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The Lost World: Jurassic Park - Arcade
I'm one of those people who never stepped in the arcade. Neither am I one of those who had his initials filled out somewhere in the top 5 in of a very noisy, very flashy long forgotten arcade game. Not because I was an uncool kid or because my parents were very strict; but due to lack of arcades here in Muscat, Oman. We never had proper arcades, just one or two machines propped in random places - if you can find them, you can play them. We didn't have any centres devouted only to arcade machines, no kids standing in line waiting to play the hottest game on the market, no flashy noises, no roll of quarters, no nothing.
But however, there was one place back in the old days that had 10-12 arcade machines in a row, and one of them was Jurassic Park - a game that can be described as a rail shooter but I like to call it a scary roller-coaster ride gone wrong. You know, like that moment in I Am Number Four when Alex and his girlfriend get attacked by seemingly inanimate objects? Oh well, whatever...
This game, based on the film of the same name, is practically shoot till you drop. We were given two options; joysticks or light guns. I went for the latter. Ah, the feeling of holding a light gun in your hand, shooting at the destined places, and then pointing it off-screen to reload - bliss. This was Wii of the late 90's. Although I almost never succeeded in killing the T. Rex - I don't think you were ever supposed to - but the desire to encounter him again and again resulted in a Sound of Thunder complex.
I remember the last time I played it, I tried to take the light gun home, but never got far. The damn thing was chained to the machine...
Sky Adventure - Arcade
Rating: 6.0/10 Stars
Sky Adventure may very well be the slowest vertical shooter I've played. Not that I minded it much but it honestly felt like two hours; despite the fact it only contains 8 Acts and goes for only 30 minutes. The story sees a Captain Claude terrorizing someone / something, and it's up to you - whoever you are - to put an end to the menace.
The recurring enemies are very standard and boring, nothing too memorable. However, they do vary; in the first Act several tribesmen throw boomerangs at you which surprisingly do a lot of damage. From the second Act onwards, killer animals spray bullets and fire-balls at you, with the animals being crocodiles and killer bees. With none of these enemies providing that intense feeling and bringing hyper-kinetic energy to the game, several kamikaze planes appear from time to time, fulfilling what the game desperately needed from the first minute.
I enjoyed the level designs. Though neither original nor unique nor awesome, some of them definitely were great and fun to pass. At the end of each Act, you have to defeat a boss. Either the developers didn't fully understand the meaning of a "boss" or that they were trying to bring something new, I don't know, but Sky Adventure has a strange idea about boss battles. Half of them don't make sense and the other half don't fall under that category. Honestly, it left me quite puzzled!
As much as so-so Sky Adventure is, there are however two redeeming features. The first being the Engrish. Although the story zoomed past by and I didn't have time to read all, with what glimpses I managed to catch made me laugh. One such example; in the opening it clearly states Mr. Claude - however, in the end when you finally defeat him, it says "Mr. Craud". Man, talk about dedication to one's own video game!
The second best feature is when every time your plane catches fire, Michael Jackson laughs. I'm not kidding, believe me. The music is decent enough, not too good, not too shabby. Pretty much everything in this game is forgettable. Except for Michael's laugh.
In conclusion, Sky Adventure is not exactly what you'd say "time well spent". Even at 30 minutes, it's not exactly "time wasted" either, as it does have some good moments, though. I don't recommend this game but if you've absolutely nothing to play and/or are saving a great game for a rainy day and need to play something to make the hour pass, then Sky Adventure might be for you!
Happy Vader's rating:
Moon Patrol - Arcade
Moon Patrol is such a cute game. Released to arcades in its heyday in '82, Moon Patrol was the first game to introduce parallax scrolling - the word of the day of the 80's. As one of the most important titles in game history, Moon Patrol is also undeniably cute, surprisingly challenging and a favorite of mine. Its unique notion directly influenced Pac-Land; another cute game in its right.
