Going from the SNES and SMS to the XBox 360 last weekend was actually a huge system shock for me. It’s easy when playing NES, SNES, and SMS games to forget just how much games have evolved in the past 30 years. Instead of being able to jump right into the action or through simple cut scenes you can skip with the tap of a button, you now have to sit through movie style “cinematic’s” and pay attention to get some clue what the game is about. After 10 minutes with a Master System game I can be through the first level, after 10 minutes with an XBox 360 game I’m only half way through the introduction cinematic and/or character attribute stage (yeah, I’m talking about you Red Dead Redemption and Fallout: New Vegas respectively). Of course as many of you know I am no “hater” of modern games so don’t get me wrong on that, its just a shock jumping from gen 3 to gen 6 so quickly. I guess as I dig deeper into my backlog of games this is going to become something I have to prepare myself for, especially since sweeping introduction cinematic’s and prolonged FMV cut-scenes became the norm for the systems of generation 5 and after, starting with the Saturn, and PS1. Luckily, I still have some Atari 7800 and 2600 games stacked up to to remind me of what gaming use to be like.The Weeks Buys:

Star Trek: Starfleet Command Volume II – Empires at War – Ok, at this point you are going to have to expect at least a Trek game or SHMUP as part of my normal buys. All said, I believe I have all the Starfleet Command games now, and its just a matter of getting Windows 98 to work on DosBox and/or getting Virtualbox to recognize a better monitor adapter driver so I can start going through some of these games.

Before I get on to this weekends plays I thought I would clarify the extent of my backlog, and why I am temporarily on this format rather than my “Diary” format. Last weekends extra time gave my the ability to sit down in front of my computer with an open spread sheet and really go over what was going on with the unplayed games in my collection, as well as the status of some of my various systems. If you’ve read my blog before than you know I use an app called Video Games Database by Sort It/Runner Apps and wrote an article about it back in 2013, although admittedly I will need to update that since the app has gotten even better since then. I use this app to catalog my games once I have played them and make sure they work, and to also track items I want to get on a wish list, but items that I have bought but not yet played just kind of get set aside until I can get to them. Of course that’s my personal decision and choice and has nothing to do with the app. So sitting down and counting these un-played games I came up with the staggering number of a 111 games on 23 different platforms, or an average of nearly 5 games per platform, that are backlogged in my collection. Of course some platforms may only have one game, and others 20 plus. Also, not all these games are in the traditional form of carts and CD-Roms, since my biggest backlog is from GoG (Good Old Games) where free games, gifted games, and sale bundles have built up to 24 games I need to get through. After that comes my Atari 7800 collection where as I just mentioned last weekend, many of the games have gone un-played since I feel bad about breaking the original shrink wrap. The major thing that I have learned from my spread sheet is that like the GoG, and Atari 7800 numbers, some of my backlog is actually a few years old and not related to my Friday night buys, that much. Of course I fully intend to get into those 7800 games and soon too, as I also intend to go system by system with my backlogs.

I’d like to also take a moment to say that I’ve actually gotten some pretty positive feedback on my last two backlogs postings. So if you like these articles as well, please let me know, and also what you like most about them.


This Weekends Plays:

I know I said I would concentrate on PlayStation 1 & 2 games this weekend but I decided I would take a shot at eliminating some of the systems with fewer games as well.

Star Trek Generations: Beyond the Nexus (Gameboy)- I know I just mentioned a backlog of games a few years old, yet my first play is a game I bought last weekend. Well, if that doesn’t get you maybe the fact that I cheated on this one and played it on a Thursday night instead of Friday will. Hey, its a portable game which means its video game time whenever, on the train, at home watching TV, under your desk at work while your suppose to be working on “urgent” spreadsheets, date night dinner with your wife, or …oh wait I didn’t mean to type those last two.  So anyway, Beyond the Nexus, as if the Star Trek games on Gameboy weren’t obscure enough this one is the obscurest of them all. Now, I had spotted this one in my local video game store a few times, but I never picked it up. Finally, I decided just to look it up on eBay one day, and the price was right, so I bid, I won. To say the least this one takes some patience, the first mission can drag on for nearly 10 minutes, and to be honest your not sure if your even playing it right. After that there is a puzzle element to the game, and all feels kind of hodge-podge. Its just not a very good game, and its just one of the games that gives other Trek games a bad rap.


