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Friday, February 01, 2008

Side blog

With all the copious amount of free time I have (yeah right!), I started a small side blog to document my thoughts on "Dual Play" also known as "Double Play". This alternate way of playing certain shmup games has rekindled my interest in older (early 90s) shooters, and has given me a new appreciation for some games I got burnt out on (i.e. Viper Phase 1). I find it quite challenging and exciting to be able to pull off some cool looking runs with symmetrical patterns. Of course I'll never be as good as VTF-INO and his awesome Ikaruga double play, but I never try to emulate superplays either.

My definition of Double Play

In the truest sense of the term, "dual play" or "double play" to me means walking into an arcade, sitting down (or standing) at a machine, and playing both Player 1 and Player2 at the same time. No fancy joypads, or rewired buttons, just a regular game in an arcade cabinet. Obviously the point here is to be able to accomplish this feat in public, without any special preparation. I'll get to this last point in a moment.

(Dual Play Tetris pictured)

Double Play was born in Japanese arcades by fans who were constantly looking for increased challenges during the 1990s. Now given today, inside the United States arcades are pretty rare, and ones that have vertical shooters are even rarer, its understandable that people also attempt this feat through emulation (Mame), consoles, and with dual shock joysticks, remapped buttons, or some other gadgetry. Although this is still a pretty amazing accomplishment, its still not as skilfully performed as on an arcade control panel, which requires a larger amount of hand dexterity ( versus thumb dexterity on something like a dual shock joypad). So my definition of Double Play will pretty much center around what would be possible inside a public arcade in Japan.

Now certain games lend themselves to Double Play easier than others, say for example shooting games that have only two buttons. Some Japanese arcade operators install rapid fire circuits on button C, and some do not. Some arcade PCBs have options to turn on C-Shot (rapid) through dip switches and some do not. Its mostly hit and miss based on the game and arcade operator. Generally if there is an advantage to higher scoring, operators in Japan try to please their patrons by allowing C-Shot or install rapid fire circuits.

Ok given the above setting, and not being allowed to open up or change arcade machines in public, the only other preparation that goes into Double Play may be some tape or toothpick or paper wedge to keep certain buttons held down during the entire run. This is usually to keep your hands from cramping if you constantly need to hammer on a fire button while controlling your ship.

(Next post will be on hand and finger positioning.)