leynos: (Default)
I can't type Vee Five (V.V) without it looking like a weird emoticon, hence the katakana.

V.V is an historically significant game for the following reason: Batsugun is the progenitor of the modern danmaku shoot 'em up, and V.V is effectively a rough cut of Batsugun. This is proto-danmaku.

It's quite fascinating to see Toaplan play with the ideas that would come to shape the shooting genre for the next twenty years. It's not just Batsugun. Shades of what would go on to become DonPachi are clearly evident, not least in the primary weapon, which can be switched between a beam and spread shot. The slightly awkward implementation of this transition owes more to Aleste than DonPachi, but I like being able to trace clear routes of progression down the genealogy of the games I play.

Technically, it works. Rather well at that. The Mega Drive version is the closest thing to bullet hell you're going to find on the Mega Drive, and the developers have clearly thought about where they can push things and where not to, so that they play to the console's strengths. I'm looking forwards to playing the arcade version for comparison sake.

It's one of those late Tangen published games, so sadly it's a bit on the pricy side, but I'm sure that won't stop anyone.
leynos: (Default)
Michael Eng sent me an interesting link yesterday to a fledgeling web site which has set about the task of cataloguing the various locations around the world that may be of interest to the travelling videogamer. The fact that most of these so far are in Japan says a lot, but isn't surprising.

It's tempting to say that one cannot be a videogames otaku without to a certain extent also being a weeaboo, but the same could be said of many interests. It's pretty hard to be a serious doll collector, for example, without your interests becoming inseparably linked with Japanophilia.

There just seems to be more people in Japan willing to take that extra step from making their interest a personal thing to something overtly public. Compare Game Focus in London with Super Potato in Tokyo:

[Game Focus] [Super Potato]

The two are directly comparable I believe. Game Focus is situated in the closest thing to Akihabara that the UK has and as far as shopping experience goes, they are among the best you'll find within these shores. That being said it's hard to imagine Game Focus being well known even in the UK outside of Greater London.

It's not just confined to retail—I can't really imagine an 8-bit cafe or a chiptune bar with a Dreamcast dev kit taking pride of place being commercially viable propositions in the UK.

The number of British arcades worth the name has dwindled dangerously close to zero. They still exist but the are generally nothing to be proud of, whereas pride seems to be the driving motivator behind many Japanese game centres.

It's not that I have an animosity towards my own country but it just seems to me that it's pretty hard to be interested in games without Japanese gaming culture comprising a large part of that interest.
leynos: (Default)
Seven years ago, Irem released a 3D platform adventure on the PS2 named Disaster Report (I'll call it Disaster Report, its US name, since that's the version I played but you may know it as Zettai Zetsumei Toshi or the name under which it was released in the UK, SOS: The Final Escape). What made Disaster Report special was that it was a survival horror game without monsters or guns. You see, Disaster Report is set on an artificial island which has been struck by an earthquake and is now sinking. Playing the role of a young reporter newly arrived on the island, your objective is to reach safe ground, navigating collapsing buildings and avoiding flooding, whilst avoiding death by dehydration. Along the way you partake in a little investigative journalism, exposing politically motivated cost-cutting which has resulted in sub-standard building practices on the island.

As a game in and of itself, it's difficult to fault Disaster Report. However, it was sadly let down somewhat by the limitations of the PS2's 3D hardware. Not overly so, but frequently enough that you felt that the developers had been straining to deliver their original intentions.

Two sequels later, and Irem are delivering a new iteration for the PS3:

(Best viewed at 720p). Hopefully, the above demonstrates why I might be interested in this follow-up.

Bayonetta

Dec. 4th, 2009 03:08 am
leynos: (Suzumiya Haruhi no Yuuutsu)
Platinum show just about everyone else on the planet how to make a 3D action game:



(Demo playthrough by Saurian of NTSC-UK)
leynos: (Jack Off Jill)
And Lup Salad arrived. It's a good albeit simplistic platform puzzler. I hesitate to use the word limited, because some of the greatest and longest lived puzzlers have been simplistic in nature. The nature of the game is that of a progression based block puzzler with in-game avatar ala Sokoban. I.e., you either clear the level, or put yourself in an intractable position and restart. There are no lives or timer in the story mode, only a count of the number of times you have retried. The block disposal mechanism reminiscent of Puzznic – in this case, three or more blocks of a kind touching will disappear. In an apparent break with tradition, the player's character can push any number of blocks horizontally, instead, various traditional platform game tropes perform the role of shaping the game's puzzles.

