Monday, 29 November 2010

Burger Time

I will now try to restrain my English tendencies towards innuendo when I say, there is nothing more humiliating than being attacked from all angles by rampant sausages. I am in fact referring to the game Burger Time for the Famicom where being attacked by angry sausages and fried eggs is a common occurrence.

I'm sure trampling on burgers is a health and safety issue.

You play a chef who's goal is to build giant burgers by running across platforms and trampling on various ingredients (e.g. lettuce, beefburgers, slices of cheese etc.); causing them to drop down to the next platform. Once all burgers have been constructed its on to the next level and more complex platfrom structures. This would be simple if it was not for the forementioned angry breakfast baddies that seem to have a chip on their shoulder (or possibly a french fry) about your endeavors and constantly give chase. Luckily, you have a weapon in the form of a pepper spray that temporarily stuns your enemies and if you time it right, and cause an ingredient to drop from beneath them, they will be defeated entirely (but only to be re-spawned later).

I remember playing the original Burger Time arcade game at a swimming pool in Kingston as a young lad and thinking it was hard back then, but playing it now I realise that it wasn't just my childish inexperience that was at fault, it is a damn hard and frustrating game! The enemies zoom around the platforms and your pepper spray is limited so it makes completing your burgers a real challenge, I only ever managed to get to screen three after much tearing of hair (at my age you need to hold on to what you still have!)

But overall, its a fun nostalgic game and exactly the sort of old school quirky game that I enjoy, its crappy graphics and all!

Monday, 15 November 2010

Game Center CX 4.0

I have just finished watching the fourth 'Game Center CX' DVD (see previous post) and must say it was my favourite yet. Arino only plays one game throughout the program (apart from his visits to obscure game centers) which is 'Mighty Bomb Jack'. I have fond memories of playing 'Bomb Jack' in the arcades as a youngster but have never seen the Famicom version which expands on the arcade machine (I seem to remember the original only having single static screens, this version includes many scrolling levels).

Playing through this game seemed to be one of Arino's greatest challenges yet, taking a number of days play in his first attempts. After failing to complete the game the first time round, the challenge is continued on another date in front of a live audience! (normally it takes place in a small office). Its quite a spectacle to see a large crowd in a theater watching someone play an old video game but it just shows how popular Arino is amongst retro gaming fans and was quite compelling watching!

 Arino plays live, Must be nerve-racking!

I won't spoil things by telling the result of the challenge but the edge of my seat needs re-patching!

The other section on the DVD I enjoyed was where Arino visits old video arcades, this time visiting a store run by an old lady who has two machines sitting outside. She seemed very amused by Arino's interest and ends up playing a round of Metal Slug with him!

They should know better at their age!

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Banpaku-Koen park sale

I recently visited a garage sale in Banpaku-Koen park in north Osaka and picked up a horde of Famicom games at 100 yen each! Here is a picture of the cartridges:

From top left, the games are: Burgertime, Ninja Jajamaru-kun, Challenger, a game I am yet to translate, Excitebike, Dragonquest 2.
Hopefully I will soon find time to post small reviews of the games.

Non-trainspotters look away now!

Watching a DVD of someone playing old video games probably sounds to some like as much fun as having teeth extracted, the same way I used to feel when my dad would pull out his recordings of steam trains pulling into stations (the B-side of the record contained the same train, different station). However, this is exactly what I did last night when I rented 'Game-Center CX' from our local rental store (100 yen for a week! (about 80p)). The show is presented by Arino, a Japanese comedian, who is set a challenge each week based on a particular old video game, such as completing the game in a certain time limit. There are also sections in the show where Arino goes to investigate far flung locations that contain a treasure trove of old arcade games. I must say, watching this was a guilty pleasure but one I really enjoyed nonetheless, I guess I inherited some of those trainspotter genes!

Game-Center CX 1.0 (menu)

Arino about to play through Makaimura (Ghosts 'n' Goblins)
on Famicom (I feel for him!)

More penguins in love!

The Japanese seem to have a thing for amorous penguins as I purchased another Famicom game this weekend featuring the love story of two penguins called 'Dream Penguin Story'. Although one is pink with a bow, these are not the same romantic penguins featured in Binary Land but Penko and Penta, two birds with a troubled relationship. Penko, it seems, is not too happy with Penta's recent weight gain and has decided to run off with another dubious looking penguin called Ginji and won't give Penta the time of day unless he loses his unsightly love handles.

The game is a platform affair involving Penta running through the scrolling landscape collecting miracle weight loss drinks in order to lose weight and eventually rescue the fickle Penko. Some enemies fire fruit and onigiri at Penta who must avoid them to avoid re-gaining weight, this is essential as he must lose a certain amount of weight by the end of the level otherwise Penko will lose interest completely and its game over.

The graphics are nice and there is some variation in the gameplay with some levels involving flying a plane but it is also very easy, it took me only a couple of hours to complete the whole thing! The first time I completed it, however, I succeeded in rescuing the damsel in not-so-much distress but failed to lose enough weight so she decided to run off with Ginji anyway! I just don't know why Penta even bothers!

 Dream Penguin Story

 Title screen

 Penko breaks the bad news to Penta

 A slightly trimmer Penta

Airborne Penta

Unleash your geek! Part 2

I gave into temptation again recently (seems to be happening a lot I'm afraid) and purchased a second Famicom game from 'Mandarake' a well known shop specializing in vintage toys, games and manga.

Who needs death and destruction when you can play a game about re-uniting penguins in love? You play the game by controlling one of two penguins, the other one mirroring your moves in reverse. The goal on each screen is to make the penguins meet each other either side of a heart at the top, whilst avoiding spiders and webs. These obstacles can be zapped by a beam each character possess (don't ask me why a penguin would own a laser beam) apart from flames that appear on later levels.

Overall, a recommendation for fans of the 'penguins in love trapped in mazes' genre.

Unleash your geek!

Recently I thought it was about time to unleash the geek in me and head over to Nipponbashi (or Den Den Town) an area well known for its electronic goods. Its a haven for geeks or otaku with many video game, anime and comic stores. My aim was to purchase a second hand Nintendo Famicom, one of the original Nintendo consoles, commonly known in Europe and America as the NES. It has been a long time dream of mine to own one of these consoles, ever since I first saw pictures of one in a magazine whilst on a family holiday to Devon back in the eighties. Alongside the console I bought a copy of Ninja-kun, a game I also used to play in arcades as a kid under the title Ninja-kid. After a few failed attempts at getting the thing working, using the tried and tested method of blowing into the cartridge and switching the console on and off, I was taking a nostalgia trip back to more innocent days and underused brain cells.



Screen from Ninja-kun