noiseredux vs.

Posted on Apr 30th 2013 at 08:45:47 PM by (noiseredux)
Posted under Sega, Saturn, Dreamcast

So April turned out to be a crazy good month for adding to my collection. Let's take a look!




First up was a couple of guides that I got using Barnes & Noble gift cards. I love Capcom Vs. SNK, so this was exciting.




A trade on Racketboy.com landed me these 3 Saturn titles. Always nice to get a fancy Working Design game.




Fellow RFGen-er GrayGhost81 traded me this nice handful of Official Sega Dreamcast Magazine demo discs. By the end of April I was only now missing 2 of them.




This giant lot came from a good buddy of mine. It started out as me taking just those two Saturn sports games which he had doubles of. Eventually the deal grew into what you see above, but he also surprised me with that sealed copy of Floigan Brothers which was really awesome of him!




Evolution I found locally for $7, and although that's pretty much the going price I like being able to buy Dreamcast games in person when I see them in such great shape.




Another trade through Racketboy got me these. That's a Dreamcast TopMax stick... it's not that great - especially compared to the excellent Agetec stick, but it was a great bargain so I was glad to add it to my shelves.




Yet another Racketboy trade got me Panzer Dragoon - a classic I've yet to play!




My wife and I hit up a flea market while out furniture shopping and I came across these. Tetris Plus is in great condition and that Saturn Eclipse Pad is sealed. It was $15 for the both. But the real gem here is NBA 2K2, which is actually the hardest to find of the three 2K games on Dreamcast. I got mine for $2 which made me really happy.




Another local game shop resulted in this awesome Saturn pick-up. That's right, an official racing wheel which is great for Daytona. The wheel was $20, which isn't spectacular, but buying one online would be a lot more once shipping is accounted for. Each of the three games were $10, which I felt pretty good about.




Here's one lot of games I got from my good buddy Mike. We went in together on a bigger purchase and split up what we each needed for our collections. I'm definitely really pleased with the items I got.




And another lot I got from the same friend - Sakura Wars 3 & 4 box sets complete my collection of the boxes. The third box is the best as it comes with a really classy and fully functional music box! The Saturn stick is a Hori V7 which is insanely comfortable and a purchase I'm very happy with.




And also from same friend - this is an official Dreamcast-branded DDR dance pad. This is really cool as there were no DC dance mats released in the US, so it's more common to see DC fans using a PlayStation 2 pad with a DC adapter instead.




And finally via another Racketboy trade I got a second Dreamcast - this is one of the black ones (sadly, the Sega Sports logo has been removed). This lot was really cool, and I'm especially fond of the Alien Front Online box set as well as the Double Impact release of Street Fighter III.


So yeah... pretty awesome month!



Posted on Apr 5th 2013 at 09:33:33 PM by (noiseredux)
Posted under Dreamcast, Sega




I think it's maybe an understatement to say that I'm a fan of Capcom fighting games. Pretty much my entire adoration for the genre comes from my first time playing Street Fighter II back in the day. As such, I've always identified most with that style of gameplay, character design, move-sets and so on. Which is not to say that I don't like other fighting game franchises or developers. It's not even to say I was ignorant of them 'back in the day.' Interestingly enough, I remember playing Art of Fighting (or was it World Heroes?) on a Neo Geo cab in a convenience store not far from my house around the same time. And I also had the SNES port of Fatal Fury in my collection right alongside Super Street Fighter II Turbo.

So then it's probably appropriate that in recent years I've also explored -- and gotten a lot more into SNK fighting games as well. As I mentioned I had certainly been exposed to SNK in the past, but to really tackle these games is daunting considering the sheer number of characters featured in the various games, spin-off's, sequels and crossovers. And while I've found a good handful of SNK games that I can continually come back to (and at least one solid masterpiece in Garou: Mark of the Wolves), I would still say that the six-button Capcom setup is preferred for me over the four-button SNK style.




But what if you're the opposite of me? What if you grew up playing King of Fighters annually with only a passing respect for the various Street Fighter games? What if you're parents really spoiled you and got you an AES instead of a SNES? Well for any of us that fall into either camp, we have this wonderful game to help us meet in the middle.

Capcom Vs. SNK is a perfect balance of  both developers' franchises. If you were to look at screens of Street Fighter III: Third Strike and Garou: Mark of the Wolves side-by-side, you could be excused for thinking they were from the same game. Here, that's sort of the philosophy. Surely competition can be good -- and over the years both companies have benefited from competition by pushing each other to constantly attempt to get the one-up on the other. It's only fitting that the combining of both sides would be so great.



Now it's important to note that at its heart, this is still a Capcom game (with SNK's answer being their SNK Vs. Capcom, sadly never ported to the Dreamcast). However for those of you Neo Geo fans thinking this means you'll have to get used to the six-button layout that most Capcom games utilize, fear not! You are actually given the option to choose which play-style (or 'groove') suits you best. Likewise the game can also be played in both regular and Turbo speed settings.

Graphically the game is top-notch, genuinely finding itself rubbing elbows with many of the system's finest examples of 2D fighting visions (the aforementioned Third Strike and Garou come to mind once again). The animations are fast and smooth, the backgrounds are ridiculously detailed, and each match begins with an impressive animation that leads right into the stage setting.




Now I hate to sound like a broken record but running this game through VGA is just astounding. Prior to the Dreamcast port I had played Capcom Vs SNK on the PlayStation and can honestly say they look like completely different games when they're running. This version looks and feels like you're playing an arcade game where the PlayStation port looks quite obviously like a PlayStation port. Though I suppose it's not really fair to compare the handling of such a game on such different hardware.

The music is just as compliment-worthy here, although that should probably be expected considering Capcom's fighter output at that time. Certainly folks would be likely to mention Third Strike and Marvel Vs. Capcom as favorite soundtracks from the genre.

