First of all, thank you Capcom! I am doing Capcom's Black Tiger as my second part of my "top three / tribute" reviews for a few reasons. One, with my interest in Marvel games I had to go ahead and get this one over with. Two, this was not only my choice because Marvel vs. Capcom was taken; but because this is an overlooked "gem", that represents the genius that is always delivered by Capcom. Konami may have been my first favorite, but Capcom really impressed me with the Resident Evil series (I am a Zombie fan, so they really got my attention with this one.) among so many other series of games. With that said let's get on with the review.
You may wonder why I did not choose Ghosts 'n' Goblins or Magic Sword, but that is because those games made appearances on consoles and this one doesn't show up on a console until Capcom Collections were released.
"A barbarian hero jumps and fights his way through a variety of colourful, enemy-packed levels in this spiritual successor to the Capcom classic "Ghost 'n' Goblins". The sprawling, eight-way scrolling levels are packed with hidden bonuses to encourage and reward exploration." - Arcade History
Basically you must work your way through eight challenging levels, defeat three dragons, and bring peace to the kingdom.
There is a two-player option but you must wait your turn like in "Ghosts 'n' Goblins"!
The intro (below-left) is pretty simple but check it out if you like. The gameplay screenshot (below-right) lets you see a glimpse of the first level. The reason most screenshots you will find for this game show the first level is because this level usually triggers an "OMG I found this game again!" reaction. Most people seem to remember the first levels of games. If this is the case for you, then I'm glad I could help. By the way, Capcom may have jacked Castlevania with the hero getting a whip and all, but what a great game! Maybe that's why I like this game so much.
In this game, your enemies come at you from every direction and even have some booty... I mean booby traps set up for you (Goonies reference - below-left). One thing I don't get, is how the people you rescue manage to have some cash, and goodies on hand for you just as they are released (below-right). 80's games for the most part lacked a plot and intro, but you gotta hand it to them when it comes to quality gameplay.
The controls are very basic with a two-button setup; but the decisions involved in upgrading, and the hidden secrets (in cameos from other Capcom titles and hidden ways to score bonus points) throughout the game make this an enjoyable title.
Please check out the gameplay video below!
If you are a fan of the Platform genre, you MUST play this game! This is another of those games that I always wondered why it did not make it to a console.
Greatest Memory of Black Tiger:
I was only five when this game came out, so this game hustled many coins from me. Despite burning a hole in my allowance, it allowed me to play titles such as this in an 8-bit console (NES) generation. This game was at my local Tilt in the mall if anyone had one of those growing up.
Black Tiger Trivia from Arcade History:
This game is known in Japan as "Black Dragon".
The game features several hidden bonuses. Some of them are cameos from other Capcom games : The barrel from "Higemaru - Pirate Ship", the robot hero from "Side Arms - Hyper Dyne", the dragonfly and the bamboo shoot from "Son Son".
Isaiah Johnson holds the official record for this game with 2,344,150 points on May 31, 2008.
WARNING!!! Ghosts'n Goblins is one of the most difficult games known to man, the series which it began being ranked second only to NES Battle Toads at GameTrailers. This game is only recommended for the hardest of the hardcore!
Note: To continue in Ghosts'n Goblins obviously requires a spare credit, but it's then necessary keep the start button held down and press one of the action buttons, or vice versa.
Jeez, can't a guy relax in his underwear with his girl in the cemetery at night without getting rudely interrupted?
What makes Ghosts'n Goblins' difficulty level so legendary? If you watched the GameTrailers vid then you'll have some idea, but you won't know how it really feels until you actually play the game for yourself.
First let's take a look at the hero's life system. Arthur starts each life suited up in his knight's armour which can take one hit. Lose the armour and you'll find yourself running around in an extremely hostile environment wearing naught but your boxer shorts. The next hit after that is death. Falling off the bottom of the screen is instant death, of course, as is running out of time. In certain rare instances it's possible to retrieve the armour, but it's basically two hits per life. That might not sound so bad, but believe me, unless you're a supreme game master then things are going to hit you... a lot.
Getting turned into a frog then surrounded by zombies is a recipe for disaster.
You get three lives per credit. This number can be increased during play with good point scoring. Fairly standard stuff there. The real difficulty lies in how the knight's death relates to the stage structure. Each stage has one checkpoint. Die before reaching it and you'll be sent back to the beginning of the stage. Die after reaching it and you'll re-spawn at the checkpoint. If a continue is used you still get to keep your place in the game (stage beginning or checkpoint). Thank the gods for that small mercy or Ghosts'n Goblins would be virtually impossible for all but the most elite players. So, any time a life is lost you'll be sent back to a certain point to face the same challenges over again as punishment for your failure. Depending on your temperament this can get strangely addictive in a painful kind of way as you slowly inch your way further into the game.
Arthur celebrates defeating the first boss, although the challenges he must overcome in order to face the ultimate evil will only become ever greater.
Control of the hero is based on moving, attacking and jumping through various scrolling platform levels. Nothing out of the ordinary really. There are some finer points to consider though. For example, take the throwing weapons that Arthur relies upon to dispatch his foes. Depending on the weapon in use there is a limit to how many there can be on the screen at once. Say you have the flaming torch (limit: two) and you just threw both of them in front of you. If the torches didn't hit anything but the ground then they'll make a fire that will take a little while to go out and leave you temporarily unable to attack. If a zombie happens to start appearing right next to you at this point then it might be an idea to move or jump out of the way to create some distance until you can attack again. Ladders are another hazard to watch out for. Attacks are not possible while climbing one. Even if you don't mean to climb a ladder, standing in front of one can be a life-threatening mistake when trying to defend yourself. The slightest up press of the direction can initiate the climbing animation and leave you momentarily vulnerable, while pressing diagonally up as you pass in front a ladder will have you stuck running foolishly on the spot.
