bangai-o spirits

It’s not a controversial thing to say that Treasure was once an amazing developer that knocked out a lot of instant classics. Certified bangers, their entire catalogue. Well, except for Gunstar Super Heroes, Advanced Guardian Heroes, and the thankfully delisted Bangai-O HD on XBox 360, those ones are really bad. But otherwise, yeah, an amazing company that is seemingly stuck doing endless re-releases these days.

Treasure’s output also includes what is undeniably the absolute best game ever released on the Nintendo DS: Bangai-O Spirits. Not only is this the best DS game by a mile, which is impressive given that this was a handheld that also played host to Contact, a surprisingly good port of Ketsui Death Label, and three different Castlevanias, but it’s easily one of my all-time favorite games in general (note to self: should probably rank my favorite games someday instead of casually calling everything my favorite). This was not the Treasure who inflicted Gunstar Super Heroes on the world, this was the Treasure that gifted us Sin and Punishment.

Bangai-O, for those who don’t know, is a series of shooters where you fly around in a mecha firing off an actual, literal, ton of missiles at enemies. The DS game emphasizes the shooting aspect even moreso somehow. There’s no plot, and you’re given a level select right as soon as you turn on the game. Your goal is to go through 160 levels, shooting lots of missiles at lots of enemies. Lots of levels. Lots of very different levels. Levels that can be completed in under five seconds. Levels that can take several minutes. Levels that are puzzles. Levels that are frenetic explosive action. A level that is a tribute to Namco’s Battle City.

You pick a level. You then pick your weapon loadout: two main weapons, and two special weapons. Some levels have specific loadouts you need to clear them. So either you clear a level, or you die and do it again. At no point in time do I ever feel bored or frustrated. The big thing about Bangai-O and its special weapons is that you can charge them up for a big attack, but if you release the attack button the moment an enemy bullet touches you, your attack is bigger and stronger. It’s possible to go from launching 100 small missiles, to causing the DS to temporarily freeze and slowdown as it struggles to render 400 large missiles. Something so satisfying about being so powerful that you bring the system you’re playing on to its knees. That’s Bangai-O Spirits: this addicting shooter that doesn’t get old.

This game kept me sane during a lot of night shifts at the job I was working at the time. I could pull out my DS and go through a few dozen levels while eating a processed chicken sandwich during a lunch break. Stressed out, sweating profusely, having to deal with the worst kind of people who absolutely needed to buy a new TV at 9:45 PM on a Monday. Having to corral a bunch of idiot teens and get them to clean some shelves before closing, which of course they wouldn’t do, and guess who got in trouble for that? Spent a lot of time in those years coping with people being stupid all around me by losing myself in games and weird art. Given the state of my life in 2022, not much has changed from 2007. Not a great time, for sure, but Bangai-O was.

The other thing that kept me sane was Bangai-O’s level editor. You could create or download up to 24 extra levels, which is definitely something I worked on while wishing I was literally anywhere else on Earth. I think my actual copy of the game has 5 or 6 stages I put together, and I can’t imagine any of them are good, given that these were made in a short amount of time while I was feeling the effects of two cans of Monster Energy. I would upload them, but a couple of things. 1) I’m not home until next month, so I don’t have access to my physical copy. 2) the way Bangai-O saved and loaded its level data is novel, weird, and doesn’t always work: levels are saved as sound data, the way old computers used cassette tapes. You hook up a microphone to your PC, hit Play on the save screen, and use some sort of recording software to record the ungodly sound coming out of your game system, where it gets saved as an MP3 file. For the record, this absolutely does not work if you play this on a 3DS, despite also having a working microphone built into it. So I think I will have to try and find a different way to upload levels, if I ever get around to making new ones.

Bangai-O Spirits is this tough but fair game about launching tons of projectiles at enemies who respond with even more projectiles sent your way. Bangai-O Spirits is a game about flexing your creative muscles and making your own STG levels. Bangai-O is a game that feels great to play, everything moves and explodes in satisfying ways. Bangai-O Spirits is the most addicting piece of software you can plug into your Nintendo DS. There’s always that desire to beat your previous high score, or beat your previous clear time, or go back into the level editor and fix this or add that. This is the best game on the DS, and it’s better than your favorite DS game.

ninja jajamaru: the great yokai battle

I’m a big-time sucker for modern takes on old games using a faux-retro style. Pac-Man Championship Edition, Mighty Gunvolt, Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon, Heiankyo Alien 3671, and so on. Even better when that reimagining is of a game that is simply Okay.

