The Comic Commish: The Previous Generation (Jan-Jun 2007)

Welcome all to the fairly delayed relaunch of The Comic Commish: a monthly feature in which I pay for my Gold Membership with MS Paint doodles in the least equitable deal since the purchase of Manhattan. When I'm not biting the hand that feeds with ill-advised Native American jokes, I occasionally like to reflect on the roads less traveled. Like, the virtual roads. From video games. That I haven't played. Hence the "less tr-

I occasionally like to reflect on video games of former console generations that I never played, often taking advantage of value depreciation and what little time I have left until Quetzlcoatl remembers to check his calendar and gets on with that tardy apocalypse of his to sweep a few of them up while everyone's busy playing the brand new Assassin's Creed VII: I Read Somewhere That We Evolved From Marmosets, Sorta, So Now the Assassin's a Monkey. Well, turns out I've actually played quite a few more than I realized, so I figure I'm a position to help my good buddy @omghisam (who apparently only did worthwhile things during this time) and hopefully the readers at home with some suggestions from the past six or so years of game releases.

What this entails, then, is a monthly spate of comics on games that were released in a certain release window in the US during the currently-current-but-soon-to-be-previous generation of consoles. I'm covering January to June of 2007 for the month of October 2013 (this one) and hope to finish with the latter half of 2012 by September 2014. We'll all be knee deep in PS4 and XB1 releases (or, more realistically, still buying everything in Steam sales), but it's worth remembering the vast libraries of modern day classics we leave behind as our industry inexorably marches forward like one of the sixteen Colossi. (Shadow of the Colossus wasn't this generation by the way, so that's a red herring.)

The "Previous Generation" Subtitle Was a Star Trek Thing. Hope You All Got That.

Hotel Dusk: Room 215 (CING, DS, Jan '07)

Hotel Dusk's one of those visual novel adventure games with a few curious trademarks to call its own. The first is the striking rotoscoping work on all the characters, who animate and emote like the creepy 1950s mannequins of LA Noire only wish they could (oh, she was lying? I thought that expression meant she was discomfited by the giant dentist chair you locked her face in to mocap it). The second is its protagonist: Kyle Hyde, a down and out salesman who has been secretly chasing his disgraced partner ever since that one fateful night when Kyle was forced to shoot him and leave him for dead. Already, the game is steeped in noir tropes and dramatic pathos, but layers in a Phoenix Wright style absurd sense of humor that only manifests itself enough times as to not disrupt the game's carefully maintained somber edge. It's a classic whodunnit with twists and turns and red herrings and bourbon and well worth the time of anyone looking for a well-manufactured video game story.

Rogue Galaxy (Level-5, PS2, Feb '07)

Yes, I realise I'm already breaking a cardinal rule by covering a PS2 game, technically not part of the previous generation, but decent current gen games were still light on the ground around this time. We'll get to them, I promise. Rogue Galaxy had the unenviable position of following up Dark Cloud 2 and Dragon Quest VIII: two of the greatest and most expansive PS2 RPGs ever made. While it would fair to say that it doesn't quite meet the expectations set forward by its predecessors, it does at least have the benefit of having a novel setting (well, since there aren't many space JRPGs outside of Phantasy Star and Star Ocean) and Level-5's development team at their peak. While the story has you bouncing from planet to planet, making new friends and bringing down bounties that are causing the local populace trouble (which isn't a particularly original story progression path, I'll grant you), Level-5 is busy at work in the background establishing the numerous extra-curricular activities its games became known for after Dark Cloud, giving players a wide range of side-stuff to do should they ever grow weary of whichever dungeon they're in. It's also a game that features Deego, the buff mercenary boxer dog, so I can't in good conscience not recommend it.

Crackdown (Realtime Worlds, 360, Feb '07)

I figure I should probably put one of those current gen console games in this current gen console remembrance feature somewhere, so here's Crackdown, one of the best early 360 games. Crackdown begat what might be known as "the superhero sandbox": a game that slowly weens you off the driving and gunplay you're used to towards superhuman leaping and explosive ground pounds. It felt like expanding the sandbox format in a whole new direction, rather than basic, unfulfilling incremental rewards like a little more world to explore or putting more weapons in your arsenal. Franchises that skirt the line, like the last two Saints Row games, have found that the payoff in building up the main character from a human to a demi-god is considerably more thrilling than a human who becomes a slightly richer human with a penthouse apartment. I've never seen the point of a good story in a sandbox game, since you spend so much time outside the main objectives and simply farting around the big playground seeing how it ticks, so despite all the gentle mockery about Crackdown being a glorified orb hunting game, it really set one of the most important precedents in open world games today. Just don't play the sequel.

The Other Ones!

Well, I have the list, but the site won't let me embed it. Whoop-de-doo. Writing blogs on GB is so much fun, you guys. You have no idea. Well, it's here. I suppose this post was long enough already.

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Octurbo: Legend of Hero Tonma

I'm sick as hell today, but nothing stops Octurbo dammit. Thankfully I won't need much of my faculties to comment on today's game, though they certainly would've been useful to have while playing it. I hesitate to make another Volgarr comparison so soon after the last one (and I've yet to play it anyway, so there's a certain degree of "what the hell am I even talking about?" when bringing it up), but it's clear its format was based on more than just Rastan and Ghouls n' Ghosts - those games were popular enough at the time to see a lot of contemporary imitators, let alone homages like Volgarr decades later.

Legend of Hero Tonma is a brutally tough action platformer: the action part comes from the fact that you shoot a lot of things, sort of like that Genji Tsuushin Agedama we checked out a few months ago. It also looks to have been graphically inspired by Wonder Boy, since our hero can't be any older than eight. That little guy is just so darn cherubic, it's actually a little distressing to watch him die so many times. So let's just add Limbo to the big pile of games this reminds me of, why don't we?

You Know What We're Gonna Do? Tonma Party! Tonma! Tonma! Tonma!

