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alienjesus
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Together Retro February 2020 - Not For YoU.S.A

by alienjesus Sun Feb 02, 2020 4:43 pm

Hi everyone!

In this month's Together Retro, we're going to be playing games which were released in Japan AND PAL territories, but which never recieved a (physical) North American release at the time (it's fine if it came out on a digital download service later!).

There's a whole bunch of games to choose from, and I'll include some ideas below.

I plan to play through a pair of SNES games this month, with Bishoujou Senshi Sailor Moon (which was released in France as 'Sailor Moon') and The Firemen. I might also replay some of the games I've previously enjoyed which fit into the category if I have time!

Share what you plan to play below and keep the discussion going! It's more fun if everyone shares their experiences!

List of game suggestions:
NES: Mr. Gimmick, Ufouria: The Saga, Parodius
MD: Alien Soldier, Mega Man: The Wily Wars
SNES: Terranigma, Heberekes Popoitto, Pop'n Twinbee, Parodius, Whirlo, Super Bomberman 3, Sailor Moon, The Firemen
PS1: Bishi Bashi Special, Crisis Beat, Rapid Reload, Vib-Ribbon
N64: Rakuga Kids
GC: Doshin the Giant
Wii: Another Code R, Disaster: Day of Crisis,
GB: Trip World, Parodius
GBA: Kuru Kuru Kururin
DS: Tingle's Rosy Rupeeland, Last Window, Inazuma Eleven, Pokemon Typing Adventure

Gregory Horror Show (PS2)
Adventures of Lolo (Game Boy)
Hammerin' Harry: Ghost Building Company (GB)
Pop'n Twinbee (GB)
Konami GB Collection Volumes 1-4 (GBC)
R-Type (GB)
Rod-Land (GB)
Devil World (NES)
Hammerin' Harry (NES)
Mega-Lo-Mania (SNES)
Monkey Puncher (GBC)
Qix Adventure (GBC)
Bomberman 2 (DS)
Bomberman Story (DS)
Jam With The Band/Daigasso Band Brothers DX (DS)
Ys Strategy (DS)
Project Zero 2 (Wii)
Bubble Bobble (SMS)
Super Fantasy Zone (MD)
Turbo Outrun (MD)
Wonder Boy III: Monster Lair (MD)
Zero Wing (MD)
Pengo (GG)
Power Strike II (GG)
Darius II (Saturn)
Deep Fear (Saturn)
Discworld (Saturn)
Keio Flying Squadron 2 (Saturn)
Fighting Vipers 2 (DC)
Rez (DC)
Shenmue II (DC)
Fantastic Night Dreams: Cotton (NGPC)
Klonoa Beach Volleyball (PS1)
Poy Poy 2 (PS1)
Sonic Wings Special (PS1)
Hamtaro: Rainbow Rescue (GBA)
Napoleon (GBA)
Glass Rose (PS2)
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Sload Soap
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Re: Together Retro February 2020 - Not For YoU.S.A

by Sload Soap Sun Feb 02, 2020 10:44 pm

I've got four games for this month, all on PS2 and all brought to us by the good people at Midas Interactive Entertainment.

Midas is basically a kind of an Ocean Software for the PS1/PS2 era, buying the rights to publish low-end Japanese games, slapping a new front end on and selling them on the cheap in the PAL market. This more often lead to Midas publishing lots the usual bric-a-brac of bad sports and puzzle games, or those casino game compilations that make up a lot of the shovleware on the PS1/2, DS and Wii. But by happenstance they would buy something from Japan either a bit good or a bit weird and I've got two of each for the month.

For the good (I hope) is Tokyo Road Racer and Steel Dragon Evolution. For the weird I have BCV: Battle Construction Vehicles (pretty much exactly what it sounds like) and X-Treme Express (an arcade train racing game). So far I have played a bit of Tokyo Road Racer and X-Treme Express.

TRR is known in Japan as Battle Gear 2 and is one in a long line of games in this series from Taito. It's a togue racing game. I've seen a few games like this on the Saturn and PS1, they are basically more realistic takes on Ridge Racer. Togue is (illegal) mountain races on the tight roadside passes in the hills above Tokyo and Osaka. Initial D is probably the most popular series in this sub-genre. As for TRR itself, so far it's pretty good and quite nice looking for an early PS2 game but boy is it unforgiving. This owes as much to its arcade roots as it does the tight and twisty nature of the tracks. I will put a bit more effort in though.

