RA Invasion [Part 14] – An ape’s perfect math class

math

This WEEK on RA! – That’s right! I’ve moved the whole thing off the weekend. I will be doing RA Invasion from Monday to Tuesday from now on. There might be more to why I did that, but I don’t want to be hasty, especially with promises that I might not end up fulfilling. While not a whole lot has been going on this week, I spent more time fixing my sleeping schedule and organizing stuff for the next few months. I’d rather spend a few days making up my mind for the future that is to come, than staring into the monitor everyday thinking to myself – “Well, damn Goldilocks Powdercake, what the hell am I going to play today?…

Donkey Kong Jr. Math [NES]

Donkey Kong Jr. was my introduction to the Donkey Kong series as a whole when I was a kid. It was a fairly common game to find on a cartridge, quite entertaining nevertheless. This game though… Not a very hot potato. But I really had fun doing some basic math, believe it or not! Trying to get the highest score on each set was a pretty enjoyable experience, I give credits to RA for that! I’m sad that A and B modes only support 2- Player mode and there isn’t a CPU opponent. Perhaps this was a bit too advanced for people to code at the time this game was made? Regardless, I find this game to be one of those decent educational games that a parent can show to their kids.

Wouldn’t this game be possible only for kids in elementary school and above? Is this a good game to teach your young children about math? I have no idea! Maybe it would be a good game to have in school? Maybe?

…Somehow, I have my doubts.

RA Invasion [Part 13] – A poor breakfast combo

milk

A standard weekend RA session where I go back to a game from my past in an attempt to beat it, all in all while complaining about feeling sick, tired, being poor and how awful the game is. I have these moments all the time, they always end up the same way – I beat said game and then I regret wasting my breath and time over nothing. What I noticed is that the more I have moments like this, the better I get at dealing with them faster and more efficiently. Also, my dog almost bit my hand off, because certain people provoked her at the wrong time, namely while I was feeding her. While this might seem like an off- topic, in my trade, having functional hands is pretty crucial. Among many other things, that is, but still – Accidents tend to happen to those who are not caution of their surrounding environment.

Stay alert!

Nuts & Milk [NES]

 

My initial introduction to this game was on a bootleg famiclone cartridge, where it was presented under the title “Pokemon”, with sprite swaps of the main characters and enemies from the original game as a certain electric rat in different colors. I didn’t really knew back then that it was a hack or to be more precise, I didn’t care! It was a game with Pokemon in it and that was all I needed to be happy. I was quite obsessed with the Pokemon franchise over two decades ago, though not so much nowadays. I eventually got to see the original game on a cartridge that my friend got, but the lack of Pikachu re- sprites was quite disappointing.

“Nuts & Milk” is a puzzle platformer, where the object in each level is to collect all the fruit and then reach the house, while avoiding the enemies who chase you around relentlessly. Levels are one screen big and you can warp from the sides, but hitting the bottom is a certain death. Enemy A.I. is pretty impressive given the year this game was made, but even so, they are quite easy to outsmart once you learn their habits. The level design is pretty good, though not really consistent regarding difficulty curve. It’s similar to “Moai- kun”, but here you can only learn extra 1- ups if you finish successfully the bonus stages. Points rest past the 1 Million mark, so going for the extra fruit during the bonus rounds is just optional. If you are in desperate need for a 1-up, just head for the lady friend right away!

I think that what sets this game to be quite unfriendly to new players is within’ some of the platforming actions that don’t really work as some might expect them to. Trampoline¬† jumps can result in many deaths if one doesn’t have the knowledge on the proper timing that they need to issue in order to get a high bounce. This is what has turned me away from this game in the past, especially during my childhood. Just last weekend, I finally got it… You need to press and hold slightly the jump button as you are falling, right before you hit the trampoline. Any other form of input will result in a weak bounce. It’s not a big issue in the early levels, but towards the mid- game, you need to know how to handle those high jumps if you want to proceed any further. Another issue one might have with this game are the section where you have to jump over two tiles. It requires a jump from the edge of a platform, pixel perfect mostly, but I’m not sure. It’s a weird timing, one with which I’ve struggled even on my final run of this game. Practice makes perfect, though in this case, no matter how much you do it, you don’t get that feeling that you’ve really gotten it! Again, these jumps are to be carefully planned, as they might result in many deaths. Take into consideration that long falls result in a brief stun on your character and enemies won’t miss on the opportunity to take a bite.

New game plus or B mode adds on each stage a flying airship that can hurt you, along with a helicopter, which I forgot that it is actually a collectable for more points. Oh, how I feared the helicopter for so many stages until I remembered… I was quite amused about my forgetfulness, I have to be honest. This game is quite short, with only 50 levels to go through. There is also a construction mode, which got me to think about the fact that they had this option so early on back in the days, on many other old games as well. Isn’t it amusing how it took certain companies over two decades to catch up on the trend? I am making an ass of myself, aren’t I?…

I am quite curious about the C64 version of this game, which has additional 50 levels on top. Maybe… in the near future… maybe…

RA Invasion [Part 12] – Nostalgia Recomposed

legs

Sorry that I missed on making RA Invasion post last week. I’ve been spending some time piling up older stuff that I never finished in the past and I have to say, there is a lot of content that I could have put up in the past few years, if I was more consistent with my work. I’ll get to finish and publish a decent portion of it eventually, I’m just still quite amused at my own laziness.