Welcome to Legend of Hero Tonma! That's a great title screen, I'll give it that much.
Everyone was super fond of this type of map screen back then, weren't they? I do like these though, as they give you some sort of idea distance-wise of how far you've come.
Here's our chubby hero Tonma. Look at that little guy. I can't say I'm particularly intimidated, but maybe it'll be a different case for the hordes of skeletal horrors that await?
"Maybe if I don't say anything, they'll just walk on by." I'm going to get killed so many times, aren't I? (That was a rhetorical question, but the answer's still "yes".)
Tonma attacks with his magic, or innate qi, or something. He shoots magical flying bullets everywhere. It's the old shoot 'em up paradox where in order to make the game easier on yourself, you have to master it and stay alive long enough to pick up enough power-ups that you're shooting death blossoms and nukes everywhere you go.
I love these little jiang shi guys. This game is incongruously cute for how challenging it is.
After a few upgrades, I'm now spitting a wave weapon (the yellow fireballs) with extra homing missiles (the red fireballs). I barely have to lift a finger to murder everything now. Did I say this game was tough? Pfah, I say.
Well this is ominous. Did I reach the Tomb of Giants?
Oh fuck, I did. Here's the first boss, which I've cleverly dubbed "Giant Skeleton".
Guy just swings his sword around and fires the occasional homing fireball. The challenge is just trying to keep out of his reach, since he moves so slowly and telegraphs everything that it's really your own dumb fault if he manages to catch you. He caught me. A lot.
The other problem is that he takes a lot of punishment. Considering I had the ordinance of two and a half Vic Vipers coming into this fight, it stands to reason that the bosses take more than a few shots before they go down. No "three hits and you're out" Mario logic here.
I don't know who is saying this. The end boss? Tonma's mom? I'm guessing whoever it is is a time traveler, because that is some crazy verb tense disagreement.
These bazooka-sporting samurai seem to be equally put out by that bad Engrish, as they introduce the second stage with a barrage of shells.
This stage is goddamn hellish because there's no way of seeing what's above your head before you jump up. I might've been killed by the skull dude, the bazooka samurai, those rolling barrels or some sort of sudden aneurysm; it's all kind of academic at this point. All I can hope is that the cape I left behind blinds this guy long enough for him to stumble off the cliff. Vengeance must be mine! No matter how petty and inconsequential!
Once again, I've managed to stay alive long enough despite the vast number of dangerous objects dropping on my chubby little noggin, and now I'm dropping bombs and have this forcefield dealie. This is a really strange game.
This boss fight begins with a bunch of ominous looking mystical energy falling into this evil-looking tree. I think you know what's coming next.
That's right, a segmented Chinese dragon right out of Syvalion. Wearing our Ghosts and Goblins inspiration on our sleeves, are we Tonma?
Despite the fact that he speeds up his erratic movements whenever he gets hit (and you have to hit these guys a lot, don't forget), I didn't have any trouble whatsoever with this guy. Figures I'd die over and over to the rigor mortis-inflicted corpse yet kill a dragon in one try.
Anyway, the game just keeps going on like this so I'm cutting it off here. I feel like this crepuscular gradient fill could've been better though. Shadow of the Beast this ain't.

Legend of Hero Tonma is actually pretty good, were one to compare it to games like Ghouls n' Ghosts and the like. Tonma himself can only take a single hit before vaporizing (which, for me, once again calls into question his 'hero' status), so it's once again another case of a game rewarding patience and cautious progress over jumping right into precarious scenarios like Mario or Sonic and getting your dimpled ass handed to you over and over. Of course, once you have enough shmup power-ups to level shit before it even appears on the screen you're pretty much golden from then on out, barring an unpreparable vertical section or two.

Of course, it's nothing to write home about graphically or musically, so maybe it doesn't deserve to be placed in the pantheon of greats. S'okay though. Yeah, I know, super committal appraisal but hey, I'm sick. What do you want from me? Phlegm? Because I got that coming out of my [edited by moderator for being too gross].

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Octurbo: Cratermaze

Time to dig up another half-forgotten gem (well, semi-precious rock, maybe) from the TG-16 sedimentary with Cratermaze. It's funny, after so many of these Octurbo games I'm starting to see a lot of connections to those that have come before. For instance, the action maze gameplay of Cratermaze is very similar to Batman's, and it takes Keith Courage's route of taking a fairly well-established anime from its native Japan (that would be Doraemon in this case, the robotic time-travelling cat. The game was originally called Doraemon: Meikyuu Daisakusen, which I believe means "Doraemon: Operation Labyrinth") and giving it an inexplicable whitewashing for the US release. It's not even like they westernized him into Garfield or Heathcliff or whatever; if anything, Opi and his friends are easily as anime as Doraemon. Maybe it would've taken too much text to explain what Doraemon and his deal is to an American audience?

Honestly, I would probably have a lot more to say about Cratermaze if we hadn't already seen a number of games like it. Still, I'm running out of TG-16 stuff that aren't shooters or straight ports here.

Quatermaze and the Pit

Welcome to Cratermaze! I think this is the first title screen that makes germane use of the "push run button to start" imperative. That little guy really wants you to hit the run button. I mean, there's a giant dinosaur right behind him.
Amusingly, Doraemon does use a magic carpet to time travel, but no-one told the artist guy that they were leaving that part of the script intact. It's clearly been edited to look like some sort of VinnCo Maglift.
Well, Kublai Khan do, but Sartre is smartré.
Zenzombie apparently owns all of spacetime. Or the purple gap between times. I... all I'm saying is that I doubt his claim is genuine.
Joke's on him: All you have to do to escape the prisons of Another World is to rock the cage back and forth a few times. Doesn't take a Mike Aruba to figure that shit out.
Guy, they're long gone. Didn't you hear the magical talking doguu statue? "Prisons of another world." Also you might still need that time travel ship, I dunno.
So whenever a new stage loads, you get a whole mess of these little guys walking across the screen to fill it in. They're all Doraemon characters, as far as I can tell, with the exception of Opi.
Opi being the blue-armored spaceguy we just saw in the intro. The goal of Cratermaze is deceptively simple: just grab all the chests (you know how many are left by the counter at the top right), find a key and then find the exit. Wait, maybe it's not even "deceptively" simple.
In a move borrowed from Heiankyo Alien (or maybe Lode Runner, since we do look a lot like that guy), Opi defends himself by digging holes which enemies then fall into. You can also choose to then bury them alive for bonus points, if you want. It takes longer for them to respawn that way. I mean, if you can live with being a murderer, then more power to you...
A quick sweep of treasure chests and the big green key that unlocks the exit makes itself known. I'm fairly sure the key simply appears near you, rather than at a set point in the level. Maybe that changes in the later levels where they're happier to dick you around.
Flitting through time, stage 2 drops us in medieval Japan and gives us a new little level feature to play with. These springs let you get over enemies and walls and are therefore darn convenient for getting around.
I decided to kill this green blob thing, leaving a little cross grave (good thing this isn't Nintendo) and a little skull icon. Can't help but feel like karma's going to get me back for all this.
Anyway, nothing challenging in stage 2, so off I go to pastures new.
Stage 3 introduces these little warp pads. Most of them simply connect to one other nearby node and just lets you teleport between them, but others might take you all over the place. Often there'll be little enclosed areas which you can only reach by finding the right warp pad. More busywork, then.
Nothing much new occurs in the next few stages, but then in stage 6 I find myself in prehistoric times getting poked by neanderthals in these caves. The only warning sign is a pair of cartoon eyeballs floating in the darkness.
This game's also loaded with power-ups, which isn't surprising since Doraemon has a vast array of gadgets for every occasion. This particular one has frozen the level, allowing me to shatter the popsicle enemies or just walk past them safely. It'll end eventually, as all good things must.
Stage 7 just straight up gives me a gun. Like the game wasn't already easy enough.
Except, well, it's a bubble gun. I guess a disintegration pistol would be a little much for a game this cartoony, but then I have been burying suckers alive a lot. This game's already passed the macabre threshold as far as I'm concerned.
One of the few deadly obstacles is water, and these fish guys don't make it any easier. Good thing these are straight bridges. Shouldn't be too precarious, unless Vinny was the one who built them.
I capped this stage because it's super sci-fi looking, but there's nothing else particularly interesting about it. Pretty much Cratermaze in a nutshell right there.
In fact, after ten stages and no boss encounters (got a sweet yo-yo, though), I think it's time to call this one.
Before we go, though, let's take a look at what this game was originally. Man, Doraemon is a chipper guy considering a big volcano Luchadeer demon is right behind him.
As you can see, it really was a magic carpet time machine. One that comes with its own street corner lamppost, even. Is that a common thing with time travel? There's one in Chrono Trigger too, at the End of Time. Maybe it all ties back to the lamppost in Narnia, I dunno.
The game itself is largely identical though, but for Doraemon and the items he's tasked with collecting. Are those burgers? Steamed clams? Steamed hams?

