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Wednesday, October 26, 2016

WILL The Death Trap II (ウィル デス・トラップII)

I ended up playing through the first Death Trap not only because it was Square's first game but I was also intruiged by the title screen of the sequel: WILL™ - THE DEATH TRAP II -. (Did they really trademark that shit and if so for what??)

Title screen even has music that doesn't sound like shit!!
As it turns out, I don't even know why this is a sequel except the protaganist "Benson" has the same name from the first entry. But unlike a jungle with tarzen bikinis, there's laser guns, robots, and androids in this one. I don't really understand the setting at all as dates referenced in newspapers and stuff are in 1978. I dunno and don't really care either really.

Apparently there's some island in 1978 that has a gravity chamber...
The game started out promising enough. They fixed the the mess of a map in the previous entry by helpfully showing which direction you were facing. The map is a lot smaller too so now you can actually tell when you can't go a certain direction because of like a freaking wall.

I started Square's second game with the intention of trying not to use a guide. That didn't exactly pan out because I'm new school and totally impatient. However, unlike the first game, I think this game is very doable without cheating. The only really tricky part was going back to pick up the ring and maybe throwing a bottle of alcohol at the robot.

In the end, Death Trap II started out as a worthy sequel with intro music, some cool sound effects that became super annoying right away, and a decent map. However, I dunno if they started running out of money or what but it's like maybe a quarter of the length of the first one. There's no branching paths like the first Death Trap and with a guide, you can probably beat it in under 15 minutes.

Hi, I'm Aisha. Hope you didn't pay money for this game. TEE HEE
While an interesting setting and concept directed once again by Sakaguchi, the short length of the game and the rather uninteresting story makes this one nothing more than a curious footnote in gaming history. (My literary writing community college classes are paying off!!) Yes, I got suckered in by the title screen just like the poor Japanese fools in the day similar to Zarth but at least I didn't pay an arm and a leg.

Score: 1 FINALLY I can play Alpha. Hope I have enough tissues!!! out of 5

0 - Awful
1 - Bad and not worth your time
2 - Has some flaws but still enjoyable
3 - An average enjoyable experience
4 - A great game
5 - Masterpiece of a caliber only found very rarely

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

The Death Trap (ザ・デストラップ)

SQUARE? Never heard of em.
The Death Trap is Square's first game so of course I wanted to check it out. However, despite extensive googling, for the life of me I could not find the PC98 version without paying for the Egg re-release and I unfortunately "missed" out on the physical compilation disc. My past self would have scoffed at the 8,386 yen price but it's RAREZ now at about 5x the original price so I guess I should've bought two copies.

Anyways, I skipped on this game because unlike the PC98 MASTER RACE KANJI BAE, the PC88 version is all in Katakana. I figured it would be pretty much impossible for my eyes to handle the Katanaka diarrhea. However, as it turns out, frustration is a relative feeling. After struggling with kana input for Zarth, just having the option to input Romaji made this game feel practically next gen.

Yeah, it's THAT Sakaguchi.
Given that it's Square's first game, I wasn't expecting much after trying to play Enix's Zarth (back when they were like Naruto and Sasuke but less gay). However, while the text input parser is pretty much dead simple confined to "verb noun" and "north", "east", etc., there are actually several branching paths so it has some replayability at least.

You need the card and parachute for the plane right away so this is not actually a branching path... but whatever
While Square Enix today is all about that Moepocalypse diaper panty politically correct fan service nowadays, notice the complete lack of fan service in the good ol' days. Nothing but an agent trying to save a ugly male scientist in the jungle. You won't see that game experience ruining fan service smut at least until Square's third title a whole 2 years later so... TAKE THAT GAMERGATE!

I'd hate to be a stickler but I don't think you can just ride a zebra in a jungle...
While the map might trick you into thinking you can do all kinds of kewl exploring, most directions are closed off due to the thick jungle. So it ends up mostly being trying random directions until the game lets you go somewhere.

