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Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Downloads #33

Mighty Final Fight (NES)

SD Final Fight on the NES. Mighty Final Fight was one of the last games to be released on the NES, so like Little Samson and DuckTales 2, it is not an easy game to track down. At least a physical copy. Looking through the NES games on the Wii U eShop and seeing this baby was quite the pleasant surprise. A digital version of Mighty Final Fight for $4.99 instead of a physical copy for over $100? Yes, please!

Duck Hunt (NES)

We didn't get a Duck Hunt Revival on the Wii, which was  crying shame. We didn't even get the NES version of Duck Hunt on the Wii's Virtual Console. Since Duck Hunt cannot be played on HD TVs, I was beginning to wonder if I'd ever be able to play NES Duck Hunt again. A few weeks ago, I booted up my Wii U and saw that one of the game's being played by others was NES Duck Hunt. Nintendo had finally found a way to make the game work on HD consoles with the Wii Remote. There's a target on the screen, but I don't care. I'm just glad I can play the first light gun game I ever played again.

EarthBound (SNES)

2014's Platinum Club Nintendo awards were digital games. I already have a physical copy of EarthBound, but I always like to spring for digital versions of cartridge games whenever possible and this seemed like the best of the what Nintendo was offering.

Mario Kart: Super Circuit (GBA)

When I purchased my GBA back in 2002, this was the first game I picked up and played to death. I'm a bit puzzled with Nintendo's decision to go with the Wii U for releasing GBA games rather than the 3DS, but I'm just happy that these old GBA games are making a comeback.

Klonoa: Door to Phantomile (PS)

A physical copy of this game will net you a pretty penny. I do have the Wii remake, but I like to check out the original version of a game whenever possible. Maybe I'll try going through this and the remake back to back sometime.

Rockman 4: The Complete Works (PS)

This is like, my third time buying this game digitally. The Complete Works versions of these games have some nice bonuses that the originals don't like arranged music and Navi mode. Partial versions of The Complete Works titles made it into the Mega Man Anniversary Collection but it was still missing quite a few things. Curiously, only The Complete Works of Rockman 1-4 are up for grabs on the PSN.

Vib-Ribbon (PS)

I remember reading about this game in Electronic Gaming Monthly in the early 2000s. A unique platform game where you move to the rhythm. You can even put in your own music CDs to play different levels outside of what the game offers.

Wario Land: Super Mario Land 3 (GB)

That is one long title. Why they didn't just call this one Wario Land is beyond me. Loved this game as a teen, but I never finished it.

Wario Land II (GB)

Since I picked up the first Wario Land, grabbing the second adventure only seemed natural with what little funds I had left. I've never played this one but I hear it's a much bigger game than the original.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Play Hard Part 4

Streets of Rage 3 (GEN)

The first two Streets of Rage games had their tough spots on the default difficulty settings but they were still very managable. However, when Streets of Rage 3 was being localized to western audiences, some sinister fiends working at SEGA decided to tweak the difficulty settings just a tad. And by that, I mean, crank it from 10 to 25.

Playing Streets of Rage on normal could be described as playing it on hard or even very hard. The regular flunkies can take away so much of your health and the amount of life bars the bosses have is just ridiculous. Want to conserve health by not performing your energy-draining special moves? The mooks and bosses are gonna slap you around so much you're gonna lose it anyway so you may as well part with your health by dishing out some pain. While I've seen the credits roll on the first two games in this series, I've never made it past the third level of Streets of Rage 3 and that was when I had a friend to aid me.

Ice Climber (NES)

Vertical scrolling mixed with the occasional slip, sliding ice physics. That right there is a recipe for broken controllers. Much as I loved Ice Climber as a kid, I was not blind to the fact that it was quite punishing in difficulty. The game has 32 stages and you can actually select the level you want from the outset. By stage 10, the challenges Ice Climber throws at you becomes maddening. You'll be jumping a cross super speeding platforms with not much of a safety net below more times than not.

Being a vertical scrolling game, Ice Climber works on the death rule that is you-die-if-you're-below-the-screen. If you happen to be playing with friends that are in a hurry, they may cause you more deaths than any of the enemies strutting around the mountain peaks. Speaking of baddies, by far the biggest threat is the Polar Bear. He looks cool and all with those trunks and shades, but the sight of him only means that you're taking too long. Sure, Ice Climber has no time limit in the regular stages, but if you dawdle, the Polar Bear steps in and auto scrolls the screen upwards a bit, killing you if you're too far down.

