SNK vs. Capcom: The Match of the Millennium (NGPC): COMPLETED!

I was sure I’d never completed this before, but as I got to the three “guards” just before the Geese/Bison double fight, I realised I had played it before. See.

Not only that, but I chose Ken to play as this time too. Because of course I would. He’s Ken!

Looking at my post from a couple of years ago though, it seems I really struggled in the final few battles last time. No such trouble this time around. Well, I mean, they weren’t a walkover but each of the guards/Geese-Bison/Iori only took a handful of attempts each.

 

Wonder Boy in Monster Land (MS): COMPLETED!

Is he Wonder Man yet?

Another game I’ve completed before, but not recently and certainly not as frequently as Mega-lo-Mania.

Helpfully, I totally missed getting the bell so had to rely on mainly faulty memory to make it through the castle at the end. I’d stocked up on Thunderflashes though, which makes taking out the dragon a lot easier when I finally got to him.

Great game, but overshadowed now by the far better Dragon’s Trap remake.

Mega-lo-Mania (MD): COMPLETED!

I alone am best.

I must complete this every year, I think. There’s little need to mention much about the game really, except to say that 1) I played as Scarlet, and 2) once again I reached the final level as the only person to actually put any of my men in suspended animation. Meaning another instant win.

One day, someone else will manage it. One day.

Pulseman (MD): COMPLETED!

But he’s a robot so doesn’t have a pulse surely.

What’s this? A Mega Drive game I’ve never heard of? Surely not. Especially since it was written by Game Freak and published by Sega themselves. How come I’d never seen it before? Perhaps it’s because it was Japan-only?

Well, despite being Japan-only, and all the dialogue in the game being in Japanese, all the speech (and there’s a lot) is in English. Which begs more questions – why wasn’t this released outside of Japan? Bizarre.

The game itself plays like a cross between Mega Man and Sonic the Hedgehog. Pulseman himself looks absolutely nothing like Zero from the Mega Man games, and none of the levels look anything like Aquatic Ruin, Green Hill Zone and Casino Night at all. Unlike both those games, though, Pulseman is badly animated and movement is jerky. He’s got a swipe attack and a weird backflip thing (during which he’s invulnerable), but the main gimmick for the game is his ability to charge himself up with electricity and use it mainly to become a ball that bounces round the screen.

To charge, Pulseman can either run a short distance or perform a dash. The ball he turns in to can then be used to reach higher platforms, break through certain walls, or travel along wires. There’s a power up which allows Pulseman to remain charged indefinitely, so long as you don’t die or finish the level.

Speaking of levels, they’re varied and some look incredible. In particular, backgrounds are often made up of the sort of sine-wavey trickery demo scene stuff tends to do. It’s occasionally distracting (on one later level seemingly on purpose) but it looks really clever. On the casino level you wonder how they squeezed so many colours out of a Mega Drive.

Jerkiness aside, it’s a fun game. Not too hard, sometimes frustrating (mainly due to leaps of faith or those baddies that follow you round discharging you all the time), and with lots of “wow” moments with the graphics.

Metal Slug 2nd Mission (NGPC): COMPLETED!

Pineapple!

As well as completing 1st Mission, I thought I’d do 2nd Mission. Makes sense. It’s good, too.

I think I was misremembering how good, though. I was pretty certain it was better in almost every way than 1st Mission, but no. Certainly, the addition of speech, more levels, and two characters to choose from are improvements. Changing the Start button from “toggle between guns and grenades” to “throw grenade” is definitely for the best. However, the levels seem less interesting for the most part, and some – like the prison and the factory – are just rubbish. In addition, many of the bosses are just those from the original again.

They also seemed to add a lot more colour to the game, especially the player character, but this just makes them garish. The animation on the new alien foes, though, is super smooth as they sort of tear open and vomit goo. No, really.

On balance, it’s still excellent. It’s just not quite as impressive or fun as the first game.

Metal Slug 1st Mission (NGPC): COMPLETED!

Rocket Lawn Chair

The Neo Geo Pocket had some great versions of Neo Geo games. They were reimaginings of them rather than ports, and played to the little handheld’s strengths.

Metal Slug 1st Mission looks and feels like the “grown up” version, only is more platformy, a bit less shooty, and much easier. That’s not to say it’s easy, it’s just the original Metal Slug was definitely a bit of a coin chomper. Sadly, there’s no speech, but that’s a small loss.

The levels are varied, with some needing exploration, some straightforward left-to-right jumping and shooting, a few sideways scrolling shooter sections, and some massive bosses. In some ways it feels a bit more like Mega Man than Metal Slug (not least when you get to the disappearing block section), but that’s OK as Mega Man is great too.

Oh, and it looks amazing. That NGPC could really make some pretty games. Just look at the sunset here, for example:

You can’t see from the screenshots, but the animation is awesome too, especially on you and the soldiers. The cute “SD” Metal Slug tank and jet look fantastic as well.

Mappy-Land (NES): COMPLETED!

Cheesy.

