Thursday, January 25, 2007

Dance Dance Revolution SuperNOVA

Released last year in arcades and on the USA PS2, the Japanese PS2 version of DDR SuperNOVA finally makes it to market. The game sports a 70+ song list with catchy tracks such as "Centerfold" from Captain Jack, "Golden Sky" by which has a "Butterfly-esque" hook, "Modern Girl" by Sheena Easton which gets cut off too soon, and "Girl in a Day Dream" by Pandora. There's also a dance mix version of "What a Wonderful World" from Beatbox vs DJ Miko that's hot.

A new diversion in DDR SuperNOVA is the 2-Player Battle Mode where the player challenges the COM or a second player in a side by side competition. As you collect PERFECT and GREAT rankings, a laser from the top of the screen attacks your opponent by blinking out the cue arrows at the top of the screen, speeds up arrows, shuffling arrows around, and causing arrows to stutter-step in tricky ways. The Diet Mode allows players to enter their weight and track caloric expenditure when dancing to songs. For beginners who haven't the foggiest idea of how to play DDR, the Tutorial Mode patiently guides dancers through the basics of stepping, double-stepping, freezing, and step sequencing. «NCS Game Notes»

King's Field Dark Side Box

Last month, From Software collected a number of Armored Core games in a special bundle and threw in some bonuses. This month, the company collects four games from the King's Field series and includes a few bonuses to round out the King's Field love.

» King's Field I [Playstation]
» King's Field II [Playstation]
» King's Field III [Playstation]
» King's Field IV [Playstation 2]
» Memorial Disc [DVD-Video]
» Best Soundtrack [CD-Rom]
» Premium Visual Book, Operating Manual, and Verdite World Map

Tennis no Oji-Sama Doki² Survival

Targeted at girl gamers, the second Prince of Tennis Doki Doki Survival game in as many months moves from the mountain setting in the first game to the seashore. At the outset, the heroine is aboard a ship with 40 Prince of Tennis characters. The first scene takes place in the dining room where some of the boys introduce themselves but everyone eventually retires to their rooms. Sometime in the night, a massive storm causes a little bit of panic but the crew eventually guides the ship onto land and the characters regain their footing.
Although the game features 40 tennis players, only 20 of the boys are fair game for love and romance. The scenario length for each character is lengthier than in the original DokiDoki game so there's more time to enjoy special moments and view magical screenshots. Or something to that effect. To add to the atmosphere of being inside the world of Tennis no Oji-sama, the voice actors from the animation series were hired to provide the copious amounts of speech in the game. Everyone talks except for the heroine who has dialogue but her voice is silent to maintain the illusion of you being her... even though she has blue hair, gray eyes, and a lime-green smock. «NCS Game Notes»

Parodius Portable

The dead serious Gradius games were dark, somber, and stone cold. Konami realized this back in 1988 and decided to lighten things up by parodying their flagship shooter series with a little game called Parodius. Instead of powerful space ships such as the Vic Viper or the Lord British, Parodius gave players control of a pink octopus named Takosuke which flew and blasted away with blazing lasers. From there, the Parodius series gained more characters, more bizarre bosses, and enraptured fans with light-hearted visuals that were very Japanese.

Konami collects five Parodius games on a single PSP UMD and throws in screen adjustment facilities, in-game modifiers, and a convenient save/load function. The music in the Parodius games are bright, lively, and crisp so Konami included a BGM player in the software so gamers can listen to the tunes without having to play through the different games.

The five games contained in Parodius Portable are:

1) Parodius (1988, 2007) MSX Remake
2) Parodius Da! (1990) Coin-op version
3) Gokujou Parodius: Kakou no Eikou wo Momomete (1994)
4) Sexy Parodius (1996)
5) Jikkyou Oshaberi Parodius - forever with me - (1996)

Salamander Portable

In our opinion, the inclusion of "Xexex" in Salamander Portable made it an automatic must-have release. We've sold and traded a total of 27 Xexex arcade pcbs over the past 10 years at prices ranging from US$300 to US$800. It's a game that been much sought after and we still keep 2 Xexex boards in our little shooter shrine for purely sentimental reasons. To see the game in a collection and made available to everyone (legitimately) is a thing of beauty. The other games in Salamander Portable are bonuses but we would have paid the price of admission for Xexex alone. We're crazy like that.

The five games collected in Salamander Portable are:

1) Salamander (1986) Coin-op version
2) Gradius 2 (1987) Coin-op version
3) Life Force (1987) Coin-op version
4) Xexex (1991) Coin-op version
5) Salamander 2 (1996) Coin-op version

The game versions used in Salamander Portable are the original coin-op releases with the "Deposit Coin" text on the title screens. The default game screen for the shooters is a square viewing area surrounded by borders but the screen ratio may be changed to fit the PSP widescreen.

Twinbee Portable

When one thinks of Twinbee, pastel images and colored bells generally come to mind. Konami's Twinbee started out as a simple vertical shooter in 1985 and eventually led to sequels and gaming adjuncts such as a Twinbee RPG and a Twinbee platform action game. The unique feature of the Twinbee ship was its gloved hands which punched outwards as a secondary weapon. Twinbee game stages featured lots of clouds which released bells when shot. The bells served as power-ups when collected but keep shooting a bell and its color and attendant power-up changes.
The games in the PSP collection hail from the arcade originals except for Twinbee Da! which is a remake of the Gameboy original. The remake is a visual feast of pastel and widescreen shooting action.

