Monday, February 27, 2017

Shooter: Starfighter Sanvien (Sony Playstation)

Shooter: Starfighter Sanvein
Success / A1 Games (2000)

The original Playstation had a lot of games released for the platform so it's easy for this game, or any game for that matter to be looked over or lost in the shuffle. I'm sure I skipped over this game many times over the years. With it's rather bland packaging I can see how many fans of the shmup genre may have never seen or played this game.

Shooter: Starfighter Sanvien is a rather odd game. Not quite a traditional shmup, it's close enough for me. The game has a backstory, but it's not well integrated into the game and thus not that important to enjoy the gameplay.

At the beginning of the game, you get to arm your starship with it's main weapon. You can choose from Gluon, Photon or Graviton weapons. Gluon weapons have a wide spread attack, while Photon are more focused laser type weapons. Graviton has a more explosive type attack.

Once you've chosen your main weapon, you get to select your special weapon. You again choose from the 3 aforementioned types. The Gluon special weapon are homing missiles and I found these to be particularly effective. Photon's special weapon is a large laser and choosing Graviton gives you a land mine type weapon. The latter was my least favorite.

Instead of a horizontally or vertically scrolling game, you are placed in an arean if you will. Each stage is a called a floor and you get to choose what path you take. The menu is displayed with the floors as hexagons, with bosses mixed in each section. You have to choose quick however which floor you're going to tackle as the clock in the lower right corner of your screen is always ticking down. Each ajoining floor you select, you're base firepower will be upped by 1 level (eventually maxing out at level 6). While you are free to select whichever floor and route to the main boss you'd like, you are rewarded by taking more of a direct, connected path.

Your starfighter doesn't have health in this game, but you do have time. Take a hit and you'll lose 90 units of time. Take too many hits and it's game over. You control your ship using the Playstation controller's D-pad or left analog stick. At first you may find the it hard to control your starfighter, especially as you are firing. You get to move all around the screen, think Asteroids, Robotron, or Geometry Wars. Note that this game was released before dual analog joysticks were the norm. As you fire, you'll notice a little kickback to your ship. However it doesn't take long before moving around feels a little more natural. The object is to clear each floor as quick as possible. Usually you only have a few enemies to beat before you get ot move on. Once you defeat one of the bosses, you'll be granted with additional time. Make your way up to the central boss (at the top/center) of the level and you'll clear the area and be moved onto the next area.

Let me say that the game looks much better than what my meager camera was able to capture. While the game won't blow you away with it's visuals, it gets the job done. With the computer looking background and the gridlines, the techno like music fits very well. The game play is simple, but fast paced. I found it to be pretty addictive and ended up playing for about 45 minutes the other day. 

While the gameplay isn't really unique, it is a refreshing change of pace to shooting type games. It may not be for everyone, but it's rather cheap to be had (around $5-$10 on the secondary market) and if you play it you may just find it's better than you thought. I will point out that this game is NOT fully compatible with the PS3. The game will play, but it won't have sound. However if you've jettisoned your PS1 and want to give the game a try you're still in luck. The game is available for download on the PS Network.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Crazy Taxi (Sega Dreamcast)

Crazy Taxi
Sega, 1999

I'm not sure what is more memorable about this game. Is it the actual game or gameplay or is it the soundtrack? Crazy Taxi is a fantastic arcade game by Sega that was ported over to the Dreamcast (among other consoles) and is the brain child of Kenji Kanno. When you stop and think about the game, it's a rather odd concept of a game. A taxi simulator? I would've never thought it would have worked, but man I am glad that I'm wrong as this is a blast to play.

The Dreamcast version is pretty faithful to the arcade version and if you ask some, the DC version is better than the arcade. Sega's home version offers the same arcade mode, but also offers and original arranged verison of the game to pump more replayability into it. There is also the added Crazy Box, which we'll look at in a bit.

