Tuesday, June 26, 2012

A Brief Preview

The new Chronturbo is partially edited, but while we're waiting, I have a little preview.  I've worked up a new, hopefully cooler, intro for Chronturbo. Outer space is cool, right? I'm sure some tweaks will be made for future episodes, but here's the first version.

Probably the first thing I'll change will be the Alien Crush footage, which has a brief black screen as the ball moves between the top and bottom part of the table. This makes it look like a there's a glitch in the video.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Your Weekly Dose of Comic Book Body Horror

Double good news, I'm back from my very brief vacation in Portland and back to work on Chronturbo Episode 3.

And now that I'm back, what do I find waiting for me on the internet? Why, it's the years-in-the-making sequel to the classic 40 Worst Rob Leifeld Drawings! For those unfamilar the the man, Leifeld is simultaneously one of the most successful and worst comic book artists of the last 20 years; he could be called the comic book equivalent of Nickleback. His work is noted for its gross disregard for anatomy, perspective, draftsmanship and logic.  His characters are grotesque frankenstein-like creations of mis-proportioned and/or missing limbs, all attached to torsos in impossible ways. At times, he seems to literally draw hands and feet backwards, and has an odd obsession with giving characters huge, flat triangular crotches with starburst-like fabric wrinkles radiating from the bottoms of the crotches.  Leifeld has the amazing ability to produce drawings which appear both half-assed and incredibly overworked at the same time.  You would never, ever want to read a Leifeld comic, but his art has an irresistible hideous allure to it, so check out the article here.

The classic Leifeld conundrum: is this a right hand or left?
As I mentioned, I have returned from my travels to the north-western edge of the country, namely Portland, Salem and the surrounding environs. Since I love to take every possible opportunity to cram things that are not videogames down your throats, I thought I'd throw down some vacation photos.

The lonesome beaches of the Oregon coast.

An impressive bridge on the other end of the beach.

These are from a small town called Newport. While in Portland itself, I took every opportunity to try the local beer, and visited the Deschutes Brew Pub and tried a couple of their tap only offerings, one of which was a sour ale called "Mos Eisley." And of course, we checked out Voodoo Doughnuts, one of the nation's premeire weird doughnut shops -- I had the famous Bacon Maple Bar. I didn't take a picture of the place myself, so here's a shot off their website. And, yes, the line is like that all the time.

Portland is full of pervs.
Of interest to some of your people might be the theater next door. You can see the sign on the left side of the photo. It's a theater that shows hentai anime and has some sort of "sexy catgirl in peril" drawing on the marquee.* A completely appropriate neighbor for a place that sells donuts with names like "Triple Chocolate Penetration" and "Butterfingering."

For you videogame fans: thanks for your patience. Sure, Chronturbo 3 is taking a while, but it will be worth the wait due to some technical improvements. Like auto-ducking! Check back soon.

*In fact, it's a historic adult theater that's fallen on hard times. Here's a better shot of the catgirl.

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.