X-Treme Express is pretty much bonkers. You choose a train engine from a selection of passenger, subway or transit models and then race five others from one station to another. Obviously as a train you are restricted to the rails so the game is more about switching tracks to pass opponents and making sure you don't come off the tracks when cornering. If you do, it's not game over as you can shuffle back onto the tracks though you will lose speed. You can also bash other trains off their tracks if you sideswipe them fast enough while switching tracks or ram a slow train if you have the momentum. It's all pretty silly but finishing a race is a madness. Not only do you have to brake so you line up with the next station, if you overshoot you have to slowly reverse back which will end your race, but you need to go to a platform with no other train present. Not so bad if you're out in front but I've lost most races from not being able to get my own lane and crashing into the train in front which instantly ends your race. So it's kind of mad fun but it's also a bit frustrating. It looks and sounds like a Dreamcast game so that's nice. It kind of sucks but I am also kind of hooked so I'll deffo be coming back.
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Re: Together Retro February 2020 - Not For YoU.S.A

by dsheinem Mon Feb 03, 2020 12:19 am

I am watching the credits roll on Super Fantasy Zone, the first game I've beaten on my Genesis Mini. It's an enjoyable game, and I really dig the style and color palate used: it ups the "fantasy" quotient of the title considerably over the less defined sprites found in earlier games/ports in the series.

Last month I so enjoyed listening to tunes from the same year as the games I was playing for TR that I plan to continue that idea going forward. Tonight while playing Super Fantasy Zone I was rocking an old cassette of Stone Temple Pilots' "Core" through my stereo. It was a strange experience to be playing a European Sega Mega Drive game on a licensed miniature version of the US Sega Genesis console that was hooked up to a flat screen HDTV...whilst I listened to a cassette tape play on an old deck. :lol:
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Re: Together Retro February 2020 - Not For YoU.S.A

by pierrot Mon Feb 03, 2020 3:07 am

dsheinem wrote:It was a strange experience to be playing a European Sega Mega Drive game on a licensed miniature version of the US Sega Genesis console that was hooked up to a flat screen HDTV...whilst I listened to a cassette tape play on an old deck. :lol:

What is this techno-Babylon you're living in, dsh?


I thought I was gonna play the first Zettai Zetsumei Toshi (Disaster Report) on the PS2, but I just realized it was released in the US. So--.
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Re: Together Retro February 2020 - Not For YoU.S.A

by BoneSnapDeez Thu Feb 06, 2020 2:44 pm

I played some Sindbad Mystery for SG-1000.

It's a "maze" game. Vaguely reminiscent of Pac-Man, as you have to collect a bunch of "things" to end each stage, while avoiding the bad guys.

The game's hard. The controls are bad. Graphics are sub-Atari. It really isn't good. Sad thing is, I can't even get past level two.

I also played Parodius on Famicom (I was the penguin of course). This is a solid game, even with all the slowdown, but my god do I suck at it. It's probably easier than Gradius, but so are most games.
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Re: Together Retro February 2020 - Not For YoU.S.A

by prfsnl_gmr Thu Feb 06, 2020 3:49 pm

dsheinem wrote:I am watching the credits roll on Super Fantasy Zone, the first game I've beaten on my Genesis Mini. It's an enjoyable game, and I really dig the style and color palate used: it ups the "fantasy" quotient of the title considerably over the less defined sprites found in earlier games/ports in the series


Great choice, DSH. Super Fantasy Zone is a lot of fun and one of the best games in the series. It doesn’t quite reach the heights of Fantasy Zone II W (the best in the series) or Thunder Force III (the best in the Genesis). It’s a shame it didn’t get a NA release.
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Re: Together Retro February 2020 - Not For YoU.S.A

by Sload Soap Thu Feb 06, 2020 10:23 pm

I beat both BCV: Battle Construction Vehicles and Steel Dragon Evolution earlier this evening.