Ninja Jajamaru-kun is a series that you’ve probably played at least one its games. Probably loaded up one of them in MAME, or played the extremely choppy NES port, or the one that’s a blatant rip-off of Mario 3. Played it, then quickly forgot about it until you see that Jajamaru sprite and then you remember the game, but not the game’s title. Or you remember that it’s the game that inspired Ninja Haggleman from the Game Center CX game. That’s Jajamaru’s place in gaming history: it’s there. It’s a fine game, there’s nothing really wrong with it, it just doesn’t stick in anyone’s memory for one reason or another. Which makes me all the more interested in a new entry.

Jajamaru Yokai Battle is both the best Jajamaru game, and also complete and utter dogshit. This game was released by City Connection, a bunch of empty-headed fucks who consider themselves a game company. The ones who release shooters with horrible input lag, charged out the ass for Game Tengoku DLC (you know, the “good” Saturn shooter), released a port of Zombie Nation that, no matter what resolution you set it to, only ever takes up a tiny portion of the screen. Oh, and who could ever forget that time they said, “don’t worry, we are definitely bringing the Switch port of Hoshi wo Miru Hito to the West! We even set up an English website with all the information you’ll ever need, including a release date!” Then when it came for release, not only did the game only remain in Japan, City Connection responded with “uh well, we never said it was actually coming out. I mean, not we claimed anything or created any sort of English resources that would lead you to believe this!” Yeah, City Connection essentially gaslit their customers over Hoshi wo Miru Hito, a legendarily bad Famicom RPG. So this is already a company on thin ice with me.

What’s good about Jajamaru? Well, it has a ton of stuff in it. Lots of playable characters, ranging from different colored Jaja’s with unique attacks and abilities, to the game’s enemies, to the boss and princess from the original game. That’s fun. There are a lot of levels, some of them actually good. You can also pick between the original Jajamaru music, and some actually nice arranged music. I will say that this game uses the original NES graphics, and they still look really nice in their simplicity.

What’s bad about Jajamaru. Playing it. Specifically, playing past the half-way point of the game. Whoever the piece of shit that designed these levels is, didn’t really bother to think them through after a point. Fuck it, throw as many enemies and projectiles on screen as possible! Jajamaru is an old-school single-screen platformer in the vein of Bubble Bobble and the original Mario Brothers, so how about some fucking Touhou bullet patterns to deal with? How about enemies that don’t even have attack patterns so much as “fly at you at the speed of light, endlessly shooting” and you can only hope that you can find an item that alleviates the pressure? How about trying to play this game like the original Jajamaru? For those who haven’t played, it is possible to stun enemies by either breaking the floor (but only specific types of floor) out from under them, or jumping on their heads. I have tried this in the new game multiple times, and wouldn’t you know, it doesn’t even fucking work most of the time. You jump on an enemy, and either you somehow miss, get hit by a suddenly appearing projectile, or my favorite, the game decides that actually you are the one who gets stunned. I need to point out that the Famicom version of the original Jajamaru was developed by Micronics, a developer that couldn’t figure out how to make their games not become extremely choppy if more than half a sprite was on screen at once, and yet they got the whole jumping hitbox thing right. Like congratulations on somehow being worse than a notoriously bad developer that was allegedly just one college student in his garage. At least he was programming in Assembly. This was made in Unity!

Some of these levels, with no real rhyme or reason, have boss battles. If, well, when you lose health during the previous level, you don’t get any kind of courtesy refill, so you better learn the bosses pattern of bullet hell bull shit unless you want to have to redo the entire previous level again. This wouldn’t be so bad, if some of these levels didn’t get pretty fucking long towards the end. Completing the final level took me about an hour. I did not have fun. I still have a headache. A headache that I made worse by trying out the “Hell” mode, where everything is harder. Boy, that was a mistake! If you like having bombs dropped on you from off-screen while fending off fast moving enemies with tons of health that can kill you in 1-2 hits, you might like it. As someone who likes challenge, and not barely tested horse shit masquerading as level design, I do not.

