Friday, June 27, 2003 @ 17:03 (Japan Standard Time)

A hobbyist video gamer in the middle of Japan's gaming zone. Comments on console, PC, handheld and arcade games.
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2003-06-27 Fri

Back to the track

2003-06-20 Fri

Early PS1 shmups, GBA SP USB charger

2003-06-19 Thu

Split-second combo, Jigsaw puzzle, Shareware

2003-06-17 Tue

Bonus! Dancing Sword, posting a hazard, Psyvariar Sound Box

2003-06-09 Mon

Demo-ing your console, Twinkle Star cuteness

2003-06-04 Wed

Dance it! Shmup me product, number 3.

2003-06-03 Tue

Thinking about Ikaruga, Mikagura

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Back to the track

Now playing:
  • Mario Kart Advance (GBA-jp, 2d card racing)
  • Hoshi no Kirby (GBA-jp, 2d cute platformer)
Viewtiful Joe (GC-jp) came out just yesterday, but for some reason I have not been wanting to play side scrolling action games like that recently. There was also Metal Slug 3 but you can gush all you want, it still doesn't appeal to me. About the only game in my recent stack list I should be playing in this genre is Strider 1+2 (PS1-jp).

I have been playing that Mario Kart Advance (GBA-jp) recently. There are a lot of courses there where there are no records in the time trial. It's a pity that one can't save more "ghost" data to the battery backup RAM. I had to read a FAQ and scour the net to understand how to unlock the time trials for SNES courses. Ugh, 150CC gold trophy for that cup. Very difficult. My favorite character is Kinopio, which means that I won't be able to reach top speed there abouts.

Early PS1 shmups, GBA SP USB charger

Now playing:
Now stacking:
I didn't even check if R-Type Final was delayed, I just knew it was.

Funny thing about the lull before buying frenzy week: June 21-28. There's not much to buy beforehand! So I was scoping around for things to buy... Trying hard to justify my purchases here...

I settled on buying Simple 1500 Series Vol. 75: The Double Shooting RayStorm and RayCrisis, which is a vertical space-theme shooting. I looked at the copyright date: 1996. Wow, does that bring back memories of my time in Akihabara just walking around, being a poor exchange student! This game is around 7 years old! And I still think it is fresh. "August fifth twenty-two nineteen palmyra valley earth". Reverb the announcer voice. So I try to find a place for the save game files in my PS1 save game cards. I read the manual and found out about extras I never even knew existed: 13 machine mode, 100 credit continue, etc. I played the game and got roasted, using a credit per level. I don't remember how to play! Ah, just give me automatic shooting because I don't care about my score. Haha, I cheated and turned up the number of lives per credit to 5. I unlocked the level select. At least there's that. One thing I keep forgetting is that I have a laser bomb. Extra mode is interesting too, maybe a bit harder. Oh and my hands hurt from doing the R1 trigger as shot. Don't I hate the way this game drifts the ship when you aren't forcably moving it. Dead stick and it slowly yaws to the center of the screen. Argh! Continue a game and the score is not tainted! I am ignoring RayCrisis for right now because I already had it and I don't like it at all.

The other game I bought is Cho-Aniki. According to a friend this game is very famous. Yeah. I haven't opened it yet but as I understand it, there's lots of almost ne-k1d guys in tights. But if you look beyond that, someone said, you will find an entertaining shooter. Yeah. Probably this weekend I will open it.

Dancing Swords. I am getting the fire combo down. The lightning combo is second nature now. Still, I die hard in Chapter 5-3. Okay, hehehe, I turned up the lives counter. Cheater cheater. Alright alright I'll turn it down to 5, okay?

Oh, and I got this charger for the GBA SP, that uses a PC's USB port for charging! It's called the CYBER Tabletop Charging Stand. So interesting, but I sure didn't buy it for the silver style, yuck. I haven't yet tried the USB-based charging yet though. Make sure the port is self-powered, not bus powered, the packaging warns. It also comes with a recharger stand. The little trinkets I attached to the GBASP get in the way of the tab supports, though. The same company also is developing a GBA SP battery that gives about 60% more life under front-lit conditions. It also looks hideously ugly.

