The King of All Monsters (well, besides Ghidorah) will be the one to see us off this Octurbo. Similar to, I suspect, a great number of people who grew up in the past four decades, I maintain a healthy respect for Toho's legendary lizard kaiju. He's one of those ubiquitous cultural icons like the Marvel/DC superheroes or James Bond where everyone has an idea of what a Godzilla movie is, even if they aren't invested enough to watch them all and know the mythos back to front. Beyond Godzilla, Mothra, Mecha-Godzilla and maybe Gamera, people tend to get stuck with the rest of the menagerie that challenges Godzilla on a frequent basis. Myself? I seem to have absorbed a lot of the lore and details about the various kaiju of Godzilla despite the fact that I've barely seen more than a handful of the movies, and most of those had Joel and the robots talking over them.
Godzilla (or Godzilla: Battle Legends as sites seem to call it, despite the fact that the Japanese subtitle Bakutou Retsuden means something else entirely) for the TurboGrafx-CD did the sensible thing and just made their Godzilla game a standard one-vs-one fighter. As you might expect from monsters weighing several thousand tons apiece, it can be a fairly sluggish and unresponsive affair. I'll go into the mechanics a little more later. It does have a fairly sizeable cast of kaiju, however, and it looks and sounds pretty decent for a 16-bit game. It also has some amazing attention to detail for movie fans that I didn't even notice until putting up these images. Given the general caliber of Godzilla games up to this point, it might well be the best of a mediocre bunch. I know, I'm damning it with faint praise, but if you were a fan of Godzilla back in the early 90s this was probably the game to go for.
GRAAAAAAHHHH And Such
That's Godzilla, and that's Octurbo for another year. Thank you so much everyone who has been reading and commenting on these. We're now deep into Giant Bomb's absurd Extra Life charity stream schedule, so I'm going to have to cut it off at an even twenty four days (and these chumps are only doing twenty four hours? Pfft). There might be a bonus or two later in the month, though, so watch this space.
Until then, thanks for checking out Octurbo this year and... keep it Turbo? I might have to workshop a proper sign-off quote for Year 3...
Are you prepared to enter... the Riot Zone? That's what this game probably didn't ask players rhetorically in its advertising, but I'm doing so on their behalf. Riot Zone (JP: Crest of Wolf) is one of a small handful of brawlers on the TGCD, a genre that seems oddly under-represented given how ubiquitous they were everywhere else in the early 90s. It's also based on an Arcade game, but isn't quite a complete conversion: Y'see, the developers Westone teamed up with Hudson to produce their Sega-published Arcade game Riot City on the TurboGrafx-CD. Because Sega owned the rights to all the character and location names, all those aspects had to be changed. The rest of the game is identical, save for the new redbook CD audio score.
This practice wasn't new for Westone and Hudson. Best known for the Wonder Boy series, Westone originally produced Arcade and console versions of the Wonder Boy games for Sega and found ways to sidestep any litigation issues with their subsequent publishing deals with Hudson, eventually leading to Adventure Island (Hudson's take on the first Wonder Boy) and The Dynastic Hero (Hudson's take on the fifth Wonder Boy, Wonder Boy in Monster World. It's also another TG-CD game, so I might have to cover that next time).
I mean, I say this game is based on Riot City, but perhaps I should cut out the middleman and just say that this game is based on Capcom's Final Fight. It's kind of shameless, even. That said, at least they didn't steal the plot from Final Fight (they stole it from Streets of Rage instead). But hey, we came here to Riot, not to get all angry about things.
Highway to the DragonZone
Riot Zone isn't terrible, honestly, and you could probably ascertain as much from watching Jeff play it during Vinny's moment of triumph. I mean, sure, it's a brazen Final Fight knock-off, but given the slim pickings for Turbo-CD brawlers, it's not too bad as far as Hobson's (Hudson's?) choices go. It moves at a leisurely pace and enemies drop a lot of food items (well, when they feel like it) so it doesn't quite make the mistake of bringing an Arcade brawler to consoles and forgetting to ease off the quarter-munching difficulty. That might just be the limitations of the hardware though, reducing the number of simultaneous enemies on the screen and making sure everything isn't flitting by at 60fps. Ah, early 90s console ports.
