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Topics - retro junkie

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General Discussion / GameStop Going Down?
« on: August 11, 2019, 04:31:55 PM »
I am seeing a lot of talk of GameStop heading down the "spiraling path of death." Locally, if GameStop closed, I don't think it would be much of an impact. When I think of shopping for games they do not even come to mind. As a retro gamer they stepped away from me many years ago. There are other local game stores, some are "mom & pop." Gamexchange is a chain of local gaming stores that has been my goto when it comes to local purchase of games. They carry anything from Atari 2600 through modern games and consoles. Their main focus are games. In the last twenty years I can count on one hand how many times that I have been in a GameStop. Recently have been a couple of those times and then I thought I was walking into a Hot Topic store. If they quickly return to being a gaming store they might survive. But if they stay on the path that they are going, they are nothing but a shadow that will fade into the sunset and become one of those memories in gaming history. In the early days them and Babbages were THE "game stores."

Below are games I grabbed up at my local Gamexchange this weekend. That's my point.

Retro Gaming and Hardware / The Retro Console to HDMI Problem
« on: August 03, 2019, 08:47:03 PM »
This is one of my blogs for this month, but I felt it should be posted here too. This is a very important subject with serious retro gamers.

The real dilemma is that the composite input of HDTVs is slowly disappearing from newer models. The composite analogue tech is archaic in the modern electronic age. Only if you have an old VCR, or DVD recorder, or an old retro gaming system do you find yourself in the dilemma. (Did I leave anything out?) Really it is when you find yourself with something like the PS2 and backward, those are the gaming generations that are totally effected. And I feel that we are approaching a point when there will not be any composite type inputs to accommodate. The niche market may not be big enough for some company to invest in the tech needed to do it right and with quality. And do it at a modest price point that makes it affordable for the budget gamer. What we see is cheap China adapters.

We all must grasp the truth that the old consoles are in analogue 480 aspect ratio with a need for scan lines to hide the ugliness. No matter what you do, it does not change that inconvenient reality. Pixels and jaggies are the nature of the beast. And when you take that and try to convert it to digital 720p or 1080p HDMI, somebody help me 4K, it does not go well when it comes to expectations. One has to change their perspective and game on. Let’s face it, the old CRTs are gone. It has been years in my own area since I have seen them in my local Goodwill, and then they were $2 and $3. They have become museum artifacts.

Alternatives is the quest of every retro gamer, finding that one unique golden ticket. For the budget gamer, I have found three main routes, the console specific adapter, the very cheap universal adapter, and the clone console with HDMI. Presently, limited on the quality, on shaky ground, the clone console route is marketed mainly toward the Genesis, SNES, and NES. If you are looking for answers concerning your Turbo GrafX 16, N64, Sega Saturn, Dreamcast, Xbox, GameCube, or PS2, things get a little scary. There are some console specific adapters out there floating around, except for the TG16, but for how long is the question. And for the Neo Geo AES and CD consoles, I see nothing but the small cheap universal adapter as any kind of alternative and that is sad. Thankfully the PS1 has the PS3 for that HDMI experience.

For me, the cheap universal adapters get the job done but they are marred by the attempt to reduce the jaggies with some sort-of, anti-aliasing blurring fuzzy effect. (You feel as if your vision is impaired.) The clone consoles are hindered by their inability to perfectly replicate the hardware that they are trying to represent. So, you have sound and colors along with compatibility issues to complicate matters as that analogue signal is converted to a digital HDMI 720p or 1080p. There are various associated outcomes connected to a clone’s respective manufacturer. The console specific adapters, in converting the analogue signal to digital, can have an effect on the tint of the colors, brightness, darkness, bleeding reds, even a muting of colors. And the adapters themselves can be very hard to get. I have waited for an adapter that will work on the N64, GameCube, and SNES, for over a month before finally showing up at my door this week. The advantage of this type of adapter is, you get to use the original hardware.

I have the Hyperkin HDMI adapter for the GameCube, N64, and SNES. It has a seven-foot cable and it includes a USB power cord. You can use a standard power brick or a USB input on your TV. It has a switch on the adapter for 4:3 or 16:9 aspect ratio. The GameCube comes out on top as the one that gets the most benefit of using this adapter. Looks awesome on screen. The other two, jaggies are very noticeable, but who cares, I have a reasonably priced alternative for my N64 to HDMI hookup. This works for me. And my N64 will probably be the one console that will get the most use out of this adapter. All three consoles played without issue for me. I detected no latency, colors were acceptable, gameplay spot on. I have mainly been looking for a way to play N64 games on my HDTV without using composite connecters, would rather have the choice of HDMI. This serves well and resolves that problem, for me. Without some expensive console mod, I am delighted. Using the original hardware is very satisfying. Hyperkin is getting ready to launch an N64 clone in the near future. I had concerns especially since it had compatibility issues that were displeasing to me. Now? If I do pick up the N64 clone, it will be to review and test its worth and not for serious gaming. If this thing holds up it will deserve a good thumbs up with a $30 USD well spent.

GameCube: Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles

N64: Beetle Adventure Racing


Retro Gaming and Hardware / Hyperkin SNES: Frist Impressions
« on: July 03, 2019, 02:34:38 PM »
[I apologize for the format. I just loaded this up earlier on my blog site.]

The best way to play a SNES game is on the original hardware using a CRT. If you still have this setup, feel fortunate.

The SupaRETRON HD has a smaller footprint and will fit snug anywhere.

I suppose one has to consider the type of technology, that is put into these things, in order to deliver to the market “a cheap clone.” It should be expected that there are going to be flaws and that the tech has its limitations. When you look at “Analogue’s” consoles, it seems obvious, that in order to get something that compares to the original experience, on modern HD flatscreens, you are going to peel off some of that hard-earned jingle you carry around in your pocket. The switch from traditional tube scanlines to HD TV can be a traumatic experience for an old gamer. It is understood why many fall into the purest camp clinging to, and trying to maintain, their old consoles and CRTs. These games were designed for that certain time period, with no thought that many would love these things beyond their intended gaming generation. If you were there, you know that there is just no way to reproduce the magic of that period in gaming. There was no “net” so information was delivered by long waited for gaming magazines with sometimes months old news, and local arcade rumors. TV commercials only fed the fire to the already gaming community hype. The electricity and excitement that filled the air in those days as the trail was pioneered, and cleared, for modern-day gaming will never be repeated. And it is a real need among “those gamers” to preserve that part of gaming history. Retro gamers were born out of that need.

With that being said, I will now move into looking at my first impressions of the Hyperkin HD SNES.

The Micro USB power port, HDMI, and aspect ratio switch is the big winners here.

It depends on which SNES HD clone you purchase in what you are willing to except, or put up with, in your SNES gaming experience, obviously. I choose the Hyperkin mainly for the specific advantage in the way they powered their systems. I have the Hyperkin NES, Sega Genesis, and now the SNES HD. All three are powered by the same small matching USB power brick and connects into a mini USB port on the console. I only have one power cord running to the consoles and one HDMI. It depends on which system I am playing at the time that will be connected. When it comes to cheap HD clones, and I say this with gritted teeth, these may be close to being the cream of the crop, for now. There are those few others that are not bad choices.

On the Ever Drive China Ver. running Gradius 3. The beginning animation, title screen, and options menu were all normal, until you enter the game. The original SNES cart runs perfect.

