Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Some News for You

My goodness! Has it really been this long since I've updated this blog? My apologies.

If you're wondering what's currently on the plate for Dr.  Sparkle, I'm currently waist-deep in Chronturbo Episode Five, covering July through September 1989. Compared to last episode, which featured Valis II, Blazing Lazers and the ambitious CD-ROM RPG Tengai Makyou: Ziria, Episode Five is kind of lame. We've got a handful of arcade ports, the usual golf and baseball games, one adventure game, and some random junk.

One rather bizarre PC Engine release is NEC's port of Altered Beast, or more properly, Juuouki, since this version didn't come out stateside.  There were a few Sega games ported to the PC Engine (and the Famicom!) but Altered Beast has been released not that long ago on the Mega Drive, and was considered of sufficient quality to become the pack-in title for the Genesis. I don't know exactly what Sega's reasoning was for licensing the game to NEC. Perhaps the popularity of the PC Engine meant it would sell more copies than it would on the Mega Drive.

Even stranger though, was the way Altered Beast was released. It is the only PC Engine game I know of (off the top of my head) that received  near-simultaneous releases on the HuCard and CD-ROM. On September 22, 1989 the CD-ROM version hit the shelves; then the card version came out a week later. The differences between the two are minimal. The CD version has an brief narrated intro that is accessible from the main menu. Unlike Valis II, this is not an animated style intro, but rather ugly looking still images with narration and music.  In addition, the CD version has speech samples which are missing from the HuCard version. Aside from that, the game itself is identical.

Scene from the CD-ROM intro.

I'm not really sure why NEC released this on CD-ROM, other than to give early adaptors another game to justify their purchase of the peripheral. The CD-ROM² was launched 9 months prior, and only 8 games had been released for it. A bunch of CD-ROM games started coming out around February and March of 1990, so there were clearly a lot of titles in the works. Still, everything about the CD-ROM Altered Beast screams "desperate cash-in." The disc itself if only 94 megabytes, making it the smallest PC Engine disc game I know of.

PCE Altered Beast looks considerable worse than the Genesis version.

Two other CD-ROM games will be covered this episode, one of which is Wonder Boy III: Monster Lair. This is the "other" Wonder Boy III: a port of the arcade game, not to be confused with The Dragon's Trap. It's a simple little platformer/shoot-em-up hybrid which has some slammin' music. The other game is Super Albatross, which has an intriguing name but turns out to be merely a golf game. Kusoge fans will be pleased to know there are two pretty terrible HuCard games this episode as well.

Rock On. This game is bullshit.

Also, I'll mention this stupid thing I'm doing during my spare time (ie: while I'm on the clock at work), the Day by Day blog. For the innocent among you, Day By Day is an extremely ugly, paranoid, sorta white supremacist, MRA comic. It began life 13 years ago and a Republican-leaning Doonesbury clone. It even had limited syndication for a while.  The creator's brain kind of snapped when Obama was elected and it just devolved into the awful mess it is today. This blog of mine is a look at Day by Day through the years, watching it turn into horrifying crap.

The current Chrontendo schedule is as follows: Chronturbo 5 is partway done. I've had very little time to work on this stuff for the last few weeks, but hope to pick up the pace soon. Also, Video Nasties Ep. 2 will be out soon (it's actually more or less been sitting in the can for a little while.) There will be a short Video Nasties Ep 2 Part 2 video soon afterwards. Sort of a one-off follow up video.