Vixen 357: Super Fighter Team Surprises Yet Again

vx-productWell, this came out of left field, folks. Super Fighter Team is localizing and publishing developer Masaya’s 1992 turn-based strategy/RPG Vixen 357 for the Sega Genesis/Mega Drive.I actually have the import Japanese version here, but other than about an hour of messing around with it many years ago, I haven’t really dove into the game because my Japanese is quite terrible and usually involves a lot of looking stuff up and figuring things out as I go. Well, it looks as if sometime later this year I’ll be able to fully enjoy this somewhat unknown tactical gem thanks to SFT’s Brandon Cobb, who I should probably interview again at some point on they hows and whys of this latest production.

Pre-orders for the game will run you $63 in the US and $70 everywhere else and yes, that cost includes shipping. Oh, and the game cartridge, manual and a sturdy cardstock box. Yes, I did place a pre-order and if you’re interested, so should you, as this one’s guaranteed to sell fast. I can think of a few folks who’ll also be on this newest SFT release in a heartbeat, so I’m hoping we’re all happy campers in front of out respective TV’s when this sly Vixen finally ships out sometime this year.

-GW

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Review: Nitro Ball (Nintendo Switch)

Nitro BallFlying Tiger Entertainment has been dropping some awesome Data East arcade hits from the 80’s and 90’s across a few platforms, but thanks to my rather hilariously large backlog, I’m just getting around to playing my first title in the Johnny Turbo’s Arcade series: Nitro Ball ($7.99). This one’s a 1992 oldie that’s an instant classic in the form of a killer mash-up of Smash TV and a crazy pinball game without the flippers full of super busy rapid fire action that’s packing a heap of period pop culture references doctored up a bit but still very recognizable if you know your classic 80’s flicks pretty well.

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I’d make a “Gun Ball Rally” joke here, but almost no one would get it.

I very vaguely recall this machine from my arcade crawling days, so getting the chance to see and play it again got me grinning immediately despite a wee bit too many deaths that followed. Things are quite chaotic right from the start and like any great arcade game, you’ll likely spend the first few minutes learning the ropes and figuring out how to stay alive in order to make it to the next part of a map.  While it’s only got five stages (Strange Football, Combat Field, Ghost Town, Aliens World, Space Station), as you’d expect if you’re an educated fan of these types of games, it’s all about the replay value and the many laughs you’ll have while blasting through those maps multiple times. The difficulty ramps up in spots as enemy goons swarm in from all sides and yes, sub-bosses and bosses can be cheap (hey, they’re just doing their jobs!). But overall, I’d call the game pretty balanced.

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Random Film of the Week: ALIEN³

(Thanks, THX1968!)

 

Alien 3_bI think it was sometime in mid-to late 1991 when I first saw the teaser trailer to ALIEN³ and had my eyeballs pop right out of my head followed by my jaw hitting the floor way too hard in the theater I saw it in. Ladies and gentlemen, do you know how hard it is to clean sticky goo off your eyeballs after they’ve rolled underneath a movie theater seat? Trust me, it ain’t easy. That and yuck-o, stale popcorn and half an old hot dog have the tendency to rather easily get into a fallen jaw if you let it sit down there for more than a minute flapping away in shock mode. Hey, I was busy trying to find my darn eyeballs, thank you much.

Needless to say, I was kind of shocked by this news that we’d get a third film in the franchise and it was coming in under a year. I wasn’t sure I liked the “On Earth, Everyone Can Hear You Scream” tagline at all and yes indeed, I thought bringing that cranky xenomorph to Earth was a bad (not a bad-ass) idea for a few key reasons. Although at that point, I was kind of screaming myself.

It seems 20th Century Fox may have agreed (or at least was pulling a fast one on us because they didn’t really have an idea about the film they were planning to make), as a few months later, this was the follow up trailer:

 

(Thanks, Media Graveyard!)

 

After gathering up my eyeballs and jaw again and handing a few people in the theater their eyeballs that rolled under and around my seat (which was quite interesting as I had to wait until the guy who picked up one of my eyeballs by mistake returned it or today I’d be the Jane Seymour version of myself or something like that), I took time to take in the trailer. Bald Ripley. Bald bad men, some bald men screaming and running, NO weapons at all and a reused music cue from the previous film had me both puzzled and really curious as to how the helllllll Sigourney Weaver’s Ellen Ripley character was going to get out of this new mess. That said, the art direction and sets looked solid and that finale bit with the Alien getting too close to Ripley had me intrigued as hell, as did my wondering who the heck was this David Fincher guy directing the film.

There were other trailers and eventually TV spots that arrived before and after the film was released, but I was sold before that point to the point that even if I didn’t like the final product, I had the feeling it would be really interesting and maybe even impressive.  Let’s just say I kind of got my money’s worth more on the visual side of things and a temporary gumball substitute for an eye after I picked up the first round object that I could touch after they popped out again.