I can kinda start to see why Hokkaido Rensa Satsujin..., err... whatever that game was called was considered such a big deal in the day. This game has barely any story whatsoever and you're mostly just randomly going around the jungle. Which personally given the kana barf is kinda relieving.

Score: 1.5 No Death Trap cameo in World of Final Fantasy??? LAME! out of 5

Some of the puzzles are pretty much impossible to figure out because of the large number of useless items you have in your inventory. Or maybe it's not impossible, I dunno cause I didn't care and just used a guide. Moving around the map was frustrating, the story is pretty much nonexistent and there's barely any fan service. I would say play with a guide for kicks to see how Square started off but otherwise, you're not missing much. Still, that romaji input is so good... stupid Zarth.

This is perfectly reasonable jungle attire, NOT fan service
0 - Awful
1 - Bad and not worth your time
2 - Has some flaws but still enjoyable
3 - An average enjoyable experience
4 - A great game
5 - Masterpiece of a caliber only found very rarely

Monday, October 17, 2016

In search of GOTY for 1984

This is a work in progress post for selecting Game of the year for 1984. I figured it was a good year to start with since it's the first full year after the Famicon's release in July, 1983. Despite never owning a Famicon or NES, surprisingly I've played quite of few of games including Pacman (let's pretend Atari version doesn't exist) and Duck Hunt of course. (The surprising part is I had friends at the time with a NES.) As for Sega's SG-1000, well, I'm going to be mostly ignoring it, as I'm not really into arcade ports.

I've even played games such as Nuts & Milk, which instantly brought back nostalgia with that darn music you can never, ever forget. Given that I DEFINITELY didn't own a Famicon as a kid to play this Japanese exclusive title, I most likely played it on some unlicensed, shady Korean console with a 100 games in one cartridge. (This game technically first came out in 1983 for the MSX, Sharp X1, etc. but I played the FC version which is significantly different.)

Umm, yeah I owned this game... TECHNICALLY.
Now if I were to stick with the Jhipster theme, I would probably pick some silly Japanese arcade port like Pacman for GOTY but I must remind you, a REAL Jhipster appreciates ALL games and is only particular about playing Japanese games in their pure, unaltered form. In terms of pure fun, I would have to pick Tetris as GOTY for 1984. Even though I have not played the original version, the core gameplay remains unchanged from the original 1984 release as far as I can tell.

Yup, looks like Tetris but way more Russian

The highlight for me was playing against my friend on 2 player Tetris via that janky ass cable for the original gameboy. It even has the same dull green color scheme of the original so can't get more authentic than that. Right?

Sierra On-Line: A start of an era

While I have tons of great memories of Tetris and it has a long line of puzzle games that expand and extend the original concept, King's Quest has far more personal significance for me. If you compare the games that came out around 1984, you can truly appreciate how revolutionary and ahead of it's time the graphics were in King's Quest.

Believe me, for its time, this is fucking amazing.
I originally left this game out because I was a bit confused on the release date but this nice video explains that while it was shown in 1983, the official public release was indeed in 1984. So if you consider what games look liked especially as early as 1983, you can see why King's Quest is easily GOTY in terms of its sheer technical marvel and hey, it's not a bad game either to boot.

Whoa, an informative youtube video??? WTF is this shit?

While I did not play King's Quest around the time of its original release, to me, this marks a whole series of franchises and the golden years of a company that pretty much made up most of my childhood. Yes, I might not be retro hipster enough for the first King's Quest but I was there on my friend's Tandy (I was poor, remember?) with EGA graphics for Police Quest. I was also a fanboi of Space Quest and have fond (painful) memories of trying to get the mouse to work using HIGHMEM and various, ancient incantations from my AUTOEXEC.BAT and CONFIG.SYS spellbooks for the VGA version of Hero's Quest.

I did try out a later version of King's Quest on Steam. Sure, the story is a bit primitive and some of the puzzles are the usual type of stuff from those days that are pretty much impossible to figure out without calling the Sierra hint hotline aka "1-900-OHMYGOD-TIMMY-WHAT-DID-YOU-DO-TO-THE-PHONE-BILL!!!!" However, even today, it was still fun to walk around in a full graphical map and explore and... stuff.

