Saturday, 30 June 2007

2D to 3D done well

So, as promised, and after almost 48 hours of pure expectation, here I am to talk about the latest addition to my (tiny) PS2 import collection. Yes, the title I'm going to talk about is a PS2 game, and yes, it's an imported one. And finally, yes, it's a Metal Slug game, which explains my previous post.

So, without further delay, ladies and gentlemen (are there ladies visiting this blog?), I present to you:

...

...

(uh, the expectation, I can't control myself xD)


Metal Slug 3D!!!



Oh yeah! You heard me, it's Metal Slug 3D!

Ok, so now you're thinking, is it any good? Well, I'm happy to say that it's pretty damn good actually, especially if you're a fan of the series. Of course, you can't expect the quality of the "great PS2 games", but if you're interested read on, for I'm about to tell you exactly what is good and bad about this game.

But first it's time for a little introduction. Although I'm, as I said before, a huge Metal Slug fan, I never knew this game existed until some days ago when I was browsing racketboy for SNK related articles and, by luck, stumbled across a news article talking about some MS 3D. I immediately searched the net for more information about this unexpected title and it was just a matter of time before I had the game in my hands.



I was a little reluctant about it, though, because we all know what regularly happens when a good 2D franchise jumps to the 3rd dimension. If they wanted to add a fresh look to the series they could've just make a traditional 2D MS with 3D backgrounds, or even a totally 3D but cel-shaded game, but that's not what happened, with this title being in the most pure (and raw) 3D.

Fortunately the result is actually pretty good, although it could still be better if some cel-shading was used. Anyway, it's great to see that the development studio really tried to capture the feeling of the original games and convert it to a 3 dimensional world. Almost all the little details that become trade marks of the series are here, like the exaggerated amount of blood that spills when you kill an enemy soldier, the vehicles that bounce whenever you shoot them or your own metal slug bending his caterpillar tracks when you jump.



The characters available are the most well know from the series (Marco, Tarma, Eri and Fio), the weapons are all exact replicas of those present in the previous titles and even the narrator is the same, yelling the weapon's name whenever you pick up a new piece.

There are some things that I miss, though, like the destructible parts of the environments, the character's transformations (zombie, fattie, etc...) or the animal slugs. The whole story and the way it's told is also a lot different from what we're used to. Unlike the classic games, where the story had a lot of humour involved and was light-hearted, in this game it has a way more serious tone and it's told by some FMV's and several cut-scenes that sometimes take way more time than they should in a fast-paced action game.



Now, let's talk about the gameplay. In it's core this is just a brainless action game, where you just have to shoot everything that moves, with that being the traditional Morden soldiers and they're vehicles, like thanks, trucks or an occasional helicopter. The action is so fast-paced that, if it wasn't for the great lock-on system, it would have been really hard to hit anything without being shot to death first. Thanks to your friend lock-on, though, you just have to press R1 and then smash "square" to shoot mercilessly and slaughter a whole battalion in a matter of seconds (like in the previous games the regular enemy soldiers die with just one hit).



While in a Slug the things are a bit harder to control, with your slow tank being an easier target, but the fire-power kind of makes up for that. There are also two sections where you control a plane or a submarine, just like in some of the 2D games, which is really a neat addition that is going to make every fan smile.

But not everything is about recovering old things, for there is space for some new additions too. For a start, every character has its own abilities, like the amount of energy, accuracy, etc.., which can be improver either by spending the experience points you gain in each mission or by winning some medals.



But probably the most important addition is the customizable Slugs. Yes, that's right, now you can build your own Slug! You just have to complete the game with a good score to unlock the various parts you can change, like the whole core of the tank or just the cannon or the machine guns.

When you finish the game you also unlock a special grenade called Monolith (you throw a small monolith to the ground and then a giant one falls from the sky and pwns everything) and a mini-game where you control one of the POWs (you still have to rescue them along the levels).