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Review: Night Trap: 25th Anniversary Edition

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Good luck finding one of these, folks!

NT_tinyPlaying Night Trap after about 15 or so years away from any version brought back a few sour memories. Not those about the game’s campy/cheesy vibe and still somewhat clunky gameplay that’s better if you don’t use a walkthrough to blow through your purchase within the first hour of the day you buy it.  Nope, I ended up thinking too hard about how a bunch of overly zealous politicians lied their asses off to the public (and themselves) about an intentionally silly videogame being a potential root cause for real-life violence and mayhem.

Just as they did with comic books, Dungeons & Dragons, and Hollywood movies before that (I’d include Prohibition in this as well, but let’s not get too carried away today), Night Trap was made an easy scapegoat back in 1993 along with Mortal Kombat and a few other games deemed inappropriate for kids who very likely knew they weren’t being brainwashed into axe murderers en masse. As a result, it ended up selling out in spots, was briefly taken off the market but eventually reemerged on 3DO, Sega 32X, MS-DOS, and Mac OS, turning absolutely no one into a sex fiend or blood-lusting serial killer (well, the last time I checked, at least). In terms of the remaster/re-release, Screaming Villains has definitely delivered the definitive Night Trap experience, which is kind of like saying you’re getting dented canned tuna for dinner, but it’s the best damn dented canned tuna you can buy.

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Night Trap Returns! Be Afraid… Be Very Afraid (Or Not)


 

Night Trap tells the story of five teenage girls spending the weekend at the Martin home. As a member of the Special Control Attack Team, your job is to monitor the home and protect the girls using an intricate system of cameras and traps as it is being invaded by vampires.

 

I am laughing my fool head off writing this, but hey – a happy me is a good thing these days. Screaming Villains, based out of Newport Kentucky, is teaming up with Limited Run Games to bring the classic and at the time of its release 25 years ago, “controversial” Sega CD FMV (Full Motion Video) game Night Trap back as a remastered PS4 and Xbox One title. I’ll be a lazy git and let you read the Wikipedia page so you can see what the fuss was all about, but what was considered an MA-13 (or Mature) rated game back in 1992 is now a Teen-rated experience with not a thing altered. Digital Pictures created what was supposed to be (and is) a campy take on the horror genre, but for years the game has had a hilariously overblown reputation thanks to it being pulled from stores in some areas.


 

My own memories of it are the game being quite amusing but pretty difficult without a guide of some sort and not at all scary or bloody. The plot has you trying to save a bunch of cute 90’s gals at a slumber party from oddly dressed vampire creeps by setting traps inside the house and activating them before the girls are attacked. It’s all pretty corny, harmless “B” movie fluff that might surprise modern gamers when they see how goofy it all is. As in all that government fuss and bother did was make a so-so game a classic of sorts that still gets people talking. Amusingly enough, the game is about as scary as an empty plastic bottle on a windowsill.

For some reason, during the 90’s and into the early 2000’s a handful of gamers thought the 3DO and PC versions had bits of nudity or actual gore in them despite the fact that no such footage was shot. Coupled with the game’s rarity once pulled from shelves, helped drive prices up considerably. Working in an indie game shop for about five years, I fielded more than a few questions and kicked down as many of those rumors as I could, but you know how some people get when they really believe something that’s clearly untrue. Anyway, go download the super-cheeseball main theme and set your digital clocks for sometime soon, as the game is set for a mysterious “Spring 2017” release.

-GW

Super Star Wars Lands on PS4, Vita: The Force Is Strong With This One

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It feels 100% weird to say this, but there’s an old Super Nintendo game on a new Sony console and not so new handheld that’s a nice surprise for any Star Wars fan. Granted, Super Star Wars was also on the eShop for the Wii back in 2009, but this updated version for the PS4 and Vita offers a number of tweaks that include new save features, leaderboards, trophies, and updated display and controller options. Nope, it didn’t get a big HD visual overhaul at all, so hopefully you’re happy with the original 1992 SNES visuals in all their 2D and Mode 7 pseudo 3D glory:

SSW_002 SSW_003 SSW_004 SSW_005 SSW_006 SSW_007 SSW_008 SSW_009 SSW_010

 

if you’re grinning like a loon because you have a PSN account, a PS4 or Vita (the game is Cross Buy, by the way) and $9.99 ready to fly out of your wallet, you’re already buying this before you’ve finished this sentence. Me, I’m still a little freaked that there’s a SNES game on a non-Nintendo platform and the earth hasn’t exploded from that fact. Oh,and new players to this one will find it hard as hell and a bit janky in spots. But it’s still a ton of challenging fun as well as a nice nostalgic trip into the past. Whatever strings Disney pulled to get this to happen (I’m thinking that this was a Sony Imagesoft-produced game back then may have helped) sure worked out alright although it would have been a better deal to get the SSW trilogy out for something like $20 or so.

