Archive for February 2014

The King of Fighters Dream Match 1999 – Sega Dreamcast   Leave a comment

As much as I like fighting games, I’m not very good at them.  The things I look for in a good fighting games are good controls, interesting characters, replayability, and just general all around fun.  The King of Fighters Dream Match 1999 mostly fits my description of a good fighting game as do most games in the KOF series.  The King of Fighters series started out on SNK’s Neo Geo console, and have been ported to whichever other consoles were in the market.  They are at King of Fighters 13 now, and this Dreamcast version is the fifth in the series.  It is actually based off of King of Fighters 1998, but they tacked on a year for the Dreamcast version, because it was ported to the Dreamcast in 1999.

This is one of the many King of Fighters games for many systems.

This is one of the many King of Fighters games for many systems.

The modes available in KOF99 are Team Play, in which pits three fighters against three, and defeated fighters are replaced with the next in line.  You have your standard one-on-one fights, and a survival mode.  You have a whopping 38 different fighters to choose from.  These 38 fighters are absolutely unique, and there are no palette swapped clones there just to fill out the roster.  The fighting can be as simple, or as complex as you want it to be.  The four face buttons on the Dreamcast controller dish out strong punches and kicks, and weak punches and kicks.  Obviously the stronger strikes take a bit longer to execute, which leaves you vulnerable, but they deal out more damage to your opponent.  The fighting styles vary wildly too, because the fighters are mostly taken from other SNK fighting games.  Some have projectiles such as fireballs, and others fight more of a realistic style.  All fighters have a power gauge that allows you to do special moves when the gauge fills.  Some fighters’ special moves can be tricky to pull off, but there are lots of other fighters that have easier to pull off moves.  You really risk being hit by trying one of these moves, but the results can change the balance of the fight.  The thing I like about this game is that you can play it however you like.  There are characters that are easy for novices to use, and others that reward the more skilled players.  The easy difficulty setting is actually easy enough for beginners to play.  Only have four buttons to worry about makes the game enjoyable for non-fighting fans as well.

SNK’s Neo Geo console was released way back in 1990, and it must have been some kind of powerhouse for that time, because this game looks right at home on the Dreamcast.  Admittedly the graphics are a bit on the low-resolution side, but the characters are all very detailed, and the animation is fantastic.  The Dreamcast version of this game gets special 3D backgrounds that look great as well.  The background music is fine, but sort of blends into the background.  The characters pretty much yap non-stop before, during, and after the fights, and it’s really entertaining despite not being translated into English.  The quotes from winning characters ARE translated into English very poorly, and some of them are hilarious to read.  About the only downside to this game is replayability.  I can’t view my high scores, or my best times.  If you look under “Neo Geo Pocket” in the options menu, you’ll see that your characters earn points that can unlock artwork.  There isn’t much artwork though, and it takes a long time to unlock anything.  The King of Fighters games are always a good time, and KOF99 for the Sega Dreamcast is no exception.  If you like fighting games, and see any KOF game for any system, I recommend playing it.

Posted February 28, 2014 by thebandit2006 in Sega Dreamcast

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Crazy Taxi – Sega Dreamcast   Leave a comment

The title of Crazy Taxi describes this game perfectly.  You drive a taxi, and it’s crazy.  Crazy Taxi was released in the arcades by Sega in 1999, and ported over to their short lived, but excellent Dreamcast in 2000.  It’s a good example of why I love Sega games, and in particular games on the Sega Dreamcast.  They take an everyday job such as a taxi driver, and turn it into a lot of fun.

Hey hey hey!  It's time for Crazzzzzy Taxi!

Hey hey hey! It’s time for Crazzzzzy Taxi!