So, I think I've already said everything worth mentioning about this game. Although it's not perfect, I was pleased to see the commitment of the team behind this game in recovering almost all that was good about the old games and converting it into 3D. The result is a pretty good game that any old Metal Slug fan simply must own.

Friday, 29 June 2007

Saturn Titles for The Next Gen...


There has been a BIG resurgence of interest in the Saturn since it was announced that a new NiGHTS title was coming to the Wii, and in EVERY gaming mag I've read since that announcement, the Saturn has been referenced in one way or another.
Take the June edition of the excellent Games TM magazine for example. Now admittedly, this outstanding journal has always flagged up fine examples of yesterday's games in its Retro Section... But it has recently surpassed itself in terms of Sega-Love, posting some brilliant retrospectives on Dreamcast and Saturn titles.

In this issue there was the following article. I'm taking the time to copy it out for you, 'cos I value its opinion, and for our Trans-Atlantic cousins who can't get hold of this missive, it deserves a read... So here goes...

"Right then, you've just picked up a second hand computerand are looking for some classic games to play on it. The only problem is, you're not too surewhat to buy. Hopefully we can help. This month, inspired by the news of NiGHTS 2, we take a look at the other Sega games we'd love to see a sequel for:


Burning Rangers, Estimated Price £20, Format: Saturn, Year Of Production: 1998.



Aside from NiGHTS, Burning Rangers is the one Yuji Naka creation that was most criminally overlooked. Taking the part of a team of futuristic firefighters, the players mission was to explore randomly generated space stations, put out fires and dodge deathtraps, using a jetpack.

Uniquely for the time, the player was given audible directions, in order to make their way through the burning stations. We'd love to see this on the Wii with the remote taking the place of game's laser hose.

Shining Force III, Estimated Price £30, Format: Saturn, Year Of Production: 1998.



Sega's Shining serieshas been going for ages with several excellent and varied entries, but Shining Force III is undoubtedly the best. Taking the series into 3D for the first time added a new element to the game, as did the innovative civil war story that allowed the player to experience the conflict from three different perspectives. There have been several follow ups since, but none were made by their original creator, Camelot. We'd love to see them at the helm of Shining Force IV some time.



Virtua Fighter Kids, Estimated Price: £15, Format: Saturn, Year Of Production: 1996.


Virtua Fighter Kids is just the sort of game that typifies Sega; a concept that feels like the stuff of Internet rumour , but actually turns out to be true and even plays quite well. Virtua Fighter Kids used a modified version of the Virtua Fighter 2 engine to pit childlike renditions of the classic beat 'em up characters against each other. With the recent success of Virtua Fighter 5 and Nintendo Wii's penchant for cute characters, this series is about due for a comeback right about now.


Fighters Megamix, Estimated Price £10, Format: Saturn, Year Of Production: 1997.


Even more of a fanboy project than VF Kids was Fighters Megamix, a 3D beat 'em up that teamed the characters from Virtua Fighter with those from Fighting Vipers, along with others from Sega's arcade history. With diverse charactersfrom Sonic The Fighters and even Daytona USA, as well as a move set partly taken from Virtua Fighter 3, this was a must have Saturn title. Now how about a PS3 version with characters from Shenmue and Yakuza in it?"


Wow! Great article wasn't it? I have two of the games mentioned above, Virtua Fighter Kids and Fighters Megamix. I first became aware of VF Kids through the capsule toys collected in Shenmue. It was months before I realised it was an actual game. My copy is an imported Japanese version, and to be honest, I've only played it a couple of times... Again, with Fighters Megamix, I've played it a few times without realising its potential. I aim to become more familiar with it this weekend...

This is FK for the SJY, wishing you a GW... (great weekend!) Peace out!

The End Of An Era...


I'm in a state of shock. Something great and worthy has died. I went up to Gamestation before, to see whether they had any 'new' Saturn games in and was devestated to find that the whole Saturn section had been cleared out...

