Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Valken, Gunhed, Kaido Battle

So some time back I downloaded Cybernator for the SNES from the Wii Virtual Console service. Cybernator is the US version of Assault Suits Valken, which is the followup to the Genesis/Mega Drive cart Target Earth (Assault Suits Leynos). I was a huge Target Earth fan, back in the day. I didn’t have a SNES so the sequel just passed me by, though I DID get the third entry Assault Suit Leynos 2 on my Sega Saturn like the moment it became available from import dealers.

Just finished Cybernator and I have to say it is a pretty good game. Somewhere between the two Leynos games in challenge, the first Leynos actually being fairly notorious for its difficulty level (anyone really NOT use the all-weapons trick on the first level?). This episode DID give me some hurdles, but overall not brutal. The US version is missing some of the story events and graphics, including the enemy leader committing suicide, but one can go on YouTube and watch what you’re missing. These games are a sort of run ‘n’ gun/platformer mix with some tactical weapons choices mixed in. Cybernator eschews the complicated weapon choosing aspects of the Leynos games, opting to reduce the choices but make them available all the time. So the game comes off more arcadey than the others, but still pretty recognizable. Warning: huge plot steals from the Gundam anime series.

Around the same time I downloaded Blazing Lazers (Gunhed in Japan), an early TurboGrafx-16 shooter designed by Compile. I must be getting old because this game is just putting the stones to me. I have absolutely no problem getting to the last level. Full power, balls-out rockin’ and then….. pfft. I get killed, lose all my powerups and can’t make any real headway from there.

Part of the difficulty is that this game has a very steep level of ‘Gradius Syndrome’, the video game trope whereby taking a hit removes all your powerups… and if it happens to you in a later level you will rapidly suffer multiple deaths from overwhelming enemy force that you are no longer equipped to deal with. Gradius syndrome is usually referenced when placed in a game that also uses a checkpoint system, (as Gradius itself does), and being sent back to the checkpoint with each death can frequently exacerbate the issue, since you can get thrown back to a particularly difficult point. You wind up running up against the same wall over and over again, cycling through your pea-shooter armed ships getting crushed at ‘that one level’. So pretty much I have no problem with the game up to the last level, and then the combination of complete powerup loss and checkpoints (all before brutal points in the level) sodomises the rest of my ships.


I’ll get it, but the game, great as it is, ain’t THAT fun to play over and over. It is older, with much-lauded graphics for its day… but its day? Long damn time ago. And it is NOT a short game for a vertical shooter. Its one of those games where enough practice on the difficult part will see you through, but my trouble spot is all the way near the end of the game. So it is kind of discouraging my will to see it through to the end. At least for now. Waiting awhile and trying again, might be fine.

Also finally fired up (for real as opposed to just goofing with it) Kaido Battle: Touge no Densetsu. The third installment of the Kaido Battle franchise. I love these stupid things. Genki racing games are an acquired taste but I think they just rock. I’m only a tiny way into it and I’m totally being reminded of why I love Genki Racing Project in the first place. It is pretty rare to have that ‘gotta see what’s next’ feeling when you’ve played as many games as I have, but I’ll be damned if Genki don’t manage that in a game genre that sure as hell isn’t known for variety!

More on Kaido Battle as I get into it.

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