Crazy Taxi takes place in an open world environment inspired by San Francisco.  Open world environments for driving games weren’t very common back in 2000, and the only one I can think of off the top of my head is Driver.  After choosing one of four drivers and cars, and one of two parts of town, you set off in search of passengers to pick up.  They stand in a large circle to make them stand out from the environment, and the colour of the circle indicates how far their destination is.  Red is close, green is far, and there are other colours between as well.  This is important to know in arcade mode especially, because you are only given 50 seconds to start the game.  You earn more time by picking up passengers, and dropping them off at their destinations.  The quicker you get them there, the more bonus time you earn.  You also earn money for each passenger you drop off, and you can also earn tips by sliding, driving close to traffic, hitting jumps, and getting to the destination extra early.  This feature of earning bonuses for reckless driving is now common in today’s driving games.  The whole point of the game is to earn as much money as you can.  There are also modes where you get to drive for 3, 5 or 10 minutes total, without having to worry about extra time.  Both modes are very fun, and the 10 minute mode gives you a chance to see parts of the city that you might not see in the arcade mode.  Crazy Box mode is a collection of short mini-games such as collecting a flag, popping balloons, driving off a ski-jump, delivering customers while driving on a narrow dock, or within very heavy traffic.  All modes keep track of your high scores, so there is a ton of replayability while you try to beat your high scores in each of these modes.  Car handling is extremely touchy, and takes some getting used to.  You can do simple button combinations to make your car launch forward really fast, or perform a drift.

The graphics are extremely crisp, and colourful.  The framerate is very high, and makes for smooth game play.  This is very impressive for such a fast moving, open world game from 2000.  The soundtrack is punk rock from Bad Religion, and The Offspring.  I think this high energy soundtrack fits the game perfectly.  Other of course may not care for this type of music.  The sound effects are fine, and the chatter from the passengers, and driver is funny.  Passengers will often complain if you drive poorly, and get excited when you drive well.  Crazy Taxi is a classic, and a must have for the Sega Dreamcast.  For other systems you may want to read reviews before you purchase it, because I hear the porting didn’t go so

well on some other systems.  I also couldn’t imagine trying to control this game on an iPhone, or Android.  The Sega Dreamcast version is excellent though, and you should pick up a Dreamcast console for many other excellent games.

Posted February 27, 2014 by thebandit2006 in Sega Dreamcast

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James “Buster” Douglas Boxing – Sega Genesis   Leave a comment

Back in 1987, Nintendo was using Mike Tyson to endorse Mike Tyson’s Punchout! on the NES.  In 1990 when James “Buster” Douglas pulled off the greatest upset in boxing history when he defeated Mike Tyson for the Heavyweight Title in 1990, Sega was quick to one up Nintendo by signing on Douglas to endorse a boxing game of their own.  They had to get a game quick, so they chose to port over 1988’s Final Blow, which was released in the arcades two years earlier in 1988.   I remember playing Final Blow in the arcades back then, and it was a lot of fun.  On home consoles however, we expect a little bit more.

James "Buster" Douglas will never be known as one of the best of all time, but he will live on forever as the first to defeat Mike Tyson.

James “Buster” Douglas will never be known as one of the best of all time, but he will live on forever as the first to defeat Mike Tyson.

In James “Buster” Douglas Boxing for the Sega Genesis, you choose from just five boxers who all pretty much look, and play the same.  Game play is extremely simple.  You can only move your boxers left or right.  One button throws a quick jab, and another button throw a slower, but more powerful punch.  You can aim your punches high or low with the d-pad.  Pressing the two punch buttons at the same time throw an even slower, and even more powerful punch.  Aiming the d-pad towards your opponent while pressing a punch button will throw an uppercut.  You can press the d-pad away from your opponent to dodge punches, and the remaining Genesis button makes your boxer duck.  The game play is pretty much a button masher.  There isn’t much in the way of game modes.  You can play the CPU, and go for the title, or you can play a friend.  Playing the CPU is also a bit on the easy side, even on the harder difficulty settings, and also too often requires luck.  After you win the title, you just keep boxing the same four boxers over and over.

