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Old 10-18-2010, 03:19 AM   #1613
Joe Redifer
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Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: Denver, Colorado
Posts: 20,149
Ginga Fukei Densetsu Sapphire
TurboGrafx-16 CD-ROM

You play as one of four bitches.
This is the closest you'll ever get to a girl.

Most people just call this game Sapphire for short and that is how I'll refer to it from here on. This is a review I've been meaning to do for a while. I captured the images a few years ago with my CD-R copy of the game. I recently acquired a high-quality bootleg version as the real deal goes for anywhere between $300 and $500 on a good day. The bootleg I have is an actual pressed disc with a high quality case, insert and even a spine card thingy, so no more CD-Rs! Sapphire is a vertical shooter in the spirit of Gate of Thunder and Lords of Thunder (which were horizontal shooters). It was released in limited quantities by Hudson Soft in the mid-90's near the end of the PC Engine console's life in Japan. It also requires the Arcade Card to play. The Arcade Card slides in to the PC Engine to boost system RAM to 18 megabits which was absolutely unheard of at the time (that's more than the main RAM of the original Playstation, suckas!) Most of the best PC Engine/Turbo CD-ROM games only used 2 megabits of RAM. The Sega CD had 6 fragmented megabits of RAM. Going straight to 18 from there was pretty ballsy but we got some faithful conversions of a few shitty Neo Geo fighters and this great game as a result.

This is the title screen.
Pretty standard stuff here.

Story: NA/10
Who cares?

Anime cut scenes try to pump you up, but
they are a bit lackluster, surprisingly.

Graphics: 8.8/10
The graphics really benefit from the extra memory. There are tons of prerendered animations, scaling, "polygons", rotation, morphing and the like. It really is a sight to see and play. I did knock a bit off of the graphics score since this is not the best looking Turbo game artistically as far as colors and detail are concerned as this game features mostly cold, metal-looking graphics and very little in the way of lush landscapes. Multiple layers of scrolling and some unique warping effects to simulate flying over a building are really cool to see. There is minimal flicker and I don't recall any slowdown. One thing that does bug me is that when you shoot enemies, especially bosses, they tend to flash as they get hit and the flashing is so severe that you cannot appreciate the detail in said enemies. It is very annoying.

That's what she said.

Sound: 8.5/10
The music is fantastic for the most part as it was composed and performed by the same dudes that gave us the awesome soundtrack for Lords of Thunder. You'll hear plenty of screaming guitars and great melodies that will make you want to crush the music into weak MP3s to enjoy on your iPod or other portable media device. Unfortunately the game is pretty short so there isn't a ton of music, but what is there is absolutely worthwhile. Better than Bob Dylan? Absolutely. Pretty much all videogame music is, though. The sound effects, on the other hand, are atrocious. The shooting sounds are very loud, primitive and abrasive. They are very annoying to listen to and can often drown out the music. There is no option to turn the sound effects down. I wonder if they played this game with the sound on before releasing it? It's like the sound designers said "Here are your sound effects"" and the music guys said "Here is your music" and the people in charge said "OK they sound good to us, put 'em in and ship it" without ever bothering to listen to what the two sounded like together. Still, the music makes it worth it.

Fans of the Atari 2600 and SNES aren't forgotten
as some blocky graphics appear from time to time!

Gameplay: 7.5/10
This plays as your average vertical shooter. You have weapons that can be powered up, a bomb and a charge attack that automatically charges when you are not shooting. You can collect 3 types of different weapons and choose from 4 different ships as well. The game features two-player simultaneous action, but only local co-op is supported. Player two can drop in at any time. The biggest flaw in the game is that there are only 5 levels and they are all fairly short. Granted, I don't need a game that is 90 hours long like the lot of you, but even to me this one seems pretty short. I also found myself wishing my ship was just a wee-bit smaller as is it really easy to run into things and difficult to avoid others. I guess that adds to what challenge is there, but I did wish for that multiple times while playing. The game is a good overheard shooter, but it doesn't rank up there with the greats like MUSHA or Galactic Attack. Both Gate of Thunder and Lords of Thunder are better games, but this is still a really cool game to have in the library.

I'm not sure what this thing is supposed to be.
Just another randomly-designed boss in a shooter.

Wrap up:
If you have the means to play this game, it is definitely worth acquiring a cheap bootleg if you can. Remember that you will need either a PC Engine or a TurboGrafx-16 capable of reading Japanese games, an Arcade Card (this is why it needs to be able to read Japanese games… to run this card) and a CD-ROM system. There are two kinds of Arcade Cards as well, a Pro and a Duo. Get the Duo if you have a Duo system (that card is slightly cheaper). The Pro will work with any setup. It is really cool to see the system do such cool tricks. It really is a testament to the power of the PC Engine/TurboGrafx-16 which was so overlooked in the US that is makes me ill. To hell with you all for not letting this system be more popular. It's all YOUR fault! Well, if you had money back in the late 80's and/or early 90's that is. If not, then it is all your dad or uncle's fault!
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