There are compatibility problems that I found with the Ever Drive. It might be limited to the China version which is the only one that I own. Don’t know. There were certain games that were unplayable with, for example, the background graphics horribly broken and mangled. Putting in the same game and playing from the original cart there was no problem, for example a game like Gradius 3 was one. Not all games from the “Ever Drive China version” had compatibility issues, but keep in mind that the Ever Drive is designed for the original console. Not a big deal for me. I mainly use the Ever Drive as a game demo cart to see if I want to invest in a certain game. The console is totally compatible with reproduction games, on the other hand. So that is a plus, for me, as I have occasionally purchased a repro, it does run the retrobit’s Jaleco Brawler’s Pack. Seems to have good compatibility across the specialty chips. It plays Star Ocean great, water and reflections, sound bites, are there and nothing seems noticeably wrong. Star Fox, Yoshi’s Island, Super Gameboy, Jikkyou Oshaberi Parodius, Street Fighter Alpha 2, Kirby Super Star, all play with no issues. That covers the SA1, Super FX GSU-1, S-DD1, Super FX GSU-2, and the Sharp LR35902 core chips. The SA1 chip was used in around 34 games including the Mario RPG. Many games look good in spite of the jaggies, Yoshi’s Island for one. Some are not that bad when the jaggies are not as pronounced while others look eye bleedingly shocking, gasp. The console can play both SNES and Super Famicom games.

Visually, some games fair better than others, backgrounds usually look great. Jaggies are embedded into the main character sprites, or any low-rez sprites in general, so get over it if this is the route anyone wants to take. It is just a part of cheap clone gaming life. No one has placed a scanline feature on a cheap console, yet. I am sure if they find a cheap and easy way of doing it without sacrificing cost, using system-on-a-chip technology, it will happen. Just not there yet. Colors are rich and graphics are sharp with smooth animation for nonintentional playing on a large HD screen. At least as good as they can be under the circumstances without the scanlines. Audio, so far, is, normal, for a SNES. At least I haven’t ran across anything that raises my eyebrows or causes me to cry.

They basically got the configuration right with something ergonomically going on with the backside. I have no issues with it.

The controllers, that are supplied with the console, two, are good and feel close to the originals. Of course, if you are not satisfied you can use original controllers. Most respectable clone consoles come equipped with this feature. You get a generous 7ft 7inch cord, I measured. And the system comes with all hookups, both HDMI and RCA cords. But why bother with the RCA hookups if the main purpose is the HDMI? Has a NTSC-PAL switch on the bottom and a 16:9-4:3 aspect ratio switch on the backside of the console. It has an eject button that works great just like the original.

Not sure what more I can add at this point. It is really a matter of choice. (Choose your poison wisely, I guess, LOL.) Original hardware is still available for about the same price. You would need to fork out some extra cash for the HDMI connection. There are starting to be a few good options as manufacturers see money to be made. I have tried a few of the universal connection ones, but not the console specific, with unsatisfying results. Clone consoles are far better with their direct HDMI connection. Having been present in the local gaming stores when someone is looking into retro, I know they push clone systems. Even tried to correct one of the workers, nicely, about the NES light gun. They really don’t listen or understand. Game stores push the clones over the used gaming consoles that they carry. I am sure it is due to the easy HDMI connect.

Just think, as 4K becomes the standard in the future market for HD TVs we might be going through something similar as the signals are totally incompatible. At least for the tuners it is, not certain about the HDMI. That might not change hopefully. The headache continues………?

Everyone of their consoles has this trademark touch on the corner, lights up when the system is on.

Retro Gaming and Hardware / TurboGrafx 16 mini
« on: June 15, 2019, 03:52:52 PM »
Okay now you have my full attention! I must have this! I did not realize until recently that Konami had acquired all the rights to the Hudson Soft stuff. With this announcement I am very excited. I hope the games include not only Hucard but also CD. So far they are on the right track with a hand full of titles which includes one CD game, Y's 1 & 2. It will even offer the option of scan lines. Interesting.

Retro Gaming and Hardware / N64 Clone Console?
« on: June 06, 2019, 09:32:08 PM »
Well they finally went and did it. But it seems to be emulation instead of "N64 on a chip." Not sure I am happy about that. I think at this point I will take a "wait and see" attitude. I would rather see more of a hardware based clone rather than the emulation approach. It all depends if the console downloads the rom or plays directly from the cart. I am happy with the fact that the N64 is now being considered for clone systems. N64 on a modern HD tv is a little on the expensive side if you want 720 or better. I just hope it does not leave a bad taste in my mouth.   :-\

PC Rigs, Builds, and Peripheral Devices / Hybrid HDD or SSD drives?
« on: May 31, 2019, 09:50:25 PM »
Has anyone tried either type of HD? If so what are pros, cons? I may be behind when it comes to this type of tech. I am mostly a document, paint program, net suffer type of user. Old hardware has been my main rigs and laptops.

Okay I was tempted. I was on eBay looking around where I probably shouldn't have been.  ::) This computer place had 21 macbooks, 2008 build, for $40 each, this past weekend. They all quickly sold. Ummm... took the dive, as one of those 21, and here I am typing this on that book.

It is one of the books that has a 2.4 ghz intel core 2 Duo running OSX 10.6.8 Snow Leopard on a 160gb. It only has 2gb memory, but I have another two on the way and am going to order an SSD drive.

Believe it or not but this thing is newer than my lenovo laptop that I have been using for years with Linux. And this will be my first taste of 64bit instead of that old lenovo which is 32.

First thing I had to do is find a web browser because Safari was crap due to being so outdated. I am using Articfox which seems to be running very good. And I am finding that it will work with Facebook, youtube, eBay, and this forum.

This is really an investigation. My Daughter is concerned that Windows 7 is about to be no longer supported by Microsoft. And when that happens then there goes the Anit-virus support. I suggested she look elsewhere like Macintosh. So I have been on this thing since I got home this afternoon and I am liking this very much. This is from someone who has used Linux for almost 20 years. Of course if she decides to go this route it will be a much newer Mac. This is just to become familiar with the difference.

Retro Gaming and Hardware / Blade Buster on the NES!!
« on: May 05, 2019, 11:29:10 PM »

As a gamer, I love these types of shmups. From what I can understand this is a homebrew game especially designed for the NES and put on a reproduction cart. It is a vertical scrolling shooter in the style of Super Star Soldier, Blazing Lazors, with that warm fuzzy Hudson Soft sort of feel. It even seems that it has that music of Super Star Soldier in the first stage. Gameplay is so fast with no slow down similar to Summer Carnival. Graphics are standard fair of these arcade shooters of the past. This is true retro arcade shoot’em up love expressed in this wonderful game. You get only the choice of a 2 or 5 minute “high score attack” sessions, but that is okay. It is one of those games that you can sit down to if you only have a moment and addictive enough if you want a long play. High score survival is my thing. I have only been able to make it into the second stage so far. This and Summer Carnival are the closest you are going to get to a bullet hell shooter on the NES. I want so much to have more of these type of homebrew games. To me, they are worth every penny. Been a great and exciting weekend spent with this highly recommended NES game.

Over the Holiday weekend I started moving my stuff around and packing away some things. Right now my console gaming focus will be NES, Sega Genesis, SNES, N64, and Gamecube. That is the way my gaming area is setup now. What really lit the fire was going through my carts and making a list of every game that I have on the NES, Genesis, and SNES. I was shocked to realize that I have more SNES games than I do on the Genesis, but that is mainly due to my large Super Famicom library I now have, much larger than my US library. I am gearing up to increase my NES library as it stands at a little over 80 games. That is just not right, so much out there that is good.  ;)

Retro Gaming and Hardware / Hyperkins RetroN 1 HD= NES Gaming
« on: April 07, 2019, 10:12:35 AM »
Okay I bit the bullet. After such a positive experience with the Hyperkin Mega Retron I just had to pick up the NES console. And I am very pleased with my purchase. Been trying NES games all week.

Very small console. I already had the game carts. Both of these carts and the console equals great gaming in a very small package. And it is an added plus just to be able to power this from my TV's USB. What an awesome idea.

