Thursday, November 22, 2012

Update 11/19 - HG101 Book Sega Arcade Classics Vol. 1, Sakura Taisen, Super Locomotive, Hybrid Heaven, Block Out

First things first - HG101 is proud to announce our next book project: Sega Arcade Classics Vol. 1. This 166 volume contains of over seventy classic games originating from the 1980s and 90s arcade scene. All articles have been updated, revised, and expanded from the ones currently featured on the site. Furthermore, you won't very long to get a copy either - it's in its final stages of production, and should be ready for purchase in early/mid December. Both black & white and full color paperbacks will be available through Amazon, priced at $9.99 and $25 respectively (the latter just enough to quality for free super saver shipping) but PDFs will available straight through the site for those with tablets and eReaders.

The biggest thing to note is that the interior looks much, much nicer than the adventure game book. While this volume is substantially shorter, it's also much more carefully designed, with layouts that are designed after the enthusiasm of 90s game magazines. The color volume is pricey, but it's definitely worth it.

This update is more than just a book announcement. Topping the list of articles is a 10,000+ word feature of Sega's Sakura Taisen (also known as Sakura Wars). Somewhere in my apartment, there's a scribbled piece of paper, started back in 2004, that had all of the series I initially wanted to cover here at HG101. Sakura Taisen was one of them. I bought a whole bunch of the games, but the article never took off. So eight years later, William Van Hecke picks up the slack to deliver an expansive look at Sega's unique SRPG series, which heavily influenced titles today like Persona 3/4 and Valkyria Chronicles. The only game in the series to reach American shores was the fifth game, but it came far too late to make much of an impact. Meanwhile in Japan, it was so popular that there was a stage show based on it.

While the upcoming Sega book focuses on mid 1980s and early 1990s arcade titles (and its progeny), Sega has a lot of history before then, much of which isn't covered anywhere in great detail. We have a second volume planned to cover these titles, one of the first of which is a look at Super Locomotive. It's...bizarre. You are a sentient locomotive, who's being chased for some reason? And you have to attack with them steam clouds? Huh. That's interesting. I'd never really heard of this one before, because it never got ported anywhere. But otherwise, it seems to be also recognized for totally ripping off Yellow Magic Orchestra's song Rydeen. It's a great rendition of a great song, in spite of the plagiarism.

Block Out is basically Tetris in 3D (though not affiliated with Pajitnov's own 3D Tetris variant, Welltris). The article also covers Welltris, along with Nintendo's 3D Tetris. Bullet Witch is an early Xbox 360 title was one of the first games developed by a Japanese company and was released by Cavia. Like many of their titles, it has a number of flaws, a few of which were exacerbated during localization, but it remains interesting enough to cover in this extensive manner.

The latest episode of the Game Club 199X podcast focuses on Hybrid Heaven, Konami's bizarre sci-fi wrestling RPG for the Nintendo 64, which we've also posted an article for. Page 21 of the iOS Shooters article covers StarCannon, xFighter 2, Ace Striker and Above the Sky. And Your Weekly Kusoge is Paris-Dakar Rally Special, a seemingly innocuous Famicom racer which is much goofier than it looks. There's no Spotlight Article this update, as I've been busy finishing up the proofs on the Sega book, but you can expect to see some of the updated articles included on the site as well.


  1. Very excited to see the Sakura Taisen article up!

    Two things, though:

    First, there are still Sakura Taisen stage productions. The original show stopped years back and they aren't as frequent, but shows are ongoing and are advertised on the official homepage:

    Second, I noticed Pocket Sakura gets only a passing mention. It was actually an interesting little gadget - it used the same hardware as Pocket Pikachu (I think those were the only two releases with that hardware but can't confirm it right now), and there was a site that had not only translated all the documents for it into English but included a full walkthrough. It appears to be down, possibly forever, but parts live on in Google's cache:

    Anyway, very impressive to document the entire series! Thanks for improving the Internet again.

  2. The Blockout article maybe failed to mention a unlicensed NES clone called "3D Block" from a unknown "RCM group" from 1990.

  3. amazingly exhaustive take on Sakura Taisen! And really making me want to import a bunch of them even though I know I can't read the text. :\