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Author Topic: The Velorath Chronicles '13  (Read 3192 times)
Posts: 8610

on: October 15, 2013, 01:12:08 AM

Somewhat inspired by The Schild Chronicles, but also with different motivations and method's (so not really the same at all, plus it's 7 1/2 years later). Also, I don't really expect this to be an entertaining read for anybody, and so it's mostly for my own benefit. The purpose behind this thread:

1. I have a habit of revising my Top 20 games list. Not here on the site, but I have a document on my computer I revise whenever the feeling strikes me which is typically one or twice a year. However a lot of the older stuff on there is there for the sake of nostalgia, and a lot of the games I haven't played since they were new. So, some of the games I'm going to playing are for the purposes of testing the fidelity of my memory of these games, and also to see which ones still hold up over time.

2. I'd also like to check some stuff out that I wanted to play as a kid but for whatever reason never got a chance to, as well as more obscure stuff that I hadn't really heard of until long after the fact (in particular right now Famicom stuff that never made it over here, but is playable without knowing Japanese).

I'm mostly starting with NES/Famicom stuff. For simplicity sake, I'll be playing on an emulator. I realize that save states change the way these games play, but I'd rather focus on examining the game rather than the limits of the technology at the time or the fact that it took developers decades to realize that limited lives and continues are stupid.


It's my day off, and the first day of attempting any of this so I actually managed to play a good chunk of four different games starting off with Top 20 list contender Mike Tyson's Punch Out!. Released in 1987, when I was in 3rd grade and frequently brought the Official Nintendo Player's Guide to school with me.

Growing up, the only other NES game I remember getting this much discussion among my classmates was Legend of Zelda, so there's a lot of fond (incredibly vague) memories there. Of course that was close to 26 years ago, and I probably haven't played it in well over 20 years. I don't own a Wii so I never picked up that version either. So how hard would it be for me to get back into playing? Would I even be able to remember the opponents pattern's or even just how to play in general?

All these years and he still hasn't gotten to retire...

Starting off, I'm almost ashamed to say that Glass Joe put a bit of a beatdown on me at first. It took me a while to remember that if you just randomly throw punches they'll typically block it and you'll wear yourself out. I also kinda forgot that dodging and blocking are two different things, the that in most cases the doing the former is preferable to the latter. After that I got back into it fairly easy, going through Von Kaiser and Piston Honda easily to take the Minor Circuit championship.

After that, Don Flamenco when down in the first round. King Hippo put up a big of a fight as I had to remember to punch him in the mouth first to open up the gut shot. After that it was cause and effect in action.

By the time a mowed through Great Tiger I was feeling pretty good, but then I struggled a bit with Bald Bull before taking him out to win the Major title. I decided to take a break from Punch Out at this point, but not before going up against the Champ himself.

I have carried this code in my memory for nearly 26 years.

He's still got it.

Posts: 8610

Reply #1 on: October 15, 2013, 01:12:31 AM

Moving on from Punch Out, I started up another Top 20 hopeful, the late 1989 RPG from Culture Brain, Magic of Scheherazade. I don't really remember a whole lot about the game aside from the fact that it had a truly bizarre list of party members who would join you. Even by today's standards those are some pretty crazy characters. Back in '89 (and the game was actually released in '87 in Japan), a cast like this in an RPG was pretty much unheard of. With that in mind, I jumped in.

Insert clever social commentary here.

The game starts off with some backstory. There was a hero who fought the bad guy and lost. He was cast through time, his girlfriend was kidnapped, and his memories were erased.

Then they hit you with the twist.

Next up, you're introduced to your first party member, some sort of wolf looking thing carrying a wand.

Well, this is going to be a short ride...

I resist the urge to say no, but shortly after one of the first people I talk to in the starting town gives me another chance to back out of my destiny. Relieved that instead of fighting evil I can just wander off and be an amnesiac with no practical skills I tell the old man that in fact, I would not like to help defeat the evil Sabaron.

I'm starting to get the impression that he isn't really offering me a choice.

My initial impression of the game is that the controls are a little clunky. The game apparently can't take into context whether I'm pressing the "a" button to talk to the townsfolk or trying to swing a sword at an enemy, so they make you go into a menu to assign what each button does.

Even odder is that the developers apparently couldn't decide whether the game should have Zelda style combat or more traditional style RPG combat with random encounters and menu based combat so they decided to do both. Most of the game takes place on screens like this (except outside of town replace the townsfolk with monsters that you have to swing a sword or shoot a rod at).

Occasionally though when transitioning from screen to screen you'll goes into RPG combat.

Here we see Coronya brandishing the Magic Rod

Quirks aside, the game is entertaining enough. I move from town to town trying to figure out what exactly I'm supposed to do. I abuse the save state to farm some gold at the casino because I'm not going to take the time to slowly farm it off killing monsters. Eventually I figure out where I'm supposed to be going and get to the time door that will send me back 50 years in the past to get my next party member.