Split-second combo, Jigsaw puzzle, Shareware

Now playing:
Perhaps it is too early to comment... Because I'm going to Sofmap later this week and check out if they really pushed back R-Type Final. Then I'll have something to "stack."

I quit playing Ikaruga cold-turkey. That makes it sound bad. I simply stopped playing. I don't know, just work and other things I needed to do when I got home, interfering with my shmupping. I think it has to do with me drinking umeshu as well, I get gas pain and I just want to knock out. Thems the breaks. I will start playing again soon, just gotta pickup that GC controller. I think I know what the problem is, I have to rotate my LCD monitor! (LOL) I am just getting lazier and lazier.

I am playing Dancing Swords just before I go to sleep, though. Funny how laying in bed makes me want to read a book or play some last minute Gameboy. I play the fourth character (I don't know her name or story, sorry). This game is better than I thought. I recommend Dancing Swords to those side-scroll fighting freaks tired of the Final Fight One, although my experience in side-scroll fighting is "amateur". Dancing Swords is mucho hard. I can do the lighting combo almost whenever I want to, like maybe 90% success rate. And you know, it is fun to practice that combo..."BABBBBBB" The fire "BBBBBBB" and ice "BBABBBB" combo I still mess up consistently, probably I get it right only 2% of the time. I know I should be practicing those combos, but there is no positive reward when you fail a combo. I tell you it's really, really hard to get the timing, but funny thing is that the timing for the longest combo, lighting, is easiest, even though it's the longest button presses. Oh and the last boss is totally hard, you probably need to pull off every combo when prompted, all the while trying to dodge boss attacks. Hard, too hard. I've only played one character out of 5, too. This is going to take a while. I want to strangle my GBASP but well, it's expensive. Oh yeah, I heard if you clear the game, you get a password which allows you to download pictures. No really I want these pictures because the art style is cool.

Oh and what's this Simple 2000 The Jigsaw Puzzle? Well I'm ashamed to admit it here. It's a jigsaw puzzle of cartoon girls in swimsuits (but I don't care about this, really) and also a real life (sexy swimsuit?) talento, Minato Yamabuki (Rޓl). Hey she's cute. Anyway, it's the first time (that I can remember) I've ever played a video jigsaw puzzle and I like it. It feels like the same kind of thing playing sol.exe on Windows, I just keep going back for more of the same. To me, recognizing parts of a picture is just mindless fun. Most of the puzzles are easy because you don't need to rotate the pieces and there are only 64 or 100 pieces. I've already finished the Yamabuki side, which took about an hour and a half for 10 pictures, I think. But the resolution of the PS1 really gets to me. Sharp sharp edges and thick black borders on the pieces. At least you can tell which pieces need to be reoriented, since they look funny 90 degrees out of phase. 180 degrees out of phase looks normal, so it's still a crap shoot. Well, for 1500 yen isn't so bad and heck, there's even movie clips-as-jigsaw puzzles too. Cool, but I gotta laugh because Yamabuki is singing. Is she known for singing? Is she even known at all? Just gotta motivate myself to go through the cartoon swimsuit characters which has 4 times the amount of puzzles as the Yamabuki side. Aw, it will never happen. ^_^;

And then there is this discussion on Slashdot about shareware games. When I think of shareware games I think of Doom or older games. I can't recall ever paying for a shareware game, though I have bought many shareware applications for my PC (GetRight) and Palm PDA (DateBk 3). I have downloaded and played some recent shareware games that are pretty good, but I can't be bothered to shell out my CC. And the recent fevor over buying doujin soft shmups and puzzle-like games is also shareware like. I think all this thinking about games is motivating me to pull out PrBoom and blasting a few baddies with a double barreled shotgun. First off, I'm probably going to have to update the prDoom application itself. Ah too much work!