I feel like this piece comes across as overly angry. Admittedly, most of this anger is directed at myself, because this is City Connection, and I should know better by now. Every so often, I will give this company money because I think that maybe this is the time they finally get their shit together and make something that doesn’t make me want to pull my hair out, or find the home address of everyone in the company and punch them square in the balls, like I’m Liam Neeson, but for ball punching and not that weird racist revenge fantasy he had all those years back. A real shame, because I actually found myself having a soft spot for Jajamaru as a character. Guess there’s always MAME.

One more thing: you can find a power up that will temporarily turn you into the Honda City from City Connection. The fun arcade game City Connection, not the terrible company that is now permanently on my shit list. The thing about this, is that the Honda handles like it did in its home game, which does not translate well to Jajamaru’s platforming. So no, they couldn’t even get their own namesake right, either.

ADDENDUM: A couple days later, I’ve found I got a couple of things wrong in here. 1) The internet informs me that Ninja Jajamaru on Famicom was developed by Tose. If that’s the case, I apologize for the error; I simply assumed that a really choppy arcade port on the NES was done by a company notorious for really choppy arcade ports on the NES. 2) The Zombie Nation collection seems to work just fine on my desktop PC, and is only completely fucked on my laptop. This still sucks, mind you, but I will only be kind of mad at City Connection for this one.

9/19/2022

This is another one of those weeks where I’m away from home for business reasons. Unfortunately, this is one of those times where I’m gone for a long fucking time; until October 1st. Doesn’t help that I’m staying somewhere where my allergies have kicked into overdrive, so I’ve spent all weekend drifting in and out of consciousness due to taking Benadryl. Either I sleep a bunch, or I walk around seeing the world as if someone smeared Vaseline on my eyes.

Working a job that requires me to travel a lot has obviously gotten in the way of me doing any sort of work that isn’t my weekly reviews. I spend my time working, then playing games on my laptop. Can’t exactly work on my games or anything if I’m not home at desk with a good PC (specifically, the one that has all of my files on it) and a mouse and a comfortable chair. It sucks not being able to work on things I like, especially since I know a few of you out there are waiting for me to hurry the fuck up and finish them already.

I’ve had this unwritten rule with myself for the last few years: do not make any creations or mods for other games until mine are done. I think, given the lengthy time I’ll be forced to not work on stuff, I’m lifting this rule. Thinking maybe I’ll load up some games with level editors and the like, and put something out there during all this time I won’t be able to spend with Slimegirl and friends. I kind of already did this with those Cladun X2 creations I posted a little while back, but I’m thinking I should do this more often. Also maybe set up a page for all this stuff, like I had before I moved everything around.

That’s pretty much about it. Things haven’t been too eventful otherwise. I mean, I had a birthday, but I didn’t go out or anything because it was 100 degrees and I was too hot to get up out of my chair. Now I’m here until next month, so uh there you go. There’s a review of a game I really did not like coming within a couple days, then I’ll be wracking my brain thinking of what the next big post is going to be.

9/3/2022

Was planning on taking the week off, as my birthday is this weekend, and I just felt like chilling out. I’ve spent this time playing some Castlevania games, playing some Fortnite (still waiting for that Peter Griffin skin), and getting ready for AEW All Out tomorrow. It’s a nice Saturday evening over here.

Then I come back from my kitchen after making myself a nice cool glass of pink lemonade, and I see this:

All I got to say about this is

OH HELL YEAH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Kiwi Farms is fucking dead! Well, for now, at least. But I will take small victories where I can get them. The nazi forum that wrote fanfiction about murdering me, and made my friends lives miserable for several years is gone. That owns! I’m fucking thrilled! You know, I’ve had some good birthdays in my life. I’ve even had great ones. This is already going down as one of, if not the best, I’ve ever had!

Fuck it, this is my web site, and I’m going to be petty here.

To all the nazi shitheads and transphobes and various other types of losers with nothing else going on in your lives besides blind hatred of others due to your own inadequacies

To Randi Harper

To Wil Wheaton

To all the game journalists who needed dirt on a rape victim you were actively harassing, and needed dirt on various trans women because Leigh Alexander got mad that they were all getting more death threats than her

To every self-loathing sociopath who needed to take down a trans woman who said “fuck” too many times

To anyone else I forgot who shared the absolute drivel that place pumped out about me and/or my friends

HA HA HA HA HA GET FUCKED ON, IDIOTS!! YOUR SHITTY LITTLE DOXXING FORUM IS DEAD! SUCK IT DOWN!