I had to try it. I tried Rad Racer 2 and this is the first clone console that I have had which will boot the game. Even though the graphics has its issues, I was still able to play the game. Road scrolled toward me and I was able to maneuver around the other vehicles.

I understand that it will play Castlevania 3 with no problems. I do not have that game..............................yet.  ;)

Retro Gaming and Hardware / Retro-Bit Sega Genesis Controller!
« on: March 09, 2019, 05:41:13 PM »
This is the 30th anniversary of Street Fighter 2 Ryu controller from Retro-Bit. This controller feels very solid with clicky buttons, awesome. I have been enjoying playing Street Fighter 2 Championship Edition. Great fan work with the artwork of Ryu across the face.  The size is good. One thing that puzzled me as I actually took out a tape measure to the cord, 5" 8"? Come on! 5" 8"? What's 4 inches? Somebody tell me what is it with four inches? Why couldn't it have been 6 feet? Or maybe 10 feet. Sorry for the rant. Almost lost my cool.

Mode button on top sort-of in the place you would find a shoulder button.

This is the big plus about this controller, two hookups. Made for the original, or clone, Genesis system, but can also be used on a PC, or the Altgames Genesis mini.

I do highly recommend this controller to anyone that needs a Genesis controller. This is the bomb. And a special thank you to Retro-bit for the love.

The last time I got a Sega Genesis clone system it was the Fei Hao version. And I got that one for the specific purpose of being able to have a direct HDMI hook up for my Genesis carts. I started reading, and youtube watching, some of the reviews of this one from Hyperkin and became very interested.

And let me emphasize that you will only get  the best experience with the original hardware. Then there is the Genesis system by Analogue which is a high end hardware clone. $200 is a lot of money for many of us. I am strictly a budget gamer. Low end is where I dwell when it comes to gaming. But at the same time I would like something simple and within my financial boundaries. If I want to hook up my original Genesis to one of my HD flatscreens, it is a pixel jaggie nightmare. But that is my only choice, I have no CRT, it died. The best you can do with the original hardware is get one of those up converters to HDMI.  The best ones are very expensive and it would be best if you just went with the alternative of the Analogue console. As for the cheap “up converters,” well, they are just not as good as the clone consoles with the HDMI output. They produce a blurr in the graphics.

I am not really a fan of Hyperkin products. Though I do enjoy the Supaboy portable. I had sort of gotten the impression that seemingly their research and development department was dead. And that they just repackaged their tech occasionally. Never heard or saw any improvements. But this Mega HD console is the first time I feel that my impression has changed.

Build and Design: It has a quality feel to it but I am wondering how much of that is deception. I know from watching youtube videos, of a console tear down, that there are metal weights inside. That is okay with me, it gives it better stability with the rubber feet, no sliding. Plastic thickness is acceptable and I am okay with it. I like the overall design and appeal, to me, it is attractive in its appearance. And I like the big blue “H” on the corner lighting up when the system is turned on. You have the usual “on & off” switch and “reset” button. Up front,two controller ports which are compatible with the original Sega brand controller. Outputs are analog and HDMI. You have a region switch, NTSC, PAL, JP, on the bottom and an aspect ratio switch, 4:3 or 16:9, on the back. One thing I like about inserting a cart is that the connector pins are close to the lid. This is far better than the Fei Hao console where I had difficulty inserting carts due to the depth and reach. Having no guide, like the original hardware, enables the system to accept different region carts, Japan vs NTSC. With the Fei Hao you are dealing with 1.5 inches vs a little under an inch with the Mega HD. Believe me it makes all the difference in the world. One is a straight shot and the other one is a feeling, hunting your way, blindly trying to hit the hole.

Video Out: The games look great, I say that with a bit of hesitation. It depends on the game and the mode of resolution. Low res games has jaggies due to the nature of the beast. I was very happy that my favorite shooter on the Genesis as it is in the high res mode, Bio Hazard Battle. It looks and plays beautiful, love it. With some games, there is something there, like Street Fighter 2 Champion Edition. Playing the game there was something in the background in some stages that I caught out of the corner of my eye, shimmering in the graphics? It could be seen in the vertical lines, just barely noticeable. Enough at the moment that I got a Hy-Yu-Ken against my head. But this only happens when you move in such a way that it causes the background to scale. I saw this in one other game so far. It could bother someone who is picky, but hey, for those that are like that, stick to the original hardware. And it runs Virtua Racing perfectly, totally pleased with it. I did have a bit of trouble at first, freezing during gameplay, red screen. But after cleaning the cart, no problems, runs great. Reproduction carts fit tight, but with the original carts, I didn’t really have any trouble. Colors are rich, some might be a slight bit over saturated, but I think that is limited to how the color pallet is used. Graphics are smooth. I understand that it works with the mega system converter. I do not have that to verify. I can verify that it works with the China Everdrive.

Audio: This has been a killer in the clone market for the Genesis games. This time I am pleasantly pleased at what I am hearing. Really not that bad. There is something in certain games that I can’t really put my finger on that makes me stop and say “huh?” There is some things, sounds, notes, that seem louder, at times. Some games “are” louder than others, don’t understand that. Other games I don’t notice anything that would seem out of place, or doesn’t distract me. Not sure how the audio is different in some games. But this is really the best that I have heard on a Genesis clone console, we are closer than we have ever been.

Controller: It comes with all the wiring, hook ups, so you can have it analog or HDMI, whatever. But it only includes one controller. Depends how you look at it, that can be a pro or a con. It is “okay.” I could play shooters with no problem. And I did not have any issues adjusting to it. It is really not that bad. I was able with some difficulty play Street Fighter 2. The only great thing it has going for it is that it has a ten foot cord. Since you will need a second controller, I would suggest getting the original hardware controller or a retro-bit one. The original fits like a glove, and only a retro gamer would understand that statement.

Final Word:
This is only one of those options for the HDMI problem. I am satisfied. It is, what it is, and it works for me. I purchased this system because it had a price drop, ca-ching $37,  at Walmart online or Amazon. I feel I got my money’s worth. Those who are a bit more picky may contend that you get what you pay for. I feel that it is the best Genesis clone out there, at the moment, that is a budget priced low end solution. Of course it is cart only, no way to attach the Sega CD or 32X. I am a bit surprised that Hyperkin is the one to give us Genesis HDMI gaming that really is a nice experience.

Still trying games, a Sega Genesis revival going on right now "in the house."

Retro Gaming and Hardware / Gamecube pulled out and playing!
« on: January 18, 2019, 06:36:11 AM »
A co-worker just purchased his first gamecube, came with a lot of games. Experiencing someone else's excitement and enthusiasm  has motivated me to pull out my cube and games. I have even purchased a couple games and am looking for more. I just realized that I only have around forty games for the system. That is not acceptable. I usually have a few games out for play on the Wii but with that console dead, got to get out the real thing. Love the "wavebird."

Viewtiful Joe is getting a revival.

Nintendo - Switch, 3DS, and Wii-U / My Wii U Experience......
« on: December 27, 2018, 09:32:03 PM »
With my Wii dying on me, I felt that the best replacement would be a Wii U. For just $40 I could have replaced my Wii with a Wii. But add $60 and I could upgrade to a Wii U black 32gb model. It is the most reasonable path to go and plus I have the backward compatibility with all my Wii game library. Highly recommend this for anyone that still plays their Wii when it dies.