Uh oh, two torches gone and a zombie on my tail. Let's move it!
What about Ghosts'n Goblins' enemies? Well, there's a good variety of them so let's check out one of the toughest of the lot. Just before the stage 1 checkpoint you'll encounter one of gaming's most fiendish enemy characters just sitting there patiently awaiting your arrival, the red gargoyle (aka Firebrand or Red Arrender Ace/Red Arremer). Who knows, maybe he's also waiting to star in his own game series and make some other future guest appearances. Anyway, this demonic foe is as equally evasive as he is aggressive - a deadly combination. The red gargoyle can quickly fly up out of your attack range and aim his shots directly at you. He's not averse to swooping in and just barging straight into you either. He's also a relentless pursuer and can hound you like a possessed hyena from one end of a stage to the other if you try to run away. You'll learn to dread the sight of these monsters, especially later in the game. You'll know what I mean if you can make it past the stage 3 checkpoint. It's a den of evil in there...
If you ever find yourself in a situation like this you'll soon be turned into a pile of dusty old bones.
Note: At the time of writing, the status of video emulation for this game is not 100%. This is only noticeable during the intro and between stages. Actual gameplay is not affected.
Guardians / Denjin Makai II is a real eye-opener for lovers of scrolling beat 'em ups. Fans of the genre will already be familiar with definitive games such as Final Fight and it's many famous brethren. The fact that Guardians was only released in Japan, though, seems to have unjustly relegated it to comparative obscurity. Hopefully this coverage will get a few people to jump in and test Guardians' waters. This is one of those lesser known arcade gems that is well worth checking out. If you've never encountered Guardians before then prepare to be pleasantly surprised by this truly awesome game.
Guardians has a huge roster of eight playable characters to choose from. Wow! That's as many as some 1v1 fighting games and way more than the average beat 'em up. There are no redundant characters in that selection either; each has their own unique personality and fighting style. Here's a quick rundown of the participants:
Zeldia - winged female warrior.
Jinrei - male ninja.
Skullbyule - powerful monster.
Girulian - male street fighter.
Kurokishi - female martial artist.
Rou - male sorcerer.
Tulks - male wrestler.
P.Belva - robot fighting.
A delightful portrait of Zeldia from the intro.
The first thing you'll notice when playing Guardians is some serious eye candy. Each player character is highly detailed and finely animated with special moves that explode into life. The backgrounds are also very interesting, although, with the amount of action going on you may not notice all of the special touches during your initial playthrough. For example, right at the start of stage 1 there is a cool little sequence of events. Two enemies lean against a jeep, smoking nonchalantly. A chopper flies in and apparently blows up the jeep by mistake, the shots probably being meant for you. The chopper then retreats further into the distance and explodes, wiping out a circle of enemies relaxing around a fire. A small film crew is capturing this unfortunate circumstance, presumably relaying the footage to the first boss. Irrelevant as they might seem, funny background narratives like this help create the texture of Guardians' world. Keep an eye out, there are more of these special touches to spot throughout the game. Another nice aspect of the backgrounds is that, except for the first and final stages, there are actually two backgrounds to choose from for the rest of the stages. The game's artists went all-out.
Hey, enjoying your smoke there, boys?
The gameplay designers excelled themselves too. Sure, like any good beat 'em up you'll be smacking around a lot of grunts on the way to the inevitable face-off with each stage's bad boy (always an admirable pastime); however, few such games have ever accomplished this simple objective with the extravagant style and substance of Guardians. To put it mildly, there are a ridiculous amount of moves to learn. To the best of my knowledge no other 2D scrolling arcade beat 'em up can match the amount of moves and combos available here. Apart from a select few games, such as Alien Vs. Predator, most of the others don't even come anywhere near Guardians in these terms. Hell, Guardians has enough moves to put most 1v1 fighters of it's time to shame! Suffice it to say, there are more than you'll ever be likely to completely discover on your own. That said, I urge gamers to play through a few times for fun just to see how much can be worked out on your own before heading off to GameFAQs for the full moves list. Trust me, it will make for a far more rewarding gameplay experience if you take the time to figure out some of the many possibilities for yourself without being overwhelmed by the full array of moves and combos.
Guardians uses an innovative energy gauge system. There are two separate gauges for character life and power; obviously a common feature in 1v1 fighters, but quite rare for beat 'em ups. Most of the special moves in Guardians rely solely on the power gauge. Power can be replenished in a number of ways, such as leaving your character standing still (after a moment they pose and start to recharge any spent power). You'll also notice that your life gauge slowly lights up as you bash the heck out of more and more enemies. When it's lit all the way your character's name will flash for a while, during which time a devastating hidden super move can be executed. That all may not sound like such a big deal on the surface, but once you play you'll be praising the designers for their use of this twin gauge system. The combo possibilities it opens up are unbelievable and a dream come true for fight fans.
The aftermath of a 13 hit combo. Because of the flexibility of the combo system the programmers included damage scaling to mitigate the effects of extremely long chains and give the enemies a chance. Despite that, big combos are still very flashy to see.
Guardians / Denjin Makai II should be ranked alongside the finest of beat 'em ups. It's a spectacular game that deserves the attention of more fans of the genre. I most thoroughly recommend it.
Look Ma, I'm on TV.
Snap out of it... PUNK!
Time to hulk out.
