Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Eternal Champions, Wizardry Interview, Devil World, AeroStar, Devastator, Metal Gear, Arena

The weekend update (or thereabouts). More after the jump.

This week we have an expansive look at the Eternal Champions fighting games for Sega systems, including the spin-offs they received. Our main interview this week is a conversation with Wizardry creator Robert Woodhead, the first taste of what will eventually become comprehensive coverage of the entire series. Next is a short piece on Devil World, a Miyamoto game which has never officially been released in the US. For fans of the GameBoy we also have AeroStar, an interesting vertical shmup where you're restricted to moving on roads. From the same author is another shmup, Devastator, for the Japanese Mega CD. It's based on an obscure anime, but is rather quaint, especially if you like WolfTeam games. As a small bonus there's a second interview, with Masahiro Ueno, who ported Metal Gear to the Famicom/NES. It's just a short chat, but it explains changes to the opening and the final boss.

Your Weekly Kusoge is Arena, an atrociously designed maze-hunt for the Game Gear, and we also have the third update to our iOS Shooter coverage. We look at two rRootage shmups, plus PicoPicoFighters and EXEXE Rebirth. Our spotlight article for the week is Ghosts 'n' Goblins, which now mentions some of the mobile titles, and also features improved GB screens using the correct color palette.

We also have a new Copy Editor joining us, Insidious on the forums, which should ease things up for bigger updates in the weeks to come.


  1. We really need a wizardry article. It is the fundamental stone of the videogame RPGs.

  2. "Although the MSX2 original of Metal Gear was officially released in the UK"

    I'm 99% certain than the MSX2 Metal Gear never came out in the UK. The English version of the MSX2 game came out in the Netherlands and other European regions that had heavy MSX userbase. The UK were never that much into the MSX.

    1. "I'm 99% certain than the MSX2 Metal Gear never came out in the UK. The English version of the MSX2 game came out in the Netherlands and other European regions that had heavy MSX userbase. The UK were never that much into the MSX."

      I am not sure about that, since at least the first level in the Ocean Software's version of Rambo 3 (supposedly developed in the UK) may have been inspired by the MSX2 version of Metal Gear. It is possible that the MSX2 version was released in the UK but wasn't widely available at shops (perhaps due to the small userbase?).

      Also, sometimes the releases of various games may suffer from the small amount of manufactured copies available for retailers. If I remember correctly, supposedly the MS-DOS version of FTL's Dungeon Master and the Japanese Windows version of Wizardry 8 (if I understood the Babelfish translation of the Japanese Wikipedia page correctly) had this issue.

      By the way, at least this scan of the back cover of the English release of the MSX2 version has "Printed in UK" on it:

    2. The fact that the packaging and manual for Konami's European versions of MSX games were printed in the UK is not necessarily proof that the games were sold there (for the record, a lot of NES games had their manuals and packaging printed in Japan).

      I'm not sure if this proves anything, but the Konami Software Club, a UK-based newsletter about Konami products published during the 80s, did cover MSX games.

    3. "I'm not sure if this proves anything, but the Konami Software Club, a UK-based newsletter about Konami products published during the 80s, did cover MSX games.

      I have been under impression that the Konami titles were held in particularly high regard among the European MSX/MSX2 users (while I was a C64 user, I was genuinely impressed by Penguin Adventure on MSX). As matter of fact, the MSX2 version of Metal Gear is mentioned in one of the newsletters (page 3):

      As an addendum to my earlier post, I didn't find out any kind of mention about the Japanese release of Wizardry 8 having a small print run, so that remark may have been removed or I may have misremembered the source. Also, my similar claim about Dungeon Master's MS-DOS release was based on article in Finnish gaming magazine.

  3. Interesting interview, but too bad it's short. At least it explains that there was a supervisorial mandate by Konami to make the MSX and Famicom versions of the same games as different as possible from each other (as evident by other games that came out on both platforms such as Akumajo Dracula, Ganbare Goemon, Goonies, King Kong 2, Majo Densetsu II and Hinotori to name a few). Still, I'm disappointed he doesn't explain who the other characters that parachute into Outer Heaven with Snake were, or why the programmers thought of adding a maze puzzle to the outdoor area.