Now, Moon Patrol sees you in the control of a moon buggy. With the gameplay being a side-scroller, you have to go from point A to point B - literally. Your rest stops are E, J, O, T and finally Z. Each stop tallies up your final score and how much time it took you to reach there. Your enemies are UFO's, spaceships, tanks, robots, rocks, crevices, rolling boulders and satellite-type ships which are responsible for said crevices. Your buggy can shoot in two directions - direct front and upwards. Both are shot simultaneously and be triggered in a rapid fashion. Your buggy can also jump, though this only comes in handy when there's a crevice coming up. When you get blown up, your buggy explodes in a spectacular explosion and your tires - all 3 of 'em - fly away. That's right, 3, not 6, as how it should've been. Moon Patrol follows its own sideways logic.
If the fun lies in the gameplay, then the cuteness lies in its sound effects. Granted, they may not be some of the memorable in gaming history, but darn it, they're incessantly cute - just like a pop-up child book. Or a cleverly quoted bib. Everything, from jumping to spaceships appearing to coming to a rest stop, is memorable and catchy. When the spaceships appear, the sound they make - classic! Typical sci-fi sounds made 10X cuter than anything prior or after.
The graphics are still wonderful and the parallax scrolling still looks amazing, even at a time where it has quite faded out of popularity. In conclusion, Moon Patrol is a must-play for anyone who's either interested in history-defining video games or cute little gems which put a smile on your face. With hardly 15 minutes of actual gameplay and child-like presentation, this game is definitely going to my greatest games list.
Happy Vader's rating:
Metal Slug 3 - NEOGEO
Fast, frenetic and intense, Metal Slug 3 borders on insanity and absurdity. Considered as Neogeo's finest title, it's a decision hard to argue with. Not having played any of the other titles in the series, the 3rd one - my first one - surprised me by its uncut originality and fun factor. I confess; playing it on my emulator, I took advantage of the 99 lives system, but you would've done the same too, as this game is insanely tough and surprisingly butt-kicking.
Developed by SNK Playmore, this run & gun side-scrolling shooter has plenty of humour, endless horde of enemies and absurd situations where you chosen character becomes obese for about a minute if you eat too much (in-game, of course). Though this effect wears off after a-while, you wish if could've stayed a bit longer, as the overall effect if gives puts a smile on your face. I guess such humour in a game like this was necessary. After all, continuously bashing the A button to shoot enemies which appear from all 4 sides of the screen and repeatedly dying after a few shots; yea, this level of humour was necessary and was one of the reasons why I didn't call it a day and finished it all in one sitting. I kid you not, my fingers are still sore and my arms have kinda seized up.
Not having played the first two, I'm still at sea about the story. The fast-paced gameplay distracted me from the who's who of Metal Slug. Frankly, not knowing the story and placement of the characters didn't bother me one bit. In fact, I might even try out the first two someday. With little respite in-between levels, and with the enemy horde never ceasing, the gameplay of Metal Slug is always kinetic, always on the move, never once slowing down.
What impressed me the most was the traditional hand-drawn animation. Everything onscreen moved fluidly and beautifully; from giant bosses tossing bombs to your character turning into a zombie and getting up from the ground after getting hit. Every nuance is alive and full of movement. In fact, at times I purposefully killed off my character or navigated my character in the line of "zombie mush" fire - so that I could watch those impressive animations in action. Going back to the humour, Metal Slug 3 is one of those games where if you leave your character idle for a few seconds - an impossible task if you ask me - it does something funny or something. Here, the character wipes off his/her brow - kinda appropriate, what with all the hell they had to go through - or takes out a blanket and sits on it, as if on a picnic. Oh, how these little things make me laugh. Probably the best surreal/absurd fun I had since Earthworm Jim 2.
With 5 levels and 1 hour of gameplay to go through, this game doesn't get stale but does, however, get repetitive and infuriating. With the deaths being frequent and with every start-over meaning an instant machine-gun in your hands, the 99 lives system was a huge relief. Unlike most other run & gun shooters, this one is littered with secret levels and forks in the roads. Though they offer the exact same enemies and power-ups as in the linear, actual levels, finding them and finishing them only adds to the fun and makes for an exciting, unprecedented gameplay.