Eh, we’ll see what the future brings for those ancient games about a galaxy far, far away. This new deal has me hoping that Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic I and II show up on a Sony console at some point. Playing both of those classics on my Vita would be a total mind-blowing thing to see happen in the near future..

“It’s a Holiday! I’m Not Supposed to Work Today!” (Well, Perhaps You Should…)

(thanks, theincredibletoy!) 

I overheard that at the laundry early this morning and got a chuckle because everything is a form of “work” even if you’re on a holiday. Hey, run that quote by my brain when it wants to get something done with words and it’ll chuckle at you too. “I can start anytime I want to” it will say in response before getting me into some sort of trouble after I post what pops out. It’s a messy process, people. Of course, this striving to put out content that changes based on a few things from a squishy, thinky thing needs to be continually fed and fertilized can lead to some minor to major distress on occasion. Oh, don’t worry, dear readers – I’m not the suicidal type at all, but it’s sure hard as hell to concentrate on stuff I need to do that’s of a mildly entertaining value when the rest of the world is perched on a ledge and no one’s called the cops.

Go ahead and jump, planet – the gawkers will click away with their cameras and get all social about the dive in their usual places online and off (not realizing that you’re taking those sheep-shaped dopes with you). Meanwhile, I’ll be here doing stuff (or letting my brain do stuff) while those who can handle it pick up the pieces and break out the library paste. Hmmm… maybe the planet just needs a vacation from the people on it and has been dropping some hints of the not so gentle variety. Oh well. At least I now have clean socks and underwear for the apocalypse, ha ha… eep.

Videogame Appreciation 101: The Sega Letters (Found!)

Back around 1990 or 1991, I recall my younger brother and I getting hopelessly stuck in Phantasy Star and in dire need of assistance. Nope, we weren’t mapping the dungeons at all, so some areas of the game were total nightmares. Still, we slogged through the game , managing to make it all the way to the infamous Baya Malay dungeons where we finally threw in the towel. Almost. Out of sheer frustration, I said, “Eh, go write Sega!” and a few days later, we’d worked out a letter asking for help and sent it off hoping for a response. About two weeks later, an envelope arrived with that familiar logo and we were both thrilled to open it up and find a photocopied walk-through of the game that helped out quite a lot.

Amusingly enough, in the interim, we’d managed to level everyone up so they were all pretty much invincible. When it came time for Myau to “flap(s) his wings ploudly” (heh) and take off for that Sky Castle, that big ol’ mandatory bird boss battle was over in something like three hits. On the first turn, yet.  The final boss was a breeze as well, but were were even more impressed by the end credits of the game, which showed off the pseudo 3D scaling in a really cool way.  To date, the game is still a truly great example of a few things including full screen “corridor” style movement that even developers making games for more powerful 16-bit systems from Sega and Nintendo failed to get running as smoothly or as fast (or even full screen, for that matter).

Anyway, during the wait time between when we mailed the letter and when it arrived, a few other games ended up stumping us for a bit. However, once that PS walk-through arrived, another note went out asking about Lord of the Sword, Spellcaster and Golvellius: Valley of Doom. I think we got two of those in one envelope and a third in a separate mailing, but by then, we were on a roll with the letter writing. I even wrote Nintendo about a NES I’d found that needed service and got a really speedy reply with a few local spots that happened to be authorized Nintendo service centers. I ended up not having to spend a dime on repairs, as a friend managed to get that system up and running with about five or so minutes of tinkering.  More money for games is always a good thing, I say…
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Retro Review: Sorcerer’s Kingdom

I remember the first time I saw screenshots of Treco’s Sorcerer’s Kingdom in an issue of Die Hard Game Fan back around 1992 or ’93 and immediately wanting to track down the game based on the art style and interesting battle system the article described. When I finally got the game, I wasn’t disappointed one bit.  In fact, the rather brutal level of challenge right from the beginning kept me playing early areas of the map until I could take down the first actual boss in the game with relative ease, yet still aware that the next area would be geometrically tougher.

While the story is your pretty basic quasi-medieval RPG stuff that’s somewhat predictable in a few of the usual spots, the game doesn’t look at all like it’s stealing from some nameless anime or manga and it’s in the unique combat system that most players will find their fun and yes, frustrating moments…

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Wolfenstein 3D Is Older Than Too Many People Who SHOULD Pay It More Respect…

Sure, it looks hideous compared to whatever modern FPS you drool over and line up for year after year, but if not for John Carmack and this formerly controversial Nazi-killing corridor shooter, you wouldn’t all be standing outside in the rain at midnight for Master Chief, any Modern Warfare game or hell, pretty much every other FPS on the market. That said, Bethesda has made this classic shooter playable for free as a browser game on Bethsoft’s Wolfenstein page or the game’s official Facebook page, so go check it out. Also, click away HERE for a great YouTube video commentary with Carmack about the game – you just might learn something in the process (like some respect!)