Sometimes things work out so that allow you to get things done. For me this weekend spelled a lot of housework, and home projects being worked on, as well as ample time for games. For me that meant 25 games I was able to get though and log in, including 10 that have been collecting dust for a long time. This also meant pulling one system out of mothballs to make sure its working since I haven't had a chance to play it since I moved in mid-2015, and hooking up an unplayed system that I bought nearly nine months ago.
This Weeks Buys:
None to speak of although I do have my hands in a few auctions.
The Play Throughs:
Front Line (Atari 2600) -. Anyway, as stated as previously stated this is a kind of Commando/Ikari Warriors top down shooter, right down to the jumping into tanks and things. It’s an ok game, but the element of shooting in itself is tricky, and the player hit detection is a bit off since my character sprite seemed to get stuck on tree’s while the enemies walked right through them. Not, the best Atari 2600 game but not the worst either.
Burning Soldier (3DO) - This is one of my older buys and the last game I purchased from my local retro gaming store. As you may know from my 3D-Oh-No article I am a bit critical of the 3DO, and this game has been listed among those that seem to typify the downsides of the system. I have to say though that for all the negative reviews and playthroughs I’ve watched, I was actually pretty entertained by this game and spent some time playing it. Basically, it’s a space shooter where all you do is move the reticle to shoot things, and you have no control over ship movement. Or to explain it even more it’s almost like it was meant to be a light gun game but moved to standard controllers. Ok, I’ll admit in writing it sounds boring but it’s actually pretty good due to the fact that it’s a fast moving game and it doesn't give you time to get bored. Based on the shortness of the levels, and game play I’ve had a theory that this may have originally been developed as an arcade light gun game, but sadly Burning Soldier is so obscure and on such an odd system not much is really out there about the game. My biggest complaint, or what I did find funny, is something Mark at Classic Game Room brought up regarding the narrating voice. This is especially unusual when your ship finally gets shot down and the narrator yell’s, albeit very calmly, “I’m hit” honestly its so odd it's actually funny. The narration voice seems a bit out of place and sounds more like the type of voice you would expect for a villain than your character, or narrator, or whatever it is. Alos hearing “Kaisertians” said over and over again is also pretty funny coming from this voice. I have to say though that it wasn't what I was expecting, and it’s actually a pretty good game.
Atari Anthology (PS2) - This is a constellation based romp through some of Atari’s classic arcade and Atari 2600 games, similar to the anthologies I bought for my Xbox One near Black Friday. I picked this one up to have in case I ever decide to install a PS2 into my X-Arcade. Overall it's good and looks and plays well.
Air Combat 2 (PS1) - The first console sequel to Ace Combat actually improves greatly on the games original formula. AC2 shows that the franchise finally stepped away from the arcade and made itself at home on PS1. The game plays and looks beautiful especially considering many PS1 games don't age well, this one seems to overcome that. Still not too crazy about the d-pad to control my aircraft, but that's minor complaint.
Test Drive: Off Road (PS1) - Taking an Air Combat break I decided to sandwich this one in between the two. All three of these PS1 games came together as part of a mini-eBay lot. I actually bought it because the price of Air Combat 2 & 3 ala carte was more expensive than buying this lot. Anyway remember what I said above about PS1 games not always aging well, this is one. It has some fun elements but considering you can barely see the track ahead while your racing it detracts from that. The one plus is that you get to race a Jeep Wrangler.
Air Combat 3: Electrosphere (PS1) - OK, remember how I've been complaining about no analog control? Well, this game has it and it's a bit sensitive but it doesn't take long to get use to. I'm not very sure where they where going with this game. I don't think it's as good as AC2 and it has this whole odd near-futuristic element to it. It also suffers from a bit of PS1-itis graphically. It's an ok entry in the series and I'm glad to finally see analog control available.
Toy Commander (Dreamcast) - This had one of the cutest title sequences I've ever seen. It has Windwaker style animation of a little boy flying his toy planes and helicopters around the house, I sight I see regularly in my own house. Toy Commander is a more obscure Dreamcast title, and it's also one of the more inexpensive ones. The game more or less has you using toy military vehicles to accomplish odd “big people” jobs around the house, hitting home the “in the mind of a child” aspect we are introduced to in the title sequence. It's fun to play but also a bit repetitive, and the graphics are on par with other cartoony games of generation 6. FYI, the Dreamcast controller is not ideal for this game. Oh, and the screen saver mode is really cute too.
