Archive for the ‘Arcade’ Category

Tekken Tag Tournament

Sunday, June 1st, 2008

You might think, given that I like Street Fighter II and its derivatives so much that it would be a no-brainer that I would like the 3D fighting games too, but it turns out that I’m pretty terrible at them. And I think the reason is that I just have too much to worry about trying to maneuver my guy in 3D space. Take Tekken Tag for example, you have two punches, two kicks, a block, and can move around a bit forward and backward as well as in and out of the background. And it moves a little slower, which should be a good thing.

Most fighting games have some kind of flimsy story as the explanation for the characters fighting each other, but if this one does, then I wasn’t able to divine it. It appears that this game was just an excuse to have a big lineup of lots of Tekken characters just slugging it out because that’s what they do, and I can respect that. But this time they do it in teams of two, and you can switch them up at any time

Now, I’m fully willing to admit that I’m not very good at these kinds of games because I don’t play them enough to get good at them. And the main reason I don’t play them is because of what happened at one particular arcade one Saturday night.

I, being a complete newbie to the game, was just kind of jacking around with it, learning the ropes and trying to feel my way around. Then some jackass comes up who’s apparently pretty skilled at the game and throws money into the machine (without asking me if I minded, of course). So he picks his guys, I pick my guys and we start fighting. Round one ends with me getting a pretty savage beatdown, but that’s OK. I can take a loss to a better player. Round two started and then WHAM! He hits me with some kind of move that I had never seen before (I was completely new, remember?) that completely KO’d me in one hit. I was a little upset and probably yelled a little. “There’s a move in this game that KO’s your opponent in one hit? That seems a little unfair.” “Only if you’re dumb enough to get hit with it,” he answered. Right then, I decided that if the game had moves that unbalanced in it, then it was a game I didn’t need to be playing, especially in an arcade where, if I’m hit by said moves, I blow through my $0.75 in less than two minutes, including time at the character select screen. And I’m no economist, but that doesn’t seem like the best use of my dollars.

Cruis’n USA

Friday, May 30th, 2008

Racing games where you race around some kind of track with some realistic-handling cars are just kind of boring to me, so I tend to play the more… eccentric racers, if I play them at all.

Cruis’n USA takes you driving the car of your choice down your choice of highways/streets against a slew of other cars and trying to get to the goal. The thing is, though, that the places that you go through are only kind of like the real-life places in the USA. But that’s fine. You get to go real fast down almost-real streets in an indestructible car, which is a lot different than I can do in real life.

One of the cool things about this game is that when you finish the race in first place you get to keep going, until you finish your cross-country tour, I guess. I played this game in my local arcades quite a bit, but was never quite able to get more than a few races under my belt until I stopped coming in first. And then the game starts to cost a whole lot more (a dollar for about 2 minutes of game time or about $30 per hour, ouch!). So I’d usually play this one to warm up my arcade muscles before I moved on to something a little more interesting.

Giga Wing

Saturday, May 24th, 2008

Last night I had the opportunity to play Giga Wing. It’s one of those games where you take a very-destructible flying machine and move inexorably forward to deal with hundreds upon hundreds of enemy ships. Pretty standard stuff, really. But, pretty quickly, two things really stand out about this game.

First, the enemies somehow shoot lots and lots of instantly-fatal bullets, so many that the screen is often completely full of Hot Flaming Death(tm). But to mitigate that, you can charge up and occasionally use a ‘reflector’ shield that will bounce the bullets back in the general direction of the enemies, and will turn into collectibles.

The collectibles are the second thing to note. Each time you get one of the gold-colored collectible junkets, your ‘bonus multiplier’ goes up, which increases the rate that your score goes up (natch). The thing is, though, that there are so many items that increase your multiplier so fast that your score is going to get up to a ridiculous level really fast. My first time playing it, I had scored over 2,100,000,000 points. And Wikipedia says that the all-time high score at this game is 291,252,468,839,040 points, which I think I could buy.

Given enough credits at this game, it’s not too tough to get to the end. The game’s actually kind of short. But you need to memorize most of this game and have extremely-finely-honed reflexes to beat it with any kind of panache. Which you’ll certainly need to have if you want to fight the ‘real last boss’ see the ‘real ending’. It turns out that to do both of those things you have to finish the game with one credit. One! I think I have a better chance spontaneously becoming fluent in Esperanto.

Killer Instinct

Tuesday, May 13th, 2008

2D fighting games are very similar to each other. The basic formula is two characters beating on each other until one runs out of stamina. But the variations that the developers use to differentiate them make it worthwhile to play more than one of them.

Killer Instinct tells the story of super corporation Ultratech and their mysterious fighting tournament that they put on. See, Ultratech has fantastically advanced technology and dabbles in genetic engineering, cybernetics, capturing aliens, opening interdimensional portals, you know, regular stuff. They put on this tournament apparently to test out their projects against whoever wants to participate.