My Guardians / Denjin Makai II gameplay vid. Tulks is not the most combo-able character in the game, but check out the sweet 10 hitter during the boss battle. I also land a hidden super on the boss (three consecutive hard kicks with image trail). I'd be lucky if I got through about half of Tulks' repertoire of moves in this stage 1 playthrough. The combo possibilities in Guardians seem almost endless.
If you've never heard of DonPachi before then get ready to be amazed! Even if you're not a particular fan of shoot 'em ups, then you should still check this out - DonPachi is so totally awesome you may just change your mind about the genre. Personally, I never knew about DonPachi until I got into MAME. I first noticed it back when RomKeeper was still around. It was always in their top ten list of most popular downloads; or was it the sequel, DoDonPachi; or both? In any case, once I'd played it for myself it didn't take long to realise why DonPachi is so cherished. I was pleased with my discovery to say the least. Just how had such a treasured game as this passed me by in the arcades? I don't know, but I suppose such revelations are part of the magic of MAME.
This charming example of Engrish warns of impending boss battles.
The copyright screen also has a hilarious misprint on it.
Beware the long arm of the jam!
Atlus and Cave are renowned for the craftsmanship of their shooters, and everything about DonPachi exudes quality. One of the first things that impressed me was the enthusiastically funny voice over guy, a rare feature for this type of game. His occasional brief exhortations to battle add to the overall fun and excitement. The graphics are on the more brightly coloured, slightly cartoonish side of reality and are a sheer joy to behold. The level of detail is astonishing, although you're not likely to pick up on all the niceties first time through thanks to the frenzied gameplay. All the more reason to play again!
Damn, this is a good looking game!
DonPachi is classified as part of the "Bullet Hell" sub-genre of shooters. I'm not going to bother explaining bullet hell here, you either know what it is already or you don't. If not then here is a good overview:
DonPachi's core gameplay mechanics are simple yet satisfyingly effective; the epitome of great shooter design. There are three ship types to choose from; red, green, and blue. Red is for straight ahead firepower, blue is for spread shot, and green is the happy medium. During play you have a choice between tapping the fire button or holding it down. Tapping fire launches your ship's standard shots, while holding fire causes the ship's side arms to rotate to the forward position and create a powerful, focused beam. The tactical aspect of this system is that while focus fire is naturally more damaging, your ship's speed is reduced, making you an easier target. You'll find that the dual fire modes also affect the outcome of using smart bombs. This elegant design keeps players constantly stimulated regarding the best option to take in any given situation, resulting in many exhilarating moments.
I love blowing stuff up and leaving a trail of destruction.
If you're anything like me then this is your game.
Another very cool feature of the gameplay is the scoring system. You'll soon notice that quickly wiping out large waves of consecutive enemies initiates a hit counter. Keep the chain going for as long as possible to rack up more points. There are also hidden bee icons in each level that can be collected for extra points. Collecting all hidden bees in a stage accumulates an even larger total, while grabbing every bee in the entire game can only lead to glory. Along with other more standard methods of increasing your score potential (eg. less bombs used in a stage equals more points for you) DonPachi is a high score chaser's delight. Keep challenging yourself or your friends to some single credit runs and someday you may become a DonPachi master!
31 HIT, sweeeet!
Can you spot the secret message here?
(Hint: read down, not across).
So, all things considered, my recommendation is...
Every true gamer reading this must play DonPachi! No excuses! Why don't you try hard?
DonPachi's bosses are big, bad, and beautiful.
I can't wait to annihilate them.
My DonPachi gameplay vid. It's 16:9 ratio so it's a bit squashed here in the embedded player. Watch it on YouTube instead for a luxurious view of a magnificent game!
There are warriors for good and warriors for evil. There are online warriors and park warriors. There are tabletop warriors and warriors with cards. Then there is the type of warrior who knows excitement, victory, and glory are only one quarter away.
It is a battle that has raged across Countries, Continents, and entire Planets. Across Solar Systems, Galaxies, Parallel Dimensions, and the known Multiverse. It is an epic struggle that can be broken down to its simplest form, Good versus Evil.
Dungeons & Dragons: Tower of Doom will test your might, stamina, wits, and yes your ability to push a button as many times as possible.
The history of Dungeons and Dragons has a long and proud tradition of creating worlds where Humans, Elves, dwarves, and other less savory creatures either coexist or battle throughout time for dominance. D&D Tower of Doom is no exception. You will find familiar characters and even more familiar villains.
D&D's foray into the world of 25 cent warriors was no small task. Weighing in at a whopping 25 megs for MAME this 4 player Brawl for Good is a serious undertaking. One adventurer with enough quarters and a basic gaming skill set can easily last an hour if you're willing to explore all hidden corridors and rooms for that extra spell or extra treasure to add to your score.
When you first stand in front of your destiny you are presented with a most difficult choice. Who will you represent in this struggle? A Human Warrior, a Human Cleric, an Elf Mage, or a Dwarven Warrior. Each one has it's strengths and weaknesses. If you are playing solo I recommend the Cleric or the Warrior. However the path you choose is ultimately yours.
~The Human Warrior~
The most common of classes in any good RPG. The Human Warrior is strong and can take a serious beating. He has limited spells but can cast a Magic Missile if the need should arise if he has the proper scroll.
~The Human Cleric~
The much loved and hated class in any RPG. Healer and warrior rolled into one. My personal favorite choice for solo play. His ability to cast a healing spell is a huge advantage and his spell Sticks to Snakes is extremely useful in solo play and a personal favorite.
~The Elven Mage~
The beauty of the game. However that does not mean she should be taken lightly. She is the premiere magic caster in this game. She is by far the most impressive and fun to play from the standpoint of throwing down some pain.
