Friday, 20 February 2015

R-Type: Concluding bit

R-Type III: The Third Lightning, 1993 (SNES)

After Super R-Type, you'd expect another horror show but it’s actually the polar opposite.

Three types of Force (Round, Shadow and Cyclone) offer different firepower that borrows from bastard sibling Leo.

The new Hyper cannon (which goes through solid objects and bosses), can 'overheat' and must cool down before resumption.

Expect to wade through space debris, acid dripping caves, blast furnace and vegetation, all breathing a wicked assortment of Bydo brutality.

The fifth boss warms the cockles of retro hearts as cellular jelly mound morphs into iconic favourite Dobkeratops, which becomes Rios and Cyst.

Shell (the snake from midway through the arcade’s first stage), is brought as boss.

In the final stage, background disappears and reappears, so deciding whether to stick or bust is key to progress.

Survive all that shit and the end boss (who inconveniently regenerates head) impatiently awaits.

Limbs detach as a final act of defiance and after some not too fancy dodging later, the persistent tries to escape into harmonious space.

Waiting for head to split and feeding it whichever force seals the deal.

Completing Advanced Mission ups difficulty but unlike Super R-Type, ending is not extended.

I tell a lie, you are a super player!

Six superb stages boast copious variety and regularly exploit Mode 7 wizardry.

There are slowdown issues and unavoidable flicker but compared to predecessor, this travels faster than a speeding bullet.

Music isn't great but does have occasional menace.

Difficulty is finely balanced and the latter half tests reflexes and concentration.

Are restart points back?

Mercifully yes and although great news, they merely atoned for their own error.

In 2003, Raylight Studios brought the experience to GBA with puzzling debauchery.

Despite looking the part, action in comparison crawls and beep music is absolutely appalling.

Breath of Fire was bad but holy shit.

However, the 'invisible' area surrounding ship means collision detection renders this an absolute Bydowreck.

Dying when it's not your fault?


R-Type Delta, 1998 (PS1)

A.D. 2164, Asia

Building upon Third Lightning, different models of crate dictate Force and weaponry.

R9 “Delta” – Standard
RX “Albatross” – Tentacle
R13 “Cerberus” – Anchor

While the good old wave cannon sticks like a limpet, once the new Delta weapon reaches 100%, baddies are taught a lesson they'll never forget.

'Collecting' speed is no longer necessary as tapping R2 or R1 gives total control.

Doubling system power presents a special effects laden extravaganza.

The heart of 2D beats fast but backgrounds and sprites are subject to much 3D rotation.

Dubbed contacts, seven stages routinely excite

Negotiating the stomp of 'Imperial Walkers' feels like the ballet dancer sequence from Parodius.

The final stage is appropriately strange.

Imagine fathomless space with the enemy appearing from a giant puddle.

Ocean liners, apartment blocks, DNA strands and mathematical equations magnify a fucked up danger.

When Force eats yellow comet and attaches itself to alien core – we must be patient until the capability to nuke is granted...

With its bestiary of biological, organic and mechanical danger, Delta simply delights.

Ranging from slug larvae and friend, giant tank, spaceship and Dobkeratops, bosses can be monstrous.

Once again, the fifth end of level obstacle delivers more of the same, namely Shell, Cyst and Battleship.

If there is something to moan about, some crafts possess firepower better suited against certain bosses.

R9 and RX celebrate success with a right royal piss up but R13 famously suffers eternal damnation.

R-Type Final, 2003 (PS2)

Judging by title, did they mean it?

Yes and no.

The whole hoo-ha is being able to pilot a total of 99 crafts but in truth, many are just upgrades of others.

However, that will neither stall or perturb the determined.

POW Armour, classic and even X-Multiply makes an appearance.

Customising bits, Force, colour and missiles automatically satisfies.

Staying with the same hunk of metal is down to personal choice as the current can be swapped with the already unlocked after stage end.

We begin with a modest choice of three and although ‘fighters’ are initially inherited by simply completing a stage, fussiness borders on the ridiculous.

Finishing the game.
Total playing time.
Beating boss with a specific ship and even how boss is beaten.

For this purpose, stages are displayed as decimal and accessing multiple ‘variations’ depend on the player.