Received my Wii U the day after Christmas. First game I played was Tatsunoko vs Capcom.  ;)
I ran by my local GameXchange, needed a charger for the gamepad, and picked up Nintendoland 95 cents and Skylanders Giants 95 cents. Grabbed up Bleach for the Wii $2.95. Impressed with the console. Nintendo would have had better success if they had named this something else and avoided the confusion. This console is not a Wii. I know that it had to maintain features so that it could have the previous generation compatibility, but this console is so much more than the Wii. I am looking forward to some of the games that take advantage of the system hardware. Already it was great that Skylanders Giant offered me the option to play on the gamepad large screen and not the TV. Although I understand that not all games give you that choice, it was still awesome. Been watching game reviews and gameplay on youtube. My list is growing. I will make some decisions this weekend on what will be next. The pad is not as heavy as I thought it would be and the screen is very responsive. So far, lovin it.

I think that I am the only one that can enjoy a game system out of its era, or generation. LOL
Especially one that is considered a flop. But remember, just because it "sort-of" failed in the gaming market, does not mean that it is a bad system.

This is the best time to purchase games for this console. Nobody wants the games anymore. LOL

I kept reading about this game. Watched some youtube gameplay and had to have it. Saw this on Amazon for $10 used with free shipping, sweet. I was surprised by what I have received. Looks in mint shape and unused. I had read that it does not play in the original SNES, only clone hardware. But my SNES is launch hardware, I know, I was there, picked it up personally. This thing works in my SNES, so there has been some kicking and knock out drag out fights goin on here. Two player coop, single player fun! This is from the same folks that brought us Unholy Night, except this was done right, with love.

General Discussion / Is this Game New??
« on: December 22, 2018, 11:23:03 AM »
This week I decided to purchase Time & Eternity for my PS3 from ebay. A used one was a few dollars less but being a few dollars I thought "hey" I will go ahead and purchase this game new. That way I would have the booklet and everything. When I received this yesterday, I noticed, there seems to be a couple of hole punches through the bar-code. It has what appears to be the original factory cellophane wrapper, folds, etc.  What is this? Has anyone ever purchase a game that was like this? Everything is crisp and new. It does not look used at all. The only other time that I have seen this is in a used or refurbished game.

I didn't know whether or not to post this in this section. But if we stay on topic, the subject of the packaging, then maybe it will be okay?

Retro Gaming and Hardware / Thanksgiving Day Marathon!!
« on: November 25, 2018, 11:02:57 AM »
Meant to post this Thanksgiving night, but.... not sure where to post this really.

5:00AM and it is that time again for smashing, shooting, and blowing your way through game after game! Rules are as follows,
1. Use up all your lives and record your high score, or progress, in a game.
2. Continues may be used and your highest score or progress recorded.
3. After your lives are used up, go to the next game. Mood swings determines your direction.
4. Must stop for food and bathroom breaks. We don't want any health or hygiene issues. (Wives are funny like that.)
Haven't played the game in a while? That adds fun to the challenge.

First stop XBOX 360
Death Smiles: The game is so gorgeous and fun to play. One of the best horizontal shooters. I took a chance and used one continue. I was afraid to go another, ended with 2,508,755.

Tried my digital download of Tempest on my 360. Whoa, well this is so embarrassing. It did not consider my score significant enough to acknowledge I had been playing. Sort-of like that first time, lost that quarter!

Breakfast break, (Elevator music playing, musical ensemble here of sax, horns, and electric piano which is also keeping the beat.)
Okay, I am back.

Esp galuoa 2, Black Label: Japan Import. This is a beautiful bullet hell vertical shooter. Even though I got a score of 9,887,712, I never made it out of the first level. At least I don't think I did. No wait I made to the second level, used only one continue. Bullet Hell shooters are confusing to me. I never know whether I am fighting a boss or a regular guy, you know? Very satisfying play.

Akai Katana: This game reminds me of Progear in its presentation. Another bullet hell shooter, more of a sort-of side scrolling horizontal shmup. Didn't last long but I did manage to score 1,219,059. That might have been by accident. Another satisfying play. Did try it in Novice mode in the end and I don't think my survival was that much improved though I was able to increase my score to 2,723,470.

Geometry Wars: 360 digital download. I so like this better on a my DS. Really bombed out at 18,175.

(What, they might not be able to have the balloons due to the wind? What is the use of having the parade if you can't have the balloons? Don't the Firemen have those round things to catch people? Now I know how Joker must have felt. “He took my balloons.” I can relate.)

Honey I'm home.

Darius Twin: Familiar territory. It was games like this that was the reason I played in the 90's. This is the best Darius game on the SNES console. Been playing this off and on. Ended this with 2,629,900.

(paused* The levels are geared toward one thing and that is to lead you to the boss. Their purpose is to beat you down until you are a whimpering mess when you arrive.)

You want this? Come and get it. Want Earth? Not today. Not on my watch.

(Youtube live, Verizon has the best view of the MACY Parade. No interruptions like the Networks do and augmented reality. So cool.)

Cybernator: Shooting and blasting your way through the enemy contra style. I was short lived in this one. Second stage, meteors got me.

Metal Warriors: This must be the spiritual successor to Cybernator. Same type of game play only this is more intense which makes it more fun. Even though there is some English in the menus, seemingly a lot of the story is in another language on my cart. This is new to my collection, so it is still considered to be new to play. Didn't last through the first level, but it was fun. Get some! Get some! Get some!

Skyblazer: This is a surprisingly good platformer by SONY. The character has Spiderman's ability to stick to walls, which comes in handy. But at times it irritates me when I am trying to get to somewhere and I stick. Password enabled.

Vampire's Kiss: The big bull thing kept butting me into the hole in the ground. Didn't get very far.
Dracula X: Is this the same game? I didn't know. Oops! Aaagggh! Between those blasted bats, lizard men, and me jumping into the abyss on the third level! Now I feel like I must stop Christmas from coming.

Musya-Gousou Jinrai Densetsu: Sort-of an action platformer Samurai type game in a Nightmarish world. I find it hard. And I have to really get into it and play it a lot to get anywhere in it. It looks like not today.

Parodius Da!: Not my day. Did not get past the first stage boss.

Opps! Another break. Gotta help the Wife with fixing the meal so,

More elevator music.....

After our Thanksgiving Day Dinner I spent the afternoon learning how to repair a DS lite. I changed out the top screen and put the whole thing into another shell. I ended up also doing one for my Wife, a Pokemon Yellow.

Getting some funny colors on that top screen. The hinge was broken and cutting the ribbon.

Microsoft - Xbox One and Xbox 360 / New Xbox One Digital Only?
« on: November 19, 2018, 09:26:58 PM »
I am starting to see a lot of hub bub concerning the possibility that Microsoft may release an Xbox One that will be digital only and no disc drive. Possible of a program where you turn in your games for a download code. Some of the argument is lower cost for the console. I started thinking about this and wondered, even though the $200 price point was thrown around, what price point would cause to go all digital? What would they have to sell the Xbox One "all digital" before you would lean in that direction? If they could come out with a killer game line up, which, too me, seems lacking at this point, would that tempt some gamers to jump on board? Is the time ripe? Digital download does seem to be a big part of the industry.

What say you?

Retro Gaming and Hardware / The SwanCrystal Console
« on: October 22, 2018, 12:43:45 PM »
Just thought I would share. Had mine out this past week. Initially designed by Gunpei Yokoi. 15 hours of gaming on a single AA battery. Reflective screen technology. Graphics, gameplay and animation that rivaled the GBA.  This was a 16bit system. It had a short life but it was good while it lasted. It was an RPG gamers dream come true console. Had tons of them, but never left Japan. Even though I do have the Final Fantasy series, I can't play anything but English friendly stuff like fighters, puzzle, and platformers. The Digimon stuff that was ported to the GBA is better gaming on this system, graphics, gameplay, feel. And not everything was ported.

