Azutama – Unintended Griefing

For a lot of kids from my generation who grew up playing games on a Famiclone, “Battle City” was probably their first experience when it came to co-op. Usually, the idea gets brought up by an older sibling or parent, who have much more experience with video games, along with a better developed ability to read visuals. However, playing with a really young partner, who has no experience whatsoever, tends to lead to some pretty surprising results. Namely, at the start of the game, they would turn their tank unit right away, facing at the base, all and all while commencing an attack at the same time, which leads to the immediate destruction of the precious hawk, resulting in a very quick Game Over. I personally have done that act of unintended griefing and my brother was really upset about it. What I remember from that specific period was a mixture of feelings – Excitement and panic. I barely remembered any of the explanations that I was given as to how the game operated. It was my first co-op video game experience. I’ve had previous experiences with games. I’ve played on a handheld. I also got to try some of the other games on the Famiclone before we moved to “Battle City”. But nothing unusual happen in those games that can be compared to this weird occurrence.

It’s not like this was unique to me either. My friend’s sister did the same thing and they brought their Famiclone like, around two years later. Is age a factor for this? I wanna say that 7 is a pretty young age for dealing with video games, but by that time I’ve already beaten half of the Famiclone titles that I owned …

Of course, people are all different and unique to their own personal serial number. On another note – Being player one or two doesn’t seem to affect this. The so- enticing hawk would attract any gunfire from a rookie, regardless of their starting position. How unusual…

I’ve also read comments and asked a few people around the internet about it. Players from all over the world, like USA, Japan, Russia and the western bog lands of Europe would all report the exact same thing – It’s always the younger sibling/ child/ friend who does it! Globally, we all used to do this weird action at this game when we were younger I guess. And it pissed a lot of people! Of course, we grew up to eventually understand it, but it still feels mysterious to me. How this one game made so many people do the exact same unique action of unintended griefing?

“Azutama” is a “Battle City” clone, featuring the cast from “Azumanga Daioh” put in a snowball fight setting.. A fairly old game from the early 2000s, by EasyGameStation. It’s exclusively for two players, wherein’ the single player gives you a CPU partner. Now, that CPU partner can be quite the chaotic neutral when it comes to decision making. While it won’t for any reason attack the main base, the same cannot be said for the breakable walls that surround it for a little bit of extra protection. The CPU won’t shy away from taking power- ups that appear around the stage, usually powering itself to the point where it would carry you by itself through most stages. However, there is the other scenario where it keeps diving into enemy territory straight up, greifing away one extra life after another. Do take into consideration that those are shared alright! If someone dies with no extra lives available, it’s Game Over for both players, regardless if there is one still breathing on the field. Of course, there are continues that you can use, but you know how it is with me! I want those big juicy points so I can afford a proper house and enough resources for my wedding with Osaka!

It’s a pretty sweet, little fun game overall. It has some unique power- ups, like rapid fire and a single-use giant shot that clears everything in its path! Of course, getting as many extra lives as possible was essential for my successful run, even though Chiyo- CPU tried their best to ruin it! There are only two playable character – Osaka and Chiyo-chan, though there is not really any difference between the two apart from visuals. There are also BOSSES, which are pretty cool. It’s something that I would have loved to see in the original game, but what can you do? It was a much different time back then… I also really like the variety of regular enemies. The most notable addition in this game is the adjustments in their attack patterns and aggressive behavior, apart from the usual boost in movement speed like in the original game. Also, upon death, every single regular enemy would spawn a power- up somewhere. Talk about being generous!

What’s even most surprising is that I was able to run this game on a modern OS! Overall, it’s a pretty good time alright! Clone a good game, mix it with a good anime and add some improvements – Successful pudding!

Yamamoto-san – The value of a single life

I actually could not find much information about this game as a whole. It’s advertised as a freeware doujin game, but there’s pretty much nothing about the developers on the internet, apart from their name. It’s a pretty old game, almost a decade, minus two years, but still… This is what happens with unpopular things – They eventually sink into the void along with any information to their origin, unless preserved by someone. This has been a big issue with older doujin games as a whole, something which can also be applied for many others things in general. Of course, there are people who would take advantage of such things, humans will be humans before anything. No matter how much it displeases me, there are no set rules for survival, regardless of how much one might ignore that fact for one imaginary reason or another. What I can say is – Do what you think is right! Do not go the other way around just for the sake of recognition you are probably not going to get. In the world of tomorrow, what happens in your life is dictated by you and you solely, so try to make the best out of it!