Armada (Dreamcast) - This is a top down SHMUP with a huge cult following. So I’ll say this, it's a cool concept and one hell of a good looking game, but it's shit to play on a Dreamcast controller. Yes, I will admit it's an awesome game, nonetheless. The POV is of course a bit unorthodox, but I think that contributes to this games mystique. Anyway good alien invader SHMUP, especially on the Dreamcast.
Bang! Gunship Elite (Dreamcast) - This is a space flight combat sim, although whether or not it's related to the famous Elite series of games I don't know, I doubt it, but it has a similar feel. Anyway first mission in and I'm already lost. It is a good looking game for the era, but there's also a lot of blah, blah, blah explaining the missions and the title sequence. Looks good but is hard to play.
ChuChu Rocket (Dreamcast) - This odd Japanese puzzle game always seems to hit top ten list of the Dreamcast's best games. Ok, it is cute but I have no idea what's going on. Apparently it's about redirecting the mice and cats into your opponent's field. Someday I will have the patience for it.
Superman (XBOX) - This was an XBOX exclusive and seemed like DC was trying to redeem itself after Superman 64. Too bad the didn't start with the voice talent. Anyway the graphics are a little bit outdated on this one since it was slightly Gen 5 looking. The other issue is that it's hard to get the knack on controls. Superman flies a bit too much like an airplane rather than...well Superman. This will have to go into the come back to pile since I don't have the patience, and that's really too bad since I'm a Superman fan.
Battlestar Galactica (XBOX) - Although not an XBOX exclusive, this one is well recommended. It's also fairly common and inexpensive. This isn't based on the rebooted series from about a decade ago, but does look and feel more modern than the series late 70’s early 80’s origins. The title sequences and cutscenes look really good, meaning there was a lot of TLC for this game. So yes, not only does it look good but it's a great game as well, on the XBOX controller it plays beautifully, and shares many of the same controls as the previously mentioned Air Combat games, but with a less sensitive analog. BTW, did I mention how nice it is coming back to an XBOX controller from the Dreamcast controller?
Blinx (The Cat) The Time Sweeper (XBOX) - Blinx was a cute little cat who was briefly a mascot for the XBOX. Basically he got two XBOX exclusive games and that was it, even though both were good (or so I've been told). I bought this one because my youngest son fell in love with the Blinx, when he was having a cat phase. Basically, Blinx is a cat that works at the universe's “Time Factory”, and is sent in to fix time related errors and crimes. In the case of this game he goes on a rescue mission on his own to rescue a princess. Before you go thinking this is another Ratchet & Clank, you better think twice. Although a kid friendly game, it's actually a very complex game as Blinx collects combinations of time crystals to accomplish a verity tricks of time like pauses, fast forwards, and rewinds. It's a very colorful nice looking game, and has a great fairytale feel to it.
Gradius V (PS2) - Back to the PS2 and back to a SHMUP. This is another classic installment of the Gradius franchise. It reminds me of R-Type: Final or Silpheed: The Lost Planet, with the classic SHMUP set against a modern 3D background. If you like SHMUP’s or Gradius then you'll like this one. For me I just really enjoy the way these games where simultaneously kept classic while being reimagined at the time of the PS2 and following. Graphically it's a beautiful game, and fun as hell to play too.
Air Combat 04: Shattered Skies (PS2) - And back to the Air Combat games. Picking up in order of where I left off on the PS1 with Electrosphere. This is the first AC title on the PS2 and it returns to the formula we saw in AC2 with current gen aircraft. So why is it called 04 instead of 4, well not because it came out in 04’ like a Madden game but because it's set in 2004 (it came out in 2001). Anyway this is the first AC game to also have a running plotline told from the viewpoint of a man who remembers the war your fighting in, as a boy. This game looks really great, as good as any flight sim on a PC of the era, of course keep in mind this is a console flight sim and not a PC so don't expect over-realistic controls. I will gladly say that the issue of the over-sensitive analog stick in AC3 has been fixed here making for some very smooth play.
Capcom Classics Collection (PS2) - Like oyster crackers between wine tastings I will have a few games to break up the AC games with. This is another one I bought to add to a PS2 I had thought about putting in my X-Arcade. The PS2 was definitely a system that had a lot of these great collections on it, and to me I honestly still believe the PS2 and these collections are where the Retro Gaming movement was developed and turned into what it is. Anyway this disk is loaded with the arcade versions of a lot of great Capcom games like 1942, Commando, Street Fighter and many others. It's a great collection, and all the games are the real arcade deals.