So, pretty standard stuff. But where the game really sets itself apart is the combo system. In other fighting games, if you’re good, you might be able to pull off a combo of 5 or so hits. In this one, lengthy combos are the name of the game.

Nearly every move in this game can be chained with other moves to produce combos. For instance, you do your opening move for two hits, then hit the ‘autodouble’ button for three more hits, then hit the finisher for two more. MASTER COMBO! Longer combos have more impressive names, and are harder to pull off. They culminate in the over-20-hit Ultra Combo that usually finishes your opponent off. This is all mitigated by the combo breaker. The guy getting pummeled has a move that interrupt the combo, and the longer it goes, the easier it is to pull off (you have more chances).

There’s more to this game than that, though, no mercy moves, humiliations, general silliness that I won’t go into here. I ended up playing this game a whole lot in the arcades, mostly because it was similar enough to Street Fighter that I could pick it up really easily, and different enough that I really enjoyed it. It also didn’t hurt that at my local arcades the game was ridiculously popular for a long time, and there were often crowds gathered around. And crowds meant that you got to play against real actual people, which is absolutely the best way to play any fighting game, and, in the days before the Internet, the best way to pass around notes and learn everyone’s moves and finishers.

Later on, I would actually be able to purchase this game for my Super NES. Normally arcade to Super NES ports suffer greatly, but this game came through remarkably similar to the arcade version, which was no small feat. But the real icing on the cake was that this game was compatible with the XBand modem. And what that meant is that even though the players in my neighborhood quit playing this game pretty much as soon as they started I still had an entire nation of willing opponents, each ready, willing, and able to flog me repeatedly. Which kind of sounds like it’d be a frustrating thing, but it really taught me a lot about the ins and outs of the game by collaborating with real actual people. Strange, I know, but that’s how we did it way back in the ’90s.

Knights of the Round

Tuesday, May 6th, 2008

If Dungeons & Dragons was too much game for you, I guess you could always go for Knights of the Round. It’s kind of the same thing but without all of the pesky details like inventory management. You just have to run to the right and slaughter the throngs of baddies that try to impede your progress.

You take control of either Arthur, Lancelot, or Perceval and try to defeat the forces of evil. I don’t really know much more about the story than that, though, but it seemed nebulous enough to me to make a passable game.

As you go to the right and beat up enemies, you will slowly gain experience points. Get enough experience points and you gain a level. Gain a level and you can take slightly more damage, get slightly better armor, and get a slightly more powerful weapon. And that’s just a fancy way of saying that you can kill stuff faster, which is good because they keep getting more and more health for you to whittle away.

I played this game several weekends in a row for three reasons. It was a pretty entertaining game to play with the full compliment of three players, we could finish it in about an hour, and it just so happens that the amount of tokens I could get at the arcade that housed the game (35 tokens for $5) was nearly exactly the amount that I needed to finish the game. The rest I blew on Fast Draw Showdown.

X-Men: Children of the Atom

Monday, May 5th, 2008

Fighting games are really just an excuse for two characters to get together and beat the pulp out of each other. All you need is a pretext to explain why the characters want to beat each other unconscious. Take X-Men, for example… Er… well, this game doesn’t really have much of a story. All that I could tell is that you take control of one of the X-Men or one of their enemies and have to defeat Magneto and stop his crazy ‘kill all of the non-mutants’ scheme. Now, why you have to fight the other mutants before you get to fight Magneto, I don’t know. Maybe you can think of them as his guardians or something. In fact, I’m sure if you think about it long enough, you can rationalize it somehow in some way that makes sense. I don’t have that kind of time.

I don’t pretend to know much about the X-Men universe outside of what I saw in the animated series, I never really was that into comics or anything, so I don’t really know that much about the characters or their motivations. But what I do know is that this was a pretty good game. It plays a lot like the Street Fighter game, but a lot more cartoony. The moves are a lot more exaggerated, and with the mutants’ superhuman abilities, the action goes way over the top.

But, I didn’t really spend a lot of time with this game. Mostly because it was in my local arcade for about three days. That particular arcade had a ridiculously high turnover rate for games for some reason. The downside to that is that I didn’t get very good at many games, because I didn’t get to spend time with them, but the upside is that I got to play lots of really mediocre games…

Um… Is that really an upside?

Street Fighter 2: Champion Edition

Wednesday, April 30th, 2008

I got a lot of time in with the original Street Fighter 2 game, but it had a couple of shortcomings. Like if you had two people playing, they couldn’t pick the same character, and the four boss characters weren’t playable. But now? All that’s changed!

Really, other than those couple of changes and a few minor technical changes that only the hardcorest of players would care about, this game is otherwise identical to the old title, just refined a little. I guess the older one was successful enough that Capcom didn’t want to mess with the formula too much. But they’d end up tweaking it some more and releasing a few more versions over the years.

