Wednesday, November 28, 2012

To Watch this Video, You Need 4 Eyes

Why? Because of the size.*

Seriously, Chronsega 8 is huuuuge. In more ways than one. It is far and away the longest episode yet. And it's all due to one thing: Phantasy Star II. For some reason, PS II stirred up enough vitriol in me (perhaps "vitriol' is too strong) to rant and rave for an excessively long time about its shortcomings. Hell, the PS II segment is halfway between a typical Chrontendo segment and a Let's Play.

But before I get into that, yes, Chronsega 8 is available in all its mind-numbing glory, on Archive and Youtube. As an experiment, I have put a 720p High Def version on Youtube. If you plan on watching it full screen on your big-ass monitor, this is the way to go. Purists, however, will probably still want to download the 60 fps version from Archive. Also, this is the episode where we move into the new dual format for Chronsega: half Megadrive/Genesis and half Master System.

 So about Phantasy Star II: I'd never played the game before. I'd always heard it was one of the best RPGs ever - a game years ahead of its time. One that put its contemporaries to shame. A game so amazing that after completing it your life would be transformed forever.  After watching the closing credits scroll down the screen, you would step outside, notice colors in the sky you had never seen before. The sounds of children playing in the distance would fill your heart with laughter. Suddenly, nothing in the world would be impossible for you to accomplish.Women would suddenly find you irresistibly attractive. You had become a master of your destiny -- all because of Phantasy Star II!

I hope you like massive amounts of gratuitous multi-plane scrolling.
 In fact, PS II seemed a bit dumbed down compared to its predecessor and some of the better RPGs we've already seen. The combat is very simple; in fact it plays itself. You only have to hit the "fight" button at the start of each battle and your characters just attack automatically.  Enemies use virtually no status ailments or special attacks.  Battles are just "hit and heal." There are only three boss battles in the entire game: one about halfway into the game, and two more at the very end. The game world seems small and sort of empty; there are only a few NPCs of any importance. There is only one real side story, about a guy whose daughter is kidnapped by "scoundrels." The game just doesn't have any of the richness found in Dragon Quest III.

What it lacks in richness it makes up for in vivisected bunnies.
  On the other hand, the art is pretty nice - the monsters and large and the attack animations are well animated.  However, PS II is still visually tied to its 8-bit roots.  It looks like Phantasy Star with bigger sprites and slightly more detailed backgrounds. You can't really blame Sega for this; after all, that 16-bit RPG "look" wasn't developed overnight.  The music is outstanding: some of the best for the system. The character artwork is good looking, and box art by Hitoshi Yoneda is pretty sweet, though clearly derivative of the French comic artist Moebius. But mostly PS II just feels shallow and repetitive, like a grindy, continuous slog through a series of dungeons.

Though we did get some decent fantasy paperback style art in the US.
I don't want to babble on about this game anymore than I already have. Though you should check out the rather thorough series of posts over at the RPG Consoler.

We cover the Mega Drive releases from the system's launch in October 1988 to June 1989. Aside from PS II, we have the two launch titles, both based on Super Scaler arcade games: Space Harrier II and Super Thunder Blade. Later in the year Sega released Altered Beast, the orignal pack-in game for the Genesis in the US, and Osomatsu-kun, a Mega Drive original. Osomatsu-kun is noticeable for being the first platformer on the system, as well as the first licensed game.

Osomatsu-kun: the forgotten game from the Mega Drive's first batch of releases.
1989 brings in the disappointing Alex Kidd sequel, Alex Kidd in the Enchanted Castle, which inexplicably upped the Janken content. Also, Super League, a good looking Baseball game that plays just like every other baseball game we've seen. In the US, Sega tacked on names of real sports figures to their sports games, so Super League was released as Tommy Lasorda Baseball. There are also a couple third party developed games based on earlier computer games, Super Daisenryaku and Thunder Blade II. The latter would eventually become a popular series of shoot-em-ups on the Genesis, but this game is less successful than its sequels.

                                            A crotch shot or Tommy Lasorda's ugly mug. Not much of a choice.

On the Master System end, we have six US/Europe games from Summer 1989. Far and away the best is Westone's Wonder Boy III: The Dragon's Trap. I discussed my love of this game in an earlier post. But let me reiterate -- it's one of the best games on the system. Other than that we have a port of the Hot-B shooter, Cloud Master, a horror themed basketball game, Basketball Nightmare, OutRun 3D, Compile's Casino Games, and for some damned reason, Parker Brothers' port of King's Quest (!)

Cloud Master AKA The game where you shoot all kinds of stupid shit.
 So this is how Chronsega will continue in the future. Episode 9 will lean more heavily on the Mega Drive, as the Master System enters its lean period. First though, we have some more Chrontendo. I sincerely hope that Chrontendo 46 will arrive in a much timelier fashion. A number of factors conspired to make Chronsega 8 so late; hopefully this won't happen again.

Until then, check out Chronsega 8 on Archive and Youtube.

* Reference (Probably NSFW)

Friday, November 23, 2012

Post Birthday Blues

At what point in your life do you officially become "out of it?" I'm certainly behind the times in the world of videogames. Yesterday at the Thanksgiving table, some younger folk were talking about the wonders of Halo 4, a game which I know very little about and have even less interest in playing. I can't stir up much interest for Angry Birds, Kinect, or any of that stuff. For a guy who specializes in old videogames, this is all perfectly acceptable. But I still am a fan on contemporary music, so it's a bit more troublesome to find myself developing grumpy old man syndrome in that department. After all, I did work for an online music retailer for a number of years, something I've mentioned on this blog before. (I believe I wrote about having spoken to Johnny Rotten on the phone - he was calling buy some Can CDs. (Incidentally, I also sent a hard-to-find CD to Steve Jones, though I never actually spoke to him directly. I'm pretty sure it was a Silverhead record, maybe this one. Before you judge Steve Jones as a pervert based on that remarkable sleazy cover, please note that Silverhead was a pretty good 70s glam band, so Mr. Jones must have decent taste is music.))

