16-Bit, gaming

Tokyochuchu on: Super Turrican

turrican2

Does anyone remember Super Turrican for the SNES? When people usually think about great 2D action-platform games, the mind tends to linger on Mega Man, Contra or Super Metroid. But Super Turrican really deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as those untouchable classics.

Turrican is actually a long running franchise. There are tons of different Turrican games on lots of different platforms, ranging from the Amiga to the PC Engine to the Sega Medadrive to the Super Nintendo. Other really notable entries in the franchise include the hard-as-nails sequel Turrican 2 and, bizarrely, the movie tie-in Universal Solider (aka; Turrican reskinned).

Let's face it; any game with a lazer spreader weapon must be awesome!

Let’s face it; any game with a laser spreader weapon must be awesome!

The best entry in the franchise, however, is the first SNES title Super Turrican. The game has a lot going for it; Bright graphics, a memorable theme tune, awesome power-ups (lasers, bullet spreaders, rebounding shots) and some intimidating bosses. The controls are about as tight as they can get and there’s even a bit of innovation thrown into the mix via the game’s subsidiary laser-whip weapon.  You can swing this badboy around your character at any time to momentarily stun enemies. This adds a touch more strategy and variety to the proceedings. So too, you have an offensive version of Samus’s morphball attack (offensive in that it causes damage and not that it spouts racist propaganda or anything) and a limited supply of powerbombs that wipe all the weaker enemies off the screen.

His vacation to Hawaii went a little pear shaped.

His vacation to Hawaii went a little pear shaped.

As you can probably tell, Super Turrican is packed full of great mechanics and is an absolute blast to play. Better still, with it’s strict life / continue policy, high score system and time limit, Super Turrican feels like a fantastic old school arcade game that you can play at home. Man… I miss these types of games in the arcade. Now it’s all racing games, plastic musical instruments and UFO catchers. Bring back the good old days of playing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Final Fight and Space Harrier in dingy sea-side hovels while searching for dropped coins on the sticky floor and avoiding scary biker-looking types. Yosh!

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16-Bit

Tokyochuchu on: Go Go Ackman

Does anyone remeber Go Go Ackman on the Super Famicom? Of course you don’t! But that’s not your fault because the game was never actually released outside of Japan.

That’s a real shame as Go! Go! Ackman is an absolutely fantastic 2D sidescrolling platformer. The plot revolves around the titular Ackman and his mini devil sidekick. Their job is to kill and collect souls. Hmmm… When you put it like that, it seems quite dark, doesn’t it. Like a proto Manhunt or something!

Of course, it’s not dark whatsoever and has a bright pallet with a twee art design. Basically, it has that trademark Japanese cuteness but without stepping it into overkill. Go! Go! Ackman also has a great sense of Japanese humor, with the bosses in particular being weird, chuckle-worthy creations

The gameplay, whilst not breaking any molds, is very solid indeed. The controls are very tight and easy to grasp. You start the game with only your fists and feet as weapons but as you go through the game you can pick up such items as a boomerang, a sword and a pistol. These items work the same way as in Mario and Sonic. If you get hit, you lose the power up. Go! Go! Ackman also includes a couple of vehicle  stages where you either drive a car, use a surfboard or fly a hover mech.

These stages have a constantly scrolling screen and usually require quicker reflexes than the other levels. The car levels are actually a little frustrating to be honest and require a touch of trial and error. But once you have acclimatised to the vehicle controls and the car’s mine-bouncing technique, they are quickly surpassed.

Ultimately, Go! Go! Ackman is an excellent platformer, stuffed to the brim with memorable bosses, colorful graphics, great music and Japanese charm. So, if you ever feel like playing an awesome platform game that most people in the western world have never heard of, emulate your way on down to Go! Go! Ackman land.

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32-Bit, gaming, Sega Saturn

Tokyochuchu on: Amok

 

Does anyone out there remember the 1996 Playstation, Saturn & PC title Amok? For those who remain blissfully unaware, Amok was a third-person mech shooter. Although mech shooters were two-a-penny in the mid nineties, Amok tried to stand out from the crowd by adding an amphibious element to the proceedings. When on land the mech would be in the standard AT-ST style but when in the water it would transform into a big submersible frog. This presumably made it easier to kill enemies as they’d be busy pissing themselves laughing at your ‘frog-mobile’ whilst you were getting missile lock.

The plot of Amok was the usual half baked crap. Something about a rebel fight against corrupt dictatorzzzzzzz… Basically speaking, Amok was a level-based arcade shooter which means no-one gave a tea-bagging nun about the plot, only caring about where the next sumbitch to be gibbed was hiding at. Objectives in the game followed the normal path of the day; ‘take out three shield generator pylons and then take out whatever they were shielding’ or; ‘escort this train from A to B and make sure it doesn’t get blown up’. Sometimes the game would shock you by stretching to; ‘make sure you blow up this train and it’s escorts’!!!