BCV is, as its HG101 article rightly points out, a kusoge or shit game. The graphics are abysmal, the sound is worse, it doesn't support analogue control and it's generally a very broken game. That being said...I quite enjoyed it. BCV is wholly saved by an absolutely daft story mode that tells a tale of a hotheaded young entreprenuer trying to make his way in the tough world of construction.

You play as Hayato whose dad has died and left him the family business. Starting out with just a digger and crane you rise your way to the top of the local prefecture's construction industry. It's a story about family. Well that and challenging your rivals to pointless (and probably very costly) bouts of vehicular combat. It's so stupid and plays out like a saturday morning anime and is fully charming with it.

You recruit new people when you beat them and get new contracts from the local town planner by proving yourself worthy in duels. Your arch rivals, the bastard Surabe Corporation, have basically done nothing wrong but be better at the whole building stuff gig but this local municipality constuction scene is life or death and you aren't taking their competence laying down. So you frequently turn up at their offices to scream and insult them until someone gets mad enough to jump in a dump track and smash into you. Oh, and at one point you find a seemingly harmless Shibu who of course then commandeers a nearby excavator as he is also a master rigger because of course he is.

Even though everything is very Japanese (Hayato works his digger in a full kimono and hakama which is surely some kind of health and safety violation), there is an English voice over. It's a terrible voice over of course, to suit the terrible quality of the animation, as most of it seems done either in-house at Midas or by some random blokes they pulled in from their local pub. The main bad guy is the best as he's seemingly voiced by a London cab driver who's all "what d'ya fink of dat den" and "gerrout of its". Sublime.

The whole thing is just entertaining and doesn't outstay its welcome which is good because the actual combat is categorically bollocks. It mostly consists of you rubbing your given vehicle against an opponent hoping to chip away at their health faster than they can at yours. The controls are awkward to say the least and the "moves" available are as inconsistent as a British train service. You do get supermoves but these don't seem to be activated in any way that is logical so it's basically just a game of slamming an opponent into a wall, rubbing intensely against them and if they get their super before you, backing up until it wears off. Rinse, repeat, watch another daft cutscene.

This is a genuine 2/10 sort of game but honestly the sheer stupidity of the storymode elevates it way above that. My only genuine moment of disappointment came when Cabbie Badguy didn't turn up to the final battle into some kind of ridiculous construction themed mech.

Buyer beware mind, but for the 50p I paid I am more than satisfied.

Steel Dragon Evolution aka Sheinryu Explosion is a pretty mediocre shmup from Warashi. I found it to be on the easy side as I didn't need a continue until the penultimate level and I am pretty pathetic when it comes to this genre. SDE is a 2D vertical scroller like Sheinryu before it but now it comes with blocky outdated 3D models instead of luxurious sprite work which is kind of shame.

I'm no purist though and I understand that Warashi are a very small developer so don't expect the sort of graphics you'd see in contemporaries like Gradius V and R-Type Final. This was a Simple 2000 release in Japan so don't expect anything to be at the level of those aforementioned games either. It does run at a fair old clip though and is much less frustratingly cheap than its predecessor so that's good. Even when enemies do start to belch out screen filling attack patterns, the small hitbox and responsive controls keep things manageable. It's really very much fine but their latter Triggerheart Excelica which, while much more poorly titled, is superior in pretty much every department. Still, since you get both Explosion and Sheinryu on the disc it's a decently affordable shmup to add to your PAL collection.
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Re: Together Retro February 2020 - Not For YoU.S.A

by SpaceBooger Fri Feb 07, 2020 9:10 pm

Played a little bit of Keio Flying Squadron 2 last night.
It was different. It felt a bit slow... is that because it's PAL and 50hz?
Also, it is a different platformer than I'm used to, so it took me a while to get used to it. I finally got the hang of it after a while.
I am intrigued by this game and will be playing it again and probably often this month.
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Re: Together Retro February 2020 - Not For YoU.S.A

by pierrot Fri Feb 07, 2020 9:55 pm

Sload Soap wrote:dump track

Was this a purposefully tongue-in-cheek misspelling? Because it kind of feels too on-point to be a mistake. :lol:


Sload Soap wrote:it's basically just a game of slamming an opponent into a wall, rubbing intensely against them and if they get their super before you, backing up until it wears off.