Mappy is a game I always play whenever I fire up MAME and haven’t anything in mind to actually play. I’m terrible at it, but I play it quite a lot. Imagine my surprise when I found this NES-only sequel existed. Not only that, it’s pretty good too.

Like the original, it’s a platformer where the gimmick is trampolines. You bounce on them to reach higher platforms. It differs from the original in a similar way to how Pac-Land and Mighty Bombjack did over their predecessors – by making it a side-scroller. Sort of.

You collect 6 items in each level then head for the exit. Sometimes, you have to obtain an item from a  sub-level to open the exit. Once you’ve done all 8 levels and given your girlfriend a load of cheese, the game restarts with different level layouts and a different set of items to collect. Run through all the levels four times, and that’s it! Well, the game starts again, but it’s effectively completed. Which is what I did.

Gynoug (MD): COMPLETED!

Or Wings of Wor, if you’re from “over there”.

Was this always so easy? I mean, it isn’t easy. Not at all. But I found it really hard back in the 90s yet somehow managed to finish it today without much of a struggle. Perhaps it’s because I now understand the concept of “bullet hell shooter” (which this isn’t really, but it helps) so I concentrated on watching bullets rather than enemies.

In fact, I didn’t even die until level 3 or 4, and even that felt unavoidable.

My memory is obviously faulty too, as I was sure that the bosses were much harder to hit when in fact most of them are shot accidentally as you avoid projectiles. Only the final boss caused an issue, and that was because his weak point is well protected and it just took ages more than anything.

I was also pretty sure there was a vertically scrolling level in there. Apparently not. Dunno where I got that from!

Kid Kool and the Quest for the Seven Wonder Herbs (NES): COMPLETED!

Worst game name ever?

As a big fan of the later games by the same developer (Psycho Fox, Magical Hat and Decapattack) I’ve always intended to play Kid Kool. For some reason, it has never worked for me on either OpenEmu on the Mac, or on RetroPie.  I recently rebult my RetroPie image and it now works, so who knows.

Seems I probably shouldn’t have bothered, as it’s awful.

It’s closest to Psycho Fox, unsurprising since it’s an 8-bit title. Like that game, you have a creature that sits on your shoulder that you can throw. Unlike Psycho Fox, you can’t punch, which is where the first frustrating thing comes in. You can still jump on things, but not being able to punch is a massive issue, making some of the game impossible if you don’t have the shoulder pet.

Other issues are present in Psycho Fox too, like the bizarre momentum and ability to just incredibly high but barely horizontal at all unless you’re running. In the later game, this is mostly negated by better level design and the ability to turn into different animals with different physics models, but here – especially with the flick-screen, rather than scrolling, vertical movement – it’s crippling.

Then there’s the bosses, which are repeated (with very minor differences), and are all incredibly easy. In addition, you have to complete the whole game in under an hour in order to “win” properly. And the name! Oh my, what a terrible name for a game.

It’s a shame I didn’t enjoy it due to how flawed it is, but it’s still interesting to see how they improved so many things for the follow-up titles.

SNK Gals’ Fighters (NGPC): COMPLETED!

Woman on woman violence. And cross-dressing. It was a different time!

No, I don’t know why I decided to play this either. I mean, I’d just set my Raspberry Pi back up with a fresh install of Retropie, and yeah, I’d added this as one of the games, but still. Why this and not something else, I can’t say.

But these Neo Geo Pocket fighting games are just so good, aren’t they? So slick and responsive and fun. It wasn’t that long ago I played KOFR2 and it was great as well. In fact, there’s a lot of great NGP games. Best console. For a while, anyway.

Anyway.

I’m not sure what else to say about the game. It has a nonsense story about “Miss X” holding a Queen of Fighters contest (do you see what they did there?), but of course Miss X is – spoilers – Iori. And not a “gal” at all. Hilarious and we all fell about in stitches, didn’t we? Then there’s the cut scenes like this one:

Which are great. Just the right about of wonky translation mixed with a limited text area to perfectly ruin any depth to the conversation. Nobody cares about that though, because what is important is how good the punching and kicking is and in that regard, it’s lovely and fluid.

If you’re taking notes, I played through as Yuri. And if you don’t know how she plays, she’s basically Ken from Street Fighter. Which is why she is Best.

Oh yeah, and there’s a sequel of sorts to this coming out on the Switch soon! Yesss.

Mega-lo-Mania (MD): COMPLETED!

Alright, Why Not.

As I do every so often, I sat and played – and completed – one of the very best Mega Drive games: Mega-lo-Mania.

This time it was prompted by a conversation on Twitter, but I don’t really ever need an excuse to play it. It’s so good.

Once again, the CPU didn’t put anybody in suspended animation (see my previous post on this) and, since I’d expected it, I only put the bare minimum in myself. And then won.

Again.

The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons (3DS): COMPLETED!

Big Girls Don’t Cry

And that, following its pair – Oracle of Ages – from a few weeks back, means that the two best Zelda games have been completed. Again. Like Ages, I originally completed Oracle of Seasons right near the start of this gaming diary’s life. Back then, I finished Seasons first, but this time reversed them.