MagMax [NES]

This is a game way back from my childhood, which I didn’t own, but rather, had my friend lend it to me every now and then. Horizontal SHMUPS weren’t new to me at that point in my life, but man, did I adore this game for the fact that you get to collect machine parts and turn your ship slowly into a robot. What made me extremely upset though was the fact that my friend didn’t like this game one bit. Ah, how much I wanted to own this game myself, but I could never catch a sale where they would sell a cartridge that had it on. It is still killing me a little bit inside to this day that I never got to own this game, as silly as this may sound.

It is not really a very impressive game. It’s quite bland and it’s an arcade port with infinite loops. Additional loops add more enemies with slight increase to their fire rate, but it is still a child play in terms of difficulty. I really like the design variety of the enemies. There are a few sprite- swapped enemies, but overall, you get to fight your way through quite the unique competition. A lot of enemies won’t fire at you if you stay at the right half of the screen. It’s a good place to be when you are facing lots of enemies that tend to charge to the left side. Just be careful, as some do return to the right.

Solid obstacles tend to hide goodies if you destroy them with normal attacks, instead of using the laser from the front part. [Only applies for the above ground level.] The rewards go from Head and Front part to a bonus of 1000p. There are two levels – Above Ground and Underground, each with their own unique set of enemies. You can travel to each via the pound- looking teleports. Each level is composed of four sections and it gives you a unique set of weapons. Above ground you get single shot, ground shot and a front laser… sword? Underground you get two/three shots, one of which is replaced with a piercing fire bolt if you have the front part.

The only boss in this game is a three headed mechanical dragon, who is fairly easy, despite its attack which consist of a very silly projectile spam. You get to face the boss two times before the game loops back. Being above ground or underground doesn’t change that fact. Additional loops do make the boss shoot a bit faster, but it still the same silly pattern, which is really easy to deal with.

Do three loops and a MEIGETSU word will show up, which I think just means, “You’ve seen it all at this point!”. Nothing changes after the third loop, except for your score, which I took the time to set exactly to 1.000 000, because why the hell not? Extra Lives come by easily, given that you kill a whole lot of enemies to rack up enough points. I usually do the first half of the game underground and then I move above for the second. If anything, I tend to avoid the water part underground, as those air currents stun you for so long, it’s enough for any enemy to come by and murder you. You are just as good as dead!

RA wants from the player to kill said dragon boss on initial run and second loop, while having all of your parts intact. Each time, on each level during both runs. A fairly troublesome issue. For one thing, leg parts are hard to come by, as there are only that many you can find in certain areas. The underground level is quite harsh on providing you with spare parts in general and the travel time there is twice as slow compared to the one above ground. Using the teleports strategically is a must if one is to preserve their time and sanity. Take into consideration that the front part slows down your movement by quite a bit, so caution around the boss is required. Your hit box also gets larger with each additional part that you add to your ship, so be careful!

In the end, this game has left me with an emptiness inside, rather than fulfillment. It’s not a good SHMUP, but it can be quite fun to shoot at stuff randomly for a few minutes?

Also, if you find a part which you already have on, it can be turned into a full- screen clear bomb. I still don’t know how that is executed, all I know is that moving around it and shooting does the trick… somehow…

RA Invasion [Part 11] – Balloon Cat

cate

A very late RA Invasion post. I’ve been having issues with my internet connection since Friday, last week. I received pretty sloppy support regarding the issue from my internet provider, wherein even up to now I’m having brief moments where the connection times out and whatnot. This problem happened before many times, so I am not stranger to it. If anything, I am glad that of recent years, the issues has occurred less and less, with the internet connection getting better and more stable overall. A moments like the current one that I am dealing with can be a real pain in the ass though.

Tama and Friends Sanchoume Kouen: Tamalympics [Game Gear]

Tama and Friends Sanchoume Kouen - Tamalympics DONE!

This is a game that I failed to do during the “Attack! A month to the 500th entry!” A compilation of four mini- games, which pack a fairly decent challenge. I really can’t say much about the original source material this game was based on. It’s some Japanese animation series featuring cats, I don’t know. I bet it’s pretty good, despite the fact that it looks to me like your typical generic show featuring cute animals.

This game has practice mode included and the option for showing explanations of how each mini- game works and controls. There is a mini- game where you kick sand into a bucket, while dealing with moles who will try to stun you, alongside one of them moving the bucket around. Probably the easiest mini- game of the four, where it’s mostly about focusing on filling the bucket and not so much on retaliating against the moles as a whole.