Oh, my condolences to everyone who is currently seething and shitting themselves over having to remove a bookmark from their browser. Truly a sad day for bitches who suck ass and know no peace in their lives. A sad day for people who were willing to harass and libel and threaten people literally to death in order to feel a modicum of self-worth that only lasted but a moment. A sad day for you, but a great day for me. A great day because a source of legitimate evil is down for the count, and a great day because I get to rub it in all your faces. Hold on, let me take a sip of this pink lemonade real quick. Ah, life is good.

Anyways, while you’re all freaking the fuck out and being more “triggered” than the blue-haired SJWs you think we all are, I will be playing the HD remaster of the first Soul Reaver that I only just now found out existed. Take it easy, losers.

P.S: Suck it.

Holy crap, Lois! This is like that time I played a mediocre licensed game during the 16-bit era!

Something that my friends know all too well, but I haven’t really talked about publicly, is that I have this ironic appreciation of Family Guy. Since at least 2016, I have been entertaining/alienating my friends by speaking in a half-decent Peter Griffin voice.

Family Guy is this weird thing for me. It’s not actually all that funny; it’s a show that tells 100 jokes, and 1 of them might land. Family Guy is completely abhorrent in its depictions of minorities. Is Family Guy incredibly racist? Oh yeah. Is it very homophobic? Of course. Is it extremely misogynistic? Definitely. Is it wildly anti-Semitic? Absolutely. Is it terribly ableist? For sure. Is the episode where Quagmire’s dad transitions into a woman the most transphobic thing I’ve seen on film that wasn’t amateur footage of a literal hate crime? Oh brother, you better believe it! Now, to its credit, Family Guy does punch up as well. Though the punching up is like more of a light jab, whereas the punching down is more like curb-stomping a dead body while the recipients family is forced to watch.

Family Guy is a show that me and my pronouns should absolutely hate, and yet, I find myself strangely compelled to keep watching “Family Guy Funny Moments” compilations during my downtime. There is something about this show, with its lack of real humor in favor of nonsensical cutaways also mostly lacking in humor, that causes the Quality Needle to break and wrap all the way back around. This is not a good show by any stretch, but I also cannot bring myself to dismiss it.

The Family Guy PSP game, on the other hand, is a lot more cut and dry. Cut and dry in that it sucks. It starts out boring, then becomes unplayable pretty quick, just like that time I played Konami Wai Wai World on Famicom.

“so you’re saying i gotta go into different konami worlds and rescue their intellectual properties? sweet. will a punch with a reach of roughly two pixels do the job?”

Family Guy is one of those multi-genre games that were all the rage at the time. Peter walks back and forth punching children and the elderly like he’s in a side-scrolling brawler. Brian has to sneak around and avoid being detected, since dogs need to sneak, I guess. And Stewie shoots and does precision platforming. There might be other characters to play as, but I don’t know, I could not actually finish this game. Yes, I’m admitting it here: I was not up to the Family Guy challenge. Peter’s second brawler phase proved to be way too unfairly difficult for me to want to continue. It an arduous task that takes way longer than it really should. It’s like looking at the back of the box of one of those RPGs that were all the rage in the PS2 era bragging about its 80+ hour play time.

ah great, now a bunch of weirdos on twitter are going to tell me that kanji’s not really gay

This is a difficult game because 1) the controls are terrible. Jumping, sneaking, punching, all a bunch of shit that barely works. Stewie misses platforms with the greatest of ease and trying to pull off Peter’s 3-hit combos are a headache. 2) Enemies tend to move faster than you, and during Peter’s level, have no hitstun. A brawler where all of your attacks are unsafe on hit, as you can eat a whole combo despite landing a heavy attack beforehand. The enemies in Brian’s stealth levels are completely blind, or can see you through walls. The point I gave up was having to fight wave after wave of bumrushing children and cops, only for a man in a clam costume to completely kill me.

Somehow, this isn’t the only time I’ve had a hard time fighting a clam in a game. Remember that time I had to fight a giant clam in Suikoden 1?

somehow, this clam was a harder fight than the literal armies i had to take on beforehand.

