It’s been a while since I’ve done an 8-bit Friday
, and even longer since I’ve done a backlog posting. To be honest the end of 2016 left me with a large load of unplayed games, despite not buying much in December. Again as before with previous backlogs the games span multiple systems, and multiple months, not only encompassing some of the unplayed games from previous backlogs but buys that occurred after as far back as late August. To say the least a light schedule and three day weekend during which some cold, rainy and icy weather occurred helped bolster my chances of getting to many of these games, although there are still more than a few I didn’t get to.This Weeks Buys:
It’s been a long time since I bought additional games due to the old pocketbook still recovering from Christmas
Front Line (Atari 2600) – My only buy this week is an obscure Atari 2600 title, but one of two on the system with this name since there was a later game called Frontline. I guess dropping the space made it all cool? Anyway this is a Coleco arcade port of a game that is somewhat reminiscent of Ikari Warriors, leading me to suspect that franchise is a spiritual successor to Front Line. Of course what I like most about this game is the fact that it comes in the Coleco white cartridge which I have many fond memories of as a kid since the white carts came with the Coleco Gemini, and for me featured two favorites Donkey Kong and Venture.
This Weeks Plays:
Golgo 13 (NES) – I had come across it on several occasions in my local retro gaming store but always passed it by. Then about two or three months ago I heard a discussion on the game during a Retronuats podcast on censored games, and I decided I’d pick up a copy to see what all the fuss was about. To be honest what I found was something reminiscent of Rolling Thunder but with the advantage of interacting with NPC’s, and an overall plot that went beyond just shooting up bad guys. I will admit there is some extra care given to some of the female characters, but nothing all that sensational. Overall though it’s an ok game, but I find some aspects of it frustrating like the fact that you can’t kneel and shoot despite that fact that many enemies can.
HyperZone (SNES) – F-Zero meets Space Harrier, meets Klax? I don’t know how else to describe this game but it’s pretty fun, and far more satisfying to play than I thought it would be from the play throughs I’ve seen. Great game, very colorful, and far more original than you would think.
Super Battletank (SNES) – This is one of those ports of a PC simulator that’s actually pretty well done, since the graphics look good and the controls are well ported to the SNES controller. Game play is about what you would expect for a PC sim of that era with mission briefings, maps, and of course a lot of time spent just getting to where the action is which is boring for a game console game, but in the hands of a sim player it’s worth giving a try.
Super Battletank 2 (SNES) – See the above but with minor (and I mean minor) improvements. All I can say is the one thing I do wish they had added was and Al tank crew in your own tank, since in the real world controlling a tank is never a one man job.
Firepower 2000 (SNES) – One of the SNES’s more obscure yet highly collectible SHMUP titles. To me it reminds me of an updated version of the NES’s Iron Tank, or Jackal in which you control a vehicle in an environment similar to that of Commando. I will admit it is a pretty tough game, but I attribute part of that to the controls which can be restrictive as far as movement and weapons firing. Admittedly it does have an arcade feel to it in textures, play and sound effects, which is enjoyable. As I understand it though the game was never ported from an arcade title and was actually meant to be a sequel to Silkworm which appeared on the NES. Looks like I have another NES title to hunt down.
Super Nova (SNES) – This H-scrolling SHMUP is part of the Darius franchise of games, as you can tell quickly from fighting space fish. Much like its fellow Darius games this one is hard as f*ck, and requires serious memorization just to get out of the first level. Graphics wise it’s on par with many other games of its genre.
Blazeon (SNES) – After playing Super Nova playing the slower paced Blazeon was a pleasure, although at times Blazeon is a little too slow. Blazeon reminds me of a slower paced R-Type, but with a kick-ass soundtrack going on in the background. I will say that Blazeon despite not being one of the top SHMUP’s on the old SNES, is still pretty good.
Madden NFL 97’ (SNES) – I mentioned this one before as a win from the Retro League’s “Fan of the Month”, and how I wouldn’t have thought the SNES would have received a Madden title in the N64 era. But it does exist, and being the owner of Madden 92′ through 94′ on the Genesis you can see how these games incrementally improved year after year in graphics and complexity of game play. Playing a quick football game is always fun though, but not something I would commit to all day by playing a whole season. As I said though it’s interesting to see these games evolve and this is just one step on the Madden path to where we are now.
With that said my SNES backlog is caught up, now on to the PS3:
Defiance (PS3) – No this isn’t another Star Trek game, and that would be “Defiant” by the way. This game took about 4 hours to install and update, which to me is a very extreme load and update mix for a modern game so it had to be good or I would have melted it in my fireplace. Anyway the game itself reminds me of Halo mixed with a little Fallout, although the alien invasion element and multiplayer/career mode mix reminds me of Destiny. Overall though I can really best describe it as being completely original and really doing its own thing. The one major thing that does remind me of Halo though is the games EGO system that is a bit Cortana like since it’s personal to the player character, and appears as a hologram.