Even by old-school gaming standards, Popo and Nana have very strange jump physics. They always jump in an arc and they cannot change direction once a leap has been initiated. So not only do you have the crazy level layouts to contend with, an bear that has no tolerance for stragglers, but also the protagonists stiff controls. Why are Popo and Nana going through so much agony in the first place? Why, for the eggplants of course. Freaking eggplants. Perhaps they've spent so much time on the mountains that the possibility of the fruit being sold in stores eludes them.

Contra (NES)

Home conversions were a big thing in the 1980s. Sometimes they were done quite horribly as was the case with the Atari 2600 version of Pac-Man. Other companies did quite an admirable job, like Konami with the NES version of Contra, which is actually more popular than the arcade original. In fact, Contra was almost too faithful to it's arcade sibling, right down to the gut-punching difficulty.

Contra was a game that taught players how to be alert and it was a very harsh teacher. Danger did not come from one direction, but from all directions. Anyone that was not paying attention would be met with a swift death, and rest assured, death in Contra is quick because as tough as Bill and Lance look, they will leave this moral coil in one lousy hit. Power-ups like the Spread gun helped tip the scales a bit, but that just made losing it all the more painful, especially in a game where you're a one-hit-point wonder.

So you've got an onslaught of enemies that don't let up and they come at you from everywhere. That in and of itself is brutal. But the big kick to the balls is that you only get three lives and three continues. Once you use them all, game over. That is, unless you know the code, the Konami Code, a code so famous that it's known even outside of gaming circles. The Konami Code bestows upon you a whopping 30 lives and if you still use all of those up and have to continue, you'll get those precious 30 lives back. Contra wasn't the first game to introduce the Koanmi Code (that would be the NES version of Gradius) but it unquestionably popularized it. Players that are now gods at Contra more than likely obtained their status by using the Konami Code to improve themselves and are now skillful enough to best the game without the code, something that still remains out of a lot of player's grasp to this very day.

Robotron: 2084 (ARC)

Its no secret that most arcade game's are notoriously difficult. But even the likes of Contra has show's some mercy, however small it may be by giving players a few power-ups. If you're looking for any sort of shield, or improved weapon to give you an edge in Robotron: 2084, you're outta luck. The only things you can count on in this game are your own skills and a really good trigger finger.

An overhead twitch shooter, Robotron  throws you into the middle of a war zone with wave after wave of increasingly difficult enemies to blast to bits. Of course you get points for ending the live of the ones that seek to end yours, but you can rack up even more points by rescuing civilians. Most of the time, you'll have to put yourself in even greater danger to save these chaps, so depending on the how many lives you've got left and whatnot, picking them up may or may not be worth it. Despite it's very simplistic look, Robotron packs enough punch to scare away even the most seasoned of gamers. But for all the pain the the game can cause you, its the kind of difficulty that isn't cheap or unfair, something that cannot be said for the next game on the list.

Mega Man & Bass (SNES)

Mega Man 7, Mega Man X1-3 and Mega Man Soccer. Capcom had brought just about every SNES Mega Man title over to America. All except for one and this was most likely due to the game coming out in 1998, a time where Nintendo had left it's 16-bit console behind and was focusing on the N64. Rockman & Forte was created so Mega Man fans that still owned a SNES in the late 1990s could have a Mega Man game to go to.

As the title implies, you can play as either play as Mega Man or Bass. Mega Man plays as he always has, while Bass comes with rapid fire, can shoot in multiple directions, can dash and a double jump. The downside is that unlike Mega Man, he cannot shoot through walls and he cannot move and shoot at the same time. You might be thinking that Bass has the easier time in this game with all he has going for him. Well, getting through stages is certainly less demanding with Bass for the most part. Boss fights, however, will be like taking a Charge Shot to both knees. For Mega Man, bosses are easier and stages are a headache. Really, though, it doesn't matter which one of these guys you go with because this game makes it so you're royally screwed regardless of the choice you make.

