: The Professor has pointed out the sound is slightly out of sync in the MKV and MP4 versions. I've uploaded a corrected video to Youtube and the Achive versions will follow shortly!)
Ok, I've been able to tear myself away from overpriced beers long enough to cobble together Chrontendo 44. And what an episode it is! Head on over to Archive
to check it out. As always, the nice h.264 60 frames per second versions on Archive are considered optimal.
Episode 44 is a bit of an outlier. There are only 12 (gasp!) games covered, meaning all of April 1989. However, the remaining time is taken up by a lengthy bonus feature on the Game Boy. Yes, the Game Boy. In the past, I've said I will never do a Chrontendo Game Boy series, but since Nintendo's handheld debuted in April, I decided to do a quick overview of the 25 games released in 1989.
|Alright you bastards! Game Boy! Are you happy now?|
What did I learn about the Game Boy's first 8 months of existence? That a lot of crap was released early in the system's lifespan. The other consoles we've covered, the Famicom, SMS and PC Engine, were all born into uncertainty. No one knew upfront how those systems would fare. As a result, third party publishers didn't start coming on-board in droves until after those consoles had enough time to get their footing. The Game Boy, on the other hand, was a highly anticipated new product from the dominating force in the video game industry. Thus we have third party Game Boy support from the get-go. In fact, a third party game, HAL's Shanghai
, was released at launch! I believe this is the first video game system in which that happened. Add in the fact that the Game Boy must have been relatively cheap and easy to program for, and it's not surprising that 1989 saw tons of games from Bandai, Pony Canyon, Toei, and the like. Of course, it also saw more ambitious releases from Konami, Square and Kemco. Overall, aside from a few classics like Super Mario Land
, 1989 was not packed with memorable Game Boy titles.
However, in the world of the Famicom, April 1989 has one very memorable game from Technos. Fresh off the massive success of Double Dragon
in the arcades, Technos produced the newest Kunio-kun/Nekketsu game, Downtown Nekketsu Monogatari
, aka River City Ransom
Because River City Ransom
is a highly regarded cult favorite, it's easy to overestimate the originality of Technos's concept. Back when you were some snot-nosed punk in 1990, the idea of a beat-em-up RPG must have blown your mind. But after having encountered one RPG-ish sidescrolling action game after another throughout the course of Chrontendo, RCR
no longer feels quite as fresh. At it's core, RCR
is not that much different than Chester Field
What Technos did
create was an experience that is much more enjoyable than all those other cruddy games. Combat, in particular, is much more engrossing, what with all of RCR
's punches, kicks, blocks, throws, and chain-whippings. We all love such bits of dialog as "Mamaaa!" "Welcome to your worst nightmare!" and, best of all, "BARF!" Add in the great music and that fact that RCR
is a much more polished experience than the sometimes brutally unfair Double Dragon
, and you get a stone cold classic.
is a diamond in the rough. Upon first glance, it is simply another Castlevania
clone. A few minutes into the game and you'll realize it's an exercise in sadism aimed directly squarely at the player. I understand that that the life of a video game developer can be very difficult, particularly in Japan: insanely long hours, extreme pressure to work quickly, abusive bosses, destroyed marriages, low pay.... I assume that one day Irem's employees decided to funnel all that rage and frustration into a game and direct it back at their own customers. "It's all your fault for buying these games! Every time a game sells well, they want us to make one that sells better. Now most nights I sleep under my desk. Why didn't I listen to my father and become an accountant!"
|A classic example of misdirected hostility.|
I got sick and tired of Holy Diver
and gave up on the second to last level. If you want to someone play all the way through, check for videos online. I recommend the tear-stained playthough by Bangaa. You can almost feel his neurons frying in this thing
. Also, please note that I decided against using Dio's "Holy Diver" as the intro music for this game. I thought that was a little too obvious.
What else is good in Episode 44?
Dragon Spirit: The New Legend
|Dragons vs Aliens! At last!|
turned up in Chronturbo 2 in a pretty faithful port. The NES version lacks graphical fidelity, but is much more fun to play. Why? A shrunken hit box, for one. Also, more power-ups and a generous lifebar. Toss in some animated cutscenes, and we've got a pretty cool shoot-em-up.
Aoki Ookami to Shiroki Mejika: Genghis Khan
The only videogame (that I know of) whose title refers to inter-species sexual relations. But hey, it's Japan, right? At least it doesn't involve tentacles. Anyway, Genghis Khan
is Toei's second epic historical strategy game on the Famicom. It's really just Romance of the Three Kingdoms
with Mongols instead of Chinese warlords. Also, it's way better than the other military simulation game this episode.
A Week of Garfield
|This screenshot should clear up any doubts you had about the quality of this game.|
A classic piece of kusoge from Towachiki and the mysterious Mars Corp. Moby Games describes Mars as a "game design think tank" run by Shoji Masuda. Though very little thought must have been put into this game. Stupid looking enemies, unfair deaths, awful sound effects, too many hidden items, and levels consisting mostly of randomly placed platforms -- Garfield
commits just about every cardinal sin of platformer game design.
Taboo: The Sixth Sense
|Did Rare literally just string together random words?|
Rare's most infamous game, after Battletoads
is the second tarot card simulation we've seen for the Famicom; the first being Tarot Uranai
from December 1988. The tarot card designs in Taboo
are much less interesting than those in the earlier game, but Rare sweetens the deal with a bit of nudity and a lucky number generator. You have to chose the state you live in to get your lucky numbers. Too bad only around half the 50 states are listed. As a bonus, the writing in Taboo
is so nonsensical that some online reviewers have assumed it was developed in Japan and then poorly translated into English. Also, doesn't "sixth sense" refer to ESP? Which has nothing to do with tarot cards? But then the game itself implies its fortune telling abilities are a form of time travel
!? The guys are Rare must have either been on some serious drugs or just didn't give a shit.
|This picture might be NSFW. I'm not sure.|
Now here is a real
ESP game! Mindseeker
is based on the Japanese spoonbending psychic/entertainer Masuaki Kiyota. It makes you guess at Zener cards and other tests of psychic powers.
|HA! HA! That is pretty funny, dude.|
A manga based action platformer from Namco, and developed by ISCO. You'll remember those guys from Seikima II
(the Japanese glam rock band game) and Transformers: The Mystery of Comvo
y. Devil Man
is better than those two games, so I guess ISCO is showing some progress.
Dragon Buster II: Yami no Fuuin
Namco's Dragon Buster
was a pioneering game in the sidescrolling action genre. It received a Famciom port in early 1987, and now a console-exclusive sequel. Namco and Tose give it a very superficial Zelda-esque facelift, but it's still too repetitive to be of much interest.
Adventures of Lolo
A US-only compilation of levels from the previously released Eggerland
games. As far as I know, there is nothing new here, aside from a spiffy opening animation. HAL must have liked the name, since all future games in the series, both American and Japanese, were released under the Adventures of Lolo
|You are armed human beings fighting pigs. This should not be so difficult!|
Another military simulation game from Soft Pro, the makers of 19: Neunzehn
uses the same infuriating combat system as the earlier title.
Keiba Simulation: Honmei
Four words: horse racing simulation game. Does this sound enticing? Probably not.
I've also added a little best game/worst game segment at then end of the episode, as per a suggestion made by a commenter. Next up on our schedule will be Chronturbo 3. 1989 is when the pace of releases for the PC Engine really starts picking up. Hell, in one month, June, there were more Japanese releases for the PC Engine than there were for the Famicom. We probably won't see that happen again for a while.
For now you can check out Chrontendo Episode 44 on Archive