Anyway, we never did see the DragonZone, but perhaps we'll see something equally dangerous in the next (and final!) episode of Octurbo-CD. Until then, I'm going to finish my laundry and then jab a knife through a picture of that laundry. "To Do" lists are for chumps.
We're rapidly approaching Halloween, and what better way to celebrate this spooky time with a visit to the Isles of TERRO-, oh wait, Terra. I guess that just means "Earth", doesn't it? Well, never mind that, because while Might and Magic III: Isles of Terra might not have any big scares it's certainly disquieting in that psychological way all modern horror stuff seems to be inching towards, possibly menacingly.
Might and Magic is, of course, the venerable CRPG series from New World Computing, which closely followed its main rival Wizardry with its traditional four-directional dungeon crawling, a vast number of sequels and spin-offs and a certain weird sci-fi edge to it that set both series apart from more traditional fantasy fare and perhaps led to its mega-popularity overseas. III actually goes back to an era when CRPGs were still largely inscrutable to those not prepared to read a 10,000 word novella of a manual, and coupled with its bizarre imagery and even more bizarre soundtrack, it's something of a discombobulating experience. It's not even some strange Japanese-developed console conversion either: New World Computing put this version together themselves (and got Hudson to publish it). It's functionally identical to the 1991 PC original, excepting the redbook audio which... I dunno, maybe you want to skip to the end and hit the Soundcloud link now, so you can enjoy the whole soundtrack while you read this.
The history of Might and Magic III requires a little too much text to fit into this brief pre-amble, so I'd recommend finding a spare hour to consume HardcoreGaming101's (yep, them again) retrospective on the series. Essentially, though, you're an adventuring party on the Isles of Terra (a group of islands floating in space) looking for artifacts to help a good diety, Corak, defeat his rival evil deity, Sheltem. Same ol', same ol'.
A Room... With A Moose Rat!
That's Might and Magic III: Isles of Terra, or at least the first half hour of it. I actually consider myself fortunate to have gotten that far, given how infamously tough those moose rats are on new parties. I, and a few others around here (including CRPG nut @arbitrarywater, to whom I owe a credit for recommending this one), are big fans of the later Might and Magic games (with the possible exception of IX). Even though III has dated terribly with its obtuseness, it was worth looking at Isles of Terra to see what kind of early advances it made to Might and Magic, and to CRPGs in general.
Here's a fun story tidbit about this game to see you off: At the end, the heroes were meant to follow an escaping Sheltem to the world of Xeen (the setting for games IV and V) via a "seedship", or an inter-dimensional spaceship. They got lost on the way there, however, and would eventually end up in Might and Magic VII, sparking off the events of that game. In other words, the player's adventuring party in this game would eventually become the powerful star-faring NPCs of M&M VII (a game I would very much recommend, even today, and previously Brief Jaunted a little while ago). Like I said from the offset, this is a weeeird series.
Might and Magic III soundtrack (I actually had to upload it to Soundcloud in the end, since YouTube and the internet failed me. The tracks are unlabeled, but I'd recommend 06. It's the theme to Fountainhead, the starting town, and is completely nuts. 07's something else, too, and 09's actually pretty good.)
While on this whirlwind tour of ours, I figured it was prudent to check in with our favorite Mega Man clones on the TurboGrafx, the Schbibinmen. Well, Schbibinman and Schbibinwoman. During last year's Octurbo, I looked at the one Kaizou Choujin Schbibinman game that ever got an English localization -- that would be the second one, renamed Shockman in the US -- and it just so happens that the third game, Kaizou Choujin Schbibinman 3: Ikai no Princess, came out on the PC Engine CD-ROM2 and falls within the purview of this feature. This series shares a lot in common with other transforming superhero games (like Valis), though also does not take itself particularly seriously. It's more marching along a linear path hitting things, essentially, but with a few twists and turns along the way.
I'll just quickly lay out the premise: Tasuke and Kyapiko (the dark-haired hero and blonde heroine, respectively, who are named Arnold and Sonya in the Shockman localization) are high school kids who also happen to be androids designed by a professor named Doc. When the situation calls for it, they are able to transform into Schbibinman: Armored heroes capable of taking down entire armies of other robots. The situation seems to call for it a lot.
