Seething Cauldron of Pop Culture Talk

Irascible Analysis of Popular Culture

SNES vs. Genesis: Alisia Dragoon and James Bond 007 – The Duel

Alisia Dragoon

An action game developed by Game Arts and Gainax and published by Sega outside of Japan, this little game released in 1992 has a few interesting thing about it. For one thing the main character is a female and fight all of her battles on her own without the help of any male characters. She does have a series of companions in the form of guardian beasts that have differing abilities. As Alisia you must fight through a series of levels against a variety of enemies that want to prevent you from stopping the evil Baldour’s ambitions. The story’s pretty short and sweet, for the most part you’re just zapping everything in sight with your auto-aiming lightning attack. It doesn’t take long to realize there’s not a lot of variety here, just different levels and slightly different enemies. It’s kind of fun, but nothing really all that special.

James Bond 007: The Duel

Developed by Domark and released in May 1993, this was the last game to feature Timothy Dalton as James Bond, three years after his last Bond movie. While not based on any of the movies, it features movie villains such as Jaws and Oddjob. Unlike some run-and-gun action games, The Duel has a heavy emphasis on platforming and exploring large, open levels. Your primary mission is to find hostages that are scattered throughout the level, then you’ll be given an additional mission to complete. Bond can shoot left and right, and up and down at an angle while standing still and also has some grenades at his disposal. As from the Bond theme, the music was made specifically for the game and sound pretty good. The graphics are likewise well-done, looking a bit like Flashback, although not quite as detailed. The thing about The Duel is that it’s really hard. Just getting past the first level will take several game overs before you figure out enemies patterns and the routes you need to take to find all the hostages and the bomb. The platforming aspect can be a bit unforgiving as well, often leading to an untimely death. If you’ve got the patience, The Duel is actually a pretty cool game.

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April 19, 2010 Posted by | Console Wars, Games | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

SNES vs. Genesis: A Pocketful of Mega Men

The SNES actually had a grand total of FIVE Mega Man games. Most of them follow the same basic formula of run through various levels until you get to the end where you have to fight a boss. For the most part, shooting can be done left or right, but not up or down or anything other direction. There are some powerups to be found, such as health upgrades, a powered up shot, and dash ability. All five of the SNES games look really good and have decent music.

Mega Man VII

Sequel to the NES’s Mega Man VI, picks up the story where the first left off. Dr. Wily has finally been captured, but he’s got a plan to escape. With the aid of four new robots, he does just that and Mega Man is forced to go after him with the help of his trusty robot mutt Rush to stop his robots and bring the evil doctor back. To complicate matters, a new robot named Bass is also after Dr. Whily he’s not too keen on Mega Man getting in the way. There are eight robots to fight, each with their own level, an intermission stage at the Robot Musuem, and then the final four levels of Dr. Whily’s fortress. Released in March 1995 by Capcom.

Mega Man X

Released December 1993. The X series is set farther into the future, after Dr. Light’s death. X, a prototype robot, is found by Dr. Cain and used as a prototype to develop a series of thinking robots, which eventually go berserk and become known as Mavericks.

Mega Man X2

Released December 1994.

Mega Man X3

Last of the X series released on the SNES, X3 came out December 1995. This time around, Zero, a robot who helps Mega Man X fight against the Mavericks, is also playable in addition to X himself. Feature some vector graphics and transparency courtesy of the SNES’s Cx4 Chip.

Mega Man and Bass [aka Rockman and Forte]

Play as either Mega Man or Bass, each with their own different style of play. Bass can fire seven different directions, has rapid fire, and can slide across the ground for extra speed. Mega Man can only fire left or right and can only fire one shot at a time, but makes up for this by having a charged shot which is more suited to fighting against the bosses. Released April 1998. The SNES version never made it out of Japan, but a GBA version was eventually released in the US in 2003.

April 19, 2010 Posted by | Console Wars, Games | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

SNES vs. Genesis: Attack of the Zelda Clones

The Legend of Zelda is a popular series, so it’s not surprising that a few clones have popped up over the years.

