Wednesday, January 26, 2005

The End of a Campaign

We've recently had a Siroi Danmakukun* competition in an IRC community I frequent and it seems I got my butt whooped (98 seconds!) after holding the high score of 78 for a couple of days. I'm extremely bitter about that but realize that I should probably not have actually called my friend Shiunji a worthless pile of stink just prior to his beating me blind as I might still hold the record today. Oh well.. Here's a cute Rikku avatar I found somewhere.

On to something new, there are a couple very beautiful shooters I hadn't mentioned in my last post as I had found them only after submitting it, hey I'm only human. First up is Torus Trooper; based on a circular track this faux 3d fighter is simply cool to the bone. Featuring the simple unfilled polygonal graphics you might be used to if you've even been addicted to Warning Forever* or Area 2048 (which I am neglecting to review here) except this time, rendered in 3d. The soundtrack is that basic style of "futuristic" trance that works so well with abstractly designed games. The gameplay features some terribly frantic bullet dodging but evens out into nearly curtain-fire style dodging. It operates at a faster pace than most dodge-n-shoot smhups and the bosses seem a bit flimsy as regards HP. The only real qualm i have with this game is the size of the enemy bullets as opposed to the size of the contact point they represent. They're fscking huge, it sometimes seems as if you've hit one except for that your ship doesn't explode and while not really an actual issue as regards gameplay once you get used to it, the size of the bullets gets a bit annoying. It's freeware too, so d/l it for a few hours of frenetic blasting fun.
Then there's Perfect Cherry Blossom , which is basically anime girls shooting at each other in vertical shmup style. The girls themselves are supposed to be magic users if anything can be judged by internet translations. The story is about on par with any Sailor Moon episode your little sister might have watched back in the day though the real features are the dodging, the weaponry and the music. There are three endearingly sweet girls each with two unique, not to mention potent, weapons you can choose from. The weapons (which are supposed to be spells, I believe) are mostly auto-aim making actually hitting your target much too easy though most of you time fighting bosses is consumed simply avoiding the barrage of holy nuclear fire so iI found it to be actually pretty helpful when things got hairy. The soundtrack is a Casio-sounding, fast paced emo thing which works well enough and is actually quite pretty in places. All in all very neat except for the story, which shouldn't be a problem as it's in japanese. This game is freeware as most of the games I seem to be playing recently are, be that good or bad.
I think I might be getting sick of these things. tried to pick one up this morning and shut it off nearly immediatly thinking "uhg, what a pile of crap." Maybe my nerves are getting jittery from too much twich-action shooting, maybe I just can't focus on anything for more than a short span, maybe I'm just bored, whatever. I got Frequency for my PS2 recently so maybe i'll start playing that one. I really liked Amplitude so I'm pretty sure I will, at any rate Fear Factory is in it ^_^. I'm actually getting pretty excited about Culdcept for the PS2. It's a game that looks like a cross between Magic: The Gathering and Monopoly, at least from what I've heard of it. Basically you're a magic user and summoner who is trying to claim the elements on the board, and the entire game world, for themselves. The single player game allows you to unlock cards while apparently remaining challenging though the multiplay is obviously what I'd be interested in. I can imagine the slaptalk now and I'm absolutely shivering with antici.. pation. 

Saturday, January 15, 2005

Cyberpunk and the Art of Deconstruction

Recently I've been playing Anarchy Online and a lot of those freeware japanese shoot-em-ups (shmups). 

My AO game is progressing very slowly due to only having a couple hours a night to play anything. Stupid life! This is my very first MMORPG to speak of and I must say, it's terribly boring. The combat is automatic on the "barbarian" classes and the Nanotechnicians (mages) are pretty much just point and click. I'm not sure what I expected but gameplay has gone right out the window on this one, I hear most MMORPGs are played this way, too. That being said it has it's good points. The world is spectacular and the team battles can be kind of fun when battle gets heavy and people start dying. Also, when you get an implant that suits your character it's rather exciting. These sparks of elation are too few and far between and getting more rare as my character progresses, unfortunately.
**It's crack. I can't stop playing except to get in some time with my insane japanese shmups, which are sex.**
Ah, stupidly hard shooters! These misleadingly simple verticle and horizontal scolling shooters are one of the staples of the gaming industry yet are totally underrated. Gradius V was the last big one to be released here and, though I haven't actually played it, I have seen the "perfect" video which was supposedly released the day Gradius V was released. This video is an expose in gameplay and is extremely... how do you say in english.. f****** nuts. If there is anyone who hasn't seen it, seek it out and get it.
I seem to have drifted off topic slightly. The fighters I've been playing recently are japanese freeware and play like showcases for complex patterns, this is not a bad thing. In fact Siroi Danmakukun is can more accurately be described as a dodge-em-up rather than the more traditional title of shmup as there is no fire buttion whatsoever but rather has a "go slowly" button. The game is, basically, you (a dot) vs the enemy (another dot) and an enourmous amount of complexity. My best is nine seconds, but to give myself credit I've only played a couple times, as yet.
Anyone who's anyone should try TUMIKI Fighters. I've heard it described as a "Katamari Damacy shmup" in that you can attach bits of the ships you've destroyed to your own for protection as well as having a Katamari Damacy-esque colour scheme and blocky graphics. This one is definately an innovation in shmup gameplay if not gameplay in general.
Another couple of very good games are by a guy who, I believe, calls himself Hikoza'n-CHI X and are entitled Shooters Solitude and Warning Forever. SS is a traditional shooter and features four different weapons which you power up (as far as I can tell) by killing enemies. The real game to play on this page is Warning Forever, though. It's basically boss battle after increasingly hard boss battle. The aimed cannon is one of the best executed aimed weapons I've seen in a shmup and make the game extremely fun to play.
The game I've been playing the most is called CHO REN SHA 68K. It's a traditional arcade-style shmup and is just insanely fun to play. The colors and music are awesome, the gameplay goes from the simplest style of ship shooting satisfaction to some difficult dodging whilst holding the turbo button down. Also, it has a bomb button, something definately lacking in a lot of modern shmups.
This has been my time alone for the past week or two. If anyone knows of any more of these freeware jaanese shooters i would love to hear about them. I seem to have started a small collection.