...episode of Chrontendo, that is. What did you think I was talking about? In the annals of Chrontendo, few episodes have been as delayed as Episode 28. But it is finally here, so check it over on archive.org!
Still, this is one of the biggest delays Chrontendo has experienced. Part of this can be chalked up the the games involved: Dragon Quest III, Contra and Guardian Legend, all in one episode?!? Add in the death in the family, the double lay-off, and my mother almost going blind, and it equals a crazy month. (By the way, a reminder for all you folks out there to get your eyes checked from time to time. Glaucoma can lead to serious problems, including sudden, permanent blindness. In the case of my mother, it was caught just in time.)
A commenter, Kevin Moon, recently brought up the possibility of me getting discouraged or burnt out on the series. But at this point, I don't really picture that happening. When I first envisioned Chrontendo, I realized it was a huge, almost insane, idea. Yet I figured that with a bit of perseverance I would be able to pull it off. So I certainly don't foresee myself backing out at any point in the future. My one concern is that I' m not always able to pump these episodes out as quickly as I'd like. At some point in the future I should write about my motivations behind the series, but for the time being, let's take a look at the new episode.
I generally single out one game that stands out among the rest. In this episode, that proved to be difficult, so we give out a double gold medal this time around. Both games were already discussed a bit earlier.
Dragon Quest III
Ironclad logic at work: I don't know you, therefore you must come from another dimension.
From a Japanese perspective, this is the one: the old-school RPG to end all old-school RPGs. One of the biggest selling Famicom titles, and the game that elevated Dragon Quest from a piece of successful entertainment to a national obsession. But if you strip away the "you had to be there" quality, what is left? A very long, well-made, 8-bit JRPG that builds on the DQ II formula, in this case by adding a job system.
One of the biggest selling action games on the NES, Konami's genre-defining run and gun brought two player co-op to countless young gamers. Later games, such as Gunstar Heroes and the Contra sequels, improved on the formula, but the original Contra remains one of the most influential titles for the NES.
Other great games from Episode 28:
Guardic Gaiden/The Guardian Legend
Three-eyed skulls that shoot lasers? I guess that's pretty cool.
Successfully mixing genres has proven to be difficult: the history of video games is littered with failures (see Kamen Rider Club below). Few succeeded to the extent that The Guardian Legend did. This Compile developed game, a sequel to their 1986 MSX release, Guardic, manages to shoehorn shoot-em-up sequences into a Zelda-esque action adventure game. In addition, you play as a cute robot chick that can transform into a spaceship! Typically, Broderbund botched the US release a bit with some seriously unappealing box art, especially compared to the original.
Good: Robot chicks. Not so good: Giant faces with blue eyelashes.
Capcom digs deep into its vaults for this one - a port of the 1985 arcade game. Originally a follow up of sorts to Commando, Gun.Smoke is a vertical run-and-gun with an old west setting. Rather intriguing is Capcom's attempt to avoid legal complications over the name by using some non-standard punctuation. Would this have really worked, had the owners of the TV show Gun Smoke tried to sue? Could the Final Fantasy guy simply have renamed himself Final.Fantasy?
A video game based on a character from an advertising campaign? Why not? Data East's Ronald McDonald game has nothing to do with the more widely known M.C. Kids. Instead, it's a surprisingly well done platformer, in which Ronald rescues his McDonaldland friends from a terrifying wizard/clown with razor sharp teeth. Also notable are the slightly psychedelic enemies such as exploding purple jack-o-lanterns and kids in yellow raincoats who cry enormous, deadly tears.
Of course, every episode of Chrontendo has its share of crud:
Kamen Rider Club
I've already discussed this one a bit. Suffice to say, it's a platfomer/RPG hybrid that fails on every level.
Even a cat can look at Astro Boy.
Once again, Konami and Osamu Tezuka join forces. The first time produced Hi no Tori; this time around, we have a game based on Astro Boy. Sadly, the result is a big, steaming pile. Probably the fact that an outside developer, Home Data, was brought in to work on this has something to do with the an ugly, illogical, and at times, almost unplayable, mess.
Paris no Dakar Rally Special
I wonder what CBS/Sony thought was even remotely "special" about this game. Definitely, the most mind-boggling example of kusoge this episode.
This game is mostly about phallic symbols.
An extremely odd release from Taito, Replicart is merely a clone of the old Snake/Worms computer game. In order to distinguish it from the million other Snake clones, they decided to give it an extremely awkward control scheme.
And the rest:
"As we can see this sceenshot, Fir-- Auugggh! My eyes!! My eyes!!"
A less than stellar side scrolling action game from HAL, Fire Bam, features some of the most eye-bleedingly garish colors you'll ever see. Now that I think about it, this game really is quite bad. Maybe I should have lumped it in with Kamen Rider Club and the rest above.
Tantei Jinguji Saburo: Yokohama Renzoku Satsujin Jiken
Yep, the second game in Data East's Saburo Jinguji murder mystery adventure series.
Jumbo Osaki no Hole In One Professional
Another golf game from HAL, this time a slightly more challenging swing mechanic. Also, it's the first Famicom game have the name of a real life golfer attached to it.
Matsumoto Tooru No Kabushiki Hisshou Gaku
Not all Famicom games were aimed at children, as this release from Imagineer proves. Sporting one of the most boring video game covers ever, Matsumoto Tooru... is a stock market simulator crammed into an Japanese adventure game interface.
Exciting Soccer - Konami Cup
The final game in Konami's Exciting Sports series, Exciting Soccer is sadly no more exciting than Exciting Billard or Exciting Baseball. And I really had hope for this one!
Karaoke Studio Senyou Cassette Vol. 2
Another god damned Karaoke cartridge from Bandai and Tose.
I hope next episode will go a bit more smoothly. No games quite as huge as those here, but we will see the first game in a very long running series from Koei.
Until then, check out Chrontendo Episode 28 over at archive.org.