And speaking of Marvel Vs. Capcom, I'm going to go ahead and make a statement here that could ruffle a few feathers: I personally think that the Capcom Vs. SNK games are better than the Marvel Vs. Capcom games. Seriously. Though in fairness I suppose it's true that I'm really not as big a comic book fan as some of you may be. In that regard there's probably way more SNK characters that I'm interested in playing with than their are Marvel characters.

And speaking of Roster, that is of course how many fighting games are measured. Including all the hidden characters, Capcom Vs. SNK sports a total of 35 characters to choose from across three different ratios. The ratios are an interesting tier system included to promote balance. Basically this means that it's possible to see matches where one player might have four characters from Ratio 1 against a single character from Ratio 3. This system certainly makes for interesting match-ups and breath-taking victories.

As if the game itself weren't enough, you've got two different end-bosses to make it through in Arcade Mode, as well as an insane amount of unlockables that will keep you busy for quite some time. I know I've been having a lot of fun experimenting with different characters  while unlocking various pallet-swaps. Though sadly, I've yet to figure out how to unlock Morrigan. If it isn't quite obvious from my long-winded post, this is a fighting game well worth your time. Highly, highly recommended!

 





Posted on Apr 2nd 2013 at 09:52:57 PM by (noiseredux)
Posted under Dreamcast, Sega




I know I've talked on this blog more than once about how Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2 was my first introduction to the Dreamcast more than a decade ago. In fact I was so enamored with that game that when my college roommate moved out (and took his Dreamcast with him) I had to get my own copy along with its prequel. Though at the time I had a PlayStation 2 rather than a Dreamcast of my own, so although I was more than familiar with the original Pro Skater, it would be quite a few years before I got to play this particular version. And just recently I decided I was due for another race to the end-credits.




There's a lot to love about Pro Skater. It's got an excellent soundtrack (I really wish an official soundtrack had been released), it's got a pick-up-and-play quality to it, and plays great. That said, it's always slightly tough to go back to the original game because it's easy to forget that manuals weren't introduced until the second game. This means that chaining combos together was actually a far more difficult affair back then. But once you get over this small snag, it's easy to see that the first game was already pretty close to perfection.




The original Pro Skater is also the hardest game of the series, at least as far as I'm concerned. Perhaps it's because there are actually less goals per level, and they can often be tough ones. Take for instance the Downhill Jam. This level is probably the one I'd consider the hardest of the entire series. But of course some of that could be my own personal play style. But what was fun about my recent playthrough of the game was that I purposely forced myself to patiently complete every single goal in the Downhill Jam. That definitely made it feel like a bigger accomplishment than just coasting to the final tournament by completing goals in other levels instead.




Posted on Mar 30th 2013 at 07:27:57 PM by (noiseredux)
Posted under Sega, Sega CD, Dreamcast, Neo Geo Pocket Color

Alright so this past month my wife and I moved into our first home. As you might guess this means that March was super-busy, and I really didn't have much time (or disposable income) for collecting. But I did manage to pick up some stuff actually. Let's take a look...




First up was a couple of found surprises. The Sonic comic my wife found while packing. I guess she got it free a few years ago when we went to a video game store on Comic Book day. The Game Gear was mine from childhood and my parents happened to find it in their basement. It works and even has Sonic 2 inside it, though the speaker no longer works. Oh well.




I finally decided to use some Barnes & Noble gift cards I received for Christmas. These are two of the items I purchased. The PSO guide was huge for me as I've been so absorbed in that game lately. Sadly the poster wasn't included in it. The Sega Dreamcast Official Games Guide is a cool book that has tips and tricks for various games.




I also used up some eStarland credit I had been sitting on since before the move. Capcom Vs. SNK has been one of my go-to games this month, and I'm so excited to finally have Grandia II.




Also from eStarland credit was these two complete Neo Geo Pocket Color games. I know NGPC isn't technically Sega, but I consider it the Dreamcast's little sister seeing as how it had connectivity with the console.




While moving I also boxed up a lot of random video game junk I didn't need and finally brought it to my local shop to trade in for credit. So I scored some common Dreamcast games along with Virtua-On which I've actually never seen in the wild before.




...and also got this CIB Make My Video: Marky Mark And The Funky Bunch.




...plus an awesome Blue Mary figurine!


So yeah, all in all a pretty good month and not a dollar of my own money spent on any of it. And really the best addition to my collection this month was that I finally have my own dedicated game room!



Posted on Mar 27th 2013 at 09:12:10 PM by (noiseredux)
Posted under Sega, Dreamcast





Hi. My name's noise. And I'm a PSO addict.

I'll be completely honest here: I never thought I'd see the allure of Phantasy Star Online. In the past I'd heard fellow gamers refer to the game as "video game crack," in which every session left you wanting just a tiny taste more. But to me it just sounded pretty unappealing. For one thing I'm not a fan of extremely long games. So something like PSO with its online world which makes it something of a never-ending game was a turn-off. I'm also not all that interested in hack-n-slash battle systems within RPG settings. Nor have I ever found myself drawn to games that focus on hoarding loot. So while I was certainly a fan of the Phantasy Star brand, I just couldn't see myself interested in an MMO.

But one night several months ago while browsing the Dreamcast-Talk forums I thought it might be fun to get my console online and test it out with PSO. After spending some time Googling for free dial-up ISP's in my area, I was able to configure my conole's modem and get connected to the Sylverant private server. Of course I had never played Phantasy Star Online before, so once connected I hadn't the foggiest clue what I was supposed to be doing. So I just sort of walked around and marveled at the excellent graphics and music.




And then soon enough I noticed two characters just standing and talking to each other. Right away I realized that I was seeing actual players since everything they were saying was being typed into word-bubbles above their heads. I admit that for a moment I was severely intimidated. But i approached, introduced myself and warned them that I was a total n00b. "Wait... right now is your first time playing PSO? You mean, like ever?" And these guys were nice enough to then spend the next hour or so giving me a crash-course in the basics. They had my back with monomates to heal me and watched me hit level 2 while playing the game online.