The Genesis port looks pretty close to the arcade, and is not a bad looking game with large, and detailed characters.  Unfortunately all the boxers share the exact same body, regardless of the height given on the character selection screen.  The sound in this game is terrible.  All of the speech in the arcade game has been taken out, and the remaining sound effects are scratchy sounding.  The game isn’t bad though.  The fights are frantic, and fun, and ideal if you just want to play a quick game.  It also keeps track of your score, and that will add infinite replayability if you like going for a high score like I do.  If you’re a boxing fan, you can do much better than James “Buster” Douglas Boxing.  If you just want arcade action, then it’s not a bad game to get.

Posted February 26, 2014 by thebandit2006 in Sega Genesis

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Ready 2 Rumble Boxing – Sega Dreamcast   1 comment

From 1999 this is Ready 2 Rumble Boxing which was a launch title released as a launch title by Midway for the mighty Sega Dreamcast.  Like many other Midway sports games, Ready 2 Rumble Boxing is a silly, and fun to play arcade type game.

It may not be hot and new anymore, but it's still a lot of fun.

It may not be hot and new anymore, but it’s still a lot of fun.

You get a wide variety of boxers to choose from such as Boris Knokimov, and “Big” Willy Johnson.  Each boxer varies greatly in size, and boxing style.  They each come with their own special move, or punch combination.  Unlike some boxing games where you can only move side to side, or not at all, Ready 2 Rumble boxing lets you roam around freely about the ring.  The controls are very simple.  The four face buttons on the Dreamcast controller lets you throw a high left punch, high right punch, low left punch, and low right punch.  By pressing a direction on the d-pad along with a button, you can throw different types of those punches, such as jabs, uppercuts, hook, or roundhouse punches.  There are two meters underneath your boxer’s name.  The first one is a health meter, which of course decreases as you take punches, and once it runs out, your boxer falls to the canvas.  The one underneath that is the stamina meter.  The more stamina you have, the more effective your punches are.  Throwing a punch empties the stamina meter, and fills again once you stop throwing punches.  This makes you more careful about throwing your punches, and makes the stick-and-move boxing strategy effective.  The two triggers on the Dreamcast controller make your boxer block high, or low punches.  You can also taunt the other boxer.  Hard punches give your boxer a letter.  If you get six letters to spell “rumble”, then your boxer goes into Rumble mode where you have unlimited stamina for a short period of time.  All of the controls work very well, and your boxers are very responsive.  This makes the game really fun, and that is the whole point of Midway’s line of sports games.

There are three modes of play.  The first one is the arcade mode, which works like a typical fighting game where you go through a gauntlet of fighters in order to win the title.  You can set the difficulty level, number of rounds, and number of knockdowns required to win.  I like to set it on the easy difficulty level, with a one knockdown rule.  The CPU will still beat me in this mode, because I sometimes have trouble with certain boxer’s fighting styles.  The championship mode has you play the role of a gym owner, and your boxers fight for money, and eventually titles.  You can use this money to train your boxer, and upgrade their fighting abilities.  This is a very ambitious mode, and one that could give the game a lot of replayability for some people.  I prefer the arcade mode, because I just want to beat somebody up rather than take my time to upgrade my boxers.  The third mode is multiplayer mode, and this can be a lot of fun, because the game’s controls are so easy that anyone can play it.

This game is also available for the PlayStation, and Nintendo 64.  I doubt however that they can match the great graphics, and fluid animation of this Sega Dreamcast version.  Every fighter has their own unique animations, and it just looks great for a 1999 release.  The sound effects are awesome.  The punch sounds have impact, and it sounds like you are playing through a Rocky movie.  I always chuckle at Afro Thunder’s puking sound whenever you knock him down with a low punch.  Michael Buffer does a really good job as the ring announcer too.  My only complain against the game is that it doesn’t keep track of your score, or best times for going through arcade mode.  Despite that, it’s always fun to play this once in a while, and have fun beating the crap out of people.  Well done Midway.