Cratermaze isn't a fascinating game on its own, but at the same time it's indicative of what much of the TurboGrafx-16 library was about: full of games that would've probably been skipped over for a US localization had they been on the SNES or Genesis where there were more quality games to choose from, but because the PC Engine library was so limited they just had to make do with anything that didn't abjectly suck (or have too much text to translate in a cost-efficient manner, which is probably why we barely got any JRPGs on a system rife with the things). A Heiankyo Alien game starring Doraemon would've gone over fairly well with the kids in Japan I'd imagine, but trying to bring it over by changing all the characters just reeks of desperation. Did the US really need Cratermaze? Couldn't they have just localized the Batman game instead? At least you wouldn't have to switch him out for "Flying Rat Boy-san". (I know, I know, different publishers.)

Still, at least I got to make that sweet Quatermass pun. I'll take what I can get in this economy. The... joke economy.

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Octurbo: Silent Debuggers

Welcome, all, to another indecipherable Octurbo. Today we look at Data East's Silent Debuggers: a puzzle game about quietly solving IT problems for a major software development company by scanning thousands of lines of code for erroneous integers and logic loops.

Just kidding, it's actually a claustrophobic sci-fi first-person shooter that somehow merges together Metroid Fusion and Snatcher. It's a weird one, as 16-bit proto-FPS games tend to be, and thus perfect for Octurbo.

Wouldn't Want People to Think We Were Robosexuals...

Welcome to Silent Debuggers! Man, that's a stylish logo. Like right out of a Gundam anime. Considering the rest of the game's presentation, that's not actually far off.
We're experts in many ways, ladies. Especially battle. So this is just one of those silly made up titles for a badass specialized mercenary, like "Blade Runner", "Riskbreaker" or, well, "JUNKER"?
Well... all right. I could always use more buddies. Especially incredibly anime ones.
Okay, buddy? You're creeping me out. If you want this buddy relationship of ours to work, you need to be less weird.
So Leon here is actually my debugger (sigh) partner, and we've been sent to the Ohme space station to solve problems in the way we debugger folk do. That's what most of the intro said, at least, and I didn't feel like capping it all.
The space station is where the Metroid Fusion comparison comes in: the station is inexplicably elaborate with many floors and areas to explore, almost as if the architects knew it would become a floating space dungeon some day.
Well, thank you game, I've always been fond of that moniker. I wonder if that's what it always says, or if there's actually an algorithm that rates how cool your Debugger codename is. Probably not, but a guy can dream, right?
Leon, buddy, remember the talk we had? Also we'd better get used to this Aliens tunnel view; it's pretty much the whole game from here on out.
Well who'd have thought it.
I've always wondered why computers in sci-fi movies go into lockdown mode whenever there's danger. Wouldn't that be a good time to have full access to a ship's systems? Or have AIs advanced so far in the future that they're basically saying "fuck that, you humans deal with it. I'm going on va-cay-cay until this whole 'slavering alien monsters' sitch blows over."
Naturally, our partner decides to stay in the computer room while we get relegated to Bug Hunt duty. Is "partner stays safe and barks orders at you through the walkie talkie" a concept page yet? Kendra Daniels, Adam Malkovich, Otis...
I have no idea how these guns are different, so I just went with what I thought were the coolest names: Mega Beamer and Sonic Launcher. Disagree? Post in the comments below. Actually know the difference? Post in the comments below.
So now we have full access to the game and can freely skulk around corridors quoting Aliens all day. Stay frosty, people.
The game's actually quite elaborate, with many different weapons, sensors and other abilities that presumably get unlocked as we play. For instance, I have no other sensors as of yet and I have no clue what "jump" or "tool exc" commands do. I could check GameFAQs, but... eh. Research isn't traditionally a part of the LP process, from what I can tell.
Here's the map. The central area is completely safe, for now at least (I assume those numbers are damage ratings), but that region of maze-like corridors to the south are where all the monsters are hiding. Oh boy.
In case I hadn't figured it out, Leon pipes through my earpiece every 30 seconds about heading to the "outer block". For a debugger, he's not particularly silent.
When you get close to where enemies are hiding, the little lights at the top corners of the screen start flashing green, then yellow and then red based on proximity. And I thought I was being facetious about the overt Aliens overtones.
Here's one of the things now. You want to surprise them at the end of the corridors like this because then...
...they don't suddenly appear and scare the bejeezus out of you like this.
And then smack you around like this. I'm not quite sure why it's glitching out here; I was too busy trying to vaporize it before it could rip out my arms to pay much attention to graphical flaws.
A tense dozen or so torso mutants later and Leon pipes in to tell me he's managed the equally dangerous and exhausting task of finding the right Linux password. I suppose, technically speaking, he's doing more debugging than I am right now.
Presented without context or comment.
Mr Computer has been kind enough to let us explore the lower levels, or at least the immediate next level because this is a video game.
Oh, and it's also inadvertently activated the self-destruct. We now have 100 minutes to complete the rest of the game. Yay?
Great computering there buddy. Kudos.
Well, as Leon's stated many times before, he loves tough jobs. Or maybe it was "rough trade". I'm not too sure about this translation.
We get a brief glimpse of something in the security cam footage. It looks like yet another mutant with giant arms to me. I'm sure I'll have fun being jumped by him in a dark corridor later.
So now the game continues, only with a big ol' time limit ticking down in the corridor. Getting killed simply knocks off five minutes and respawns you in the computer room, so obviously you don't want to do that too often.

