At last! It's here! I have no idea why this one took so long. Maybe it was the History of Adventure Games segment; cutting it in half certainly sped things up. I think it may have just been due to laziness and the fact that I get easily distracted. But you know what to do! Go to Achive.org and stream or download it!
First up - about the Adventure Games bit: because we've seen so many of the damned things, and because this episode has three - including fan fave Princess Tomato - I decided to try to get some historical perspective on the genre. So nestled in the soft folds of Episode 31 are the first two parts. Together they rush through the development of Western and Japanese adventure games up to the mid/late 80s. Parts three and four will cover the "golden years." Which means Lucas Arts era stuff in the US and games with naked women in Japan. Perhaps we'll find out if the guy from Pia Carrot actually puts the moves on his cousin. Combined, these 4 parts will be quite lengthy. So lengthy that I had to trim two games off of Episode 31! Yep, only 13 games this episode.
One thing that concerns me is that the adventure game segment won't look so hot when streaming the video, due to some of the games' text being on the small side. Everything is perfectly legible in the full size version, but the compressed streaming version makes the text look a little fuzzy. Hopefully y'all can deal.
Episode 31 is not exactly chock full of great games, but there is one that stands head and shoulders above the rest.
Princess Tomato in the Salad Kingdom
Don't worry. A simple game of Rock, Paper, Scissors will take out these wimps.
Ok, this game is sort of awful. But in a lovable, charming way. Kind of like Mel Gibson. And I have to admire Hudson for putting this out in the US. Obviously, Japanese adventure games never took off over here (except among the pervert set) but at least Hudson was willing to give it a shot, unlike Nintendo. As I point out in my comments this episode, those raised on Lucas Arts style adventure games might not be too fond of Princess Tomato. Many of the puzzles simply consist of talking to characters over and over again until the games decides to open up the path to the next area. And absolutely no justification is ever given as to why you can't, for example, go down the hallway until you've spoken to Orange Princess. And having to constantly "look" and "check" your surroundings multiple times just aggravates the frustration. Look in the garbage bin once: there's nothing there. Look a second time: Oh! There's there's something in there!
I'd be remiss to not mention America's sweetheart, Percy. I don't think Princess Tomato would have any sort of cult following without him. He's a bumbling little imbecile, but we still love him to pieces. Also, as mentioned in the comments earlier, Octopus Prime has a cool text & screenshot Let's Play for Princess Tomato here. And there's another one here. So despite the game's many flaws, it's still a weird and wild game where you challenge an anthropomorphic bowl of salad to a game of Rock, Paper, Scissors ("Put up you fingers!")
Video gaming's greatest heroes!
In terms of good games this episode, we have a couple options.
Final Commando - Akai Yousai/Jackal
This might not be the most awesome boss we've seen in a Konami game so far. But it's pretty damned close.
A quick run of this game's various titlings: the original arcade game was called Tokushu Butai Jackal (Special Forces Jackal) in Japan and Top Gunner in the US. So naturally, when it came time for a home port, Konami released it under the names Final Commando in Japan and Jackal in the US! Oh, Konami, you crazy bastards! Also weird is that the US version has been expanded a bit. The levels are actually horizontally wider in the US cart, and there is an extra level. So for once, Japan got the bone.
Captain Tsubasa/Tecmo Cup Soccer Game
This isn't exactly the most subtle crotch shot I've seen in a sports game.
A completely original soccer/RPG game. You move your player around the field with the d-pad. But when it comes time to pass, shoot or evade opposing players, a little DQ style menu pops up that allows you to choose your action. All the actions play out with these very slick little animations of the characters running, kicking, etc. It's difficult to describe in words, but it's sort of like Blitzball from Final Fantasy X. Only not so annoying. I wonder if other sports games used this particular mechanic? I'll guess if there are any, we'll eventually come across them.