Super Mario Sunshine (GameCube) –  This is another buy from Midwest Gaming Classics earlier this year I’m just finally getting a chance to play now. This is also one from my Video Games Database wish list as well too. Ok, so this is actually a really good game, and I think this was the 3D game Nintendo had wanted to make for a while all the way back to Super Mario 64. It’s very creative and surprisingly unlike the traditional Mario formula. As far as gameplay, with the GameCube controller it’s pretty good, but it can be a frustrating game to play as many games like it are, especially with camera control. Overall, I have to agree that this is a must have for the GameCube.


Star Wars: Rogue Squadron II: Rogue Leader (GameCube) – This is another one off my wish list but not from MGC. I Love This Game!!! It plays awesome, looks awesome, its just awesome all around including the Storm Troopers dancing to the cantina music in the intro. This above all is a must have for the GameCube.

Raiden Project (PS1) – Yes, I know this is another recent buy, but hey at least I’m getting to my PS1 games. The PS1 is actually a system of 5 games waiting to be played so in a way it is the average system with regards to that. So Raiden Project looks, and sounds awesome, and makes me feel like I’m playing it in an arcade. It’s a must have for anyone collecting for the PS1 who loves SHMUP’s, and I of course could just gush about it, but I do have a complaint. That is that the game will only let you use the d-pad for control, and the firing button set up is oddly placed. The latter you can fix in the main menu for each game, the former however can’t be changed. With all that said I love this game, and as I also might have mentioned once before its one of the only Raiden II ports to a home console. So outside of waiting for the North American release of Raiden V on XBox One, I have a complete Raiden collection, for now.


Strikers 1945 (PS1) – What better game could I follow playing Raiden Project with then another top notch SHMUP. I actually played this one as a stand alone arcade machine some years ago, and when I found out it came on PS1 I began hunting it down. This game is one of the main reasons I want a Neo Geo MVS, with multicart. This game looks fantastic, and plays fantastic on the PS1, and is a great SHMUP overall in design and content, and on par with Raiden Fighters. My only complaint is exactly the same as above with Raiden Project where on the PS1 only the d-pad controls the game, and the ▫ controls the firing, which is off-putting from the normal X and O combination most PS1 games (and after) use. Now, I don’t know if this game is related to Capcoms 194x franchise, but if not it’s certainly a spiritual successor, and an awesome one at that.


Galaga: Destination Earth (PS1) – To be honest I didn’t expect much from this one. This is after all one of those gaming properties Hasbro got license to in the late 90’s early 00’s to update for nostalgia’s sake before retro-gaming was a thing. Many of these remakes were good but mediocre, however this one actually surprised me. Galaga: Destination Earth is a remarkably good
multi-perspective SHMUP, that uses a combination of nostalgia, creativity and the PS1 capabilities to deliver a unique gaming experience. On top of that it’s a really good looking game too, with clear crisp graphics, that are somewhat devoid of the PS1’s gen 5 painful angularity we sometimes encounter. My only complaint on this one is that the target radical never seems to calibrate with the controller and always seems a bit to high and to the left on the screen. Otherwise you just might want to check this one out since its obscurity usually makes it fairly inexpensive.


Thunder Strike (PS1) – So after all this I’m back to the “Strike” series again. Yes, Thuder Strike continues on the tradition…sort of. Ok, I’ll be honest this is my favorite in the series because it leaves behind the tradition isometric POV, and allows you to be in-cockpit. It’s what you could call an arcade-simulator similar to my Ace Combat arcade machine, playing the pilot but without the reality of controls and physics. Overall, I like it but it does take a little bit to learn how to control. Oh and again the ▫ for the firing button thing again gets to me too.


Jupiter Strike (PS1) Despite the title this is not a game in the “Strike” series.  This a a space ship rail shooter, similar to Shockwave Assualt, or in the save vain as but no where as good as, StarFox. In a way it reminded me of a bad version of Galaga: Destination Earth which I had just played. I wouldn’t recommend this one.

So taking a break before heading on to the PS2, I decided to hit up my backlog of 3 3DO games next, all three of which came loose with my 3DO when I picked it up in the spring.