Posted February 25, 2014 by thebandit2006 in Sega Dreamcast

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Otomedius Excellent – Xbox 360   Leave a comment

I love spaceship shooters, and I love Japanese weirdness.  Otomedius Excellent is a shoot-em-up released exclusively for the Xbox 360 by Konami in 2011.  As far as Japanese weirdness goes, the opening video is an untranslated J-Pop song, the characters are all buxom girls, and the special edition version of the game comes with a pillow case.  Still though, there has to be a good game underneath it all, and I’m afraid that Otomedius Excellent could have been much better.

Since I opted for the $10 bargain bin version of the game, the pillowcase was not included.

Since I opted for the $10 bargain bin version of the game, the pillowcase was not included.

This is a horizontally side scrolling spaceship shooter where you control one of the buxom girls on a quest to um… defeat the enemy I suppose.  The manual gives a vague description of the story, and even the story mode in the game didn’t give much of a story as it was mostly just trash talking between you, and the boss characters.  The game play is not nearly as crazy as something like Deathsmiles, or GigaWing, but there is still plenty to shoot at.  The main problem I have with the game is how pathetically weak all of the weapons are.  You start off with a ship capable of only having two shots at a time on screen, which is the same fire power as the Galaga ship from 1981.  Naturally you can pick up powerups, but you need to pick up a lot of them to have a chance at most enemies.  One thing that is neat is that you can choose which weapon powers you want before you start the game.  The bad thing about this is that you don’t have access to all of the weapons when you first start the game.  Like an RPG, your character gains experience points each time you play.  If you keep playing over and over, you will eventually get access to stronger weapons.  Some people may like this RPG aspect of the game, but I hate it.  I think that shoot-em-ups should be based on skill rather than powering up your character.  The same goes for online first person shooters like Call of Duty.  At least in games like Gran Turismo, your little Ford Fiesta races against similarly slow cars.  In Otomedius Excellent your starting ship needs a billion shots to take out stronger enemies.  The bosses can be especially frustrating, and you won’t even get the satisfaction of defeating them if you take too long, as they will leave the screen if you don’t defeat them within a certain time.  The bosses are all a bit too similar to each other as well.  I played this game enough to get my character more powered up, and the game became a bit more fun, but my success had to do with better weapons rather than my skill improving.

The graphics look pretty good, but there were a couple of levels where the enemy shots got lost in the backgrounds.  The soundtrack has a few catchy tunes, and overall it doesn’t offend.  There is a lot of chatter going on when you are playing the game, and it’s all in Japanese, and it helps to add to the mayhem.  There is a three player co-op mode which probably makes the game more fun, but I wasn’t able to try it out.  If you like shoot-em-ups, and if you like to play a game over and over to power up your characters, then you will love this game.  For me though, I like to play these arcade type games to see how well *I* can do, and not have to rely on levelling up my characters.  This is the only thing that brings down an otherwise fun game.

Posted February 24, 2014 by thebandit2006 in Xbox 360

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Test Drive: Eve of Destruction – Xbox   Leave a comment

If you’ve played one Test Drive game, you really haven’t played the others, because there is so much variety in the series.  You have standard street racing games, off road games, rally games, and more serious racing games.  Test Drive: Eve of Destruction released by Atari in 2004 takes low budget, small town dirt track racing, and turns it into a very fun game.

I don't care how much a complete, and mint copy of this game goes for on Ebay, I'll never get rid of this classic.

I don’t care how much a complete, and mint copy of this game goes for on Ebay, I’ll never get rid of this classic.