To say Silent Debuggers is tense would be an understatement: every aspect, from its jumpscare-enabling FPS combat to its flashing noises and ticking time bombs seem to be engineered to make you as stressed as possible. It's not a bad way to go about creating a twitch shooter, necessarily, but I've always had a problem with a game-wide time limit. Specifically, that it's very possible to pass the point where success is no longer an option without realizing it and waste the amount of time that's left on a doomed playthrough. There's also that part where you have to do everything at maximum efficiency, and that's easier said than done when you're running through corridors trying to track down Mikami knows how many biological horrors.

It's definitely an interesting experiment though, and the 90s anime presentation is a lot of fun too. We joke at the expense of our absurdly cool floppy-coiffed partner, but he's the kind of goofy one-liner-spouting archetype you saw a lot in action movies back then and I kind of miss seeing them everywhere. I can't speak for how repetitive this game might become (though I imagine with all those currently inaccessible menu options that the game does mix things up a bit later on), but it doesn't seem half bad for what it is.

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Octurbo: Parasol Stars

Hey everyone, it's my birthday! Now you might think I have better things to do today than to write another TG-16 blog, but nothing stops Octurbo consarnit. It is a special day, though, so I'm going to play something I didn't really need to cover but feel like doing so anyway: Taito's Parasol Stars, the third game in the Bubble Bobble/Rainbow Island trilogy.

Parasol Stars is easily the best game I've played yet for this feature, but then that's no surprise given its pedigree. It also happens to be the first game for this feature that I'd already played to death years ago, so I'm not exactly breaking new ground either. The story simply involves erstwhile bubble dinosaurs Bub and Bob travelling from themed planet to themed planet to take care of hordes of adorable creatures, armed with only their parasols and their uncanny control over the forces of nature. It's very much a return to the Bubble Bobble formula after the mechanically disparate Rainbow Islands. It's also got some of the catchiest music (that boss theme sounds suspiciously like the Lambada).

Umbrella Corporation

Welcome to Parasol Stars! I seem to recall seeing this title screen state "The Story of Rainbow Islands II". Maybe it's different between regions?
In a manner reminiscent of Kirby, Bub flies across the busy cosmos to wherever he's needed. Looks like Music Planet is first up. It's kind of cute that the planet I depart from appears to be where Rainbow Islands was set.
Stage 1 puts us up against some nasty castanets, but I'm armed with my indomitable golfing umbrella. It has two modes, and this defensive forward option is the first. Any enemies that walk into it will find themselves stunned temporarily and vulnerable to getting flung around.
I can also hold it straight up, which is key to several of the deeper mechanics of the game, as well as a means of shielding myself from enemies dropping down from above.
Lastly, and what is probably the most obvious technique when armed with an umbrella in a cartoon universe, I can use it to gently float to the bottom of the screen with some degree of horizontal movement.
The piano here ought to be the first target, since it spawns enemies. Fortunately this stage introduces water drops, which'll make things easier.
When in the upright position, the parasol can collect water drops and let them build into these giant bubbles...
...which then create these streams that instantly kill every enemy caught in its deluge. Water bubbles were in Bubble Bobble too, of course, but you have to work a little harder to unleash their screen-clearing powers in this game.
As is customary for any Bubble Bobble game, the screen fills with fruits and desserts whenever it is cleared of enemies, and you have a short amount of time to frantically run around and devour it all before getting swept along to the next stage. No wonder Bub and Bob never seem to lose any weight.
The game gets very overt with its water torrent mechanic in this level, as it's practically suicide to try and jump into that mess of triangles in the middle. There's so much water pouring in from above, though, that it's easy for slower players (even the average YouTube LPer) to make the connection and flush them out. Remember when we had good game design as our tutorials? I'm starting to sound like Egoraptor.
The first boss looks like it came right out of Parodius, with a full assortment of instruments and a little dancing couple on top. We have a special weapon for this fight: the lightning in a bottle.
Lightning bubbles can be collected and built up in the same manner as water bubbles, but instead shoot a devastating lighting bolt across the screen. The power of the bottle means I can simply hold the umbrella up and lightning bubbles will magically appear over it.
Anyway, doesn't take long to defeat this guy with the power of Zeus on one's side. The early bosses aren't the brutal wake-up calls they were in Rainbow Islands, but they'll eventually get more challenging.
I think I'm getting Type II Diabetes just looking at this screen, good lord.
My work done, I ride my mystical spacefaring parasol to the next world in peril: Forest World.
I don't even know what the hell these things are. Lions? Hamsters?
Did I mention this game was completely insane?
I find one of the well-hidden miracle icons on this stage, the equivalent of the big gemstones from Rainbow Islands, and everything kind of explodes and turns into high score items. I never did figure out how to make these miracle items appear back in the day, but then I didn't exactly have GameFAQs handy in 1992.
Lightning bubbles really make things a lot easier, goddamn. These adorable pink lion monsters didn't know what hit them. (It was lightning. Lightning hit them.)
Cabbage Parrot here is our next boss. It just looks like a bird-eating fern to me. Either way, we have a new bottle item to help us out.
Fire works similarly to the holy water of Castlevania, in that they create little flames around you that you just... have to kind of hope the enemy stumbles into.
Thankfully, these horrifying half-flora/half-fauna hybrids aren't the brightest bulbs in the aviary. Wait... what? Never mind, can't think about that simile now - I've got to eat an eclair that's twice my size.
I think at this point I'm ready to draw this to a close, as much as I want to keep playing.
I think a few sharp-dressed penguins and snorkeling plesiosaurs is a good note to end on.

Parasol Stars takes the addictive puzzle-platformer template of Bubble Bobble and builds on it, with more worlds, enemies, power-ups and secrets. Proper parasol prowess is paramount, so it's not an easy game, but there's less opportunities to really screw yourself over like there are in Bubble Bobble and its mean little traps. Bubble Bobble is rightly regarded as a classic, but it's worth remembering that its sequels are no slouches either.

Anyway, enough self-indulgence for today (though, really, I think that's acceptable behavior on one's anniversary of existence). Back to the obscure and the mediocre for the last week of October, methinks.

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Octurbo: Dragon Egg!