Alone In the Dark (3DO) – As I understand it this was a huge game on the PC, but found itself ported to other platforms with the 3DO being one of them. Basically its meant to an updated version of old school “point n’ clicks” of the same survival horror genre. On 3DO it moves as slow as hell, and isn’t the easiest game in the world to control, I was starting to get fed up with it when something resembling Psyduck, yes from Pokemon, but with teeth, jumped through the window and started chewing on my character. I know the game has a huge following so there must be something about it, just not on the 3DO.


Gex (3DO) – I’ve added the James & Mike Monday’s play of this since they did a good job going over it and explaining the character of Gex in the process. Of course I enjoy watching “lets plays”, but I always find that sometimes its best to play a game on your own and develop your own opinion, since I’ve found games that I feel are exactly the opposite of what the reviewers say.  In this case James & Mike found that Gex, although a bit generic is an OK game, and thats something I definitely can agree with. It plays and looks good, but it’s formulaic and really doesn’t stand out against other platformers. With that in mind considering the 3DO has so very few big name titles, and good games, this one is worth picking up if you are starting a 3DO collection.

Crash n’Burn (3DO) – This is kind of a white noise title against games like Road Rash, F-Zero, and Road Blasters and again another generic 3DO title. Plot is: post-apocalyptic no holds barred racing in the future with your choice of car and driver, race fast and shoot anyone in your way. Yeah, it’s pretty generic and I don’t think I will return to it.

Now as promised on to the PS2, the first three games I decided to do are non-SHMUPs but strangely they all share something in common. Two of them are pinball games, and the other a console anthology but all three are published by Crave Entertainment.

Pinball Hall of Fame: The Williams Collection Pinball Hall of Fame: The Gottlieb Collection (PS2) – I just decided that I would go ahead and drop both these games together in one general summation, since as stated they are both pinball emulators and by Crave Entertainment. Both are a nice collection of some of the best tables each manufacturer made over the years and both are fun as hell to play. I could easily see spending a Friday evening after dinner playing one or both of these over a few beers at home. The Gottlieb Collection is another game I had that came in original shrink wrap and felt bad opening, but I also know neither of these two games sells for much anyway, so I don’t feel too bad. They both play and look great, and the controls are simple and easy. My only complaint though comes from the The Gottlieb Collection where the camera follows the ball around a little to closely giving you the feeling you should take Dramamine before playing. Other then that though if you want to experience Black Hole or Pin Bot but don’t have either table near you or the cash and/or space to buy either table this is as close as your going to get and trust me its worth it.

Intellivision Lives! (PS2) – All I’m going to say is if you are a retro gamer and you haven’t heard of this one, either you’re very new to the hobby or have been living in a cave. This above all others is probably one of the biggest hardware emulated titles out there and one that solidified the PS2 as the system that is most associated with these type of emulations, and one of the instigating factors in the development of retro-gaming as a hobby. Basically, as I’ve come to understand the backstory on this one, it was developed by some of the original programmers of these Intellivision games, as well as fans who pushed Mattel to release it for the systems of generation 6 including the PS2, XBox, and GameCube. Essentially, its a collection of 60 original Intellivision games upscaled to work on the Gen 6 platforms, and with their controllers. It was a huge commercial success, and spawned the release of many similar titles. At first I decided not to buy this one since I have an original Intellivision (although not presently working), as well as an Intellivision Flashback. But, this one is highly recommended and I have been collecting emulated titles for my PS2 for a while. It is a good title to have if your into such things, and very fun to play.

Now onto the PS2 SHMUP’s of which their are surprisingly many on the PS2, but then again nothing should really shock me about the PS2 since it is one of the most prolific systems, for all types of games, in the history of home console gaming. The next four are some of the best though.

Raiden III (PS2) – Sorry, another Raiden game does that shock you? Yes, I’ve gone from Raiden Project (i.e. Raiden I & II) on the PS1 to Raiden III on the PS2 today, plus Raiden IV and Raiden Fighters are on my XBox 360, sorry played those around the 4th of July. What can I say is Raiden III is awesome albeit with the changing background at times is slightly disorienting. But, I love it and its a must have SHMUP for the PS2.

