Welcome to another edition of Super-Powered Games. The only thing that is different than normal, will be, well, a lack of a game to review. Oh, and that this is also the last edition of the column.
So, with that said, I wanted to use this space to thank Nick for the Super-Powered Games gig. It was great fun exploring the exciting and inexpensive world of vintage games. I also want to thank all the readers out there as well.
This isn’t the end for me either. I hope to continue to contribute to Nick’s kick-ass publishing companies, Metahuman Press and Pulp Empire. He’s done lots to get new and established writers together in his various anthologies. I sincerely hope that the new year will be even more successful than the last for him.
Again Nick, thanks for the op. It was greatly appreciated.
Again I will quote Jake from the NES game Totally Rad…
Redakai is another collectible card game along the lines of Magic: The Gathering, Pokemon etc.
If you are not familiar with this game, it seems that now is the time, since the once $30 championship tin is now going for under $5. Bear in mind, however, that each player will need his/her own Championship Tin. The Championship Tins are nice, as you have everything you need (including a random deck of cards). As such, you don’t need to stress about deck-building, which can quickly turn into a money trap! (I got two brand new sets for 4 bucks!)
I first had the chance to try this game only recently. For starters, it is based on a cartoon of the same name which I have not even seen. From what I have heard of the show, it wasn’t a work of art. Thankfully it is not necessary to know the show to enjoy the game. At least it’s a world of super-powered beings so it fits well here. (Hopefully the game will get rid of the Redakai license and create their own original super-powered world using the same system of cardplay.)
I was quite impressed by the 3D “effects” of the cards when they are moved from side to side. The character cards, monster overlays, and attack spells all animate in this fashion. The cards are transparent, which makes it easy to stack them on top of each other. Cooler yet is how your character’s hit points are also “stacked” showing you exactly how many hit points he/she has left. No muss. No fuss. It is almost like having the luxury of not having to keep score when you go bowling. Because of this, it almost feels like a video RPG where you can concentrate on other matters rather than math and other little details.
The game rules include a basic game simple enough for kids and an “advanced game” for older and/or more mature players.
In simple terms, it involves comparing color-coded defense ratings with offense ratings and seeing which is higher. The game takes on a more advanced tone when you start including “REACT,” monster abilities, or other special abilities which can augment your current defense or offense statistics or increase your magic points (i.e. Kairu). It is cool how certain spells/attacks can “cure” an ailment (i.e. replenish a hit point). The powerful attacks/spells can remove two of an opponent’s hit points in one fell swoop.
Some examples of character cards include Ky, Boomer, and Zane. Monster overlays include names like Bruticon, Slab, Armorite, and Spykor. Attacks/spells include Gravity Crush, Feather Swords, Fire Vortex, and Seismic Shake. There are, of course, many more than these. One of the coolest cards, for example, is the “Sea Creature Attack.”
If I have any complaints, it does seem like some of the special abilities (such as REACT) are fairly subtle and don’t always seem to affect the course of the game all that much. The exciting games of Redakai involve situations where a REACT or special ability is high enough to change the course of the move (or game). Also, by the time you acquire about 20 Kairu per tun you often have more than enough MP to do what you need to do, regardless of the slight additions or subtractions offered by special abilities.
Words alone can’t express how neat the cards work. If you want to see them in action, and know more about the specific rules of the game, simply watch the official game summary.
Remember the good ol’ days of point and click games? They mostly paved their way in the computer world, such as on the Apple 2e. Maniac Mansion for example, was considered one of the greatest (it even landed on the NES, albeit censored except for that famous microwave scene involving a hamster.) Now that those computers are yellowed with hideous sun fading, the games live on mostly in memory.
When Phoenix Wright hit the American shores around 2005, the P and C genre exploded, at least on the DS with it’s “mouse like” stylus and touch screen.) Classics like Trace Memory, Hotel Dusk, and Time Hollow followed suit among many others.
But there is one lonely game that didn’t get the attention it deserved. Sandwiched between the eighties and 2005, was a game called Dracula: The Undead, and it appeared on the Lynx.
When you first start up the game, you are treated to a magnificent digitized shot of the famous vampire. Then, Bram Stoker himself is seated on a fancy chair wearing a smoking jacket. With beautiful animation he turns the pages of his book, and pops in from time to time to narrate.
After he is finished chin wagging, you find yourself in a room where the overall look resembles that of an aged photograph. (The whole game is done this way, with a chilling soundtrack playing moody music along with digitized sound effects). You are here on business, to destory Drac once and for all. (While the Belmonts can’t seem to “nail it down,” this Jonathan Hawker dude seems to get the job done once and for all!)
Like many point and click games, you must explore your surroundings, open drawers, check the closets, and peruse whatever seems out of place. As you walk around the room, Jonathan scales in and out approprietly, showing off a touch of what the Lynx can do.
Off Topic: Think Star Fox was the first real 3D game? Check out Steel Talons on Lynx!
