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Sunday, December 21, 2008

In Rank We Trust

Getting back into some Raizing goodness takes a bit of getting used to, as noted in my Ibara post last month. Confronting rank is like running into a brick wall at 100 miles an hour. You think you can bash straight through it, only to have your ass handed back to you just as quick. This is what makes Raizing games so much fun to play, as you really need to plan your objectives, be that 1CC with low rank, or scoring with high rank, or in some cases - a very fine line in between. Yagawa is a master at making this all too apparent with his games.

So this weekend I focused some time on Battle Bakraid, the arcade only successor to Battle Garegga, with some interesting differences in rank based scoring. I won't detail the differences in this post, but point out that in Bakraid you can actually ignore rank if you are not gunning for high scores, and focus solely on the 1CC in Normal mode. Combining this with an auto-bombing Training mode, makes the game accessible to beginners.

So where is the rank? Well if you want to play for score, you better get ready for some very unorthodox style of play. Imagine a game were bombing and committing suicide with your ship every 10-15 seconds is required to score high! Quite the opposite of Cave (and any other) style shmup, yet Yagawa's genius shines through. Even in Battle Garegga, where players were first exposed to suicide techniques to lower/tame rank, Bakraid takes this to the extreme with a 64x multiplier leading to amazing scores, amazing amounts of extends (extra ships), and an amazing amount of rank. Some people might think this "breaks" the game, and that such an unorthadox style of play must not have been intentional. The same thing was said years later of Yagawa's Pink Sweets. All I can say is that Yagawa's games truely innovate outside the norm of repetitive Cave style shooters, causing the player to plan/think rather then simply react with twitch reflexes.

And with that, I give you my latest Normal and Advanced course scores. Basically I temped fate by scoring large in the first two stages, and then play it safe from there on out. I've been able to 1CC Normal mode before but with only a 5M to 6M score. With this in-between strategy, I've been able to double my score, and still complete the 1CC. I tried the same technique in Advanced mode, only to learn that once you get 4 ships in stock, the rank gets so pissed, that there is now way in hell you will get past stage 6. I literally had a chain of missiles heading for me that I could not shoot down fast enough, even with forward facing options pointed straight at them.

My scores below are ranked #3 on my PCB, since I didn't bother resetting Rastan78's scores the last time he was over (a real master at this game). The last screenshot is the special Boss only mode, where I made it to the second form of Gollum.

DJK - 12,390,280 - Saber Tiger [C] - ALL - Normal (SE)
DJK - 12,416,350 - Saber Tiger [C] - Stage 6 - Advanced (SE)
DJK - 10,832,250 - Flame Viper [C] - Gollum - Boss

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Ibara is hard as nails

Finally the holidays are upon us, and this long Thanksgiving Day weekend means I get to spend quality time playing through some of my collection which hasn't been booted up in awhile.

The first board I dug out was Ibara, and let me tell you this game is not friendly to occasional play or beginners of any sort. Ibara's crazy rank, small hard to see bullets, mixed with massive amounts of debris should be expected of Yagawa/Raizing, but being his first produced game working for Cave, you'd think IKD would have taught him something about accessibility route of play style for the less than godly. It seems that conversation between IKD and Yagawa didn't happen for Pink Sweets either, being the pinnacle of rank manipulation. Although I haven't playing Muchi Muchi Pork, I hear that game is much easier to get into with one or two of the characters.

Anyway, back to Ibara. Without a rank or scoring strategy, its just not fun playing when you get owned by the bosses. Perhaps playing the PS2 port would be better as I could restart quicker, and practice particular sections until I get them down. It seems that to make any real headway in this game, I'd have to study the replays and put in a concerned effort to memorize their strategies. Oh well back on the shelf you go, for another rainy day/weekend.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Vimana highscore


DJK - 582,868 - 66%

Shienryu highscore

DJK - 4,568,990 - 5-7

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Box of panels

Monday, September 01, 2008

Bee Storm: DoDonPachi II highscore

Bee Storm: DoDonPachi II gets little respect due to it not being made by Cave, but rather licensed for use by IGS to attempt their own arrange version to the seminal DoDonPachi. Trying to compare the two, as any sane game reviewer might, would make Bee Storm look like a complete piece of crap. You've got the same graphics, sounds and stage layouts, which make it appear like DoDonPachi, but thats where the similarity stops. Kaneda/NTSC-J had written an excellent review long ago on the clickstick forum, which unfortunately was lost when the site was deleted. Since the IGS hardware Bee Storm runs on is still not fully emulated, due to security encryption which has still not been cracked, it may be awhile before another review comes out.

I think this game is extremely fun, and pretty damn hard even on the "combat" (normal) setting. If I can 1CC combat mode, I may try writing a review. Until then, I've only made it to the 4th boss, which has the coolest intro music ever.

DJK - 367,326,600 - Stage 4 - Combat - Energy

Planet Harriers highscore

Played one credit today and had only a slight improvement. I really need a strategy if I'm going to get past stage 3. There are some guided missle attacks which are just unavoidable if you can't takeout a majority of the enemy before they fire.

DJK - 464,177 - Stage 3 (Lavaa) - X

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Rayforce highscore

I can't believe Rayforce was released in 1993. I mean, this game is in a league of its own in terms of advanced visuals and tremendous soundtrack, and thats not even mentioning the ground breaking mechanics of shooter and layer lock-on system. To bad I really stink at it. Best I've been able to do is finally reach area 4.