All in all the experience was fun, but I knew I'd need to spend some time offline with the game to really grasp how things worked and try to get myself to at least a respectable level before attempting to seriously play online. So basically the game sat untouched on my shelf for the next several months. Sure I had a good time messing around with it online that night, but it would be a serious committment to play a game so demanding. Hell, you can't even pause PSO!

A few months later we got hit with a pretty impressive snow storm, and I found myself with one of those lazy snow days that gives you an excuse to dive into a game you normally wouldn't have the time for. Immediately I thought of PSO and popped in my copy. The version of I've been playing by the way is Ver. 2, which is (as I understand it) the same exact game as the original Dreamcast release, but with some bug-fixes and some additional quests.

And so I spent that afternoon going back and forth between shoveling and and exploring  Ragol. At first my progress seemed slow and I'd find myself consulting the manual often to try to figure out what all the buttons did and what my objectives were to begin with. But once the ball started rolling I was making my way through quests and getting myself familiar with the Forest and genuinely having a great time to my own surprise. In fact I was having so much fun with the game that as my wife and I packed up all of our belongings to prepare to move into our new house, I spent most of February with Phantasy Star Online being one of only two games I left accessible (the other being Sega Smash Pack).




Which reminds me, I should take a moment to point out that over the months I've spent with PSO, it became a big enough part of my gaming habits to actually justify some further purchases. Perhaps the most obvious is the official Versus Books strategy guide. This book is definitely very handy to have around for reference on such confusing matters such as what to feed your Mag, and of course maps are excellent to have around if you don't want to tie up a big chunk of your screen with the in-game map. PSO also make my decision to obtain a large lot consisting of both the Dreamcast VGA box and Broadband Adapter a much easier one to make. Let me just say that this game looks stunning in VGA mode (though in fairness, so don't most Dreamcast games that take advantage). And although I haven't had the time to hook up the pricey BBA yet, it's certainly nice to have the option to do so.

At any rate, I'm currently making my way through The Mines. I'm now at level 19, and have put about just as many hours into the game. And yet my addiction shows no signs of slowing down. Perhaps the absolute sickest part of it is that I keep thinking that once I get through Offline Mode, I can actually start to play Online. And hey, perhaps I can start a second character when I pick up a copy of Ver. 1...



Posted on Mar 16th 2013 at 06:23:37 PM by (noiseredux)
Posted under Sega, Dreamcast





Before my wife and I moved, I had to make a very tough decision. You see we had just about a month to pack everything up. This meant Iíd have to pack pretty much my entire video game collection. But of course Iíd have to leave at least something out if I had a spare hour here or there to actually play games. I decided that the one console Iíd leave out would be my Dreamcast (kind of a no-brainer I suppose). And Iíd need to also leave a small handful of Dreamcast games unpacked. But how do you choose? Who knows what youíre going to want to play, right? By the time all was said and done I had narrowed it down to just two final games -- Phantasy Star Online Version 2 (more on that in another post) and Sega Smash Pack Volume 1.

It might seem kind of funny to leave out a console to play a bunch of emulated games. But ultimately I was really pleased with my decision. When I wasnít getting sucked into PSO, I had ď12 Great GamesĒ to explore -- most familiar, but some new to me -- and from various genres depending upon my mood. So with that in mind I ask that you get pretty comfortable as this is probably going to be one of my longest blog posts ever. Thatís right, Iím gonna tell you about every single game on hereÖ





Sonic The Hedgehog is obviously a game we all know pretty well. Indeed I was a convert to the blast-processing hype of the day, and my Genesis was bundled with this very game. Oh how jealous my NES-owning friends all seemed at the time. Though I swear I beat this game as a kid, I had no solid memories of the ending. So had I actually done it like I thought I had? WellÖ I think so. But I canít be certain. In recent years this original entry has appeared to be one of the harder games in the original 2D series. I can blow right through Sonic CD usually only losing one life in haste. But going back to OG Sonic always seemed difficult.

When I found myself with a limited selection of games I realized something really important about this game -- itís really not all about speed. In fact, the levels I hate the most (water ones) really require a lot of patience. When Iíd try to rush through, Iíd get nowhere. But if I took the time to just get an air bubble every time I had the chance, Iíd survive no problem. And so that seemed to show me a certain genius in Sonicís design. Itís a flashy, bright and fast game thatís maybe also meant to be savored. And I must add that doing so via VGA adapter is totally worth it. Like I said, Iíve owned Sonic since its release and not until seeing it in its VGA glory have I realized just how incredible those sprites really looked. And the compilationsí audio issues aside, this game really had some incredible music. I canít go back and tell you if I did or didnít beat the game as a child for sure, but I can tell you I felt totally triumphant sitting down and beating it in a single sitting this past month.




Golden Axe was a game I always enjoyed back in the day. I obtained my copy as part of the Sega Classics Arcade Collection which was a pack-in with the launch Sega CD. And though I enjoy beat-em-ups quite a bit, this one seems to have not aged as well as I wish it did. Itís totally possible Iíll get a bit of hate for this as Golden Axe seems a pretty beloved franchise, but I just donít really think the original is all that great if Iím to be honest. Honestly, Iíd much rather play Streets of Rage any day of the week.





I didnĎt actually play Shining Force this month, but I did get my first taste of it on this collection a year or two ago. And since then Iíve become a total convert to the franchise. The original Shining Force is a ridiculously awesome strategy RPG with excellent (albeit repetitive) music, cool (albeit repetitive) animations and a gigantic cast of characters considering the time of its release. I must admit Iíve long been a sucker for S-RPGís though. Thereís something about combining the grid-based movement and strategy of chess with the attack/magic/heal/etc combat of a traditional turn-based JRPG. Like I said this game made me a fan, and Iíve recently spent a good deal of hours plugging away at Shining Wisdom (an Action RPG) on the Saturn.