Each level conceivably has an ideal solution, measured by the number of footsteps taken to clear the board, however, the game does not appear to track this metric. There is also an action mode and a versus mode, the latter of which I have not yet had a chance to play. These take the basic game mechanics and transports these into the context of a falling block puzzle. I'm skeptical as to the level of success these modes can achieve however.

I'm happy to have acquired this game, as purely progression based puzzlers aren't the most common variety. That being said, it's definitely not on the same level as Braid, but that shouldn't stop you playing it.

Obscurity

Sep. 10th, 2009 10:03 pm
leynos: (Suzumiya Haruhi no Yuuutsu)
Some time ago, during his one man backlash against Braid, Icycalm highlighted a game by the name of Lup Salad as an example of a platform puzzler overlooked by the games-as-art crowd due to ignorance. Well, a copy finally showed up on eBay for a fiver, so it's now winging its way to me via Japan Post. It had better be good.

It has also, incidentally, been ported to the Nintendo DS.
leynos: (Default)
...that Pisses me Off something Royally.

Okay, here's the deal. A detailed critique of a film wouldn't be complete without providing a sense of context - the way in which the film relates to previous examples of films in the genre; How it advances, or fails to, the achievements of films with similar narrative structure or story telling techniques; Which of its successes are its own, and which it rightly (or wrongly) borrows from other films; And where its achievements fit in the grand hierarchy of all that has come before.

So, why then is it perfectly acceptable, even in some cases encouraged, to blithely ignore all these criticism techniques when offering, what is perceived as, a detailed criticism of a videogame? This is one of the fundamental hypocrisies of the "videogames as art" crowd. They profess to love the medium. That they want it to be seen by others as something on par with film or music. Yet they don't even bother to show it the basic courtesies that are afforded to any other medium.

This is why they do not deserve our respect and why they should not be listened to. And why I get angry at the people who do listen to them, yet are perfectly capable of making the informed distinction between the wizened critics and the wankers with an axe to grind when it comes to some other medium.

If you want to come carpetbagging to another artform because you failed in your pithy attempts at becoming a recognized critic of film, music, or whatever: Show some fucking respect.
leynos: (Suzumiya Haruhi no Yuuutsu)
http://www.siliconera.com/2009/06/05/nis-america-wants-to-keep-original-voices-for-sakura-wars/

It looks like game developers are starting to realize that the principal market for SRPGs are exactly the sort of people who wouldn't tolerate their favourite anime or foreign language films being released in English without the original vocal talent intact.

Given the amount of care and attention that goes into the production of these games it seems a sin to leave so much of that work on the cutting-room floor.

I'm not against American / Commonwealth vocal talent. I just want the choice to experience the game as it was originally released. That is all.

Applause to NIS, and fingers crossed that their desires are reflected in the version of Sakura Taisen 5 they bring to market.
leynos: (Wolfteam)
The sequel to the best game on the N64:

leynos: (Jack Off Jill)
Highlights from E3 so far (IMO):

Jambo! Safari announced for the Wii

http://www.siliconera.com/2009/05/20/jambo-safari-rolling-onto-wii-and-ds/

Photos here:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/segaeurope/sets/72157618443858959/

I hope this means we can get some more of Sega's unported arcade games brought home. (Brave Firefighters and Planet Harriers, please... )

Phantom Brave We Meet Again will have a Japanese dialogue track

http://www.siliconera.com/2009/05/30/phantom-brave-we-meet-again-delayed-to-add-japanese-voices/

This is the Wii port of the PS2 game Phantom Brave

New 2D Super Mario Brothers Coming to Wii

http://www.siliconera.com/2009/06/02/new-super-mario-brothers-wii-announced-for-wii/

Team Ninja Are Developing the New Metroid game

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Other_M

That's the Ninja Gaiden team now sans Itagaki-san.

The Third Game by the Ico Team

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Last_Guardian

There was a video leaked already, but it has a name now, apparently.