As you may have gathered from my tone, Amok was certainly not perfect. In fact it had a myriad of annoying flaws. Firstly, it suffered almost all of the graphical failings of the 32bit era; nasty pixelation of close-up objects, a poor draw distance masked by ‘fog’ and plenty of pop-up and fade-in. Add to that it’s crippling difficulty and a very short campaign and you’re probably left wondering why I’m even bringing up such an obvious gaming turd.

The reason Amok is remembered so fondly is down to it’s one saving grace; you could play the entire campaign in split-screen two player co-op. That might be commonplace now, but back in ’96 it was a real rarity. That changed Amok from something that I would’ve shelved very quickly into a nostalgically flawed title that I nether-the-less sank a shit-ton of hours into with my brother. God bless your crappy, unoriginal, graphically nauseating ass, Amok… We loved you in our own sick way!

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32-Bit, gaming

Tokyochuchu on: Doom

 

Does anyone remember the ubiquitous classic Doom? Of course you do! That’s why it’s a ubiquitous classic! For those impossible few who have never played Doom, it tells the story of a runaway romance between a man, his chaingun and several horny pinky demons. The man’s mission? Descend down to hell via a quick stop-over on mars and deliver the biggest inter-dimensional beatdown the devil has ever seen. The pinky demon’s mission? To deliver the type of inter-dimensional sodomy that would make even George Micheal hesitant.

Along with it’s predecessor Wolfenstein 3D, Doom invented and popularized the FPS. There was a time during the mid-to-late nineties when every home console was awash with Doom-clones. The likes of Alien Trilogy, Blam! Machine Head, Exhumed, Quake, Star Wars Dark Forces and many, many others tried to make Doom’s charm their own. It took the combined force of Half Life and Goldeneye007 to finally push the industry onwards.

That said, Doom was and is an awesome game that should never be forgotten. It stole an unbelievable amount of my childhood and gave me some serious, serious fun. I played Doom a bunch of times on different platforms. Does anyone remember how everyone fawned over the Atari Jaguar port? Or how about the stuttering, critically savaged Sega Saturn version? Or even the weird SNES one that had no music? I played ’em all. Having recently bought Doom 3: BFG edition (which comes packaged with Doom & Doom II), I’m now playing it once again. And you know what? It’s still an immeasurable joy to play. Much more so than that new-fangled (circa 2005) Doom 3 crap. To be honest, I like this game far more than most FPS titles of this generation! There’s something about the game’s simplicity that really appeals to me. The graphics are charming and timeless, the level design is perfect and it even manages to rustle up the odd fright now and then. Making enemies do the chaingun cha-cha just NEVER gets old. Neither does chainsawing people. Or seeing the witless enemies fight among themselves. Or punching someone into mush with a berserk power-up… It’s just brilliant!

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32-Bit, gaming

Tokyochuchu on: Metroid Zero Mission (GBA)

Does anyone remember the GameBoy Advance title, Metroid Zero Mission? If you do, you’ll be remembering not only the best GBA game in existence but also (arguably) the best game in the Metroid franchise too. For those that are unaware, Metroid Zero Mission is a remake of the original NES Metroid title. That said, Zero Mission is a far, far superior game than the original Metroid for a myriad of reasons.

Obviously, Zero Mission looks a whole lot better than the original. The jump from 8 to 16 bit has enabled the game to have brilliantly detailed sprites and animations. Zero Mission manages to look even better than the much loved SNES Super Metroid or the ‘other’ GBA title, Metroid Fusion.

The Game’s plot is the usual type of Metroid fluff. Samus is lured down to a planet by a distress signal and then finds Space Pirates trying to steal metroids and whatnot. Basically, the plot of the franchise has remained the same all the way from this first game until the latest one!

But Metroid was never about plot. It was about exploration, precision platforming and epic bosses. I’m pleased to say that Metroid Zero Mission has all of these in spades. During the game, you’ll have the pleasure of running into all the usual suspects such as Kraid, Mother Brain and Ridley. These boss battles are excellently designed, very exciting to play and truly unforgettable gaming moments.

Exploration is given the edge over the original game too. The NES Metroid could be really cryptic, giving you no idea of where to go or what to do. Mercifully, Zero Mission supplies you with ‘points-of-interest’ markers. These give you a destination without holding your hand. How you get there, however, is up to you to figure out.

The controls are also much improved over the original. You can now aim up and diagonally, which is a huge fucking relief, let me tell you. The controls even manage to outshine Super Metroid by having better face mapping and a far more convenient missile selection system.

All in all, Metroid Zero Mission is the perfect 2D Metroid game. It’s not too long but not too short. It adds a ton of features to the original (including an all new stealth sequence) and has great controls and excellent graphics. Zero Mission also has better pacing than Super Metroid, with a lot less aimless wondering.

Sure, it might well be retreading the franchise’s greatest hits over again, but Zero Mission refines the formula into something that far transcends it’s ‘remake’ origins. Simply put; if you have a GBA, you HAVE to play this game.

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