Sensha Senryaku - Sabaku no Kitsune/Desert Commander
A cool, though very simple military tactics game. Desert Commander, with its easy to use interface and speedy battles, is a breath of fresh air after the likes of Neunzehn and Fleet Commander. My main complaint is that Desert Commander is just too short. The NES and Famicom versions are identical, except for the fact that your headquarters is embellished with a nice big fat swastika in the Japanese cart!
I've noticed that I seem to negatively compare every single military tactics game we've encountered so far to Military Madness. Now I'm worried that I've built that game up to the point that when we finally reach Military Madness in some upcoming episode of Chronturbo, you guys will be expecting it to cure cancer and walk on water. It's good, but not that good.
Also, I dunno... maybe Freedom Force?
This is a US only Zapper game from Sunsoft. Noteworthy for the lengthy animated intro which has nothing to do with the game itself, as far as I can tell. And your character's name is 'Rad Rex" (and for bonus goofiness, your job title is "Terminator") It's the typical "shoot the bad guys but not the hostages" deal. I'd like Freedom Force better if grenades and machine guns didn't shave off half your life bar, and/or there was some way to refill your life bar besides the non-existent health packs.
The terrible games this time around are:
Kamen no Ninja Akakage
Another winner from the guys behind Hokuto no Ken! Only this time you play as a ninja who wears a gigantic frickin' red scarf! I thought ninjas were supposed to be silent assassins who vanished into the shadows. One illustration of Shouei System/Bear's apparent lack of programming know-how is that there can only be one type of enemy on the screen at once. Whenever you enter an area where a new type of enemy appears, any existing on-screen enemies will simply vanish into thin air!
Another well known ninja.
Deep Dungeon III
Another damned Deep Dungeon game! For this one, Square nixed the DOG imprint, and released it on a cartridge under their own name - a sure sign the FDS is dying. I guess DD III developer Humming Bird Soft saw Final Fantasy's sales figures and decided to add a four member party and character classes to this one. However, they forgot to not make it another dull, repetitive, Wizardry clone. And, lest I forget, there's a town, complete with inns and shops, in this game. But naturally, it's... inside a dungeon! For God's sake, what is this obsession with dungeons? Not everything has to be in a damned dungeon!!
Oh great, another port of an ancient action RPG. Elysion has been blessed with a high quality fan translation. But that won't prevent it from being an unplayable slog. It's one of those old-school RPGs where enemies give 9 experience points, and it takes 500 experience points to gain a level. And when you look at a walkthrough, it highly recommends you get up to level 8 before venturing out too far. Ha, ha! Wonderful! *hits cartridge eject button*
Major League Baseball
Family Stadium? No, I don't see any resemblance and have no idea what you are implying.
LJN learns a valuable lesson here. It's better to blow your development budget on an MLB license, as opposed to putting money into the game itself. After all, it's the box art that sells the game, right? Rather than wasting valuable time and money making a decent game, instead have Atlus rip some sprites out of Family Stadium, slap them over a crappy physics engine and call it a day. The important thing is that you have you have the names of real life MLB teams and the MLB logo on the box. An important truth has been discovered that future publishers would never forget.
Also this episode:
Who knows why, but Namco decided not to call this "Family Golf." Just another golf game, I'm afraid.
Famicom Tantei Club - Kieta Koukeisha
It finally happened: Nintendo produced there very own Portopia clone. Just like Mukashi Banashi, this was released on two discs sold separately.
Meitantei Holmes: Kiri no London Satsujin Jiken
History's greatest green-haired detective.
Towa Chiki releases their second Sherlock Holmes game. This one is not nearly as bananas as 1986's Sherlock Holmes: Hakushaku Reijou Yuukai Jiken, covered in Chrontendo 13.
A heavily altered port of a Virgin Interactive Commodore 64 game based on the James Clavell novel.
Whew! What a relief. I'm already looking forward to Episode 32 with... Blaster Master! And the History of Adventure Games parts 3 & 4! Until then, head over to Archive.org and check out Episode 31.