn’t be difficult. Final Attack resembles Virtua-On in design adding a realistic style that should appeal to audiences turned off by Banpresto’s super deformed look. (Christopher Hadlock)

Samurai Showdown RPG
Samurai Showdown RPG. 2D graphics, the music was great, perfect character Roster, but without falling into the fanboy category. The only problem is, that I don’t speak Japanese! (Sebastian Gomez)
[editor’s note: for those curious, a fan translation for Samurai Showdown RPG is being worked on – so even if it never appears on PSN, we should eventually be able to appreciate it fully. Who knows, is this an opportunity for SNK to officially license the translation for a re-release? Good luck to Deuce and his valiant endevour]

SQ Sound Qube
A puzzle game unlike most others. Given a set of blocks and ability to send sound waves to determine which one is the core and not red, blue, or jam blocks. While too many games are matching colours, this is Marco Polo and should not be ignored. (Ken Pittman)

Suzuki Bakuhatsu
This is a mad looking puzzle game with FMV video where a Japanese woman has to disable bombs found in various household objects. In level 1 she has to disarm a bomb inside a fruity orange. To do this she needs to disassemble each item, one piece at a time. (Admiral Pentarou)

Velldeselba Senki: Tsubasa no Kunshou
I would like Velldeselba Senki on PSN. It’s an RPG for the PS1. The theme to the game are airplanes and sky travel influenced by Studio Ghibli films such as Castle in the Sky and Nausica the Valley of the Wind. I think this game looks cool and would make a great import game on PSN. (Peter Gormley)


The Divide: Enemies Within
Technically, being staff, I’m not allowed to enter. So I’m not even going to bother following the rules. My vote goes for a game which never even reached Japan, the US exclusive Divide: Enemies Within. It isn’t so much a Metroidvania as a flat-out Super Metroid clone in 3D. As we’ve mentioned, it’s awesome and deserves a re-release. Someone email Viacom! (Sketcz)

Ghost in the Shell
While I’m procrastinating in announcing the three winners, I’m also going to mention Ghost in the Shell (which also saw Western release). It was made by the Jumping Flash guys, using the same engine, and it stands as one of my all-time favourite PS1 games. The GitS licence means it’ll never, ever, ever see re-release, but damn, how many games allow you to crawl around on the ceiling like a mechanical spider? (Sketcz)

OK, enough time wasting, the winners who were chosen at random are:

Sebastian Gomez

Christopher Hadlock

Joshua Main

Congratulations gentlemen, expect an email with your download code soonish.

As for the entries, they were all excellent, and I’m especially pleased to read about games I’d not know about previously. Of those I did know about, Aconcagua is a great one to mention especially since it has English dialogue. Harmful Park and Panzer Bandit meanwhile are two excellent and also very expensive PS1 games, making them perfect for re-release. Considering the high resale prices for those two, it’s strange the publishers haven’t done this– surely it’s easy money? Suzuki Bakuhatsu is another favourite, though I’m a sucker for anything with FMV film footage in it.

One game mentioned which is on the Japanese PSN already, is Velldeselba. It was the first Japanese PS1 game I bought on PSN actually, and it is an extremely beautiful RPG with an incredible other-worldly feel. As Peter says it’s very Miyazaki – though the language barrier is extremely high. I never completed it, but it has a great atmosphere. People have mentioned it in fan-translation circles, so maybe we’ll get lucky and see a patch for it one day.

One game which is undergoing fan-translation is Samurai Showdown RPG, the uniqueness of which makes me keen to see the results. Beat-em-ups often have interesting back-stories to facilitate all those characters fighting each other, so the prospect of having such an intimate look inside one of SNK’s coolest creations is really exciting. Such a shame it never reached the west back in the day.

While the entries were overall quite fabulous, I must say I’m a little disappointed no one mentioned PepsiMan, a game with no real language barrier. Browsing HG101 there’s also quite a few other games which could have been mentioned, though perhaps people didn’t want to cover old ground. Some of my favourites include the Goemon PS1 games, and two of the best in the series (Uchukaizoku Akogingu and Oedo Daikaiten) are already on the Japanese PSN. I bought them off Play-Asia several years ago, as part of Konami’s budget re-release series, and they were both excellent. Then there’s Gamera 2000, Speed Power Gunbike, and of course the Love-De-Lic games which are covered on HG101.

Which is apt timing, since only just yesterday I discovered my friend and ex-colleague Mr Ash Day, Vice President of GamesTM magazine, has been secretly running a blog detailing all of LDL’s games. Well, maybe not secretly, but he doesn’t tend to brag about it, so I’m going to embarrass him and do so myself. If you’re curious about Moon RPG on PS1, or just LDL’s unique games in general, it’s worth having a read and it’s a great accompaniment to HG101’s own in-depth article.
(above fan art by Ryan Medlock, courtesy of the Lovedelic blog)

Oh, and as a bonus, I also discovered yesterday in the WAHP 14 podcast, that in Japan there was a poll to find which PS1 games the Japanese would want remade for PS3. Which is vaguely connected enough to our competition to list them (maybe). If you’ve got the podcast, it’s from around the 1.02 mark. Remember, these are for remakes, not re-releases.

“What PlayStation era games would you like see remade for the PS3”

10. Dino Crisis
09. Klonoa: Door to Phantomvile
08. Art Truck Battle
07. Ghost in the Shell
06. Parasite Eve
05. Valkyria Profile
04. Xenogears (28% of respondents)
03. Final Fantasy 9 (91.2%)
02. Final Fantasy 7 (99.2%)
01. Final Fantasy 8 (100%)