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Showing posts from February, 2022

Earth Defense Force: A unique, fun shoot-'em-up

Earth Defense Force is an SNES port of the 1991 arcade game of the same name. The title screen places a small "Super" before the title, but the box and cartridge just call it Earth Defense Force, same as the arcade version. I've never played the original, but apparently it has less weapons, a two-player option (sadly lacking here), and some different levels. Earth Defense Force differs from your typical side-scrolling shooter in that you choose your weapon and speed without having to pick up items. The ship, the XA-1, has three different speeds you can toggle between by pressing X (though I always use the highest speed). Before each stage, you select one of eight weapons. You can choose whichever you think is the most fun or useful. Two of the weapons stand out as superior: Homing and the Search Laser. Homing homes in on the enemy (duh). Search Laser achieves the same effect because with it your satellite ships automatically turn toward the enemy. You see, the XA-1 carrie

Super Baseball Simulator 1.000: Like real baseball, but magic

Super Baseball Simulator 1.000 is the Western version of what in Japan was called Super Ultra Baseball. The English title was poorly chosen, in that it suggests that the goal was an accurate simulation of baseball, whereas this game is centered on fantastical play in which players have supernatural "Ultra" abilities! If you want real-life baseball, you can play without these abilities. Indeed, until I looked at the manual, I didn't realize the significance of the "Ultra" label on six of the teams. Prior to this discovery, I had been disappointed with Super Baseball Simulator 1.000. While its graphics and sounds were far superior to NES  Baseball , the gameplay was only marginally better. The controlling of pitching, batting, running, catching, stealing bases, etc., is simple and intuitive. But the game's heart and soul is the Ultra abilities, of which there are a wide range. Here is a representative sample: The Missile Hit turns the ball into a missile, the

Mario Kart 64: 25th anniversary

Mario Kart 64 brought the fun of go-kart simulator Super Mario Kart into the 3D age. A few chunky polygons notwithstanding, Mario Kart 64 still holds up, even alongside sequels like  Mario Kart 8 Deluxe . MK 64 doesn't alter the fundamental formula laid down by Super Mario Kart. You still choose one of four circuits (Mushroom, Flower, Star, or Special) and an engine speed (50, 100, or 150 CC), then race against seven other racers, trying to place at least in the top four. Whereas the SNES allowed only two players, the N64 was built with four controller inputs, and MK 64 happily can use them all (though the music shuts off with more than two). Battle Mode returns as well, in which players attack one another with items, trying to pop all three of their opponents' balloons. This is always a blast when playing with friends. Lastly, there is the Time Trial mode, in which you race alone trying to set the fastest time. Is this the origin of the "Trollface" meme? MK 64's

Ikari Warriors: Will you draw the first blood?

Ikari Warriors on the NES is a port of the 1986 arcade game by SNK. It's a run-and-gun vertical shooter based on the movie Rambo II. However, SNK never acquired the licensing rights, so they renamed it Fury—not a bad title, but then it was changed to Ikari Warriors in English translation. What made Ikari Warriors popular was its use of two rotary joysticks, which allowed the player to control both the direction in which the hero walks and, separately, the direction in which he shoots his machine gun. However, NES controllers have only a d-pad, so the game's best feature could not be transferred. Even worse, in a case of excessive fidelity, the characters still rotate as they move, even though you can no longer control this rotation independently from movement direction. As a result, turning around to face enemies coming from different directions is slow. The original game had agile characters who could strafe, but the NES versions can't even turn around effectively! They wa