I'm hardly a Wii fanboy, but the other consoles seem rather devoid of exciting news. I'm still really looking forward to Bayonetta and DJ Hero, and the 360 has a promising career ahead as a destination for bullet hell arcade shoot 'em up ports. But aside from a new Metal Gear and that 3D video camera thingy, there hasn't really been much I'd call news.
leynos: (Wolfteam)
http://nisamerica.com/pressevent/2009/press/Sakura_release_20090507_support.pdf

+++ Sakura Taisen is coming to the US. Hell freezes over. Hoardes naked otaku seen dancing in the streets. Film at eleven. +++
leynos: (Default)
Another video of Muraasa on the Wii. This one's a bit more trailer-like:



Since this is getting a more or less simultaneous US and Japanese release, I'll probably get the US version so I can understand what's going on, but I worry that it'll lose some of its character without the Japanese voice acting and typesetting.

Muramasa

Mar. 22nd, 2009 10:05 pm
leynos: (Suzumiya Haruhi no Yuuutsu)
I don't know how I missed this, but it looks a lot of fun. It's an action game for the Wii (looks like the game that Shin Shinobi Den wishes it was). GameFAQs has it pegged as an action RPG, although I imagine they mean that in the sense that Gunhazard is an action RPG. Anyway, check out the video. You won't regret it.

http://gamevideos.1up.com/video/id/23128

The developers, Vanillaware, were responsible for the beautiful and fun Princess Crown on the Saturn, which explains things a little. I'll definitely be getting a hold of this.

Due out April in Japan and July in the US.

VisualGun

Jan. 2nd, 2009 12:24 am
leynos: (Suzumiya Haruhi no Yuuutsu)
Two player Street Fighter II now works on my Supergun. Yay. The only element left is the third and fourth player inputs, which I will have done over the weekend. Although, embarrassingly, my three player Capcom harness seems to have buggered off to Zod knows where, so I'll have to order a new one to use these. (I'll get a four player one this time, so four player Battle Circuit, more yay!)

Since this can now be called a proven design, I can now start laying it out as a PCB. This should be interesting. The idea is that it will be a modular hardware standard, and an Open Content project kit so anyone can build one, and anyone can make new harnesses for it. E.g., swap out the Capcom 4 player harness for a Sega harness, allowing three player Moonwalker. That's what the "VisualGun" name refers to.

To get started, here's the pin-outs I've been using:

25 pin D primary control in, female at the Supergun

01	1p 1            blue
02	1p 2            purple
03	1p 3            grey
04	1p 4            white
05	1p 5
06	1p up           red
07	1p down         orange
08	1p left	        yellow
09	1p right	green
10	coin 1	        green
11	1p start        brown
12	test	        orange
13	service	red
14	2p 1            blue
15	2p 2            purple
16	2p 3            grey
17	2p 4            white
18	2p 5	
19	2p up           red
20	2p down         orange
21	2p left         yellow
22	2p right        green
23	coin 2          green
24	2p start	brown
25	ground          black

The colours refer to a JAMMA harness commonly available on eBay and from JAMMAboards.com

9 pin kick harness connector, female at the Supergun

01 	1up Action Button 4	purple
02 	1up Action Button 5	brown
03 	1up Action Button 6	white	
05 	GND
07 	2up Action Button 4	red
08 	2up Action Button 5	green
09 	2up Action Button 6	yellow

This pin-out is used on a French Supergun, whose kick harnesses are readily available on eBay.

15 pin D (M) Neo Geo (extended) Joystick controller ports (x4)

1	Common (GND)    Black	9	Test Button     White
2	F Button        Red	10	E Button        Yellow/Red
3	Select/coin     Blue	11	Start           Red/Green
4	D Button        Brown	12 	C Button        Red/Blue
5	B Button        Purple	13	A Button        Grey
6	Right           Orange	14	Left            Green
7	Down            Pink	15	Up              Cyan
8	+5v             Yellow

Note: On the standard Neo-Geo pin-out, the D button grounds pins 4 and 9, but only pin 4 is read by the console. If you intend to use Neo-Geo joysticks, don't connect pin 9, or provide a means to disable it on the Supergun.

Why Neo-Geo? There are six buttons as standard, which is more than enough for most JAMMA games, no additional hardware is needed for Neo-Geo inputs, the sticks are great (way better than anything available for the Mega Drive), and are easy enough to get. There are two spare pins, which make extending the standard for Capcom beat 'em ups a non-issue.