As much as I would like to write this game off as mere mercenary work, I can’t. The parts where I have to play the game are heinously bad. However, there was a genuine effort to try and make this like a playable episode of Family Guy. It definitely nails the “100 jokes, 1 of them actually good” style of humor the show has; the very first joke you hear is Peter referencing the time Mr. Belvedere sat on his own balls. It has dated references, like the line, “I’m going to do you what life did to Dana Plato!” which is very Family Guy-esque. There is a significant lack of joking about rape or racism, which I will chalk down to a publisher decision, as I imagine 2k is a bit more strict about that than the Fox network. But it still tries to maintain Seth McFarlane’s…uh…humor. Yeah, sure, we’ll go with that.

The one actual good thing about the Family Guy game is that the cutaway gags are represented as mini-games. That’s an actual good idea! If you succeed at them, you get a bonus that will help you out in the main game, like refilling health, gaining meter for special moves, or turning Brian invisible for a time (this one doesn’t actually work though). And the mini-games are just as nonsensical as the show. Why is Brian having to dodge an angry Abe Lincoln? Why is Stewie imagining a construction worker shooting another with a nail gun? Why does Peter have to shit in a port-o-potty in a Simon Says manner? Who cares.

A shame. I never want to go into these hating a game and stopping early, but I have no choice here. Family Guy is a terrible game that can’t even be enjoyed ironically, like the show. This is not freakin’ sweet, Lois. I’m holding out hope that we’ll finally get a good digital representation of the Griffin family once all those Family Guy skins get added to Fortnite. It’ll be a weird, yet fitting crossover, like when Negan was in Tekken 7, or when they added Mario to Super Smash Brothers!

Class of Heroes

I wanted to do a second PSP month this year, seeing as I had a lot of fun doing it last year. Getting to cover unique games on a system that kind of gets the shit end of the stick in retrospectives is something that appeals to me. People are more than aware of my current gimmick of loving dungeon crawlers to the point of mentioning Wizardry in seemingly every post I make, regardless of the subject actually having anything to do with Wizardry.

Class of Heroes is, as you’ve no doubt already gathered, a dungeon crawler on the PSP. It was a game I actually started playing at the end of July, wanting to give it some time before sitting down to write about it. I need you all to know that Class of Heroes is so fucking bad, I nearly scrapped doing this whole PSP-themed month. I was struggling, contemplating dropping the whole idea and writing about fighting games or New Vegas or something much more enjoyable.

Class of Heroes was made by the same developers as the Wizardry Xth series, and is technically an unofficial third entry in the series, much like Elminage being an unofficial Wizardry Empire. I have not played any of the Xth games, but based on what I’ve seen here, I have missed out on nothing. The game was recently remade for the Nintendo Switch, with a PC release on the way. No idea if the remake will actually make the game any good, but I’ll keep an eye out.

What makes Class of Heroes so bad, you may be wondering. The thing about dungeon crawlers is that they are repetitive. Not a bad repetition, mind you, more like a loop. In games like Wizardry and Elminage, you explore a dungeon, fight enemies to get stronger and find better equipment until you have cleared the final floor. While you do this, there is always some semblance of progress being made. It doesn’t matter if you explore an entire floor, or you stop and return to town after mapping out two squares, something happened. This is a genre about slowly but surely hacking away at this seemingly insurmountable challenge. It feels rewarding to completely map out a floor, or to easily defeat an enemy that gave you trouble an hour ago, or to find an extremely rare weapon, or to get the stats necessary to change into a Samurai or Ninja. The secret to the dungeon crawler formula is that stuff happens even when it doesn’t appear like anything is actually happening.

CoH does not have this. CoH is a game about spinning your wheels. Experience is slow to earn, with characters taking a very long time to get from level 1 to level 2. Enemies either do hardly any damage, or have attacks that can completely one-shot a character. Weapons in the shop, even the most basic of swords, costs hundreds of gold and you only get about 5 gold per battle in the early going, if you get any gold at all. So instead of buying weapons, you have to take part in the game’s crafting system, and make better weapons yourself. Except that getting the right parts is still a gamble, so you have to run around, get into battles in a game with a fairly low encounter rate, and hope you can get the parts to make a slightly better dagger so your Dwarf Fighter with a high strength stat will do more than a single point of damage, if they can even land a shot at all. Oh, and I should also mention that the dungeon layout changes every time you enter. Now, while the changes are limited to a few layouts that remain mapped out when you return, you still can’t make any real plan of attack insofar as finding crafting materials or key items because you don’t know what layout you’ll be in next time. Doesn’t really help that one of these layouts, on the very first floor, mind you, has over a dozen warp tiles behind over a dozen doors that send you back to the entrance of the dungeon, so you have to go back and forth finding the right door that doesn’t send you back. Wizardry has repetition, Class of Heroes has tedium.