Wrestle War is a game. I donít have a whole lot to say about it outside of that. WellÖ I suppose as a curio itís kind of neat addition by Sega since itís not exactly one of their most popular releases. But to be frank I found it totally boring. Itís a lot of button-mashing as far as I can tell, and that doesnít really help a game based around something Iím already not interested in (wrestling). So I really didnít spend much time looking into this one.





Streets of Rage 2 is really pretty awesome. I think we can all agree on that one. But would you think less of me if I said I still prefer the original game? Perhaps itís nostalgia. Again, the original SOR was part of the Sega Classics pack-in on Sega CD and I spent countless hours on that one. The music of the original is still so iconic to me. Fast-forward some years and Streets of Rage was semi-responsible for not only making my wife a gamer herself, but even helping her realize that she had a new favorite genre (beat-em-ups).

But while I still prefer the original, thereís no denying that the second is fantastic. And truthfully I applaud Sega for putting the sequel on this collection rather than the original. It would have been so easy for them (Iím guessing) to have included the original four games from that Sega CD collection but instead they opted to deliver what is considered the fan-favorite of the SOR Trilogy. Iím reminded that I still need to beat this one, though most beat-em-ups get reserved for co-op with my wife nowadays.





Columns was in fact one of the other games that was part of the Sega CD collection Iíve been mentioning. If youíre not familiar itís a blocks-drop-from-the-sky puzzler that I guess was Segaís attempt at a Tetris-alike. Though unlike Tetris you can only move the order of the jewels, which are arranged in vertical lines always three-pieces long. Itís a pretty good, if not remarkable arcade puzzler. Sure itís simple as heck -- and Iíd far prefer any number of puzzle games. But I was also able to find a lot of enjoyment in it for several nights in a row. I played through equivalent of Tetrisí B Type game on multiple difficulties -- though admittedly I could never seem to beat the hardest one.





Another game I could get some hate for is Vectorman. I actually first played it as part of fellow RFGen-er Crabmaster2000ís short lived community game club back in 2009 or so. For whatever reason this game has just never clicked with me. And I am a fan of run-n-gun style platformers. But thereís something just off about it for me. Even worse on this particular port is the default button configuration, though you can change it to whatever you like in the options menu so donít let the deter you. But like I was saying, I just canít seem to make myself enjoy Vectorman. Iím not sure if itís that I feel like thereís just a lot of blind jumps, or if I find the combat a little wonkyÖ whatever it is it just seems like every time I give Vectorman another chance it still does nothing for me.





Phantasy Star II isÖ a Phantasy Star game so Iím a fan. Having first discovered the original Phantasy Star several years back as part of Racketboyís Together Retro game club, I have since become a total sucker for the franchise. In fact I recently came to the shocking conclusion that I actually prefer Phantasy Star as a series to Final Fantasy. The characters, universe, music, setting, story and pretty much anything else just seems to appeal to me so much more. And this is coming from a guy who defends Final Fantasy XIII.

Beating the original Phantasy Star felt like a huge achievement to me. And Iíve raved about that game ever since, insisting that it outshines its immediate 8-bit contemporaries Final Fantasy and Dragon Warrior in many ways. But it had also occurred to me that I hadnít taken the time to really delve into other games in the series until fairly recently. So I figured the Smash Pack was a good excuse to start making my way through the second game. Though I havenít beaten it yet, Iíve sunk probably 6-8 hours into it and am quite impressed. Though the music isnít as good as the original, itís still totally memorable. And everything looks great in 16-bit. Though the confusing first-person dungeons are gone from this one, theyíre replaced with equally confusing overhead dungeons which for some strange decision in design feature weird pipes above your characters that often block your view. Iím guessing these were featured to show off some processor that Sega was proud of on their Genesis hardware, but manÖ itís rough. But having said that, if you let yourself use maps for the dungeons itís a fantastic (but grind-heavy, be warned) RPG that any admirer of the series should look into.





Altered Beast on the other hand is such a terrible game. Though the graphics were at the time well-detailed and the game does feature some voice samples that show the original Genesis hardware off, itís just such a boring, sluggish and awkward game to actually play. And unlike Golden Axe or Vectorman, I feel like I probably wonít get a whole lot of disdain for proclaiming this.





Revenge of Shinobi fares slightly better. And as a side-note, how confusing did the Shinobi series get during the Genesis days? There was Shinobi 3, Shadow Dancer and this one all around the same time, right? I know I often have trouble keeping track of which is which. When I saw Revenge listed on the back of Smash Pack I got really exciting thinking ďoh man, I hope this is the really awesome one with Batman, Spiderman, Godzilla and that forced-scrolling horse level!Ē But no. Itís not. Instead itís a pretty good Shinobi game. But I donít knowÖ maybe itís just because I was hoping for a much better game in the series, and then comparing the two unconsciously. Or maybe itís because I have no idea how to even beat the first bossÖ but I guess I just kind of feel like Revenge is a game that looks a bit better than the original but seems to actually play a bit worse. Just me again?





Virtua Cop 2 is one of the other non-Genesis games on this collection and holy crap is it awesome! Now understand that I had to play this version with the control pad because Iíve yet to track down Dreamcast light guns, but even then the game was just incredible. Sega really knew what they were doing with light gun games, eh? I mean, Iím a really big fan of the House of the Dead series so I had a good idea of what I was getting myself into here. But damn, Virtua Cop 2 is just some amazing arcade fun. And like I mentioned earlier, hereís a game that really benefits from having a VGA box for your Dreamcast. Oh, and since experiencing the game here for the first time, I did manage to track down the Saturn port of the game along with a couple of Stunner light guns for my CRT TV in my new game room.





And finally Sega Swirl is the one new game to this compilation. Though certainly a simple game -- and letís be honest, not even a wholly original puzzler. But it did offer something that makes it a very notable game in the Dreamcastís libraryÖ online play. Some of you may be aware that a small number of Dreamcast games are still actually online to this day, but Sega Swirl has the distinction of probably never going away. Thatís because the game used POP3 email as its means of getting online. So anyone with a POP3 enabled email account can pretty much always get a move-by-email round of Sega Swirl going with a friend. And with that, weíre left with another one of those little reminders just how stupidly ahead of its time the Dreamcast really was.



