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Old 04-07-2008, 02:45 AM   #8
eastx
The Fighting Bomber
 
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Location: Lake Jackson, TX USA
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Konami MSX Collection Volume 1 (Konami Antiques MSX Collection Volume 1)
Publisher: Guess.
PSN Genre: Etc.
Filesize: 40 MB


Japanese people love variety games, and that's a fact.

The MSX is a Japanese computer system that launched in 1983. Hardware-wise, it's comparable to the Commodore 64 and the Colecovision game console. However, the MSX has two cartridge slots. Nobody can tell me that's not cool. Actually, this guy tried to tell me that once and I popped him one right in the mouth. So I recommend against it. They later released upgraded versions of the MSX that could run much nicer games and were backwards-compatible, but all of the games on this collection are MSX1 games.

Konami released three compilations of their MSX software titles for the Playstation in Japan. Then they shafted PSOne owners by including all three of those compilations on one disc for the Japanese Sega Saturn, known as Konami MSX Collection Ultra Pack. But you can't download that version for anything so here we are. Konami MSX Collection Volume 1 contains ten games: Konami's Boxing, Konami's Ping Pong, Hypersports, Mopiranger, Antarctic Adventure, Yie Ar Kung Fu, Road Fighter, Sky Jaguar, Gradius, and Gradius: Gofer's Ambition II. Are these ancient games fun in the modern age of cell phones and satellite television? Let's hope so, or I'm out of eight bucks!

All ten games are available from the outset, and no options or extras are included, besides a little Gradius secret. Unlike most Japanese Playstation 2 and 3 games, the X Button is used to make menu selections. When did they get mixed up and switch to the Circle Button? I'll bet Crazy Ken had a hand in it. Anyway, from within any game, holding Select and pressing Start will exit back to the Game Menu.



Konami's Boxing
Original Release Date:
1985


Punch-Out is probably a better game, but I can't stand old boxing games in general.

This is a side-view boxing game for one or two players. Player one is always Ryu, a black-haired dude. He fights opponents like Red-Wolf and Sanchess, whose name of course is the feminine form of the name Sanchez (but he's a guy). The player has four punches, depending on which direction is held while attacking, a block, and a dodge move. Despite that wicked arsenal, the game is really challenging. The graphics are fair for the time period, with large characters and a crowd that animates slightly when someone is downed. The sound is just beeps and chirps with no music besides a brief tune at the start of each fight. While its single-player game is too tough and basic to be any fun, Konami Boxing's multiplayer probably still offers a few minutes of enjoyment.

Konami's Ping Pong
Original Release Date:
This game can go to hell. I mean, 1985


Rockstar Table Tennis this is not.

Ping Pong is more akin to those basic, no frills games we got back when the NES launched. There's nothing but a static ping pong table and two disembodied hands representing the players. Music is non-existent as well. Instead of being simple to play and potentially fun like Pong or early tennis games, Konami's Ping Pong is really finicky. To serve, you press up to toss the ball and then press up again to swing and miss it. I can't figure out how to serve consistently, which either makes me a bad reviewer or someone with a life. I think we all have better things to do than play bad ping pong games. If you have a friend you don't like, you could get him to play two-player with you.

Hyper Sports 2
Original Release Date:
1984


Much more exciting than Regular Sports 2.

Since Hyper Sports 2 includes skeet shooting, archery, and weightlifting, nobody would ever bother to ask about Hyper Sports 1. Instead of choosing which game to play, each sport is presented sequentially and a qualifying score must be reached within three tries to play the next sport.



The game starts with skeet shooting, a sport based on mankind's long-standing hatred of skeet. The graphics feature a clean-looking third-person view. Rather than aiming a crosshair, two crosshairs scroll up and down on their own. Each crosshair has its own fire button. There is no penalty for missing other than wasted time. If the player hits enough targets in a row though, more valuable, colored skeet will appear. Achieve a qualifying score and the Mario-like player turns to wink at you. I like this game because it's quick and easy to play.


What am I doing here?

Archery defies expectations once more by excluding crosshairs entirely. Presented from an overhead view, a target scrolls up and down across from the player. A bullseye graphic rests in the corner of the screen. Where the arrow strikes is determined not only
by the target's location when it is hit, but also how long the button is held when an arrow is launched. You get eight arrows for each try. The player sprite changes color from blue to red when a try ends, for some reason. Archery could be fun despite its complicated aiming system, but the challenge puts a stop to that. Two bullseyes are required to score enough points to move on, but they're too hard to get.




I guess weight lifting comes after archery, but I don't expect to ever do well enough to play it.

Mopiranger
Original Release Date:
1985


Screenshots of Mopiranger are scarce.

Mopiranger starts out strong with a cute title screen animation of a big mouse rescuing a smaller one from an island. The text "NO BIG RAZZON!" appears before every level and really gets your blood pumping. The game plays a bit like New Rally-X except instead of collecting flags, the player has to find stranded mice while navigating water currents and avoiding monsters that look like anthropomorphic hearts. The challenge comes from killing enemies: after you blast one with a sound wave, the monster turns into a stone that can impede your progress. Killing monsters in the wrong spot can prevent players from reaching stranded mice and completing the levels. Still, this game is fairly fun if you like old maze games.

