Friday, June 8, 2012
Here Come The Shooters
When one thinks of the PC Engine, what comes to mind? Tons of obscure RPGs and visual novels? Definitely. But also, there is the shoot-em-up: Gates of Thunder, Blazing Lazers, Air Zonk, Soldier Blade, ... the list of amazing shoot-em-ups released for the console goes on and on. Perhaps no game system is so closely associated with the genre as the PC Engine/Turbo Grafx 16. But legends don't happen overnight, and even the PC Engine was not born into shooter greatness. Chronturbo Episode 3 will feature four shooters, and none of them could be considered stone-cold classics. Two are actually sort of terrible!
In terms of semi-reputable shoot-em-ups, we have two games, Hanii in the Sky and Kyūkyoku Tiger. Hanii, from the obscure publisher Face, is one of the oddest shooters on the system. The plot involves the Shinto deity Izanagi, who along with his wife/sister Izanami, sired Japan. By siring Japan, I don't mean they were ancestors of the Japanese people*, but that Izanami gave birth to the actual islands that make up what is now Japan.
In the game, you control a Haniwa figure, who is following Izanagi's orders to blow up a lot of shit. Hanii in the Sky differs from most shooters by allowing you to rotate your laser cannon 360 degrees. Much of time, enemies come at you from the top of the screen, but if a squadron suddenly appears behind you -- simple rotate the canon to the rear and blast away. On top of this, but can obtain various upgrades and items, most of which must be purchased with cash obtained by killing enemies. It's a pretty cool game, though without using a turbo controller it will be impossibly hard.
Kyūkyoku Tiger, from Taito is a rather bare bones port of the 1987 arcade game called Twin Cobra in the US. Developed by Toaplan, Kyūkyoku Tiger is the middle game in the "Tiger" series, book-ended by Tiger Heli and Kyūkyoku Tiger II. It's just one of many military-themed shooters from Toaplan in the mid-late 1980s. We covered the gimped Famicom version of Tiger Heli way back in Chrontendo 12. Kyūkyoku Tiger is certainly a pretty huge improvement over that game, but it still falls well short of greatness, being somewhat bland and repetitive at times.
On the other end of the spectrum (specifically, the "crap" end) we have Pack-in-Video's Deep Blue Kaitei Shinwa and Aicom's P-47. Both are horizontal shooters and both are deeply dull. Endless waves of fish (Deep Blue) and aircraft (P-47) fly at you with little rhyme or reason. Deep Blue goes down the enemy overload route, throwing far more enemies at you than you can possible kill. To compensate, you have a pretty decent life meter, which slowly refills when you stop firing your weapon. In the hands of a more adept developer, this might be an interesting mechanic. Neither Deep Blue nor P-47 offer much along the way of cool weapons, power ups or bosses. While not exactly kusoge, both games are completely unremarkable and boring. For some reason, the only game out of the four to receive a US released was Deep Blue, published by NEC.
But hey, don't despair, shoot-em-up fans! Things will start improving, in a huge way, in Chronturbo Episode 5.
Also, a couple quick announcements. One, Dr. Sparkle is going on a brief vacation tomorrow. Once I return, I'll pour my energy into finishing up Chronturbo 3.
Second, I'm continuing to add older episodes onto Youtube, as well as playlists. There is now a Chronsega playlist, and a Chrontendo 1988 playlist which contains all the 1988 episodes. I'll create more lists for other years once the appropriate episodes have been added.
*However, the emperor has officially been considered the direct descendant of the goddess Amaterasu, at least until the post WWII era.