Posted on Mar 12th 2013 at 08:40:42 PM by (noiseredux)
Posted under Sega, Saturn




When I was in Junior High I had a neighborhood friend who had the NES port of Bubble Bobble. And it had remained pretty much my sole exposure to the game until just recently. In February the Together Retro game club over at Racketboy.com had Bubble Bobble on their calendar. I was actually pretty excited to delve back into this one. The NES game was a really solid puzzle-platformer that offered an excellent co-op experience. Indeed I remember spending many hours as either Bub or Bob and capturing enemies and bursting their bubbles as my friend Jason and I traversed our way through those hundred levels. But this time out Iíd be delving into the Saturn port which promised to be much closer to the original arcade experience.

Hereís what I found out:  Bubble Bobble is really hard you guys. Compared to the NES version the computer AI was extremely aggressive. And though I didnít spend a massive amount of time playing, I did put a fair share of effort. No matter how much I tried I could never seem to beat level 15 by myself. Although ďby myselfĒ probably illustrates the biggest issue I took with this game. Bubble Bobble is the sort of game that begs for co-op. Unfortunately my wife and  I were gearing up for a big move, which meant we had pretty limited time for things like video games. And never once did we get to give this game a go together considering I wasnít even sure which box my spare Saturn controller had ended up in. So more than anything I just found Bubble Bobble really frustrating. Though you canít hate on the music which is still stuck in my head a month later.





Luckily enough the Saturn release of Bubble Bobble also includes the sequel Rainbow Islands. I had actually never played this one before, and was actually pleasantly surprised by this one. Instead of dragons you play as little humans (who I think Iíve read are actually Bub and Bob in human formÖ or something?) who have the power to make little rainbows. The rainbows can be used to contain enemies much like the bubbles were used in Bubble Bobble, but they can also create little platforms for you to ascend each stage. The whole thing is really colorful and bright and just a whole lot of fun. Though I didnít have as much time as I would have liked to spend on it this month, Iíd gladly re-visit Rainbow Islands again in the near future.





This disc also contains a third game. But the third game is also my major complaint about this particular release. Bubble Bobble Also Featuring Rainbow Islands includes a sort of remake of Rainbow Islands. But why? Why bother with such a superfluous inclusion when the compilation could have been made totally amazing by adding in Parasol Stars? For those who arenít familiar, Parasol Stars was the third game in the Bubble Bobble series, and to this day my favorite of the trilogy.  Parasol Stars was one of the few TurboGrafx-16 games I owned back in the day and it sort of combined all the good stuff from both Bubble Bobble and Rainbow Islands into one incredibly awesome game. Sadly, itís nowhere to be seen here though. Oh well



Posted on Mar 11th 2013 at 09:43:47 PM by (noiseredux)
Posted under Sega, Saturn, Dreamcast



February was an extremely busy month for my wife and I due to moving, so this collecting blog post will be a bit different than previous months. I really didnít have time to take pictures of all my additions or even catalog them in my RFGen collection yet for that matter. Although this is going to look like a huge update, the funny thing is that almost everything youíll see was purchased in January but didnít actually arrive until February.

In fact the bulk of my pickups for the month all arrived in a single box. A couple of my friends and myself put some cash together and basically bought an ex-collectorís entire Saturn and Dreamcast collection. And to be honest, their collection was insane. So hereís what my third of the lot turned out to be:

SATURN:

AnEarth Fantasy Story
Angelique Special 2
Battle Athletes Daiundoukai
Black/Matrix
Blue Breaker
Blue Seed
Bootleg Sampler
Bootleg Sampler (loose)
Cotton Boomerang
Crusader No Remorse
D-Xhird
E'tude Prologue
Farland Story
Fushiginokunino Angelique
The Game of Life DX
Grandia
Hexen
Kakyusei
Nightruth
Nights Into Dreams Sampler
Ogre Battle
Refrain Love
Riglordsaga
Riglordsaga 2
Ronde
Sakura Wars Steam Radio Show
Sega Screams Volume 1 (loose)
Shin Megami Tensei Devil Summoner (x2)
Shiroki Majo
Slayers Royal
Slayers Royal 2
Super Robot Wars F Final
Virtua Cop (NFR) (x2)
Virtua Cop 2 boxset w/ Stunner lightgun
Wachenroder
Wizardry VI & VII Complete
Wizards Harmony
Yukyu Gensokyoku 2nd Album
Yu-No

Action Replay Plus w/ manual
Mouse w/ mousepad
Netlink modem w/ SegaNet disc, manual
S-Video cables

DREAMCAST:

Sakura Taisen LE boxset
Sakura Taisen 2 LE boxset

Broadband Adapter
Keyboard (loose)
Performance rumble pack
Vibration Pack (boxed)
VGA Box (boxed)
VMU (boxed, grey)


You may notice that almost all the games are Japanese. As such, Iíve not yet fully decided which games Iím keeping and which Iíll be getting rid of. Certainly some of them are at least somewhat import-friendly. But thereís an abundance of RPGís and Adventure games that without an understanding of English will honestly just sit on my shelves untouched. But even saying that I know Iíll hang on to Grandia and the Sakura Wars box sets no matter what. There are some games that are just too cool to get rid of regardless of a language barrier.

I definitely have to thank my buds for hooking this deal up though, as I got a whole lot of incredible stuff here for about the cost of just the Dreamcast Broadband Adapter and that copy of Cotton Boomerang alone.