~The Dwarven Warrior~
The Dwarf. Often overlooked, no pun intended, is the diminutive warrior that brings great speed in battle. He has the fastest swing of any character you can choose from. Allowing you to mow through enemies at a much faster rate than other players. However there is a price for his swing speed. His stubby little arms. The dwarf is close quarter guy all the way.
The most important thing to remember about each character is that not only do you have your basic attack you also have a dash attack, air attack, sliding attack, prone attack, and the most important ability of all. BLOCKING!!! Learning to block is a must in this game. Being able to block a spear thrown at you at the right time can mean the difference between moving on or failing, and adding one more coin to the machines insatiable appetite.
I would be remiss if I gave such credit to the Heroes of D&D and neglected the stars of the D&D universe. The monsters. Just so you know there are no major spoilers in these images. While they may frighten small children, a hearty warrior such as yourself should fear not.
There are many many more villainous monsters for you to encounter and discover on your own journey. From a fantasy RPG perspective you cannot ask for a better choice of enemies and boss fights than what the Tower of Doom can conjure up.
Tower of Doom not only uses characters from the D&D world but also XP, Path choice, Hidden items and spells. Capcom along with D&D held nothing back when creating this game. This ensures that you can play D&D Tower of Doom multiple times and get a different experiences each time. Tired of getting beat by that nasty end level boss that just chews through your quarters? Skip him, and try your skill against another monster. Another thing worth mentioning that adds an additional layer to this game is the XP system. You gain XP by killing your fair share of monsters and completing a level. The real trick is to manage the game clock along with the whole not getting killed thing. If you die and continue you have to restart over from 0xp meaning it will take longer to level your character. The game gradually ramps up the difficulty in the later levels where you will be wishing you had some extra health or a new spell to use. You will have to manage the following. Will you rush through a level to get extra XP from the time bonus? Or will you play it safe and try not to die so you don't lose what XP you have already earned?
Keep in mind my experiences all come from solo play. Having more adventurers will vastly affect your choices and outcomes of the battles that lay ahead of you.
Dungeons & Dragons: Tower of Doom represents all that was right in the early 90's arcade era. It was well written and the game play was well designed. Tower of Doom is a shining example of what happens when companies care about their fan base. If you have never played a scrolling beat 'em up now is your chance to play a true masterpiece in this particular genre.
Who's the best 1v1 fighting game of all? Why, it's you isn't it, Real Bout 2?! Am I going to be completely fair and impartial, or even sane about this? Probably not, I'm a Neo-Geo freak and this is Real Bout 2, my fave versus fighter of all! To save me from putting IMOs all the way through this I'll just say straight up that all my personal statements here regarding Real Bout Fatal Fury 2 - The Newcomers (RB2) and related topics are just my opinion; nothing to get all worked up about if you don't agree. Who knows, despite my outrageous bias some readers may even have their horizons broadened a little from reading this recommendation. I'm not sure whether I'm being brave or foolish but I'm going tell it as I see it about this game and its place in the versus fighter genre.
The Fatal Fury name is hot enough to cut through plate steel in RB2.
One thing that's always perplexed me about RB2 and it's older sibling, Real Bout Fatal Fury Special (RBS, 1996), is how generally unheeded they are in the greater scheme of the versus fighting genre. I can understand how the mediocre original Real Bout Fatal Fury (1995) was not that well received, especially considering it's flawed ring out system. It's a travesty though that the two awesome sequels could be passed over so easily in the heat of other more upmarket rivalries, some of which have even spawned their own games (Capcom Vs. SNK anyone?). It's almost enough to put RB2 and RBS in the "hidden gems" category for crying out loud! Then again, a wise man once said there is no accounting for taste as he took a hefty bite out of a raw onion. Yeah, I agree that all of your “Street Fighter”, “King of Fighters”, “Mortal Kombat”, “Tekken” games, etc, etc, etc, are obviously great series in their own right, but I'm not one to just mindlessly follow popular opinion the whole time either. Popular can mean good, but doesn't always necessarily mean better when it comes to individual taste. I'm a bit picky, you know... I don't like many things. For example, I've never watched an episode of “Friends”. I also never found fighting games with motion captured, digitized graphics really all that appealing, so games like Mortal Kombat, etc., usually fail to hold my attention for very long. While it can be fun annihilating enemies in fountains of blood for a while, I find that such over the top theatrics eventually get a little tiresome. 3D polygon fighters don't do much for me either. Don't get me wrong, I've played plenty of Tekken, etc., in my time, but I still find something lacking behind the flashy exterior. Compared to the personality and charm inherent to 2D graphics it all gets a bit stale and robotic after a while, so 3D loses out in the long run as well.
Give me quality hand drawn art and animation any day!
Under the shade of the cherry blossom tree.
Part 2 - Splitting Hairs
So what is it about RB2 that sets it apart from other 2D arcade fighters? Well, for starters, the Neo-Geo is my fave system. Take a look at my collection to see what I mean. And guess what, the Legendary Hungry Wolf, Terry Bogard, is my fave SNK character. Who would have thought?! So that pretty much rules out most other non-Neo-Geo arcade 1v1 fighters.
Sorry Capcom, Midway, Namco, etc, you guys are great and all but it's Neo-Geo all the way for this sports fan!
Ahhh... those were the days...
