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Old 12-07-2004, 01:27 AM   #1006
Icarus4578
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P.P.S. Looks like I won't have up another review until tommorrow. I've had to prepare gifts for people and a bunch of other stuff, and that stuff takes priority over reviews. I promise there will be a new review tommorrow. Catch you later.
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Old 12-07-2004, 01:30 AM   #1007
Joe Redifer
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Yeah, post office lines were damned long today! What I thought would be a 5 minute trip inside took 15 minutes of standing in line. There was an almost-decent girl to look at in the line, though. Almost.
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Old 12-07-2004, 01:34 AM   #1008
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Dude, I had to redo the entire second mix CD for you guys because I just found out today about that darn skipping sound in the later tracks! That sort of thing eats at me to no end! If I didn't do something about that then I'd always feel guilty about it. It wasn't just those things that were keeping me busy.
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Old 12-08-2004, 03:40 AM   #1009
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Another Neo Geo game, and it's not a fighter!!

Crossed Swords - Neo Geo - Rating 6
Alpha Denshi have crafted one of my dream games: the melding of Punch-Out!-inspired gameplay with swordplay in a medieval setting. This was to be 50-MEGS of steel and might unlike what I had experienced before, available exclusively for the Neo Geo. After the lackadaisical The Super Spy, however, I wasn't too sure what to expect. Eventually, my local arcade (as well as Dairy Queen; Mmmm, the best ) began carrying it, so I willingly inserted a quarter into the token slot, hit start ...and life would never be the same again.
It starts off with a tutorial followed by a stage select screen, and then the game begins. Graphically, nothing available for any home console could hope to compare (except for anybody who was fortunate enough to own a Neo Geo). To say I was impressed would be a bold understatement indeed. The gameplay was strikingly Punch-Out!, and I loved it. Slashing knights, armored orcs and other wicked entities to kingdom come was something to savour and cherish forever. Indeed, if the entire game was as versatile and varied as the couple minutes in which I managed to survive, this would be the game to beat. Alas, this was not to be -- the game gets repetitive. Not 'Halo repetitive,' mind you, and, thankfully, the game does manage to vary the enemies and environments often enough. But you'd be suprised how often you'll have to take on certain enemies in certain areas. Sometimes, they just seem to never stop coming but at least it's not repetitive to the point of being repulsive.
Here's the game controls in a nutshell. You're a knight who's always facing into the screen. Much like the Punch-Out! arcade, your character's a wireframe; you can see straight through him. You can guard high and low with your shield by holding up or down, respectively. You'll only need to use buttons A and B, so the controls are very straightforward. With A-button you can perform a slash, a series of slashes by rapidly hitting a foe, or a thrust attack by holding down+A. B-button is used for magic attacks. As you defeat enemies they'll leave items for you such as gold, herbs and such for health replenishment, and magic refills. After each area is cleared, the game tallies up total points which are allocated towards increasing your level (this increases your maximum health). If playing solo, your character takes up the middle of the screen and you can move left and right, though only within a short area that's roughly half of the screen, and if somebody is playing alongside you then each of you must play within your side of the screen. Oh, and you can purchase/receive items, different magic, shields, etc. That's basically all there is to it.
Fencing against armored goat soldiers, hulky bees and huge fire-spewing insects is quite the experience. Some enemies are adept at guarding, some are masterful melee fighters and still others rely more on projectiles and surprise attacks. If you successfully block against a sword swipe, for instance, the enemy will be temporarily staggered and leave an opening for an attack. However, guarding isn't always easy as there are some enemies which are extremely fast, thereby making it extremely difficult to accurately defend against their onslaught. As a direct result, expect to die often. What really sucks is that you only get one chance per continue, so if you're stuck playing this in an arcade, you can either expect to spend a fortune (perhaps almost enough to buy the game today) or you can forget about winning the game. This game takes no prisoners.
Even still to this day the game looks very good. Cool enemies rich with detail, solid animation, some cool backgrounds often embellished with one or two layers of scrolls, which isn't a lot but is still decent when you consider how much can be happening onscreen at once: there can be up to three enemies and two players max. There are some iffy parts such as a scene in a castle with choppy scaling, but it doesn't really hurt the game's visual integrity. The music and sound, however, is another story. The music is unmentionable and too repetitive; it's a far cry from the aural majesty of Magician Lord, also by ADK. The sound effects are okay, if a tad weak. Some enemies will laugh at you, you can hear the swipes and slashes of swords, etc. Nothing noteworthy.
Although it sounds like a rather grim experience, the game fuses nice play mechanics with great concepts. The only real negatives are in the heavy-handed difficulty and some rather repetitive areas. But it's worth checking out and definitely makes for a solid--and rather inexpensive--addition to your Neo Geo library, particularly if your library mainly consists of fighting games. At $30 or less, it's a bargain. $40? Eh, perhaps a little too high. Anything more and you should restrain yourself. Crossed Swords is also available for the Neo Geo CD, and the sequel is a CD-exclusive. I never got to play the sequel, not even once. I really hope someday to get that chance.

Here are some CS-related sites~
http://members.tripod.com/fresa/prot...s/cdprotos.htm
This site has reviews for various Neo Geo games. Just click on the titles and check out the reviews. Includes screenshots ~ http://www.neo-geo.com/snk/masterlist.htm
Here's a review from neogeoforlife ~ http://www.neogeoforlife.com/reviews...d_swords.shtml
Looking for some cover scans? ~ http://www.vgmuseum.com/scans/neogeocd.html

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Old 12-08-2004, 03:49 AM   #1010
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I always wanted to try out Crossed Swords but no arcade ever stocked it. They all stocked the same 4 games: Magician Lord, Nam '75, Ninja Combat, and Super 8-Man. Doesn't sound like I'm missing too much, though. Neo Geo games were quite often sorely lacking in playability. After one try you'd just lose interest. I can't imagine paying $200+ for some of those games. Very few Neo Geo games are worth it.

You should review that super-turd called Riding Hero.
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Old 12-08-2004, 03:56 AM   #1011
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Never played that one Joe. I've played Sengoku, Ninja Combat (actually, I own that one but it's not good), etc. Crossed Swords is only worth playing if you don't have to spend a fortune in an arcade continuing (yes, far moreso than Magician Lord).
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Old 12-11-2004, 01:11 AM   #1012
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Will I have up three new reviews tommorrow night? Yes. Will they be groovy? You bet. Do I even know which three I'm going to review? Absolutely not.
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Old 12-12-2004, 01:25 AM   #1013
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Releasing Infinitely

Galactic Attack - Saturn - Rating 8
I loved this game from the first moment I started playing it back in 1995 and now, somehow, I'm supposed to convey the personal thrill to you, the reader, in an attempt to captivate you into purchasing this fine title if you haven't already done so (shame on you--you know who you are). This Taito shooter has all the necessary ingredients to make it a classic: super-sexy visuals screaming with vividity and blazing color, satisfying special effects and explosions, great controls, and yet another eerie Zuntata soundtrack. Let me just say that this killer shooter has maintained every bit of its original charm in every way. "They don't make them like they used to," I'd imagine, and if not for Gradius V I'd probably believe that statement. In every possible way, I recommend Galactic Attack to every shooter fan.

*A special notice for casual gamers* ~ Please, do yourself a favor and stay far, faaaaar away from this game. It will do more than break you--it will devour you, then come back for seconds. The later areas would make you tremble and the bosses, particularly the final boss, would send you into cardiac arrest.

Of course, the point is moot because there's no chance that such a non-gamer type could even hope to make it that far, even with the extra credits cheat enabled. Good, I say. Taito dosn't tend to make games for wusses. There's only normal, hard 1-4, and very hard difficulty settings -- the way it was meant to be. The words "easy" and "beginner" are nowhere to be found in the options screen. If you know for a fact that you suck at shooters, apply elsewhere.
The graphics are stellar with crisp detail on everything, scrumptious colors, layers of scrolls and parallax, neo-cool artwork, and, as usual, stellar enemy design and placement. You have to fight enemies both in front of your ship and directly beneath it, too. How this is achieved is quite simple. You are given two types of shots: standard shots (hold A-button) which fire straight in front of you, and lasers (press B-button when enemy/enemies are locked onto) which are used to take out the enemy ships and stuff beneath you. In 'Area 3 - The Phantasm of Silver' and afterwards, enemies will even come from above. And the bosses...? These are, without a doubt, some of the cruelist, most grueling encounters you're likely to find anywhere. These babies not only have a tremendous variety of attacks but are also quite resilient.
You can choose to view the game in vertical or horizontal, but you'll have to turn your TV on its side in order to play it in horizontal, which is the way the arcade original was played, so just stick with vertical. Either way, prepare to have a blastathon with the seven excellent areas which GA provides. The areas are cinematic in that there's often a myriad of events which occur which change the pace of things. For instance, in one area you'll be flying along, blowing the enemy pilots a new one, and then the surface of the planet will crack in half and open up, exposing a new area, so your RVA-818 X-Lay ship descends down and continues the battle, all without the Saturn breaking a sweat. Speaking of the load times, there are none. Well, of course there are but Taito does a perfect job disguising it, creating seamless transitions from one area to the next. Bravo!

Zuntata is at it again folks. Although there's nothing especially brilliant about the work, the soundtrack encapsulates the drama and tension to a T. I must mention the final boss one last time as the music which plays during its first form is one of the most ominous songs ever heard in a video game. You just know that something is terribly amiss and that you're gonna die. You'll be thinking, "Well.... It was fun while it lasted. Time to kiss my ass goodbye." Since I used to play this game so much, I was suprised to turn it on and remember how to react and respond to almost everything, and I managed to beat it my first time playing it in over two years on Normal difficulty and with the extra credits cheat, which is shown below. I had beaten this on Very Hard awhile ago and can attest to the fact that it was an unbelievable challenge. If you can do likewise, consider yourself an expert shooter. :cool guy:
If you own a Saturn then I highly recommend this title. Acclaim had the uncharacteristic wisdom to bring this title, among others, here to the states. In Japan, Galactic Attack was called Layer Section. Why the name change, I don't know. Then again, there's an even bigger mystery which looms from the SNES days up to this very point in time. Specifically, this cover ~ http://www.retrogames.co.uk/stock/as..._-_Phalanx.jpg What in tarnation was Kemco THINKING!? Although changing names is bad enough, putting some old dude who's holding a banjo on the cover of a shooting game should be considered a crime.

Here's the cheat for extra credits ~ At the title screen, when it shows Start and Options, hold down L, R, left and C. While holding, press start.
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Old 12-12-2004, 02:34 AM   #1014
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A farewell to arms

Raycrisis: Series Termination - PS - Rating 4
It seems as though Galactic Attack had taken too much steam out of Taito because this sequel (which is actually a prequel) is just downright lackluster in pretty much every way. I've come to expect quality work from Taito, but I was beside myself with anguish when I started playing it. Judging from the screenshots I'd seen, this looked like it could turn out to be something special. What I got was the complete opposite. Ultra-boring 3D graphics, mediocre gameplay, mundane enemy/boss designs... but at least the soundtrack has some redeeming qualities. Even so, it just doesn't matter because the game is anything but good. I can't believe that Working Designs would actually accept the task of bringing this to the states under their now-defunct SPAZ label.
I've seen worse than this. Far worse. But this is not what I buy Taito shooters for. If you took the Taito label away and put a no-name company in their place then I might not be so harsh, but there's just no escaping the unfortunate reality that this is a Taito shooter. C'mon guys, you were most definitely blazing with your Darius titles and Galactic Attack, among others, and yet you just couldn't seem to get the formula right with this PS outing? What's going on here, anyway? The stage designs are experiments in boredom. I played through it twice--once in Original Mode and Special Mode--and am hard-pressed to recall to mind this game's scenery and enemy designs. I do recognize some of the boss patterns which are taken directly out of Galactic Attack. Was Taito's programmers so lazy that they had to rip enemy and boss patterns from GA instead of coming up with new ones? Why Taito, why?

The story is actually pretty well-done, if a little farfetched. Reading from the back of the game's jewel case ~ "An ambitious and unethical scientist, a secret experiment gone horribly awry, and an artificially intelligent supercomputer gone mad...." No, it's not a new David Lynch movie. And no, I'm not going to write out the script from the manual.

Raycrisis plays very similar to Galactic Attack in that you've got your standard shots and laser lock-on. To add to the mix, Taito allows you to select from several different ships at the start, each with their own unique attacks. Also, you can now perform a special attack with the O-button if the appropriate meter is full. Whoopte-doo. None of this matters since the game is so unashamedly dull. They also added in something called Encroachment which acts like a percentage meter that keeps track of how well you're doing. If you're doing extremely well, the stages will continue on for longer and you'll fight more enemies, but I strongly doubt you'll care for reasons already illustrated. I'll tell you right now that you're not missing out on much.
Many of the enemies are the same as in Galactic Attack, albeit done up in 3D. But most of them look so bad as to provoke laughter. The bosses are typical fanfare by now: a arachnid-style robot (Pro-tor), an aircraft (Sem-fray), and so on. Although the final boss from Galactic Attack is in this game, he's nowhere near as challenging as he was before. The true final boss, while somewhat challenging, is poorly designed in every way. There are five areas total, plus two final boss fights.

Zuntata delivers a blend of various styles and techniques here for the soundtrack, such as dance/club, jazz, techno, classical, some Afro-Brasilian percussion effects, etc. etc. There's a wide variety of synthesized insturments and effects including strings, organ, marimba, log&drum, piano, etc. There's a total of 52 tracks. BGM No.49 sounds like something taken directly out of Matt Damon's Bourne Identity films, BGM No.50 should've been the theme song to Titanic ;), and BGM No.33 is actually a rather nice song done on a simulated classical guitar and it's phenomenal to hear how well Zuntata nails some of the nuances of this wonderful insturment. Here's an oddity for you: some of the songs use the same exact bass riff as heard in Nina William's stage in Tekken 3. I guess that Zuntata got the rights to sample from Namco's franchise fighter. The music is actually different for each of the two modes of play. Special Mode features a theme done with the Sine Lead sound and keeps reusing it and reworking it here and there. To be sure, it's a rather odd ditty, beginning thus~ * * C Bb * Bb * Ab - - G * F * G.... (No, I can't write on these forums using standard notation/nomenclature, so don't blame me.)

Oh, and the sound effects are rather average. There's also some voice work but I often didn't have a clue as to what was being said, particularly during the opening and the ending sequences in Original Mode....

Don't waste your time with this shooter when there are far better choices out there. You can go ahead and make fun of me for buying this game. I was expecting quality here but all I got was a tired, generic shooter that feels very much like a first-generation rush job. :thumbdn:
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Old 12-12-2004, 02:46 AM   #1015
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I actually own Raycrisis, and while not as good as Raystorm or Rayforce, I still like it. I actually bought it at an EB games about 4 years ago, it was only $8 and it was in perfect condition. I really should go out and buy Raystorm for ps1, I have the Layer Section 1+2 for the saturn but theres just too much slowdown on LS2 for me to grin and bear it. None the less, I can see where you were going with your reviews for these games, you should review Raystrom next.
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Old 12-12-2004, 02:53 AM   #1016
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Unfortunately, I don't own it. My next review is going to be for the TG16, but I'm gonna have to wait until tommorrow night to put it up as it's late and I'm getting a tad sleepy.
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Old 12-12-2004, 04:20 AM   #1017
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I have one of those Ray games for the PS. It was released by Working Designs who, for some bizarre reason, decided it needed to be released under the name "Spaz" or something incredibly stupid like that. It was the first Ray game on the PS I think. It was definitely the first Ray game released here by WD. Anyway I always thought it was... alright. I thought the graphics were cool at first. But they wore off on me by the second time I played a few years later and I realized how mediocre and boring the game actually was. It was Spaztastic!
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Old 12-13-2004, 04:12 AM   #1018
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Sending out an S.O.S.

Parasol Stars ~ The Story of Bubble Bobble III - TurboGrafx 16 - Rating 7
Taito does it again! Yessss! If you like quirky action titles with just a hint of puzzle elements, if cute, simplistic artwork doesn't offend you, if you're looking for a little -- no, make that a lot of fun on the sunny side, check this game out. Whether you're relatively new to gaming or are an experienced to the core gaming freak, you're bound to have lots o' fun playing Parasol Stars. It's one of those 'hidden gems' which many gamers overlooked at the time of its release (1991). Working Designs knew that this game had potential and decided to release it here. That's the gaming spirit! :cool guy:
Parasol Stars falls into the Bubble Bobble series which was born and bred in the arcades and on the NES. Bubble Bobble, Rainbow Islands, Bubble Symphony, etc. etc... For all sorts of BB-related material, check these awesome sites out~

Great site; includes screenshots ~ http://taito.overclocked.org/pstars.html
Another cool site with lots of other info on Taito games ~ http://www.bubandbob.com:82/

Here's the story~~
Once upon a time, the Cave of Monsters was sealed away by a powerful warrior. One enemy, however, managed to escape from being sealed. Vowing vengeance, the monster got ahold of some do-it-yourself martial arts instructional videos (Tae-Bo, created by THE MASTER OF ALL MARTIAL ARTS, BILLY BLANKS), watched Rocky a couple dozen times, then came back to unseal the wicked cave of wickedly wicked wickedness.
Around this time, two little chubby kids named Bubby and Bobby were rewarded by the people of Rainbow Island for preventing an evil force from taking over. Yes, it's true--they valiantly triumphed over Skeletor. The people rewarded their heroic deeds by entrusting them with Magic Parasols, to which Bobby, the more direct of the two, lambasted them, "We saved you sorry losers and all we get are these stupid rainbow colored umbrellas!? **** that!! C'mon Bubby, let's go watch He-Man!" But before long, they received an S.O.S. from a nearby planet....

Here's where you come in. Your mission is to help defeat the invading forces. Using the Magic Parasol, you must clear each area of all the monsters in order to move onto the next one. As far as play mechanics go, it's similar to Bubble Bobble in terms of stage and enemy design, only everything is a bit bigger, and you use the Parasol by spinning it to stun, grab and throw enemies. Also, you can use it for hovering, collecting drops for use as weapons, as a shield, and more. Believe you me, this game oozes gameplay from the seams. It's highly unlikely that you've ever played anything like this before, save from perhaps other Bubble Bobble-related titles. Of course, you can jump, and you can also jump on stunned enemies for added leverage, collect food and other stuff for points, invincibility, power-ups, secret bonus rounds, crests, boots, and much more! There's also lots of hidden stuff, including a couple of hidden extra worlds for you to uncover (more on that below). Perhaps the most fun thing to do is to rack up an impressive score. As you throw things and defeat enemies, you'll come across tons upon tons of food items! There must be about 70 different foods to collect, every one of which has its own amount of points. If you collect three of the same type of crests in a row then all the enemies in the area will be defeated and transform into huge food items worths a ton of points!

The visuals are very simplistic (follow the first link up top to see for yourself) and, I think, they're very effective. There's generous usage of color, simplistic though acceptable animation and nifty enemy designs. Some of the boss designs are very clever. Take, for instance, the first boss. It's a huge drum which has "KICK ME" written on the sides, there's trumpets attached beneath it, and a hi-hat on top with a miniature conductor standing aloft. Later on, there's a cabaret bunny girl who's throwing money everywhere (her attack). She's riding on a slot machine which acts as a makeshift carriage being carried along in the air by a unicorn. If you can make it to the extra worlds, prepare to see some familiar faces from previous Bubble Bobble games. ;)
Parasol Stars is not without its flaws, though. It has good length and some depth but the difficulty is uneven between certain areas. One area will feel easy, the subsequent one will be challenging, the one following is very easy, etc. This makes no sense to me. The music is the same throughout most of the game, and, unless you manage to make it to the extra worlds, expect to hear the same thing over and over again. Although the songs aren't harmful, they're also not really impressive in any way, which is to be expected, admittedly. The sound effects are pretty good. Ah well, I guess that'll do.

You could probably beat this game in one sitting, but it's pretty much nonstop fun through and through. Parasol Stars makes for a great addition for your TG16 library. You'd be foolish to pass it up. You might also be interested in Cratermaze if you find that this is the sort of game you dig.

Parasol Stars is for 1 and 2 players co-op (TurboTap required).

--Protips for finding the Hidden Doors--
In most areas, you'll notice how there are falling drops, of which there are four different types: Water, Lightning, Fire, and Star. Using your Parasol, collecting five of these together will form a huge drop which allows you to perform a special attack. If you create two or more of these large drops in one area, you'll find the appropriate crest when you reach the next area. For instance, using two or more of the large Lightning Bubbles will create a Lightning Crest. If you successfully collect three in a row before a world ends, you'll be able to enter a secret door after defeating the boss.

Keep in mind two things: 1) If you've only collected one or two crests before the next world begins, or you have to continue, you'll still have the crest(s) until you've collected three. 2) Yes, the element you're using for each boss does carry over to the next world, which means that if you defeated a boss with, say, Water Bubbles, a Water Crest will appear in the first area of the new world.

If you enter enough Hidden Doors and collect what's within them, you'll be granted access to the extra worlds.
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Old 12-13-2004, 04:19 AM   #1019
Joe Redifer
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I think that maybe, just maybe I rented this game back in the day. I was never a huge Bubble Bobble fan and I didn't know it had a following. I remember questioning Working Designs for bringing it over as their first game. I wonder how it sold? I did play through their other Taito port, Cadash. That was kind of cool. And after those two games Working Designs never made another HuCard game again. They really should have, as not too many people ever owned the CD player until the TurboDuo came out. I remember reading an article about how Working Designs had to transfer the actual data for both the HuCard games to the US from Japan over the phone (ie: Internet) and then did the translation here. They said it took forever! I laugh at that because I can download and upload the ROMs to those games at least 100 times in the time it took them to get 'em from Japan. Awesome!
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Old 12-13-2004, 04:22 AM   #1020
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That's the first I've heard of that, them getting the data from over the phone. That sounds pretty weird if you ask me. I just don't understand it: why couldn't they just convert it to US shores like everybody else?
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