The titles included in Twinbee Portable are:

1) Twinbee (1985) Coin-op version
2) Twinbee DA! (1990) Gameboy Remake
3) Detana!! Twinbee (1991) Coin-op version
4) Pop n' Twinbee (1993) Coin-op version
5) Twinbee Yahho! Fushigi no Kuni de Ooabare (1995) Coin-op version

Special PSP features include a screen modification facility, game setting toggles, and a save/load feature.

Gradius Portable [Best]

Over two decades ago, the original Gradius introduced gamers to the concept of multiple weapon power-ups and a speed boost to confront waves of enemies. Shoot a gold-colored ship and pick up the little power-up that it releases. The first power-up option is the speed boost but a twin-shot, missile, and others may be triggered. Konami rode this formula well into the late 90s with Gradius Gaiden on the PS1 in 1997 and Gradius IV in the arcades in 1998.
To commemorate the Gradius series, Konami collects Gradius I, II, III, IV, and Gradius Gaiden on one UMD and also offers the ability to play the games in original screen aspect mode or stretched to fit the entire length of the PSP LCD. New to the PSP port is the ability to save your progress in any of the Gradius games for resumption at a later date. For example, you're on level 3 in Gradius 2 and suddenly the dinner bell rings. It's pizza night. With your favorite topping. Should you give up on the game and lose your progress or continue playing while growling sound effects echo from your stomach? The save feature removes such conundrums from your life. The PSP processor is capable of running the Gradius code at full speed but those hankering for true-to-original slowdown when many enemy ships amass on screen, there's an option to retain the original bottlenecks for authentic Gradius gaming.
A gallery mode includes movies from Gradius Deluxe Pack from the PS1 and Gradius III & IV from the PS2. A music gallery includes music from all five of the Gradius games and from the X68000 version of Gradius.

Final Fantasy X International [UHits]

Square owns a license to print money. Forget about the dismal performance of Square Pictures' debut project a few years ago. When a new Final Fantasy game goes on sale, it's a safe wager that a few million units will move from distribution channel to consumer consoles. The FF brand is a mint.

Final Fantasy X International is a re-issue of last year's Final Fantasy X game with a few extras and bonuses as follows:

1 - Japanese subtitles and text, English voice acting
2 - New Sphere Grid arrangements
3 - A new scene dubbed Eternal Peacetime which occurs 2 years after the conclusion of Final Fantasy X
4 - Previews of Kingdom Hearts, FFXI, Final Fantasy Unlimited, Square Masterpiece Series, and the FF Movie DVD.
5 - Interviews with voice talent from the Japanese and English games
6 - A recap of promotional videos for the launch of FFX last year
7 - Rikki's Suteki Da Ne, the FFX theme song, is included

Final Fantasy X-2 International [UH]

Yuna and friends rise again with an updated edition of Final Fantasy X-2 dubbed the "International" version. FFX-2 International is basically the USA version of the game with English voices but Japanese subtitles, text, and menu options only. A gaggle of new game modes also make the new release worthwhile for return buyers.
Two new costume modes are featured in the game: Psychicer - where players may use arcane arts in battle and an "Ultimania Omega" mode. The "Last Mission" mode takes place 3 months after the events of FFX-2 where players take on the Tower of Yadonoki. Although the voices in the FFX-2I game proper are in English, note that the voices in Last Mission are only in Japanese.

A Monster Taming Mode in the game gives players the chance to capture enemy monsters and corral them into the party. Monster hunting is accomplished by laying traps on a world map. Eventually, a hapless beast will fall into your trap and become a guinea pig for your monster raising exercise. Once trained, a monster may be pitted against others in a fighting arena for winnings and acclaim.

Hyper Street Fighter [Capkore]

Relive the days of Street Fighter tourneys, dizzy effects, redizzies and experience once again, the depth of the old school SF games sans the rolls of quarters, cigarette smoke, surly challengers and other hazards of the olden arcades. Similar to the gaming scheme found in Vampire Chronicle for Dreamcast, Capcom reaches back in time and gathers together all of the World Warriors found in various versions and iterations of Street Fighter II into one comprehensive fighting game. It's a veritable Street Fighter melting pot with a bunch of bonus material to boot.

For example, one may select an original fighter from Street Fighter II (1991) and pit it against a stronger Ryu, Chun-Li or Ken from Super Street Fighter II Turbo to determine rank. The character versions represented include the original Street Fighter II World Warriors (1991), Champion Edition (1992), Turbo (1992), Super Street Fighter II (1993) and Super Street Fighter II Turbo (1994) which break down into five possible versions of each character as follows: World Warrior (Normal), Dash, Turbo, Super, and Super X. The speed of the game is selectable and may be toggled between four levels of turbo speed.

Naruto Narutimett Hero 3 [Best]

The third Narutimett Hero game runs faster, smoother, and more robust than the previous releases. In the Versus and Practice modes, up to 40 fighters are in the roster but only 19 are playable from the outset of the game - the other 21 require unlocking.
To follow Naruto's story from the beginning with the 9-Tailed Fox Demon threat through important scenes from the animation, the Story Mode provides gamers with a roundup of Naruto's greatest hits. The first battle against Kakashi is a training match where sensei reads a book and hums to himself as Naruto tries his darndest to beat sensei with a flurry of punches and doppleganger chains. Similar to previous Narutimett games, each fighter has a standard attack, a shuriken throw, a guard move, and rapid-fire combos that may be chained together in fluid motion.
Narutimett Hero 3 also contains an adventure game mode and mini-games including one where Naruto races up a tree against another player or a COM-controlled Sakura. The mini-game is viewed in 3D from behind Naruto so he's seen running upwards into the tree and moving from left to right while grabbing 1-up bonuses and avoiding falling rocks. If Naruto smacks into a branch, he'll stop for a spell while Sakura continues higher.