Yamamoto-san is a short platformer that revolves around the classic hop n’ bop formula, starring a girl who has to find her way home after seemingly having an issue with a certain wind- based force of nature. There are 16 levels to go through, wherein the tutorial pretty much takes 1/3 of the game. You are given 10 lives to reach your goal, with no ways of earning any additional ones. During your adventure you’ll face typical platforming hazards, like bottomless pits, spikes all over the place and a rich fauna of beasts with ill- intentions. It’s a one- hit death, after which you are being sent at the start of the level you died in. Along the way, there are also collectables that you can obtain in the form of coins, which add to your score. They come in three different values – Chocolate, silver and gold. Each one adds more to your score depending on its type, with the most valuable ones being put usually at places that require a bit of a risk or good platforming to reach.

The few level themes in this game are pretty generic. The level structure itself is also pretty simple. The various enemy types are usually pretty easy to read when it comes to their movement patterns. I personally really liked the small red demons that move in a pretty interesting way – While being pretty fast in general, once they reach the end of a platform, they do an arc jump in the opposite direction. They can put you on alert at first, but once you figure out how they work, it’s nothing too complicated. The game is of pretty low difficulty overall. If you just treat is as your typical platformer, you can breeze through it in no time. However! Depending on your score at the end, right after you finish level 16, you’ll be given a rank. Depending on this rank, you’ll also be rewarded with a CG of the main heroine. For each rank there is a single CG that you can unlock. Here’s some pointers on how to get all of them:

X. This game features a score multiplier that affects the coins that you collect. The higher it is, the more points would each coin reward. This multiplier receives a temporary boost after you bounce off a single enemy. This temporary boost can be increased further without limit for each additional enemy you bounce off. Once you hit a solid ground, it resets back to your natural score multiplier. Collecting coins add a permanent increase to your multiplier! The higher point value of the coins due to the multiplier also affect its natural increase! This means that getting coins in the air, while bouncing of multiple enemies can really inflate the whole market price!!!

XX. The best level where you can boost your score is the very last one. It has two areas specifically where you can do long chain hops off enemies and potentially increase your multiplier to a pretty big number. Collecting the coins while under the temporary multiplier affect would also add a huge number to its natural state as well. There is also a large cache of golden coins at the end of the level, which can add a lot to your score, especially if you inflated your multiplier well enough. Once you are done with the level, if you are not satisfied with your score, just suicide and repeat the process. While dying lowers your multiplier a bit, if you keep repeating the level and do your bounces correctly over and over, you’ll end up eventually making a humongous profit!

XXX. It is important to try and preserve every single one of your extra lives! For all I know, you can ignore everything until the very last level! Still, if you are looking for a good score result and more of a challenge, I recommend trying to do the most optimal run for each level.

XXXX. Don’t be discouraged if you lose a live or two. With at least six extra lives, you can pretty much get access to any score thresholds of your choice that you might need for unlocking whichever of the CGs.

XXXXX. There is a gold coin cache in one of the forest levels that seems like a trap. You can get out of it with a really awkward C-jump. I do not recommend going for its contents in general. There is also another cache of gold coins in one of the castle/ temple [?] levels that I have no idea how to get to. I don’t think you can drag bullet- bills to its level nor enemies… Hmm…

Doing a score attack for this game really changes the flow of the levels and how they are played. I really liked that innovative idea. Each area becomes a bit of puzzle regarding which enemies to bounce off and which coins to collect while doing so. In my opinion, this game is of a pretty good quality. It’s simple in nature, yet very fun, with a decent replay value. Too bad it would probably never see the light of day, but hey…

I hope it enjoyed my ray of sunshine.

Yami no Rumia – Rumia’s gourmet adventure

pring

Welcome to yet another episode of the Touhou project clone wars, with many more similar posts to come in the near future! It just can’t be helped I guess, it is Touhou after all! But it still amazes me as to how much love this project gets, especially in the form of quality fan- made games, clones or not. I guess some people might not be up for the whole cloning process when it comes to game developing, given that it tends to collide with their vision of identity preservation. But to be honest, this is how our evolution progress as humans has gone so far on the long run, which won’t probably change ever – Someone makes a thing, which inspires others to make similar things, for one reason or another. But the main factor is still there – The formula of said thing is of a good quality. Now, whether the quality can improve as it gets tossed around the table or not can be a debatable topic, but the answer usually revolves around one’s personal preferences. This is why I personally always give a chance to said clone game, because who knows? The person behind the design might have just made it in a way that would appeal more to me than the original inspiration did.

Yami no Rumia DONE!