My English Friendly game list:
Digimon Battle Spirit
Digimon: Zero Two
Digimon Battle Spirit 1.5
Battle Spirit: Digimon Tamers
Digimon: Veedraman Verson
Buffers Evolution
Guilty Gear Petite 1
Guilty Gear Petite 2
Puyo Puyo
Puyo Puyo 2
Klonoa: Moonlight Museum
One Piece Swan Colosseum
Lime Rider Keroikan
SD Gundam Operation UC (repetitive shooter action)
Pocket Fighter
Gundam Seed (There is a need to know Japanese to get the most out of the story, other than that it serves as a shooter. I do have the anime movie so I do know sort-of what is going on.)

Retro Gaming and Hardware / The Gradius Experience
« on: October 18, 2018, 12:07:42 PM »
I took my fall Vacation this week. Always in October. Been retro gaming and found myself going through Gradius on my SNES. Back in the SNES era there were two games I brought home with my SNES, Gradius and R-Type. Yeah Mario was the pack-in but I wanted to save the Galaxy. At one point I thought slow down was my friend. But go through this game on normal only to be rewarded with a restart in hard mode, stripped down to nothing, bullet hell going on now, faster enemies, and slow down becomes a nightmare. Still this is one awesome game that still packs a punch for me after all these years. It feels so good just to sit back and hack my way through this, again, and again, and again. There are some places in this game I know where to sit and let my "options" do the deed. That is if that nasty scorpion doesn't steel them. I learned a long time ago that you watch your ship and spend your time dodging bullets while holding down, or tapping, the fire button. This game rocks!  8)

Retro Gaming and Hardware / N64 and its Fighters
« on: September 09, 2018, 02:50:12 PM »
When it comes to fighters the N64 is not known for having any. I think the reason why is because there are no CAPCOM or SNK fighters on the N64 console. This did leave a big void in the “fighter genre” game library of the system. As a retro gamer it is interesting just to look back and play through the N64 library of fighters. I  judged those that are available on their own merit. Can they stand on their own as a capable fighter? One must remember that many of the fighters, of the competing game systems, that they were up against, was also blocky, 2D’ish, and had limited detail in their characters. Looking at the same similar type fighters, two stand out as having set the standard at the end of that generation, Tekken and Virtua Fighter. CAPCOM really is the one who started the fire. SNK made a big impact in the arcades right in the middle of the fight. Standing here at this point in gaming, you take a different perspective when revisiting. There is no shadow of those popular big fighting games intimidating or thumbing their noses at the N64. Street Fighter, Tekken, and Virtua Fighter were the kings in their day.

I love a good fighting game. But I think that fighting games where a phenomenon of 90s. That was the height of their popularity. And I think the driving force behind that, was that period in gaming history. Arcades played a major role as did the gaming systems of that time. There was so much competitiveness between companies to release the best game to draw crowds. Arcades were the experimental proving grounds.

As the ports of fighters came home, and arcades began closing, this led to a winding down of genre. More powerful consoles resulted in a change in the industry and new directions in gaming. Gamers moved on with those changes. A new fighter being released today does not have the same impact as it did back in those days.

I really think that the N64 and its fighters are an acquired taste. What do you think?

Retro Gaming and Hardware / N64: Super Smash Bros. Review
« on: September 09, 2018, 11:13:45 AM »
This review is taken from a series of reviews I did a couple of years ago concerning the fighters available for the N64.

If there is one thing that Nintendo has accomplished, it is, establishing likable familiar video game characters. Those characters are what has charted the pathway of Nintendo’s success as a video game company. Seemingly Nintendo has built their hardware around the games hosting these characters. Each and everyone of those franchises has their fan base that eagerly waits for the next big game with their beloved characters. It was pure genius on someone’s part to take those characters, group them all together, and place them into a fighting game. You have an instant seller.

Yes I purchased the Japanese version. It was a lot cheaper than the US one.

Odd, I have had a difficult time getting into this fighter. One of the hindrances has been, I do not find it as appealing as the previous fighters. Maybe it is just me, but I enjoy these characters in their original gaming environment. Another hindrance has been the difficulty I am finding in learning to control my fighter. The control does not seem as tight as I am accustom to, nor find in other fighters. Maybe it is just the button configuration. Maybe there is an awkwardness in using the characters in a way that I am not familiar. I want to control Samus Aran. But I am becoming frustrated. At first I thought it was the controller, but no, even after changing out controllers I am still having what seems like a slight hesitation, or slugishness, even a floatiness. Maybe some of this is just the N64 controller itself. I end up feeling that I am getting a lot of “cheap shots” from my opponent. That rubs my fur the wrong way when I sit down to a game and this hits me in the face. (No pun intended.) Yes I know this is a beloved Nintendo fan’s dream game which has become a franchise in and of itself. But it just suddenly struck me that maybe this is not a game for everyone. I went into this thinking that it was, ……. surprise. It is fan based, but I see this game as one for the younger Nintendo audience, Family time, or a multiplayer party game. And I think that this is the target audience, and the intent, in the game design. I am not finding it satisfying as a single player experience. But, as in every other game, the key to success is learning to become one with your fighter.

The graphics and stage designs are only as Nintendo can put together, awesome and excellent. The character animations are a joy. In each stage you have different platforms, at different heights, to fight from as well as ringouts to deal with. The stages are familiar as the concepts are taken from each fighter’s own games. The welcome powerups add to the fast pace chaotic fighting. You get a percentage marked against you, and increases, as you are hit. All of this, as a whole, adds to the depth of the gameplay. Making it a deeper game than it might first appear. This is a 2D fighter in a pseudo 3D environment.

This is a game that I personally did not find intuitive in the game’s controls. I think I went into it with expectations that this was just another fighting game with familiar controls. You really have to set back and strip away all of that from your thinking, especially if you are a fighting game fan. Nintendo does its best to maintain each character’s familiar signature moves. This changes the feel of the game as a traditional fighter. And pulling off some of the moves can prove to be difficult in the fast paced gameplay. It becomes a game in which you “learn to play” in order to succeed. And that is not a bad thing. Your approach is the same as with any other new game. You learn how to play it to get the most out of the experience. As a gamer, we do this without thinking all the time. It has a built in tutorial showing you how to play.

Due to the nature of this game in its party design, and gameplay, it became a system seller. No other fighter offers a better simultaneous four player experience on this system. (It almost borderlines Bomberman status in my book.) And largely in part, because of the draw of familiar, and popular, characters from the Nintendo universe it has been another one of those instant Nintendo successes.

I did finally find my fighter and I had fun with this game. Please don’t interpret my review as being negative. I approached this from the perspective of a fan of the fighting genre. Personally I think that if this game had been introduced in the arcades during the 90’s this would have been up there with the best. I rate this game as “system seller.” This game goes to the top of my list of N64 fighters. And that is mainly due to the multiplayer madness.

Mario dressed as Wario with a light saber in the Star Fox stage, priceless.

Retro Gaming and Hardware / N64: Fighter Destiny 2 Review
« on: September 08, 2018, 05:23:48 PM »
This review is taken from a series of reviews I did a couple of years ago concerning the fighters available for the N64.

The first thing I notice is the title, “Fighters” has now become “Fighter.” Some legality concerning the name or something? Not sure. This is the second game and you might have high expectations of great improvements. Or maybe something completely new. But what we have here is a well oiled machine. There are noticeable graphical improvements and a more fluid animation in the characters. Added stages and backgrounds. Some of the Fighters are missing and replaced by new ones. The one fighter I learned to use, is missing, and replaced by what looks like a Los Angeles club dancer. Replaced, meaning that, she controls the same and has all of her moves. So, for me, she was easy for me to take control. Not sure if the other new fighters inherited the missing fighter’s moves. Something to discover as the games are played.