Then, there is the game where you have to jump on tires, logs and over gaps. It can be pretty tough, up until you learn the pattern, but even then, one can get confused easily regarding a proper control input. This game combines the usage of holding a direction plus the jump button, all and all while there are also jumps that happen in the background, which require only a single usage of the other available action button. There are two red balloons which you can grab. The first one will help you skip on a fairly easy section at the start and the second one is a trap that leads you to your total DEMISE! Oh, the classic values of retro games supposedly aimed for younger audiences…

The slide climbing mini- game can be pretty awful, until you figure out the proper timing on tapping the action button in order to ascend up. Thanks to RA, I was spoiled on a secret shortcut which makes this mini- game… still quite the challenge. Not a very reliable shortcut, even after you find it, but it’s really, really rewarding. If you manage to get it two times in a row, the slide climbing becomes the easiest challenge of the four pretty much. Again, it’s a pretty finicky task…

P.S. [DOG]

Last, we have swing hell, Hokkaido Malibu. You press left and right while on the swing to build up momentum and then you jump of it using one of the two action buttons when you think the time is right. The thing is though, during my playthrough, I never learned when the time is right and when it is not. I think you are supposed to avoid jumping from the swing when the dog shows up and wait for an air current to boost you up. Even then, regardless that I have taken this into consideration, most of my jumps would shoot up a random distance. Is the requirements for a good jump a bit picky? I’m still not sure. For the most part, it was more of praying to the video game gods for the perfect jump, rather than timing things out perfectly. Then, there is the yellow balloon in this level, which sends you all the way to the end of the track. I got it twice during my run, with a sweet time of three hours in between each successful attempt.

The thing about this game is that you don’t really have to try all the much in order to rack up a good amount of points. First place is easily reachable with a decent effort put into each mini game. HOWEVER, if you want to see the credits roll, you have to get over 400 points! This is where things like getting the yellow balloon on the swing become pretty much “A must”. Even then, accomplishing that hellish task might be for nothing, if you screw up one of the other three games. During my RA run, I even came close to 399 points and that was… It was a very awful feeling to have.

How do I know about the credits thing? I always do a check up on games once I finish them, in order to make sure I’ve gotten everything they have to offer. Sometimes there are obscure things like this one that a person can easily miss on. Thank God for the internet!

RA Invasion [Part 10] – Return to Puzzle island

moai

A pretty short but satisfying RA Invasion weekend, where I beat a game that I’ve been meaning to for quite a while now. I’ve piled up on a lot of games recently that I either haven’t touched or spent enough time on. Worst part is that a lot of them were generous gifts from some pretty nice people and I don’t want to make them feel down for neglecting their gifts. That’s why I think that for a time being, I am not going to add new stuff, until I clear at least 80% of the titles that I currently have on my machine. That goes for my RA entries as well, so there is also the possibility of me dealing with less games per post, given that the difficulty rises or the game itself is long in terms of play time.

Moai- kun [NES]

Moai-kun DONE!

“Moai- kun” is a pretty underrated puzzle- platformer for the NES by Konami. It’s like “Boulder Dash” meets “Nuts & Milk”, a combination that works surprisingly well. There is the issue with having to get used to how far your weak jump can get you and the game kind of requires you to be a bit more precise in your platforming. Jumps don’t have to be exactly pixel perfect, but doing them as closer to the edge of a platform as possible is a must. Of course, mastering the ability to actually do jumps from exactly the edge lets you shortcut on a decent number of levels. As a whole, levels are one screen big only and honestly, 75% of them are pretty simple. The puzzles revolve mostly around pushing and piling up rocks, either to clear or create a path. It’s nothing too complicated and there isn’t too much room for error, which lets you find the proper solution quite easily. First few stages of this game do a pretty good job of teaching you as much about the mechanics of this game as you need to know, really. The game follows the idea of having a difficulty curve composed of throwing a few hard levels in between easier ones, that are there to let you take a breather. I really enjoy this way of handling a difficulty in a video game. There are lives in this game, but you earn extra one after completing a level. It’s pretty easy to stock up on a decent amount and even if that’s not enough, there is still a password system that one can use. This is probably the first retro puzzle game featuring extra lives that I’ve played, where the developers knew how to handle their distribution along with the overall game difficulty. There is a decent variety of enemies in this game, but luckily, you have the means to deal with them, even though your attack is pretty short ranged and needs a bit of a good timing. As you progress into the game, there aren’t a lot of additional gimmicks for you to handle, but the ones that you encounter still freshen up a playthrough quite well. The ice levels are actually fun and enjoyable and the fire breathing Moai heads in the last few levels can be threatening, but they are still pretty impressive in terms of presentation.

For me, the biggest issue with this game was level 34. Every other time when I’ve tried to beat this game for other entries, I would play this game up to that level and give up there. This time I spent a good 20 something lives and once I managed to solve it, it felt really satisfying. This game handles both platforming and puzzles reasonably well and I’m glad I finally managed to finish it.

Also, that one RA achievement for this game, where you have to beat level one in ten seconds. Honestly, I don’t think I could have done it with my current setup, AKA a keyboard. I TRIED FOR A GOOD 30 MINUTES TO DO IT… It just seems impossible. Maybe I could have asked my friend to lend me his controller, but why even bother him, when I can just turn rapid fire on? Still, the achievement feels a bit out of place, but then again…

…lots of other sets have abominations like that as well. It’s not something new and surprising, yes?