500 Words About… Faselei!

Ahoy! Apologies for the lack of posts recently. In between IGDA Scotland stuff, being ill and… other stuff things got away from me. Also with an upcoming busy period I’m looking to transition this to once a week to see how it pans out. Anyway, today we look at a Neo Geo Pocket Color game as previously threatened: Sacnoth’s mech strategy RPG Faselei!

Mecha games aren’t entirely uncommon out of Japan. The influence of the likes of Mazinger, Macross, and Gundam to name a few clearly imprinted on game developers in the ’80s and ’90s. While the more obvious approach was to incorporate these elements into action games[1], devs also looked to create large scale battles in the Strategy genre. A number of licenses were put to use, Gundam games appeared everywhere, or the crossover Super Robot Wars[2] to make mecha fans dreams come true. Original IPs popped up as well, such as Square Enix’s long-lived Front Mission series[3].

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500 Words About… the Neo Geo Pocket Color

Today’s post is a set up for the future. Despite producing the Neo Geo, the arcade in a box that was one of the most eye-wateringly expensive systems to buy for both while it was in production and even now, SNK wanted to dip their toes in a pond they hadn’t committed to: handhelds. After a few releases on Game Boy they decided to challenge the Big N with a system of their own and the topic of today’s post: the Neo Geo Pocket Color.

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For most people handheld gaming in the ’90s/early ’00s revolved around one device: the Game Boy. If pushed a few people may be able to name its earlier challengers, Sega’s Game Gear or the Atari Lynx, both in colour and more powerful but battery hogs. Some may even namedrop Game Boy inventor Gunpei Yokoi’s follow-up handheld, the Japan only Bandai Wonderswan. It managed to hold its own with decent support from the likes of Squaresoft, Capcom, Namco[1] and others before the Game Boy Advance cleared everything in its path.[2] Continue reading “500 Words About… the Neo Geo Pocket Color”

500 Words about… Sunsoft

Today’s post is about one of the more interesting NES developers who became known for their unique musical output, Sunsoft. There’s also a lot of annotations too, so do read them!

Chances are that, if you owned a NES you’ve come across a Sunsoft game. Like a number of Japanese developers, Sunsoft transitioned from the arcades to the monster that was the Famicom in the mid to late 80’s. One of their first releases for the platorm was the infamous Ikki, a game so terrible that a new word entered the Japanese lexicon thanks to it: Kusoge. Quite literally: “shit game”.[1] This didn’t stop it being a rampant success for them as well as the source of a few remakes and reboots.

Sunsoft’s original games didn’t always hit such lows. Some, like Atlantis no Nazo, never left Japan and is generally considered “not great”. Others, like Master Blaster, became international successes. This varying quality also carried over to the somewhat surprisingly high profile licenced titles they managed to acquire. Their first Batman game in 1989 was a loose tie in with Tim Burton’s reimagining of the Caped Crusader, and along with its NES sequel is still held in high regard. Less timely was Fester’s Quest which appeared before the 1991 Addams Family reboot and is mostly remembered as being stupidly hard.[2]

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500 Words about… Thunder Force IV

So I’ve decided that I want to write more and keep this webiste a bit more alive, even if I can’t talk about what I’m working on just now. As such, I’m starting a wee series of posts that will be… mostly about games and sound and music to some extent but probably any topic or thing that tickles my fancy. In order to stop rambling too much, I’ve given myself 500 words, intros and notes/annotations not withstanding. So here’s hoping someone gets something out of it!

And on that note, today’s post is about Technosoft’s final Mega Drive/Genesis STG/Shmup – Thunder Force IV.

There are very few game soundtracks that I will actively listen to on repeat. This doesn’t mean I won’t listen to any odd OST here and there, but few I just enjoy listening to over and over. Recently, it’s been Thunder Force IV and, oh boy, is it a ride.

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