25 pin 3/4 player harness connector, female at the Supergun

01 3up Action Button 1
02 3up Action Button 2
03 3up Action Button 3
04 3up Action Button 4
05 3up Action Button 5
06 3up Action Button 6
07 3up Insert Coin Button
08 3up Start Button
09 3up Joystick Up
10 3up Joystick Down
11 3up Joystick Left
12 3up Joystick Right
13 GND
14 4up Action Button 1
15 4up Action Button 2
16 4up Action Button 3
17 4up Action Button 4
18 4up Action Button 5
19 4up Action Button 6
20 4up Insert Coin Button
21 4up Start Button
22 4up Joystick Up
23 4up Joystick Down
24 4up Joystick Left
25 4up Joystick Right

This pin-out is from the Supergun designed by Razoola at CPS-2 shock. I don't know of any sources of harnesses using this wiring, but it seems best to standardize where possible.

Note that the board will also need an IDE hard drive connector for the +5 V going to the joysticks if you intend to use Neo-Geo CD pads or new style sticks.

For power, I've used the ATX motherboard connector. This has every JAMMA power line, and includes the facility for a "soft" power switch. In my present implementation, there are no fuses on the power lines, but that will change for the final design.

The video connector is up to the implementor. Some people will find a line SCART socket more useful, others a VGA socket. I've used a VGA socket and a VGA->BNC cable to connect to the de-interlacer in my PC. For most PCBs, note that you will need to put 75 ohm resistors in series with each of the RGB lines. I've put these inside the VGA line socket, so any VGA cable can now be used.

Americans will probably prefer to use a JROK (or similar) RGB->component converter.

The final piece of the equation is the audio. In my case, I've used a line converter obtained from eBay, but there are various designs of attenuator available, each with different merits. More investigation is needed here. Of course, in addition to this, a switchable un-attenuated output would be of use for systems employing Neo-Geo standard audio.
leynos: (Cooking Mama)
Meh to all the pessimists. I'm happy, and no one's gonna spoil that.

My Supergun lives once again. I added a VGA connector today. The upshot of this is that any ready made VGA->BNC cable can be used to connect it to the de-interlacer.

The 2p Joystick port, as anticipated, works properly now. Tomorrow, I'll begin work on modding the 2nd joystick. Street Fighter Zero 3 ahoy.

I've been giving some thought to making real PCBs instead of stripboard eventually. It turns out that it's not that difficult:

http://www.psmedia.se/bildarkivet/main.php/v/hemsidan/Sound_Lab/pcb+making/
http://www.semis.demon.co.uk/PCB/PCB.html

Something to think about for Mark II. :)

---

I felt the inclination to play some Dreamcast shmups today, then I remembered how much the prospect of using the Dreamcast d-pad fills me with dread. The answer: A Saturn to Dreamcast joypad adapter. Woo.
leynos: (Default)
It took a while (heh), but I finally fixed the incorrect wiring on the 2P joystick port. Now I have to replace the video port that Kitty ruined (don't ask), and mod a 2nd joystick for use with my extended Neo-Geo pin-out. Then I can build the 2nd board for players 3 & 4 (I have the parts, I just need to spring the motivation).

I tried out some CPS2 games on my de-interlacer card today, and they played beautifully. Having a video processor in my picture chain is great. No need for resistors etc on the CPS2 video signal any more. I just dial down the white balance, up the saturation and contrast, et voila, it looks beautiful.

To my surprise, Progia No Arashi worked again. I had feared it dead. (Great way to torture yourself that, testing out a game that cost you £150, when you're pretty certain it's not gonna play). And much shmupping ensued.

Tee-Hee

Dec. 26th, 2008 03:32 pm
leynos: (Wolfteam)


(That is a pathetic gamerscore btw.)

Remind me to say how bloody brilliant Raiden Fighters Aces is sometime.
leynos: (Wolfteam)
A couple of months ago, Lawrence Wright (NFGMan) wrote a rant about Xbox Live Arcade. He more or less sums up the reasosn for my reluctance to get involved with XBLA far batter than I ever could. You can read it here:

http://nfgworld.com/mb/thread/377

I suggest you do.
leynos: (Default)
http://www.insertcredit.com/archives/002529.html

King of Fighters XII gives me the same feeling of awe that I got when I saw KoF '98 running for the first time. In the visual stakes at least, SNK have picked up the ball where Capcom have left off and taken the quality of animation in 2D fighters to a new level.

So all that's left now is to hope that that level of spatial and temporal detail carries over into the gameplay.
leynos: (Combichrist)
Mega LD games on the LaserActive are not region coded. It goes without saying that this also applies to LD-ROM2 games. Oops, I just said it anyway.

And yes, I can now watch DTS Laserdiscs.

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