“Yami no Rumia” is a pretty good Kirby clone featuring Touhou project characters, with Rumia, the Burger King darkness as the main character that you control. This is a game that has been just lying around on my hard drive for more than over half a decade. I’ve been postponing playing it for a long time and now that I did, I’m really pleased with the results. The first thing that managed to grab me are the pretty graphics. I don’t know what it is to them. They are clean, colorful and it feels like they were made with pencils for some reason. The music is really soothing and enjoyable, which is typical for Kirby games in general I guess. The controls are pretty much spot on in similarity to the original source material. You can’t slide though! The projectile that you shoot when canceling a flight has a better range, but it doesn’t one- shot the majority of normal enemies. Similar to other Kirby games, you can consume foes and obtain their powers, if they have any. The amount of those in this game is of decent number, wherein’ most of them have similar resemblance to the ones in the Kirby universe. Rumia also changes appearance upon obtaining a power, dressing as one of the many popular inhabitants of the Gensokyo universe. There is also a portrait status thing as part of the HUD that reacts to that, displaying some pretty neat art depending on your choice of meal.

Here’s my issue regarding the difficulty, level design and bosses of this game. This goes for Kirby games in general, but given that this clone does it job so well of what it is, I think this is just as good of a place to talk about it. With the right powers in store, this whole game can feel amazing to go through. But because I don’t know what’s coming ahead of time, I usually stick to the default form. It ruins the whole experience a bit, but it’s optimal gameplay- wise. There are some areas specifically designed for using some of the powers and those are also easy to notice. These are in general the areas that most people enjoy in Kirby games. I guess the game could invoke some potential replay value, but in this game, the only thing there is to find throughout the levels are the secret rooms containing small darkness orbs, which are required for the final secret boss of the game. Getting to some of these rooms is actually pretty challenging and fun! The game asks of you to play around with some of the powers in some pretty creative ways and I really enjoyed that! Here’s a tip from me – UFOs don’t care about wind currents, but they can be quite difficult to obtain, given that they try to avoid you as best as they can. You can get one randomly from a power- up roulette, which happens if you consume two different powers at once, but that’s a bit of a hassle and RNG dependent, which is a big No|No. In the level before the last level in the last world, right before the last boss, there are flying UFOs right at the start. Progress a little bit in the level and then turn right back to the starting point! There would be few UFOs stuck there, ready for some easy consume!

The boss difficulty has some issues regarding the scaling. Patchouli and Yuyuko felt way easier than some of the bosses that I fought before them. The game has some bugs and glitches that can break certain levels, but luckily, you can exit back to the main HUB world at any point you want. The game is fairly generous with giving out extra 1-Ups, but man, did it took me some time to remember how to play the mini- game that you get each time you complete a level…

The secret extra boss puts you in for some horizontal danmaku battle, with Rumia getting a really cool transformation for it. The whole thing can be a bit dumb, because RNG can put you in some pretty sticky and unfavorable situations, especially when you are new to the boss. Maybe it’s just my grandpa reactions kicking in, but hey! It’s not easy being sleezy…

If you stay at the very top or bottom during the extra boss battle, you are impervious to any attacks. Dunno if that’s because the screen obscures your hitbox and the game fails to register it, but it is a thing for those of you who want the easy way out. Personally, I was tempted, but ultimately choose to preserve my honor.

There are also the typical Touhou plot necessities of searching for a thing, fighting a lot of people because of spilled tea and ending it all with a nap! Truly, a prefect fit for a Kirby clone…

Super Marisa Land – Rise of the forest mushrooms

mris

Back before the whole Touhou boom started, most doujin works revolved around projects by KEY. Stuff like Air, Kanon and Clannad were receiving lots of love from fans, not only in the form of video games mind you, but also artwork, manga and whatnot. While the eventual Touhou flood put those projects to rest, the whole attitude of the people remained the same overall. When it comes to games in particular, fans have the tendency to make clones of popular games, by using said project that they admire as the base for the asset flips. Well, I might have made that sound a bit too rough than it actually is. Because to be fair, in many of those cases regarding game cloning, fans manage to go as far as to outshine even the original source material. And by that I don’t mean only the origins of the said game they used as a base, but the project they mixed it up with as well.

Super Marisa Land DONE!

“Super Marisa Land” is pretty blatant Mario clone featuring a certain popular character from Touhou project. It’s also made by the same people who worked on the official fighting games, so if anything, you know that the product is of a pretty good quality. For some reason though, I remember this game as being pretty boring, dunno why. My recent revisit though showed me that the game as a whole, despite following to a certain extend the formula of a typical Mario clone, is pretty entertaining nevertheless. It has a really weird raw charm to it, which I really adore.

The most unique gimmick of “Super Marisa Land” is the head proportion screen. It features artwork of Marisa, which serves to showcase the status regarding the type of consumables she has absorbed. Mushrooms help Marisa grow, SURPRISINGLY, which also grant her an extra hit. There are various types of mushrooms that affect differently the amount of head proportions which Marisa can get from consuming them. Small mushrooms increase her growth until a certain point, after which any intake of them would be converted into the game’s equivalent of “Coins”. Bigger mushrooms either serve as a few small mushrooms, if Marisa is at her lowest head proportion, OR they give her powers like being able to shoot projectiles or grow into a mature classy woman and destroy anything in her path, as those are known to do usually. For these two specific power- ups to occur, you need to be big enough for the ride. So in general, keeping your extra hits intact can be pretty awarding.