The inventory system is user friendly and clever. From the left you choose an action, such as open, examine, or close, before hitting right, which moves the arrow towards your inventory collection of things you picked up along the way. It really reminds me of an early Resident Evil in its atmosphere and survival horror feel, only without having any enemies around….Like Hunters (shutter).
I really mean survival horror too. Unlike Phoenix Wright, Trace Memory, or Time Hollow…you can lose, for good…just like in the Maniac Mansion days.
The brides of Dracula are dangerous, and so is the count himself. But don’t expect a real time fight. It’s point and click after all. It all depends on the decisions you make. The good part is that when you lose, you will know why. Simply start another game and do it right. There are no “ink ribbons” here.
There are no passwords, and it is quite long to play through, unless you know exactly where to go and what to do.
Here is one thing that may anger some players. You carry a notebook with you and it is essential to update it EVERY time anything of importance happens. You must do it right away before something else is triggered or it will be too late. You won’t know until the ending if you got it all recorded. Personally, I think it adds to the “rush” of the survival horror feeling of the experience.
With great graphics and animation, sound and gameplay, Dracula is sure to please. It enjoyed excellent reviews when it was new, but sadly went unnoticed by too many people.
Joystick Joykill: This title was supposed to be a much bigger 4 meg game. It ended up being a shorter two meg card. Like Operation Logic Bomb that I rated some months back, it begs to be longer.
The homebrew market on Lynx is amazing. With games like Alpine Games and Zaku (includes shrink wrapped box and everything) enjoying popularity, I am hopeful that the game will be re-released in its original 4 meg glory.
Being an avid Mega Man fan, I wanted to take the opportunity to start with my favorite ever title in the series. I hope to start at the beginning sometime soon, but I want this title to stand out from the crowd as it went by somewhat unnoticed. With the 3D craze in the late 90s, the old school games were getting the back seat in a hurry. Thankfully, Mega Man seems to put up a fight, much like how he did on the original NES before putting himself on the much more powerful Super Nintendo.
So why X4? For starters, it is a brutal return to form to the original Mega Man X title. Gone are the Mavericks from two and three. They did add a cool twist to the series, as you have to search them out to get improved endings (or different Sigma stages as in the thirds case) but this is the only Mega Man title that truly feels like an arcade experience for me. With the large characters, beautiful animation, and tons of large on-screen sprites flying around with no slowdown, it reminds me of a NeoGeo game. It’s noisy, rockin’, and it feels as if it’s an upright next to a greasy Metal Slug cabinet in a dark and seedy old-school arcade. Once the game starts you are treated to the best graphics, sound and perhaps some of the best music in the whole series. The overall look is the darker anime style that the X series is known for. The first prelude stage features incredible industrial stage, ending with a confrontation with a large robotic dragon. Most of the backgrounds in the game feature heavy perspective, such as the detailed mountains that greet you near the beginning of Frost Walrus’s stage.
If there’s anything that didn’t quite fit in the older Mega Man X titles, it was the spoken cinemas that cannot be skipped. Mega Man does have a cool story, but I like to be able to skip them eventually as I like to play games more than once. For example, I didn’t like the operatic moments in the original X game where you had to “try to die” in certain spots to trigger a cinema. In this game, you can speed the dialogue ahead and skip the cut scenes. And you don’t have to try to die!
BUT, the game has incredible animated cut scenes that you will probably not want to skip. The U.S. translation isn’t awesome in the voice department, but the video is quite detailed and has decent animation. This was done in the same way that the NEC CD games were done, with hand drawn cinematics rather than the computerized, polygon-based cut scenes of today. I prefer the former.
One seeming drawback is that the stages you select are very formulaic. I’ve hardly ever seen the classic settings look so amazing, even still. They include a train, ice, water, and a fire stage. But it also has a bio-lab, air stage and the best forest stage Mega Man has ever been to.
Now for the coolest part of the experience: you can play as Mega Man or Zero. Now this isn’t just a color swap, or simply changing the jump heights. Depending on who you choose, the game will feel completely like a new game. Mega Man shoots far, but Zero gets up close and personal with his sword. Mega Man picks up more projectiles (which are cool, fun to use, and useful) and Zero gets new jumps and sword attacks. With Zero, there is no need to scroll through his acquired attacks as you can use his moves anytime by holding different directions on the controller as you swing. He can also do combos. Oh, and the secret order of stages, after figuring out what weapons work on who, like all Mega Man games, is changed for Zero’s game.
At first, you will probably agree that Zero’s game seems tougher. But I find that once you have Zero’s nuances under control, you will find that Zero makes things easier than Megaman in the end!
As for the robotic foes?
Sigma was definitely going off the rocker in this one. Not since Wire Sponge (X2), and Toad Man (MM 4) have there been such a wacky motley crew of robots; including a robotic walrus, mushroom, bee hive, Grim Reaper, and a pea cock to name a few.
It is challenging, but never frustrating. Just like the originals, once you beat the standard 8 stages, you go through the final four till you reach Sigma. Many claim that the Sigma fight in this one is very tough. But with careful strategy, he can be beat without using an energy tank.