The Neo-Geo has a singular mystique unlike any other console I own. When I grab one of those massive cartridges and whack it into the trusty old Neo-Geo Advanced Entertainment System (AES), just knowing that whatever I'll be playing is virtually identical to the arcade is a feeling special to the Neo-Geo. A Neo-Geo cartridge is basically the same board as the arcade with the possible inclusion of some extra modes or options for home play. The AES itself is pretty much a portable version of the Neo-Geo Multi Video System (MVS) arcade hardware. The MVS works in much the same way as a console and is one reason why it was so popular with arcade operators. Instead of needing to buy a whole cabinet each time a hot new game came out, it was just a simple matter of taking out an old cart to make a slot available and plugging in the new one. Even the memory card is compatible between the arcade and home systems. There's also nothing as authentic as controlling the games with a real SNK 4 button joystick at home.
This is mine!
The AES reigned supreme for many years as the most powerful gaming console in the world. However, the high cost of both the system and it's games kept it in a niche market compared to the more mainstream consoles of the time. It's ability to run perfect ports of quality arcade titles gave it a cult status though, and it remains a much sought after collectors item to this day. Other consoles could only dream of the gaming power of the AES back then, as evidenced by the many second-rate ports of Neo-Geo fighting games on the SNES. SNK did eventually try to accommodate the wider gaming public with the introduction of the Neo-Geo CD (NGCD), the CD format obviously resulting in a drastic reduction in the game prices, formerly out of reach for most gamers. As it turned out though, the timing was bad since by then other more powerful CD systems such as the Sony PlayStation were also beginning to appear on the market.
That's also mine!
I can well remember the first time I really took note of Terry Bogard in "Fatal Fury 2" (FF2) at the arcades in 1992 and how I began to identify with his character. He just seemed so cool with his regular street clothes and long blonde ponytail, like some sort of streetwise hard rocker who is not to be trifled with! The fact that his moves all have cool names and he yells them out in clear English also makes Terry easy to relate to. "Burn Knuckle!" He is the essence of great fighting character design. I was aware of the original “Fatal Fury” (1991) game but it's kind of similar to what the first “Street Fighter” (1987) was to “Street Fighter II” (1991); fairly primitive. FF2's graphics were impressive for the time, especially the trademark SNK scrolling levels. Duking it out on the train as the endless desert passes by was astounding; I'd never seen anything like it in a versus fighter before. The innovative two plane movement system was unique, adding an extra element of strategy to battles. FF2 is also one of the first 1v1 fighters in history (along with "Art of Fighting", also by SNK, 1992) to introduce the concept of Super Moves to the genre in the form of Hidden Desperation Attacks. Capcom eventually followed suit in 1994 when they finally decided to add Super Moves to “Super Street Fighter II Turbo”. Super Moves are now taken for granted as a staple feature in most versus fighting games thanks to SNK's original inspiration.
Joe goes on a train ride with Terry in FF2.
Classic Terry. Terry is the man!
Terry appears in other games as well, namely as a mainstay character of the KOF series, but I still favour Real Bout's bright, cartoon style over KOF's mature, more rounded look. The final game in the Fatal Fury series and one of the last games made by SNK is the highly acclaimed Garou - Mark of the Wolves, (MOTW, 1999). Conventional wisdom says it's the best versus fighter for the Neo-Geo and still one of the greatest 2D fighters of all time. It's little wonder, too, with MOTW pushing the aged hardware past the boundary of what was previously thought possible. Sporting beautiful graphics, animation and sound, MOTW is easily on par with other versus fighters of it's time running on more advanced technology like Street Fighter III 3rd Strike (SFIII3S, 1999). From my perspective, MOTW even outperforms SFIII3S in certain respects, such as the livelier stages. Have a 3 round fight on Terry's train stage in MOTW if you don't believe me. I think any sensible gamer would agree that there's nothing in SFIII3S that compares to that stunning ride. In true SNK fashion MOTW has a mysterious plot that far surpasses the usual fare on offer in most other versus fighters. As for gameplay, I could never really get into the SFIII parry system. I mean, God bless Capcom for trying something different but parrying cheapens the otherwise fantastic Street Fighter gameplay. Classic moves like the Hadouken are rendered almost completely pointless when they can be easily batted away with a simple flick of the wrist. Call me a boring old stick in the mud but I much prefer the traditional approach where special moves are something to be feared, not just brushed off like some annoying mosquito.
Rock and Terry's MOTW train ride begins at sunrise.
In spite of all that I still like RB2 and RBS better than MOTW. One of my main problems with MOTW is the character roster. Due to plot developments Terry is the only returning character in MOTW and he has abdicated his place as Fatal Fury's central figure to make way for a new young rising star, Geese Howard's son, Rock. Terry is still cool as hell in MOTW but I start to miss my other old favourite characters when I play it. Another big issue for me in MOTW is the gameplay which, as good as it is, feels dumbed down to a Street Fighter level compared to the super high tech thrills of Real Bout's Rush Combo System. A minor complaint is that, using Terry as the only possible reference, the character sprites are smaller in MOTW than they were in Real Bout.
Terry giving his younger brother a taste of Burning Knuckles in RB2.
OK, getting down to the nitty gritty now. For the purposes of this article I needed to make a definitive pick for my fave versus fighter. So how could I choose between RB2 and RBS, two near perfect games? It was an extremely tough decision to make and I changed my mind at least four or five times while writing this. I had to split some pretty fine hairs in the end to call RB2 over RBS. Some of the things that should have tipped the scales in favour of RBS are; four hidden EX characters in RBS (alternate versions of existing characters employing earlier movesets); a hidden Nightmare Match with Nightmare Geese for the best players; the RBS opening focuses on Terry as opposed to the RB2 intro which features the newcomers, Rick Strowd and Li Xiangfei; RBS gives you fighting grades each round which are converted to a ranking at game over, adding replay value; RBS has breakable stage objects that can cause dizzies, plus some classy blood animations, increasing the violence level somewhat (both removed in RB2); and the NGCD version of RBS has the exclusive “Blue Mary's Blues” bonus music video, one of the best music numbers ever put into a video game. However, there is one major factor that outweighs all other concerns; gameplay. The amazingly smooth, fast and intuitive controls of RBS were noticeably improved in RB2. Better gameplay is where it's at.
