Sunday, January 27, 2013

The Ghost in the Shell movie came during that magical time in the mid-90s where anime hadn't really reached much of a saturation point in the US, and it could still wear that "awesome cartoons for adults!" label. Around that time, there was a PlayStation game released - which was actually more closed based off the manga - and followed up with PlayStation 2 and PSP titles down the line. This article covers all three, all focusing on super agent Motoko Kusanagi (and her less sexy buddy Batou, in some cases) as she fights crime in a cyberpunk future, along with the assorted spinoffs.

I'm sure most people nowadays only know the 3DO thanks to the Angry Video Game Nerd and his skewering of Plumbers Don't Wear Ties (which was well deserved) but there are still a handful of exclusives that are definitely worth checking out, especially Electronic Arts' unique first person shooter Immercenary. A more embarrassing remnant of the 90s is Survival Arts, one of the many terrible Mortal Kombat ripoffs, this one coming way by Sammy. And Midway's NBA Jam and NFL Blitz series are well known as two of the best sports arcade series out there, but there were actually precursors to both series, in the form of Arch Rivals and Pigskin 621 AD.

This month's >Game Club 199X podcast covers the offbeat NES action-adventure game Dr. Chaos, which we've also prepared an article for. It's a lot like The Goonies II, in that it's exploratory side-scroller with first person point-and-click sequences, though it's not remembered as fondly as Konami's faux-sequel, for reasons that both the podcast and the review make evident. Take note that the podcast is now available on iTunes and now has its own proper RSS feed if you'd like to keep up with it.

The >iOS Shooters article has been updated with reviews of Earth Defense Force (one of DotEmu's arcade ports), X3000, the Cotton-esque Blazing Arc: Magical Shooting Game, EnbornX, and the goofy Flying Hamster. Your Weekly-ish Kusoge is A Week of Garfield, a Famicom side-scroller starring the famed cartoon cat, unreleased in the US because it's a very bad game indeed. And the spotlight article is Data East's The Cliffhanger: Edward Randy, a tragicallyoverlooked action-packed arcade game that borrows heavily from Indiana Jones, and is sort of a proto-Uncharted, with all of its crazy sprite scaling setpieces, though done entirely with sprites. It's unported, sadly, so give it a go in MAME as soon as possible.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

E.X. Troopers - over 350 screens in HD

With Capcom deciding not to localise E.X. Troopers for the west, and with it only selling 26K copies in Japan, compared to the 220K which Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 reached during the same week, I'm puttingonline over 350 hi-def screenshots which I've taken. The game deserves more recognition than it's had. For me, E.X. Troopers was my GOTY of 2012. The controls were tight, the action fast and intense, the progression system balanced and fun, with plenty of post-game content. The visual style is also gorgeous. In several ways the game reminds me of Burning Rangers for the Saturn. The online multiplayer never seemed to work, but even so, the game is fantastic. If you own a PS3 you should import it. 

These screens are for anyone who wants them. Use them to create a detailed translation Wiki or FAQ. Use them for reviews, previews or Capcom campaigns. I don't really care. I might use some of them for an article on Hardcore Gaming 101, and I might not. But for Japan only releases it can be difficult to find decent quality screenshots without watermarks. Consider these my gift to the internet. They include character profiles, food items, weapons, tutorial instructions, cut-scenes, gameplay, and a guide for the 10 question quiz, plus miscellaneous. I didn't get EVERYTHING, but I think got enough. Apologies for some of the screens being too dark - you'll need to use an art package to brighten these. I only realised a few hours in that my capture device makes everything too dark if more than one console is plugged into it. Lesson learned for the future! I hope these are of some use. Do what you will with them. The ZIP file is hosted courtesy of Alan Stringer, AKA Dandy Sephy online. Many thanks to him for helping out!

A non-hyperlink link:


Tuesday, January 15, 2013

American McMadden's Alice Returns

After saving Wonderland and securing her sanity, Alice descends into another world full of whimsical nonsense, whose strange inhabitants can't inhibit their habit of hurrying around holding huge eggs in their arms. And call the deed "football".

I haven't got the slightest clue what the lines and arrows do, but now you can only see them after a dose of Drink Me. No referee will call you out for doping, though, cause no one likes a huge knife to the head.

... nor a hatter's cane.

Originally this was supposed to only have the small guy in the front in it to showcase the new flexible in-game resizing options, but... everything has room for improvement by sticking a giant white rabbit in it.

So yeah, I really, really suck at image editing, so I had to give the cover another title than I wanted. But EA has the human ressources to do it righ. And they got the Madden license. And own American McGee's ass. So make it happen already, EA. Should you somehow find yourself in the position of not being able to produce this game, I'd alternatively accept you purchasing the license for every single movie Rutger Hauer has ever starred in an making a game out of each by the end of the year as an excuse.

"I like that idea!"

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Independent Game Store Travelogue — Toronto

That guy in black was elated to find a CIB Last Starfighter for the NES.  Elated.
I make a point to look for used game stores wherever I travel. It's often surprising which cities have great local stores and which don't. San Francisco, for instance, has next to nothing of value. Westport, Connecticut, has it beat hands down. (More on that some other time.)

Toronto is apparently blessed with four or five good stores. Since I was in their neighborhood, I checked out A&C Games yesterday. It's a small storefront, but has—hands down—the most varied selection of old games I've seen outside of Japan. I found MVS carts, LCD games, Master System carts, a stack of PC Engines, and the most Power Base Converters I expect to ever see in one room. In one box of loose Genesis games, I found HAL's Space Trouble for the MSX. Nobody seemed to know how it got there, such is their embarrassment of riches. Thinking about it now, I wish I'd bought that...