Taking another sip of PC Engine grease, and then spitting it out because holy shit this is not my Dr Pepper at all, we have a new NCS game in the form of Dragon Egg: a platformer with an upgrade mechanic that, to me, didn't feel like a million miles away from Volgarr the Viking's. Thankfully, though, Dragon Egg is nowhere near as difficult as Brad's Neverending Norse Nemesis. NCS (or rather its software division Masaya) were the developers behind previous Octurbo entry Double Dungeons, but they were also responsible for Langrisser (Warsong), Cho Aniki (the bodybuilding shoot 'em up. You know the one) and Jeff's beloved Target Earth (actually part of their Assault Suits series, which also includes Cybernator for the SNES). So, busy people. How does Dragon Egg stack up to that ludography of semi-classics?

Actually it's not too bad. As I stated previously, it's an upgrade-based platformer that rewards cautiousness more than recklessness, because the upgrade items come slowly over many stages but build up to something quite substantial if you're careful enough to stay alive to acquire them all. As with Volgarr and countless shumps like R-Type, it's also quite useful to be as far along the upgrade tree as possible for the boss encounters. But whatever, we all came here to see a little girl bash draugr with an egg (right?) so here we go:

Wyvern and Shirley

Welcome to Garble Egg! I'm reliably informed that word is "dragon". I'm sure VGK will tell me that it's actually "gazebo" or something.
And another welcome to the land of Königst. I know König is german for "King", but if there's Kings in this game I haven't found any yet. Mostly little girls and dragons so far.
Talking of which, here's our heroine now, bashing what looks suspiciously like the color-coded undead Vikings a certain Zapatomaker was bashing to pieces just the other day. All our offensive options revolve around the dragon egg we carry everywhere; while the dragon's still in its embryonic state, though, this little bop is the only attack available to us.
Oh hey, a house. People live here? In skeleton land?
Apparently this dapper mole does. I said the Dragon Curse eyepatch pig was the coolest shopkeeper I've seen in a TG-16 game so far, but Sir Moleberry over here is a strong contender. Funny I should mention that Wonder Boy game, because Dragon Egg feels very much like Wonder Boy in Monster Land so far - right down to farming cash for a few useful power-ups. Given that Wonder Boy is almost like the Mario of TG-16 (one of the launch games was Bikkuriman World, which was really just Wonder Boy in Monster Land with a dubious paint job), it's explicable enough. Sorry for writing so much here, I just wanted to linger on this cool mole dude for a while.
The game remembers what genre it's supposed to be, so the second part of this stage ramps up the platform quotient quite a bit.
Damn falling platforms already! Surely these are more of a "World 4" sort of deal?
Anyway, while most enemies drop money, some (and I have to imagine these are fixed) drop fire orbs which can eventually level your egg into this little hatchling dragon. You can see on the top left that I need three more for the next form. As a hatchling, the small reach of the egg bop has been replaced with a quite lengthy burst of flame.
Since I went for the power-up last time, I think I'll opt for this absurdly cheap heart container. I know right, I should've bought that first. Keeping your health up is paramount, because dying resets the dragon/egg's progress, so life containers and HP recovery items should be the first things you buy.
The first boss is this gladiator dragon. Feels like a missing boss from Dragon's Curse. His weak spot is actually his bandaged tail, so that means jumping over him when he walks over here.
First though, we need to dodge this boomerang. It's fast, but there's a safe place to stand to avoid it every time. I do like bosses I can learn from.
Though I lost a life (and thus my longer reach) it was an acceptable sacrifice because it meant learning this guy's pattern and being able to stomp him on the subsequent try.
For beating the level you get a fancy McGuffin gem and a power-up that quickly rotates, like the icons at the end of a Super Mario Bros 3 stage. I messed up and got a healing item, but had I been a little more patient I could've nabbed another heart container.
In what seems like a very dangerous move, completed stages are removed from the map by burning a hole where they used to be. It's definitely dramatic, but I'm fairly sure I need this map to see where I'm going. It's not like vellum isn't extremely flammable, you know.
New stage and it's a vertically-oriented one. I don't much care for Scyther here, nor do I like the look of that jelly waterfall. Looks like raspberry.
But then this stage suddenly becomes all dungeon-esque, like I just dug through a wall I wasn't supposed to in Terraria.
The game's difficulty curve is quite gentle, at least in these early stages. These little curatives are all over the place, though it usually means going out of the way and climbing back up.
Now it's suddenly Pipe Mania? I can't fault the game for mixing things up from stage to stage.
All right, so now the Bonk inferences are coming thick and fast. I hope Mecha-Godzilla doesn't wake up at some point.
Very soon afterwards I find a third fire orb and upgrade my dragon again. Incredibly, there's still another growth tier after this. Now that I'm riding the dragon, my mobility feels a little faster and my fireballs are now ranged attacks. Quite the upgrade.
Yay! Lord Montgomery Mole is back to sell us stuff. It's been a while, so I have quite a bit of cash to blow. I spend most of it on damage upgrades and health.
I also buy a "barrier", which gives me some temporary invincibility. It was either this or the skull, and I'm a little hesitant about purchasing pieces of dead humans from sentient animals, as well-groomed as they may or may not be.
The game's getting anachronistic as hell now, with this wall turret and supercomputer mid-boss. Having a dragon and full health makes things a lot easier though.
The next boss is this initially underwhelming Metroid blob thing.
However, his true nature is made apparent as soon as you try shooting it: it splits until multiple copies, and then one of those copies will split into multiple copies of its own. You have to be lucky enough to not kill the next duplicator before dealing with the other clones, or you'll be swamped with these Kerbal-looking bastards.
Finally, the last one goes down and I earn my second gem. I also manage to nail the heart container this time, only to find out that four hearts is the limit. Just as well, really, or this game might get a little too easy.
More ritualistic map burning. If that fire spreads, it's going to be a problem...

Anyway, burning maps isn't something I need to worry about any longer, because I believe I've shown enough of this game off. Dragon Egg's quite a decent little platformer, about on the same tier as the Bonk games I've covered so far: nothing as transcendental as Super Mario World or Sonic 2, but it sits above most of the torrent of uninspired platformers that would inundate the 16-bit generation. Plus I'm kind of curious about what comes after that dragon-riding form...

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Octurbo: Yo Bro

Oh, Yo Bro. One of the few American-exclusive TurboGrafx-16 games, Yo Bro - as its unambiguous name might suggest - depicts the adventures of a skateboarding bear in Santa Cruz. The game has a definite ToeJam and Earl flair, from its incredibly 90s presentation to its sorta open-world nature, though Yo Bro is considerably worse. Its problems are largely due to the game design, which feels like it was cobbled together from loose notes someone was taking while playing Skate or Die and imagining how much more fun it would be if instead of tricks and races you had to stand perfectly still to accurately shoot a series of stationary targets until they eventually died. And then made that dream a reality with a skateboarding bear on the TurboGrafx-16. And then liberally applied Beach Boys MIDIs all over it. (Guys, the TG-CD was already out, you could've used the real thing.)