But this is the same game, except that it has been tweaked and now has a more polished feel. They basically improved the quality of the experience in the game. I do remember that the first game did not have a story. Guess what? It still does not have a story. Or at least it is not communicated in the game. Maybe in the booklet? I don’t have the booklet. I really don’t need a story, but it does add that umph to a fighter which many gamers find it completes the experience. A story also gives that certain personality to a game in which a gamer can identify with in their imagination. I mention this because they had the perfect opportunity to add a story.

The gameplay is the same. All of the options are the same as the first game. You can still adjust the amount of points for the different throws, knockouts, ringouts, etc. You can still determine how many points needed to end the match. But there is something new to this second game which is an added plus. It is a game mode that reminds me of a board game. Where you land determines who you will have to fight. In this mode you learn new moves and build your character. So you would need to pick the fighter you intend to use regularly. You spin, move forward the number of moves determined by the spinner, fight, win a new move, spin again, repeat. Like a board game.

 This game does have that “Wow” factor. If you do not have the other game, I would recommend this one. But they are both so inexpensive any fan of the genre would probably want them both. Like me, I want them both. In this second installment, the fighters look less chunky with a slight more detail, prettier. (There are still those “awkward” designed characters present.) Game includes 12 characters with 4 to unlock. This is a very good game that is loaded with a lot of fun. This is one of the best fighters on the N64. I give it a big thumbs up and rate it as “Awesome Game.”

Retro Gaming and Hardware / N64: Fighters Destiny Review
« on: September 08, 2018, 05:12:04 PM »
This review is taken from a series of reviews I did a couple of years ago concerning the fighters available for the N64.

The gameplay is Virtua Fighter-ish in style and feel……. and yet very different. You have two main buttons that have a limited number of moves assigned to them. I thought various moves were being determined by the directional button. And they are, in that I found out that I am inadvertently performing some of the moves by button mashing. (Yes I am, by default, a button masher!) You have access to a move list for each character when you pause the game. The bad, or the good, depends on your perspective, is that you cannot assign any of those moves to controller buttons in the menu. It has already been predetermine as to what you can assign to those buttons. Those things you can assign are, Hirari= auto-avoid, Guard, and U+L which is the upper and lower buttons pressed together, green & blue, a throw. So you have to learn and memorize any of the character moves that are on the list. That, to me, adds some depth and also determines that it will take some skill to be a good fighter. But the unique thing that raises the bar in this game is the point system. This is not like other fighters where it’s two, or three bouts and you win. You win by a set amount of points. Throws, ringouts, knockouts, etc, all give points when accomplished. There are options to adjust the point system and that effects the length of the bouts. You have a life bar which can be reduced, but you can back away and you begin to recover. But you need to watch the clock which calls for strategy. I find this gameplay refreshing and makes this game very interesting to play. This is not a “me too” clone fighting game. The designers stepped out of the norm using some creativity to give us a very different experience in a fighter. And it works. Learning moves and fighting through this game can be a very satisfying experience.

The graphics are on par with Virtua Fighter 2 of the time period. Not as much detail, simpler, but it makes for a softer, maybe fuzzy, appearance to the characters. I’ll admit that they are a little blocky especially if you use a hi-res flatscreen. A flatscreen yields some sharpness in the graphics and things take on a different look. But on a 480 scan tube TV, it is smooth. Animation is also good and smooth. There are some character designs, which I sort of wince at. Maybe it is just the western cultural influence that I have in my brain. There are 9 characters with 5 unlockables. And one of them, is a cow.

You are located up on a very high platform with animated backgrounds, or at least some of the backgrounds are animated. That is where you fight it out with your opponent. A ringout means a nasty fall. The backgrounds look nice and are much more detailed than the characters. Not sure if that works for you. I never noticed. I was too involved with the fight. Using the rumble pak is a nice touch.

The game is an easy pick up and play, I was easily fighting in no time. I think a novice, or a skilled gamer, would get a lot out of this fighter. I found the game fun and satisfying. The only negative is the lack of emphasis on combos. You can string hits together which are combos, but there are no on screen graphics announcing how many. It is sort of missing and you feel it, or it is something I wanted while playing. It has nothing to do with the gameplay. Just puts a little fun edge into it. Like having a spotlight on you that gives you the feeling of accomplishment. Sort of like an award, a brag point. If they had included that graphic splash across the screen, it would have put this game over the top for me. Still, I encourage you to spend some serious time with this game and enjoy yourself. Fighters Destiny does excel in its gameplay. And this game easily sits in my top ten fighters for the N64. (Those slots are filling up fast.) I highly recommend this game, big thumbs up, and rate it as “Awesome Game.”

Retro Gaming and Hardware / N64: Mace The Dark Age Review
« on: September 07, 2018, 10:42:01 PM »
This review is taken from a series of reviews I did a couple of years ago concerning the fighters available for the N64.

I love this game and find it hard to put down, yes, addicting. This game is very easy to pick up and play. After two afternoons of playing I found myself easily pulling off, up to, 4 hit combos. And you’ll need to be able to perform those combos in order to get anywhere in this game. The computer offers a good challenge, so it is essential that you learn to dodge, or evade, and do combos. You can’t just mash one button and walk through this. There are also countermeasures, special moves, fatalities, and throws to learn. I found the controls are tight and responsive which always adds to the fun of any fighter. I did experience some slowdown at one point, could have been associated with the character I was fighting, or stage, not sure. Still, it was there. I did not have anyone to help me try the two player mode, so I really don’t know if slowdown is present during that part of the game. There are several modes of play, easy, medium, hard, and very hard. You are not going to just walk through the easy mode without learning some moves first, believe me.

Graphics are very good and exceptional for an N64 fighter. For the time period they were some of the best visuals out there. Detailed character designs are very appealing and a pleasure to behold. They really have that “3D feel” about them. The environments, like every other fighter, are built around the various characters. And each stage is huge, detailed, and has its dangers to avoid while fighting. Some fights, we were all over the place, others I had them backed into a corner. (And some, lets just say, I didn’t like being pushed into those revolving blades, there will be a rematch and revenge.) There are 12 fighters to choose from with hidden characters to unlock. Love the good ole days of unlocking instead of the “down loadable content” monster. You have the option, if you so choose, to turn off the blood and fatalities. I, personally, find the game well balanced, with each fighter having their own strengths and weaknesses. Some fighters have a longer reach, for example, causing you to use strategy. Again there is that motivation to continue learning, building your skills, and experience, in order to advance in the game. I find it a joy as I learn and begin to master some of the fighters. I find myself wanting an arcade stick and buttons. I even hold my controller in that fashion with fingers across the top six buttons, the yellow ones with the blue and green.

I think any novice, like me, or skilled gamer, will find this one hard to put down. It is a good game that is fun to get into with lots of depth. Mace is an arcade to home console port. The game was released by Midway, the same people that gave us Mortal Kombat. Not to say that has any bearing on whether this game is bad or good. The atmosphere here brings to mind Soul Blade. My feelings are that I like this game better than any of the Mortal Kombat games and find the elements more interesting. And I think it deserved a sequel on the N64 that it never got. That is our misfortune. I love arcade gaming and that is what this game is all about. I put this game in the top ten of my list of fighters on the N64. It is a very good weapons based fighter. I give it a thumbs up and rate it as “Awesome Game.” And I recommend it to any one who loves a good arcade fighter. Just prepare to spend some time with this one. That is the only way you’ll get the full pleasurable experience of Mace.

Retro Gaming and Hardware / N64: Killer Instinct Gold Review
« on: September 07, 2018, 09:04:41 PM »
This review is taken from a series of reviews I did a couple of years ago concerning the fighters available for the N64.