This is what time travel was like before the Flux Capacitor.

I end up near another town, which has a University which conveniently arms me with new weapons for taking classes as proof that I completed the courses. I might have done better in school had Scimitars been a reward for proper course completion. When I'm done lamenting the state of American education system, I move on to the game's first "dungeon", which apparently I was supposed to go through after I got my new party member, but since I took a left turn one screen instead of going straight I came across the dungeon not realizing at the time that I was two or three screens in the other direction away from making things a lot easier on myself. Such is life. There are a few tedious fights, but overall the dungeon is a small one ending with some old man who gives me a one-use spell to summon money. Finally, I reach the town and meet up with this cheerful fella who decides to join me, before I take a break and move on to another game.
Posts: 8610

Reply #2 on: October 15, 2013, 01:13:09 AM

From one good Culture Brain game to what I would ultimately find to a complete mess of a game from the same developers, I decided to try Flying Warriors. Now this one I had never played back in the day. I do remember that for a while in '91 I think, Gamepro was running a multi-part Flying Warriors comic every issue. The comic essentially seemed to tell the same story as the game (although I want to say it ended with a cliffhanger since they couldn't very well give the whole story away). If I remember the events of the comic correctly, basically you've got the the unfortunately named Rick Stalker entering a tournament to track down the other Flying Warrior, which again if I remember correctly, don't know they're Flying Warriors. One by one they're found and their powers are awakened making them like a cross between Super Heroes and Power Rangers. Essentially they fight demonic creatures with martial arts and then transform into Flying Warriors where they look like this:

All this would be a good set-up for a video game (at least for the 12 year old I was when the game came out), but unfortunately the controls are absolute ass. The one on one fighting sequences consist of "when this mark appears on the enemy, press a button to hit him. When it appears on you, press forward or back to block".

There rest of the game is side scrolling areas with some horrible platforming and more horrible combat. Also, the writing is not as good as the comic. For instance, this person's shop:

Is located here in this cave:

Incidentally, she didn't have the bracelet I was sent to buy from her, which she told after accepted my payment for it. Helpfully she told me if I go to some Dragon statue or something, it will give the bracelet to me if I am an honest man. I'm going to assume the shopkeeper missed out on the irony that if she didn't rip off customers for taking money for goods she doesn't have, she might have been honest enough to have gotten the bracelet herself. Now this last screenshot for this game shows the exact moment, maybe 30-45 minutes in where I decided to quit. Now mind you as I have mentioned, I'm using save states here to avoid some of the frustration found in this old games. Normally with this game you'd only have four continues (1 life per continue). With that in mind, I came to this jump:

That red platform on the right there moves up and down. If you don't jump at exactly the right time and from exactly the right spot, you will miss it and fall to your death. Again, I'm using save state here. I've got it saved right on that ledge, and for every one time I make the jump, I fall to my death a dozen more. What isn't pictured is that after you make that jump, there are projectile shooting enemies and more moving platforms. Even with the modern technology of being able to save anywhere, this shit was too frustrating. Now imagine it with only four continues. To honor the memory of every poor kid back in '91 who got this game, and maybe could only afford to get a couple games a year, I refused to play any further into this shitpile and promptly exited out to move on to the last game of the day.
Posts: 8610

Reply #3 on: October 15, 2013, 01:13:56 AM

Closing things out for today, I moved on to a Famicom game that came recommended called Moon Crystal from developer Hect. This game came out in Japan in '92 and never made it to the U.S., presumably because the SNES was out, and by the time the game would be released here the NES would be well into its downturn. Not being able to read Japanese, I have no idea what the plot of the game is. From the opening of the game, I at first assumed zombies.

Zombies don't generally fire what looks like an Uzi though, so I've been forced to reassess what I think is going on as I've gotten further into the game.

As you can see from that screenshot, I'm hanging from a ledge there, which seems to be the one mechanic which makes it different from most other platformers. It's not really a significant difference, but it's there nonetheless. As a late era NES game it looks decent. There are some control issues, most notable being that while you're pressing the button to swing your sword you can't turn around. so if you're rapidly swinging at something you have to stop hammering on the button, and then use the d-pad to turn. Not a problem most of the time but it makes for some annoying boss fights where you're trying to swing a couple times and then run away.

The Stage 3 boss in particular was a bit of a pain.

Not much else to say about this one. Played through 3 levels before I called it quits for the day, so I'll just post up some more screenshots.

I'm not sure but I think this guy is up to no good.

Fairly certain I didn't make this jump.