I never made it past the various permutations of the first floor of the game’s “Novice Dungeon.” I didn’t want to. I was so tired of navigating tedious dungeons that constantly shift, fighting tedious battles with up to nine enemies at a time doing no damage to them (or else end battles quicker by completely exhaust my magic supply immediately), looking for the one Torn Rag or Broken Twig that will give my party is a slight advantage when they aren’t dying of poison or electrified floors. It doesn’t feel like anything is happening in Class of Heroes, other than wasting my time.

the 434 gold is AFTER pooling the entire party’s money together, all for a starter weapon that will be quickly replaced.

I can’t believe I’m saying this, but there is finally a dungeon crawler I’ve reviewed for this site that I don’t like. Never thought it would happen, but here we are. It’s a shame. Class of Heroes was bad enough that I stopped playing, loaded up Traveler’s Property, and ended up finishing it. A much better use of my time.

ClaDun X2

Haven’t been in the mood to really write anything this week, for a whole number of reasons I don’t feel like getting into. But, I am in a much better mood tonight, and I wanted to post something before the week was out.

Keeping with the theme of PSP Month, I’ve been playing a bit of ClaDun X2. It’s a pretty fun, if maybe a little too grindy, Action-RPG. The big selling point here is its amount of customization through the in-game sprite editor: creating characters, weapons, armor, even the music. So I thought what I would do is upload some of the things I’ve made. All of these folders go into your PSP/emulators SAVEDATA directory on the memory stick.

Gilgamesh (Tower of Druaga)

As the self-proclaimed Number One Super Fan of The Tower Of Druaga, I had to put Gilgamesh in here. This zip folder contains two parts: a face edit, and an armor edit. I did not do any weapons or shields for this one, maybe I’ll add to this at a later date.

Download Here!!

 

The Sword of Moonlight

Straight out of every From Software game that matters (and even a couple that don’t), it is the ultimate weapon: the Sword of Moonlight.

Download Here!!

 

The Jousting Q-Tips from American Gladiators (Blue and Red)

Remember everyone: the Atlasphere is not licensed for street use.

The edit data here is meant to be applied to spears. Now, you can apply this to any weapon type in the game, but you should use it for spears. Both colors are included in this zip as well.

Download Here!!

 

Big Floppy Boy

It’s exactly what it looks like, a big floppy double-ender that I’ve seen in many a porn. This was also designed to be a spear because 1) thrusting LOL and 2) because my starting character used spears. But honestly, you could probably apply to this any weapon type. Maybe not bows or daggers, but the other ones could work.

Download Here!!

 

Slimegirl

Here she is, my most popular creation. I made her really quick, since I figured at least one person out there would ask about her. Like Gil, this is a two-piece face/armor set.

Download Here!!

 

That’s it for now. Get yourself a copy of this game and play around with my creations.

space invaders extreme

I love me some goddamn Space Invaders, there are no two ways about it. A timeless masterpiece that’s still fun to load up today. A primordial soup of STGs; the (get your groans ready, everyone) Wizardry of the Shooting game.

The thing about Space Invaders is that sequels and spin-offs and other games in the series have mostly been the same. Regardless of any additions, they’re all the same at a base level: you are at the bottom of the screen, you move left and right, shooting at lines of aliens that march towards you from the top. Sometimes you get an outlier, like Space Invaders Get Even or God Forbid, Space Invaders Infinity Gene, but Space Invaders tends to stick to what it knows. Extreme is no different.

Extreme adds some bright colors, dance music, and some new weapons. Nothing too out of the ordinary, and something that’s been done in other Space Invaders sequels. But what makes Extreme work in this instance is an even bigger emphasis on scoring. Points, I mean. It’s less about mindlessly shooting your targets, and more about carefully shooting them properly. Taking aliens out in in a vertical or horizontal line, shooting aliens of the same color or the same shape, shooting the UFO the moment it appears on screen, not taking too long to take out aliens, all net you bonuses. You need these bonuses, because you get rated at the end of every stage, and you want to get the highest rating possible, right? That’s how you unlock the extra stages! Going through life with a straight C grade is fine if you’re in school, but not for important shit like this.

