Post by dunpeal2064 on Jul 31, 2018 20:49:21 GMT -5
Figured since I am playing through these at a pretty quick pace, it might be better to post write-ups here, that way I am not spamming the Game's Beaten thread, and people that don't want to see PC-98 stuff can more easily avoid it. Still feel free to post any comments or discussions, of course!
Post by dunpeal2064 on Jul 31, 2018 20:53:49 GMT -5
Metal & Lace 2
Metal & Lace 2 (Ningyo Tsukai II) is a fighting game released for the PC98 by Forest in 1996. I believe it was also released on DOS or Win95 or something, but I've only been researching PC98 stuff, so I'm not sure there. Images of this GIF above are why I tracked this game down, and I expected a terrible fighting game with some lewds thrown in for good measure.
(MingMing is best girl, because physics. Also she has a fire sword thing)
To my surprise, Metal & Lace 2 is actually a decent fighter. It features 5 playable characters, each sporting a decent variety of specials (SFII input style), and a special meter that allows for some relatively impressive combos. I did have to hook up a pad to make this game playable at all, but once I did, I was having quite a good time. The AI can be a little rough, and often forces you to use some cheap tactics, but considering the game was designed for keyboard, and its low framerate, its really not that bad! And, of course, each time you defeat an opponent, you are treated to some lewd images.
(This is the mild, no-nudity stuff, but still worth spoilering and tagging NSFW The game gets much more lewd than this though)
Beating Metal & Lace 2 consists of picking a character and fighting with them against the rest of the cast, followed by the last boss, Lucifer (Of course). I did notice the AI progressively getting tougher, and the fight before Lucifer took me a few attempts, even with my cheap tactics. Lucifer, on the other hand, is just an outright asshole. She (of course its a girl, you gotta win those FINAL BOSS LEWDS) can block on a frame, can become transparent and immune to damage, can charge her super in about 3 seconds, has regular specials that do like 25% of your health, and has a super that freezes the screen and drags you into a giant laser, which does a good 45%-50% damage. I had to fight her several times to finally squeak out a win.
I've figured out a rating system I plan to use for my future PC98 reviews, giving a score in three categories: Gameplay, Pixel Art/Sound, and Lewd Factor. I mostly want to do this because, as I've been testing games, some pretty crappy stuff shows up that honestly has such beautiful art that its worth suffering through, but grading something like that is tough. Anyways:
Gameplay: 6.5/10: In comparison to the other fighters on the PC98 I've played, this is like a 9, the rest have been really, really bad. Compared to non-PC98 fighters, though, this game is still not super great. I do think anyone jumping in and knowing what they are in for will at least have fun and be pleasantly surprised.
Art/Sound: 8.5/10: The opening alone earns this score. It is a must see, some really beautiful stuff. The GIF I took barely does it justice. Honestly, its worth booting the game up in an emulator just to see the opening (Which has its own floppy, its that rad). The music isn't bad either, but its not an FM Synth masterpiece by any means.
Lewd Factor: 7.5/10: The pixel art here is just as high quality as the opening, but it does lack any moving parts, and the "reward" for beating the game (Lucifer lewds) are pretty lame compared to what you regularly get throughout the game. One neat thing, I guess, is that the game saves the pics you've unlocked. I guess they figured that was what people were there for, and they might not want to play the game again to see them.
Post by dunpeal2064 on Jul 31, 2018 20:58:14 GMT -5
Marble Cooking is a puzzle game released in 1994 by Negative. It is also one of the few PC-98 games to have a fan translation, though I assume this is more due to it having little text, rather than it needing or being worth translating. There are, at least, some weird, funny translations to be had.
The premise of Marble Cooking is pretty simple. You have a grid in which there are obstacles and enemies. Your only action you can perform is to lay a Magic Circle down, at which point carrots will be left from the circle onto each panel you step on. Activating the portal again has a rabbit come out of it and eat the trail of rabbits, killing any enemies in tow. If an enemy touches you, you die, and if it touches your circle, it breaks it and destroys all the carrots. There is also a score multiplier for killing multiple enemies in the same chain. The game consists of 7 Stages, each housing 9 unique puzzles, so there is a good amount of content here.
