Tag Archives: 1993

One Image Reviews: Plok

Plok Screenshot 2016-03-22 20-21-15Plok
Super Nintendo, 1993
Developer: Software Creations
Publisher: Tradewest

A friend asked that I review Plok. I agreed, despite having never played Plok. I did not care much for Plok, but I am a man of my word. Thus, I give you our newest feature – ONE IMAGE REVIEWS. BEHOLD! Uh, also, click to enlarge.PlokOneImage2

I enjoyed this exercise. Expect more in the future.

EDIT! Now with charmingly amateurish grammatical fixes!

EDIT 2! Now with MORE grammatical fixes! Sheesh. What good is my literature degree anyway?

Street Fighter II’ – PC Engine

Street Fighter II’
PC Engine – 1993
Developer – NEC Avenue
Publisher – Capcom

While I haven’t surrendered my tennis questing just yet, I’d like to take a moment to talk about one of my favorite console ports of all time, Street Fighter II’ Championship Edition for the PC Engine. While it’s outshone on nearly level by SNES version Street Fighter II Turbo, which was released in the same year, it’s an impressive port in its own right, and well worth the consideration of any fighting game fan with the means to play it.Street Fighter II' Screenshot 2015-06-28 19-04-54

Street Fighter II and its countless iterations were hot commodities in the early ’90; the franchise was ported to everything from the Game Boy to the Commodore 64. Hell, I wouldn’t be surprised if there was a TI-82 version of the game out there in the ether. At first glance, the PC Engine (what we knew in the States as the TurboGrafx-16) version of Street Fighter II’ appears to be little more than a slightly less impressive version of its SNES counterpart; there’s nothing on the surface of this port that would lead you to believe it’s worthy of any great praise. However, when one considers the specifications of the hardware that it is ran on, it’s somewhat of a technical marvel.Street Fighter II' Screenshot 2015-06-28 19-52-00

While whether the PC Engine/TurboGrafx qualifies as a “16-bit” system is a subject best reserved for another day, one thing is not in dispute: it had an 8-bit CPU, the same as the NES. Though the PC Engine came strapped with a dual 16-bit GPU, in terms of raw horsepower, it was still operating on an 8-bit level. If I might hazard a broad and clumsy car analogy, compared to the NES, everything has been upgraded but the engine – new coat of paint, new tires, front and rear spoilers – but it’s still not going to go that much faster. The PC Engine’s chief competitors, the Genesis and the SNES, were working with legit 16-bit CPUs. For the mathematically disinclined, that’s TWICE of processing power.

So, considering that raw power differential, take a look at this:

While astute observers will note that there are missing frames of animation, a lack of color depth, and other shortcomings, considering the hardware, the end result is almost unimpeachable: this is a full featured, smooth playing, and aesthetically pleasing adaptation of an arcade classic. While this port never saw a US release, I have to imagine that Japanese PC Engine owners were ecstatic with the quality of SFII’.

SFII’ pushed the PC Engine to its absolute limits. If you don’t believe me, just take a look at the sheer size of it compared to a standard PCE/TG16 HuCard:HuCardComparison

Clocking in at a massive (for the time) 20 megabits, SFII’ could not be contained in a standard issue HuCard. It’s literally bursting at the seems with quality. It’s somewhat notable that the game was released on a HuCard at all, as the PC Engine had a well-established CD-ROM add on by the time SFII’ was released. I can only assume that it was released on HuCard so as to reach as wide of an audience as possible.Street Fighter II' Screenshot 2015-06-29 21-35-04

I’m far from an expert on the subject, but if you’d like to see some comparisons of the PC Engine version of SFII’ against its Genesis and SNES counterparts, I’d highly recommend you check out this excellent post over at Retro SanctuarySFII’ for the PC Engine is one of those select few instances where a little background information on a game makes it all the more enjoyable to an enthusiast – I’d highly recommend it to any fans of the console or the series.