I Think I Know Precisely What I Mean, When I Say it's a Schbibinman Day!
There's something simple and fun to Schbibinman 3, back when you could simply refer to a game's genre as "Action" and have it apply better than any other label. I mean, it's not a brawler or a platformer, but kind of all of the above. The Treasure comparison seems particularly apt as well, as this game more closely resembles a non-shooter version of Gunstar Heroes or Alien Soldier than anything else. It's also wildly disjointed, moving from one unusual scenario to the next without so much as a transitional cutscene.
I've heard tell that this sequel isn't as good as its immediate predecessor (Shockman, as discussed) nor its eventual Satellaview follow-up Kaizou Choujin Schbibinman Zero. Even as the unpopular middle child of the franchise, though, it's certainly not terrible, and it has some impressive production values (music and cutscenes, as well as its graphics in general) for a game made in 1992.
This was something of a curiosity pick. Back when I was a wee littl'un in the mid-to-late 90s (well, all right, a teenager), I had a pal who would introduce me to new animes every now and again (he also introduced me to South Park; his folks had cable and he had recorded it on VHS and brought it over). Back then the pickings were slim, usually the result of whatever Manga Entertainment (which is somewhat misleading title for a company that only put out anime OVAs and movies) and a few smaller localization companies with publishers could license to VHS tape. Evangelion, Akira, City Hunter, Ghost in the Shell, Cowboy Bebop, the 1983 Golgo 13 movie and Ninja Scroll were particularly memorable, and I still have some affection for all of them today. A slightly odder tape was for a little series called Dragon Half, which were two half-hour OVAs based on a much longer manga serial.
Dragon Half tells the tale of Mink, a girl from a small village who has a major crush on singer, actor and royal knight Dick Saucer (yep). Unfortunately, because dragons killed Dick Saucer's parents, he is also a vengeful dragon hunter and Mink just so happens to be the titular dragon half: the result of a dragon mother and a human father. Mink learns of a legendary potion that can turn her into a full human being, giving her a chance with Saucer. She and her two friends Rufa the elf and Pia the dwarf (and Pia's pet fairy mouse, Mappy) leave the village to search for the potion.
The anime just so happens to be a parody too, and a particularly insane one. Like someone crossed Final Fantasy with Looney Tunes. It probably hasn't aged too well, and boy howdy does it have some adolescent Team Ninja-esque depictions of its female characters, but it really opened my eyes to the sort of wacky anime parody humor that would eventually become more widespread with stuff like Excel Saga, Cromartie High, Magical Witch Punie-Chan or Bobobo. I usually put links at the end, but here are the OVAs in question: Episode 1 and Episode 2. It'll be easier to follow what's going in these screenshots if you get a sense of what the show is like.
Though I wanted to see what a video game adaptation of Dragon Half would be like (among other things, the anime and manga makes a lot of video game references and jokes), I also wanted to give something back to all the anime fans on the site. For all my mocking of the ubiquitous anime cutscenes in these TurboGrafx-CD games, I am a fan of the format, though not a particularly obsessive one. I suppose I'm the Daywalker equivalent of an Otaku, in that I go outside occasionally (sorry! I'll be good).
Dragon Pink is Something Completely Different. This is Not a H-Game, I Swear
I guess this one was a bit of a whiff, though if I knew what the hell the game was saying I think I'd be way into it. I'm not kidding about being a fan of this manga/anime, as goofy as it all is, and I find the Dokapon series to be fairly interesting from the outside looking in, though I imagine it's one of those board games that can last a while. I dig all of its presentation too, for sure. Especially the jokey RPG battles.
Well, if I can't take the occasional Octurbo entry to indulge my curiosity every once in a while, then I'm just going to end up going nuts. Thanks for bearing through this with me. And check out those OVAs if you have a spare minute, I still like 'em (the jokes pick up in episode 2).
