Saturday, 17 August 2019

Ion Fury (PC)

Ion Fury logo
Developer:Voidpoint|Release Date:2019|Systems:PC, Mac

This month on Super Adventures, I've only got the one game for you, and it's been reviewed and streamed by everyone else already! In fact it was in Early Access for months, so a whole chapter of it's been around for everyone to play for ages. What I should've done is hang on for a couple of decades until the game's properly retro and write about it then, but I'm impatient.

Ion Fury is the second Duke Nukem spin-off starring Shelly Harrison after 2016's Bombshell, except not really as the character never actually turned up in any of the Duke Nukem games she was intended to appear in. This worked out for 3D Realms though as it means they got to keep her when they sold the rest of the Duke IP to Gearbox a few years back. They can't make Duke Nukem games anymore but they can make all the Bombshell sequels they want. Or a prequel in this case.

Bombshell was a top down shooter, but this is a bit more like Duke Nukem 3D. In fact it's a lot more like it, as it was made using the Build engine that powered the last of the great 2.5D games like Duke 3D, Shadow Warrior and Blood. Why did they go back to such an archaic game engine? Same reason that Baldur's Gate got an expansion made recently in the Infinity engine I guess: because the developer had already updated the engine for new systems and knew people were nostalgic for it (Voidpoint is run by the guy who made the EDuke32 source port). Plus they wanted to.

I'm immune to nostalgia though, as I never really left the 90s (or the 2000s). In fact I played a few levels of Doom II, Quake and Duke 3D while I was waiting for the final version to go live and the download to start, so all it has to do is be better than them and I'll be impressed.

Thursday, 1 August 2019

Escape from Monkey Island (PC)

Escape from Monkey Island pc title screen
Developer:LucasArts|Release Date:2000|Systems:Windows, Mac, PlayStation 2

Super Adventures is going on another break (sorry about that), but first I'm going to finally fix a gaping hole in my site. I wrote about Curse of Monkey Island in 2013, two years later I followed it up with Secret and Tales, and then two years after that I played LeChuck's Revenge. Not the recommended order I know, but if I always did what people recommended I wouldn't be playing Escape from Monkey Island at all. It's been another two years since I played a Monkey Island game though, so I have to play Escape now to continue the pattern!

This is the fourth of the games and for the better part of a decade it seemed like it was going to be the last of them. It wasn't though, which is fortunate because it would've been a bit of a depressing note to leave the series on. Not that Escape from Monkey Island is outright hated by fans, in fact it got good reviews, but it's often considered to be the weakest of them.

It's not the only classic adventure game sequel to suffer after the switch to 3D though, as there's also Broken Sword: The Sleeping Dragon, Simon the Sorcerer 3D... actually it'd be quicker to name the ones that pulled it off. Uh, Sam and Max: Save the World maybe? The transition from being the prettiest 2D games to the ugliest 3D games with the worst controls didn't go well for them, but the game design seemed to go downhill in general. Even the reasonably well liked Gabriel Knight 3 gave the world the cat hair moustache puzzle that killed adventure games forever. Or maybe they died off because increasing budgets due to 3D visuals and voice acting made them increasingly unprofitable. Could be a bit of both.

Speaking of things disappearing forever but then actually coming back a while later, Super Adventures is taking the next two months off, so I've given you a few more screenshots than usual to keep you going. If you ration them out, one screenshot a day, it should get you most of the way through. But if you find yourself thinking 'When is this damn post going to end???', then don't worry, I'll shut up just as soon as I've achieved something on the second island.

This will of course mean there'll be SPOILERS for the events up to that point. Oh, and for the earlier games as well.

Wednesday, 24 July 2019

StarTropics (NES)

StarTropics title screen
Developer:Locomotive, Nintendo R&D3|Release Date:1992 (1990 in NA)|Systems:NES

This week on Super Adventures, I'm thinking about how much StarTropics' title screen reminds me of the title screen of Metroid. They've got the same 'text floating in front of a twinkling starfield' look. Though Metroid has fewer palm trees.

StarTropics is fairly well known among people who aren't me, but I never played it myself. In fact I thought it was a SNES game until I looked it up. I'm still not sure how it plays, but if I had to guess I'd say it was probably going to be a little like that Secret of Evermore game I wrote about in January. The two games definitely share one thing in common: their titles both start with the letter 'S'. Also they were both developed with a Western audience in mind and never got a release in Japan. They even left it off the Nintendo Classic Mini Family Computer (aka the Famicom Mini) despite it being one of the 30 games that came with the NES Classic in other regions.

It was produced and written by a Japanese game designer though, Genyo Takeda, who was apparently also responsible for a: putting battery backed-up save RAM in the cartridge version of The Legend of Zelda and making that a thing, b: sticking an analogue thumbstick on the N64 controller and inspiring Sega and Sony to do it too, and c: holding the Wii back so that it was a generation behind the Xbox 360 and PS3. He became the manager of Nintendo's hardware development division in 1980 and didn't retire until 2017, so he was a fairly influential guy during the entire history of video games. Plus he produced Punch-Out.