Gamestation has some of it's own independent shops, but they were largely to be found at the back of Blockbuster video stores. Gamestation was a literal treasure trove of retro gaming goodies. They are where I bought the majority, of Saturn games, (the best ever purchase being the original arcade port of House Of The Dead- £24.99, the cheapest being Sega Rally for 20p, closely followed by Sega Worldwide Soccer for 27p.)


Its where I bought my four Saturn Light Guns (one boxed up Virtua Cop Edition) , my Saturn Steering Wheel, and also where I bought the majority of my Dreamcast games and peripherals, my Sega Game Gear, the majority of my Master System games collection and also a variety of PS1 and PS2 games, PSP and DS titles...


Certain standout memories include discovering my Dreamcast Keyboard and Mouse, Shenmue 2, My Namco Light Gun and RE:CV Survivor's Guide, the time I was given a Dreamcast 4MB VMU and a copy of Retro Gamer magazine for free... Plus all the "buy one get one free" (or BOGOF) deals which meant that you could walk in with £10 and come out with two Dreamcast games and four Saturn games.


Gamestation has been bought out by its 'landlord', Blockbuster. Having seen the DVD rental business dwindle, as people download movies or buy cheap pirate copies, Blockbuster have seen the capital potential of the gaming industry as a way it can recoup sales.


But the new ownership of the franchise has decided in its wisdom, that the retro market is not profitable enough, and therefore it will concentrate on PS2, PS3, Wii, DS and 360 sales.


One ray of hope is that it might send a little business the way of 'Chips', which despite being a chain, is certainly not a multi-national corporation, and retains the feeling of the "independent" game shops of yore...

So, I'm pouring a 40 oz to the kerb, in honour of my homie Gamestation, and the end of some great times... I won't be going there again.

Thursday, 28 June 2007

Metal Slug: a retrospective

So, does the name Metal Slug ring a bell? No? Come on! It's the best run-and-gun series ever! The first game even had a Saturn port, although it needed the 4mb ram cart, making it a not so common game in your average Saturn collection. Anyway, most people played it in the arcades or using MAME, so I think it's safe to assume everyone knows what I'm talking about. What most people don't know is the amount of sequels that came out.


Metal Slug 2 is your average sequel, including new weapons, enemies, levels, etc, etc... A good game, though. Metal Slug X is, in my opinion, a lame remix/rip-off version of MS 2, something we didn't need since we all wanted a true sequel. Then it came, Metal Slug 3, introducing A LOT of new features but also increasing the already high difficulty of the series, making it a bloody hard game to beat. Many fans call it the best MS ever. I just call it the "Metal Slug from hell"...


These are the games most gamers know about or played. I too also thought for a long time that the series ended after this original trilogy. How I was wrong...
Some time ago I found out that there were more Metal Slugs out there, not just one, or two, but another whole trilogy!

Metal Slug 4 is by far the worst MS ever. The development company changed from the experienced guys who created the series to some fucking n00bs that didn't know how to make a decent MS. Most of the backgrounds were taken from previous games, nothing special was added and the overall experience is BAD! Avoid this game, unless you're like me and want to be able to proudly say "I've completed every MS game!".


Then came Metal Slug 5 to redeem the MS name. It has a more mech oriented theme and General Morden, the main antagonist of the whole series, is nowhere to be seen. This may seem bad, but the overall quality of the game makes up for this.


Finally, Metal Slug 6, is not only a return to the origins but also the first game not to run on the MVS arcade hardware, using Atomiswave instead. This means better graphics (more noticeably the backgrounds, since the characters look fairly equal), with zoom effects and other treats. This was, at least for me, the hardest game to find, but fortunately it was included in Metal slug Anthology, a collection that includes all of the mentioned games and is available for the PS2, PSP and Wii. If you are a fan of Metal Slug make sure you have this game, for it is one of the best compilations you'll ever find, along with other personal favourites of mine like Sonic Mega Collection Plus or Sonic Gems Collection (I intend to write something about these titles in the future).


So, why am I posting this all of a sudden? Well, those who regularly read my comments may remember me talking about a new imported game for the Saturn that was somewhat late, thus making me occupy my time with something else... That something else is what made me write this post as some sort of an "introduction" to what I'm about to post next. Be sure to come back tomorrow...