Is it getting, like, entirely too hot in here--?


SpaceBooger wrote:Played a little bit of Keio Flying Squadron 2 last night.

I remember trying it out once, years ago, and having a bit of a rough time with the platforming. I came back to it some time after that, and played beyond the first level only to find out that it actually bounces between platforming stages, and horizontal shooter stages. I didn't finish it, though. Probably some day.
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Re: Together Retro February 2020 - Not For YoU.S.A

by alienjesus Sun Feb 09, 2020 8:02 am

I've been a bit slow getting started this month due to some issues with SNES controllers - a problem when both my games I plan to play are SNES titles!

I have 3 controllers and they were all not working to some degree - one had an unresponsive d-pad, one had a non-functioning Y button, and one had a barely functioning start button and faulty shoulder buttons. I gave all 3 a very thorough clean yesterday and they all seem to work great now - a quick round of street fighter to test all the buttons and it seems like everything is good. I plan to start playing both games later today.


dsheinem wrote:I am watching the credits roll on Super Fantasy Zone, the first game I've beaten on my Genesis Mini. It's an enjoyable game, and I really dig the style and color palate used: it ups the "fantasy" quotient of the title considerably over the less defined sprites found in earlier games/ports in the series.


Super Fantasy Zone is a game I've been meaning to pick up for years. I'm glad to hear you enjoyed it - I love the SMS version of the original and the W version of Fantasy Zone II.

Sload Soap wrote:I've got four games for this month, all on PS2 and all brought to us by the good people at Midas Interactive Entertainment.

X-Treme Express is pretty much bonkers. You choose a train engine from a selection of passenger, subway or transit models and then race five others from one station to another. Obviously as a train you are restricted to the rails so the game is more about switching tracks to pass opponents and making sure you don't come off the tracks when cornering. If you do, it's not game over as you can shuffle back onto the tracks though you will lose speed. You can also bash other trains off their tracks if you sideswipe them fast enough while switching tracks or ram a slow train if you have the momentum. It's all pretty silly but finishing a race is a madness. Not only do you have to brake so you line up with the next station, if you overshoot you have to slowly reverse back which will end your race, but you need to go to a platform with no other train present. Not so bad if you're out in front but I've lost most races from not being able to get my own lane and crashing into the train in front which instantly ends your race. So it's kind of mad fun but it's also a bit frustrating. It looks and sounds like a Dreamcast game so that's nice. It kind of sucks but I am also kind of hooked so I'll deffo be coming back.


I think I've seen this on Youtube before and it does look batshit crazy. I'm tempted to give it a try.

Sload Soap wrote:Even though everything [in battle construction vehicles] is very Japanese (Hayato works his digger in a full kimono and hakama which is surely some kind of health and safety violation), there is an English voice over. It's a terrible voice over of course, to suit the terrible quality of the animation, as most of it seems done either in-house at Midas or by some random blokes they pulled in from their local pub. The main bad guy is the best as he's seemingly voiced by a London cab driver who's all "what d'ya fink of dat den" and "gerrout of its". Sublime.


I've definitely seen this one before, and the voice acting was truly something special.

BoneSnapDeez wrote:I played some Sindbad Mystery for SG-1000.

It's a "maze" game. Vaguely reminiscent of Pac-Man, as you have to collect a bunch of "things" to end each stage, while avoiding the bad guys.

The game's hard. The controls are bad. Graphics are sub-Atari. It really isn't good. Sad thing is, I can't even get past level two. /quote]

Not a winner on SG1000 then! Did you say you were picking up more SG1000 games for the month?

SpaceBooger wrote:Played a little bit of Keio Flying Squadron 2 last night.
It was different. It felt a bit slow... is that because it's PAL and 50hz?
Also, it is a different platformer than I'm used to, so it took me a while to get used to it. I finally got the hang of it after a while.
I am intrigued by this game and will be playing it again and probably often this month.


How are you playing the game? If it's running at 60hz on an emulator or being played on a 60hz machine, then the PAL slowdown shouldn't be affecting it.



Although I plan to play along with some new (to me) titles this month, I might also dig out some of my old reviews of other eligible games and post them throughout the month too. I've beaten a lot of games that fit the brief and maybe some will be of interest!
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