Silpheed Stress Test – Part 1

Silpheed CoverSilpheed
Sega CD, 1993
Developer: Game Arts
Publisher: Sega

In my recent Time Gal writeup, I posted a link to the official throne room of Subspace Briefcase. I expected it would engender a few laughs. What I did not think it would engender, though, was a challenge. Mere moments after my Time Gal post went live, I received the following message from some shadowy ne’er-do-well:

challenge

Apparently this reader (1) really likes looking at pictures of bathrooms, or (2) has some reservations about my game playing acumen. Sir, in case you haven’t noticed, this is a VIDEO GAME site. To challenge my ability to conquer a mere VIDEO GAME is to challenge my ability put food in my lizard’s mouth. Griselda and I will not suffer this lightly, and I DEMAND SATISFACTION – which I will obtain by absolutely demolishing Silpheed in mere minutes.

Silpheed (Sega CD) - Introduction Screenshot 2015-05-27 20-37-43

Silpheed was one of 25 random Sega CD games I purchased on eBay for $30, and subsequently neglected to play for weeks on end. You can read the last post for all the exciting details on that transaction. All that aside, I was not unaware of Silpheed prior to having my shooter skills besmirched. It’s well-known for having the finest “polygonal” graphics on the Sega CD. Just take a look at this intro:

“Good God,” you say, “that could almost pass for a PSX game. How did they do that?” Well, the truth is, they didn’t. While the player’s ship and enemy combatants are nothing but polygonal goodness, the backgrounds are actually video footage. Video footage deceptively rendered to look like polygons rendered in rendered in real-time, but video footage nonetheless.

So, Silpheed is a technical achievement, yeah. I heartily recommend that you read all about it here. But I’m not here to praise it. I’m here to crush it. Probably doesn’t matter that I suck at shooters. Probably doesn’t matter that I don’t have my teenage reflexes anymore. How tough could this possibly be? Bring on Stage 1!

Nailed it on the first try! Sure, took a few hits, but the shields stayed intact. Kill me to death. HA. Barely made a scratch!

My reward for besting the first stage? A brief cutscene wherein I am told that I’m out to stop some fat guy in a dirty trenchcoat and a cut rate Geordi LaForge visor who has “networked jacked” the computer which controls the….

Silpheed (Sega CD) Clip 2 Screenshot 2015-05-28 20-27-07
Max Headroom has really let himself go. Go EVIL, that is.

SNORE. I need no reasons. I AM DEATH INCARNATE. STAGE 2. GO.

Silpheed (Sega CD) Screenshot 2015-05-28 20-36-30

Oh hey, wait, a weapon select. Looks like I’ve got some choices here. Choices which I WILL NOT BE TAKING. I shoot forward and no other way. It’s the code of the space cowboy.

Hey, as far as “asteroid field” levels go, that one was pretty intense – and pretty good looking. Damned if it wasn’t visually confusing, though. It was nigh-impossible to tell which asteroids were in the foreground, and actually capable of damaging my ship. Thankfully, I had all that beautiful digitized speech to direct me in the right way. Also, please note that the boss actually ran away. Some might take my failure to destroy it as a sign of weakness; I choose to take it as the game recognizing my skill. YAWN. STAGE 3.

Well come on. If you aren’t going to refill my shields, how am I supposed to beat the level on the first try? That’s just cheap. Stupid cheap game. And where were those chatterbox buddies of mine this level? In Stage 2, it was “watch out for that giant asteroid on your left.” Now all they have for me is “there’s too many?” If there’s too many, why don’t you get off your radio and help me out, chump? BOGUS.

Silpheed (Sega CD) - Stage 3 Gameplay Screenshot 2015-05-28 21-05-39

Hey, at least I took down 0002 masses over 400001 pounds before I went out. Okay, Silpheed. You may have killed me, but you haven’t killed me to death. I will be back. Probably next Thursday.


Played on original hardware, upscaled to 720p through a Micomsoft Framemeister. All footage and screens captured through an ElGato HD60.

Time Gal

Time Gal Footage Screenshot 2015-05-13 19-14-26Time Gal
Sega CD, 1993
Developer: Taito/Wolf Team
Publisher: Taito

Some time ago, I purchased a box of 25 unidentified Sega CD games from a seller on eBay. The games were in questionable condition, but the price was right ($30 for the whole bunch), and I was eager to put my recently acquired Sega CDX to the test, so I took the plunge. Most of those games turned out to be terrible early ’90s FMV games, which sat on my shelf, unplayed, for months.