Bonus! Dancing Sword, posting a hazard, Psyvariar Sound Box

Now playing:
  • Ikaruga (GC-jp, puzzle shooting)
  • Dancing Swords (GBA-jp, side-scroll rhythm fighting)
Now stacking:
  • Space Raiders (GC-jp, shooting?)
  • Shine (PS2-jp, romance simulation)
  • Shin Sangoku Musou Moushouden (PS2-jp, action fighting)
  • Darius G (GBA-jp, side-scroll shooting)
  • Psyvariar Special Sound Box (PS2-jp, vertical "buzz" shooting)
I got my bonus (money money money MONEY!) last week, so that means many games, yeah baby! ^_^;

First off, I took a small trip to Nipponbashi/Den Den Town. I was so caught up in Ikaruga that I got out late and arrived at like 1700. What a loser. So I hit my regular waypoints, Plus+ Nipponbashi 1F, 2F, Melon Books, Books Lashinbang, Sofmap 4, Retro Gaming Revival, Tora no Ana, Big Tiger, Sofmap Zaurus 1, Big Tiger Namba. I found a crazy text-only map of the main street but you may want to take a look at overhead perspective map to get a feel for it.

Dancing Sword box cover

Dancing Swords has proven to be hard to find, either new or used. I finally found it again used at a Plus +, the same place where I found it used for 3200 yen 2 or 3 months back. Boy do I regret not buying it then. It's also proven to be hard to play. You have to memorize 3 different rhythm combos in order to pass certain points. This rhythm combo is hard to pull off, even though it requires only two buttons, the B and A. You also have to avoid the enemies while performing the combo. I get the feeling that this is not the type of game you play on the train. This is a hardcore side-scrolling game.

Well, the Dancing Swords voice actresses are only audible during the fighting sequences. Too bad they didn't have them do voiceovers for the text. Oh and text is hard to read. Perhaps if I read more Japanese, I could understand the shortcut characters that they are using. I checked out the homepage, and if I can beat the game, I get a password which allows me to download the goodies. Too hard, I tell you.

I want to mention right now that Mother 1 + 2 will be out for the GBA this month, but I have no plans on buying it. It is an RPG and I have been dreading the feeling of starting another long RPG. I'll pass on this game until perhaps I can get the Game Boy Player for my Panasonic Q.

I've been posting too much drivel on the Shumps forums about my f4nb0i love for Ikaruga and it has come to the head where a poster has dubbed a thread of mine as lame because I was getting too emotional about a game and misusing his quote, even though I was praising him. Huh. This annoys me. Why should it annoy me? Well its equivalent to dismissing my arguments with just a hand wave and saying you don't need to be thinking deeply about things. But, I'll let sleeping dogs lie, though, because I already made my point in the best way I could at the time and I'm not going to burn a new one for people that don't necessarily agree.E

In another way, I have been passing on some street knowledge about Osaka's Den Den Town (I don't like this nickname but it's better than just calling in Nipponbashi) to the people in the Shumps forums. For whatever it's worth I found two other people that live around Osaka that also frequent the forums.

I haven't yet opened Space Raiders, Shine, Shin Sangoku Musou Moushouden so I can't really make any comments about them, but I guess I can talk about what compelled me to buy them. Space Raiders is just another shump on the GC so I guess that's a given. Shine is a game with some nice character design, and the version I got has a free audio CD of an extra episode. Shin Sangoku Musou Moushouden is something that completes the Sangoku experience for me, and besides it was only 1500 yen. No problemo.

I found Darius R for GBA accidently. It was another Sofmap markdown. 1900 yen! I was thinking to myself, why don't I get Hajime no ippo boxing game for the GBA (another Treasure release, you fanboi you!). So I bought it and played it on the train ride home. Arrgh! Too tough, very strict. I recall my time with another Darius product on the Sega Saturn, but I think it was the time when I was back in the States.

I also finally tracked down a copy of Psyvariar Sound Complete Box. I discussed this game before, but this time I have bought the second "special" set of goodies. All for 6400 yen, ouch. But heck I don't have the patience to rip the soundtrack from the PS2 sources. Okay I am rationalizing this, I just bought a 6400 yen soundtrack, with an extra copy of the game. How f4nbo1-ish is that? In any case, I quickly MP3'd it. Excellent tunes. I used it to test internal Section's arrange mode.