During the missions, you can also man a vehicle, but the excitement doesn't last long if you're careless and let the enemies destroy your vehicle. If unlucky and/or inexperienced, you will come to realize that an outing with a vehicle in Metal Slug 3 is even less than that of in NARC. Try driving that red Porsche for more than 1.5 seconds. The bosses are massive. Battling them is practically re-living the 7 labours of Hercules. The boss battles account for 4 minutes of the 15 minutes level running time.
In conclusion, Metal Slug 3 is easily one of the most impressive titles I've played so far and is definitely going to my greatest games list. It's hyper, intense and at times brutal. I may have mentioned "repetitive" but I do not mean it in a negative sense. The interesting myriad enemy hordes and amazing graphics + animations and humour, really should be reasons enough for you to overlook some of its shortcomings - if any!
Happy Vader's rating:
Boot Hill - Arcade
Sequel to Gun Fight - a.k.a Outlaw and Gunslinger - Boot Hill is basically a combat version of Pong. Easily one of the most simplest games ever made, Boot Hill sees two cowboys in a duel to the death.
Well, maybe not exactly two cowboys, as when you kill the other (or vice versa), another takes its place. Seems it's Green Street Hooligans set in the Western era. Since technically there are no "fixed" levels, it all depends on how good or bad your playing skills are, the gameplay can go for either 1 minute 40 seconds, or 4 minutes flat. Basically, you get primitive fun and gameplay and some mild blasts if you're playing multiplayer, all under 5 minutes.
Even for its time, Boot Hill has some level of humour in it. Like when one character gets shot, he exclaims "Argh! Got Me" or "POW" and then dissolves into a coffin. Though it isn't much, it's primitive, but hey, it's there and you will be cracking a smile.
The premise is brushing-your-teeth simple. You control the guy on the right. You can only move up and down. With only 6 bullets at your disposal, you have to take down the other guy. Cacti and wagons can only give you shelter for so long; and they can also be an unnecessary hindrance in your path, so you need to spend those bullets wisely and be quick on your toes. If you're playing on an emulator, then you need to configure the keys to better suit your fingers, because the aiming kinda gets fiddly. For me the default buttons work just fine - Arrow keys, CTRL, A, Z. Maybe it's because I have long fingers :)
As much as I like this game for what it is, it doesn't give you the sense of excitement or wild fun. I mean, it's a good game, but I like the Atari 2600 Gunslinger much better. It's a similar game, with even rudimentary graphics, but with unlimited bullets and the ability to ricochet your bullets. In Gunslinger you can strategize; in Boot Hill, not so much.
In conclusion, Boot Hill is fun and simple game that should be accessible so just about anybody. If you're in the mood for some very light entertainment, then I believe this game is for you. If you want a superior version of this, check out Gunslinger for the Atari 2600.
Nightmare in the Dark - NEOGEO
While playing this game, I thought I was playing a forgotten early 90's gem. Imagine my shock when I found out it was only released 13 years ago. Yes, Nightmare in the Dark, for the NeoGeo, came out in 2000, at a time when old was becoming new and new didn't care for the old. Of course, the last couple of years sees this going the way around as what's new is becoming old again. Halo 2600 came out 3 years ago, paying homage to a classic yesteryear console. Eric Ruth is busy demaking modern games for consoles you don't easily find lying in one's bedroom.
Now, NitD is a simple platform game that puts you in the control of a ghoul, a good ghoul, that is. But he ain't no Caspar. Think of him as ol' Scrooge with a heart and soul - and fire. For the first 4 levels in each stage your aim is to eliminate all enemies by repeatedly throwing fire at them until they turn into a giant fireball. You can tote the fireball around with you, but if you go a-toting for a-long time, the ball will burst. You can use that fireball at your advantage and throw them at other enemies, causing a chain reaction. Your enemies are zombies, ghouls (bad ones), ghosts and goblins.