It remains still, one of my favorite games of all time.
My favorite Mega Man games (in order)..
Mega Man X4 Megaman X: incredible music, graphics and gameplay Megaman 4-Eight Wily stages instead of 4, great music…and weird, creative bosses Mega Man 2: Almost perfect. Best music in the series. Feels naked without the slide though Mega Man 3: This is so close to two, that It’s hard to pick! Second best Megaman soundtrack and fun levels Mega Man X3: Very tough. Incredible gameplay Mega Man III (Game Boy): Very challenging but great addicting levels. It ranks along with the best of them
Mega Man 7: Feels like a pumped up Game Boy version. The dialogue moves slow though Mega Man 5: Neat searching for secret letters. Hints at what’s to come in the X series
Megaman 8: Great graphics. A bit slow paced, especially with the maze parts
Megaman 6: Fun new moves for Megaman-Pausing the game to transform him slows the game down though
When it comes to super-powered Atari 2600 games, few games spring faster to mind than this. One of the only truly great original games for the system (I.e. River Raid 1/2)). Okay. Original is stretching things a bit. The game was originally going to be a port of an arcade game called “Star Castle.” But certain improvements were made to the original that it became its own title. The game’s title was named after Executive Ray Kassar. (Yar backwards!)
Like many Atari games, It features a fantastic cover on the box, relying on the “show don’t tell” method as, unlike today, the covers looked far cooler than the actual game.
Although the box states “super flies fight for their lives,” it also came with a miniature comic book made by DC Comics. I am proud to still have an original copy! The comic is available to read at AtariAge.com. (Other games that incuded a comic were Berzerk and Defender).
But all you really need to know is that you are a super-fly, a very angry super-fly, on a mission of revenge. You put up with the Quotile’s crap for too long and enough is enough.
For those who never played the game, here’s a run-down.
Gameplay: You can fly and shoot in eight different directions, which was cool enough in it’s own right for an Atari game. Your goal is to shoot (or even chew for more points) a path through the fortified wall that protects the Quotile. The Quotile consists of a large cannon housed on the far right of the screen that floats up and down. During this time a heat seeking pellet floats at you at all times during the stage unless you remain in the neutral zone, which makes you invincible as long as you remain therein. But you can’t shoot, so you have to leave eventually.
Once you break a path through the wall, you can bring up your own cannon on the far left of the screen to launch at the enemy. (This is done in a variety of ways. See below)
Once a path is breached through the wall, you have to time it just right so it will hit the enemy. You need to shoot early so the enemy floats into the shot. It’s not easy to do, but adds a layer of strategy.
Wait, there’s more. During the course of each stage, the enemy cannon will change to red indicating that it will change into a swirl, a flying blade, that rushes straight at you. You cannot shoot it with regular bullets, and cannot eat it. You will bite off more than you can chew if you do. The neutral zone will not protect you either. To dodge it, it helps to go off the screen either up or down and reappear on the opposite side.
But you can use your own cannon to bring it down. Once a path is breached, you can time the cannon so that it hits the enemy as he floats into it. And of course you get more points if you destroy it as a swirl rather than hitting it in its regular cannon state. You also get a free life that way.
You can ready your cannon either by chewing the wall rather than shooting it, or by touching the left wall after you chewed enough pieces, depending on what settings you have the Atari set at. This takes a certain amount of timing and dodging that brings a sophisticated feel to an Atari game.
But once the Quotile is destroyed, another level starts, after a neat pause screen displaying your remaining lives and score. But look, the wall is different. It is now a rotating 3D tunnel that not only is a cool effect, but it makes it tougher to create a tunnel to the cannon.
The game increases in difficulty as the fortified wall not only has two differing walls, but they change in three different colors, blue, white, than pink. Certain stages will take away your neautral zone shield, making you dodge the pellet at all times.
In some stages, the swirl’s attack pattern changes. Rather than launching straight at you, it senses where you dodged it, then comes at you a second time!
There is suprisingly a lot to this game. Even the sequel for Game Boy didn’t topple the original’s perfection.
The first switch on the Atari changes the game’s modes. In some settings, you simply eat five bricks from the wall to make your cannon appear. In others, you not only have to eat the pellets but also touch the left wall to activate it.
The right switch changes the speed of the swirl, which greatly changes the feel and timing of the game.
While it’s not as “all out” as Space Invaders with its hundred plus settings, this game adds unique changes to the format in the eight different modes available, including “Ultimate Yars,” a children’s mode, and two-player versions.
It also features a neat Easter Egg, just like Adventure did not too long before it. During the cinema where the Quotile explodes, fly onto the barely noticable black line just right and the screen will go black showing the name of the programmer. Careful though, as this ends the game…
It’s one of my favorite early-era titles. My all time faves include Stargate (Defender II), Pengo, Pac-Man Jr. and Moon Patrol with its three-layer parallax scrolling.