All posts by sabre470

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MSX – Tales of Popolon – Gameplay

“For many centuries, the world had been at peace. Lands were prosperous, and people reached old age. However, all of that was about to change…

Suddenly, towns started being attacked by beasts, killing many. Storms started sinking ships into the ocean and ruined crops. People started to think that they had lost the favor of the Gods of Olympus…

In response, one night, Thanatos, the God of peaceful death, appeared in the dreams of the mighty hero Popolon.

Popolon, I am Thanatos! The Gods of Olympus need your help! An Evil fortress has been built in Olympus against our will… Someone is causing people to die, and their souls are being sent to be trapped in the fortress, preventing them from reaching Hades!

You are our only hope Popolon! Only mortal souls can enter the fortress. Please go and stop the source of evil!” (source: ToP Github page)

31 years after the release of Knightmare by Konami on the MSX, we get a fourth episode in the Popolon saga courtesy of Santiago Ontañón Villar. Santiago is an Associate Professor in the Department of Computer Science at Drexel University, who’s actually done quite a bit on the MSX and on remaking MSX games for PCs & Macs (See: Braingames’ page) Smart cookie!

There are a ton of new games getting released on the MSX nowadays thanks to the amazing community built around our beloved 8-bit boxes. This particular one caught my attention because:

  • it’s related to the Knightmare series/Konami and
  • it’s got a nice physical release done by Matranet.
  • but more importantly, the game uses ray-casting, yes, ray-casting on the MSX, who knew right?

For the uninitiated, “Ray-casting is the use of ray–surface intersection tests to solve a variety of problems in computer graphics and computational geometry.” (Source: Wikipedia).

If you’ve played Wolfenstein 3D then you’re familiar with the technique of ray-casting. Tales of Popolon plays in the same manner and if you know what the hardware the MSX is based on, you know it’s absolutely not 3D friendly. In fact, the game minimum’s specs are MSX1 with 16kb of RAM and it still runs smoothly.

Unsurprisingly: “In Tales of Popolon you play as Popolon, an ancient Greek hero tasked with a mission from Thanatos. He must discover who is trapping souls of people in an evil fortress built at the base of Mount Olympus and stopping them! You will have to find your way around the labyrinthic fortress, defeating monsters that inhabit it while collecting weapons and other power-ups that are spread over the fortress.” (source: ToP Github page)

In a nutshell, the game is a classic dungeon crawler where you move through small corridors fighting enemies with your fist and various other weapons like a sword. So far I’ve seen keys being required to move from one area to the next. However, I haven’t been able to spend much time playing it, just yet. In this day and age of super realistic 3D graphics, I’m very surprised how neat it is and how well it plays.

As you can see Matra did a really good job with the physical release, the box is actually quite small but gorgeous and it also comes with a manual.

Here is a little gameplay video, I used my Panasonic MSX2 FS-A1 MkII through the Framemeister for this one:

If you are an MSX & Knightmare fan it’s definitely worth picking up, it is an impressive technical feat, even just on that basis it’s worth looking at.

There are several ways to get hold of this game:

Enjoy!

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Kid Klown in Crazy Chase (Sample/Beta/Prototype)

Hey Folks,

A long long looonnng time ago, I bought this sample/beta/prototype cart from a mate in Japan, the game is Kid Klown in Crazy Chase for the Super Famicom.

This game is probably one of the most frustrating games I’ve ever get to play in my life.  You can find a detailed review here on Nintendo Life.

Pretty much everything in this game is out to get you… and it gets you frequently, very frequently. Secondly you need to collect items (four playing-card suit symbols) while you are running down in the game (you can only run down the levels) in order to get the key that unlocks the next level…

I recently bought a new capture/streaming device so I thought I’d dust off this old cart and play a little.

What’s interesting about this cart is that it only contains 2 levels (the first 2 levels of the final game) and 1 bonus level, after that it gives you a nice Mode 7 animated Coming Soon message and goes back to the game title.

This cart was most likely sent to a magazine or even a store for preview/review purpose, although it seems quite custom with 2 large eproms coming off the back of the cart, perhaps it contain development code who knows?

There is an exact same cart or perhaps this exact card mentioned on SNES Central. Although this cart here doesn’t have a sticker at the back on top of the eproms or any staining, I wouldn’t be surprised if Kemco made more than one of these if not many, crafty!

Here are a few pictures of the cart:

I haven’t seen major differences (if any) compared to the final game, I’ll try to do a side by side comparison video of this version and retail in the future for posterity.

For now just enjoy some gameplay in 720p60:

Bye for now…

 

 

R720 with Syrinx – Gameplay

Hey Folks,

As a die hard Thunder Force fan, anything remotely related to this game series is of great (extreme) interest.

Everybody I’m sure have heard of Segagaga a quirky simulation of … well saving Sega from its own demise! I bought the game many moons ago but never really played it, mostly because my Japanese skills are limited 😦 And obviously without decent japanese knowledge it’s almost impossible to play.

Many of you may know that Segagaga contains a number of mini-games, one of interest for today is R720 with Syrinx.

R720_1

R720 with Syrinx is kind of a spoof shmup where you have to defeat Sega characters and Sega consoles as bosses.

syrinx

It’s a fairly short game but the interesting thing from a Thunder Force point of view is that one of the ships you can pilot is Syrinx which was gonna to be the main ship for Thunder Force VI on the Dreamcast. Now we’ve all seen the Thunder Force VI trailer for the Dreamcast but surprisingly it  is also included as an video introduction to Syrinx and co before you get to play R720.