Other games I tried

北海道連鎖殺人 オホーツクに消ゆ
Scenario is by Yuji Horii and story wise, this is the best game of 1984 (so far).

The Death Trap
Was meh.

Dragon Slayer
Nihon Falcom's 2nd ARPG. I played the Saturn version for 20 minutes, plenty of time to get a feel for the mechanics. It's a great game for masochists I guess. Ugh, not even as good as Ultima I.

Zarth (ザース)
Oddly enough, this is a game from Enix and not the one by Yuji Horii. Entering text via Kana input on a PC88 emulator proved too much for me so I watched a let's play on youtube. Can I join the cool kid's crowd now?

If only the rest of the game looked like this... (spoiler: it doesn't)
Another 1984 game from Enix. Better than Zarth, visually the best game of the year.

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
A text adventure game that I remember giving up on in about 5 minutes back in the day. I am a Douglas Adam's fan so I tried playing again via flash but this game is brutal. PASS

> fuck this game
I type this command in just about every text adventure game I've played

Here's a list of games I'm thinking of checking out released in 1984 that I have NOT played yet. I hope the 0 people who read and comment on this blog can provide some additional suggestions.

The Black Onyx

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Hokkaidou Rensa Satsujin Okhotsk ni Kiyu (北海道連鎖殺人 オホーツクに消ゆ)

In my quest to find the GOTY of 1984, I decided to check out everybody's favorite early murder adventure game: "Hokkaidou Rensa Satsujin Okhotsk ni Kiyu". It's always good marketing to make a product with a name that's impossible to remember. I'm relieved to know it's a long time tradition and not some trendy shit that happened due to the Moe apocalypse (which I cleverly call the "Moepocalypse").

"Sword Art Online Alternative Gun Gale Online IV 3rd Squad Jam Betrayers' Choice" eh?
Since I can't stand reading text with no Kanji and I'm a PC Master race graphics whore, I decided to skip the earlier version and went straight to the PC98 Master race remake.

LOL, watch out kids, this is FC not the NES
Sure, the FC version has a much better soundtrack simply due to the fact that there's way more songs than the total of maybe like two tracks in the PC98 version but who cares?? BOOB LIGHTING!!!

The gameplay is nothing more than endlessly trying out various menu options until you find the one that progresses the game, a shitty blackjack minigame, a lame ass maze, and clicking on random shit. Basically, one of those games that is pretty much impossible without a guide.

The dialogue is very bare bones and provides almost no character development (well, except the fact that your assistant is kind of a pervert) and while the mystery is at least much better than the first Jinguji Saburo game, it's still definitely no Gyakuten Kenji 2.

Even has obligatory Hollywood geisha. TIME TO LOCALIZE??
UPDATE: A few days after I finished the game and this post, I couldn't stop thinking about the story and the human drama that reveals itself at the end. While the dialogue was sparse, there was a lot of events that stuck in my head aftwards. As I play more games from that era, I can't help but feel this game had one of the best stories from the early 80s. I can finally start to see how it inspired Hideo Kojima to get into making video games.

Scale: 2.5 way better than that Shinjuku park scam from the first Jinguji game out of 5

While the PC98 version looks great, it's major flaw is the serious lack of songs. That one BGM will drive you mad after awhile. Unfortunately, the hot spring easter egg nude scene didn't appear to be in the PC98 version either. As for the FC version... well it's the FC. I have not tried the PC88 or MSX versions and have no plans to ever.

There is no SFC version of this game... IDIOT!
An interesting title overall especially since the scenario was written by the creator of Dragon Quest and dare I say... a hidden gem?? I'm not sure why this game was not published by Enix as Yuji Horii's previous ADV game was. Weird.

0 - Awful
1 - Bad and not worth your time
2 - Has some flaws but still enjoyable
3 - An average enjoyable experience
4 - A great game
5 - Masterpiece of a caliber only found very rarely