(uh, the suspense... xD)

Tuesday, 26 June 2007

Everyone's a Winner Baby!



So sang cheesey 70's disco band Hot Chocolate. Whilst that may not be strictly true, there is a winner in the house and by Crikey! It's me! Your very own Father Krishna!


You may recall a recent post on the ever wonderful Racketboy and his Third Anniversary. He ran a competition to advertise his site on your site. So I did one, from the heart! I love Racketboy and his Retro Gaming site.


I was quite happy to draw attention to his place, 'cos it rocks! However, it so happens that my particular article was the best, so I've won the competition!!!!


I get the Mr. Robot title from its developers! I'll be posting a review of it here, even though its not a Saturn title. (That's fair enough isn't it?)


Happy Days!

Segata Sanshiro Action Figure!


In my quest to enlighten the world, about the greatest human being who ever walked the planet (hallowed be his name), I often punch the words "Segata Sanshiro" into Google and see what it comes up with.


Today I discovered this particular treasure, an actual 3D replica of the saviour of the Saturn. My first thought was to jump on eBay and trawl the 'Net till I found this item and then pay thousands of Pounds, (or Yen) to buy one...


Unfortunately me and Mrs. K are experiencing something of a financial meltdown at the moment, so the doll will have to wait!


Still, if I post a picture of it on the SJY, and gaze at it each time I check in to find out what dynamite post our star reviewer Nebachadnezzar has come up with next... Maybe that will satisfy me 'till I can buy one!

More 2D fighting goodness

Since X-Men kind of left me hooked into 2D fighting games for the Saturn, when I saw the chance to play a rather obscure import title, I didn't think twice. The game in question is World Heroes Perfect, a game that I doubt many of you will recognize. After a little research I found out that this game is actually the 4th title in the World Heroes series and this Saturn version is in fact a port of the original Neo Geo release, although a little improved.



The story of this title (not that a beat'em up needs one) is rather interesting, actually, because it revolves around time travelling and that explains some characters based on real historical figures and some of backgrounds, like Ancient Egypt or Ice Age. But the core of any fighting game is the gameplay, and the one present in WHP is a little different from what most players are used to (I had a hard time getting used to it after playing X-Men for some time).


There's the usual punch and kick attacks, divided into the light, medium and hard variations, but unlike X-Men, for example, you just have buttons assigned to the light and medium attacks (X, Y for punches, A, B for kicks). In order to do a Hard kick you have to press A+B and for Hard punches the combination is X+Y, and because I really used this attacks a lot I ended up playing not with my thumb but with my...hmm...what do you call the 2 fingers next to the thumb? My english sucks... Anyway, you get the idea. Remember that dude in the Soul Calibur documentary? It's something like that.



The point is, it would be a lot better if you could just use the Z and C buttons for Hard attacks, but I guess that complicated controls suit well for a game with such a complex gameplay. Besides the regular attacks and combos you also can do taunts, ABC specials (special moves that vary from character to character and aren't always offensive, so don't expect 25-hit combos), projectile kills, defense blows, air counter attacks, projectile deflects and supers.

Oh, and in case you haven't noticed there's also a "Hero" meter in the bottom of the screen, and when this fills up, well, guess what...


But don't be fooled by the Perfect in the title, for this game is a little far from that. It lacks gameplay modes (there's only the regular arcade-style mode and a VS mode) and unlockable goodies (the final boss is selectable from the start!), so you probably won't come back many times; the graphics, although nice, are a little below other fighting games for the Saturn; and the gameplay is not going to appeal to everyone.

But hey, this is afterall a fighting game for the elite, the hardcore fans, not the masses, and those guys should definitely have a look at this game, while the others play a bit more of Virtua Fighter.

Monday, 25 June 2007

SEGAROCKS

Sometimes you just find something online that your brain just can't come to grips with...

...well here is one of those things I found.

Original Insert Credit article.
Original Kotaku article.