But hey, October's all about horrors, is it not?

Who is Skateboarding? Bear is Skateboarding! How Can That Be?

Welcome to Yo Bro! Most video game sites seem to call this game "Yo' Bro", but that's clearly a comma and not an apostrophe. I'm sorry, but proper punctuation is what I consider "radical".
We open stage 1 with a stock B-Movie monster and children to rescue. Holy crap, is this Zombies Ate My Neighbors? But with skateboarding?
So this is the game. It kind of can't decide between being regular top-down or isometric top-down so it just kind of switches between them on the fly. The angles aren't the only things obtuse about this game though, oh my no.
Collecting the kids removes them from harm and gives me points, but it doesn't seem essential for completing the stage. The compass arrow down there is instead directing me towards the enemies.
Like this guy. The thing about these plants is that they appear somewhere in the level, quickly get bigger and then start releasing annoying bouncing enemies once fully grown. To kill it - and we have to kill it, as that is the bear's mission - we have to stand here and try to out-DPS its growth rate. This means no skateboard drive-bys or taking bombing dives and whizzing around for another run: the only way to reliably kill these things is to stand perfectly still and hope you don't get ganked by other nearby enemies while you slowly wear it down. It's easily the most asinine design decision one could feasibly make for a skateboarding game.
When I say "hope you don't get ganked by other enemies", I'm specifically referring to Dickweed Dog over here. He skates about as badly as you do, but he's tenacious and will continue to stalk and troll you throughout the level, regardless of how often you kick his ass. As you can imagine, the task of standing perfectly still to shoot plants with a slingshot for an hour isn't any easier with him around.
I have no idea what Skarf even means. I can barely remember most of my 90s surfer speak. Wasn't Skarf the mascot character in Thundercats?
Finally, all the Audrey IIs are taken care of. The game does give you a generous eight health points and opportunities to replenish it, so it's not utterly without compassion. Skateboard Bear now does the solemn victory dance of his people.
Man, I'd hope they were all alive. What kind of sick kiddy snuff game is this?
Damn it, we just killed all the Venus Flytraps. Man, random "Africanized Killer Bee" scares take me back though. This game's making me feel old, and it's not just because of all the outdated lingo I've mercifully forgotten.
Hey! This sneaky rat bastard is the one leaving these things everywhere! Apparently killing him doesn't stop the proliferation of deadly menaces, but I can secure some sense of sadistic satisfaction by murdering these mercurial murinae.
The beehives are considerably worse than the plants. Rather than regenerating their health, they spawn wave after wave of deadly bee swarms at you, making it very hard to do the requisite "stand in place and shoot constantly for twenty seconds" rigmarole. If obnoxiousness was a piano, Yo Bro would be considered a bold and exciting new talent.
Just to demonstrate what happens to that dog if you do manage to knock him on his constantly juking ass: he just lies there like a sulking toddler.
Seriously, the most dangerous thing about this dude is his unpredictability, because he wobbles around like he's been drinking to forget an inner ear infection. Since you have to spend a minute moving the skateboard around to point yourself in the right direction, it's hard to get a bead on him.
Anyway, last we'll see of him for a while. Just have to deal with the thousands of bees that spawned while I was getting distracted. Hooray.
It is at this point that I say "later days dork!" to Yo Bro, with no small amount of relief.

Yo Bro, tho. While theoretically speaking a smack-talking sk8rbear might be worth a mocking chuckle (mockle?) or two, no further chuckles were to transpire once the game had revealed its means of progression. I would've been way happier skating around the level collecting the various kids in peril instead of tediously eliminating minion-spawning and regenerating enemies - the NPC rescue system worked well enough for countless 16-bit games, including the aforementioned Zombies Ate My Neighbors which felt like a big influence on the game (well, except for the whole "Yo Bro was released first" issue with that supposition).

So, in conclusion, Yo Bro had some interesting ideas for an open-world action game that it failed to capitalize on in a way that didn't make me want to replace a skateboard ramp with my own head, but there would eventually be others to pick up its wiggity-wack slack. I suppose if Yo Bro was in some way indirectly responsible for ToeJam & Earl or ZATM I can forgive its irritating and ill-advised game design.

Talking of zombies, this game was created by the same guys behind the equally mediocre Ghost Manor: ICOM, those pioneers of the point and click genre. Seriously, what happened to those guys?

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Octurbo: Jackie Chan's Action Kung Fu

I initially wasn't going to do this one but then I played it and figured it's about time I got around to some half-decent TG-16 games again, even if they're just graphically-enhanced NES ports. Jackie Chan's Action Kung Fu is probably the best known Jackie Chan license game outside of that one Arcade fighter where Jackie fights Mortal Kombat knock-offs, and pits a Drunken Master-era Jackie against all manner of Chinese-themed opponents as he searches for his kidnapped sister Josephine. It's another one of those "walk right and hit things" affairs, but it's got oodles of goofy charm and, well, Jackie Chan is in it. You know, the guy from the movies.

