Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Time Cruise II (PC Engine)

Time Cruise II
HuCard, 1991

When many people think of pinball games on the PC Engine (or TurboGrafx-16), games like Devil's Crush or Alien Crush come to mind...however Time Cruise is a great game in it's own right and one of my first exposures to video pinball.

In the US the game was just called Time Cruise, however in Japan the Roman numeral II was added. When you boot up the game, you get the title screen on the left. Doors open up, revealing different areas. Oddly enough this is the US title screen. Once the screen goes black, the large "II" appears and then the game title.

On this screen you have 3 options. Play, Practice and Option. The option screen basically lets you choose a different controller layout, but unfortunately it's not choosing different buttons. Nope, it lets you choose an option to use multiple controllers. It's a very odd set up and I should have taken a picture of this option so you could better understand what I'm trying to describe. The default controls: left on the D pad and the II button control the left and right flippers. Pressing the I button will shake the table. Over pressing this button could cause a Tilt and forfeiting your ball.

What helps make this game stand out from some of it's pinball competitors on the PC Engine/TG-16 is the sheer size of the table. The table is basically comprised of 7 screens. The middle section is three screens tall, while the side tables are made of two screens.

This large layout gives you plenty of things for the ball to hit and ricochet off of to net you some big points. The game changes screens quickly as the ball moves around and its usually pretty easy to follow the ball. If you're wondering why the game is called Time Cruise, at the top of each section are these silver warp gates. You first have to activate them by hitting the trigger about 5 or 6 times with the ball. A path will then illuminate to the gate letting you know it's ready. If you can work the ball over to the now active gate, you'll be transported either into the future or into the past.

One of the areas in the future is this table that you have to move to roll your ball to the hole in the green area. Obviously is game was released far before there was motion controls, so to move the board you manipulate the X and Y axis. Do it before the time runs out and you'll earn an extra ball and add some serious points to your score. I used to be able to work this table pretty easy, but I've become rusty.

One of my favorite warp tables is this caveman golf area. You are a small caveman and you have to golf the ball over water hazards and keep the ball from going into the bushes, labeled OB (for Out of Bounds I assume). You have a gauge at the top of the screen that measures how hard you hit the ball. If the ball falls into the water, you start over where you are. However if you hit it out of bounds, it takes you up one level. Make your way to the bottom and successfully hit it into the hole and you'll earn an extra ball and a lot of points. With practice, this isn't very hard, but it's a lot of fun.

Another warp area set in the past is this medival themed table. As the ball ricochets off the treasure chests at the top, they open to reveal gold inside. If you hit all 6, they close and you get a new point tier (represented by the roman numerals in the background). The chest in the middle is actually a little monster that moves around the screen.

The bottom portion of the table has 6 swords. The color on the handle changes as the ball hits them. Hit them all and you'll illuminate another roman numeral in the background. The sides of the top and bottom tables are lined with pink jelly creatures and white masks that act as bumpers.

my high scores from my recent play (CJH)

Overall this game is a lot of fun and it's still one of my favorite pinball games on all retro platforms. The music on the main table is very forgetful unfortunately, but better in the warp areas. With the large size of the table, there are several open areas that are kind of bland. What I mean is there isn't much going on in the background. No moving pieces to look at in the background as Alien Crush or Devil's Crush has for example. Those tables seem more organic where as Time Cruise is more inorganic (if that makes sense).

Both the US and Japanese versions of Time Cruise will run you at least $50.00 on the secondary market for a complete copy of the game. That price is a little steep if you ask me, but if you like video pinball and you've never played this game then you need to pick up a copy in some way shape or form.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Retro Store Visit: Joe's Classic Video Games - Rock Hill, SC

One of the things I like to do most when I travel is to search out and visit local video game stores. I'm surprised at how many I've been able to find (and visit) all over North and South Carolina where I work and live. While some of my visits have been better than others, it's still fun to always come back to the blog and share my thoughts and opinions of said stores.

Right in my backyard of Rock Hill, SC is a really cool store located in historic downtown, Joe's Classic Video Games. What sets this store apart from the others I've visited is the fact that they also refurbish and sell arcade machines. It's always fun visiting their store because you'll never know what cabinets you'll run across. On my latest visit they had a very nice Neo Geo cab that had the 1 in 161 MVS cart installed for $899. I also spied a very nice Dynamite Cop and original Rolling Thunder cabinets.

While their presence on the web may not be as slick as other sites operated by retro game stores, you can easily check on what arcade machines they currently have available for sale as well as machines they are currently working on.

In addition to arcade games, they of course have a wide selection of games for systems ranging from the Atari 2600 and Sears Intellivision to more modern systems like PS3 (and everything in between!). They also carry consoles, including clone consoles like the Retro Duo as well as supplies. I had my girls with me on my recent trip so I wasn't able to take photos of the store, but I'll make sure to do that the next time I pay them a visit. Look for a future post.

On this visit I walked out of the store with several baseball games. If you read my previous post on the Famicom Baseball game, then you'll know I've been in a baseball kick so the games that I usually don't notice were the games I was looking for on this particular visit.

It's nice to be able to walk into a local store and have so many choices. This haul is a pretty good representation of the different platforms that Joe's has to choose from. Also a nice thing about the shop are the prices. Most of the prices are very reasonable, though there have been times where I've found copies of the same game that are price differently. Sometimes I can't tell why when other times I think they are priced different due to the overall condition of the cart, sticker, booklet, etc. I personally like this touch as there are times I'm willing to pay a few dollars more if the game is in better condition.

All but two games in my haul were baseball games, so if you don't care for baseball then check out Super Puyo Puyo for the Super Famicom. My oldest daughter was helping me go through their surprisingly large selection of SFC games and Super Puyo Puyo caught her eye. I told her it was a color matching puzzle game and she asked me if it was anything like some of the games she plays on her tablet. I told her "yes" and she asked if we could get it. Priced at a reasonable $6 I let her add it to the stack. Another genre that I really enjoy and often look for is pinball. I don't often look through Playstation 1 games, but my girls were flipping through them and I saw KISS Pinball. I've actually been looking for this game since I learned of it's existence so I was very happy to find this. 

On the baseball front, Frank Thomas Big Hurt Baseball for the Sega Saturn was stuck away at the bottom of a small stack of Saturn games in their display case. It was only $5 and it was complete (with the foam block!). The jewel case was beat up, but aren't most Saturn cases when you find them in the wild? For the Sega Genesis I found two games, Cal Ripken, Jr. Baseball and R.B.I. Baseball '94. The first was missing it's instruction bootlet, but the latter came complete. Both were cheap. I also grabbed a loose copy of Cal Ripken, Jr. Baseball for the Super Nintendo since it was like $2. It'll be fun comparing these two games to see if one is better than the other. The lone NES game is Major League Baseball and the loose Genesis cart is World Series Baseball. I don't normally buy loose Genesis carts, but it was a only $1 and I figured I may be able to make my own case using The Cover Project.

All-in-all this is a great shop and has a feel that other shops I've visited just don't have. Great selection of games (and more) and even if you aren't in the market to buy yourself a full size arcade machine, it's still cool to check out their selection in person. If you ever find yourself in the area I urge you to stop by downtown Rock Hill, SC and pay Joe's Classic Video Games a visit.