Like Mega Man 8, there are no Energy Tanks to be found and Rockman & Forte is a much harder than any challenge all classic Mega Man games has dished out combined. The level design isn't anywhere near as friendly as other Mega Man titles and a lot of enemy hits will have you calling BS simply because they literally get the drop on you on account of you not being able to see them until its too late. Disappearing block sections are a nightmare with Mega Man because unlike previous games, Rock has no Rush adapters to deal with these things. Astro Man's stage has one nasty disappearing block section and the timing on these things is beyond strict, with the starting block being over a pit of spikes.

The second King stage has got to be the most horrendous thing I've ever experienced in a Mega Man title. For starters, the stage just seems to drag on and on. But the real nightmare is the bosses, four of them, but the two that will really make you want to rage quit is the tank, specifically it's second variation. While you were on the ground for the first portion of the fight, the second area is fought by jumping over moving platforms over, you guessed it, a bottomless pit. Not only is the boss shooting at you all the time, one of the things it's firing is a fist that can break the platforms you're jumping on, which is a surefire death for anyone playing as the Blue Bomber. The boss also shoots flash bombs that turn the screen white for a second or two, long enough to make you lose your bearings and fall to your death. This boss also has no health bar and can take an insane amount of abuse before finally going down.

In 2003, the game was released in America under the name Mega Man & Bass on the GBA. The game was only made even harder due to the GBA screen crunch. If you want to play the better version of the game, you can hunt down a reproduction cart that's been translated to English. The SNES version may not suffer from screen crunch but that still isn't saying much. This is one of those games that hard for all of the wrong reasons.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Option Fire: Gradius III NES/Famicom Arrange Album

I know I talk a lot about how much I love Mega Man, Mario and Sonic music on this blog through my Favorite Tunes posts. But Gradius compositions have also been game music that I've always adored. My love affair with the Gradius series music dates back all the way to the early 1990s when I played Gradius III on the SNES. How fitting it is that the latest freebie digital album I stumbled across gives the audio from Gradius III the NES/Famicom sound chip arrangement.

Using the music making tool that is Famitracker, composer Wally Chantek has transformed the arcade and SNES selections of music from Gradius III into magnificent 8-bit compositions. Gradius and Gradius II were actually released on the NES with sound quality being noticably improved in the second installment. Option Fire's sound font is strikingly similar to that of the Famicom version of Gradius II, which had remarkably good music. Pity Gradius II on the Famicon was never released outside of Japan. Something they can remedy with digital releases, perhaps? Regardless, if you're looking for some top quality Gradius III NES/Famicom jams, Option fire has you covered.

Option Fire YouTube Stream
Option Fire

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Latest Purchases #77

Another post that should have went up back in December. What can I say, it was a busy month, and I worked. A LOT. Anyway, here's the last things I bought in 2014.

While shopping some Christmas shopping, I came across something very unexpected. A World of Nintendo Cat Suit Luigi. I thought I'd seen all of the plushies in this line of toys, but evidently, I have not. This was the very last one in Wallgreens and I was not about to let someone else give him home. I really need to see just how expansive this toy line is.

Wario Time! I guess Wario is another one of those hard-to-find World of Nintendo toys that isn't a soft toy because I've never seen him in stores until a few weeks ago. Target had about three Wario's left  and on sale so I had to grab one up. I'm honestly a little surprised at how big he is, too. I mean, he's nothing compared to the WON Donkey Kong, but he's got some mass to him.

The WON Wind Waker Link is very similar to the Toon Link I purchased at GameStop back in 2011, with some key differences. His coloring is lighter and his sword is very, very flimsy. When I saw WON Toon Link months ago, I decided to not purchase him due to already owning a similar Toon Link but since Toon Link is my favorite incarnation of the character, I decided to buy him. Gotta admit, I do like his lighter colors.

This Skyward Sword beanie is something I picked up at fye. It was on sale for $10, pretty good considering the original price was $17.99. Plain old beanies keep my head warm, but decorative beanies keep my head warm and have the added bonus of having people that pass me say "Hey, nice beanie."

