Review: SEGA AGES Space Harrier (Switch)

space harrier switch

Welcome to the Fantasy Zone. GET READY!

Hell, even if I were to think I was born ready for it, back in 1985 seeing and playing Sega’s Space Harrier for the first time in an arcade was a total and unexpected blast. Granted, it wasn’t my first psuedo-3D sprite-based shooter (Willams’ still phenomenal BLASTER was an instant fave for me two years earlier), but Yu Suzuki’s even more instant classic made for a more lasting impression thanks to its more superbly detailed visuals, rock-solid 60fps gameplay and yes, a somewhat crushing difficulty level for beginners. Watching someone play any of the three cabinet version was thrilling enough. But as a player, if you lucked out and got one of the sit-down versions with that big flight stick and body-shaking tilt feature, it was pure gaming bliss that left you maybe a bit wobbly after a few too many replays. Ah, memories!

Still, Suzuki’s game was perhaps too well made, just like his other supremely reliable arcade hits some take for granted these days. This is a game that is flawless in execution, but might be seen by the more jaded gamers out there as “repetitive” because they don’t see the beauty past the lightning fast speed and brilliant use of color. Ever busy developer M2 has done another outstanding job in porting the game to Switch for the ongoing SEGA AGES project ($7.99 per title) in both its original form with a new stage select, optional visual filter and control additions and a new version of the game called KOMAINU Barrier Attack that adds infinite continues and two small stone lion statues to aid Harrier in his quest.

Switch_SEGAAGES-SpaceHarrier_03

Screenshots really don’t do this game any justice. Some heads will roll for that.

Continue reading

Advertisements

Review: Archlion Saga (Switch)

Switch_ArchlionSaga_01

Well, you can’t get lost at all in this game, but you can turn the arrows off if you want a less guided tour of the maps.

archlion sagaShades of the initially underappreciated (and still disliked to this day by some) Final Fantasy Mystic Quest drift through Kemco and developer Hit-Point’s entry level JRPG Archlion Saga ($4.99) and yes indeed, the game will definitely ruffle some feathers among the noisy gamers with unshakeable opinions (too often presented as “facts”) who never seem to think that players new to any genre just might like a welcoming title they can complete without a video walkthrough or wanting to bust controller into pieces against a nearby wall.

That fiver you’re spending gets you a game that can be completed in a few short hours, auto saves whenever you do pretty much anything and is so simple that anyone of any skill level can play it.  It also offers a bit of replay value for those who want to run through it again (you can opt to keep your levels and earned currency). There’s no need to “git gud” here at all unless you overuse the auto-battle option that can actually wipe out your party if you get too careless in the 4th and 5th chapters when and the random battle system decides to slap you with the occasional strong enemy pack. Amusingly enough, if for some reason you feel the urge to grind levels, late in the game there’s a dragon who heals your party at no cost whenever you speak to it. Given that healing herbs drop frequently (you can stock 99 at a time) and you start off with an amulet that restores a few hundred HP in battle, this might not be necessary, but it’s here nevertheless.

Switch_ArchlionSaga_03

Hmmm… we kinda know how this is going to turn out, but okay, let’s pray along…

“So, it’s a kid’s game, then?” you ask? Sure, you can say that, but it’s one that while colorful and easy on the eyes and ears is a tad gloomy in tone what with the 1000 year return of the evil Serpent and his curse mark dooming the population and you, the Archlion King out to stop that threat with the aid of a few allies. Cue up the handy trailer so you can see what’s what:

One thing the game does that works well is streamlining the story so you meet up with your party members with no aimless wandering about. Your party’s hit points are accumulated into a shared pool with numbers based on equipped gear. Each of the four characters will learn and an use three powerful Skills (the game has no magic points), all with different cooldown times and a few that can only be activated under certain conditions (e.g., after guarding for one turn or after taking certain amounts of damage). Granted, the game is easy enough that you can beat it without any major strategy whatsoever.  That said, it’s just nice to have the option to play with each character’s skills, especially the one that lets you steal items from enemies (which can net you some nifty gear and free healing herbs) or the one that puts most enemies to sleep for a brief period.