My other acquisition was actually bought all the way back in December. I got another Neo Geo Pocket Color console -- this time a nice silver one. Itís actually a Japanese edition because I really had been wanting a minty boxed system. As it happens, this one came bundled with a Japanese Pachinko game which Iíve yet to delve into. But I have played a whole lot of Bust-A-Move Pocket in the last month. Anyway, sorry about the lack of great pics this month. Iíll make up for that next timeÖ



Posted on Feb 1st 2013 at 09:20:01 PM by (noiseredux)
Posted under Sega, Dreamcast




There was a time when I thought that the shoot-em-up was the dullest video game genre out there. I'm serious. I'm not afraid to admit my ignorance. It's totally true. But there was a chain of events that led me to discover three very important games (at least to my own gamer development). Games that caused me to fall deeply in love with the genre. Not surprisingly all three games were very different from each other -- but those differences caused me to realize that shmups were not the boring "everything is just Space Invaders with different sprites" that I had originally thought.

The first game that led me to this conclusion was Galaga and I was introduced to it as part of Racketboy.com's Together Retro game club back in early 2009. I remember dreading the thought of playing such a game for a full month, but then getting completely sucked into it for 30 days. To this day I consider Galaga one of my favorite games of all time. It's the one game that I seek out the second I find myself inside an arcade. I love the rare chance to get to play this masterpiece on original hardware. And I've since purchased way more Namco Museum collections than I care to admit.

The second game was Chaos Field -- introduced to me here on RFGeneration all those years back when Crabmaster2000 was still doing his "Unloved" series of blog posts. I remember him comparing it to Shadow of the Colossus in space -- a description so odd that I had to look into it. And really the game is odd, or rather unique in that it's basically just a boss rush with stunning music, incredible visuals and a solid dual-field mechanic that is addictive as all get-out.

But the third game I discovered totally on my own.





Shikigami No Shiro II (or Castle of Shikigami II as it's known in America) is a truly unique shmup. Rather than space ships you've got tiny little flying characters, all animated so impressively. The characters are definitely something that the developers Alfa Systems obviously cared a great deal about. Unlike most shmups which offer you three or so ships to choose from, Shikigami II gives you eight. And each character has an insane storyline to play through. Of course if you're playing the DC port it won't matter if you're an English speaker. But the translation (available on the PS2 port) proves that the story is so bat-poop insane that it doesn't even matter if you're following it or not. In fact, you have the option to turn off the dialogue which is often helpful as it can actually interrupt the flow of things.

What really matters is the game. And the game is just incredible to look at. Though the sprites are tiny they are well detailed. And the Dreamcast version does in fact offer a tate mode for those of you (like me) who are deranged enough to have monitors that you can rotate. And trust me it's totally worth it. This game looks incredible in its original vertical display mode. And audio-wise the game offers up one of my absolute favorite shmup soundtracks of all time.





The gameplay is incredible though, and that's why you're really reading this. You've got this tiny little character with an even tinier hit box. Each character (remember there's a lot of them) plays completely differently -- with different "Shikigami Attacks." Believe me when I say that each character can feel like you're playing completely different games. It's a very deep system. But what's even more intense is that you get far more points if you kill an enemy when grazing bullets. This alone adds an insanity to the game that is riveting. It's a truly unreal risk vs. rewards system where you must put yourself in constant danger in order to score higher. And this system alone means that once again, playing the game for score or playing the game for survival are two totally different games.

Though Shikigami No Shiro II is not the true bullet-hell that games (such as releases by Cave) would be later, they are also not quite as borderline old-school as say Psikyo's (Gunbird, etc.) would be. In this sense it's a similar bridge-game from old school and bullet hell though leaning far more toward the latter -- and of course you've got the crazy grazing dynamic to consider. This game is intense, and incredible and highly, highly recommended.



Posted on Jan 31st 2013 at 08:19:18 PM by (noiseredux)
Posted under Sega, Sega CD, Saturn, Dreamcast

So post-holidays meant I had a bit of mad-money to blow. And I had no problem finding a whole lot of awesome Sega stuff to buy with it. Let's take a look...




Some Sega CD games. I'm especially happy to have a copy of Fatal Fury Special.




I found this boxed Lethal Enforcers gun for $10 locally... except look! The box actually has two of them!




A few games for my US Saturn library. Puzzle Fighter FTW!




These Saturn promos were from my RFGen Secret Santa, Tynstar. I've always wanted that Virtua Feeling sampler.




JJGames had an after-Christmas sale, so I nabbed a bunch of US Dreamcast games on the cheap.




A couple of indie games from Goat Store. The Irides is the limited edition which came with that coin and a nice poster (not pictured).




A couple of Dreamcast Japanese imports, also from Goat Store. They were dirt cheap so I couldn't pass them up. July was a Japanese launch title.




Fellow RFGenner dsheinem sold me these -- the one in the sleeve is the less common Version 2.62 Web Browser.




Planet Ring was a PAL exclusive, and the box set comes with a microphone. There's been rumors of this game getting a private server, so I'm all set if it does. This was also snatched from Goat Store at the very reasonable price of $14.




This fight pad is not so good, though I guess some folks like the programmable buttons. However, it was only $3 and I already had the box to complete it. Also from Goat Store.




Another boxed VMU, along with a sealed US one. The sealed one came from JJGames, and the blue one I found locally. It's so hard to pass up boxed DC stuff if I see it in my travels.




A boxed US keyboard! I had a loose one, but I really wanted a boxed one to match my Japanese one. The box isn't in the best shape, but again I found it locally at a good price so couldn't leave it behind.




And finally a boxed US controller to match my PAL one. This was also from dsheinem.




Posted on Jan 20th 2013 at 03:44:50 PM by (noiseredux)
Posted under Saturn, Sega




To call myself a "fan" of Puzzle Fighter would be a huge understatement. Since I first picked up the GBA port some years ago to quench a thirst for a portable puzzler, I have ranked it as my favorite puzzle game of all time. And though the gameplay remains the same for each of its various ports, I've for some reason felt compelled to seek out (and beat) almost every version released to date. To this day the only versions I've yet to make it through have been on the PSP and PC. With all that said, I feel like I'm a pretty good judge of the various releases. So let's how the Sega Saturn edition came out, shall we?