I also remember that on Friday I was busy testing some of my doujin soft games. There was Gals Panix which was a Gals Panic clone (which itself is a sexy version of Qix) with fan pictures of characters from To Heart. This integrated with my PS2 controller really well. Another game called Azumanga Battle Heccho, which was a 3d style version of Mario Kart (oh yeah). It's too grainy though and the slope just doesn't feel right. I also finally opened that Card Captor Sakura based shump called Sakura-chan Go! Go!, but it sure plays like that shump minigame that is in To Heart PSE. There was one last shump game, RayStriker Lighting Cross. It's something similar to the Ray series of shumps (Layer Section, RayStorm, Ray Crisis). But it didn't use my joystick-controller, and it just wasn't very fun. Ack.

Speaking of To Heart, there is a PC version coming out called To Heart PSE (from PlayStation Edition). Wierd huh? It was first a PC-ecchi game, then I played the version on the PS1 which was really excellent in my opinion, and then now it's a PC-all ages game. Well I have reserved my copy already. There was also Comic Party DCE (from DreamCast Edition). I think AquaPlus and Leaf are feeling the downturn of the economy. I for one welcome the repackaged version of To Heart because there more goods to collect!!!

Demo-ing your console, Twinkle Star cuteness

Now playing:
  • Ikaruga (GC-jp, puzzle shooting)
  • Twinkle Star Sprites (DC-jp, 1-on-1 puzzle shooting)
Now stacking:
  • Herdy Gerdy (PS2-jp, herding action)
The highlight of my gaming during the weekend was that I unlocked Practice Level 4 normal in Ikaruga. Woo hoo! I think I garnered an S rating for level 2 with 108 chains. But I feel guilty. I only unlocked it because I was playing with Extend mode 1 which is a free life every 2,000,000 points. Normally it is Extend mode 2, a free life at 3,000,000 and every additional 5,000,000 thereafter. When I passed the 3rd level boss, I had 2 lives left at about 9,300,000. If it was Extend mode 2, I would have been long gone, cursing at this infernal game. But now I have a new level to practice. Oh yeah!

I checked the internal clock and I'm at my 78th hour. Still I am totally interested in this game. But apparently I just suck compared to other people. Maybe they use their time more efficiently in unlocking practice levels. For me, my save game has Easy 1,2; Normal 1,2,3,4; and Hard 1,2 practice levels unlocked. It's tough to move on. I think I'll just keep playing Normal until I can unlock level 5. Or beat it without continue, Extend mode be damned.

Just yesterday I broke out the Ikaruga Appreciate disk again and watched all levels and the omake. Greatness. I had this idea of charting the statistics of this god-like play and posting it on a web page. Or even use a applet/application. Hm. What statistics could I show? Chain count vs time? Score vs time? Blasted enemies vs time? Smart bomb usage vs time? Color change vs time? Very interesting. This will be a work out for my DVD player if start this analysis.

I was thinking about the Normal play again. There was a point where it looks like WIZ continues to shoot while using the Smart Bomb, when fighting the level 4 boss. How could this be? There has to be some pause when chording? I know in the Gamecube version, you can set the X button (far right) to the Smart Bomb. You use the Smart Bomb while holding the down the shoot button this way. And I know for a fact that WIZ plays the Gamecube version. Could it be that they weren't playing off a pure arcade setup, something with three buttons just like the Gamecube version? Or could it be that everything was legit and that WIZ uses three (!) fingers for difficult parts of the game. What I mean by three fingers is two for shooting (the index and middle finger) and one for the color change (ring finger)? I think the latter is more likely that cheating. These people have some skill.

So I finally got to see a Ikaruga arcade game, in a real arcade cabinet. Well, I don't know the type of cabinet or type of display, but it seems like the same type of cabinet that is reused for almost every joystick/button-using game here in Japan. Yeah the sit down type complete with aluminum ashtray, gag me. This arcade is in Itayado, and all the games are 50 yen, too. Heh. I put in my credit and proceeded to embarass myself. Well, actually no one was looking so it's all good. I was complaining to myself, it's the joystick. There's something wrong with it. Yeah yeah. I looked up at the score board. Someone from 2002/09 had a score of 35 million+. Hm. I need to go to that arcade again and take a picture.

