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Monday, July 13, 2020

Tantei Jinguji Saburou - Mikan no Rupo(探偵 神宮寺三郎 未完のルポ)

There was a story going around way back in the day about people waking up in a bathtub full of ice with a scar. I had no idea that organ theft was a thing before and it kind of freaked me out (as intended). Much later, I watched a movie called SPL 2 about organ theft. Well, I didn't actually watch it but I sure as hell watched the fight scenes a ton. (Max Zhang is so bad ass!)

Pretty much the only parts I watched

So why the hell am I talking about this in a post about a Jinguji game? I'd like to think I've played my fair share of detective ADV games. They may be about serial killers, criminal masterminds, or grand conspiracies. A bit of a spoiler warning here but this is probably the first "hard boiled" detective story I played about illegal immigration, unsafe working conditions, and harvesting umm "reusable assets". Sorry about the spoiler but honestly, how many of my 3 readers were actually planning on playing Mikan no Rupo? Don't worry, you're not missing out on much.

The game starts out with a pretty good opening sequence of a murder, pretty typical of this genre. This series came back after a long 6 year hiatus with quite a big leap in technology on the PS1 compared to its Famicom days. While most of the game is not voiced, there are few anime cutscenes with voiced dialogue. There are also a couple odd but brief 3D sections where you walk around talking to people. Finally, there's a pretty crude car chase minigame. Besides the brief dabble into I guess "cutting edge" PS1 technology, it's an ADV menu game just like the previous entries.

The copious smoking part at least is accurate

Odd coincidence but this game asks you to pick a character to play as, at different points during the game just like the last game I played, Jui. I'm not sure if I missed anything significant based on who I picked but just like Jui, I have no desire to play it again to see the differences.

I missed this part because I picked Yoko instead

Score: 2 lung cancers out of 5. Don't worry kids, smoking was totally healthy back in the 90s! (Disclaimer: This is absolutely not true.)

I dunno, I thought the game was alright even though it did put me to sleep quite a number of times. I mean literally fall asleep as I deliriously tried not to drop my PSP before the sweet embrace of sleep rendered me unconscious. To put it mildly, it was not as exciting as SPL 2 fight scenes. I already dumped my 1500 yen budget re-release copy of the game.

I honestly don't remember this part, probably was unconscious

Still, the story had some moments of good human drama, and the main plot as I said certainly covered some interesting topics. It was also much better than the Famicom games I've played so far so hoping to see the series get even better over time. Especially since there still so damn many games left to play.

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

Thursday, July 2, 2020

In search of GOTY for 1988

Here we go, 1988. While us proud American kids were deeply engrossed in mutant turtles and the 1988 Crystal Light National Aerobic Championship was in full swing, the Japanese console market was heating up with the PC master race Engine in its first full year on the market and the Mega Drive that launched on October 29 for the holidays.

Somehow I missed this on my TV Guide 

However, despite the newer, shiny consoles, the Famicom had just begun its peak of dominance with a whopping 142 titles and even 55 titles on the FDS. This is compared to just 21 games on the PC Engine and 28 Sega Mark III games along with 4 launch titles on the Mega Drive. While I'm not a big fan of the FC, I would never write something so cliché as "quality over quantity". It's hard to argue for other consoles when the numbers are so dominating for Nintendo.

PC Engine

Let's quickly go over the PC Engine's lineup which mostly consisted of a mix of action, sports, shooting, and other genres I'm not really into. There was only one RPG Necromancer, released in January. I did put in a few hours but man, it's pretty tedious. Will update when (or if) I ever do finish it.

Among the handful of shooters, the most notable ones are R-Type I and II. I rented Super R-Type on the SNES a bunch as a kid and got good enough to almost beat it. So I guess if I was a rich, Japanese kid I could have been playing at home a few years earlier. However, it's kind of lame that it's split into two parts. Overall, it's a good game but not a GOTY contender.

I like to stick it to the back. What? It's a valid strategy.

Also of note are the first two CD-ROM games released in December No・Ri・Ko and Fighting Street and needless to say, these first two games are not a good showcase for the new technology. I always did wonder as a kid growing up when everybody was playing Street Fighter II, what happened to the first one? It sucked ass, was what happened.

Yes, I did play this... and no I don't want to talk about it

Among all the games, Makyou Densetsu looks to be the most impressive technically, especially that sweet music. It basically looks like a Super Famicon platformer except of course 2 years before that console even hits the market. Still, while visually impressive, doesn't seem likely to be GOTY.

Sega Mark III

1988 effectively marks the end of the Sega Mark III besides the last game Bomber Raid released in February of 1989. The Sega Mark III has a paltry total 85 games for the system, which is surprising given that the Sega Master System lived on with far more games overseas over the years.

So far, I've only played one game Hoshi wo Sagashite and it was a family-friendly and decent ADV game I suppose. Nothing special in my opinion. I loved the Master System as a kid but objectively, it falls far short of the FC. However, I still firmly believe the NES was shit since it never fucking worked until they made the top loader. But before we get into the FC library, let's roll on to the PC scene.


The early PC gaming era is really nostalgic for me because it still has that distinctive old-school yet mature feeling that caters to a completely different market (that also incidentally happens to have jobs and money). And by "mature", I mean more advanced writing and scenarios intended for adults not porn, you sickos.

It's all about the music, right guys?!

Not to mention, the still graphics were way ahead of consoles. Check out the intro for Digan no Maseki for instance, this game is definitely on my radar to check out. Will update here at a later date.

Sorry, I haven't played it... yet

At this point in time, I still have quite a ways to go in terms of covering the PC games of 1988 but I did play Snatcher, albeit the complete version released much later. Given that the original version didn't even have the last chapter, I would say it looks like a great game for the time but not GOTY. 

Not GOTY maybe but its got some sweet tunes

Famicon and Disk System

At last, we come to the big pile of shovelware... err I mean timeless classics loved by all the privilged kids whose parents bought them an NES and $120 games (adjusted for inflation). Bitter, me? Nah!

Let's see what we got here. Contra and Double Dragon arcade ports? I guess they're good games. Dragon Quest III? I only played the SFC version but it was a pretty good RPG. FF2? Pfft, I don't think so.

Yeah, I obviously haven't played even a tiny fraction of the almost 200 games. I played Ripple Island and that's about it. I'm just really not into the FC except for what I have to admit is GOTY.

Super Mario Bros. 3

This is undoubtedly going to be the first and last Mario game I would even nominate as GOTY because I don't even like them. But damn, as much as I hate to admit it, 3 is fucking amazing. Not only does it blow every other FC game out of the water, I still sometimes confuse myself into thinking it's a SFC game.

It's leagues above the first game and the lame remix sequel (aka Lost Levels to non-jhipsters). The Tanuki suit, P-Wing, flying battleships... there was no other platform game that could even touch it. Ah yes, the fond memories of holding the down button on the white hill for 3 seconds. Yes, I even watched the infomercial... err I mean movie The Wizard as a kid at some point. As much as I hate to admit it, I find it hard to believe I will find another game in 1988 that was better than Super Mario Bros. 3.

Other games I tried

Games I plan to try later