Extreme is this addicting monster of a game that you hold in your hands. You are compelled to beat your high score. Grow and improve as a player. A run through every level is probably short enough to complete during a lunch break or a bus ride (depending on where you work or live, I guess). The kind of game to get in your head after you finish playing. It’s what Space Invaders does. The best kind of handheld game, really.

Yes, mechanics are solid and a great reason to pick this game up, but I’d be a fool to not talk about the aesthetic. Despite all the bright colors and droning EDM, everything is still so simple. The titular Invaders look the same in 2008 as they did in 1979. The backgrounds, while they are video files of things like cityscapes, are still dark and not so distracting that they couldn’t just be a flat black background. For me, that image of aliens moving from side to side while a single cannon fights them in a dark void is this eternally eye-pleasing one. Extreme is only a slightly flashier version of this, which I appreciate.

Due to its simplicity, I can really only say so much about it before I repeat myself too much. It is what it is: a fun, addicting game about getting as many points as possible that looks great and only adds a light flourish to an extremely retro look, as opposed to something completely out there like Infinity Gene. Maybe that’s the TV Game conservatism in me coming out; liking classic visuals and immediately selecting the wireframe dungeon, preferring things the way they were Back In My Day (or before, in this case). What can I say? I’m old.

While the PSP was home to a lot of fantastic RPGs and entertaining visual novels, it also did a great job of balancing things out with smaller, frenetic games like Extreme. The PSP did good by Space Invaders (to its credit, the DS did too, but this is not DS Month), for which I am glad.

guilty gear judgement

Guilty Gear is an awesome series of fighting games that I am a huge fan of. They’re great, frenetic fighting games that reward you for paying attention and sometimes operating outside of the box. I love playing them. I love their mechanics, I love the character designs, I love the music, love it all. Even if the series’ plot is a jumbled up disaster that I cannot figure out, even after watching the four hour movie that’s included in Strive, I still love it.

There have been a few spin-offs of and mechanical off-shoots to the Guilty Gear series. One game in particular is Guilty Gear Isuka. Isuka attempted to take the one-on-one fighting game formula and turn it into a combination four-player fighter/side-scrolling brawler. The result was an absolute nightmare to play, and your time would be better spent immediately turning the game off and going back to Accent Core+R. But hey, at least it gave us A.B.A.

Arc System Works would try to make another Guilty Gear brawler, resulting in Guilty Gear Judgement on the PSP. Unlike Isuka, which was an exercise in futility to play, Judgement is really good. I don’t even mean that in a backhanded way; this is legitimately a really fun PSP game.

The thing about Judgement is that the developers didn’t attempt to jury-rig the preexisting mechanics of Guilty Gear into a different genre this time. Rather, they reconfigured how GG’s intricacies work in a different context. Gatlings (GG’s fancy word for basic combos) now work similar to the classic “punch-punch-big punch” combos in something like Final Fight. Special move inputs have been simplified to a degree; charge motions and half-circles have been replaced with quarter-circles and dragon punch motions, also getting rid of Isuka’s Turn Around button and letting you change direction with the D-Pad like a normal person. Roman Canceling is in this game, letting you chain special moves into other special moves and even Overdrives, assuming you have the meter for it (and there is rarely an occasion where you don’t), and all you have to do is input the command for a special move while doing another special. You spend less time fighting with the controls and more time fighting the hordes of enemies.

sol badguy’s move list, as an example of how things are different in judgement

If you were wondering if Judgement would help to explain any of Guilty Gear’s meandering story, don’t worry: it doesn’t. A guy named Raymond is doing human experiments on an island that all of the Guilty Gear coincidentally land on at the same time, and brawler hijinks ensue. Dialogue tends to be your character saying something like “there are enemies over there and I am going to fight them!” Sometimes, you might run into a different character, and the two of you talk as if they were a guest character on The Simpsons. “Wow! It’s Venom from Guilty Gear X2 #Reload! What are you doing here?” That sort of thing. Which I’m glad for; we don’t play GG for its plot, we play it because it kicks ass and has sick music. Don’t need lots of bull shit text getting in the way of me doing Stun Dippers and EXE Beasts on giant bugmen.