R-Type: Final (PS2) – R-Type: Final reminds me a lot of the game I just mentioned, Raiden III, in that its graphically more up to date than its predecessors, but also features moving backgrounds that can sometimes make the horizontally scrolling shooter seem to move vertically, backwards, or at angles which can be disorienting yet make the game challenging and fun. But, what also makes R-Type: Final unique is the fact that its slower moving SHMUP which seems odd, yet fits perfectly with the games overall mechanics. Additionally the game has some great extra content such as an R-Type museum that pays tribute to the many R-Type fighters some of which have appeared in the games over the years. Once again this is a must for any SHMUP fan.

Silpheed: The Lost Planet (PS2) –  Silpheed may be slightly obscure but many consider it to be among the finest SHMUP’s on the PS2, and its predecessor the finest to appear on systems like Sega-CD, and MS-DOS. To be honest it’s a great game, and until I started looking up SHMUP’s on the PS2 I had never heard of it myself. Basically, its a well done vertically scrolling space ship shooter, that uses some good old fashion visual trickery to make the game seem 3 dimensional. The game itself, its cut-scenes, and concept, as well as game-play are all well executed and give the player a game that is simultaneously modern and and very old fashion in feeling simultaneously. Once again another SHMUP lover must have.

Gradius III & IV (PS2) – Lastly an entry from the Gradius series. Part 3 and 4 on this game basically remind me visually of the original game. It looks and feels the same, with the exception of the fact that the new and better looking graphical elements are bought in, and although 2D elements seem to define both these games the 3D elements blend nicely giving the game more depth. My only complaint here is an odd control setup, but other than that this is a must add to your collection.




Bonus Plays

Soviet Strike (Saturn) – Yes, I can’t forget the “Strike” series and this game is definitely part of that, as a matter of fact it’s the second to last in the series, and the only one on the Saturn. Obviously being a generation beyond its SNES, and Genesis predecessors the game looks a lot better and even plays better than the those that came before. The only drawback is the cheesy FMV elements, but they are still on par with the overly serious tone of the series. Overall, its not a great game, and I’m guessing the PS1 version is just as good.

Wing Arms (Saturn) – I saw this one, and based on the WWII aircraft on the cover, I just had to get it. It’s not a bad game, but it’s typical of the arcade flight sim sub-genre. Its fun, but not too challenging, and has very little to do with actually flying, plus it has some historical inaccuracies like the fact that the P-38 Lightning was not a carrier based aircraft for starters. If you need a little arcady in cockpit fighting, that’s way better looking and easier to play than the NES’s Top Gun, this one is worth checking out.

Gradius Deluxe Pack (Saturn) – Yes, I did have another SHMUP set up to play on the Saturn however this game is an import and I need a special RAM cartridge for the Saturn to play it.

Mechassualt (XBOX) – This is one I have had for a few years, almost three and just finally got to playing today. Basically, I bought it thinking it was backward compatable with my 360, but I was wrong. So when I finally did get my Halo Edition XBOX earlier this year, I wanted to dig this one out and play it, but I never got around to it till recently. It reminds me of Mechwarrior 3 in a lot of respects and seems to start out in similar fashion with being a lone Mechwarrior lost behind enemy lines due to you ship crashing. The game seems pretty cool, but I had some control issues due to the fact that the right analog on my Halo XBOX controller is no longer self centering. If I have time later I will return to this one using the other controller I have, since it seems like it would be a total blast to play with a working controller.


So thanks to the Labor Day holiday and a bonus day off on Friday (or at least the afternoon), I’ve now made a 22 game dent into my backlog and managed to play both the PS1 and PS2 games I set out to do last weekend as well as managing to eliminate a few systems with one to three games backlogged on them. Its been fun to do, and I only feel bad about zipping through these games, but not about allowing them to go un-played and collecting dust anymore. I’ve also discovered a few games that I’m going to head back to after all this.

So this week its “back to life, back to reality” as the old song used to go, and that includes only a two day weekend next week. This big question is can I make a bigger dent in this backlog and perhaps dig into the combined 29 Atari 2600 and 7800 games I have within the confines of next weekend? One thing for certain is one system can play both. Well, I guess we’ll see especially since I have a fairly stressful week of good old fashion adult responsibilities ahead of me, Tuesday through Friday. Until then have a good week everyone, and I hope you made the most of this extra day off!!