The game is pretty simple. You chose one of 4 different taxi drivers, each with their own unique looking taxi. You can chose between Axel, B.D. Joe, Gena and Gus. In addition to the different vehicles each driver has, each vehicle handles differently from one another.

Axel's taxi as decent acceleration & decceleration and handling, but it's light weight and wide turns make it tough to navigate at times.

B.D. Joe's taxi has the fastest normal speed, decent acceleration & deceleration, it's a heavy car and it's easy to pull of crazy drifts. The weight of the car makes it hard to get knocked around in traffic and tight spots, but it also makes it tough to handle.

Gena's taxi has the fastest acceleration & deceleration speed of all the taxis, best brakes, handles the easiest and has a slim profile. It's light weight makes it prone to be knocked around however. The handling of this car takes some getting used to, but once you do you won't want to use the other cab drivers.

Gus' taxi handles really good and the taxi is rather slim, however it has the slowest acceleration & deceleration making it tough to use until you learn some the more advanced tactics.

I usually use Gena when I play, but on my latest playthroughs I've been trying to get used to Gus and his taxi. It's been awhile since I've played so I'm having to re-learn the Crazy Dash and Crazy Drift techniques! 

Gameplay is easy. Drive around until you see a customer with a dollar sign over them. Their pick up radius will be marked with a circle. Simply stop within this radius to pick up your customer and they will tell you where they want to go. The color of the dollar sign will give you an idea of the distance you'll have to travel and the payout you'll get...depending on how long it takes you! Green pay the most, but the passenger's destination is furthest away. Yellow is medium pay and medium distance while red will be a short drive and a small payout. 

Once you pick up your passenger, a large green arrow will appear at the top of the screen to help navigate you to your destination. However it's not always accurate and until you learn the maps the arrow may get you lost or take you the long way. You'll also see a timer beside your passenger. Get them to your destination while this timer is green and you'll get the Speedy tag and a better pay out. Yellow will get you the Noramal tag and Red gets you the Slow tag. Your passenger will usually berate you and kick your taxi when they get out. If you don't get to your destination before the timer runs out, your customer will simply jump out of the taxi while you're driving.

How you get from point A to point B is up to you. There are short cuts to find, or you can just plow through the park, parking decks or the hillside. The crazier you drive, the more tips your passenger will throw at you. Try driving on the other side of the road and threading the needle against oncoming traffic. Just be ready for the insults your passenger will hurl at you if you hit traffic.

Once the main timer runs out, you'll be graded based on the number of customers you picked up and delivered as well as the amount of fare you earned. You'll be reward with a class license based on your results. The best rating is Crazy License ($20,000 to $99,999) and the worst is an E class license ($.001 to $.999) or nothing at all.

If you are tired of playing the basic game, you can opt to play the all new Crazy Box. This is a collection of mini games, but these also help you hone your skills using some of the other techniques. My recent playthrough of these games was pretty ugly as I couldn't pull off the moves I needed to be successful.

Some of the mini games, like this one, require you to get your passenger to their destination within a certain time frame. In addition to that you have to stay on the road and out of the ocean. Sounds easy, right? Well this is one of those levels where if you haven't perfected the Crazy Drift you'll struggle as the road gets narrower and narrower the closer you get to the end.

Other mini games aren't as tough on you and puts you in a large arena with 20 large balloons you have to bust. You'll be able to use the Crazy Dash and Crazy Drift to help you accomplish your goal within the time limit.

Crazy Taxi is as fun today as it was nearly 16 years ago when I first played it. It's got a rockin' soundtrack thanks in part to the Offspring and Bad Religion, though if you play it a lot then the tunes may get on your nerves a bit. To me this is one of those games that is fun to play in small doses. You won't want to sit down for hours and play this...or at least I wouldn't. However it's a great game to play here and there or with friends to compete for the best class license.

The game went on to receive several ports on different consoles and even on a few handhelds like the Game Boy Advance and PSP...however the Dreamcast is the best version hands down. It features all of the original music and even the product placement of such brands as KFC, Tower Records and Fila. If you've never played it, what are you waiting for?! It's not that expensive on the secondary market so go and grab you a copy.