Its a simple set up, but it is executed well. The stage layouts are varied to present different obstacles, and there are an impressive number of enemies, each with different movement patterns (Some move in a line, some stick to walls, some constantly move towards you, some only move when your circle is out, etc). I always got a sense of satisfaction getting a good chain, and the levels curved in difficulty nicely. Only once did I get stuck and had to resort to asking for help (Thankfully one other person had asked the same question on an obscure forum), and it turned out I just didn't know a mechanic, and the level was actually making really clever use of that mechanic. If you decide to play this, just know that while you are standing on your circle, enemies won't kill you and instead move around you
Gameplay 7.5/10: The core concept here is fun, and its fleshed out really well. I was very surprised at how much I enjoyed this. The only downside is that the last set of stages is really bad and lazy, and while difficult, is more annoying than anything, due to how often its repeated. Up until that point, though, I was having an absolute blast with Marble Cooking, and would definitely recommend it.
Art/Sound 7/10: The game looks nice, and sounds good. Not a whole lot here really blew me away, but it also never detracted from the experience. Its a cute puzzler, and it looks and sounds such. Each area has its own theme song, and opens with a nice screen of the anime ladies you are about to beat down.
Lewd Factor 8.5/10: Of course, its the PC-98, so this cute puzzler has ridiculously perverse scenes in between of you having your way with that area's foes. These are, of course, also highly detailed and quality art, but if you aren't a fan of this stuff (Or, if you are), just know that this game goes really far into the lewd factor. You can turn this off in the menu, at which point the game would be right at home on a Famicom.
Post by dunpeal2064 on Jul 31, 2018 20:59:58 GMT -5
Touhou Fuumaroku ~ the Story of Eastern Wonderland
Also known as Touhou 2. This game was released alongside Touhou 1 by ZUN at Comiket in 1997, and is the first of what would become the more traditional Touhou games, featuring vertical scrolling shooting, higher-than-normal bullet count, and story scenes between your character and the bosses.
The game's layout is familiar: You have 3 ship types to pick from, each having a unique shot type and bomb, and you fight through waves of enemies, a midboss, and a boss. There are 4 stages here (With a 5th primarily housing the final boss), and 4 difficulty options to choose from (Easy, Normal, Hard, and Lunatic). There is also an Extra Stage that can be unlocked by getting the Good Ending (ie no continues used) with all 3 ship types on one difficulty. This is a single stage that is brutally difficult and does not allow continues to be used. And yes, there are multiple endings, 6 in total, unique to each ship and whether a continue was used or not to clear the game. There is also a True Last Boss, which can only be faced if no continues were used.
This boss attacks with a sword, which then spawns bullets from the afterimage of the cut. Super cool.
Touhou 2 also has a scoring system, of course, and though its rather simple by later shmup standards, I found it to be intuitive and fun! The scoring here is tied to the item drops, of which there are two types (Power Up and Score), which drop at a very high frequency (Its not rare to have dozens of items on screen at once). Power Ups, of course, slowly increase your attack strength until it is maxed out (Somewhere around 70 pickups), while the score item gives you points based on how close to the top of the screen you pick it up (Ranging from ~1k to ~50k). On top of that, once your Power is maxed out, the power items begin to increase in value for each one you pick up, starting at 10 and ending at almost 13k. These stay at this value until you die, at which point you lose some power and the values are reset to 10. In practice, this leads to both an aggressive style of play, where you want to stay near the top to grab Score, but also a manic movement where you want to grab as many Power Ups as possible to get it to max and start increasing the chain.
To keep things even more frantic and free-form, Touhou 2 also employs a healthy amount of RNG. Regular enemy spawns are random, items dropped are random (Though drop frequency is fixed), and many boss attacks have some randomness to them. This, coupled with the intuitive scoring, makes Touhou 2 feel great, as it forgoes routing out a clear path, and encourages good old frantic play. ZUN's handling of an arcade-like game at home is also quite brilliant, as the game offers only 3 credits to use in a run, and not only offers different endings to encourage aiming for a 1cc, but literally has a boss in the game recount the amount of credits used and mocks you for it. This might turn some off, but I absolutely love this, as it doesn't leave the idea of "proper play" in the players hands, but instead takes its own action to lead the player toward the proper way to play. Even if you are credit-feeding, the limited amount of credits will still put some pressure to actually play well, rather than just feed through. I've rarely seen a console shmup take such an effective approach at directing the player towards the intended playstyle. Luckily, I think this also makes a good "First 1cc" game, as the game is very generous with extra lives, handing out 4 based on score, and 2-3 that drop off midboss/bosses, as well as a fair amount of bombs to let you skip the tougher patterns.