Call me a lazy bastard but the novelty inexorably became a soul destroying chore.

Regardless of dedication, much of what’s achieved is housed within a new look museum.

Apart from main scoop, ‘Vs. AI’ provides a weird one on one battle against CPU and ‘Score Attack’ is the perfect tonic for points junkies.

So then, are you a big fat screaming Baby or a mean motherfuckin' R-Typer?

Whatever, commence Operation Last Dance.

Most of this vindaloo oozes melancholy and quote or excerpt from ‘ship archives’, ‘Bydo body’, ‘Bydo Lab Chief’s speech’ or ‘recovered voice recorder’ adds extra spice.

Haunting murmurs accompany minimal music and full-on themes are moodier than a hormonal teenager with acne.

Backgrounds study science, ecology, vacuum like vortex and climb the peak of disorientation.

New behemoths are a given but Dobkeratops and the tragic Cerberus appearing as end of stage bad asses in hidden deviations are challenges worth seeking.

If the final stage in Delta was dark, this is FUBAR.

Avoiding awkward spore formations is the primary objective but silhouettes of male and female eventually having sex raises eyebrows.

Once again, the end boss isn't one per se and represented as a glowing organism.

After using the Force, your basis for attack is removed and a flurry of Force devices soon bombards a sitting duck.

What now, right?

Dodging forever won't help and the wave cannon provides the ‘Final’ clue.

Charging for around 30 seconds or so compels the gauge to illuminate and indicates Giga Wave.


The educated will know premier PS2 blasting is reserved for import audiences only and although this deserves a top ten spot, the hardcore Gradius V remains king.

R-Type Command, 2008 (PSP)

Originally released as Tactics in Japan in 2007, could a turn-based, hexagonal tactical strategy structured as scrolling shmup actually work?

Before pouring scorn, let’s give gamble a chance.

This is essentially a more intense version of the strategic map mode in Star Fox Command on DS.

With that in mind, is the North American name a coincidence?


Archives record battle records and unit information and Gallery stores numerous types of unlocked CG artwork which can be set as wallpaper.

Vs mode is available through the wonder of Wi-Fi.

Right, here goes Campaign.

First off, a squad of unit, craft, Force and transport needs assembling.

Once done, they must be deployed on grid.

Admittedly, a lot can be done per turn but is limited, depending on what's moved, so situation dictates strategy.

Developing units is done via R&D but replaying missions to gather resources is unfortunately a must.

The prudent will protect weaker crafts by moving them out of range.

Although the expendable can be nuked to inflict massive damage, it’s worth sticking with certain types as skills are improved.

Transport repairs and acts as guardian angel but if destroyed - game over man.

As progress is made, indestructible background must be evaded and destroying obstacles makes life easier.

Ordering an attack instigates brief but impressive CG.  Sensibly, animations can be turned off so only the aftermath is seen.

You can ‘miss’ and the enemy can counter attack.

Completing missions tot up CG in gallery, new squads and modified weaponry.

Tackling numerous sub-species of Dobkeratops means the boss inferno burns bright.

Once the Human side is dusted, Bydo Mission ensures this flagon will take a while to guzzle.

It may not be to everybody’s cup of cocoa, but fans of the genre should lap up a slow-burning experience.

Graphics are decent enough but 3D models and backgrounds are practically static.

Inevitably, this biohazard isn't without problems.

The CPU charges the wave cannon and takes several turns to unleash.  If hit, charge is reset and we must try again.

How fucking irritating.

Enemy AI can lack the intelligence of a dead slug and UMD must load more than a fork lift truck.

Fair enough, this can be ‘reduced’ but the principle remains.

Overall, transforming shmup into chess performs admirably and that in itself is a triumph.

The 2009 Japanese exclusive sequel was subbed, ahem, Operation Bitter Chocolate.

From a gameplay POV, little has changed, but humans assist and aggressive expansion is applied to unit and mission gross.

It would seem fun is done but Rezon says otherwise.

Believe me, I nearly gave in during 'attack of the familiars' but somehow resisted.

Rest assured, there'll be shocks and surprises.

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

The wonderful world of M.C. Escher

When it comes to perspective, nobody disorientates better.