Sunday, 24 June 2007

X-Men: Children of the Atom - my humble opinion

As i said earlier, i have borrowed this game and played for some time, so here's what i think of the game.

For a start, I pretty much agree with everything J said. This game is indeed great, but bloody difficult! You can choose one from 8 or so difficulty levels, but even in the easiest setting I start to loose at the 2nd or 3rd stage (there's 8). Ok, I must admit that, although I like fighting games, I usually suck at them, mainly because I don't have the patience to memorize 50-button combos, but even as it is I think that starting to lose so early means something about the difficulty of the game.


After you beat the crap out the first 6 "regular" fighters, there comes Juggernaut, so make sure your character has a missile attack, otherwise you wont live long (I beat the fucker using the Sentinel with the missile attack). Finally comes the boss of bosses: Magneto! If you thought the game was hard to this point, well, it just gets harder!

The beginning of the fight is your chance to deal the most damage, cause after a while he creates a shield around him that prevents you from attacking, although he can still beat you up. Eventually the shield disappears, but don't rest just yet, for he's probably about to use his special attack, nothing less than a torrent of lasers that consume more than half of your energy bar. I'm usually dead by now...

To tell you the truth, I actually won one round, using Psylocke, I think, but I just won 1 of 2 rounds, and I never won again...


Talking more about the game now, you probably already know about the huge sprites, the fluid animations, the great gameplay and all that, but what I bet most of you never heard about is the interactive backgrounds! Oh yeah, when I read this off the cover I thought they were exaggerating, after all how can a 2D background be interactive?

Well, I guess it can! The thing is, if you smash the arena hard enough (don't ask exactly how you do that because I really don't now) you start to see the scenery breaking and after a while the floor collapses below your feet! Wow! The effect is different from arena to arena, but it usually goes like I described. Well, guess Dead or Alive 2 wasn't that original after all...


Well, I guess that's it, can't remember anything more to add. If you like beat'em ups, specially the 2D ones, be sure to track this game down and buy it when you have the chance. Just make sure it's the Saturn version, because the PS1 port is so inferior that it makes the little console cry. The Saturn is the king of 2D, no question about it, and that 6-button controller really makes the difference. I really can't imagine myself playing this with just 4 face buttons, and if you play this game in particular you'll understand why. And for those of you that didn't know, the Saturn port is considered 99% arcade perfect. :)

Saturday, 23 June 2007

A game collection do die (or kill) for...

So, remember that awesome collection i talked about somedays ago? For those of you that don't know anything about this, let me re-tell you the story.

I was wandering in the PTGamers forum (pardon me for the publicity, but it's the fucking best portuguese videogames site!) when i stumbled across a topic named "game collections". Curious as i am, i entered the topic just to find out one of the most impressive collections of saturn games i've ever seen, especially from a portuguese gamer!

I immediately asked for permission to post the picture here, and not only he said yes, he also took more photos for me to publish! What a guy...

Anyway, here they come, so be sure to clean your eyes, you'll want so see this as clearly as possible... (as always, click the picture to see it in full size)

Tcharan!


This is the first picture i saw, and according to him it's a little outdated, the following are more complete. Notice that, not only this guy as alot of good games, i also has at least 3 of the "great 5" (that's what i call the 5 most rare/expensive titles for the Saturn). If you watch carefully you'll see Guardian Heroes, Shining Force 3 and...Panzer Dragoon Saga! Oh yeah!

By the way, about that hallowed game, he said that he bought it a long time ago in a store that closed just a few days after for the ridiculous amount of 4.000 escudos (our old money, before the euro came), something like 20 euros. Yes, 20 euros for a game that easily sells for 100 or more nowadays. As the gnome would say, "you lucky bastard, you..."

This is basically the same picture, although here we can see Christmas NiGHTS, Virtua Fighter Remix (i didn't know that it was released in such a large box) and some other games that weren't in the previous picture.