The guy treading on Terry's cap may have the upper hand for now but watch out, Terry's got the eye of the tiger.
The RB2 newcomers, Li and Rick.
So, in 1996 we had the release of RBS. At the time I was taken completely by surprise at the colossal leap forward the series had taken. For whatever reasons, I had been unable to pay much attention to the series since Fatal Fury Special (1993). All of a sudden it was love at first sight and sound! The colours and details of the graphics seemed so much richer than any other comparable 2D arcade versus fighter of the time. The sound effects were beefier than most and the music was instantly appealing. The Rush Combos are still as intense now as they were then. Beyond those readily apparent surface features there's also a certain light-heartedness and sense of humour associated with many SNK games that I value highly. I've never had so many laughs while playing a 1v1 fighter as I have with RBS and RB2. Goofball characters like Hon Fu never fail to crack me up while still being capable of kicking the crap out of their opponents at the same time. What other game has a character who can accidentally saktap himself with his nunchuks after a combo (RBS and RB2) or who invites attack by cheekily sticking out his butt (RB2 only) and then flies into a huge counter-attack rage if his butt gets hit too many times?! RBS also has one of those amusingly over-enthusiastic narrators that I'm fond of. "Hey, how's it goin' dude? And let's begin! Choose your favourite character!" Always nice to hear that friendly welcome at the character select screen. The narrator's role was toned down a fair bit in RB2, though, which was somewhat disappointing. I thought, if anything, he should have been even more rabid! Still though, in 1998 the 7th episode of Fatal Fury, RB2, was so exceptional that it's one of the few games to have ever literally invaded my dreams.
Yamazaki taps Hon Fu on the backside one too many times and pays the price.
I managed to pry my good mate, Nostalgia, away from playing SFIII3S online with me one night for long enough to introduce him to RBS and RB2. I thought his initial impressions of the games were rather interesting. The first thing I recall Nos commenting on was how catchy the music was. Nos has great taste in music so he knows what he's talking about there. After that he said something really remarkable about how much more charismatic the characters seemed compared to other games like Street Fighter. I didn't expect to hear someone say that about Real Bout on their first ever go but Nos is a sharp gamer with a fine appreciation for the artistry that goes into making great video games. I think it reflects that inimitable SNK flair for great character design. Each character's unique personality comes through so effectively in their graphics, animation, voice acting and fighting style. We also talked a bit about the gameplay. Nos was enjoying himself immensely thanks to RBS and RB2 being such great pick up and play games for newcomers. Real Bout's unparalleled Rush Combo System is designed to accommodate all levels of player skill and experience.
It's a guaranteed maelstrom of mayhem for one and all!
Yamazaki is a badass!
Part 3 - Combo Heaven
All I had to go on when I first got RBS for my NGCD was the Combination Attacks section of the manual's Special Attacks page, which is also the basis of RB2 and reads as follows:
“COMBINATION ATTACKS by pushing A, B, then C buttons in sequence, create combination attacks (“Combos”) with punches followed by kicks and vice versa. Use various button combinations to create unique combinations to thrill your friends and surprise the neighbors.”
(A button is punch, B button is kick and C button is power attack. With a few exceptions the D button is mainly used for plane movement).
The game itself doesn't give much hint at what's hidden under the hood either.
Presumably, anyone with fingers can press A, B, then C quickly enough to perform a basic combo in RB2. The real fun begins when you start experimenting with the advice, “...create unique combinations...”. I always keep a notebook handy whenever I'm practicing RBS or RB2 to keep track of combo variations as I discover them. The trick is knowing when a certain move will complete a combo and whether or not it can be substituted with another move that could either extend the combo further or cause greater total damage. With the basic A, B, C sequence, hitting the C button will end the combo. So, what if you're using Terry in RB2 and you go A, B, then substitute a Special Move for C? Depending on the start up time of the Special Move it may or may not combo after the A, B. If you perform a slower move such as the Power Wave it won't combo whereas a faster move like the Fire Kick will. The Fire Kick is also a nice launcher move which can be followed up with an attack like the Rising Tackle. There are still ways to incorporate slower specials like the Power Wave into a combo though. Terry can also combo off A, C for instance. With C being a power attack the opponent takes longer to recover, allowing the Power Wave to connect into the combo.
With such a wealth of cool characters in RB2 you'll be creating combos to your heart's content for ages.
A standard combo extension that all fight fans will be familiar with is to jump in with an air attack. One thing I dig about Terry is that he has the ability to combo twice in the air with a well-timed B, C (doesn't work against short characters though); extending any ground combo by a further two hits. Depending on the complexity of the ground combo, trying to add the two extra air hits can increase the performance difficulty to intermediate or advanced levels. You can start to see how the flexibility of the system allows for the construction of a huge range of combo possibilities by using various interchangeable techniques as building blocks. See my RB2 video below for a selection of different skill level Terry combos and an advanced combo construction example.
It's amazing that SNK could create the most responsive, variable and instinctive combo system in the versus fighting arena with just three main attack buttons. Extremely efficient! It makes games with up to twice the amount of attack buttons look redundant in their approach, especially since most of the other combo systems are childlike by comparison. The intricate depths of Real Bout 2's Rush Combos are sure to transport you to a pugilistic paradise in this masterpiece of entertainment!