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Hyacintho Resilience, a Mega Man 27th Anniversary Fan Album

Mega Man has an outstanding ongoing comic series by Archie Comics, he's a playable character in Super Smash Bros. Yet a chorus of the fanbase still remains unhappy, largely to do his parent company, Capcom, having not released a single new Mega Man game since 2010, excluding Rockman Xover and Street Fighter x Mega Man. Even his 27th anniversary wasn't really acknowledge by the company. And this is where the fans with an ear for music step in.

Hyacintho Resilience is a 27th anniversary tribute album to the Blue Bomber and his numerous incarnations. This 12 track puppy covers, the Classic, X, Legends, Battle Network, Zero and ZX Mega Man series. That's an impressively broad range to cover, especially with only 12 tracks so I must applaud these guys for spreading things out so far. What's more, only a few of the usual suspects show up as remixes. What do I mean by that? Sure, there's an X vs. Zero arrangement, but you won't find a single Mega Man 2 track here. A remix of the Ending from Mega Man 5? Yes. Fragments from Mega Man ZX? Affirmative. Opening Stage from Mega Man X6? Check. Lesser know, under appreciated tracks get some long overdue love in this fan album, something I've wanted to see from fans for a very long time.

Hyacintho Resilience is completely free and having listened to it several times already, this is definitely something I can recommend to Mega Man fans. It actually released on Rock's 27th birthday, so I'm a little bummed that I wasn't aware of this album until now. Oh, well, at least I found out not too long after the release date. This is a fantastic tribute to the Blue Bomber.

Hyacintho Resilience

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Favorite Tunes #104: Happy New Year

I don't make news year's resolutions (haven't done so since 2001) but like everyone else, I love to celebrate the new year and be happy that I made it through another 365 days on this planet. "But Reg, you're about a week late!" Hey, I'm late to everything, but at least I show up. Enjoy the tunes.

Infinity Mijinion Stage -Mega Man X6 (PS)

What happens when you rush a game out the door? Well, at worst, you get Sonic the Hedghog 2006. While Mega Man X6 isn't that bad, it really is one of the worst Mega Man games you could play. Fortunately, the music has fared so much better than the game. Do you find yourself thinking of Europe's Final Countdown song when you hear this theme? Oh, good, I'm not the only one.

Area 6 - Star Fox 64 (N64)

When I think of Star Fox 64, themes that usually pop into my head are Corneria, Boss B, Sector Y and Solar. It wasn't until I was listening to the music in Smash 4 that I'd realized that the Area 6 music originally came from the N64 classic shooter. The numerous arrangements of this jam are pretty boss but  the original still gets me pumped.

Stage Results - Pac-Man World (PS)

Clement's latest LP is none other than the 20th anniversary game, Pac-Man World. I passed on it when it was originally released all those years ago but seeing him play through this game has sparked some interest in me checking the game out. I've been playing as Pac-Man a lot in Super Smash Bros. 4 as of late. I even picked up a Pac-Man candy tin that's in the shape of an arcade cabinet. I guess you could say I've got... Pac-Man fever. Oh come on, you should have seen that one coming. Anyhoo, the this results tune is a laid back version of the famous Pac-Man theme.

Number One - Sonic R (SAT)

Sonic R is a bit of a guilty pleasure for me. Yes, I know it's not what many would call a good Sonic game, but the thing is far from being terrible and it should never be lumped in with the likes of Sonic '06. It isn't just the slippery controls that call the game into question, but also the soundtrack. Composed by Richard Jaques with vocals by TJ Davis.

Aim to Win (Character Select) - Tekken Tag Tournament 2 (PS3, 360, Wii U)

What is it with Tekken games and killer character select themes? The original Tekken Tag Tourament has one of the greatest fighter select themes in the genre and more than a decade after that game's release, it's arguably topped with this one. I'm used to feeling like a BAMF when the fighting is going down, not when I'm picking my character, but I'm certainly not griping.

Fire Field - Super Smash Bros. Brawl (Wii)

Super Smash Bros. may be all the rage on the Wii U but whether you like it or not (for the record, I never hated Brawl) you're going to be reminded of Brawl since a good chunk of the remixes from the third Smash were brought over to Smash 4. One of the many tracks you can hear on Captain Falcon's stage, Port Town Aero Dive is this super sexy Fire Field arrangement. That masterful guitar work is out of this world.

Favorite Tunes Database