Here we can see even more games, including Soviet Strike, another case where i had no idea it came in such a large box, Virtua Cop 2 and there's even room for some nintendo love, as we can see by the DS, GC and Wii games. (hey Father, looks like the Saturn and the Wii really make a good combination)

And here it is in all it's glory, one of the most sought after titles ever, Panzer Dragoon Saga.

Well, and that's it. Hope you liked as much as i did, i know this gave me the will to never stop collecting Saturn games.

As always, good bye and good games ;)

Thursday, 21 June 2007

5000 Hits!


Jeeez! How did we miss this milestone!

5000 hits!?

Admittedly 4900 belong to me...

But hey peeps!

5000! Come on!

Wednesday, 20 June 2007

X-Men Children of the Atom Video!

Whilst admittedly, this is the ending to the arcade version... It might give you an inkling of the Saturn and its gameplay...

X Men: Children Of The Atom!



There are few Saturn games that are really stunning to behold in 2007. Sure, with rose coloured spectacles and the nostalgic affection of recollection, some Saturn games can really still bowl you over. But in terms of looks, the graphical presentation of most Saturn games seems somewhat pixellated and blocky.

Fortunately, 2D fighters produced for the Saturn by Capcom and SNK, still look as fresh today as they did in 1996. Be it the Street Fighter series, or case in point X Men: Children Of The Atom, the choice of animation, and the classic animated background, 2D characters and bright vibrant colours, have stopped them from looking as ancient as say, Virtua Fighter or Virtua Fighter 2.




The 2D beat 'em up still has many fans today, myself included. Be it SNK's King Of Fighters franchise for the PS2, or the Marvel vs. Capcom franchise for the Dreamcast, the games were pretty much formulaic and similar in appearance. The Saturn's six button control pad, allowed for the maximum combination of special moves for the game's fighters, reminiscent of the six button/joystick format of the arcade original.

And talking about special moves, what turbo charged stunners those moves are! Characters 'power up' and unleash a torrent of damage to their opponents, which is one of the most satisfying elements of the game.

But what about plot and storyline... Well it's X Men, so you'd be right in thinking the ultimate goal is to beat Magneto. But you've got to get through an army of foes before you get to the old spoon bending evil mutant! Let's compile a list of 'good guys' and 'bad guys' shall we?




Batting for 'Team Good' are... Cyclops, Psylocke, Wolverine, Storm, Colossus and Iceman.

Batting for 'Team Bad' are Omega Red, the mutant hunting android Sentinel, Spiral (lackey of Mojo), and Silver Samurai as well as Juggernaut.

What's nice for all you evil types out there, is that rather than just playing as the X Men, you can play as the villains. I don't of course... It would be wrong for a 'man of the cloth' like myself to side with the forces of darkness... LOL! :)




I'd be a liar if I said I was any good at this game, however. I just mash buttons and hope for the best! But what I do enjoy, time after time, is how luscious the graphics and animations are; even in the 21st century with the graphic spleandour of the 360 and PS3...

Remember people, this game is based on the original Marvel Comics 'X Men', not the Halle Berry Hollywood film crossover... Therefore the characters look very different from the current perception of the black-suited 'beautiful people'...



In order to keep the title close to its roots, the game features voice acting from the actors in the original animated series, which appeared on American TV.

As usual, one of the best features about this game for me, was it's price! I picked it up for the paltry sum of £1.50! (from Gamestation) Sure the box is falling apart and the manual is missing, but hey! It's got immense pick 'up and play' potential and if you like 2D fighters, then its a reson in its own right to go out and buy a Saturn!


For a fantastic review of other Saturn games that still have the WOW! factor today, look here. For a much better review of this game look here. For the definitive history of this game look here, and for a much under appreciated review of an X Men title for the DS, look here.

On a side note, my youngest 'Ginger', Ted (9), has decided he wants to follow in his Father's footsteps and have his own gaming blog... Its called 'Ted's DS Page' and if you'd be kind enough to nip over and leave a comment on his launch post, (a review of Pokemon Diamond & Pearl), I'd really appreciate it...




Cheers! FK