Rumble in the Grafx

Welcome to Jackie Chan's Action Kung Fu! This is Jackie Chan and this is a game that he is in.
The map screen. Jackie isn't exactly heading towards the end stage as the crow flies, but then fuck crows. What do they know about scenic routes?
In lieu of any actual crows to divekick, I'll redirect my hatred of flying creatures towards these butterflies instead. After trying to farm Blue Titanite Slabs out of these things for an hour, I have a lot of aggression to work out against our papillon pals.
I found a frog! These guys spit out power-ups when you hit them, but I always feel bad about it. They just want to hang out!
These tigers, I've found, are generally less friendly. Still, doesn't stop me popping them in the jaw when they get close. I've played Yakuza 2: martial arts work surprisingly well against enormous Bengal tigers.
Now I have two frogs! Steadfastly refusing to harm these guys unless it's absolutely necessary.
I don't even know what this is. A Chinese hopping vampire? That weird doll thing from Dragon Ball? Were they the same thing?
Occasionally, Jackie collects scrolls that give him a limited number of special moves, activated with simple button combos. Some are more useful than others - this Sweep is handy for banning lots of people at once. To the underworld, I mean.
Either I just inhaled something wonderful or this is a secret bonus stage I just found.
Aww. Ah well, time for some extra health. The game helpfully demonstrates what you're expected to do with this handy diagram.
I just have to hop on clouds and knock as many pieces of fruit off before the time limit expires. It's a bonus stage. They're all pretty much like this, aren't they? Maybe with less cloudfruit?
Every two pieces restores a piece of my health, and when I'm maxed out the remainder all go into this little loyalty card thing. I think I can earn an extra life if I get all eight? Screw that.
Figures the hawks wait until I'm on a platform from which I don't really want to fall off. They must be on loan from Ninja Gaiden.
Jeez, is this stage still going? I've been walking in and out of temples all day.
Damn Mongolians! How do they keep getting in? We should build something to keep them out, like a giant electrified fence perhaps. Maybe a garden maze? Worked for me with that Die Hard game a few days ago.
Anyway I inevitably receive an ass-whupping after slowing losing my health from many a spike trap and feral tiger ambush and take a brief nap. Of course, Jackie Chan can never die, so I'm just letting them win. Temporarily. To build tension for the final showdown.
Our game over burdens are a little more literal for poor Jackie, but he can bust those rocks in twain if we choose to continue. Just to be clear: there's no lives in this game. You get five continues and that's it.
Some "Legend of Mystical Ninja"-tier dick moves from the architecture around here.
I'm not sure what baldy's plan is, but I'm going to kick him as soon as he drops back down. Maybe that was his plan all along, and I'm just being led along like a puppet. Fiendish!
Another bonus stage, this time I have to hit this big rock with either a high or low hit, depending on what it asks. This is the only way to pick mushrooms in China.
Man, I'm a sucker for a good silhouette fight. More games need to do this. I guess this was the customary "do we have a concept page for this yet?" observation for today.
I finally reach the end of the stage, only for Christopher Lee to wake up this enormous statue. I've fought so many giant statue bosses in these damn Eastern-set games. Just once I want to fight an evil animated Michelangelo's David. I bet I could deduce where his weak point is.
The odd thing about this boss is while he looks enormous and intimidating, the only thing in this fight that can hurt you is a little flame that wanders around. As long as you keep out of its way, there's not much this dude in a bathrobe can do.
While meant to be a visual hint that you can jump onto his palms and then attack his head, there's something unnerving about the cupping motion of the hands here. Do we have a page for telescopic limbs ye... oh wait, I've used up my daily allowance for comments like those.
Eventually this sauna smackdown is too hot for this guy to handle, and I'm finally allowed to move onto the next area.
Well this looks like it'll be pleasant. I think I'll quit while I'm ahead. In lava land.

Jackie Chan's Drama Karate is a fine little platformer/brawler thing. There's variation in both the moves Jackie can perform, at least to the extent that an 8-bit game is able, as well as in the enemies and how they approach you. Tigers are to be dealt with cautiously, Mongolian spearguys are to be dealt with quickly, hawks are to be flying kicked to oblivion and adorable frogs are to be left expressly alone unless in the player is in a really critical situation. It's also challenging but not brutally so, which is all I can really ask from a NES-era title.

I've heard the TG-16 version has a few additions and improvements over the NES original, due to it being developed a year later, so maybe I should do a compare and contrast one of these days. Or just look up the changes on Wikipedia, that seems easier. Might come back to this one at any rate. Can't get enough Jackie.

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Octurbo: Somer Assault

Octurbo's back once again with another TurboGrafx-16 oddity. Today we're looking at the Atlus (yes, that Atlus) game Somer Assault, a.k.a. Mesopotamia, in which the player controls a slinky armed to the teeth and ready to throw down against twelve mechanical steampunk bosses that represent signs of the zodiac that were willed into existence by an evil megalomaniacal sorceress dressed like Zoot from "Monty Python and the Holy Grail".

"But wait," you might ask, "where does the 'oddity' part come in?" Well that would be the gameplay - a sort of platformer/shoot 'em up hybrid that has you crawling along walls and doing all sorts of weird traversal stuff in order to find and defeat the boss before the strict time limit runs out.

I'm going to need to post some pictures, aren't I? I mean, gee, otherwise this game won't make any sense.

What Walks Down Stairs, Alone or in Pairs, and Absolutely Will Not Stop Until You Are Dead?

Welcome to Somer Assault! Just in case you thought I had a monopoly on all the awful puns around here.
The first thing the game asks of you is your birth date, which rings all kinds of warning bells. Fortunately, I don't believe it ever intends to tell you your fortune. Unless that fortune is "you will become very confused". (P.S. It is not actually my birthday today.)
All right, I get the "world not of our own" but how do you have a time not of our own? Does this game take place during Smarch?
Her conquest to rule the world by global domination in assuming control of the planet, which she intends to do by taking over the Earth. Or an Earth not of our own, at least.
Oh boy, our very own trampled ruins.
After the previous screenshot we get a long series of her summoning each of the twelve bosses of the game and sending them off to do her bidding, and then this little purple nematode worm shows up to talk shit.
Maybe I've seen too many video game heroes with a little humility and self-doubt, but there's something about the sheer badassery on display here that caught me off guard. Slinky threatens in no uncertain terms to do very bad things to Ms. Skullcandles here for waking him up.
So this is the hero of Somer Assault. It gets around precisely how you'd expect. Do I need to post a Slinky commercial?
It can also fire bullets out of its midsection, and depending on whether it's stretched across two spaces or standing on its side, will fire in different directions. It's versatile, but it takes a while to get used to the rapid switching while moving. Fortunately, there isn't a whole lot of resistance to deal with in the first stage which means you have time to get your bearings.
These little flame wheel things are really the only trouble I had coming in here, and they have predictable enough patterns. Also, why flame wheels? Do these seem like future Persona enemies to anyone else?
Anyway, Aries is the first and easiest boss, somewhat distancing this game from Final Fantasy Tactics - the only other game I can think of right now with zodiac-based bosses. Goddamn that Wiegraf.
Because this game is more or less a shoot 'em up, it's all down to bullet/movement pattern memorization.
The other big obstacle is the time limit, with the game unhelpfully pausing the action to warn you that you only have a minute left. Would've been less intrusive to just speed up the music, guys.
There are very few safe places to stand (slink?) while this thing is jumping around, so I end up losing a few lives, but fortunately I manage to outlast the mechanical sheep. Screw ewe?
Slinking to the next level like a boss while I consult the big wheel of astrology to see what I'm blowing up next. Apparently it's the thing with the horns. Taurus?
This game is starting to get weird (only now?). There's a linear route to take, but it involves creating these bridges by walking over red arrows. It's a straight route to the boss, but it still manages to feel obfuscatingly circuitous.
Shooting these little knight chess pieces creates all manner of useful upgrades, but I can't sit and farm them forever with that time limit ticking away. Then again, with a few more upgrades, I can probably beat the level a lot faster. Hmm.
Though I only have just over a minute left, I managed to bag myself this three-way spreadshot and a health upgrade (those diamonds in the top left). I figure that's worth having to hurry a bit.
Taurus the Bull is trapped down in that corner and can't really do much, though it does fire eight-way directional shots from its horns every now and again. As before, there's a few safe areas around here, but sitting there means I can't fire back at him and time is of the essence.
I would probably not recommend this tactic normally, but once you've learned a boss's pattern you can afford to get a little more daring. The bosses have been quite interesting so far in that respect: they either kill you quickly or you slowly figure out how they tick and choose your moments. If you go too reckless, you get yourself killed; too cautious and you run out of time.
Gemini's stage has these little teleporters which'll no doubt make things interesting, but for now I'm putting an end to this one.

