Thursday, 24 October 2013

Bad Boy of Gaming: Contra Hard Spirits

Playtesting Contra Hard Spirits gave Genki a sharp, hard shock into how much our gaming skills are on the wane. Then when we think about it, Contra was always a real bad boy of gaming: a tough nut to crack, a real crack unit. Many would have sampled its delights as an early Super Famicom title. Konami certainly had the a grasp of the hardware from such an early stage that it would have spoken with a slightly squaky voice.

The hard as nails run and gun delight has been expertlu programmed to keep the frantic action varied and boiling to the point of nuclear fission. Also uses side on and overhead levels to keep the action fresh. The GameBoy version is a conversion of the fantastic Super Famicom version with extra levels and some surprises. Known as Contra Advance The Alien Wars EX in its English language version. Just don't say you weren't warned. But old school difficulty never did Genki any harm. Just a bit of a  nervous twitch...

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Grafting Games: Harvest Moon

Genki would rather not be running around after the horses, chicken and sheep everyday in this farm management game. Still the prospect of golden eggs helps Genki out of bed at the break of dawn. Plenty of freedom to visit others in town including the archaeologist, barmaid and little tree people (only after eating a special mushroom.) Miyamoto san would be proud. The very concept of a game running a farm was no doubt given a boost by Animal Crossing, yet the level of involvement and attachment ensures this is a real bumper crop. Working on a farm is fun but it also requires good organisation to keep the animals happy. The routine can be observed with room for a bit of fun on the side with multiplayer mini games and the locals are always up for a bit of banter.

The GameBoy got in on the act with a smashing version although the moles that get bashed on the head in the video games it is possible to play in game may disagree. Still farmers have never been big mole fans and its important to choose the right seed. Its possible to pop off fishing, even for a skinny dip in a hot spring in this varied version of the cracking Bokujo Monogatari.

There is a special For Girls version tailored more towards enjoying the title from a female perspective. The reactions of townsfolk vary plus the love aspect has been adjusted with the addition of rivals. More importantly the dog can now be trained instead of just getting underfoot.

There was also a more internationally minded version of the favourite farming sim on the GameCube as players get involved with English speaking non player characters, besides the mysterious love rivals that appear and of course the grind to keep the animals happy. Its Japanese subtitle is Shiawase no Uta.

Anyway Happy Farming.

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Namco Gallery: Gaming History in a Cartshell

Namco have had a many and varied existence covering the coin-ops, sports games and just fine action blasts. As such the Namco Gallery encapsulates the spirit of retro gaming amongst its volumes in a nutshell.

Volume 1 is a fine compilation of Mappy, Galaga, Namco Classic and Battle City. The platforming delights of Mappy, shooting action of Galaga and golfing exertions of Namco Classic are well known and summaries are on the site. Perhaps the lesser known element in the package is Battle City which involves the players tank defending a position against a whole armoury of opponents tanks with cool calculated shots a requirement to progress.

Volume 2 features vintage shooter Galaxian, Dig Dug, Tower of Druaga and the baseball winner Famista 4. In Dig Dug players scrape through tunnels in order to eliminate the various critters hindering progress in this simple concept with pure gameplay. A fine game to go back to and very nicely preserved for future generations in this GB form. Druaga is from a golden era of gaming where players take on the role of knight tasked with clearing mazes. Set apart by Namcot's flair for appealing sprite graphics and some fine gameplay blending quick thinking and fast pacing to create a title as loved today in updates and on virtual consoles.

Finally Volume 3 contains four titles: Sky Kid, Babel, Family Tennis and Jantaku Boy. So its sports, mahjong and building up staircases to escape from Babels action puzzle levels. But its Sky Kid likely to be of most interest: a plane based fun shooter where pilots zip along rescuing folk and firing off a few volleys against the Red Barron like adversary planes. A tasty compilation. Happy Genki gaming.

Friday, 18 October 2013

US Shenmue: Coversational Japanese Ahoy!

The huge budget opus of Yu Suzuki requiring no introduction. Set in a Japanese town complete with Snack (hostess bar) and game centre (arcade) including Space Harrier and Hang-On. Try not to get too distracted on the quest for vengeance! US Shenmue is a curiosity item in that the game box included in the outer card sleeve is the USA version, but with Japanese subtitles to help study English. And it really is a treat to assist language study with the conversational language being the sort gamers with a keen ear for linguistics will lap up. Even if some of it has a twinge of sailor speak.

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Fame at Last....!

Not sure what my brother makes of being named in the article, but all publicity is good publicity right?
"The ritual of the cart and the console must be continued...!"
Happy Genki gaming....

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Puzzle Bobble Millennium

Perhaps due to its late arrival, Puzzle Bobble Millennium has become quite a collectable on the system. It is often the case that a late arrival in the system's lifespan leads to a lower print run and some notoriety as a rare title. The superb characterisation especially as found in the various characters inhabiting the story mode that make for such a winning combination when mixed with Taito's tried and tested action puzzle gameplay. A rarer version of the puzzler featuring the well loved Bob and Bub.

Friday, 4 October 2013

Super Famicom Sparkster

Well known on the Mega Drive, yet this Super Famicom version really has the shackles off as Konami lets rip with vertically scrolling shooting levels with Sparkster on a hang glider to arrive for a boxing match with a boss, Goemon style. The crazed runners who speed past with a missile in tow require players to duck and weave in later levels. No further spoilers, suffice as to say there are so many special touches. We under the misconception that the definitive version was on the MD. Top stuff on the SFC.