DJK - 1,274,400 - Area 4

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Double Wings highscore

Double Wings is a Raiden clone, but with ships that move at modern shmup speeds. This makes the game a lot easier, and (in my opinon) more fun. As such, it only took a couple days to clear the first loop (with the aid of an autofire board). The second loop contains a strange combination of the same levels plus some new sections if you do not die. The moment you die, the rest of the level returns to the same as the first loop.

Here is my best score, the star indications second loop, stage 3 section 2 (there are 4 sections to each stage).

DJK - 1,857,100 3-2 (2nd loop)

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Mushihimesama ALL (original mode)

Done (for now). No bombs left, and two lives in stock to get this score.

DJK - 30,229,811 - ALL - S-Power - Bx0 Lx2

Friday, August 15, 2008

Mushihimesama ALL (original mode)

I'm not a big fan of Mushihimesama, but started playing this again after a long run on original Raiden. For some reason training on Raiden really quickened my reaction times.
So this is not a big deal to most, but I 1CC'd Original mode recently with W-Power. If I can adjust to S-Power's speed, I'm sure I could end with at least 1 life in stock adding another 10M.

DJK - 10,553,274 - ALL - W-Power Bx? Lx0

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Things slowly returning back to normal

Well its finally over! Months of planning still didn't prepare us for all the work that goes into a wedding. Anyway, my only advice to anyone who may be about to go through this, is to pay for a wedding coordinator to take care of as many of the details as possible (and not just "day-of" coordination), it will be worth every penny!

Friday, April 04, 2008

Lack of updates

The good news is I'm getting married this summer. The bad news is any available free time is going towards the planning of this "once in a lifetime event" don't expect any blog/gaming updates until the fall.

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.)

Monday, January 28, 2008

Raiden DX double play sighting in the wild!

Check this out, while eating Pho with my fiancee, I spotted a coffee shop right next door which had what looked like an arcade cocktail table inside. After going in, I was surprised to find a Sega Aero Table with Raiden DX!

This alone was a pretty rare find, but upon closer inspection, I found both P1 and P2 sides had their 3rd button (which is normally autofire on Raiden) stuck down with what looked like a torn up cigarette box jammed into the edge of the button. This was a good indication that someone was probably having a double play run with both ships.

I went back to the coffee shop today to take a pic with my camera, but the buttons were unstuck, making it somewhat difficult to have a dual play run stretching my fingers to the 3rd button of each player. Next time I go, I'll bring a toothpick to jam in there to hold the buttons down.

New Planet Harriers highscore

With my PH machine repaired, I jumped in for two test runs, and beat my last highscore by a little bit. I still died in Stage 3, around the same place, only difference was I entered the stage maxed out on everything and with 6 hearts!

I'm just realizing that some of the projectiles are guided! So you need to keep your player moving to avoid them. Only problem is if missiles are fired from opposite sides of the screen, which is when you have to do some fancy roll maneuvers (mentioned before that only work if the stick is calibrated properly).

DJK - 445,570 - Stage 3

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Planet Harriers monitors fixed!

During the last Bay Area Shmupmeet, Segasonicfan pointed out what might be wrong with my Planet Harriers monitor colors. Turns out these are both Wells Gardner D9200 monitors, which apparently have been discontinued because they were poorly designed. It seems the neckboards would fry some transistors used to buffer the R/G/B video signal to the tube.

To confirm this might be the problem, I did a quick test. I swapped the neckboards between both monitors, and sure enough the color problems also swapped. Segasonicfan pointed out these three transistors as the culprit, which just so happens to have some burn and resoldering underneath, a clear indications that they have been replaced before.

Being the original transistor used is pretty uncommon, I was able to fine a suitable NTE replacement. I think I'll have to order a couple more just in case any other colors go out on me. Now finally I can actually get back to playing this cool game!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Double Play or Dual Play?

I'm not exactly sure if the term is "Dual Play" or "Double Play", but the menu option in Raiden III (and most likely in Raiden IV) call it Double Play, but I refer to it as either.
Anyway, Dual Play Shooting will be a side topic for me to document my thoughts and experience playing vertical shooting arcade games (also known as shmups) while controlling both player 1 and player 2 ships at the same time. Even though this technique of playing has been around for over 15 years (since the original Raiden days), it was made much more public/popular by VTF-INO with his Ikaruga replays (see youtube example below).

Friday, January 04, 2008

Gun Frontier PCB

I just received a new (well its actually used) PCB this week. The game is called "Gun Frontier" made by Taito in 1990. The story line is pretty strange: space cowboys and mechanical tanks on a distant settlement planet like the old west. There is a nice writeup by Mike Bevan here for the sega saturn version.

Anyway, this is the grandfather of all that is Yagawa/Raizing!

I read how this inspired Yagawa to create Garegga, but after finally playing it in person, I can see Yagawa took MANY things from this game and continues to pay homage in all his Raizing/Crazing games since! You've got the bomb rack, cartridge bullets and casings, flock of flamingos, enemy shrapnel, enemy explosions curling off, enemy/boss point-blanking, swiveling girder arm, destructible scenery, destructible boss parts for extra points, a shimmering cloud background exactly like Ibara & Pink Sweets, ... probably much more since I've only made it to the start of level 4 on a few credits so far. Playing this is almost like digging into the roots of modern music.

The only thing that sucks about it, is the huge hitboxes and rank increase autofire deterant.