Fighting game spin-offs tend to be absolute dogshit more often than not, so it’s cool that Judgement is as good as it is. If anything, I would say that this is the most worthy successor to Guardian Heroes. A lot of games have tried to replicate it (Code of Princess, Streets of Rage 4, even GH’s terrible Game Boy Advance sequel), but Judgement nails it moreso than any other game. The only thing it’s missing is having co-op be more than two players. Like, I was legitimately shocked at how good this game was. A true “Hidden Gem” if there ever was one. My only real complaints here would be that the music is inconsistent. There’s a couple of good tracks, some generic guitar riffs, and really abrasive garbage. This is the one Guilty Gear not composed by series creator Daisuke Ishiwatari, and it shows. I’ll chalk this down to time, as the composer for this game, Kennosuke Suemura, has done other soundtracks. He’s done the SNES port of Fatal Fury 2, Rumble Roses XX, the Playstation horror game …Iru! and Battle Fantasia. He also did Samurai Shodown V…which means that he also…made…this. The worst song I’ve ever heard in a fighting game. Okay, I take back any compliments, fuck this guy, he’s history’s greatest monster.

My other complaint is that game can be overly tough at points. PROTIP: Luckily, there’s a code you can do that gives you infinite lives. Pause the game, then press Select to make the pause menu disappear, then press Up, Up, Down, Left and Start to give yourself one extra life. You can repeat that up to 999 times.

Other than those two things, Judgement is well done, doesn’t go on for too long, and has all of your favorites from GG X2. Unless your favorites include Killf Undersn, Robo-Ky, or Justice, in which case it doesn’t. Once you get tired of beating up insects, there is a survival mode that kicked my ass the one time I tried it. And hey, it also includes GG X2 #Reload, so there is a mainline fighting game you can play as well. I will complain about this though, as Japan got X2 Slash, an upgraded revision, and we didn’t. Also, the screen is really zoomed in. Extremely zoomed in to the point of pixellation, which hurts the visuals a lot.

But hey, it’s still Guilty Gear, and the zoom is its only issue, though in this day and age, you probably won’t even be messing with this particular port, and sticking with AC+R on PC. Might still be worth checking out at least once, as you can unlock slight variations (in terms of move list) of each characters (except for the ones I mentioned above) once you finish the second level in Judgement with them.

Anyways, Guilty Gear kicks ass, and this is a damn good game for the PSP.

Site Restructuring

Hey everyone. It’s that time again where I thought I would do some behind the scenes work on the site, and change things up again. The first, and most obvious, is that this blog is no longer confined to a sub-directory. This is where all the updates happen anyway, and I was getting less and less thrilled with my woefully out of date front page, so I put this front and center instead. I’ll be adding some of the things from the front page to its own “Bonus/Omake” page eventually, once I’m done going through and figuring out what should stay and what I should trash.

That’s also another reason: cleaning up. Thought it would be a good idea to delete old shit that I don’t like anymore, for various reasons. Stuff that I changed my mind on or didn’t age well, like, “Life is Strange is a good game,” “I can’t believe AEW hired Nyla Rose just to bury her,” and “Zoe Quinn is a decent human being.” Stuff that I didn’t think was all that good when I hit publish. Stuff that I reread and decided was too mentally ill to stay up. That sort of thing.

Now, while I’m still going to be doing reviews and short stories and very slowly making games (took a couple weeks off for what should be obvious reasons), I plan on being a lot more self-indulgent. I’ve found that I have become less of a people person as of late, and while I’ve definitely taken the steps to keep my popularity to a small audience of weirdos that society pretends to tolerate, I really want to double down on this. During my small break, I’ve been using the Wayback Machine to look at old sites I would read in my early-20s, or even in my teen years. A lot of these were not all that popular, and I only found them through a stroke of sheer luck during a Google search, before Google went to shit. It was a nice reminder of what I want the internet to go back to being: dudes (gender-neutral term) posting things they like on a space that they carved out for themselves for the love of doing it, not for any kind of “clout” or some shit. If I’m going to be a recluse that thinks people around are stupid as shit, I may as well be a relic in other ways, as well. So expect even more “uh idk here’s some stuff” posts that don’t always use a lot of big words.

Anyways, that’s it. I’ll have something up soon for the Patreon folks, which will then show up here in a couple days. I will also be going through and fixing a couple of broken links that have appeared as a result of me moving things around. Update your bookmarks and RSS readers accordingly.