Exploring influence and curious exploitation will effortlessly entertain.

Although impossible construction House of Stairs predates and Convex and Concave was an obvious sequel, his magnum opus Relativity is the one that got around.

Labyrinth proved to be the late and great Jim Henson's final film but talk about going out on a high.

Remember, you have no power over me.

A quick scan around Sarah's bedroom reveals not only a poster of Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical Cats, but also a certain picture...
The Escher estate is given direct credit, in the er, credits.

It is referred to as the 'upside-down room' in the C64 game.

A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child
Alice finds her son Jacob inside Freddy's Dream Core.
Cover art for Plok's nine-track debut album Circumlotion was admirably unsubtle in its approach.

While one of several posters for 2012 surprise horror hit Cabin in the Woods was done for effect, Escher's imagination was literally brought to life in Secret of the Tomb.

For Robin Williams - the magic never ends.

How the Fortress of Ultimate Darkness is represented in Terry Gilliam's Time Bandits is certainly debatable.

Matt Groening used this couch gag for Homer the Great.

The Simpsons Movie and Duffmeister's epiphany inherited the same idea.

In truth, I'd suggest this smacks more of Labyrinth.

Futurama episode I Roommate has Bender falling about while Fry and co watch on.

Brian Goes Back to College and Stewie hangs crazy stairs in Quahog.

The title sequence of 1992 series The Addams Family (not to be confused with the 70s Hanna-Barbera adaptation), used this snippet to rather great effect.

1993 SNES platform hokum Pugsley's Scavenger Hunt was based on the 90s show.

Isn't that right Lurch?

Well, he is a man of few words.

Chili Peppers were Red Hot when music video Otherside was conceived.

Take a look at this 2014 Watchshop advert.

I'm not sure how shit works but those concerned deserve to have their clocks chopped off.

Pixels are proud to participate and up steps Devil May Cry 3 on PS2.

Haunting Ground, 2005 (PS2)
Uncharted: Drake's Fortune, 2007 (PS3)
Just imagine if slopes were stairs in Atari's 1984 classic Marble Madness.

The fourth chapter (Phantasma Concerto) in Namco's on-rails lightgun shmup Vampire Night contains a very short 'black and white' area where enemies defy science.

It's 'stairless' but...

Originally on X68000, Akumajou Dracula whipped up something incredulous.

Ballsy, right?

Christopher Nolan's dream-induced 2010 thriller Inception (which incidentally is 'nothing' like anime Paprika), displays paradoxical architecture.

Or the detail of 1960 print Ascending and Descending.

Back with Springfield and a Brush with Greatness.

As I'm keeping a close Eye on things, box art for The Shadow of Yserbius was particularly innovative.

(Shakes head).

Hungarian artist Istvan Orosz is a name that may not be immediately familiar, but just like Boris Vallejo's work is compared to fantasy supremo Frank Frazetta, I have such Time Sights to show you.

Wreck-It Ralph helped introduce Q*bert to the 'current' generation but for the last of us, gibberish was already legendary.

Identical cubes can be found on woodcut trilogy Metamorphosis.

Appreciate example number 1.

Whaddya know, look at the floor in Orosz's optical illusion Door and Mirror.

This is Robert Zemickis's underrated Jodie Foster sci-fi vehicle Contact.

As you couldn't give two hoots about landscape or spaceship, the sculpture thing that initiates space travel appears to bear some resemblance to Cube with Magic Ribbons.

Actually, her transport pod rings more of a ding dong.

For the grandstand finish, place these in your plagiaristic pipe and smoke 'em.

In now cult 1997 horror Event Horizon, creator Dr. Weir (Sam Neill) describes the ship's heart as the core, or gravity drive.  Director Paul Anderson is said to have based its design as homage to the puzzle box in Clive Barker's Hellraiser series.

Sorry, I see something else which takes more than the fucking piss.

Wait, it gets better.

The climax of Silent Hill 4: The Room has protagonist Henry Townshend facing deceased serial killer Walter Sullivan.

What purpose do interlocking rings surrounding spherical object serve?


It is deliciously bizarre.