Antarctic Adventure
Original Release Date:
1984


Pen Pen Triicelon is this game's grandbaby.

Bearing no relation to the classic PC game Arctic Adventure, Antarctic Adventure is actually a 3D penguin racing game. The penguin doesn't race against other birds, just the timer. While adjusting speed, the player has to jump over crevices, dodge seals, and collect fish and flags for points. Each course ends with the raising of an American flag at an outpost. The graphics are really sharp for an early MSX game, though the courses mostly look the same. Seals are a big problem because they hide in holes and can't be jumped over; you lose precious time if you run into one. It's difficult to dodge things by the time you actually see them, but otherwise Antarctic Adventure is not a bad game.

Yie Ar Kung Fu
Original Release Date:
1985


His butt shoots nunchucks.

Yie Ar Kung Fu in any form is meant to kill fun, and the MSX version is no exception. You play as Lee, a little Bruce-wannabe as he battles five different opponents. It's a slight downgrade of the Famicom title, which is a bit different from the arcade game. The graphics are less detailed and colorful than the Famicom game and there's only one attack button instead of separate buttons for punch and kick. The direction held when attack is pressed determines what move is performed. Why is this game so horrible? You can't block, the controls are terrible, and the hit detection is some of the worst in gaming history. Yes, even worse than Exile: Wicked Phenomenon on Turbografx-Super CD! If you have to subject yourself to Yie Ar Kung Fu, at least make it the graphically-enhanced Xbox 360 game or the only two-player version, which comes on Konami Arcade Advanced for GBA (and possibly DS).

Road Fighter
Original Release Date:
1985


It's hard not to blow up.

Road Fighter is an overhead racing game in which the player must reach the end of a course before fuel runs out. Several different courses are available, but I only got to play the first one because the game is too hard. Any collision with other cars or the edges of the track results in in your car exploding and a big loss of fuel. You can pick up more fuel occasionally, but the narrowness of the track renders most attempts at maneuvering futile. I'd rather play Micro Machines.

Sky Jaguar
Original Release Date:
1984



Man, after those last two games I was dying to play a decent game. Sky Jaguar almost saved the day. Like Xevious, it's a vertically-scrolling shooter. The scrolling is incredibly choppy because the MSX lacked hardware scrolling capabilities. You can power up your pea shooter to fire double peas as you fly over simply-drawn levels. I can live with the scrolling, but I can't stand the crushing difficulty. The ship in this game is so slow that dodging is downright impossible, so I've never beaten the second level. It's too bad developers used to think impossible = fun, because Sky Jaguar would otherwise be a worthwhile title.

Gradius
Original Release Date:
1986



Now we're getting to the meat of the package! Gradius is quite a competent port of the classic side-scrolling shooter arcade game. The graphics are adequate and the music is great. They added a graveyard stage too. Two problems arise though: firstly, the scrolling is super-jerky. This makes it hard to dodge enemies and such. Think of it as a really bad frame rate. Secondly, this is another annoyingly hard MSX game.

Everything's fine until the volcano portion of the first level, which is the farthest most players will get. The rocks that erupt from the volcanos are really fast and you have nowhere to dodge them, so you will die. Once that happens, you've reached a checkpoint where you won't be able to pick up enough powerups to make a proper second attempt, so you have to get a game over just to start fresh and have a chance. Ouch. After about fifty tries, I discovered the only possible strategy: arrive with dual options, the laser powerup, and missiles. Then hide in the top-left corner with the options below you... Whew! Unlimited continues make the rest of the game a little more breathable, but it's still frustratingly tough.

Gradius: Gofer's Ambition II (AKA Nemesis 3 in Europe)
Original Release Date:



Look! Konami developed a decent logo. Shame they changed it.

Finally, the most compelling reason to own this collection: an exclusive, high-quality Gradius game. Gofer's Amibtion II is the sequel to Gradius 2 Gofer for PC-Engine Super CD and arcade. Neither of those games should be confused with MSX Gradius 2, which is a totally separate game that appears on Konami MSX Collection 2.

Gofer's Ambition II begins with a long, impressive intro that highlights past Gradius moments. After that, players select from four different weapon loadouts, two shield styles, and three option styles. The graphics are much better than MSX Gradius, and the scrolling and difficulty are slightly more livable as well. The stages contain hidden weapons and map pieces which must be collected in order to beat the game. That's fine, but horrendous difficulty rears its ugly head once again: the second level is filled with nigh-undodgeable asteroids as well as gravity waves that slam your ship into walls without mercy. If you can clear that level after about a million tries, you're free to enjoy one of the best Gradius games ever made.

Conclusion

Gradius fanatics will want Konami MSX Collection Volume 1 for its two tough but good entries in the series. Yie Ar Kung Fu's lone fan will want to give this release a look too, if he has been released from the institution, that is. Because many of its games are absurdly difficult, this collection wouldn't be much fun for modern gamers. Still, it's a fascinating look at what Konami was up to way back when.

Last edited by eastx; 03-14-2009 at 06:03 AM.
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