Switch_ArchlionSaga_05

Especially once you start using those Stars to power level, Bram.

While exploring the short maps, you’ll gain Stars needed to unlock doors and chests, but you’ll also earn them by playing the game for a certain period of time without taking a break. Those stars are also used to pull off powerful attacks and double experience gained after battles, so you can pretty much become too overpowered by the game’s final chapter if you like. Of course, NOT using any aids makes the game a bit more challenging. so feel free to experiment. The pixel art here is great overall, particularly the big, colorful monsters and bosses you’ll meet and beat. Sure, the assorted human foes have no facial features, but most of the more mystical beasties do and they’re all excellently rendered. The music is suitably 8-bit sounding bliss that feels just right, but don’t expect a wealth of tunes given the brevity of the experience.

The funniest thing about playing this was I was able to compete it once while waiting for a few downloads to complete (some larger games on PSN and a Windows 10 updates that had me offline for about 4-5 hours). Hit-Point has a few decent ideas here that I think need to be applied to a larger project at some point down the road, but for what it is, this isn’t a bad way to spend a few hours if you’ve got a Switch, five bucks to spend and don’t mind some hand holding in handheld or docked mode. While I won’t call this an “essential” game at all, it’s cheap enough and so user friendly that it feels as if it’s trying too hard to please. But that’s somewhat of a relief in this era of games where you’re forced into that “die, rinse and repeat until you don’t die” loop that can be frustrating for a select few.

Switch_ArchlionSaga_02.jpg

He may be a big scary cartoon jerk, but you can beat the devil out of this devil with relative ease.

Score: C (70%)

-GW

Phantom Gear Funded: Mega Cat’s Got The Magic Touch, Again

Phantom Gear logo

Mega Cat, on a roll with mustard.

Phantom Gear is officially a physical and digital reality on the “it’s funded!” front and that’s a great thing. Excellent, in fact and yes, I dropped some coins into this particular fountain not long after finding out the game was going the crowdfund route. It’s always great to see, read about and eventually get the chance to play new retro games, especially from a company so devoted to producing some mighty fine ones. The game has indeed made its Kickstarter target, but you can still contribute to its success here.

Now, if only I had a few spare thousand bucks to drop on everything Mega Cat makes so I can add it all to the library, I’d be an even happier camper.

-GW

Criterion’s Upcoming Godzilla Box May Make Me Sell an Organ

Holy Crap

My exact expression when I found out Criterion was making a dream box set of mine come true.

Wow. My wallet just jumped out the window when I saw that Criterion is issuing its 1000th set in glorious style with Godzilla: The Showa Era Films (1954-1975). The funny thing is, last month, all these flicks popped up on a cable channel and I caught most of them while wondering at one point if they were going to be fully remastered and *BOOM* – along comes this news and my wallet taking a dive onto the pavement.  *Sigh*… it looks as if it’s time for another DAF game collection fire sale, as this one’s bound to sell out fast on the pre-order front and nope, I’m neither paying some ebay scalper way too much money nor holding out for the cheap knockoffs that will pack that site and fool a few folks thinking they scored a deal from some “clueless” reseller from overseas.

Color me and me inner eight-year old thrilled. Yours too, I’d bet.

Marty and the boys

“Hey, Marty! Whatcha doin’ tonight?”

-GW

Skybound Games Has Me Talking to Myself (Again)

“And it goes like this.”

Me: Uh, hey, man.
Me: What?
Me: I need $200. Plus shipping, I think.
Me: For what?
Me: This (look down):

ULT-Collector-Composite-Text-FB_1500x1500

Me: HOLY $#!+!
Me: Well, SOLD, huh?
Me: Um, hold on a sec.
Me: Awwwww, come onnnn…
Me: Look, we made a deal, remember? We’ve no more room for those big collector’s editions. That, and we DO have a big backlog of other games…
Me: (pouts, gives me the sad puppy dog eyes)..
Me: Oh, that’s SO not going to work, pal. We’re also on a budget, remember?
Me: Well. you COULD sell off some of those older games you aren’t playing like you did that one time…
Me: Yeah, right. That was kind of an emergency and this, well… it’s really damn cool and all, but it’s not super-urgent.
Me: Booooooo!
Me: Okay, knock it off. I need to get a post up and get back to those other reviews in progress.
Me: Bill
Me: Oh, don’t get cranky with me, buddy…