Cosmic Fantasy is yet another Telenet Japan (one of the bigger companies pushing out games for the TurboGrafx-CD, and developers of the Valis games) franchise that the West only saw bits and pieces of. Specifically, this one game. Cosmic Fantasy 2 is also a Working Designs joint, who were US publishers/translators who were very selective with the games they chose to localize. They're best known for some early Sega CD games as well as Lunar, Alundra, Vanguard Bandits and a bunch of other fifth-generation JRPGs after FFVII sent demand through the roof. Telenet Japan and Working Designs also collaborated on Exile, a game we've previously covered. There are at least four other Cosmic Fantasy games for the PC Engine CD-ROM2 that never saw a localization, including a weird non-interactive spin-off that splices together all the cutscenes from the first two games and plays them without any gameplay parts in-between getting in the way (does Kojima know about this format?). Though I believe each entry is detached in the way most JRPG franchises are, they all seem to focus on that Star Ocean/Wizardry concept of a "primitive" fantasy setting that is juxtaposed with more overt science fiction elements. For instance, the spear-wielding rural hero of this game, Van, is depicted in something like a Starfleet uniform (or maybe something from Outlaw Star) on the US box art. (That's not the US boxart up there, by the way, I just think the Japan one is better. It has a sentient cat!)
Besides the curious theme combo, Cosmic Fantasy 2 seems like your run of the mill JRPG. Battles are turn-based and happen randomly whenever you're in a dangerous area, and the player is limited in what they can do until they level up a bit and learn new skills and magic. What's strange, and the Wikipedia entry for this game corroborates this, is that every enemy in the game just hits you with regular attacks. They have no spells, no status effects, no criticals and no area of effect attacks that hit the whole group. Each enemy just targets one member of the party and hits them, for an amount of damage generally defined by the strength of the monster and the defense of the party member. So it's perhaps not the most tactically challenging RPG out there. Still, though, you didn't see too many RPGs from 1992 with fully voiced anime cutscenes, so perhaps the care and craft that went into this game was put towards its presentation rather than its gameplay. But hey, let's not throw shade before we've had a chance to see the thing.
Please, If It's Sci-Fi Fantasy, It Should Be Spelled With a "Ph". That's More Science-y.
You know, it probably doesn't do a JRPG any favors to only play through the first half hour like this. I mean, most of them start pretty much the same way anyway. All the same, I think there are flashes here of the sort of game Cosmic Fantasy 2 might blossom into (though absolutely nothing regarding the game's sci-fi elements). It's fair to say that I have a soft spot for JRPGs like this, even when they get grindy and repetitive. Working Designs is a fantastic translation team too when they aren't making dumb pop culture jokes that become instantly dated, so I'm always curious to try out more games they worked on.
So as I end another edition of Octurbo, I'll leave you all with this to ponder: What's your Cosmic Fantasy? Wait, no, don't answer that. Abort, abort! We're done!
Cosmic Fantasy 2 full soundtrack (it seems the guy who uploaded this just burned the whole CD. That's totally something you can do, since most CD players recognize TGCD games as audio CDs with the exception of the first track, which is where the game's data is stored and should always be skipped over. Playing the first track leads to an error message that essentially says "yo, don't play this part, it'll probably ruin the disc and/or player". Sounds like they got a few audio-only cutscenes in there too.).
It's probably redundant by now to say that this is another weird game. If you took all of the text from Octurbo-CD so far and put it into one of those fancy infographic word clouds, the biggest words would be "weird", "strange" and "what am I even doing" by a considerable margin. Motteke Tamago is weird inside and outside, though, as its gameplay and its release history are equally unusual. Released as late as 1997, way into the 32-bit fifth generation, it is actually the penultimate game for the PC Engine (officially, at least), and was originally given away for free on the cover CD for the Tokuma Shoten magazine "Super PC Engine Fan Deluxe". Apparently, it was meant to be released a lot sooner during the PC Engine's heyday, but was never published for whatever reason.
Motteke Tamago (which means something like "Take It Egg", which makes sense given you're grabbing eggs) is a multiplayer grid maze game superficially similar to Hudson's Bomberman. The player is a duck who has to run around a grid maze picking up eggs which then follow the duck. As long as the player keeps moving, the eggs will eventually hatch into ducklings who then make their own way to the player's coop at the corner of the screen. The opposing ducks (which can be human or CPU controlled, and there can be up to three of them) are also trying to do the same thing. The player can also create these little fried egg blocks to trap other ducks, and perform a dash (which requires a charge up) to blast through blocks (and other ducks) in their way. In practice it sounds straightforward enough, kinda, but there's many complications that can have beneficial or adverse effects on the player's chances of winning. Let's see how many I can show off...