Ace Combat Zero: The Belken War (PS2) - 1,2,3,4,5,0? Set in 00’? Nope. Not made in 00’ either. I guess this is meant to be a prequel to the whole series. Anyway this one is good, not as good as 04, but still a really well done game and very solid. After plugging this one in I realized this game actually came after 5, so I guess I'm playing them a little out of order. Oh, well I did play ^, and Assault Horizon before them all anyway.
Gungriffon: Blaze (PS2) - Another palate cleanser. This is another one in the cool holographic Working Designs Ultra Series packaging like the aforementioned Silpheed. I guess I'm a snob about my walking fighting robot mech games because I wasn't into this one. I mean it had a cool arcade vibe which was great, but the graphics seemed a little more PS1 than PS2 as did the gameplay.
Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War (PS2) - Ok so I guess I played these out of order since 5 comes before 0, but 15 years after 0 on the timeline. Did I mention these games are set in an alternative universe, that's why you'll see Russian aircraft on a United States aircraft carrier. Anyway, this one graphically and play wise is almost identical to 04, so with that said it's a great game. The only downside is that the player aircraft hit detection is a little sensitive. Great game, best plot line of the PS2 era games, intense at times.
Shadow Squadron (Sega 32x) - You know the worst part about hooking up the 32x, is hooking up the 32x. Anyway, finally leaving the systems of generation 6 behind (minus GameCube) I'm traveling back to the 32x and a game that's actually pretty good. Shadow Squadron is one of the 32x’s lesser known titles. It usually is inexpensive which I think gives most people the idea it's not good, but in reality it's pretty awesome. It reminds me of both Wing Commander and Star Wars 32x. It's a fairly impressive space flight combat sim, that is intuitive and fun to play. Glad I picked this one up.
Star Trek: Starfleet Academy (Sega 32x) - It reminds me of the SNES version, bit with some minor plus and minuses. The graphics are better, but text telling you what's going on is lacking. Obviously if you want to play Starfleet Academy as it was meant to be played I would suggest the PC version, which my friend at Star Trek Games has been going through on YouTube for the past few months. Overall, it's a good looking game for the 32x, but a little hard to play and I'd suggest the PC version.
Ok and now for the inaugural event, hooking up the Sega CD. I bought this system at Midwest Gaming Classics nearly 9 months ago and I'm just booking this up for the first time now. Glad to see it works and I can officially declare the $40 I spent on it a good deal.
Star Wars (Sega CD) - I know this one is said to be hard (if not rubbish) but I had to kick it off with a Star Wars or Star Trek game. Ok, I'll have to admit that first of all the Sega-CD graphics for this one are terrible, and I also have to admit everything I've heard and seen about this game play wise is also true. The left and right controls suck and it's impossible to get through the training mission because of that. Good to collect as a Star Wars game, shit to play.
Steller Fire (Sega CD) - Is that Michael Dorn narrating? I was pretty excited when I saw this was a Dynamix game since I have a lot of good memories of their stuff from the PC era. so starting out this game freezes up at the drop of a hat, not load time, just a crashing freeze. I had to restart it several times. After all that waiting what I received at the end wasn't worth the wait, basically a reimagined version of the Jaguars Hover Strike. Roaming around on a flat surface getting attacked by pterodactyls, what's that all about?
Fahrenheit (Sega CD) - That intro! We are in the full blown stink of FMV magic aren't we? Anyway there aren't many firefighting games and with my firefighting heritage I said, what not? Seems to have the positions down pretty well. Anyway, this is like a firefighting maze game where you search for someone potentially stuck in a burning house. My father who was a Chicago Fireman would say that the fire is unrealistic since smoke would turn everything completely black, but being a videogame and a movie of sorts, you can't exactly have realistic smoke. Anyway, I do salute them for the effort on this game it's not bad for an FMV game. It's probably the first Sega CD game I've played I can recommend looking into. BTW, I bought this and the next game at Midwest Gaming Classics as well.
Tomcat Alley (Sega CD) - Fitting after all the Air Combat games I played today I end the Sega CD with this. So remember I was just talking about Burning Soldier on the 3DO? This game isn't much different, just with FMV and prettier backgrounds. Looking at it I thought it would be a bit like US Navy Fighters on the PC, but it's not even close. Not bad, but also not good.