For those of you unfortunate enough to have never played the game, Super Puzzle Fighter II (there was no part I) has an extremely interesting premise. It's a puzzle game that emphasis a Vs. Mode. You will play against a human opponent or the computer. Each player selects from a roster of super-deformed versions of characters from the Street Fighter and Darkstalkers universes. The goal is to match up colored gems that fall from above and build them up into bigger gems. Sporadically a glowing sphere will drop, and if it touches blocks of its own color it will destroy them -- sending junk blocks over to your opponent. The bigger the gems you create, the more junk you'll send over. This is where the real strategy of the game comes in however. Each character has a different pattern of junk blocks that they send over. Much like in a fighting game, it is just as important to know thy enemy as it is to learn to play well.





The Arcade Mode of Puzzle Fighter plays well on the Saturn. The gem explosions are a bit more pixelated than in other ports, though this certainly doesn't take away from the gameplay at all. The music is excellent -- which is usual across the board as far as the various ports go. There is some loading between rounds, though they're not terrible.

If you're playing this without a friend, the real meat and bones of this game is the Street Puzzle Mode. In this mode you must play single rounds with each character to unlock various 'Goodies.' Each character has five Goodies to unlock. These range from pallet-swaps, hidden characters, background music tracks (both original and remixed), art galleries and so on. These are the sorts of extras (especially the hidden characters) that really makes this game a blast to play in single player, and ultimately opens the game up even more. It is not only one of the only games I've cared enough to "100%," but I've done in it multiple times with multiple versions.

Although this review is meant to be about the Saturn edition, I suppose that it's worth mentioning some pluses about other versions for those curious. It is worth noting that the PSN and XBLA versions do look really nice in HD but more importantly allow for online play. The XBLA version was eventually released physically as part of the 360 Capcom Digital Collection if you're not a fan of downloadable games. The Dreamcast version was only available in Japan, however it does support the VGA cable if you wish to import it. Sadly, its online play option is no longer available. And of course the GBA and PSP versions are worth grabbing if you're a fan of portable puzzlers. However the truth is that any version of Puzzle Fighter is going to be recommended by me. And really, any version will give you a great game to play.



Posted on Jan 12th 2013 at 06:29:19 PM by (noiseredux)
Posted under Sega, Sega CD




Of all the sports games out there, I doubt I've spent as much time on a single one as I have NHL '94. And really that's pretty impressive, as I've never been a hockey fan in real life. The only sport I've ever really followed is basketball. Though I've played many basketball games on various consoles, I can't even guess the hours I had sunk into NHL '94 before I even got to high school. Of course that was the Genesis version. By the time the Sega CD rolled around I actually did upgrade to the new disc-based port of '94, but by then I had sort of played my fair share of the game and wasn't as interested in sinking as much time into this new version. Which brings us to almost two decades later, as I have been building up my Sega collection pretty seriously with all of the focus on disc-based libraries. Though I've played a good handful of hockey games since (most notably NHL '06 on PlayStation 2 and NHL 2K on Dreamcast) it was a no-brainer that I should reacquire the Sega CD port of NHL '94 post-haste.





Mostly the Sega CD upgrade is the sort of shovelware that many gamers complain the console's library was full of. That is to say, it's basically the same game you already owned on Genesis with a few bells and whistles thrown in to justify it being re-released. That isn't entirely false. And it isn't entirely a bad thing either, at least now. Perhaps at the time it was disappointing to get what is pretty much just the same game again. But nowadays, there's no reason to not play this as it is still an excellent hockey game and the Sega CD version is still dirt cheap. In fact the only real negative I can come up with is that there are loading screens, although they're kept to a minimum and never really disrupt any of the games' flow.

Indeed this is still the same great NHL '94 you remember. It still controls wonderfully with a Genesis controller. It still rewards you for playing dirty -- is it just me or do the refs totally look the other way when you beat the tar out of your opponent? I mean I seriously brutalized every team I came across with the ultimate intention of injuring as many members of opposing teams as possible. By the end of the Playoffs I had still not sat a minute in the Penalty Box. And there is something really satisfying about hitting those computer plays hard. But I digress... the game also still has the same AI you remember as well. In some aspects '94 is a game that you can break pretty easily, at least against the computer. You can pretty much always just go to the right of the net, then head to the front of the net and the goalie will drop leaving it wide open for a shot. Because of this many of my games ended with 20-2 victories.





The back of the box boasts "500 megs of new features," so let's take a look at those. The Authentic NHL Footage is there. It's grainy, but it's there. And it really doesn't add much to the game itself. The Digitized Speech is pretty cool though. It's not in-game, but you get some nice spoken commentary before the games rather than just text. The CD Sound Effects are... well, I'm not sure they're any better than the Genesis game's sound effects. And the Real Organ Music is of course the usual selling point for a Genesis game ported to Sega CD. Yes, it's CD quality music. But of course it's not exactly a huge selling point in a game where it's used so sparingly. So ultimately the upgrade to CD isn't exactly necessary, but as I stated earlier you still can't really go wrong with a game like NHL '94 so I'd still recommend it to anyone looking to beef up their Sega CD collections.



Posted on Jan 1st 2013 at 05:00:43 PM by (noiseredux)
Posted under Sega, Sega CD, Saturn, Dreamcast

Happy New Year everyone. Let's see how much my collection grew in December...




The lone addition to my Sega CD library was Thunder Strike which I picked up cheap locally.



Strikers was another cheap local find, but the rest of the Saturn additions were Christmas gifts. Awesome stuff!




Some Dreamcast commons -- Airforce Delta and NBA 2K1 were gifts. The rest I picked up either locally or online. Psychic Force 2012 seemed like something I should play in 2012.




Three amazing Dreamcast games under the Christmas tree! Zombie Revenge was a surprise from my wife, and it seems like a really great game.




Dreamcast imports! Shikigami No Shiro II is a favorite of mine I've owned on GameCube and PS2 in the past, but felt I needed the DC port as well. Frame Gride was a gift from a friend, and Guilty Gear was from eStarland and includes the bonus mini-CD soundtrack.