I saw the Matrix: Reloaded movie this weekend. I'm not going to discuss the movie here. But when I was trying to digest its meaning while reading some Slashdot articles about it, I had this image in my mind of a part of Ikaruga level 3 (the last set of side lasers where a set of 12 black and 6 white in alternating sets come down), playing over and over and over again. This is wierd. This is hypnotic. I don't know of any other game that has had this effect on me. Certainly not something like Final Fantasy X, or Psyvariar, or older stuff like Contra or Life Force. Maybe I don't remember dreaming about those games. Or maybe those games I've played in the past don't emphasis purely visual-based strategy and movement. I can recall where to stand for eliminating Mother Brain in Metroid. Or maybe I can't, I keep thinking that I have this thing about falling into lava. Or maybe I wasn't as serious at my games like I am with this one now. In any case, it looks like I'll be dreaming Normal level 4 from this point on as well.

Still I have something more to say about Ikaruga. I really can't figure out the Smart Bomb. I was watching Normal WIZ in the first part of the level 5, and I think about 30-40 seconds into it there are a set of 3 blacks on top, and 3 whites on the bottom. WIZ uses the smart bomb in the middle of the screen, and although the none of the Smart Bomb streaks towards the 3 blacks, they explode before the 3 whites. What the hell? Do I have to play this DVD at slow speed to see it?

Okay finally a different game... Sorry about that.

Twinkle Star Sprites

Because I was going to demo my Dreamcast Ikaruga to my friend with the new TV, I had to practice getting used to controllers. Well I never got used to the controllers so that demo sucked. But I did practice playing Twinkle Star Sprites. Oh my gosh it is so cute! And so fun! I spent most of the wee hours of Saturday morning just getting up to speed and figuring out how to combo or do reversal attacks or special attacks. Control was very good and the animation was killer. It reminded me of Kioh-Gyoku which restarted my love affair with shmups back in 2002/11, but it has to be TSS influcing KG. The button system is similar, 2 buttons, shoot and bomb, hold down the shoot button to charge up your weapon and release to let it fly. But that's where the similarity ends. You combo by forcing enemy "fratricide" ala Robotech missle "fratricide". Heh. Combos greater than 4 net a special attack that pounces on your competitor. I did mention that this is a one-on-one shooting game? No? I'm not sure why, but in 1996, Asmik/SNK decided to release a one-on-one puzzle game cross shooting game. Reminds me of SFII Puzzle Fighter cash in. In any case, there is a MVS cartridge that costs 80000 yen, a MVS CD that costs 6000 yen, a Sega Saturn version that costs 5500 yen, and a Dreamcast version that costs 6000 yen, all used. I have the latter two, and maybe I'll pick up the MVS CD version. Maybe.

As I said, I demoed my Dreamcast to my friend. Upon moving the console into my bag, I noticed that the controller and the console itself were discolored by the sunlight on one side. Damn. Well, it won't fetch any good money used this way. Wait I have no intention of selling it. It just doesn't look cute anymore. I also have seen my Dreamcast freeze and reset. I wonder if it's a cooling problem. It is pretty hot in my room, and there is less than 3 mm clearance under the unit. Temporarily I had it hanging off the side of my rack with a bottom vent exposed. Heh, it was alright. I really need to get a replacement. I showed of course Ikaruga, but also Twinkle Star Sprites, Mars MatrixCanvas, and Dead or Alive. It looks like he's going to get a DC for Ikaruga instead of a GC. What a shame. DC doesn't have good controllers for Ikaruga, but perhaps I don't have the right controllers... I did show off the Ascii FT2 pad, which approaches the Saturn pads that he used to use. But there 's no comment.

Oh yeah, games coming out of the wood work: I want to check out that Matrix: Reloaded game. Maybe it's not much of a game, but more of a preview for the third movie. Oh yeah. Oh yeah, feel it feel it!

Dance it! Shmup me product, number 3.