The game even mocks a Normal 1CC. Get good and play Lunatic! xD
Since this is the first Touhou game I've played/reviewed, I think its worth pointing out that this game is a doujin (indie) release, made almost entirely by one guy, ZUN. The programming, graphics, sound, everything here is a one-man effort that was taken to a comic show and sold on floppies at a booth. While not uncommon for the PC98, I still think this is super impressive, as Touhou 2 plays really well, and does a fair amount to push itself apart from more typical shooters. And, while graphically its nothing to write home about, the music here is really, really good.
I could probably write twice as much about this game, but this write-up is already too long, so:
Gameplay 8/10: Super fun to play and just dodge through cool boss attacks, even more fun to score. The attempt to steer players towards 1cc play is commendable, and the various modes, ship types, and easy-to-pick-up scoring system means there is plenty to do here.
Art/Sound 7.5/10: If sound had its own category, this would be like a 9. The first three stages feature some killer tracks. Art direction is fine, and at least begins to create the world of Touhou that, from what I understand, is so popular now, but detail is a little lacking, and backgrounds/regular enemies/sound effect are a little weak.
Post by dunpeal2064 on Jul 31, 2018 21:44:07 GMT -5
Touhou Gensoukyou ~ Lotus Land Story
Also known as Touhou 4, this is the 2nd traditional bullet hell shmup in the series, released by ZUN in 1998. This game also makes some strides towards the Touhou formula, featuring a focus button that slows the ship speed and denser, slower patterns to maneuver through. It adds a 2nd playable character, Marisa (The 4th boss from Touhou 2), each having two different shot types to pick from. The game is just a hair longer at 6 full stages, and overall feels more fleshed out than the first Touhou shmup.
Items, powering up, and scoring work similar to the previous game, but again with strides taken towards what Touhou would become know for. "Bullet Graizing" is introduced, where the player gets a fixed amount of points every time they come dangerously close to a bullet. Bombs are now useful for more than just live savers, as they now auto-collect all items on screen and double the point value of them. Defeating a midboss or boss phase now cancels all bullets on screen for points, another trait that will be common from here. Lastly, a third item type, the "Dream Counter" has been added, which acts similar to medals you would chain in a Raizing shooter, wherein each one collected increases the value of the later ones, but these ones reset each stage. The current value of these items is also added to your score items, making you now juggle between three different scoring item mechanics.
Touhou 4 is a definite improvement on the previous game, focusing more on what makes these games fun (Dense and creative boss patterns, crazy scoring). A Normal clear seems much easier than the previous game, and only took me two attempts to achieve, but the higher difficulties seem like they've had more thought put into them this time around, and the Extra stage and multiple endings are still present.
Gameplay 8.5/10: This game is damn fun, and focuses on what I happen to like most about shmups. The game length feels just right now, and the scoring depth has been drastically increased from the previous game, while only losing a bit of its intuitiveness.
Art/Music 7.5/10: Touhou 4 looks mostly similar to Touhou 2, with the one upgrade being the patterns looking a little nicer. Music here is still great, but a little less consistently good for me. It is the game "Bad Apple" comes from, though, which is probably what Touhou is most well known for, and its original mix is really good.
Lewd Factor NA: No lewds here, or in this entire series (At least on the PC-98), so if you want to play SFW PC-98 stuff, Touhou has you covered.
Post by dunpeal2064 on Jul 31, 2018 23:57:36 GMT -5
Peret em Heru: For the Prisoners
Peret em Heru is a horror RPG developed and released by Makoto Serise in 1998. This game was made in RPG Maker Dante 98 II, and in 1998 would win ASCII's Platinum Award in their monthly contest, "The Internet Contest Park" (Apparently the only game to ever do so!), and won several awards from there. Luckily, the game has been fan-translated!
Peret em Heru is quite a unique game right out of the gate. It's story revolves around a group of tourists in Egypt that get dragged into exploring the inner depths of the greaat Pyramid of Giza and all its traps therein. Its a horror RPG, but turn-based combat is more of an aside, and the main focus is on using items and abilities you learn to solve different situations, usually in order to progress or help a team mate.