To complete an amazing adventure, witch compass used by Richard E. Grant's Redferne in 1989 horror fantasy Warlock is represented by a very similar object.


Who knows?

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Street Fighter II - Calamitous Cock-ups

If the former was largely about continuity, witness the breast of the rest and no bra can handle the boobs Capcom made.

Unless stated, all screens are from the arcade.

Once again, here comes a definition!

TWW - The World Warrior
CE - Champion Edition
HF - Hyper Fighting
TNC - The New Challengers
SSF2TR - Super Street Fighter II: Turbo Revival
SSF2THDR - Super Street Fighter II Turbo: HD Remix

Ryu and Hyper Fighting's arcade flyer is engulfed in fire.

Why are fists so hot?

This in no way represents a 'new' move as unlike say Chunners and Dhalsim, moveset remained identical to CE.

He couldn't incinerate peeps with a new fireball until TNC and lest we remember, Ken realised burning ambition with a modified dragon punch in the same update.

Can they hide behind 'dramatic effect'?

Not really.

Ken defeated in TNC brings a tear (of laughter) to my eye.

Red blood is obviously boring.  Is he now some kind of fucking alien?

Hyper Street Fighter II: The Anniversary Edition (not to be confused with The Anniversary Collection in 2004), was brought to commemorative the franchise's fifteenth year.

Note the writing is appropriately stylised on Street Fighter, and not SF II.

Before officially becoming the final arcade update in 2004, it was originally released on PS2 in 2003.

With or without a calculator - this is ABSOLUTE BOLLOCKS!

The original abomination offended amusement centres in 1987 so unless I'm tripping my fucking tits off, this should have come out in 2002.

No entity has the power to alter history, not even Capcom.

Surely things can't get worse?

Err... over to boss quotes in SSF2TR on GBA.

Summing up:

Vega nicks Balrog's (before mistake was rectified) quote;
Balrog nicks M. Bison's quote; and
M. Bison nicks Vega's quote.

Oh yeah, Vega made Balrog's spiel his own by adding 'still' and ends with ! instead of .

This ! also marks the end of M. Bison's steal.

Aside from grammatical changes, how the FUCK did this escape attention?

Sagat did manage to retain one of his original quotes.

One right doesn't correct three wrongs and somehow makes it worse.

Super Turbo saw the debut of Akuma who is only fought in the event of a pretty faultless 1P performance.  If conditions were satisfied, he'd famously beat the ever-loving shit out of Bison before attempting to do the same with you.

He was tough, but beatable...

What happens to Bison after Round 1?


Of course you'd expect the unconscious and/or 'corpse' to magically shift several feet to the left.

It's no different in Hyper.

Before breakfast, dinner, tea, dessert and supper, admire the genius of more oversight.

This is how the modified intro for TWW in Street Fighter Collection 2 on PS1/Saturn pans out.

Any asshole with half a dick will confirm these portraits didn't feature until 1992 in CE/HF.

HA HA HA!  That's fantastic.

For some reason, they also changed subtitle writing.

Now grab a glass, fill it with something strong and drink, just... drink, but not too much.

Get yer' clocks out because we're back in the U.S.S.R.

TWW reads approximately 18:55 or 06:55 local time.
As did Amiga and Spectrum 128K respectively.

But not SNES.

23:45 or 11:45 or 21:00 or 09:00?

No change in CE/HF.
At 23:45 or 11:45, or 21:00 or 09:00 - they beg to differ.

Champion Edition (PC Engine)
Special Champion Edition (Mega Drive)
Turbo (SNES)
In TNC/Super Turbo, as you were.

Consistency remains on SNES.

For the following ports of Super Turbo, time is identical to arcade.

Backbone and SSF2THDR could've done what they wanted but no, they stuck fast.

Oh shit man, what's this in TNC?

'Nearly' 23:45 or 11:45, or 21:00 or 09:00.
(Amiga - AGA)
However, the Mega Drive really fucked things up.

19:20 or 07:20 or 15:40 or 03:40?
Who can say why they felt the need to adjust the hands of time.

I can't believe for a second it was done on purpose and just one of those unexplainable mysteries.

Is that it? That'd be (cough), telling.

On making your day, week, month and year - don't mention it.
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