GET IN THE RING!!!
1,000th Post Shoutouts!
This is my 1,000th post at MameAddicts so it worked out well that I'd been putting off this particular recommendation for a while.
Cheers to my friends at MA and sincere thanks to all those who have written reviews for Rec Games. If there's a better compilation of in-depth, MAME specific game recommendations on the net then I have yet to see it. I truly appreciate the efforts of everyone who has contributed.
One of my favourite games of all time. In fact I like many games of this category.
Info: This game is the prequel of the Rainbow Islands. You take on the role of Bub and Bob, two cute dinosaurs who must battle through 100 platform-packed single screen levels to rescue their girlfriends. In order to proceed you must trap your enemies inside the bubble you blow and then burst it so the enemy can be destroyed. But since your movement and attack speed are lame, the game provides certain power-ups to help you. There are 3 kinds of candies that improve the attack speed, the bubble speed and the length of the bubbles you throw. These are the orange, blue and pink candies respectively:
There's also the sneaker that makes you move faster:
To improve the number of your lives there are 2 ways. The first one is to get many points and to collect all the letters that make the word "EXTEND":
The game also helps you in some stages with some items that instantly kills all the enemies and that's very good especially if these power-ups appear during your journey to the final stages. There's a lot of history with this game. I remember my cousin Elias coming and making us rich with all the coins he used to insert. But now he is a pro and he inserts only one coin to finish the game !!! He invites me to play with him in order to score the maximum score of 9999990 points. Although we can make it (in fact my cousin has made it with 2 other guys 3 times) I have to improve myself cos I have to continue several times before the final stage. But anyway this game is regarded as a classic here along with a couple more games and whenever it's time to play it it's guaranteed that we are gonna have a great time !!
Advantages: The gameplay is very simple and you are definitely gonna like it after you play it a couple times.
Disadvantages: Unless you are experienced enough to make your way to the final stages you'll have to insert tons of coins especially because you'll be out of power-ups.
A classic soccer game. Actually every time someone watches me playing it they say "Look what he's playing! You know how long has it been since I played that?".
Info: In this game you get your football / soccer team, the RED and you play matched against the COM teams to proceed to the final match and eventually win the Tehkan World Cup:
Your goal?? To score as many goals as possible (because the more goals you score the higher your position to the hiscore list). There are 3 ways of doing that, and they all have to do with shooting: the direct shoot, the "bag" trick and the "tornado" trick (these are the names we have given them). Keep in mind that when you shoot you keep the shooting button pressed otherwise the ball will go up in the air!!
DIRECT SHOOT: You move your player close to the goal post at a 45° angle and shoot! For the 3-4 first matches it is guaranteed that you're gonna score:
The easiest way to score tons of goals!
THE "BAG" TRICK: You move your player almost in front of the goalkeeper forcing him to follow you. You make a quick circle and voila! An empty goalpost in front of you! SHOOT!!! It works almost every time:
Be sure that you are fast enough, though, because the opponents or even the goalkeeper can prevent you from shooting! Now here's something I should tell you. In this game if you play against another player (the COM team becomes now the BLUE team) when you do that the opponent's goalkeeper will follow you even though the opponent is supposed to control him. Now that's cheating! So whenever we play this game the "bag" trick is forbidden. HOWEVER when I play against my cousin Elias (who knows this game pretty well) and I'm winning he does this trick to catch up with me!! Evil cousin.
THE "TORNADO" TRICK: Your savior when you face the final teams since it is the ONLY SURE way to score a goal. However it requires patience because it's not successful all the time. What you do? You move your player to the enemy corner and wait for a couple of seconds. Shoot the ball on the other corner till another player gets it and then shoot it again on the other corner. Now one player will be in the middle and catch the ball. Shoot and it is very likely that you'll score since the goalkeeper is still on the corner of his goal post following the ball's way:
Advantages: This game can be played by anyone and since it has a very easy way of playing (you just move and shoot). I recommend it for anyone who plays similar football / soccer games.
Disadvantages: If you are not experienced enough you may think that all the matches are like the first ones but trust me, you are gonna change your mind !! The opponents' goalkeepers are more skilled and the whole teams are getting faster and faster !!!
Additional Info: Well as I mentioned you take control of the RED team and face the COM team. But since the colours of the teams bear strong resemblance to the ones of some famous teams we change their name to what is seems to be more suitable. For example there's a team with the colours of Brazil, there's one with the colours of France and the final has the colours of Argentina. We control the Netherlands and when we play against another player he controls Italy etc.
Videos: This is my Tehkan World Cup gameplay video:
This is a fighting game we used to have back in my childhood days. Only a few people know Unico Electronics so only a few people have played this game.
Info: This is a game I used to play a lot when I was a kid but the funny thing is that many people did the same although we had Street Fighter II as well. In this game you get one of the total 8 characters and start kicking the hell out of your opponents !!!
"Make your pick and prepare for battle !!"
Each character has its own set of moves, but many moves are done with the exact same way. So if you get a character and you don't know his moves try to do some moves similar to the character's you know. Speaking of moves I should say that if you have the MAME Command List you won't find the characters' neither in it nor on the Internet. However the guys in Unico thought about that and the game ITSELF shows you how to do each character's move. Here's an example:
Take a good look at these 2 characters because they are the ones I like the most. And why is that ?? Let's start with Jackie. Jackie can be described with 2 words: COOL and BADASS. I mean look at him !!! Blue hair, attire and of course, shades. He is AMAZING !!!!
"I'm on FIRE !!!"
