RA Invasion [Part 16] – Casual GBC suplexing.

killing machine

I’ve organized a plan for RA, where I’ll do a different console per post, with increased +1 entry each time, up to 10, after which I will make a reset. The console pick up is entirely done by RNG, although I do tend to avoid those that still lack a sufficient number of games in their library. However, for a time being, I might put that on hold, because I really want to prioritize the major clean- up that I’ve been thinking of doing for a while now. Well, I’ve kind of started it a while back, but for real, I should be more consistent with it.

Monsters, Inc. [Game Boy Color]

Monsters, Inc. DONE!

This game is a platformer that starts out pretty decently, but it quickly accelerates into shoving instant deaths into the face of the player. That comes in terms of enemies, platforming segments and boss battles. Boss battles in particular are pretty awful, because it’s not really crystal- clear as to how they should be handled, especially the second one. Another major issue is the boss patterns, which you need to learn proper, as you cannot really outrun your foe and your huge hitbox is of no help either. This game doesn’t shine all that much when it comes to level variety and some visuals in certain levels can be confusing sometimes when it comes to handling properly the platforming. The controls of this game are not very good, but I’ve seen worse. Suffice to say, even if you get used to them, performing certain difficult platforming segments still won’t feel as good as they should. At least the game is generous enough to provide you with a decent number of extra lives and HP pick- ups are all over the place.

How well does this game live up to the original source material? Last time I’ve watched “Monsters, Inc.” was probably over more than a decade ago, but from what I remember, I think this game does its job good enough. You can switch between Sulley and Mike in certain levels, but the majority of the game is dedicated to Sulley. Sulley has a bigger hitbox, can grab onto ledges and roar at sleeping children at the beginning of the game. Further along, Boo will join him for a few stages, but as far as I have played this game, I never found her attack to be of any need or use anywhere in the game. Mike is the character to go in pretty much every stage where he is available. He can double jump and has a projectile attacks, which costs 1 HP per ammo, but it’s still pretty good enough to take out most of the opposition that might try and stand in your way.

My final statement for this game is – I really hated the stage with the doors! The issue there is not the design of the stage, but rather, the fact that you need to position well to grab onto the doors in order to climb on top of them. That gets especially frustrating when it comes to the moving doors, where in some cases Sulley would refuse to grab at all, resulting in pretty much a loss of life and a restart of the whole stage. I also think that the vertical scrolling is done pretty badly. To keep up with your nemesis who is chasing you and can instantly kill you, you need to be really ahead, way past what the camera shows you even. Memorization of the level layout plays a huge role in that, but is this really how the developers intended the level to be played? Does this game suffers from a lack of quality playtesting?

I wonder…

Warlocked [Game Boy Color]

I called this game a “Budget Warcraft: Orcs and Humans”, but I don’t know how strongly do I feel about that opinion. It’s quite the unique experience, I’ve never imagined that I would ever play RTS for a handheld. I think what made me come up with that opinion for “Warlocked” more than anything was the resources gathering in this game. Come on now! A gold mine that you sent your workers to and lumber harvesting? That is so WC alright! I do like that they made different variations for the gold mine and the lumber. In some levels you gather rocks and in the underground levels you mine the gold straight from a drilled- in hole in the ground. Those are but a few simple touches that put a genuine smile on my face.

When it comes to the two factions in the game, the only differences between them are the sprites. Both Humans and Beasts play the same, they both have identical unit types and structures that share equal stats and functions. The only buildings that you can build in this game are farms, towers and barracks. Farms increase the maximum number cap of units that you can have, but sadly, no indication about it is displayed anywhere on the hub menu, which can be kind of annoying. Turrets provide a slight defense for your base. Pretty weak in general, can easily fall to merely a two melee soldiers. The barracks lets your produce either melee soldiers or archers. The first type is what you’ll be producing most of the time, as archers are more fragile, expensive and only necessary for taking down enemy dragons, really.

Maps vary from small to medium- sized. In general, the campaign missions are on the low side of difficulty. Especially the missions where you can obtain Dragons, which you can use to clean up any opposition in no time. In general though, the enemy CPU doesn’t gather resources and does not rebuild structures, but is usually fortified really well. A few waves of melee soldiers usually does the job just as well as a single drake. As for the missions themselves, they mix it up with something new and different every now and then, so it’s not always about cleaning the whole map from the CPU’s units and structures.

The bread and the butter of this game are the wizards. These are really strong units that you can rescue per each missions, after the first one for each faction. They can be stored and summoned from a temple structure, which you need to reveal on the map in order to use. They have no cost for summoning and each one can provide you with unique power. In general, most wizards can instantly kill an enemy unit. Some of them do that and turn the enemy unit into resources, which are credited to your bank right away. Some wizards can convert the enemy units into archers for your own personal army or into weak critters that you can kill in few hits. There are wizards that make your units tougher to kill or fortify your turrets to be able to sustain more damage. The list goes on and there are wizards unique to each factions, even though they are yet again a sprite swaps sharing similar stats and powers.

Maps hold secrets, like wizards, hints, maps for multiplayer and gambling mini- games that you can unlock, so full exploration is encouraged. Army stocks can be saved, imported or exported. The mini- games provide you with additional extra gold for your stock files. [?] I wonder how good multiplayer is? I haven’t experience it yet, but would really like to at some point in the future.

The RA achievements push one towards finding all the wizards. While that is fine and dandy, wizard distribution is unique for each new save file. Luckily, that distribution comes in the form of a few unique sets, all of which have been recorded by a guy on the internet. I’m really glad that documentation exists, because honestly, there is no point in replaying the campaigns over and over, without any knowledge regarding the wizards spawn order. In my case, I was literally chasing after finding sprite swaps of wizards that I’ve already experienced during my first initial run. [Only Sage and Necromancer were left when I consulted the documentation.] Is this a form of cheating or did I do good for saving time chasing wild gooses? I’ll let you be the judge of that…

The plot of this game is pretty bland for each faction, wherein you just build up your path towards dethroning the lead figure of the opposing nation. The music in this game is pretty catchy and it fits quite well with the muffled and bland voices of the units. It’s quite the hilarious experience, I really enjoyed it!

Having trouble defending your main hall? Put a wizard there to halt all attacks along with a worker to repair all the damage. If you have a wizard than can convert enemies into resources or archers, you can turn the attacks into quite the profit! It requires a little bit of micro, but it’s quite effective.

This game… It’s not really amazing, but it can be the perfect gateway game for anyone who wants to get into the RTS genre. Personally, I give it a honest 6/10.

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!