Gunman’s Proof

Released in January 1997 for the SNES by ASCII, Gunman’s Proof tells the goofy story of aliens landing in the American southwest during the 1880’s and causing all sort of trouble. The main protagonist, a young boy who decides he wants to fight the the aliens, known as Demiseeds. It’s not long before the boy meets up with another group of aliens, who are also hunting the Demiseeds. The captain of the crew convinces the boy to let him take over the boy’s body during their mission, which the boy agrees to. Then they go fight the Demiseeds together. Like I said, it’s pretty goofy. The gameplay is straight-up Zelda, no question. The main difference is that you have a variety of guns, instead of a sword. As you progress, the local gunsmith teaches you how to use other weapons aside from your pea-shooter, which you pick up as drops from dead enemies. There’s an overworld and a town or two for you to explore. Much of the gameplay takes place in dungeons where you find treasure and eventually fight the dungeon’s boss. It’s actually fairly simplistic, as there are no items and little in the way of puzzles to overcome. It’s mainly just fighting and exploring. The music is cheerful and the chirpy and the graphics are colorful and vibrant. Gunman’s Proof is a fun game with a nice, breezy pace, but lacks the depth of Link to the Past and is probably best appreciated by younger kids who aren’t quite skilled enough to tackle more difficult games.

This game is only available through translated ROM as it had no released outside of Japan.

Crusaders of Centy

Released in June 1994 for the Genesis by Sega in Japan and Atlus in the US [it was developed by Nextech, a contractor responsible for Code Veronica, Time Crisis 3 and 4, and various Shining games], tells of a world beset by monsters. As the son of warrior who died in combat, the main character is given his father’s sword at age 14 and summarily sent out into the world to fight monsters and do various other heroic things. One of the interesting things about the story is that it actually questions whether or not the monsters are actually “evil” or if there’s more to it than that. Story aside, it plays very similarly to A Link to the Past, even down to the way the main character swings his sword. The overworld, however, is just a large map that the character moves automatically to once the locations have been unlocked. There are several different moves to acquire, such as jumping, a powered up sword throw, and various others things that make it possible access new locations.  You can also have various animals as your companions, up to two at a time, who will help you out in your quests by provided various abilities. The first half of the game, after the first hour or so, you lose the ability to talk to humans but gain the ability to talk to plants and animals. One problem is that movement is restricted to four directions, so movement ends up feeling stiff and a bit unresponsive. It also lacks some of the depth of A Link to the Past, but offers a bit more than Gunman’s Proof. The graphics and music are both pretty good. It’s a fun action/adventure game with some depth to it and some interesting story elements.

Overall both games are fun additions to the genre and each have their pros and cons. This round ends in a draw.

April 19, 2010 Posted by | Console Wars, Games | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Angel Beats

At first glance it might appear as nothing more than a Haruhi Suzumiya knock-off, and the art style and characters certainly do nothing to ward off this line of thinking. It’s even set in a school and has a scifi bent to it. There’s even a band! However, beyond those surface similarities, it’s clear that Angel Beats isn’t content with riding that famous series’ coattails and desires to tell its own story in its own universe.

Created by Key, the creators of Air, Clannad, and Kanon, Angel Beats is a scifi story set in a sort of purgatory where highschool-aged children that have died in the real world awaken in. The story follows Otonashi, a boy who is the world’s newest student. He immediately falls in with Yuri, the self-proclaimed leader of the anti-Angel resistance. See, the way she figures it, it’s far better to fight against Angel, the emotionless watchman of their purgatory, than to accept Angel’s orders and simply disappear.

The first three episodes focus on the group’s struggle against Angel and their attempts to figure out some way to defeat her and confront God, who Yuri is convinced exists somewhere in their world.  Although there is an emphasis on humor, particularly during the first half of each episode, there’s also a heavy emphasis on melancholic drama, which shouldn’t come as a surprise given Key’s history. Some of the students can remember their lives before they died and awoke in purgatory and so far their stories have been dark and depressing, Yuri’s most of all. Otonashi has no memory of his past life, but it feels like his past will eventually come into play.

There’s also a great deal of action in the series. In the first two episodes, Yuri’s group has two high-octane battles, with guns and explosives, against Angel, who deploys a wide range of differing weapons and defensive capabilities to ward off their attacks. This element of the show aside, Angel Beats is very reminiscent of Yoshitoshi aBe masterpiece Haibane Renmei, which also was about a purgatory where children who died in the real world awoke in. There are some differences of course, in that the children in Angel Beats fight against their situation and attempt to understand what their world is and how they got there. Also, although Yuri makes it clear that Angel is their enemy, and possible evil as well, nothing in Angel’s actions suggests this. She only attacks to defender herself and is only against Yuri’s group because they’re trying to circumvent the rules of the purgatory. Otonashi realizes this as well and provides his character with an internal struggle as he helps Yuri and her group in their ambitions.

All in all, it’s a good show so far. Although it relies a bit too much on humor and goofy sounds at times, it’s also a deep and well-crafted drama with an interesting premise and some nice characters, though many of the side characters are a bit generic in design and personality. I’m very interested in seeing where this series ultimately goes.

April 19, 2010 Posted by | Anime | , , | Leave a comment