Thursday, 21 September 2017

Soreyuke! Amida-kun! (Game Boy)

So, I'm sure you've all seen the Amida lot-drawing system somewhere at some point, whether it's in the bonus stages for Super Mario Land 2 or Psycho Fox, or that episode of Cardcaptor Sakura where Syaoran gets picked to be the princess in the school play. In case you haven't, how it works is that there's a bunch of vertical lines with different results at one end, and all these lines are connected at random by vertical lines. Normally, the middle area with all the vertical lines would be covered up while everyone chooses a starting point. After everyone has chosen a starting point, they go down the path they've selected, with the twist being that every time they come to a horizontal line, they have to go across it, and since they were all hidden when the paths were chosen, no-one knows where they'll end up.

In Soreyuke! Amida-Kun (also known as just "Amida"), you control a sentient, mobile vertical line. There's a round Kirby-like creature on each stge who wants to get home, and you have to get them there, while ensuring they don't walk into any skulls, which are at all the ends of the vertical paths that aren't home, as well as on some of the horizontal paths too. Obviously, you do this by moving around and actng as a bridge so that the creature crosses at all the right places.

The stages start out pretty simple, with only a few vertical paths and regular old horizontals dotted about. As the game goes on, though, more vertical paths get added, as well as different kinds of paths joining them, starting with diagonal paths, which act the same as horizontals, but take up more room. Then later there's paths that just send your little blob back the way from whence they came, and others that teleport them to a different part of the stage, and so on. Like most fixed puzzle games, it starts out simple, and gets more complex and difficult by scaling up the size of the problems and adding new elements. It actually gets pretty difficult surprisingly quickly, once you get past the first few stages.

There's not really much more to be said about this game. If it sounds interesting, give it a shot, but don't expect anything spectacular.

Friday, 15 September 2017

Demolish Fist (Arcade)

At some point in the mid-late 1990s, beat em ups as a genre entered something of a drought, from which the genre's never really recovered. While shooting games and 2D platformers have plenty of great representatives from both mainstream and independent developers, new beat em ups are few and far between, and a lot of the time, they're ruined by the kinds of stupid game-killing design choices I've complained about in many, many posts on this blog before: levelling up/skill shops, negative difficulty curves, and a new one I only discovered recently: there's a game available on PS4 and PC called Mother Russia Bleeds, and the lives/continue system is so broken as to make it impossible to get a game over (as far as I could tell), rendering the game completely pointless.

But anyway, that drought. It was still very much in effect in 2003, when Demolish Fist was released, and even among the few beat em ups released about that time, this one stands out by being more traditional. Though it's entirely in 3D and you can move and face in all eight directions, the camera sticks rigidly in one position (not counting cutscenes, obviously), making the game play like a regular, old-fashioned belt scroller. And it does a great job of it, too! You walk along, beat up crowds of bad guys, pick up weapons and power-ups and a good time is had by all.

Of course, every beat em up needs to have a gimmick to make it stand out, even if it has no contemporary competitors, and Demolish Fist actually has a few! Firstly, there's a block button. It's not a massive thing, but it's still something that a lot of beat em ups don't have. Secondly, the game takes an approach to weaponry akin to Two Crude Dudes or Dynamite Deka, having tons of stuff available to pick up and swing and/or throw: cattleprods, baseball bats with nails hammered into the end, swords, electrified gloves, fuel tanks, vending machines, motorcycles, cars and so on. The final, and most unique gimmick is the vertigo system. You get a power bar that fills up from attacking enemies, like in many other games. When it fills up, you can press all three buttons to enter vertigo mode, during which you're not only invincible, but you can also attack as fast as you're able to hammer the attack button. This lasts for ten seconds or until every enemy present has been defeated, and it never gets old or stops being satisfying.

I also want to talk about this game's setting and aesthetic, which I like as much as the game itself. It's a kind of look that was used in a lot of anime and Japanese videogames around the turn of the century that I'm going to call "sunset dystopia", a world where there hasn't been any kind of cataclysmic event, but it's just kind of lurching slowly towards an eventual apocalypse through societal entropy that's just on the horizon. I guess other examples of the look would be Daraku Tenshi, King of Fighters 99, and Crimson Tears.

So yeah, Demolish Fist is an excellent game. If you're able to play it (and most fairly modern computers should be able to emulate the Atomiswave at a decent speed by now. My pre-owned laptop can manage it, even!), then you definitely should.