I don't know, for as bizarre as this game is it's kind of growing on me. I'm probably not going to appreciate the more maze-like levels to come, but there's some craft behind this game and some innovative ideas behind its mechanics, if only in the euphemistic sense of the term "innovative" (which is to say "effing weird"). Safe to say there's not a whole lot like this out there (though I have played as a slinky before, in the dire Amiga game Frost Byte).

But man, what is with Atlus and astrology? First the tarot and now this. I wonder if they saw their eventual acquisition by Sega in the cards? "You have drawn the Hanged Man, Death and the Cyan Erinaceus: this indicates great change in your future."

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Octurbo: Die Hard

Took a little hiatus yesterday to polish off Dark Souls, but here we are with another Octurbo. Following the end of Man Week, the theme of the next group of games is that there is no theme. Pretty avant garde, right? First on the chopping block, and following in Batman's wake somewhat, is another Japan-only game based on a beloved 1980s action movie from America. I mean, it's Die Hard., you can all read titles. I just get so lost as to what to put up here sometimes.

The Die Hard game isn't quite the departure from its source material that Batman was, but it's still taking a few liberties with the plot of the movie. It's actually a lot like the NES game, which is explicable given both are top-down shooters with the same developer (Pack-in-Video), but oddly enough not quite as advanced despite being on a 16-bit system. The NES game had a lot of interesting ideas, though it's worth noting that it was released a year after this TG-16 version and Pack-In-Video had a bit more time (and feedback) with which to improve it.

But whatever, this is a movie license game. Looow expectations to overcome.

Play a TurboGrafx-16 Game, Get Together, Have a Few Laughs...

Welcome to Die Hard! Man, I can already feel the sweltering summer heat. Which is when Die Hard is set. In Australia.
These opening credits with the stylized photos are the best part so far. Well, it's been the only part so far. It's a good part though, don't get me wrong. Who doesn't remember the menacing Hans Gruber and his brutal henchmen: Karl, Gary Busey (on loan from Lethal Weapon), Blood Dragon's Michael Beihn and the Red Skull?
Like the NES game, Die Hard follows the movie's plot almost exactly. A little too exactly, as it even incorporates the deleted scenes from the start of the movie where John McClane is dropped off in a nearby forest after agitating the cab driver with all his sardonic one-liners.
I have no idea what this says, but I imagine he's wondering why there's a huge forest just outside LA.
All right, so we immediately see what kind of game this is. The top-down shooter kind. Wait, I said that part in the intro. Well, I didn't mention that you don't start with a weapon, and need to punch the nearest armed goon to get a machine gun. Technically accurate to the movie!
Less accurate is how Hans Gruber appears to have hired the Vietnamese army to defend the skyscraper he's trying to rob. Yippie-Ikari-Warriors, motherfucker?
These pits are a nuisance. The ones that are already here are easy enough to avoid, it's when they start appearing beneath your feet that they become an issue. I'm guessing it's bear season in South California? Maybe they're all over the place up there, knocking over letters in the Hollywood sign and getting into mischief.
In this extremely exciting screenshot, I'm demonstrating my new gun. It's a brakka-brakka kind, rather than the pew-pew kind. Big upgrade.
Oh hey, a Jurassic Park style utility shed. I'm hoping I find some answers or the way out and not Samuel L Jackson's severed arm. I'm going to need that guy come the second sequel.
Or I could get ambushed by a bunch of enemies and find treasure at the end, by way of this fetching blue vest that inexplicably boosts my health. Shades of Bloody Wolf's lunacy here already.
I upgraded once again to this limited-ammo grenade launcher. Don't know if I care for the pink explosions, but hey this is a progressive era.
More funky photo filters between levels! What is that in the background? A giant PS1 logo?
Nakatomi Plaza's right ahead, but first I have to swim through the Los Angeles swamplands. "Ol' Swampy", as LA residents fondly call it.
I can't pass through the bamboo walls (ask any native Los Angeleno, and they'll tell you how tough their bamboo is) so I have to navigate these aquatic passages very carefully.
Or I could just find the flamethrower and burn my way through. If only there was a way to avoid getting burned while standing waist deep in water.
Aw, I was hoping for a new one of these. Maybe a screengrab from the part of the movie where John McClane is outside the building and traipsing through a Southeast Asian swamp.
Finally, we're in Nakatomi Plaza. Or its basement. Whatever, I'm indoors now, I can deal.
Though I wasn't prepared for how much topiary would be down here. When Ellis had that line about how he'd closed so many deals that Nakatomi could afford a subterranean garden maze, I figured he was just full of hot air.
Seems like the goons/evil cops have their own multi-colored power-up system. I'm going to have to stay on my toes. Which are still safely ensconced in my shoes for the time being.
Oh hey, it's a type of goon that looks like Karl! These guys usually have rocket launchers, which seems a bit like overkill.
I've been walking around this damn basement for literally minutes and I'm almost out of patience. I'm fairly sure I've walked past these windows before.
I'm being constantly worn down by going through these corridors over and over, and certain items like upgrades don't come back. My vest got dirty and is now missing as my health continued to drop (which is kind of a nice touch). If I don't reach a new area soon, I'm quitting.
D'agh! Even if that's not Japanese for "fuck this, I'm out", I'm going to pretend it is anyway.

And that's the TG-16 Die Hard game. If it ever gets to the point where it remembers that it's supposed to be based on a movie with scenes that wouldn't be impossible to translate into an action game without adding leftover level design from Commando, I didn't see it. I was too busy getting horribly turned around by Ellis' goddamn basement garden maze. They really let success go to their heads back then, huh? Why couldn't he have spent it all on nose candy like everyone else.

Die Hard's not a bad game on a purely mechanical level. A little uninspired maybe, since the top-down path it follows was well-trod even by 1990. It does throw plenty of new weapons, health pick-ups and armor at you at regular intervals to keep things fair, barring an insta-death pitfall or two. Ultimately it is its dubious connection to the movie, adding in stages from stock Vietnam shooter games that have no place being adjacent to a skyscraper in downtown LA, that really make it seem like a lazy cash grab. The plot of Die Hard would not be incredibly difficult to turn into a game, as the later NES version would almost sort of figure out, so it just seems baffling as well as disappointing. Oh, and fuck maze levels in shooters. At least give me a map!

I know, a movie license game wasn't all that great. Octurbo will presumably continue to blow your minds with the blogs to come.

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