Friday, February 10, 2017

New Acquisitions: January 2017

Here we are 10 days into a new month and I'm just now getting around to sharing the items I picked up last month. Man I long for the days I was a kid with less responsibility! January was a pretty good month, in fact I ended up with more new games than I thought I would. Part of this is due to having a little Christmas money to spend and finding some good deals / clearances.

The month didn't bring a lot of new items, but it did bring me some variety and another new console. Before Christmas I had purchased what I thought was a Japanese Slim PS2. It was from the NTSC-J region, but in fact was a Chinese PS2. It would play bootleg games (the seller included several) and it would play NTSC-U games, both PS1 and PS2...however that's not why I bought it. I wanted to branch out and try some of the shooters and other games that never made it outside Japan for the PS2. Long story short, I got eBay to make the seller accept my return, got a full refund and ended finding a seller in Japan that had that beautiful translucent blue PS2 you see. Now just need to pick up a vertical stand and I'm good to go. Since it won't receive as much play as my normal PS2, I think I'm just going to move the power and component cables back and forth between the two PS2s. After all, I only have so many inputs on my TV and power outlets at my disposal!

The seller I got the PS2 from threw in these two games. I know one of them is Ape Escape 2...or at least I think it is. The other is a wrestling game...I think it's called Online Pro Wrestling: Champion of the Network. I found find a listing for it in RFGeneration's database. Looking forward to giving both a try.

I know, I know. This 3D updated version of Altered Beast is supposed to be a giant turd...but I couldn't help but to try it out. Plus Stefano Bruni on Facebook hooked me up w/ the game at a very sweet price. If nothing else, at least the cover art looks pretty awesome!


With the Nintendo Switch on the way, I've been trying to pick up whatever Wii U games I could that looked decent. While traveling for work I found both of these used copies at GameStop and while I loath that retailer on many levels, I can't turn away a good deal. The Monster Hunter franchise has always been one I wanted to try out. Tank! Tank! Tank! I played in the arcade w/ my family and it was a lot of fun. Looking forward to spending time with both.

I'm very late to the Super Smash Bros. game. My kids actually found this at Best Buy. It was the only used Wii U game they had. Price was a little more than I wanted to spend, but I had a coupon and they wanted me to buy this over a few Amiibos. I'm sad to say that my 5 year old daughter is better at this game than I am!

I honestly don't know much about the Arslan game, but being from Koei/Tecmo and judging from the screen shots on the back it looked like a decent Dynasty Warriors type game. Doom finally dropped in price to $20 so I jumped on a new copy. Haven't played Doom in a very long time, but what I've played so far I've really enjoyed.

Clearance for $9.99. Even though I own the GameCube version, why not at that price?

I owned Splatterhouse once before and ended up trading it away due to the brutal unfairness of the game. Recently found it at GameStop for $3.99 and I couldn't just leave it sitting there. I hope my re-visit of the game goes better than the first time around.

I don't buy a lot of Reproductions, but Peter Tuttle of Onslaught Reproductions has been turning out some nice Genesis games so I took advantage of a sale around Christmas and picked up the Punisher. Love beat 'em ups and this game just continues to esculate in much that why even bother? Plus Peter provided new art and a nifty white shell to boot!

Last, but not least is Soldner X2 for the PS Vita. I initially forgot to include this in the group shot. Grabbed this from for a great price. I've got some more travel up ahead for work so I'm planning on taking this along for the ride.

Overall it was another great month for game acquisitions. During all of the craziness that was January, I was also able to secure my Nintendo Switch pre-order at Best Buy. I think I got one of the last pre-orders as I ordered it the morning after the late night presentation by Nintendo. Fingers crossed my order doesn't get cancelled like GameStop, Target and Walmart have been recently doing. Well, that's it for this post. The weekend is here and I've got some games to play!