I spent some time in the arcades back in the 80s and 90s. It is a fact that I started visiting the arcades when pinball was the norm. I watched as the arcade scene changed and evolved into the golden years of the 90s. I watched as that flame burning bright dwindled down quickly into a smouldering wick. The one thing I always wanted to do was to bring that arcade experience home. I am telling you now, this is it.

For some reason I never took note of Killer Instinct in the arcades. I do remember seeing the game there, but I think, at the time, my interests were elsewhere. I do remember purchasing the SNES game and having a great time with that one, still have it, still play it occasionally. But this N64 version, this is arcade gaming that puts a smile on your face.

There are so many options in this game. You have at your finger tips, all kinds of adjustments. And it is a delight in being able to mold this game to your own liking and enjoyment. Game speed, easy, hard, extra hard, blood on or off, training, team, arcade, practice, tournament, etc. In the first session, I sat tweaking the game until I felt comfortable in the way I wanted to get beat up. I tried a few fighters, settled on one, and felt I was up against a challenge. It took a few games, but the more I played, the more I started learning to do moves and combos. The more I was in control of my fighter, the further I advanced in the game. I then started to feel the rush. “Easy pick up and play,” but takes time to master, that is the beauty of arcade games. The game has that certain charm that hooks you into coming back for more, addictive, yes. That is the fun of the arcades.

Love the interactive backgrounds where, at times, you can smash your opponent through something. They look beautiful, awesome, and animated. The whole game’s CGI has that pseudo 3D feel even though it is obviously a 2D fighter. Everything about this game is orchestrated together to give you a delightful experience.

This game is great awesome fun for anyone who loves a good arcade fighter. It is easy to get into and has depth in the mastering of the game. Both novice and skilled will find something to like about this game. I mean, what’s not to like about this game? I know it had its critics when it was released. Okay, they had their chance at fun and blew it. You my friend can start and end this differently. And………. bring a friend. I highly recommend this game. It has the potential to take up all of your time. You have been warned. I give this a very big thumbs up and rate it as “Awesome Game.”

Retro Gaming and Hardware / N64: War Gods Review
« on: September 07, 2018, 08:52:06 PM »
This review is taken from a series of reviews I did a couple of years ago concerning the fighters available for the N64.

The same people that gave us Mortal Kombat are the same people that produced this game, War Gods. If you know how to control your fighters in the Mortal Kombat game then you can step right into this game with no problem. Not sure how I feel about that. But then again, if you have played a Capcom game then you are very familiar with any fighter they have ever produced. It was easy for me to step in and play due to my experience with Mortal Kombat Trilogy in my previous review. (Part of the fun in reviewing these games is learning and discovering moves.)

Trying different modes of play, the “very easy” mode is just not with it. Whenever I can play “very easy” mode in a game and use only one move to defeat a fighter, that is a “practice” mode. Every fighting game, that has a “very easy” mode, I have reviewed up until this point has a good “very easy” mode. They have given a little bit of challenge that is good for a novice, or younger gamer, which helps in learning. But this game, I was able to go through 6 opponents with ease, full bar, and then bam, it turns very hard with the fighter using their special moves continuously. Is this game unfinished? The AI stinks. If you try the “easy” mode, you had better know how to control your fighter or you are going nowhere but down. Across every play mode there seems to be a problem with the AI. You have the fighter viciously attacking you with 10 hit combos one minute then just standing there the next taking your hits. My turn now? And it depends on which character you pick just how your opponent reacts, seemingly. There was one character in “very easy” mode that was unbeatable, for me, which was an easy kill in “hard” mode. There was one fighter in the “normal” mode in which I could beat with just throws, and I ended the fights with a full bar. There is such an imbalance in the gameplay, even across the game modes, that it becomes frustrating. There are fatalities which can be turned off, but I don’t think that helps any.

I really like the graphics. They are comparable to CD console games of that time period. And I think they touch on the N64 capabilities. The characters look so good, a lot of detail, even though they seem to be somewhat stiff at times in their animation. Character design is poor among some of the fighters. For example, the witch doctor looking guy would have looked better with a pair of jeans instead of that skirt wrap. And the Egyptian guy should have been wearing baggie beach or cargo shorts. Just slight improvements, I know, but could have went a long way in making those fighters more appealing in their appearance. At least that is my viewpoint.

I liked a lot of the environments. They are very detailed and colorful. You fight in an arena like area that gives you the feeling of 3D . And you can move around this with some limitations and always be facing your opponent. There is no ring out, you are kept in the fighting circle by an invisible barrier that you can be slapped up against and cornered. There was no interaction with any of the environments during any of the fights. Interaction could have added so much to the gameplay.

There are a lot of elements here that could have worked if only the game had been tweaked. Not sure of what they were attempting here. All I ask is for some consistency and balance. I feel that the only way someone could actually like and enjoy this game is in the two player mode. That is where you would get the most satisfaction. And that is if both have equal skills and are familiar with the Mortal Kombat button scheme. I wanted to like this game, really I did. There were those moments when the AI acted civil and that was when I actually had some fun. So I did have some fun with this one and I enjoyed that particular game time. But it is too unpredictable, at least that is my experience. I don’t want to stand on the other side of the ring waiting for the clock to click down the time wondering if my opponent is going to move. And that did happen, it was at 67 seconds before we engaged. I am not sure which mode of this Game is best to play, hard, normal? Someone that is very skilled in playing Mortal Kombat could possibly find some challenge and fun in one of the modes of this game. They range from “very easy” to “very hard.” And I am sure that there are those gamers out there that really like this game, fans even. As I increase in my skills with Mortal Kombat, I will possibly return occasionally to this game. But for right at this moment, this game just does not have what it takes to keep my attention. But at the same time the more I play this game the more I like it. It kind of grows on you. So I have mixed feelings about this. And my rating could change the more I play. Presently I am going to rate this game as, “I’m glad I only paid $5 instead of $60.” Totally unfinished!!

Retro Gaming and Hardware / N64: Fist of the Flying Dragon Review
« on: September 06, 2018, 09:57:01 PM »
This review is taken from a series of reviews I did a couple of years ago concerning the fighters available for the N64.

This is a real treat. I grabbed this up during this series of reviews. Rarely do you see this game up on ebay. It is called SD飛龍の拳伝説, translated literally as “SD Legend of the Fist of the Flying Dragon.” And it is the second in the series of what was called “Flying Dragon” on the N64 in the US. In my opinion, this should have been the game that was released in the US. Maybe Flying Dragon was just a bone they threw us and we did not bite. We suffered and did not know it. This game is so good. I literally cannot stop playing this game, fun, fun, fun.

The first thing that you will notice is that this cart is Super Deform mode only. The Virtual mode is gone. All of the enhancements, improvements, and extra features are all focused on the SD game. The gameplay is really 2D, whether you are in single or two player mode, the evading gives a little feel of a 3D arena. There are more characters, some hidden and more treasures, or items, to win, collect. The control seems tighter and responsive. Gameplay feels fast and fluid. Gameplay moves are the same as the first game. Fighter moves are easy to get into and become comfortable with.

After playing the first game I was very familiar with the moves and control. So it was very easy for me to jump in and begin enjoying the fight. The hindrance, was not knowing the Japanese language. I can compare menus with the first game and can guess my way through some things. But things that deviate from the other game takes away from the experience. Under the circumstances, that can be expected. What is missed is some of the RPG elements, but as a fighter it shines, in single or two player mode. If you own the first game, menus seem similar, so with a little work and some writing, diagrams, drawings, hard thinking, you can make a lot of it work. Don’t own the first game? English friendly? I think you can hit and miss guessing your way through the menus and be fighting in no time at all.