Most of the game is split solving these puzzles via top-down exploration and menus, and watching cut scene dialogue play out, with the occasional random battle and story battle thrown in. The horror here comes in the pyramid's bobby traps, which are believed to punish people for their sins, and so the primary focus of the game is to attempt to save as many of your friends as possible from these traps. Depending on your approach, each character may be saved, or die a rather gruesome death. This game tackles some fairly serious issues, too, and even the fan translation page has several warnings before play.
While scarce, the enemy art here is really great
Clocking in at about 3 hours, Peret em Heru is quite an interesting and different little game. It uses RPG mechanics, but plays nothing like a typical RPG, and has a setting I haven't seen done before.
Gameplay 6.5/10: Considering this was made by one person in an RPG maker game, Peret em Heru is rather impressive. It is clearly what it is, though, and has some odd standouts that mark it as an RPG maker game (ie equipment slots, even though afaik there is no equipment). Its story and setting are the draw here, though, and those are done fairly well.
Art/Sound 7/10: The art here suffices for the most part, occasionally standing out with little brutal sprite animations. The music is creepy and weird in the best way, often reminding me of the more creepy tunes in Earthbound. Both do well in selling the vibe of the game.
Lewd Factor NA: Its worth noting that, despite lacking straight up hentai scenes, this game still delves into many adult themes, so if violence involving sex, self harm, and the like is not for you, then I would avoid this one.
V.G. II, the second game in the Variable Geo series, is a 1v1 fighting game released by Giga in 1994. The game plays in SF style, with charge and quarter-circle moves. There is an 11 character all-female cast, and upon defeating your opponent, you get lewds, of course.
V.G. II looks and plays surprisingly well. Background details are solid, and character animations for attacks are varied. The game does run a little slow, but there are speed settings somewhat like SFII's Turbo to help with this. There aren't any supers here, but each character seems to have a healthy arsenal of specials, and regular attacks also have unique traits between characters. The art style really stands out to me, and is at its best in the opening/ending scenes, and of course, the lewd stuff.
Technically no nudity here, but still nsfw, so spoilered
V.G. II plays out like most fighters. You take your character against the rest of the cast, followed by a final showdown against a non-playable fighter. The difficulty ramps up throughout, and the AI here can be quite aggressive, often pinning you down for several combos straight if given the chance. Luckily, it never got outright unfair, and I was always able to take advantage of a character's moveset to keep pressure up. The last boss here, Kotoe, is really fun, having crazy vertical projectiles and teleportation, but still always felt fair. I'd put the difficulty here as approachable and fairly easy, but with enough pushback to warrant some effort.
Gameplay 6.5/10: Playing with each character and seeing their moveset is fun, but there isn't much depth here beyond that, and none of the characters were so fun that I wanted to keep playing past the clear. It also doesn't run too well even on fast settings. Still fun enough for a run through, but not a fighter I'd keep on rotation.
Art/Sound 7.5/10: Like many PC-98 games, the still art scenes are gorgeous. What impressed me more were the in-game sprites and animations, which were really nice, and some of the backgrounds were so detailed. Music, on the other hand, was pretty by-the-books. Nothing irritating, but nothing that stuck with me either.
Lewd Factor 7.5: This game gets pretty lewd, and pretty often. Fights are short, but each contain little "story" bits with 3 lewd scenes per character. The art is really well done, as usual, but there is some weird stuff in there, depending on your tastes. Worth playing for if you want lewds, and if you don't, they can be turned off in the menu.
Good stuff d00d. And damn do I love those screenshots.
If you like Ys at all you should hit up Aiza and Fall, which are both exclusive to the system. (The latter game has anime tiddicles, like 75% of PC-98 titles).
Thanks man! Yeah, PC-98 screens are something else, I've found myself screen-capping just about every scene in these games.
I've not heard of Aiza or Fall! I will definitely look into those, and I've considered replaying through the Ys games on PC-98 as well (I think the language barrier here won't be a bother). Thanks for the recommendations, especially with this system they are more than welcome, most of these games are very rarely discussed.
Those Touhou shooters sound cool. I definitely want to play Peru Peret em Heru at some point, too. Kind of sounds like Sweet Home, which is another game I mean to get to one day. I think VG II illustrates the strengths and weakness of the PC-98 as a gaming platform - it's amazing for still images, but it can't do smooth animation. If you ever want to hit up those Farland Story games, I'd recommend you start with the last that was fan translated. It's a little more interesting than the rest, which tend to be extremely easy and pretty bland.