Wednesday, May 23, 2012

A Pleasant Surprise

Episode 44 is safely in the can, despite some issues with the sound synchronization on the initial version posted. Next up is Chronturbo Episode 3, which will cover January - March 1989. This is the point where the release schedule for the PC Engine really picks up.  After a slow January and February, we get 11 games in March; this is comparable to a typical month for the Famicom. The success of the PC Engine in Japan led to strong third party support which led to a very robust slate of games for 1989.

A couple things I should point out: there will be a few changes to Chrontendo and its sister series over the next few episodes. In Chronturbo 3 you'll notice some minor aesthetic improvements. These changes will slow down my normal workflow, so expect to see some slowdown until I get into the swing of things.

One new developer for the PC Engine will make its debut in Chronturbo 3: Capcom.  "Wait," you say, "Capcom created the original Street Fighter arcade game, which we saw as Fighting Street last time!" True, but Capcom unveils its first original game (mostly) for the PC Engine in January 1989: SonSon II.  Those of you who remember the first SonSon game will probably not be too excited at the thought of a sequel. I certainly wasn't. Yet Son Son II turned out to be a pretty good, cutesy, action platformer in the Wonder Boy vein.


 The impression you come away with from SonSon II is that of a more polished Wonder Boy in Monster Land. Your diminutive hero slays enemies with his staff while picking up money and doing some light platforming. Money can be spent at the shops that occasionally appear. Aside from health refills, you can purchase special weapons, an item to punch through hidden weak spots in walls, and, most importantly, upgrades to your main weapon. Money, called "Zenny"* in the game, is in the form of various fruits and other edible goods, that often float in mid air. This will give you flashbacks to the first Wonder Boy game.


The whole shebang feels pretty similar to Keith Courage, though with much more charm and better controls. However, it turns out that SonSon II is essentially a light-hearted reworking of an earlier Capcom game, Black Tiger/Black Dragon. That game had a much darker, sword and sorcery theme, but the gameplay, as well as some of the sprites, have been retained in SonSon II. Black Tiger never got a console port, though it was released on some computers, and years later ended up on a PS2 Capcom compilation.


On a side note, it's been pointed out that there is a lot of similarity between last episode's Dragon Buster II and the ancient Intellivison game, Advanced Dungeons & Dragons: Cloudy Mountain. I'll admit, there is a very strong resemblance which is hard to chalk up to coincidence. The fact that your weapon is a bow, the layout of the dungeons, the final destination being an imposingly tall mountain...  all of these elements appear in both games. Though some things, like the final mountain, were carried over from the first Dragon Buster game. As I pointed out earlier, the structure of both Dragon Buster games are essentially the same. I suppose it's possible that one of the developers at Namco or Tose was enamored with this obscure (in Japan, at least) older game, and borrowed elements as a tribute. Too bad we don't know more about the origins of Dragon Buster II.



*Zenny appears as a form of currency in many Capcom games. Black Tiger may have been the first, but it later turned up in such series as Breath of Fire and Mega Man Battle Network.

13 comments:

Chalgyr Vokel said...

Ah, Black Tiger. Just seeing that image and your comments on it brought back some memories. I loved that game in the arcade. The last time I played it was for PSP on the Cacom remix collection. :)

mpx said...

I found another missing game in NES/Famicom release list :) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miracle_Piano_Teaching_System

mpx said...

I found another missing game in NES/Famicom release list :) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miracle_Piano_Teaching_System

mpx said...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stadium_Events is also missing :)

Tomfr38 said...

Just to say, zenny is an actual japanese word for money: 銭 (zeni). It's used nowadays to talk about small change or coins.
It's not specific to capcom.

Christopher Sobieniak said...

I'm reminded of "Zeni" also popping up in Akira Toriyama's "Dragon Ball" as the currency used by the world in that story.

The Professor said...

"These changes will slow down my normal workflow..."

*weeps*

Doctor Sparkle said...

So it appears 銭 comes from a transliteration of qian, an old type of Chinese coin. This makes sense, since back in olden times, Japan imported their religion, written language and ideas about government from China. Chinese money was floating around too. The name seems appropriate for Chinese-based stuff like SonSon and Dragon Ball. At least I now know what the name of Japanese noise band Zeni Geva means.

Both Stadium Events (12/23/1986) and Miracle Piano (12/?/1990) are on the list, though it does need to be updated soon. We covered Stadium Events in Ep. 14.

Tomfr38 said...

@Doctor Sparkle: I'm glad you learned another japanese word. I've always wondered if you could read or speak some japanese.
Anyway, thanks for all the hard work on chrontendo. I actually bought like 300 famicom games in the last year because of your videos.

The Dord said...

@Tomfr38 He doesn't mention it, but I think he has a basic knowledge of Japanese (Oral is much easier than written Japanese!)

Doctor Sparkle said...

I'm up to about 10 Japanese words now!

The Dord said...

@Doctor Sparkle

That's pretty extensive!

Doctor Sparkle said...

@The Dord

Unfortunately, 5 of them are names of hentai sub-genres....