Baekun Dosa on the other hand is just like Master Yoda from Star Wars: old, but kicks αss !!!
"I don't want to deal with a Jedi with no lightsaber, be gone !!"
OK so far the game looks awesome but there's something I must say here. It is a replica of Street Fighter II. I mean most of the moves are done (and look) just like in Street Fighter II, like Baekun Dosa's Ultra Fist:
Take a look at Klaus Garcia, he looks kinda like Ryu (not to mention the Hadou-Ken like projectile Baekun Dosa launches) !!! Another thing similar to Street Fighter II is the stages. Look at Jackie's and Joey's stages:
It looks like we have a new Balrog and a new Sagat respectively. But enough with this Dragon Master - Street Fighter II comparison, time to talk about some more important things. As I said we had this and a Street Fighter II arcade when I was a kid. I didn't say that one summer my sisters and I decided to stay at my grandma's house who lives next door. And since we removed the Dragon Master and the Street Fighter arcades (because we brought other arcades, the Star Wars pinball, the darts and Playstation arcades) we thought it would be a good idea to take these to the house so we can play there instead of the warehouse we had put them. So after we had lunch every day we took off the cover that has the coin bucket, take a coin and throw it many many times in the machines so we could have tons of credits !!! After we did that, the fights began to take place !!! My sisters were playing Street Fighter II while I was playing Dragon Master and then we switched positions. That's how we had fun !!!
"Hey I came here to face Gloria, not a bird !!"
After this great vacation we took the arcades and put them back in the warehouse. Then my father gave them to the guy who brings us the arcades we have. But after some years I found something that made me very happy: the Dragon Master plate with the game title written on it. That was good because since I was a kid I didn't know (or could read) English except some words. So when I saw the word "Dragon" I said "That's the one !!". That helped me later trying to remember the game title when I got MAME since it was the one I really wanted to play. But I was between "Dragon Master" and "Dragon Fighter" and couldn't remember exactly the game title. I did remember however my then-favourite character's name Jedi Ryan which helped me a lot since you'll find that name in only 1 game and that is Dragon Master !! Now whenever I play MAME this is one of the games I'm gonna play for sure.
Advantages: The (unique) characters as wells as their (unique) sets of moves. This game is worth playing either alone or 1 against 1 (especially online).
Disadvantages: Since this game is a replica of Street Fighter II you may say "Let's play Street Fighter II then!!". Well yes you may do that but give this game a try. You are gonna love it as much as I do !!! I must also say that be careful with your moves. The enemies counter your attacks with moves that require charging even though they don't charge !!!
The time has come for me to write about this epic sports game !!! It has nothing to do with football or basketball, it has to do with flying discs (and that makes it one of a kind) !!!
Info: Let's me say something first. I write this review for 3 reasons. One, because I want you to see how this game is and maybe try to play it. Two, because as Hiero said, I am the Windjammers Greek God. And three, because I want my friend Atarix to see IF he can find a way to beat me. Anyway in this game your goal is to become the champion at flying disc by defeating all the 6 opponents you face. First you choose your player and then the game randomly chooses your opponent and the court you are going to play on:
However if you play against a friend you choose the court you want.
In order to win a match you have to score more points than your opponent in 30 seconds or score 12+ points to win immediately. This is how you win a set and you have to win 2 to proceed. Each court has 3 goals. The top, the middle and the bottom. The top and the bottom give you the same amount of points (5 or 3) and the middle gives you a different (3 or 5):
In the second snapshot you can see that there are 2 obstacles in the middle of the court and are VERY tricky for your opponent. In the fourth snapshot my (poor) opponent receives a Super Power Shot. Oh of course !! I haven't told you anything about shooting yet !!!
There are 2 ways of shooting, the direct shot and the high shot (this is how I call them). With the direct shot you straightly throw the disc on your opponent. If you make a half-circle move before throwing the disc, however, you throw the disc in a curved way. With the high shot you throw the disc over the court down to the ground. It doesn't go to any of the goals BUT if the opponent doesn't catch it you get 2 points. It is good for courts with obstacles (you are sure that the disc will go to the opponent's side). As I mentioned there are also Super Shots, 3 kinds actually: the Super Curved Shot, the Super High Shot and the Super Power Shot (again this is how I call them). To do a Super Shot you have to charge. That can be done when the disc comes on you and you press rapidly the direct-shooting button. The disc goes on the air, then to your player. After that you do your Super Shot. To do the Super Curved Shot charge, and when the disc comes on you make (quickly) a half-circle move and press the direct-shooting button. You will do a very fast curved-way shot:
To do the Super High Shot charge, and when the disc comes on you press the high-shooting button. This time not only will the disc go over the court faster but it will land on a goal as well (unless your opponent blocks it):
I must also say here that I call this shot the "Atarix-Busting Shot" since Atarix says that "He does this move and gets points, I can't block it !!".
Last but not least, the Super Power Shot !!! It's the easiest to do and the most awesome !!! Each player has his own Super Power Shot. To do it simply charge and keep pressing the direct-shooting button when the disc comes to you. Then get ready to watch something spectacular !!!
Advantages: This game is one of a kind and a lot of fun !!! Oh and if you watch it carefully it bears strong resemblance to the very first video game ever, the legendary Pong !!!
Disadvantages: The game gets harder and harder as you proceed and you need to throw many coins to win (especially if you play against fast players).
Additional Info: After the 2nd and 4th match there are two mini-games that help you increase your score. And I must also mention the final court, the Stadium. The Stadium has something special; the 5-point goal is in the middle like many courts BUT if you keep scoring and your opponent does not, the goal becomes bigger and bigger until your opponent hits a goal: