Kid Kool and the Quest for the Seven Wonder Herbs (NES): COMPLETED!

As a big fan of the later games by the same developer (Psycho Fox, Magical Hat and Decapattack) I’ve always intended to play Kid Kool. For some reason, it has never worked for me on either OpenEmu on the Mac, or on RetroPie.  I recently rebult my RetroPie image and it now works, so who knows.

Seems I probably shouldn’t have bothered, as it’s awful.

It’s closest to Psycho Fox, unsurprising since it’s an 8-bit title. Like that game, you have a creature that sits on your shoulder that you can throw. Unlike Psycho Fox, you can’t punch, which is where the first frustrating thing comes in. You can still jump on things, but not being able to punch is a massive issue, making some of the game impossible if you don’t have the shoulder pet.

Other issues are present in Psycho Fox too, like the bizarre momentum and ability to just incredibly high but barely horizontal at all unless you’re running. In the later game, this is mostly negated by better level design and the ability to turn into different animals with different physics models, but here – especially with the flick-screen, rather than scrolling, vertical movement – it’s crippling.

Then there’s the bosses, which are repeated (with very minor differences), and are all incredibly easy. In addition, you have to complete the whole game in under an hour in order to “win” properly. And the name! Oh my, what a terrible name for a game.

It’s a shame I didn’t enjoy it due to how flawed it is, but it’s still interesting to see how they improved so many things for the follow-up titles.

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SNK Gals’ Fighters (NGPC): COMPLETED!

No, I don’t know why I decided to play this either. I mean, I’d just set my Raspberry Pi back up with a fresh install of Retropie, and yeah, I’d added this as one of the games, but still. Why this and not something else, I can’t say.

But these Neo Geo Pocket fighting games are just so good, aren’t they? So slick and responsive and fun. It wasn’t that long ago I played KOFR2 and it was great as well. In fact, there’s a lot of great NGP games. Best console. For a while, anyway.

Anyway.

I’m not sure what else to say about the game. It has a nonsense story about “Miss X” holding a Queen of Fighters contest (do you see what they did there?), but of course Miss X is – spoilers – Iori. And not a “gal” at all. Hilarious and we all fell about in stitches, didn’t we? Then there’s the cut scenes like this one:

Which are great. Just the right about of wonky translation mixed with a limited text area to perfectly ruin any depth to the conversation. Nobody cares about that though, because what is important is how good the punching and kicking is and in that regard, it’s lovely and fluid.

If you’re taking notes, I played through as Yuri. And if you don’t know how she plays, she’s basically Ken from Street Fighter. Which is why she is Best.

Oh yeah, and there’s a sequel of sorts to this coming out on the Switch soon! Yesss.

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Mega-lo-Mania (MD): COMPLETED!

As I do every so often, I sat and played – and completed – one of the very best Mega Drive games: Mega-lo-Mania.

This time it was prompted by a conversation on Twitter, but I don’t really ever need an excuse to play it. It’s so good.

Once again, the CPU didn’t put anybody in suspended animation (see my previous post on this) and, since I’d expected it, I only put the bare minimum in myself. And then won.

Again.

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The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons (3DS): COMPLETED!

And that, following its pair – Oracle of Ages – from a few weeks back, means that the two best Zelda games have been completed. Again. Like Ages, I originally completed Oracle of Seasons right near the start of this gaming diary’s life. Back then, I finished Seasons first, but this time reversed them.

It didn’t make a lot of difference. The extra heart carried over from the more puzzley Ages helped a little in the more combatty Seasons, but that’s all. I did make the mistake of not playing Seasons for just over a week, meaning I’d forgotten what I was supposed to be doing. I admit, I resorted to reading a guide but only to remind me. I did’t make that mistake again.

Seasons seemed easier than I recall. Backtracking was more of an issue than my memory suggests, mainly because of the lack of useful warp points (aka the seed trees). Warp points exist of course, but they never seemed to be near where I needed to go. I ended up using the same two or three and then walking the long walk instead. Maybe if I’d figured out the routes across Subrosia it wouldn’t have been such a trek.

After beating Onox, the final boss, I went on to fight Twinrova. You can only do this once you’ve completed both Ages and Seasons, but I’d done that. Finally, the half-developed form of Ganon needed to be defeated. I was sure Twinrova was difficult last time around, but it seems my memory was faulty again and it was Onox I struggled with before.

And that’s that. Definitely still the best Zelda game(s). Fact.

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Marvel Land (MD): COMPLETED!

Marvel Land is a game I had as a kid, but never completed. A while after the original release, it appeared outside of Japan as “Talmit’s Adventure” or something, but I always preferred the Japanese original. So the Japanese one is what I played through here.

It’s a happy fun blue skies platformer with slightly slippy physics. You know the sort – where floors don’t have quite enough friction when you land. It certainly took some time to get used to. Marvel Land’s “thing” is the bizarre attack you can perform by flinging copies of yourself around yourself. You need a power-up to give you a “chain” of clones, and then by pressing up or down you spin them around you, collecting items and attacking baddies. It’s very odd.

marvel land

Sometimes, you can use these clones to grab a node, which lets you swing around and cross gaps or jump high. The more clones you have (attacking with them depletes them) the higher or further you go.

The other “thing” with Marvel Land is all the warp doors. As is common in many platformers, there are hidden (literally) or hard to reach doors that warp you to other parts of the level or even other levels. Nothing out of the ordinary there. Only in this game, some of the warps take you back to the start of the level. Or back a whole level, or several levels. There’s one particularly evil one in the penultimate level. It takes you right back to the very start of the game. I’ll not deny I reverted to a save state for that one.

marvel land

Boss battles are a bit strange and thoroughly Japanese. One involves playing Janken, another is a bit Whack-a-Mole. Only the final boss actually involves a fight of any sort!

Marvel Land is a fun, happy, difficult, nonsensical platformer. It reminds me a lot of Magical Flying Hat Turbo Adventure, and that’s a good thing.

marvel land

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Ys III: Wanderers from Ys (MD): COMPLETED!

I have never played a Ys game before. I don’t even know how to pronounce it. “Wise”? “Ees”? “Why Ess”? Who knows. Something else I also didn’t know: Ys III is a Castlevania game.

Not an actual Castlevania game from that series of course. No, Ys III just plays a lot like one. There’s a castle, a clocktower, and even a boss that is very much like Dracula. It has the same mechanic for walking up and down stairs. Grinding to level up, just like the Metroidvania CV games, is also a thing here. Even the music sounds like it has comes from a Castlevania game, with a couple of the tracks sounding almost identical to music from that series. It’s also hard as nails. Castlevania, see?

ys iii
Another Castlevania, another Clock Tower.

Before I started playing it, I was expecting a party based RPG. Imagine my surprise then, when it was a side scrolling hack and slash game. And that was before I realised the Castlevania parallels. There’s some Zelda II in there too. Unlike those games, however, Ys III is pretty short. There are only four levels, one of which you do twice, and each is impossible until you’ve levelled up enough. The bosses ranged from laughably simple to nigh-on impossible (I really struggled with the fire lion thing), and in Castlevania II tradition poor translation meant I was clueless how to progress at least twice while playing.

ys iii
Dancing on the sand.

Graphically, the sprites are not exactly the Mega Drive’s best, but the parallax backgrounds – especially the sunset – are incredible. Sound effects are nothing special, in contrast to the epic soundtrack. I found the controls a little unresponsive when it came to jumping. This made climbing up out of a cave more difficult that it really should have been.

ys iii
Gotta gets me some harb.

On the whole though, Ys III is really rather good. If nothing like what I was expecting. There’s a remake available on the PSP and on Steam, the latter of which it seems I own somehow, so I might give that a go.

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Pang (Arcade): COMPLETED!

It required all of the credits, which, if I’d not been playing it on RetroPie would have meant re-mortgaging the house, but I completed it. Boy are some of those final few levels hard.

Pang is always a go-to game in the arcades for me. That, Pac-Land, Rampage, TMNT, Street Fighter II, Mappy, Out Run. I never got very far on a single credit in the past. Perhaps level 10 if I was very lucky.

But now, I’ve done it. Life goals, and all that eh?

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Lego Dimensions: Midway Arcade (PS4): COMPLETED!

I’ll be honest: I wasn’t expecting much from this Level Pack. It seemed a little contrived and almost like Warner Bros was scraping around their big ol’ IP library for something a little different and came out with this. They haven’t even got a “known” character as the main figure in the set – he’s just “Gamer Kid”.

However, it turned out to be awesome.

midway arcade
Robotron 2084

The level itself, for the most part, is quite small and doesn’t have a great deal to do in it, but the hook is that you unlock a load of actual real emulated arcade machines as you play. Gauntlet, Gauntlet II, Joust, Super Sprint (which, bizarrely, suffers from horrible slowdown), Defender, Spy Hunter and Robotron 2084 to name a few. There’s also a Lego representation of Paperboy, in which the flying monkeys from The Wizard of Oz have stolen the newspapers. It’s fun.

Paperboy
Super Sprint
Super Sprint

The dimension hub is fantastic too, with references to Rampage, Toobin’, Vindicators, Badlands, 720, Gauntlet and all sorts.

I’ve a complete playthrough of the level here:

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Sonic Blast (3DS): COMPLETED!

You know something? That Sonic Triple Trouble wasn’t so bad after all. You know what was bad? Sonic Blast on the Game Gear.

No, not Sonic 3D Blast – that’s a wholly different game, being in isometric and with Flickys to save and stuff. This is a standard Sonic platformer, or should I say, sub-standard. On paper it sounds great – platforming, Sonic, no Tails, 3D rendered graphics. However, the platforming is dire and the 3D rendered graphics are so low resolution they look terrible. Sonic has a giant head, appears to be permanently tilted out of the screen, and only two frames of animation.

He doesn’t seem right in the context of the levels. I’ve never been a big fan of the graphical style (and I’ve lamented before about how awful Super Mario Ball and Donkey Kong Country look too) but never before has it looked so ugly and jarring.

It isn’t just the graphics that I hate about the game though. The physics seem off too, and the levels are tiny. You get just one chance at each chaos emerald, and you have to hunt for the entrance to the emerald special stage in Act 2 of each level – it’s very easy to miss them completely. Luckily, the specially stages are incredibly easy despite the dreadful collision detection, due to how slowly Sonic runs. They are much like a cross between the Mega Drive Sonic 2 (into the screen, collect rings) and Sonic 3 (seems to be on a ball) special stages, but not as much fun.

sonic blast

The main levels are dull, and several seem to be watered down levels from Sonic & Knuckles – there’s a Sandopolis level (Yellow Desert Zone) and a Lava Reef Zone (Red Volcano Zone), but they’re sparsely populated and boring. If they were doing that I’d have hoped for a Super Sonic Space Chase like in Sonic 3 & Knuckles if I completed it with all the emeralds, but no – just a weak additional final boss.

sonic blast

In all, it feels like a Sonic game driven by having a new graphic style and written by some people who saw a Sonic game in a shop window once but have been given access to some of the assets. I’m glad I’ve played Sonic Blast, but only so I know not to ever again.

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Sonic Blast (3DS): COMPLETED!

You know something? That Sonic Triple Trouble wasn’t so bad after all. You know what was bad? Sonic Blast on the Game Gear.

No, not Sonic 3D Blast – that’s a wholly different game, being in isometric and with Flickys to save and stuff. This is a standard Sonic platformer, or should I say, sub-standard. On paper it sounds great – platforming, Sonic, no Tails, 3D rendered graphics. However, the platforming is dire and the 3D rendered graphics are so low resolution they look terrible. Sonic has a giant head, appears to be permanently tilted out of the screen, and only two frames of animation.

He doesn’t seem right in the context of the levels. I’ve never been a big fan of the graphical style (and I’ve lamented before about how awful Super Mario Ball and Donkey Kong Country look too) but never before has it looked so ugly and jarring.

It isn’t just the graphics that I hate about the game though. The physics seem off too, and the levels are tiny. You get just one chance at each chaos emerald, and you have to hunt for the entrance to the emerald special stage in Act 2 of each level – it’s very easy to miss them completely. Luckily, the specially stages are incredibly easy despite the dreadful collision detection, due to how slowly Sonic runs. They are much like a cross between the Mega Drive Sonic 2 (into the screen, collect rings) and Sonic 3 (seems to be on a ball) special stages, but not as much fun.

sonic blast

The main levels are dull, and several seem to be watered down levels from Sonic & Knuckles – there’s a Sandopolis level (Yellow Desert Zone) and a Lava Reef Zone (Red Volcano Zone), but they’re sparsely populated and boring. If they were doing that I’d have hoped for a Super Sonic Space Chase like in Sonic 3 & Knuckles if I completed it with all the emeralds, but no – just a weak additional final boss.

sonic blast

In all, it feels like a Sonic game driven by having a new graphic style and written by some people who saw a Sonic game in a shop window once but have been given access to some of the assets. I’m glad I’ve played Sonic Blast, but only so I know not to ever again.

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