Duck, Duck, Duck, Duck, Abstruse
That's Motteke Tamago, and it seems pretty darn cool. There's been a resurgence of late of great local multplayer games, and Motteke Tamago seems like ideal reboot material to join in on that bandwagon. The game's an odd combination of Bomberman and ChuChu Rocket, where it's all about resource procurement and management and keeping a fairly critical eye on proceedings to ensure no-one's getting a leg up over you. You can also decide to mess with other ducks, stealing their eggs and knocking them down or screwing them over in other ways. Actually, I guess it reminded me of that battle game in Diddy Kong Racing where you're collecting/stealing pteranodon eggs in those planes. Man, was Diddy Kong Racing a great kart racer.
Anyway, since I'm already reminiscing about other games, that's probably a good time to bring today's Octurbo to a close. This doesn't seem like the most attainable game, seeing as it was a bonus disc on a fairly obscure magazine that was already late to the party as far as where PC Engine's lifespan was at in 1997. Here's hoping Naxat Soft (or Kaga Create, as they're now known) see the sound financial sense in re-releasing an incredibly obscure game that was given away in Japan for free. Aww, I just made myself sad. At least there's always Motteke Tamago Ganbare Kamonohashi.
I believe this will be the last shoot 'em up I cover for this edition of Octurbo. There's only so much you can do with a screenshot LP of a shoot 'em up, given how functionally similar many of them are and the speed at which they move. The PC Engine/TurboGrafx-16 is absurdly well represented in this genre, more so than any other of the core 16-bit consoles and I'm not sure why that is exactly, as the least technologically sophisticated console the TG-16 suffered the most from trying to keep multiple sprites on the screen at once and employing the various parallax scrolling techniques that are usually more prominent in these fast-paced games. I guess they just found a home here (and eventually in other marginalized consoles like the Saturn and Dreamcast).
Star Parodier is actually part of Hudson's Star Soldier franchise of sci-fi shoot 'em ups, and is to that series (and Hudson games in general) what Parodius is to Gradius (and Konami games in general). The big and really only main difference between the two franchises is that Star Soldier is a vertically-aligned affair, but beyond that Star Parodier kind of follows its better-known nutty inspiration to the letter, throwing all sorts of weird shit at the player and giving them a number of unusual spaceships to play as, each with their own idiosyncrasies. While the graphics are a little out there, the gameplay sticks close to the format of its more serious brethren, adopting similar power-ups and other systems. The game was actually developed by Kaneko, known for many prestigious contributions to gaming such as Gals Panic, rather than Hudson Soft themselves.
An interesting coincidence is that because this game belonged to Hudson it ended up being included with the rest of Hudson's library when it was sold off to another company after Hudson went out of business. That purchasing company just so happened to be Konami.
But hey, there's plenty more weirdness to get into today, and what better way than through screenshots (don't say video)? Seeing is believing, after all. Time is money, and what goes up must come down. A stitch in time sa- I'm just going to start this thing already.
"Satire Soldier" Would've Been a Better Name, But Then I Can Be Too Much of a Back Seat Punner At Times
Star Parodier isn't too bad, but it seems a little too easy and much of the insanity doesn't match up to Parodius. If anything, they're playing it way too safe (as in, lazy), with what seems to be a lot of stage ideas borrowed from Parodius and TwinBee. Seems kinda fitting that this game would default to Konami eventually.
This was, to the chagrin of any serious Star Soldier fan, the only CD Star Soldier game in the 16-bit era. The series would see a single N64 sequel (Star Solder: Vanishing Earth) and a few remakes for modern consoles. Konami being Konami doesn't seem to want to do much with any of its older properties these days, and I'm not sure the noble shoot 'em up has much market penetration these days anyway.
Still, this goofy little game did become available to the US and Europe eventually, via the Wii's Virtual Console. It's not terrible, and a lot easier than most games in this genre if you're someone like me who gets shot down so often that it becomes discouraging. Then again, you could also just play Eric Pope's new dream music shoot 'em up instead if you're in the market for one of these.