Wednesday, 17 July 2019

Spirits of Xanadu (PC) - Guest Post

This week on Super Adventures, guest poster mecha-neko has gone to the trouble of redefining the word 'Friday' in order to write about a spooky first person shooter on a Wednesday without changing his old banner image. This is the level of commitment we both have to providing you with words about video games.

Feels like it's been a while since I've done an FPS Friday. Ray told me about a 'short' game that he'd recently finished, and if a game is so short and so good that Ray can finish it, it's gotta be worth having a look at.

So I'm going to play one of itch.io's Featured 'Action' games, Spirits of Xanadu.

Spirits Of Xanadu PC title screen
Developer:Good Morning, Commander|Release Date:2015|Systems:Windows, Mac, Linux

See, told ya!

Thursday, 11 July 2019

Breath of Fire (SNES)

Breath of Fire title screen SNES
Developer:Konami|Release Date:1994 (1993 in Japan)|Systems:SNES, GBA

This week on Super Adventures, I'm taking a look at classic Super Nintendo RPG Breath of Fire! It was originally known as Breath of Fire: Ryu no Senshi in Japan, which translates to 'Dragon Warrior'. Though they couldn't call it that in the US because Enix had already claimed the name five years earlier when they used it for Dragon Quest. JRPGs are confusing.

I've seen a lot of Capcom games and I've seen a lot of JRPGs, but I can't think of many times I've seen a Capcom JRPG before. In fact I half expected to see Squaresoft's name appear when I started it up... and then it did, because they were the ones who localised it for North America. They never quite got around to releasing it in Europe though.

In fact the game didn't reach Europe until the Game Boy Advance port made its way here in 2001. I guess they'd grown a little more confident that the game would find an audience by that point, seeing as we'd bought enough copies of Breath of Fire II, Breath of Fire III and Breath of Fire IV. I was fairly sure that the game had to exist somewhere, as you don't typically make sequels without first making an original, but it's obscure enough for me. I've never played it before and I don't know anything about it. I'm expecting dragons though.

The game's likely going to have a story as well, and I'm going to go through the first few hours of it, taking screenshots, and whining about things as I go, so this article will contain SPOILERS. I won't be playing any longer than that though, because RPGs are like really long and I've got other things to do today.

Thursday, 4 July 2019

Keio Flying Squadron 2 (Saturn)

Keio Flying Squadron 2 Saturn title screen
Developer:Victor|Release Date:1996|Systems:Saturn

This week on Super Adventures, I'm writing about more Keio Flying Squadron! The alien bunny girl adventures continue.

The first Keio Flying Squadron is a shoot 'em up on the Sega Mega CD that by some miracle got a release in Europe and America. I already showed that one off last week. Then Keio Flying Squadron 2 came out three years later on the Sega Saturn and somehow also got translated to English, though I'm not sure it ever made it to the US. Finally there was a side-story party game on the PlayStation called 蘭未ちゃんの大江戸すごろく慶応遊撃隊外伝. That one never made it out of Japan.

Out of curiosity I checked the Japanese version of Keio 2 and it turns out that the title text completely obscures the background in the original game as well. Someone spent ages drawing that!

Here's some more exciting trivia for you: Victor Entertainment got out of game development in 1996 so this is one of the last games they ever made. I'd tell you about their other games, but I've never heard of most of them. Banana, ROM² Karaoke, UltraBox 5-gō... oh Legendary Axe, that sounds familiar. I have no idea what it is, but I recognise the name.

Thursday, 27 June 2019

Keio Flying Squadron (Sega Mega CD)

Keio Flying Squadron title screen
Developer:Victor|Release Date:1994 (1993 in Japan)|Systems:Sega Mega CD

This week on Super Adventures, I'm playing a shoot 'em up on the Mega CD!

I haven't really written about a Mega CD game since Popful Mail six years ago, and it's been a while since I've played a shoot 'em up as well. The trouble with shoot 'em ups, is they're either really hard, in which case all I end up writing about is the various ways I got my dude exploded, or they're really easy, in which case all I write is "I'm still shooting at things," and "I'm kind of bored now."

But I figured I should give you at least one proper old-school side-scrolling shooter this year, so I went with the game where you play as a girl wearing a 1960s Playboy bunny suit in 1860s Japan. I checked a list of games I've written about so far, and it's an under-represented sub-genre.

Oh here's some trivia for you, straight from Wikipedia: the December 1994 issue of Sega Pro CD magazine included a demo disc for the game that ended after the first level. But you can use a level select cheat to skip past the part that sends you back to the title screen and keep playing it to the end, because they secretly included the entire full game on the disc.

Semi-Random Game Box