It didn’t make a lot of difference. The extra heart carried over from the more puzzley Ages helped a little in the more combatty Seasons, but that’s all. I did make the mistake of not playing Seasons for just over a week, meaning I’d forgotten what I was supposed to be doing. I admit, I resorted to reading a guide but only to remind me. I did’t make that mistake again.

Seasons seemed easier than I recall. Backtracking was more of an issue than my memory suggests, mainly because of the lack of useful warp points (aka the seed trees). Warp points exist of course, but they never seemed to be near where I needed to go. I ended up using the same two or three and then walking the long walk instead. Maybe if I’d figured out the routes across Subrosia it wouldn’t have been such a trek.

After beating Onox, the final boss, I went on to fight Twinrova. You can only do this once you’ve completed both Ages and Seasons, but I’d done that. Finally, the half-developed form of Ganon needed to be defeated. I was sure Twinrova was difficult last time around, but it seems my memory was faulty again and it was Onox I struggled with before.

And that’s that. Definitely still the best Zelda game(s). Fact.

Marvel Land (MD): COMPLETED!

Marvel Land is a game I had as a kid, but never completed. A while after the original release, it appeared outside of Japan as “Talmit’s Adventure” or something, but I always preferred the Japanese original. So the Japanese one is what I played through here.

It’s a happy fun blue skies platformer with slightly slippy physics. You know the sort – where floors don’t have quite enough friction when you land. It certainly took some time to get used to. Marvel Land’s “thing” is the bizarre attack you can perform by flinging copies of yourself around yourself. You need a power-up to give you a “chain” of clones, and then by pressing up or down you spin them around you, collecting items and attacking baddies. It’s very odd.

marvel land

Sometimes, you can use these clones to grab a node, which lets you swing around and cross gaps or jump high. The more clones you have (attacking with them depletes them) the higher or further you go.

The other “thing” with Marvel Land is all the warp doors. As is common in many platformers, there are hidden (literally) or hard to reach doors that warp you to other parts of the level or even other levels. Nothing out of the ordinary there. Only in this game, some of the warps take you back to the start of the level. Or back a whole level, or several levels. There’s one particularly evil one in the penultimate level. It takes you right back to the very start of the game. I’ll not deny I reverted to a save state for that one.

marvel land

Boss battles are a bit strange and thoroughly Japanese. One involves playing Janken, another is a bit Whack-a-Mole. Only the final boss actually involves a fight of any sort!

Marvel Land is a fun, happy, difficult, nonsensical platformer. It reminds me a lot of Magical Flying Hat Turbo Adventure, and that’s a good thing.

marvel land

Ys III: Wanderers from Ys (MD): COMPLETED!

I have never played a Ys game before. I don’t even know how to pronounce it. “Wise”? “Ees”? “Why Ess”? Who knows. Something else I also didn’t know: Ys III is a Castlevania game.

Not an actual Castlevania game from that series of course. No, Ys III just plays a lot like one. There’s a castle, a clocktower, and even a boss that is very much like Dracula. It has the same mechanic for walking up and down stairs. Grinding to level up, just like the Metroidvania CV games, is also a thing here. Even the music sounds like it has comes from a Castlevania game, with a couple of the tracks sounding almost identical to music from that series. It’s also hard as nails. Castlevania, see?

ys iii
Another Castlevania, another Clock Tower.

Before I started playing it, I was expecting a party based RPG. Imagine my surprise then, when it was a side scrolling hack and slash game. And that was before I realised the Castlevania parallels. There’s some Zelda II in there too. Unlike those games, however, Ys III is pretty short. There are only four levels, one of which you do twice, and each is impossible until you’ve levelled up enough. The bosses ranged from laughably simple to nigh-on impossible (I really struggled with the fire lion thing), and in Castlevania II tradition poor translation meant I was clueless how to progress at least twice while playing.

ys iii
Dancing on the sand.

Graphically, the sprites are not exactly the Mega Drive’s best, but the parallax backgrounds – especially the sunset – are incredible. Sound effects are nothing special, in contrast to the epic soundtrack. I found the controls a little unresponsive when it came to jumping. This made climbing up out of a cave more difficult that it really should have been.

ys iii
Gotta gets me some harb.

On the whole though, Ys III is really rather good. If nothing like what I was expecting. There’s a remake available on the PSP and on Steam, the latter of which it seems I own somehow, so I might give that a go.

Pang (Arcade): COMPLETED!

Pop it

It required all of the credits, which, if I’d not been playing it on RetroPie would have meant re-mortgaging the house, but I completed it. Boy are some of those final few levels hard.

Pang is always a go-to game in the arcades for me. That, Pac-Land, Rampage, TMNT, Street Fighter II, Mappy, Out Run. I never got very far on a single credit in the past. Perhaps level 10 if I was very lucky.

But now, I’ve done it. Life goals, and all that eh?