Once you get to the fifth stage of each level, it's boss time. You can't directly defeat a boss. Your fire won't hurt them one bit. The boss will spit or conjure the very enemies that you have been fighting all this time, and you will need to turn them into a fireball and hurl it towards the boss. It's simple premise, but the timing is where all the gold lies - literally.
After eliminating the basic enemies and bosses, they will drop diamonds, money, food and other mabobs. They will only remain there for a couple of seconds, so if you're not quick on your ghoul-toes or are unfortunate enough to be very far from that place, you can kiss those mabobs goodbye. Occasionally, a very large diamond will fall at the center of the screen. If your timing is correct and/or were fortunate enough to be just bloody standing there, then you will get a-lot of points... hold on, what were you expecting? A busty angel with the face ofMorrigan Aensland and the body of Diva Mizuki? Dream on, kid, dream on!
Nightmare in the Dark is not exactly a bad game, but not exactly an awesome one either, though my 8 star rating might contradict that. Such a high rating was given for its light-horror presentation. I enjoyed the kiddie-horror feel to it. It felt like a slightly twisted re-imagining of Caspar or the Ghostbusters in kiddie-hell. The animation is smooth, though not very, and certainly not Metal Slug 3 smooth, but it offers nice, fluid movement. Though not exactly alive and fresh, it does have enough charm to keep you occupied and possibly come back for more.
With only 5 stages and 20 minutes of full gameplay, NitD is a fun game that will provide adequate challenge for anyone who's wishing to give it a try. By the way, if the game reminds you of Bubble Bobble or Snow Bros, just don't be too surprised.
Happy Vader's rating:
Mega Man 2: The Power Fighters - Arcade
I may not know much about the logic of Mega Man - I'm just vaguely aware of how it lets you chose its boss battles freely - but what I do know from fighting games is that when you press up and shoot, the character shoots upwards. Well, that doesn't happen here, and I found myself ramming the up button so that I could bring the flying bosses down to my level. It was only after finishing the game did I realize I had to fill up my power-meter to unleash a let's-send-your-ass-up-in-the-air move. Great... I spent the whole game controlling my character like a horizontal shooter spaceship.
Anyway, the game is split up in three parts: Find Dr. Wily, Rescue Roll and Find All the Spare Parts. All three have similar gameplay; battle a series of mini-bosses either chronologically or non-linearly and then dish it out on Dr. Wily himself. I played the first two modes, so I cannot comment on the third one. But I'm guessing it to be similar, too.
You get to pick one of the 4 characters - Megaman, Protoman, Bass & Duo. Honestly speaking, only Megaman & Protoman were up to par. If you pick Find Dr. Wily, you can pick whatever Robot Master you want to fight first, but I went in a chronological manner; it gave me better stability that way. During a fight, several power-ups drop from the sky or from the Master if you hit him. Mostly they're extra points or upgrades. When you finally defeat a Master, he drops a special power-up that lets you have his unique ability/power. After the first battle, you can at any time trigger that ability and use it against other Robot Masters. My personal favorite? Flowerman's flower fortress. That's not the exact name but it makes for some good alliteration. I love me some alliteration. Here's one; Sexy Susan secretly stole simple Simon's saffron slippers.
The ultimate showdown with Dr. Wily wasn't too shabby, but wasn't too impressive, either. Just frustrating. Since I was in the dark about that special move, I had to jump and then shoot one pitiful laser-shot that seemingly hobbled towards him. But I managed, and the battle took longer than usual. Many players around the globe praised how this game serves as a link to the other titles and how it gives us some behind the scenes sneak peeks. The only reason I didn't wet my pants was due to me not knowing much about the Mega Man universe. I thought I made that clear?
Anyway, the colorful presentation and music really kept me entertained, as did the challenging aspects. Unfortunately I don't think I can play it more than once. For me, once is more than enough.
Happy Vader's rating:
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