Now playing:
  • Ikaruga (GC-jp, shooting puzzle)
  • Mr. Driller Ace (GBA-jp, puzzle digging)
  • P.N. 03 (GC-jp, dancing shoot)
Though I knew that I was going to go to the Sofmap on Used-Sale Thursday, I went Tuesday night and got P.N. 03. Well it was 3780 yen, which is more than 20% off, so I am ... somewhat satisified. Well, I'm usually satisfied if the game hits 3000 yen. That doesn't explain why I didn't yet purchase Chaos Legion, which at Sofmap is now on sale at my cutoff price.

So how is P.N. 03? This game is in a word, hard! I forgot about how console FPS control feels so limiting. To power up you need to buy something at shops, and to buy you need points. Points you get by destroying enemies. You also get bonus points if you destroy enemies in a combo.  So far I was able to get to the first save point, which has a trial mission which I can repeat over and over again to more points. But I'm having a hard time convincing myself to play it some more. Control is limiting, and pressing that A button repeatedly hurts my thumb. Well, this game doesn't give you anything you don't earn yourself. There is a certain amount of self-reprogramming necessary here.

I just had a thought. What is it about games and a reasonable man? The reasonable man adjusts himself into the game's rules. The unreasonable man doesn't. Perhaps he bends the rules or doesn't play. Of course the related quote is that all progress depends on the unreasonable man. Hm. Changing our environment requires a person that is unconfortable or irritated by it. When I am re-programming my brain to play Ikaruga or other games better, I am shaping myself to the environment. Isn't the point to change the living enviroment to suit my needs? No, because reality bites. Sometimes it just doesn't change or it can't be changed.

So who cares? Mr. Driller Ace I just can't seem to get any breakthroughs with this game. I almost forgot that if you clear the Amazon level  you get a faster character. Ugh. This game is too hard.

I didn't have time to play Ikaruga today because I had to watch the Animatrix and play P.N. 03. Ah such is a busy life.

Thinking about Ikaruga, Mikagura

Now playing:
  • Ikaruga (GC-jp, puzzle shooting)
  • Mikagura(PC-jp, doujin soft side time limit shooting)
  • Mr. Driller Ace (GBA-jp, puzzle digging)
Well well well. I am having so much fun playing practice level 3 in Ikaruga that I haven't had time to update my pages. I finally can finish practice level 3 on one credit maybe 1 out of 7 times. Um. Yeah. Just gotta work on keeping the combos going. I can't consistently beat it, but I am getting better at knowing my limits. I think I've put over 20 hours in this area alone, either in conquest or practice mode. I still have a problem of not being able to get to that area through challenge mode.

I do notice a trend. When I rest and not play, then return, I seem to have a breakthrough. Or maybe it's just because I'm tired. There was a point a week ago I had the urge to play Ikaruga followed immediately by the loathing feeling just like you're limbering into work. Ugh. Then I actually played it and I got better. It was the same with Mr. Driller Ace. I didn't play it for the longest time and then I came back and finally got my name on the Endless scoreboard. Hmpgh. Still only 800+ blocks down though.

What else can I say? I get tired of sitting on the floor for a hour before I get tired of retrying level 3 in practice. It's just programming on the reverse scale, I am programming myself. Great fun.

I just had a thought. In level 3-2 where the first set of side bars start to box you in, there's a pattern of baddies that look like this:

b w
b w
b w
w b
w b
w b

Before I thought I had to finish off one column before finishing the next. But it is pretty clear that I can finish off say half a column and then straddle the column to safely continue my combo. Yeah, I'll try that too.

Okay, so a friend of mine got a new HDTV. Sweet. I brought over my GC and proceeded to demo my Ikaruga skills. Very bad. Suckage. The thought of demoing the game live threw me off. But the game was crispy even if it was horizontal mode 2. I think he's wanting to get a Ikaruga soon, most likely the DC version. I'm trying to sell him on the GC features, though.

Mikagura - side scroller as well.

And then I bought this new PC shooting game, Mikagura. Wa hahaha, this a side-scrolling manic shooter where you have to blast all the enemies within 3 minutes time. Not very fun because the game insists that you use manual press button shooting. My fingers got tired after a while.
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