Me: Grrrrrrrr! (thinks: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MQnToZYGAoY)

Me: Um, I know what you’re thinking, you know.
Me: Hmph. Well IF you did, then you’d also know that big ol’ box ends up costing not too much more than the regular editions IF you think about it…
Me: Be that as it may, the chances of me buying that set are like the chances Skybound will send me one to review.
Me: Well. it COULD happen!
Me: Yeah, sure. Well, I’ll let you go handle that and see what the results are. Good luck, pal.
Me: Well, first, let me go make some wall space for that bo setx…
Me: What?
Me: (pulls out big ACME rubber sledgehammer):Hey, you DID say we needed more wall space once, so I’m gonna go make some…
Me: Wait a minute!
Me: Too late! (swings hammer at wall, whereupon is bounces off and knocks me out cold.
Me: Well, that’ll learn ya. Again. Good thing that store only sells rubber hammers.

And so it goes…

-GW

 

Funded, Plus: R-Type Final 2 Hits Its Target

There’s certainly a boom in things going BOOM, as the arcade shooter market has made quite a comeback over the years. In reality, it really never went away as plenty of smaller indie developed and fan-made games can be found as digital and physical retail titles with a little bit of online legwork. That said, R-Type holds its legendary status to this day simply because it’s pure brilliance from start to finish. Granzella’s strategy for a super-short Kickstarter for R-Type 2 Final has paid off big time with as of this writing, some 543K has been pledged to bring this final Final to life and with under four days ti go, you could say the sky’s the limit if that funding hits some of the stretch goals noted on the Kickstarter page.

Personally, I’m hoping the game gets up to that goal where Granzella can recreate levels from previous R-Type games just so this stage from R-Type Final gets redone in glorious HD. Hell, drop a bag of money on my head (ow) and I’ll throw it at Granzella just for this stage alone.

-GW

 

That Sega Genesis Mini? It Just Got A Lot Cooler

genny mini

Well, now. The final set of games coming to the Sega Genesis Mini have been revealed and guess what? It’s 42 titles and not the 40 initially noted. That final dozen include a few excellent surprises such as Tetris, the Sega-developed Japan-only rarity, and Darius, which never got a retail release.

Here’s the list of included titles:

Sonic The Hedgehog
Ecco the Dolphin
Castlevania: Bloodlines
Space Harrier 2
Shining Force
Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine
ToeJam & Earl
Comix Zone
Altered Beast
Gunstar Heroes
Earthworm Jim
Sonic The Hedgehog 2
Castle of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse
World of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck
Contra: Hard Corps
Thunder Force III
Super Fantasy Zone
Shinobi III: Return of the Ninja Master
Streets of Rage 2
Landstalker
Mega Man®: The Wily Wars
Street Fighter II®: Special Champion Edition
Ghouls ‘n Ghosts®
Alex Kidd in the Enchanted Castle
Beyond Oasis
Golden Axe
Phantasy Star IV: The End of the Millennium
Sonic The Hedgehog Spinball
Vectorman
Wonder Boy in Monster World
Tetris®
Darius
Road Rash II
Strider®
Virtua Fighter 2
Alisia Dragoon
Kid Chameleon
Monster World IV
Eternal Champions
Columns
Dynamite Headdy
Light Crusader

I’ll admit to being generally pleased with this lineup (let’s say about 85%) but there are a few odd omissions that leave me thinking that there will be some sort of second Genesis Mini or perhaps an update of some sort in the future. We shall see, I guess.

-GW

R-Type Final 2 Kickstarter: Welcome to the Buy-Do Empire!