Rainbow Islands – The Story of Bubble Bobble 2

Saturday, April 5th, 2008

Bubble Bobble was a bit of an oddball game. Not because of the barely comprehensible storyline, but because of the way it screwed with you.

The sequel, I should have guessed, likes to screw with you just as much… perhaps more. But I’m getting a little ahead of myself.

It stars the two dinosaurs from Bubble Bobble, now restored to their little boy forms. They have to make use of their magical rainbows to kill enemies and work their way to the top of a series of islands. Then you go on to the next one.

But the game, it screws with you!

See, kill enemies, work your way to the top of the stage, kill the boss, go on to the next stage. Pretty straightforward, right? Now you might notice that occasionally a jewel will appear, one for each color of the rainbow. Collect them all and get a bonus. Now, if you collect them all in the color order of the rainbow (Roy G. Biv) then you get a super bonus, get to bypass the boss of the level, and get a super gem. You have to get all the super gems to complete the game properly. But they appear randomly, right? No, no they don’t!


See, you need to carve up the screen into seven vertical slices. When you kill an enemy it flies through the air and the seventh of the screen that it lands in will determine the color of gem that will appear. You need to skillfully kill the enemies and collect the gems and then work your way to the door at the top of the stage to access the secret stages and to see the ending properly. Where does the game tell you this? Nowhere! At least nowhere that I was able to divine.

Man, this game screws with you big time!

I’m jealous…

Dungeons & Dragons: Tower of Doom

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2008

Looking back now, the arcades around my hometown never had some of, what appear to be, the best arcade games to come out during their heyday. Up until very recently (within the last year) i didn’t even know there was an arcade game based on the Dungeons & Dragons universe, much less two. When I found out about it, I just couldn’t wrap my head around it. “How can D&D work as an arcade game?” I thought.

Pretty well, it turns out.

The game is essentially a sidescrolling beat ‘em up with D&D elements tacked on. You walk around, mostly to the right, and beat up pretty much anything that moves. Doing so will get you precious Experience Points. Get enough of those and your character becomes a little stronger, and able to end the lives of the Evil Hordes more quickly. You also have an inventory to manage, but it’s pretty basic. You’re supposed to be worrying about slaughtering monsters, after all.

There are other role-playing elements in here too. The story branches at a few key points and you have to decide which path to take, which will affect the story a bit. It’s nothing that couldn’t have been done without the D&D license, but having it there kind of lets you know what you’re in for. Kind of. I mean, this game isn’t really that much like playing actual Dungeons & Dragons, kind of like Guitar Hero isn’t really like playing an actual guitar, but I don’t think that gets in the way of it being a really fun game for a while.

Mega Man Anniversary Collection

Monday, March 17th, 2008

I had thought about trying to stretch each of the Mega Man games in the series into complete articles, but they’re all nearly exactly the same. Not that that’s a bad thing. In fact, the games were quite good, with just little enhancements. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

The Mega Man games are about two scientists. They work together to build a series of robots to do certain tasks. Cutting trees, setting fire to things, blowing things up, that kind of thing. One of the scientists, as it happens, is all evil and steals most of the robots, reprograms them, and tries to take over the city or the world or whatever. The only robots he left behind were a housecleaning robot and a tool robot. The tool robot wants to smite the evil scientist, so the good scientists retrofits him to be able to go commit robot genocide.

Mega Man, the tool robot, has the interesting ability to copy the abilities of the robots he defeats. This is pretty handy because each of the robots has a special ability that one of the other robots is weak to. But! You don’t know which is which, and you don’t have a prescribed order to fight them in, so you have to guess.

This actually works out pretty well, it means that you can experiment and try to defeat the robot masters in whatever order you want to try to find out the optimal path to victory… or just which ones you like the best.

So, I can’t really stretch the games into eight articles. They’d go something like this:

Mega Man 2: Just like Mega Man, but you have platforms you can ride.

Mega Man 3: Just like Mega Man 2, but you have a robot dog to help you.

Mega Man 4: Just like Mega Man 3, but you have the ability to charge up your shots, and can make balloons to jump on.

and so on.

I had a lot of fun playing each of these games growing up, so it was pretty awesome to be able to finally get them all in a convenient form that didn’t require me to do some kind of arcane ritual to get my aging NES to work.

It’s also kind of nice how they put one of my favorite arcade games and its sequel in with the package. And I’d probably have paid the price of admission for that alone. Or just the series compilation, especially since each of the games in the series in the wild routinely goes for well over $30 for whatever reason.

And then there’s the bonus stuff, like interviews and remixes and the kind of thing you’d find on a DVD release of some movie. It’s just stuffed full of goodies that makes the whole package completely awesome. It’s easily one of the best purchases I’ve made.