This was acceptable in the 70s.
What triggered my current state of feeling old and in the way was a trip to a local burgers and beer place that sits next door to a musical venue. I've been to that musical venue a number of times; I even wrote about seeing Mastodon there. Outside, a huge line of people were waiting to get in, stretching literally around the block. After dinner, security was still working on getting people into the venue. It was sort of an unusual crowd, with lots of young people and older folks as well. I asked one of the venue's employees what was going on that night. "Halestorm. It's a huge show. Been sold out for weeks." "Halestorm?" I thought, "I've never heard of them. They're this popular?" I should explain that I live in a town that is not exactly known for supporting the arts, and I don't often see big crowds at these sort of things. Upcoming shows at that same venue include the likes of Trapt, NOFX, Snoop Dogg (!), and Sum 41, none of which appear to have sold out. So apparently these Halestorm guys are a big deal? There were a few folks wearing Avenged Sevenfold shirts hanging around, so maybe Halestorm is a Christian band? (Avenged Sevenfold is a Christian band, right? I would assume so with a name like that.)

There's nothing objectively wrong with not knowing who some popular but probably terrible band is. But not that long ago, I at least had a passing familiarity with terrible crap like Linkin Park or Daughtry. Now, it appears this stuff is passing me by. Maybe this is a good thing, and means fewer distractions.  Or it could just be that I'm getting over the hill.

It's no coincidence that I'm writing a post of this nature the day after my birthday. Once you reach a certain age (probably some time in your 30s) birthdays become less a cause for celebration, and more a grim reminder of your mortality. However, since it was my birthday, I decided not to cook Thanksgiving dinner myself, for the first time in around 8 years or so. At least I had a day off.

Speaking of 70s glam rockers....
By the way: the final piece in the Chronsega 8 puzzle, Phantasy Star II, has been completed. I've also finished the new and sort of weird Chronsega opening title sequence. It's mostly now a matter of editing everything together over the next few days.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012


Chrontendo has always gotten a fair amount of spam, but there seems to have been a serious uptick in the last few weeks. Blogger has been pretty good about blocking these in the past. But in last couple days, the Blogger spam catcher seems to have shit the bed with the lights on, and all kinds of crazy stuff is getting through., despite 100% of these comments being about cheap prescription drugs.

I'm not sure what's going on, but it's with a heavy heart that I have enabled the verification word thingy. Hopefully this will be temporary. But for the time being you'll need to type in the magic word to post a comment.

Friday, November 9, 2012


The wait for Chronsega 8 has become so protracted, that this episode now has its own trailer. Yes, an actual teaser-trailer type deal has been created for this episode. As I stated a while ago, there are some big changes afoot for Chronsega, and the new episode will introduce the new Chronsega. We might call it Chronsega 2.0, or perhaps Chronsega 360, Chronsega Vista, Chronsega X, or hell, maybe we'll just call it Chronsega: The New Batch. We also roll out the stupidly fancy-looking new Chronsega logo, which will undoubtedly be improved in later episodes.

Most of Chronsega 8 is done, but one game has turned out to be long, grueling slog. But I considered this game to be "important" enough for me to finish, so I'm toughing it out. If you've watched the trailer, you can probably figure out which game I'm talking about.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The Big Winner

Election Day has come and gone, and I'll admit to getting a little caught up the madness for the last couple days. I always tell myself I won't compulsively watch the election coverage on television, and this year I have once again broken my promise. Last night was a huge and total victory for a man who many people have mocked, insulted and written off as a guy who just got lucky one time. I personally had a lot of faith in him, so it was quite gratifying to see him completely and utterly vindicated. So, congratulations, Nate Silver. You were right on the money. The number crunching nerds have triumphed over the crusty old pundits.

Of all the big networks, Fox News certainly had the most entertaining coverage over the last few days. The political equivalent of the reality distortion field seemed to have engulfed the network, with various talking heads popping up on Nov 5 to explain that, yes, Romney was definitely going to win this election, despite all the evidence to the contrary. Naturally, we've been treated to all sorts of meltdowns and Twitter freakouts the last 2 days. Probably the guy who got the hardest slap on the face from reality was human carbuncle Dick Morris, a man so completely out of touch that he was predicting a huge landslide for Romney up to the last minute. Election night itself, of course, also treated us to the sad spectacle of of Karl Rove freaking out, and disputing Fox's call of Ohio for Obama. Cognitive dissonance at its saddest.

Of course, now guys like Morris are blaming Hurricane Sandy and New Jersey governor Chris Christie for creating some kind of last minute upset in the election. This seems pretty absurd, as polls indicated the likelihood of an Obama win had been steadily increasing well before Sandy. Furthermore, according to Nate Silver, the odds of Obama winning never dropped below 62%, even in the aftermath of the first debate.

Here in the crazy state of California, we still have one hotly contested US House seat in the air. Supposedly, it will be "days, or even weeks" before the final vote is decided. And, in a move that might seem pretty weird to people outside the US, we rejected a measure that required genetically modified food to be labeled as such. I guess we just don't want to know what we are eating.

Oh, yes, on my Halloween post, I thought I was being unique and special by posting that crazy "It Came in the Night" song. Surely only Kenneth Anger fans or record collector geeks know that song, right? Yet, it so happens that weirdo punk rockers The Black Lips created a Halloween mixtape for frickin' Vice Magazine. And guess what the last track was?