R-TYPE_FINAL2_logo_blue

Well, It looks as if Granzella’s gambit is paying off so far. Only a day in and the R-Type Final 2 Kickstarter is over halfway to its initial target funding goal. That’s quite good news, folks. I’ll admit to being a tad skeptical about that seven-day time frame to put in a pledge, but I see that Granzella thought this through a bit and is relying on the most die-hard fans of the genre to pony up their pledges and get fellow shmup fanatics to hop on in and play in the same intergalactic pool.

Excellent. Yes, I’m going to pledge a few bucks myself before the campaign concludes. I just need to figure out what I can afford and what sort of extra I get for my pledge.

-GW

Sometimes, You Need That Head Room Cleared

Catching up to things these days is a, what did that guy in the elevator the other day say as he walked in talking to himself? Oh, right – a big grizzly bear bitch. I don’t like being so far behind schedule, but it’s the nature of this particular beast thanks to the health stuff doing it’s thing and being really good at shifting focus which should be elsewhere to that invisible clock ticking away and some too cool for school super-agent not coming to slide in and attempt to defuse the situation.

(Thanks, imz72)

Still, we press onward despite the tick-tock stuff because it’s what keeps the collective we going. “We” meaning those parts inside the skin shell that want to cooperate and get me perambulating around and motivated to do more, which some days is less than more, which ends up being just enough, but not quite. You know that feeling, right? Anyway, I was parked on the work surface yesterday and deciding how to proceed on a few reviews and such that are in progress when my brain decided to take over and have me go draw something, which in turn made me feel a lot better, despite the end result not being good or complete.

adjustments wip

“Gee, I’m a tree!” Oh, the pun society had disbarred me years ago, so I just do what I do, folks.

Well, it helped a bit in freeing up some clutter in the brain, which in turn has me a bit more motivated to get back to the needed grind, which isn’t really a grind because I do like what I do when it’s automatic and not baked in like a factory churning out Soylent Green or some other humdrum, generic content. Hey, I think I try to be somewhat original in what I do in terms of a few things. But yeah, I have to get faster like I was a few years back when content was flowing and my backlog was maybe a few weeks long. Anyway, I have a plan and the crankier parts of me aren’t going to like it, but it’s going into effect as we speak. So those parts are going to have to take their medicine and like it, or else.

vitameatavegamin-gif-1

Back in a bit. Or sooner. (*hic!*)

-GW

R-Type Final 2 Kickstarter: Live Worldwide Soon

R-TYPE_FINAL2_logo_blue

Urgent subspace communication received, despite the efforts of the Bydo Empire:

May 31, 2019 Granzella Inc.

Help Us Spread the Word:

“R-TYPE FINAL 2” Crowdfunding Campaign Launch

With the permission of IREM SOFTWARE ENGINEERING INC., Granzella is now developing the latest title of the side-scrolling shooter “R-Type” series to bring it out to the world.  However, we are just a small, powerless studio so we decided to launch a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign to accomplish the project.

In order to make our crowdfunding campaign a success, we need your cooperation. Please lend us a helping hand to spread the word about the R-Type Final 2 as well as the Kickstarter campaign on your website and through social media.

Hmmm. It looks as if IREM and developer Granzella really need your help in stopping the Bydo Empire but good. Kicking off worldwide on June 3, the campaign is for PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, and Steam versions of the game. There will be a number of digital and physical options and backer rewards to choose from depending on the amount pledged.

The Kickstarter campaign starts at the same time around the world. The estimated launch times for each world time zones are as follows:

Japan Standard Time (JST) At Midnight on Tuesday, June 4 (at 24:00 on
Monday, June 3), 2019
Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) At 3 P. M. on Monday, June 3, 2019 Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) At 11 A. M. on Monday, June 3, 2019 Pacific Daylight Time(PDT) At 8 A. M. on Monday, June 3, 2019
* The campaign will last for about a week.
* The end date will be announced on the first day of the Kickstarter campaign.

UPDATE: We’ve just received images from the ongoing conflict along with a brief video that reveals only a hint of the struggle at hand.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

It looks like it’s time to suit up and prepare for takeoff, folks. Rewards await the brave souls who step up and strap in for the hard fight ahead. Expect an update once the campaign goes live, of course.

-GW