Couldn't dance around Ys forever. One of the greatest action RPG franchises ever made and still seeing new entries, Ys has been criminally underrepresented in the West until fairly recently (it's established a firm foothold on Steam, and I'd recommend trying Oath in Felghana or Origin). Each game in the core series features the red-haired swordsman Adol, who travels to some other region in Not-Europe to sort out their problems. He's essentially the fantasy anime equivalent of Winston Wolfe.
Ys IV, or at least this Ys IV, sees Adol make his way to Celceta on a new adventure, after a temporary layover in the town of Minea in Esteria (from Ys I and II) continuing right after the events of Ys III. Though there's a bit of a serial storyline going on between each game, it's fairly unimportant: Each new game introduces you to a brand new region with new people to meet fairly quickly after starting. The only constants are usually just Adol himself and his large, gregarious friend Dogi. Ys IV also goes back to classic Ys combat, which is to say that you run into monsters at an angle and they die. Not the most sophisticated combat engine, but it works better than it sounds.
If Iron Galaxy Created This Series, Would It Be Called "D Ys-y"?
Anyway, Ys IV starts proper as soon as you leave the Romun fort, and I've probably spent enough time looking at this game. Blame all those protracted intro sequences. Like any Ys game, there's plenty to like about it, from its excellent music to its extremely fast-paced but still tactical combat (which will eventually also include spell-casting) to its solid story and characterization.
It seems like if you wanted to play this particular Ys game, you might be better off tracking down a PSP copy of Ys IV: Memories of Celceta, which is Falcom's own retelling of the events of Ys IV: Dawn of Ys and Ys IV: Mask of the Sun. It also builds on the combat engine of Ys Seven, another PSP entry which comes highly recommended, and does a much better job fleshing out the region of Celceta and its denizens. It's also available in English, unlike this game, though apparently there's also a fan-dub of the voiceovers in addition to the script translation I was using. I can't even begin to imagine what that's like. Anyway, thanks for checking Octurbo today, and take it easy. Or Ys-y. Both, do both.
Ys IV OST: A Great Ordeal (all these Ys tracks are from the official CD OST for the game, released shortly before the game itself)
Strider probably requires no introduction at this point, given how often Capcom's acrobatic side-scroller comes up in Giant Bomb content, especially when @gvaranini is around. Strider was a 1989 hit in the Arcades before being brought to a whole bunch of home consoles. The non-linear NES version is the only truly divergent one; the others, like the Genesis and this PC Engine CD-ROM2 version, try to be as close to the original Arcade game as possible. Obviously, the CD-ROM format makes that a bit easier in some way, but then there's only so much the TurboGrafx-CD's tech could squeeze out regardless of the vast amount of storage space that CDs offer. If anything, the PC Engine CD-ROM2 port is probably less technologically sophisticated than the Genesis version.
The reason for Strider Hiryu's inclusion, beyond me wanting to play more Strider, is that it was a title in the "Arcade Card" range for the Turbo-CD. The system actually saw two RAM expansions in its lifetime; the first, the "Super CD-ROM Card", was required for most games produced after 1992, which was when the TurboDuo launched with its improved internal RAM. Anyone with an older PC Engine CD/Turbo-CD had to purchase a new system card with additional RAM to play these new TurboDuo-focused games. The Arcade Card came a little later, and was meant to provide enough additional RAM to allow near-perfect Arcade conversions. It's a bit of a cheeky lie, since the core TurboGrafx-CD processors and graphics cards couldn't hope to keep up with the Arcade games of the early 90s, but that extra boost of RAM (and having the redbook music and voice samples of the CD format) still helped a little. There's more to cover too, but we'll get into it with the screenshots.
Here You Go Again With the Strider Talk
That's Strider Hiryu for the PC Engine CD-ROM2. Possibly due to how late it came out in the system's life cycle, it was never ported to the US TurboGrafx-CD. A shame, because it doesn't seem like a particularly bad port, and gives fans of the series that extra level to play with. Then again, they'd probably be happier with the Genesis home version all told.
Still, at least the soundtrack's pretty good. Thanks for checking in (it's been a hell of a day around here) and shout outs once again to Game Cop.