Here's a thread to share random thoughts about any retro gaming you're currently doing. Or nostalgic thoughts about retro gaming you've experienced at some point. If it's random, retro related, and a thought, put it in here!
I spent about two hours tonight trying out a bunch of different X68000 games. Mostly fighters and shmups. I was surprised at how many unofficial Sailor Moon fighting games there are on the X68000, I kept hitting upon them accidentally as I tried various games. Well, the two best fighters I played tonight were Asuka 120% Burning Fest and Goddess' Blazon. Both fighters had above average graphics for their time, and excellent combat mechanics. I might bother beating Goddess' Blazon at some point.
As for shmups, I first tried Armored Trooper Votoms: Dead Ash. It's based on the anime, and has anime styled cutscenes, but the gameplay was junk. It was more like driving a chintzy tank around than a humanoid mech. I did play two really good X68000 shmups though; Star Trader and Zero Rei. Both of those are blazing fast, control very responsively, and are great looking, with nice OSTs. And... they're both hard. I made it to stage II on Star Trader before running out of lives. Zero Rei is a caravan shmup, meaning you try to reach the high score in under a time limit. I made it about halfway up the default board. So yeah, great shmups, but oof not easy. I'm sure there's a lot more swell shmups on the X68000, as the platform only has about fourteen billion of them.
The X68000 has a bit of a difficult library to parse, not a lot of information in the west about its hidden gems. Which makes exploring its library all the more rewarding when you do find one. I plan to sniff around its obscure ossuary off and on this year.
I put an X68000 emulator on my OG XBOX. There's a ton of ports of late 80's Sega arcade games on that thing, but my three biggest priorities are probably Aquales, Geograph Seal, and that Castlevania game that came out for it.
In 1991 a company named Exact developed a mecha platformer for the Sharp X68000 Japanese home computer. This game was called Aquales, and it remains unique to this day in multiple ways. The biggest factor is the gameplay itself, combining the swinging mechanics of Bionic Commando with the mecha shooting action of Assault Suits Leynos. Due to this hybridization, Aquales immediately feels familiar yet also fresh. Couple that niche design with the fact this game was never ported beyond the X68000 PC, and so is practically unknown in the west. Let's not forget the game itself is named "Aquales", a unique title indeed.
The plot takes place in the year 2069. The player takes on the role of Fredric von Nyuya, an American mech pilot for a spec ops team called W-ODL. W-ODL is sent to investigate the disappearance of the British ship "Elias Rits". It has vanished near Kermadec Island while investigating a supposed hidden enemy base. It's up to Fredric and his W-ODL handler to find out what happened to the British ship, and ultimately take down an entire enemy base single handedly. This is no problem for Fredric though, because he has the world's most capable combat mech at his disposal; the titular Aquales.
As the player explores, they are constantly assaulted by repellent enemy forces. This requires blowing said forces to smithereens using a large variety of weapons. Collectable weapons run the gamut from chain and scythes, to laser swords, to flame throwers, to turrets with bouncing bullets. These weapons are stashed away, hidden for the player to find. Thankfully weapons do not run out of ammo, and knowing which type of weapon to use on which type of enemy, goes a long way towards success. Every time the player destroys an enemy, experience points are gained. Collect enough experience and the player's level raises, which impacts weapon damage and the Aquales' life gauge.
Being able to survive the endless onslaught of enemy robots is one thing, but your platforming skills will be tested as well. The first few missions start off simple enough, but eventually the player will need to exhibit great skill with the Aquales' swinging ability to progress. If you can't successfully maneuver like a mechanical Rad Spencer, you'll find no mercy from bottomless pits and lava pools. At times you'll have to swing and combat simultaneously, requiring both skill and strategy to succeed. Thankfully Aquales' level designs have a lot of variety, and you'll never be walking, jumping, or swinging for too long at once. The pace stays properly mixed and maintains the player's interest.
Above all else, I have to praise Aquales' insanely awesome OST. I am a huge fan of FM synthesis, and the X68000's capability in this regard is well known. Aquales makes the X68000's sound hardware rock hardcore, with extraordinarily well written tunes. From rock your face riff fests, to plaintive motifs, and everything in between. I was especially keen on the percussive elements, some of the drum sequencing just blew me away. I normally play games with headphones on, but I blasted Aquales' OST loudly over actual studio monitors while playing it. For my tastes, this game's music is absolutely outstanding.
Ultimately I adored Aquales, I found it to be a true joy to experience. Granted I'm a lover of Bionic Commando and mech platformers, as well as FM music, so I was predisposed already. But the rock solid game design, proper difficulty balance, and impressive pacing stood out on its own. Not to mention the hand crafted 2D graphics, that were never less than excellent, with plenty of awesome special programming effects (dat parallax scrolling). Aquales even bothered to have a great ending (with a hilarious credit scroll), a real rarity for its genre. If you are a fan of this type of game, I strongly recommend playing Aquales. I wasn't expecting much, but I was blown away.
I guess it's no accident that Aquales was developed by Exact, and so is Geograph Seal. I thought Geograph Seal looked a little Jumping Flash-ish, and turns out the same company made both games. Hmmm, I have some detective work to do.
As someone that played through that Castlevania game this year, it's interesting for getting a classic CV fix, but expect some brutal difficulty in spots. I beat my head against it quite a bit before finally breaking through.
Very true. There's a lot of what I would call "trolling enemy placement". So much stuff you just couldn't know was there the first time through. Still a pretty solid Castlevania though. Mid-tier as far as the whole series is concerned.
I've often wondered what an SNES Super Blaster Master could have been like. In the NES's case despite Metroid being one of my top favorite franchises, I think I've always had a softer spot for Blaster Master over the original Metroid. We all know Sunsoft were pro's and the game is just way too good. Seeing the dramatic jump between Metroid and Super Metroid, it kills me wondering if the same leap in quality advancements could have happened with Blaster Master to the SNES.
Instead we got that abomination sequel on the Genesis... can't even bring myself to finish it.
I've often wondered what an SNES Super Blaster Master could have been like Seeing the dramatic jump between Metroid and Super Metroid, it kills me wondering if the same leap in quality advancements could have happened with Blaster Master to the SNES.
That is exactly how I feel about Super Bionic Commando never existing. You know how epic awesome Demon's Crest was in being evolved from Gargoyle's Quest? Yeah, imagine that kind of upgrade from Bionic Commando to Super Bionic Commando. I like to think in some alternate universe, it actually happened.