Tuesday 29 April 2014

Neo Geo & Cultural References in Gaming

Ainu descended Nakoruru
Mono no Aware - education in video games?!

Genki has been lucky enough to sample the Neo Geo AES. Having played the fine Super Famicom a little too much previously, the sheer scale of the sprites was stunning. Dominating the screen, the giant proportions of bare chested beefcakes came up against nimble descendants from the Ainu folk, who originally inhabited the north island of Japan in Hokkaido. Such was the balance of the play mechanics that even the petite Northern Flower (with an admittedly fierce eagle) could take down the barrel chested bruiser. Teaching Western gamers that perhaps big isn't always best.

Samurai Spirits did indeed capture the traditional cultural aspects of Japan: the dramatic, Noh Theatre style opening complete with falling sakura blossom symbolising 'mono no aware.' This is a belief that beauty is made more beautiful by the fact that it is short lived. So the cherry blossom, whilst looking incredibly stunning in its own right, may also look more beautiful by the fact it will soon drop to the floor and decay. The chanting is like one of Buddhist nature and the fire and brimstone level is like a version of Buddhist hell. The drumming permanently cranks up the tension and atmosphere. Which newspaper said games weren't educational..?
The stereotypical Mad Scientist all scientists secretly long to be

Due to the prohibitive costs of new carts, trading carts proved the best option. Purchase decisions were based on limited info from the fanzines on offer and play videos, which in the pre-internet era excitingly showed actual gaming footage. Magazines did have some coverage, but due to the cost it was more focusing on its niche nature in a tabloid style. Not until the early editions of Edge was it more seriously looked at. Genki loves SNK's take on the genre it was tackling: be it the dramatic feel to Super Spy as players take on the role of a pair of hands as viewed from the screen. The Spy's adversaries perhaps lacked a little bit of modern day PC, but the cliched look made it clear who the bad guys were.

Go 'copter in Nam 1975
Few titles can be as well set as Nam 1975 with the whole title screaming Apocalypse Now. It must be the closest film tie that was never actually tied in. You could almost hear the insects chirping around you as players got in role by gradually themselves going a little crazier with each level as war descends to madness.

Last Resort - R Type en grey
The post-apocalyptic feel to the setting of Last Resort made this R Type style shooter well worth the admission fee. Opening with a scene like a steel factory in the rain with greys and a sense of further impending doom, Genki would savour the atmosphere as much as the shooting action to get through to see more of this R Type En Grey.

The simple platform adventures of Raguy filled a missing genre for the home system, yet perhaps lacked the budget of its big brother arcade titles due to it being relatively hard to set up a system of coins per play.
OTT even compared to Sky Sports
Fatal Fury Special had its stunning railroad battle on the back of the express train. Not that other levels lacked its attention to detail including a Duck stage that felt like a Hong Kong nightclub meets eighties acid house party.

Finally footy fans lapped up the superfluous celebrations of Super Sidekicks. Tickertape celebrations would greet the most simple of goals turning every moment into one of those Sky Sports HD montages. But beneath the over the top presentation lay a game like many of its Neo Geo ilk. Simple pick up and play mechanics keeping true to its arcade roots, but with hidden depth and moves allowing the coin-op king to pull the pants down of the newcomer and nutmeg them at the same time. Sadly it seems a long way away since the days of such a niche console. But its glorious memory lives on.

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