Anyway as I may have previously mentioned this game is based on a TV show of the same name that use to be on the SyFy channel. I never watched it myself, although I always wanted to check it out but never got around to it while it was on, and it’s not on Netflix. I do know that the game features at least two of the shows main characters in what could best be described as camoes at the beginning of the game, but as far as other show references and characters as you can conclude I don’t know.
The game plays pretty well, and has some interesting features and to be honest I’m surprised it wasn’t a bigger seller. My only major complaints are that the EGO system never shuts up and repeats herself over and over to the point of being a bit irritating, and that the hit detection while on a vehicle is a bit odd, and lastly enemies take and incredibly amount of damage before finally dying. I also need to mention that despite its age the game has a pretty active multiplayer community which was really unexpected to find, and leads me to believe this game has a cult following, which is a good sign as far as its quality. Going for next to nothing at GameStop you might want to pick it up and try it for yourself since love it or hate it you’ll only be out a few bucks and you may find yourself a little surprised.
Ace Combat: Assualt Horizon (PS3) – Playing a lot of other Ace Combat games I guess I had higher expectations for this one. To be honest though the tutorial mode of the first mission drove me nuts and I had to stop playing since it kept taking over control of my aircraft on me. It is an awesome looking game though, and is definitely like its modern arcade big brother Mach Storm. Perhaps on a day where my annoyance level is lower I will return to it.
Air Conflicts: Vietnam (PS3) – In the realm of aviation the Vietnam War was in interesting time, it was a war that saw everything from World War II aircraft in operation to modern aircraft which still serve our military, to aircraft that exist now from the lessons of Vietnam. For an aviation nut like myself Vietnam based flight sims give me the opportunity to fly this huge range of aircraft in combat. Air Conflicts: Vietnam although limited by console controls does take a nice stab at this covering everything from Air Force and Navy combat fixed wing aircraft to Army combat helicopters. It may not be hyper realistic, but it is entertaining and even, dare I say it educational. This is my first entry into the Air Conflicts franchise, and to be honest it has me interested in getting some of the other titles in the series.
On to XBox 360:
Dark Star One: Broken Alliance (360) – This is a little known space combat flight sim that has simultaneously been highly acclaimed and criticized. But, in spite of both factors it has also been a title that has remained relatively obscure on this system since space flight combat sims seem to be a thing of the past on most major consoles. The game itself looks pretty good and is easy to pick up, even if it is a bit light on story. The missions are short and fairly to the point and won’t leave you disappointed if your longing for the days of games like Wing Commander. I personally have no beefs with this game myself, although I do think the graphics could be a little better, but overall they are though good and don’t detract too much from the game. Another nice feature about this one is that due to its obscurity it’s also pretty cheap to find on eBay my version, mine believe it or not is a PAL version, and worked well on my NTSC XBox 360 and TV, and came completely new with shrink wrap and outer sleeve.
Operation Sylpheed (XBox 360) – Although not directly related to the Silpheed titles that appeared on the Sega-CD, and PS2, this game is openly acknowledged to be a spiritual successor to that franchise. In this game Square-Enix leaves behind their JPRG comfort zone and enters the world of space flight combat sims. Although you may be skeptical, this is actually an incredibly well done game and the game play itself won’t leave you disappointed, and dare I say it I think it’s better than the any Wing Commander game. I’ve actually applied some real world air-to-air combat techniques to this game and had some accurate outcomes, which is something you can’t always say about console based flight/starfighter sims. Outside of actual gameplay Square-Enix has a pretty compelling story going on with regards to the games overworld, which is on par with some of their more famous Final Fantasy plot lines in which we see broken friendships, love, betrayal, and super-baddies looking to destroy the Earth. I’m liking this one so far, too bad the title was totally obscure.
Ace Combat 6: Fires of Liberation (XBox 360) – Once the opening cinematic’s ended and the actual game cinematic’s began I was surprised to suddenly find myself looking at the original arcade cinematic’s but obviously a lot better looking. The call to scramble, the F-16’s taxiing onto the runway, and the takeoff sequence are all there but look about a thousand times better than the old Namco System 21 version. Even as the game actually starts you find yourself encountering bombers and fighters in a similar manner as the original arcade version. Great game, and excellent story line.