    Any chance Sketch could come in contact with a member of the Snake's Revenge team? I know Yasuo Okuda was still working with Konami in 2009.

  4. I have tried, quite honestly, for years to contact someone, anyone even remotely involved with Snake's Revenge. It's a personal favourite so I am extremely keen to document it. Sadly I've had no luck whatsoever. Even the guys I have contacted at Konami, don't know where anyone from SR is. I did actually manage to get the full names to the team (since I believe the credits have just the initials), but this didn't help much.

    As for the brevity, of the Ueno interview, he was sadly reluctant to discuss the project at all - despite my protests that it's something to take pride in. Nice guy, but I don't think he was very well treated by Konami. :(

    1. Just out of curiousity. What are the full names of the staff members? I only know of Yasuo Okuda and Takayuki Ogura.

  5. I dug out the old messages and only two initials were explained, turns out, the rest of the names in the list we discussed was relating to other MG games. Sorry for my poor memory - the conversation was back in November!

    According to MobyGames these were the staff on Snake's Revenge:
    H. Akamatsu
    Kouki Yamashita
    Yasuo Okuda
    S. Fukuoka
    A. Nozaki
    Takeshi Fujimoto
    T. Ogura

    According to Mr M Kukino of Konami, who I spoke with, it's
    * Tsutomu Ogura
    and most likely
    * Hitoshi Akamatsu

    Interesting the discrepancy we have regarding T Ogura - what was your source for that? Kukino-san seemed quite certain it was Tsutomu. He wasn't 100% sure on H Akamatsu though.

    1. I've seen a Takayuki Ogura credited in many Konami soundtracks and kinda assumed it was him. My mistake. Looking back at things, Takayuki Ogura is not a composer at all and seems to had been involved mostly in the management side of things.

      Searching for Tsutomu Ogura online, it seems he did some of the music for Bayou Billy as well (and judging by the game's credits, he was recently married when he worked on that game). That game and Snake's Revenge had the best soundtracks of any Konami game on the NES. He also did the music for the GI Joe arcade game, which seems fitting somehow.

      "Hitoshi Akamatsu" is new to new though. I wonder if he was credited under any other name? I know there's an Akamatsu credited in Castlevania II as well.

  6. The NES version had way more issues besides the omission of the Metal Gear and Hind D bosses and that maze area. Some of the enemy placement makes it impossible to enter certain areas without being discovered from the get-go. A perfect example is the truck with the binoculars in the fifth or so screen, which has a guard outside it. If you enter truck to pick the item and exit it, the guard will discover you no matter what. Then there's the very first floor of the first base, where you must choose between two corridors and one has two guards looking at your direction and another with an unavoidable trap door. Not to mention the fact that you can't procure ammo and rations by punching enemies like in the MSX2 version.

    The MSX2 Metal Gear (as well as Snake's Revenge) had enemy placement that were deliberately designed so that you don't (usually) get discovered by mistake and Metal Gear 2 added the radar.

  7. I know, I've always advocated that Snake's Revenge was the better game. I played through all of them multiple times. But having played the NES MG, I can't say I did not enjoy it. Problems and all, it was a pretty fun, albeit easier game. It had a lot going for it. Part of the problem is you're comparing it specifically to the MSX original. Compare it to other NES of that time. There were only a few top-down games, and none that featured stealth - everything was straightforward action. For me, it sits somewhere around the first Zelda in terms of NES awesomeness. It's basically Zelda with guns and stealth - the use of varied items is even more pronounced.

    Part of the reason Masahiro didn't want to talk is because of the cascading criticism he's received over the years from all fronts. I realise it has issues, but come on guys, seriously, there were hundreds of bad games released for the Famicom/NES, and MG is nowhere NEAR what I would classify as a bad game. Not even close.

    1. True, it's still an enjoyable port despite its flaw. I would give it a 3/5.