Were there ever any other games back then that did this type of thing, where they showed a portrait of the character at one end of the screen? I think that this game, along with MegaMari, might have started it, because I’ve seen many other games that were released after, who did the same pretty much.

The level design is pretty great, by which I mean, the game has its fair share of good sets that would leave you entertained for a while. Regarding themes, the levels can be pretty bland, what with going to the forest, a cave, the lake and a castle. Not a very exciting spots for an unregistered picnic, but what can you do? But honestly, it’s more about the fact that their presentation isn’t very spectacular. I can maybe compare it to a sweatshirt that you receive from your grandma on your 14th birthday. The music is pretty nice and kinda catchy, with a jingle that can easily get on your nerves if you are exposed to it for too long. Well… not really.

What I like about this game is the pace it uses to introduce new elements and build new levels gradually around them. Even when you complete the main game and you go to the extra levels, there are still more and more new things added to the game.

Obstacles like enemies and harmful environment aren’t anything too complicated for one to write charts about, until you see the few levels in which they are placed in such a way that it makes you flat out happy as to how the whole difficulty gets handled with but a few adjustments. To me, this game was fairly easy, but I can see it posing issues for people who are not a veteran Mario players. One should not push themselves past the story mode, but honestly, that’s not even the cherry on top of the cake…

…that being of course the Alice mode that you unlock! As Alice, you are not allowed extra hits, mushrooms hurt you, but you can throw dolls which explode and destroy most things in their path. I wouldn’t call it a “Hard” mode, but most levels do become a bit more challenging when you play them as her.

Here’s a video of me beating every Extra Level as Marisa and all the possible levels that you can do as Alice. Excluding Extra level 11, which is next near to impossible to do as Alice, as it relies heavily on specifically using that one mushroom power:

The momentum of this game is very similar to the one in “Super Mario Bros.”, but I guess you gain speed faster? The controls are way more responsive though, but even so, I guess one would still need a bit of time to get used to them.

Good times!

♣️ ♦️ PokaPoka Poker [PC-98] ♥️ ♠️

holy grenade

I’m surprised that so far I’ve covered so many different and unique genres for the adult games volume, except for poker. I’m not sure how much of a thing it is nowadays, but back in the 90s, poker was a game kids and adults would play all the time. The strip element was of course taboo for young slabs of meat, which also meant that we kids were even more likely to do it, given our path of logic regarding restrictions. It was a thrilling experience, but not so much as to the actual outcome of it, rather than the fact that we could get caught doing it. Classic childhood values!…

“PokaPoka Poker” follows your typical scenario of a “Win a game of cards against a girl and she strips.”, which was all the rage in the old days when it came to these types of video games. The music of this game is not very impressive, but the artwork is really beautiful. It brings me a pure feelings of joy and I can’t quite put my finger on it as to why. There is something about the whole casual nature of each piece that really fills me up with comfort. This game is pretty short, with a dozen of levels and a few girls to go through, stealing their monthly savings and then making them strip gradually for your own amusement in the process. Pretty soft and vanilla stuff overall.

As far as the gameplay goes, it’s just a simple game of poker, betting on round after round until you run each girl dry of cash. What I like is the fast pace of the game, where rounds just fly by. Pretty simple, but decent interface is the major factor for this. I don’t know about the cards being randomized, as I got quite often the opportunity for a Royal and Straight Flush. The A.I. opponent… is not very bright. It tends to fold often and accept bets that are not really within’ the strength of its hand. Don’t get me wrong, it still manages to get things like Royal Flush or Four of a kind every now and then, but not as often as you do… I guess? The betting system is OK, but I see no reason for one to ever use the fold option, as losing when going with the bet still costs 5$, [As long as you keep the default value.] which is similar to the folding in terms of amount.

Most of the time I didn’t even look at my opponent’s hand. I just fly through each round trying to get the best hand and if the game says I lose, then I go with it. It’s not like I can do anything if it lied to me anyways, except question the logic behind it of a certain someone. The girls tend to also change expressions during the game, which might give you a hint regarding the value of their current hand. Didn’t really matter to Me, but I liked their cute expressions of happiness and despair. I beat the whole thing on my first try in one sitting, without getting any game overs. I’m not sure if a game over resets your whole progress or it just sends you back to the first level of the girl you are currently facing, but I don’t think it really matters all that much. You can just bet it all safely as soon as you get a two pair or three of a kind, but maybe I just got really lucky during those situations? Betting a whole lot of money really tends to scare your opponents, as 75% of the time, they will fold right away! How interesting…

I love that unusual Holy Hand Grenade reference in that one image!