We also all know that Thunder Force VI for Dreamcast was sadly cancelled in 2001 and that a struggling Tecnosoft was bought by Pachinko maket Twenty One Company. Ultimately Thunder Force VI was (re-made?) released on the PS2 on October 30, 2008.

Hyakutaro Tsukumo

An interesting fact is that the game contains music from Hyakutaro Tsukumo who composed music for a number of Tecnosoft games and Thunder Force VI for Dreamcast. The OST for TFVI DC came out in 2001 under the title Broken Thunder. This music was also re-used in the Doujin shmup Broken Thunder released back in 2007.

broken_thunder_ost

Segagaga was released on March 29, 2001 along with R720 with Syrinx so around the time Thunder Force VI was cancelled and 2 days before Sega decided to discontinue the Dreamcast. So here we have a ship and a partial OST from Thunder Force VI Dreamcast, the mistery deepens. Given the events and dates it’s safe to assume that R720 with Syrinx is more of a tribute rather than a preview of Thunder Force VI DC right?

Anyway today, I decided to take matter into hands and play this alleged tribute to a game I was so looking forward to on the Dreamcast. Don’t get me wrong I love Thunder Force VI on PS2 but it doesn’t have the finesse or the Tecnosoft touch of previous episodes.

So after a little bit of tinkering with Dreamcast saves downloaded on the internet, here I am playing R720 with Syrinx 🙂

R720_2

Here is the outcome of my playing session in glorious 1080p, the game is in 4:3 but the video should be clear enough for you to appreciate this little gem, obviously a lot of videos on this have been made in the past but I really wanted to do my own 🙂

Enjoy and see you next time!

 

Retro Core – PC Engine, Megadrive & Rise of the Tomb Raider loses the plot…

Hey Folks,

Yakumo from SegagagaDomain has put together a great Retro Core episode on the NEC PC Engine. In this issue some hardware presentation and HuCards game reviews. Well worth watching 🙂

In this show we take a look at the many different forms of hardware as well as the following games.

Hana Taaka Daka (はなたっかだか)
City Hunter (シティーハンター)
Ninja Spirit (最後の忍道)
Knight Rider (ナイトライダー)
Doraemon: Meikyū Daisakusen ( ドラえもん迷宮大作戦)
Son Son 2 (ソンソンⅡ)
Override (オーバーライド)
Valkyrie no Densetsu (ワルキューレの伝説)
Gomola Speed (ゴモラスピード)
Dragon Egg (ドラゴン エッグ)
Metal Stoker (メタルストーカー)
Parasol Stars (パラソルスター)

Yakumo has been doing Retro Core and Battle of the Ports videos since… well the dawn of time 😉 You can, if you wish support him here on Patreon.

Also, the previous episode on the Megadrive is also excellent, well worth watching:

Finally, I recently started playing Rise of the Tomb Raider on PC, great game, I had a funny bug moment, last night… I threw one of these handmade cluster grenades by mistake into what looks like a pallet, seems like the grenade didn’t appreciate getting stuck in a piece of wood and started to act… well weird:

That’s all for now, see you next time…

Castlevania: Dracula X Chronicles – PSP Preview Demo

Hey folks,

An interesting piece of Castlevania history popped up recently on the Assemblergames.com forums 🙂

Courtesy of member Getta Robo, we now have a preview demo of Castlevania: Dracula X Chronicles on the PSP.

Dracula X being my all time favorite Castlevania, I had to have a try!

The demo only contains the first level of the game, both routes and bosses available. Quite a few differences compared to the release, no cinematic, different background music and graphical details.

The game came from a developer DVD and was likely used to show the title to the world.

Here’s a game play video, enjoy!

Unknown Neo Geo Fighting Game Prototype (Gameplay)

Hey Folks,

I’m sure you’ve heard about the recent release of an unknown NeoGeo fighting prototype. While there are a lot of talks and debates about its origins on NeoGeo.com, I’ve been quite eager to try it…

Looking at the Mame development page it seems that the support for this game isn’t coming out until Mame 0.173 is released which is at the end of this month.

Patience isn’t a virtue I always possess so I decided, after a little research to compile my own version of Mame 🙂 And here is the result of an hour of compilation:

The game really is at the prototype/beta stage… There is no sound for starters, although I’m not sure whether it is an emulation issue or an issue the game itself. Some of the sprites are unfinished or missing and there is no single player mode so it’s really player vs dummy… But that’s expected with this sort of material.

It is quite incredible to see prototypes released into the wild albeit a NeoGeo one. Thank you mucho to NeoTurfMasta for releasing this piece of history.

Enjoy the video!

Sabre

Godzilla (PS4) Gameplay

Hey Folks,

First post in a very long time, today let’s play a little bit of Godzilla on the PS4.

I’ve always had a strange attraction to non-AAA titles… I like big productions, big stories, jaw dropping graphics… But I can’t help loving the likes of EDF and co, just because they are tons of fun.

I read a few reviews about Godzilla and all were fairly underwhelming but who cares really?

Godzilla Roars!!!
King of the Monsters!!!

The premise of the game is simple, destroy stuff and kill other kaijus to get bigger and meaner. There are quite a few game modes and loads of monsters to unlock & control that makes the game quite enjoyable and maximizes the replay value.

The controls are fairly erm… horrible? But once one gets past the initial awkwardness good fun is a ahead!!! If like me you need a break from MGSV, GTA V et al then grab this game, for the price it’s well worth it!!!

Enjoy the video 🙂

Sabre