I, at first, felt that I was unqualified to judge whether this game was a very easy pick up and play. Since I am familiar with the gameplay of the first game. Then I had someone, which has not played the game before, challenge me in the two player mode. No problem, no worry, success! This is easy for a novice to pick up, casual gamers, and even someone who is seasoned. If you don’t know Japanese, as a one player it is limited, you are left with unlocking new fighters and collecting stuff. Don’t get me wrong, it is still fun in the single player mode. The fighting is fun. As a two player vs mode, this is were it really shines, rocks, and makes itself a great stand alone fighter. VS is good. It is so easy to pick up the moves of the fighters and you’ll be doing combos in no time. Did I say this game is fun? Too bad it is not in English. The RPG elements would give the gaming experience such depth in gameplay.

If you have an N64 and love the genre, I highly recommend this game. And I will have to rate it as “awesome game.”

Retro Gaming and Hardware / N64: Flying Dragon Review
« on: September 06, 2018, 09:40:58 PM »
This review is taken from a series of reviews I did a couple of years ago concerning the fighters available for the N64.

I am not sure why there are two game modes, unless the creators could not make up their mind? There is a "super deformed mode" and what is called a "virtual mode." The virtual mode has more serious looking characters and is more of a Virtua Fighter type gameplay. The various modes of play and options are plenty. It is like two games in one.

The name of the game is Hiryū no Ken Twin or Twin Fists of the Flying Dragon as it is known in Japan. A casual gamer would probably just dismiss this and throw it aside. One who digs a little deeper would find their diligence graciously rewarded. Hidden beneath the surface are some concepts that will make you wonder, “Why didn’t someone think of this before?” And I am referring to the single player SD mode. Certain RPG elements have been added to the story mode to build your fighter’s skills and strength, increasing in levels. You get “treasures” that you are able to equip to your fighter. This is only available in the super deformed mode. There is motivation in trying to collect all the different treasures, which can be used with your fighter. You can use these to build your own fighter. And this becomes the focus of your gaming. There are a lot of gamers that would be put off by super deformed mode and opt for the virtual mode, and they would be missing something very special. You continue to work your way through tournaments, which to some, would seem repetitious. But that is some of the side effects in the elements concerning RPGs, the grinding. It is in the fighting where you win the treasure items and level up. You level up the items so they become more powerful in their use. In the store you can purchase and sell items involving credits you receive from fighting. You can even trade items with other players in a multi player game.

In the virtual mode you have a more serious looking fighter with the choice of a 2D or 3D gameplay. Your choice affects your gameplay. And it is a very solid fighter. It is in character design and gameplay reminiscent of the other fighter’s of that time period, mainly Tekken and Virtua Fighter. One fighter even reminds me of a Street Fighter character, hmmmm, how did they do that? You fight to advance in ranking which is determined by how long it takes you to defeat the gauntlet of fighters until you take on the end boss and win. If you bail before the end boss you will obviously get low ranking. You will need to visit the practice mode and learn to control your fighter before getting anywhere in this mode. Or it will be handed to you what your opponent kicked around the screen for how many seconds it took him. A novice will not get anywhere fast. I find this game very challenging and fun.

Graphically the game is simple and cartoony in the SD mode, yet there is detail in the fighters. SD means super deformed and it does remind you a little of anime in that respect. The virtual mode has more detail in the fighter’s and the backgrounds. And they compare well with Tekken and Virtua Fighter of that time period. Both games, because they are two different type games, have a host of options, practice, multi player, tournament, circuit mode. Circuit mode is recommend.

I honestly don’t understand the ratings that this game received from reputable game magazines at the time it was released to market. Some gave it a 3 out of 10. Maybe it was the Japanese flavor of the game, which it has, and I like. Seemingly this one slipped in under the radar, or many believed the magazines and opted to avoid this title. The sales were low. I would say that this cart is loaded with fun, two games with different objectives, a very neat package. There is a lot here for the single player to dig into and fun for two players. I would recommend this to a novice advising them to stick with it and you will be very rewarded. If you are a gamer who loves the genre, you owe yourself at least a try, if you own an N64. I give this game a very big thumbs up and rate it “Awesome Game.”

Retro Gaming and Hardware / N64: Transformers Beast Wars Review
« on: September 05, 2018, 09:47:30 PM »
This review is taken from a series of reviews I did a couple of years ago concerning the fighters available for the N64.

This is definitely a fan based game. I often got the impression many years ago, that gaming companies spent most of the money on the licensing of the characters, rather than on the game engine development for games of this sort. Only fans of the series would be able to get deeply in, and love this game, or appreciate it. And it might depend on the age group for that to happen. Fighting games, that are popular, are usually those in which the company has spent some time developing the fighting engine and creating their own fighters, such as the popular franchises.

Rather than spend “real” money on the US version I opted for the Japanese game. It was a whole lot cheaper. And there is surprisingly a big difference in the gameplay. For some reason they made changes to the US release. The Japan version is so much different in feel and gameplay than its US counterpart, (My Daughter owns the US version). And I believe the Japan version to be the better game. The original version causes you to use strategy against your opponents. Having a very big playing field, something that the US version does not have, the need to maneuver your character, adds to this concept. I have stood back, or flew around, at an extreme distance and shot at my opponent until he was knocked out. Not very deep gameplay, I know. But this does not always work, and not with every character. Sometimes I have flew in, landed, and slugged the opponent. There are a few moves to be learned and as with the Super Robot Spirits game, certain moves spark that certain dramatic animation for the move. And of course you have three different modes to transform back and forth at will. Graphics are blocky for the Transformers and that works well. Each has the likeness and bears the colors of their respective Transformer character. All of the Transformers are the same size which can be an issue with some fans. The arenas are nothing but a flat plain with the background rotating around the outside rim. You tend to hit an invisible wall when you reach the end of the playing field. 3D gaming with everything kept simple.

I had read many times that this is a bad fighting game. I have been playing it through using Cheetor. It was difficult at first, controls are just not intuitive. And it did seem that when fighting against certain characters I had to use a different strategy other than just shooting from a distance. The game does feel a bit unfinished, a lot of potential left undone. Needs to be tweaked very badly. (The thought, could have been awesome, comes into my mind.) But I did, sort of, enjoy the short trip through once I got the hang of it. I usually spend my time in the flying mode zig zagging and circling my opponent. While playing, there was that desire and want for more moves to each character’s mode, kept pushing different buttons & nothing, and I did not like the difficulty in aiming my weapon. You use the green and blue button for transforming. The directional pad is not used and the four yellow buttons are the attack, with the right shoulder being your special move. Depends on which mode you are in the Z button is jump. This is not an easy pick up and play game and that works against any enjoyment until you catch on. Once you wrap your head around understanding the control for your fighter, it can be an enjoyable gaming experience. That is why my conclusion is, one would need to be a diehard fan to press in and discover this detail. My recommendation is to search the net for button controls. I got the idea when playing that this was a quick push to market. A hopeful easy cash cow for any popularity to the Beast Wars TV series? It just feels that way.

Overall I am glad to have Beast Wars in my N64 collection. And in spite of my negativity above, I might pull this one out occasionally. But my main problem with that idea is I easily forget the control scheme and need to relearn. I need to try different characters to find a favorite. Even though it is simple, limited as a fighter, and a far cry from the present day Transformer games, there will be some gamers that will really like this. I am thinking, if you are a fan of the series then this would be your game on the N64. Another one of those games on the N64 with a limited appeal and two player mode being the better experience than the single player. Non fans may pull this from the shelf occasionally, and that is a big maybe, hmmm… depends. With mixed feelings, I don’t think the game is that bad, but I must rate this game, “Glad I only paid $5 instead of $60.” This game is unfinished.

And maybe that is because I saw potential. One example is, I wished that the direction pad could have been used when you was up in the face of your opponent. It could have been utilized for special moves in combination with the attack buttons. That would not have been hard to do. Just needed a little creativity. I wanted more from this game.

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