The career mode tends to be like Gran Turismo.  You start off with a small amount of money in which you buy a small car.  By winning races you can upgrade your car, or buy a faster one.  Instead of going through boring menus, you drive your car to the garage, or car dealership, or race track.  The race types are absolutely wild, and I would really love to see some of them in real life.  They’re all setup for maximum mayhem.  Some tracks have jumps, and some are in a figure-8 layout.  Others have half the cars going clockwise, and the other half going the opposite direction.  The Gauntlet race has one person trying to complete a race in a hearse, while the other drivers try to take him out.  Another one has one player driving a school bus, and tries to take out the other drivers.  There is your standard demolition derby event.  The Push Off has cars trying to push one another off a hill.  Other races have you towing a trailer, or have you chained to another car.  There are others race types as well, but just too many to type them all here.  All of these events are just as fun as they sound.

My favourite way to play this game is split screen with four friends.  It is always a great time, and it’s a popular choice for when my friends and I get together for a game night.  This game is not only backwards compatible with the Xbox 360, but it upscales the graphics to high definition.  This means that even in the four way split screen mode, the graphics look good.  The framerate for the four way split screen is also very smooth.  The soundtrack is early 2000’s rock music such as Rob Zombie and Sum 41.  The engine sound effects, and crashing sound effects sound great, as does the track announcer.  I’ve noticed that this game sells for a lot of money on Ebay.  As of this writing the cheapest price I see before shipping charges is $35, and that is for the disc only.  I guess the reason is that there really isn’t another game out there like this.  If this game sounds fun, and you see it for a reasonable price, then pick it up immediately.

Posted February 23, 2014 by thebandit2006 in Xbox

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Bad Dudes – NES   Leave a comment

NESBadDudesThe opening lines of Bad Dudes for the NES go as follows “The President has been kidnapped by ninjas.  Are you a bad enough dude to rescue the president?”  The cheesiness does not stop there either.  This game was released to the arcades by Data East in 1988, and was called Bad Dudes vs Dragon Ninja.  This was just around the time that beat-em-up games started becoming popular.  This NES port was released in 1989.  This game could have been really great, and I really wanted to like it, but a few things hold it back.

The game play in Bad Dudes is that of a side scrolling beat-em-up.  You can move left or right, and you can jump up to higher platforms.  There are a lot of enemies, and most are killed with one hit, while stronger ones take two hits.  All the 80’s and 90’s beat-em-up cliches are present here.  You fight in the bad part of town, in the forest, in a cave, in a sewer, and so on.  The stages on top of a moving semi-truck, and moving train are really cool though.  As far as the game controls, one button makes your “dude” jump, and the other makes him attack.  The only thing is that you never know what attack your dude will use, and this is a problem, because kicks seem to reach longer than punches, and his right punch seems to take longer to throw than the left punch.  This makes planning attacks very difficult.  Sometimes it doesn’t even matter, because the collision detection in the game is so bad that your attacks will go through the enemy.  You can also do a jump kick, spin kick, punch straight up, and use weapons that are dropped by the red ninjas.  These attacks are consistent, and solve the attack randomness problem, but the collision detection will still be a problem.  Sometimes there also seems to be a delay in pressing a button, and your dude actually doing something on screen.  Besides the cheesiness, the things I do like is that it keeps score, and I also like that Data East programmed a cheat code to start you off with 63 lives.  That’s a good thing, because the game isn’t easy.

The graphics look fine, but everything moves too choppy.  The music is okay, with the music being played on top of the semi-truck being my favourite.  I also love how your dude screams “I’M BAD” at the end of each level.  Sadly not even that level of chessiness can save this game.  It’s not the most terrible game, but it could have been so much better.  I’m also disappointed to hear that the arcade version has a two player co-op mode, while this NES version doesn’t.  Adding this mode, and adding a bit more polish to the controls and hit detection could have made this game great.  As is though, unless you played it as a kid, and want to play it for nostalgic reasons, I would pass on Bad Dudes.

Rating – 5 / 10

NESBadDudes1NESBadDudes2

Posted February 22, 2014 by thebandit2006 in NES

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