That finishes up Day 1. I'm going to try to play one or two games a day, but might not have the time to actually do the write-ups on a daily basis.
Terracotta Army
Posts: 2304

Reply #4 on: October 16, 2013, 02:56:35 PM

There's actually a fan-translation of Moon Crystal out there, but I'm not sure which group did it.
Posts: 27075

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Reply #5 on: October 16, 2013, 03:12:44 PM

CPA, CFO, Sports Fan, Game when I have the time
Posts: 59651

Reply #6 on: October 16, 2013, 03:14:55 PM

Scheherazade is the only NES cartridge I have with me in Austin.
Posts: 8610

Reply #7 on: October 16, 2013, 05:01:57 PM

There's actually a fan-translation of Moon Crystal out there, but I'm not sure which group did it.

To be fair, I wasn't really too concerned about the story. I could tell there was some crazy shit going down and that was good enough.

Day 2

So the second day started off with an attempt to play the NES version of Strider. Now I actually beat this as a kid (while renting it so it couldn't have taken too long), and while obviously it wasn't much like the Arcade version, I did like how they essentially turned the game into an RPG.

First impressions were that it looked and played a bit jankier than I remembered and I have no idea how I didn't really notice the horrible writing either:

Anyhow, putting up with the fact that the gameplay is largely crap, I get through as much of the first area as I can. Roughly similar to a Metroidvania game some parts of an area are inaccessible until you get an item later, so there's a lot of backtracking involved. I return to the main hub of this game (giant computer with a map) to get access to the next couple areas. Decoding some disks I picked up I receive a couple missions:

However China isn't available yet, so I say fuck it and go to Egypt instead. This area starts out promising, fighting on top of a moving train:

Ok it doesn't look all the cool but just use your imagination a bit.

From there it's into an underground area, and this is where the problems come in. I take a wrong somewhere and get to a part I can't pass yet. There's water, and I will rapidly drown if I try to just jump my way through it. So I head back in the direction I came, but eventually come to a pit I jumped down that's too high to jump back up. Mind you, I don't have the instruction books for any of these games, and I'm trying to go without using walkthroughs or anything when possible, but in this instance I decide to check one out.

The key to this apparently is that you're able to jump to the wall, then jump off the wall to the wall on the opposite side and keep doing that till you're out of the hole. I remember having to do this in Super Metroid as well which was a pretty frustrating part, but the controls here are so bad it's a thousand times worse. For every ten times I jump at the wall, only once am I able to correctly execute the jump off of it. Not once am I able to manage two jumps in a row. Memories of doing this shit as a kid flood into my head like The Crow is painfully forcing them in, and I quickly turn the game off. I do not have the time for shit like that.

Moving on from that, I go to the Famicom game Nuts & Milk. Haven't played it before, and it seems very much an early 80's arcade game. Reminds me somewhat of Donkey Kong Jr. for whatever reason.

It's not bad. Get all the fruit while avoiding your evil counterpart(s), and once all the fruit is collected get to your girl. There's some mild puzzle elements to it, as you're trying to figure out how to get to each piece of fruit while avoiding the enemies. I only went through the first 4 levels, but apparently there are 50 in all. Good, simple fun and a nice way to relax after the frustrating Strider.

It is a tad cutesy though.
Posts: 8610

Reply #8 on: October 16, 2013, 05:30:12 PM

Day 3

Day 3 started off with the game equivalent of comfort food for me. I've played Trojan enough (and recently as well) to know what to expect and that I'll enjoy it. I find that I can still make it through the game fairly quick, and enjoy it as always. There's nothing particularly fancy about the game that would explain why I like it so much, but I really like the setting and the soundtrack for whatever reason.

I've also always liked the end credits.

Plus it's got a bad guy called the Armadillon who rolls up into a ball.

After that I put Punch Out back on for a bit to get through Piston Honda, Soda Popinski, and Bald Bull, just for the hell of it. I though I remembered Soda Popinski being harder, but he wasn't too much of a problem aside from the fact that the further along you get in the game, it seems to get increasingly hard to time your opponents attacks. Bald Bull gives me a little bit of a challenge but luckily I recall that you can only put him down by using a star punch or at the end of his Bull Charge. No pictures of any of this because I was lazy.

Moving on, I felt like a bit of a break from NES stuff so I fired up an emulator for the Sega CD. I actually bought a Sega CD at launch but it eventually broke a couple years later. I never got to play much of Snatcher before, partly due to the aforementioned breakdown of my Sega CD, but I do generally enjoy Cyberpunk settings. It's also a Kojima game from back before he went on an exploratory mission up his own ass and never returned.

This game is very dialogue heavy though. In fact it's largely investigation scenes broken up with the occasional bad shooting sequence.



The writing and voice acting is pretty good though, especially for the time the game came out. The music gets pretty repetitive though. Enjoyment of this game largely depends on how much you're in the mood to read through tons of text. Haven't had time to progress very far through it, so I will likely continue through more tomorrow, and maybe get back to Scheherazade as well.
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