Fast forward about a year, and I’m looking for a game to play so I can get some practice slapping our shiny new logo (courtesy of my brother, the very talented Dave White) on some video captures. In an attempt to justify the amount of shelf space dedicated to Sega CD games in my throne room, I randomly chose Time Gal as my test case. I’m glad I did – this game is worth far more than the $0.83 I paid for it.

Time Gal is an arcade port of a Japanese laserdisc game from 1985 – think of it as the Japanese equivalent of Dragon’s LairFor the uninitiated, that means that the game is ostensibly a collection of what we have come to know as “quick time events:” the player watches a series of animated sequences (not unlike a cartoon), directing the protagonist through occasional button prompts. Failure to properly respond to said button prompts results in failure. That’s it and that’s all – there’s no direct control of your character. If this doesn’t make any sense to you, I suggest watching the videos at the end of this post; it will all become clear very quickly.

Time Gal - 1941 A.D. Screenshot 2015-05-13 19-27-18
Apparently her real name is “Reika Kirishima,” but you wouldn’t know that from playing the game alone.

In Time Gal, you control… uh…Time Gal, a time traveler from the 41st century, who is out to save the universe from this guy –

Time Gal Footage Screenshot 2015-05-13 21-17-22
His name is Luda. 99% of your interaction with him will be via this screen.

– who has apparently stolen a time machine in an ill-defined scheme to alter history and seize control of the universe. The plot isn’t really important – it’s a convenient excuse to send the player on a tour of recorded (and unrecorded) time’s most adventurous eras.

You’ll battle prehistoric sea monsters!

Time Gal Footage Screenshot 2015-05-13 19-13-46

You’ll battle both man and beast in the Roman Coliseum!

Time Gal Footage Screenshot 2015-05-14 20-44-58

You’ll fight your way through the giant skeleton invasion of 999!

Time Gal Footage Clip 6 Screenshot 2015-05-13 19-18-48

Hell, you’ll even square off against hover bike gangs in the apocalyptic future of 2001!

Time Gal Footage Screenshot 2015-05-13 21-26-45

Historical accuracy (or prognostication) isn’t Time Galstrong suit, but its levels are varied, colorful, and filled with action and humor. When a game amounts to little more than a series of timed button presses, setting is perhaps more important than ever, and Time Gal knocks it out of the park.

While the Sega CD version of Time Gal may seem primitive by today’s standards, it looks quite good for a “full motion video” game from 1993. Rather than simply compress the laserdisc video from the original arcade game, the developers opted to re-draw and re-color key frames, in an effort to make the game look as good as possible for the home CD ROM market. One need only compare the game’s introduction, which contains compressed footage from the original arcade game –

– to a video of the game in action:

While the gameplay loses some of the fluidity and detail of the compressed video, it’s far more vibrant and colorful. I’m fairly certain this approach kept load times down as well. Time Gal simply looks and plays better than other FMV games of its vintage.

There’s not much else I can say about Time Gal that hasn’t already been said. If you’d like to learn more about the game’s history and legacy, I would strongly suggest that you read Neil Foster’s excellent writeup over at Hardcore Gaming 101.

In closing, I offer you a playlist of all of the game’s stages, arranged chronologically, for your viewing pleasure – with most of my failures intact. Enjoy!


Played on original hardware, upscaled to 720p through a Micomsoft Framemeister. All footage and screens captured through an ElGato HD60.

Ganbare Goemon 2

Ganbare Goemon 2: Kiteretsu Shōgun Magginesu [1]
SNES, 1993
Developer: Konami
Publisher: Konami

GoemonMapA few months back, I picked up a stack of random Super Famicom carts at a local flea market here in Philadelphia. One of those games was Ganbare Goemon 2, the sequel to the game released in the US as Legend of the Mystical Ninja.  Ganbare Goemon 2 never made it the States but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have its charms.

Unfortunately, what those charms are, I am not precisely sure, because I don’t speak a word of Japanese. I’m actually kind of happy I don’t understand what’s going on, because this game is objectively absurd, and it’s nice to be surprised by complete insanity every once in a while:

I’ll be playing through this one nice and slow, and posting my thoughts as I do so. Stay tuned for more!


 

[1] Translation: “Let’s Go! Goemon 2: Very Strange General Magginesu”