Now onto the GameCube:
F-Zero GX (GameCube) – This has been in my backlog a long time, and in my wishlist even longer. I will openly admit that the GameCube is one of my favorite Nintendo consoles, but being of the same generation as the PS2, and XBOX, it’s very hard to find those completely unique titles for it unless they’re Nintendo exclusives. I’ve also been a long time fan of the F-Zero franchise too dating back to some great memories of playing it on the SNES, and with this particular game I now have all the F-Zero games. Of course I’m keeping my fingers crossed we finally see an entry on Nintendo’s upcoming Switch console. Anyway, as far as this game it looks great, is also a joy to play, and connects nicely to the games past entries. Being a gen 6 game the 3D graphics finally reached a place where the cars, and gameplay are truly breathtaking and it’s still easy to recognize all of it from the first SNES incarnations years before. The only thing that is a bit of a let down is the soundtrack, which is somewhat lacking, since when I think of F-Zero years before on the SNES I always hear that phenomenal music playing through my head. Overall though for what may possibly be the last F-Zero game ever, this one does its gen 4 progenitor proud and ends the franchise on a high note. Now onto the even harder task of looking for additional GameCube games.
Pete Rose Baseball (Atari 7800) – So one down, nine more to go to a complete collection of Atari 7800 original titles. So what about this one, well I will start off by saying that it’s a good looking game, and reminds me of the Bases Loaded franchise by Jaleco. As far as gameplay though that’s a different story, no matter how you pitch, the ball gets hit, and your fielders are nearly impossible to control and none of them catch or retrieve the balls automatically, a feature that was somewhat common in other games of this era. To say the least this isn’t an Atari 7800 game that will be scoring high in my book.
The Challenge of Nexar (Atari 2600) – This a silver labeled Spectravideo game. It reminds me of Star Wars meet Tempest as things that look like Tie Fighters come chasing down a tunnel after you and you must blow as many of them up with your cross-hairs as possible without them hitting your cross-hairs killing you. There are also these things that look like box kites which I’m guessing are suppose to be some sort of boss or mini-boss since they get a special sound effect and you have to destroy them before they sneak past or you lose a life, also destroying them moves you to the next level. Believe or not it’s fun as hell, and just a joy to play especially with the CX-78 joypad. This is the type of game that made most of us love the Atari 2600 way back when, it’s just straight up fun without a lot of thinking.
(PS1) – This is another PS1 era reboot much like Galaga: Destination Earth
which I’ve mentioned before, and that was also part of Hasbro’s and Activisions overall cash grab for old franchises in the late 90’s early 2000’s. Although not the classic, this version is fairly entertaining and I could easily see it as an evolutionary step in the modernization of the game, since most of the original concepts are still in place. Graphically the game looks good even if it can be a bit dark. The 3D effect on the asteroids does have an added effect of realism, even if the backgrounds are a bit cliche. This isn’t a bad reboot, and it’s a fairly inexpensive title to pick up.
Missile Command (PS1) – Again as mentioned above another reboot, this one from Hasbro. This game offers a traditional mode that looks and feels like an updated version of the classic, but also an Ultimate mode which has a small story line to go along with it. As is the case with many of these reboots the graphics are ok, but not the finest and the game play is a bit oddly planned since one of the at risk cities is always off screen making it hard to defend. So it’s not the best reboot but the traditional mode is pretty entertaining.
Darklight Conflict (PS1) – This is a slightly obscure PS1 title and as you know I like I obscure games. Anyway this one has a very odd plot in which a US Navy fighter pilot is abducted by aliens, genetically modified and now fights for them (since they’re supposedly to be “the good guys”?), thank goodness the story mode is non-existent. Overall it’s a pretty good game, and I like the fact that it takes the time to show you how to use your fighter. Graphically it’s one step above the Star Fox‘s SNES polygonal graphics, but you can make out what stuff is pretty easily and the game also has a nice arcade feel to it especially sound wise.
Air Combat (PS1) – This is the first of the Ace Combat titles to come to consoles from its Namco arcade roots. I will be writing more on this franchise later. Essentially, this is meant to be a port from the arcade version, and it’s not bad since the graphics are generally on par. My biggest complaint is that the game doesn’t let me use the analog stick, which would feel more natural in this type of game. Along those same lines the game is also a bit NES Top Gun feeling, in that movement feels somewhat restrictive and not as realistic and flowing as it’s arcade progenitor. Obviously, despite that it’s a good game and is a fairly good console flight sim for that era, and it’s easy to see why it got sequels and launched a franchise.
Tiny Tank (PS1) – This is one of those obscure PS1 games with a cult following. It starts out odd in the intro sequence, and goes from there. It’s a pretty entertaining title and reminds me of Twisted Metal meets Descent in its control and gameplay. The maze stuff eventually gave me a headache and I had to stop playing it, but it’s a good game that I will return to later.
Well, 22 games on 8 platforms over a three day weekend isn’t bad right? I still have a small pile of PS1 games, as well as a big pile of PS2 titles to get through, and games from a few other systems to push through yet. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that can be next weekends goal but I’ll have to see.