An Ascii fight pad! I've wanted one of these for so long and managed to grab it from eStarland. It's super comfortable for fighters and shmups as well.




These two books were Christmas gifts. The Hardcore Gaming 101 book I read in just a few days, and although I had read much of it on the website prior, it felt perfect in book form and organized as it was. The Service Games book seems really great so far, though I'm less than a hundred pages in still.




My wife also found me this Sonic shot glass. He's chasing rings all the way round the glass.



Posted on Dec 30th 2012 at 06:47:32 PM by (noiseredux)
Posted under Dreamcast, Sega




I've talked kind of a lot about Street Fighter II on this blog. And with good reason. As I've stated (probably numerous times), Street Fighter II tends to be the fighting game by which I hold all other games in comparison. Or at least Super Street Fighter II Turbo is. However, as time has gone on I've realized that while I tend to think of the second game in the series as the most important one to me, it's perhaps not actually my favorite. Truthfully I feel almost dirty writing that. I feel it almost wrong to proclaim that I actually put another entry in the series above Street Fighter II. But I'm just being honest. Maybe.





Okay, okay maybe I'm getting carried away here. Maybe I don't have to actually choose one over the other. So why don't I just say that Street Fighter III is at least as good as Street Fighter II. Just in a different way.

I recently acquired a nice Ascii fightpad for my Dreamcast, which went great with the copy of 3rd Strike I found under the Christmas tree with my name on it. Though I've played 3rd Strike on both PS2 and PSN in the past, I was more than thrilled to add this one to my Dreamcast collection. As I've said, I'm a really big fan.

For those that aren't familiar, 3rd Strike is the third version of Street Fighter III (sort of like the 'Super,' 'Hyper,' 'Turbo,' 'Championship,' etc versions of Street Fighter II). The first two versions of the game were also released on Dreamcast, compiled onto a single disc called Double Threat. But 3rd Strike is where the game was revised into perfection.





Street Fighter III is certainly my favorite looking of the series. It embraces its anime influences far more than the second game, but still retained the beautiful 2D sprites that the fourth game would abandon. The animations are fluid and amazing and perhaps nod a bit to the insane level of detail found in SNK games like Mark Of The Wolves. And these smooth animations owe a lot to what makes the game so playable. Every move feels so graceful and high-energy like watching a wonderfully choreographed Kung Fu flick in a slightly super-human speed.

The real brilliance of Street Fighter III however lies in the roster. Though a fair share of these faces are now familiar to the current gen fighters thanks to appearances in the likes of Street Fighter IV and Street Fighter X Tekken, it's actually incredible to think that Capcom followed up the immensely popular Street Fighter II by effectively trashing the entire roster and starting from scratch. Only a handful of characters are returning, with both Ken and Ryu in all three editions, Akuma in the second version and Chun-Li being added only in 3rd Strike. And from there it was up to Capcom to shape an entirely new roster.





The unique roster is the biggest draw of this game as far as I'm concerned. Indeed this game holds some of the most unique characters in the series. A few have gone on to appear in further games. For instance Hugo (who actually originates from the Final Fight series), Ibuki and Dudley have all continued on as mainstays. But Third Strike is so interesting because of the bulk of its oddball cast. Take for instance Twelve, a shapeshifter who resembles an alien being. Or how about 140-year-old hermit Oro who arrives in a sack and fights one-handed. And then there's Necro, a Russian exile whose moves are controlled by a computer. Sure, it may be the weirdest roster in a Street Fighter game, but it's also one of the most fun.



Posted on Dec 29th 2012 at 07:16:34 PM by (noiseredux)
Posted under Saturn, Sega




There are shmups and there are shmups. DoDonPachi is a shmup. A very good shmup. Perhaps one of the best shmups ever made. And I spent most of last night playing it along with some buds over on the Racketboy forums.

DoDonPachi certainly has a reputation. In that sense I was maybe even a bit worried to finally get around to playing it. Y'know how sometimes people talk about a book or movie and by the time you see it you're just let down that it didn't live up to the hype? Not to mention that a recent sequel, DoDonPachi Resurrection was the first shmup I ever 1CC'd (on Novice Mode). So again I was mildly worried that going back further in the series might not be as enjoyable as a newer installment.

But it turns out there was nothing to fear at all. DoDonPachi is actually one of the greatest shmups I've ever played. Visually, it looks excellent and far from dated. The sprites are all so well detailed, the color pallet is always appropriate and the backgrounds are stunning. The music is definitely fitting as well. But really what makes the game so incredible is the balance of it all. There's such a perfect ratio of risk to reward in DoDonPachi that it's easy to see why it's still such a fan-favorite.

Not only does the game offer up three ships in the old Goldie Locks manner of Type A being the "super fast but not the strongest" ship and Type C being the "wicked slow but so powerful" ship. No the balance goes so far beyond all that if you're seriously trying to play for score. For instance there's the whole risk/reward paradox of chaining. You have a small meter that runs out rapidly every moment you're not killing something. If the meter runs out, your chain resets. Big chains make for big bonuses. But of course this means really learning a level and timing every single kill. It also means that sometimes you'll be killing in a not-so-effective way just to keep a chain going. Similarly there are icons of Bees that you can pick up throughout levels (with many of them hidden). They give you bonus points that get higher and higher with each Bee you get. But again, this means probably giving up your chain to uncover them all. The game is loaded with these sorts of decisions on how to maximize your score -- fast rapid shot or slow laser? To bomb or not to bomb? And so on.





Perhaps the greatest thing about DoDonPachi however is that it's the kind of game that makes you better at an entire genre. The more you practice, the more you're forced to think about strategy and how to increase your score. Not to mention it's a great workout for your mind and fingers to weave perilously throughout blankets of bright bullets. And all of these skills carry over to any other shmup, be it bullet hell or non. Throughout the month I managed to pull off a score of 11,446,730 which I felt really proud of. This was a lot of improvement from my first run. And I also found a new game that I just completely love and will surely revisit often.


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               
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