By Mento 0 Comments
Hey all, welcome to my webzone. This is a wheneverly feature I felt like starting. But why? Why would I do such a thing?
Well, the UK never received the Turbografx-16: the higher energy games system. Theoretically, I shouldn't even know that was the tagline because no trace of it ever appeared on our shores. France got it, but screw France. What have they ever done for video games? Besides Ubisoft. And Delphine. Anyway, screw France. Point is, I'd never heard of this system back then and never thought to emulate it when such wondrous technology became available. But then they started dropping them on the Wii's Virtual Console for the UK. So now we have these "Try these old classics, y'all! - Nintendo's Virtual Console is sponsored by the NDX podcast, copyright Jeff Gerstmann Inc." type ads that purport to deliver nostalgia in places where no nostalgia spores could possibly reach. Which is why I'm going to establish a base of nostalgia for NEC's console just to spite them. Boy, these all sound like the words of a sane person don't they? So without further Apu:
Case File #1: Aero BlastersNow, I'm no authority on shmups, but as soon as I started playing this I got pangs of deja-vu. While this sounds like a lead-in to bring up the fact that Kaneko's Aero Blasters (subtitle: "Trouble Speciality Raid Unit". Wow, really?) is actually Air Buster for the Sega Mega Drive, it's actually a lead-in to say that all spaceship side-scrolling shmups look fricking identical.
That said, it's actually quite fun and for the first stage I managed to get away with not getting hit at all, partly because my helpful options shielded me from enemies above and below. The power-ups aren't so much meted out gradually as hurled across the screen five at a time after blowing up some orange thing, so the difficulty lies in not only grabbing the desired random letters that correspond to fifteen different bullet directions (and the letters repeat for separate powers, let's not forget that) but also doing so while they fall off the screen and swarming with enemies. And then the second stage happened. It was at this point that the game pulled the old Battletoads trick of "Hey you know what's fun? Speeding up the playerandmakinghimgoreallyfastdownnarrowspacesWOOOOOOOOOOO!!." Well then. I may have hit a few walls during that segment. I reach the boss, shoot it a bunch, die and then my dying on-fire carcass of a ship manages to finish it off for what might be the cheapest win since cherries were introduced to Street Fighter.
Finally, I reach the third stage and survive for a bit before my remaining credits evaporate in a puff of suck and I phone in an overall performance that would make hillbilly shmup prodigy Xoxak deride me for my inability to comprehend images at the speed of light. Which would make me feel bad. So, moving on... (I made no claim that I was going to finish any of these)
Case File #2: Air ZonkHudson had a lot of stake in the TG16 as I understand it, yet the console's relative lack of success didn't diminish the Hudson juggernaut. Frankly, I don't see how they could ever.. (checks news) oh right. Still, this game immediately introduces you to Hudson's second-most famous spherical-headed hoodlum, B.C. Kid, before he goes SUPER SAIYAN and becomes some asshole with shades and a mohawk. Because this is the 90s, dammit.
So it turns out to be another shmup. But an utterly insane one. The (titular?) thing that players control powers-up like normal, but the enhanced form counts as a secondary level of protection: Get hit and lose the enhancement, but not your life. You have to quickly find a new power for that security blanket to be back, which creates a neat balance of insurance and panic. Added to this are options who apparently have their own personalities and abilities, which you can eventually merge with to form some kind of ultra-killer Voltron mode that's handy on bosses. These options can all be seen in the opening screen, and also all have their own pair of badass shades. Of course, I hadn't known about them when first playing, so when some giant bomb appears behind you and closely follows you everywhere there's a certain amount of trepidation before you realize what's going on and feel like an idiot. The game plays as predictably as shmups tend to, with midbosses and end-bosses for each stage and waves of bizarre individuals in the meantime. There's a lot of character, though, which is very reminiscent of the Parodius franchise of in-jokey fun.
I really don't feel like one to rate how good a shmup compares to another, and it's just my crummy luck that the first two TG16 games I choose (which also happen to be the first two alphabetically) are shmups. But then I don't plan on publishing this blog anywhere important so I guess I can feel perfectly justified filling a blog entry with random bullshit about how badly I crashed and burned in two examples of a genre I don't much care for because no-one has to read it. So I'll heartily recommend this game! It's.. it's zany.