Here we are, in a brand new, just unwrapped year 2011, or as some would say, 2K11. Again, it's been a while since I posted here, but the last two years were weird, to say the least, and one could say that they were both busy, and not really, at the same time. If you can follow what that train of thought, then you deserve a beer. Unless you're not that big on beer, and you'd prefer something else.
Right after Christmas I finally got my copy of Pier Solar, which I ordered years ago, literally, but the WaterMelon took their sweet little time to finish it. I forgive them, though, as I'm aware how much work went into this project, and we should all be happy it got finished at all. So, it's cool that I finally got it, but it's not so cool I got it after Christmas, which means I wasn't really able to play it, aside from testing it for a few minutes to see if the cartridge works at all.
I've made some interesting and not so interesting purchases throughout the year 2010, but I haven't really had the time to enjoy any of them properly, and, as usual, it's the lack of time that keeps me away from both games, and this precious little blog. No time for fun and games means there's not much I'd like to share with the world through this place, and that's the way it's been for a long, long time, and things won't be changing any time soon, that's a promise.
I've been filling my music shelves as well, and a couple of months ago I've managed to score the deluxe edition of Kent's Röd, which consists of two vinyl records, a CD, an artbook and a USB memory stick, containing the the high resolution version of the album, all in a nice cardboard box. The initial price was far beyond what I was willing to pay, but good things come to those who wait, and in the end, I paid only a fraction of the original price.
I wish I had more to say to those who still come by this place, but I'll be cutting it short and that will be all for today. I just might write a bit more about Pier Solar, once I actually get to play it. It's made huge progress since the demo, that's for sure, and I'm happy to see that the game turned out as well as it did, so if you're interestet in my opinion, drop by in a month, or two, or three, and maybe - just maybe - there will be a new entry, smiling at you, waiting for you to read it.
It's been a while since the last time I bought a title for MegaDrive and it certainly has been a while since I have played a Shinobi title, but all that is about to change because another package is here and inside it is a nice and new copy of The Super Shinobi II, also known as Shinobi III in US and Europe.
For some reason, people of a far away country called Japan, thought it would be cool to put a "the" in front of the title but, if you're anything like me you'll think it's stupid. And it is, so after that compelling argument, let's agree that from now on I'll omit the definite article and start refering to the game as Super Shinobi II.
Super Shinobi II is the last game in the series to be released for the MegaDrive and aside from being a kickass ninja game it actually has a pretty interesting development history. The final game was released in mid '93 but Sega was done with the title already towards the end of '92. Why the delay? Apparently, after sending the finished product to various gaming magazines, Sega wasn't pleased with the feedback they got from the reviewers and even though the game was ready to ship, Sega decided to go back to the drawing board.
Previous Shinobi games released on MegaDrive scored much higher and Sega wasn't willing to compromise the quality of the series. This was back in the days when someone still cared about us, customers and gamers, and so more time and effort was put into redesigning and polishing the game. What was the result? Let's just say that Super Shinobi II [aka Shinobi III] is considered to be the best installment in the series to date. Despite the fact that leap in quality of the '93 release compared to the first version was huge, many European game reviewers stuck to their initial scoring and thus one of the greatest MegaDrive titles went by largely unnoticed on the old continent.
But, who gives a damn about the reviewers anyway? It's 2009 and the game is still more fun than many other crappy titles that get published today. What would you say now, Mr Reviewer from 1993? There has to be a market for re-releases of Super Shinobi II, since it got its share of ports on platforms including Wii's Virtual Console, PlayStation 2, PSP and is still to be ported to Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 as a part of Sega MegaDrive Ultimate Collection.
That's some history lesson, but what of the story, gameplay, graphics and music? The story is your garden variety plot that includes a menacing crime syndicate of Neo Zeed trying to take over the world yet again. As a respectable ninja warrior you can't allow that to happen and using your Oboro Ninjitsu techniques you send the bad guys home, crying. Your target is the mysterious Neo Zeed leader known as Shadow Master, a name that is sure to strike fear into any heart that's not as brave as yours.
It's not about the plot though, is it. It's about running around and kicking ass, and you'll do plenty of that in the game. Super Shinobi II features almost flawless controls with silky smooth gameplay that will blow your mind. There's a decent number of attacks and stunts to pull off, plus a couple of ninja spells that can be executed if things get too hectic. The game is fast, and when I say fast I mean really fast. The controls are intuitive enough to scale the learning curve down to minimum though.
The gameplay by itself is really impressive but the graphics are even better. Not counting Treasure's titles, good luck trying to find another hack 'n slash game that looks as good as Super Shinobi II. The artists really tried their best to varry the experience. There's running around in the forest, there's riding on a horseback, there's gliding on water using some surfing powerboard ... you name it. Boss design is impressive and you can really tell that Sega tried to push the hardware to its limit.
The musical score features a couple of catchy tunes, played in the typical metalic tones of the Yamaha chipset. I can't really say that the game has instantly memorable tracks, but the score is solid and I had no real complaints. I did however make use of the digital sound processing presets on my WonderMega to give the sound some extra depth and boost.
After recieving a sequel for the Sega Saturn called Shinobi X [aka Shinobi Legions in the US] in 1995, Shinobi series had to wait until 2002 for the next installment, when first proper 3D Shinobi title was released, followed by a sequel featuring a female lead two years later. Those titles differ greatly from what Shinobi games looked and played like when the series first appeared, and it's Super Shinobi II that is the last and the very best game with the well known 2D design and feel.
Is it worth getting the MegaDrive release when there are the emulated or ported versions? If you own a MegaDrive or any other compatible platform, I'd say it's always better to own the real deal. The game isn't that hard to find and it's relatively cheap when compared to other titles of equal quality. Don't wait until someone figures out the game is actually worth some money and the prices will skyrocket. If you want to get it, get it soon.
It's 4:00 AM at this very moment so I'll just wrap this entry up and try to get some sleep. After all, you can't fight evil crime syndicates and the likes of Shadow Master if you're too tired to count your shirukens. That's it for today then.
Ah, the wonders of homebrew gaming. I'm equally amazed each time a hi end title gets developed by a group of fans and this time is no exception. Another homebrew title is heading to MegaDrive / Sega CD and we want it.
A short trailer and a few screenshots is enough to tell this game will be awsome and it's something you should be saving up your cash for.
The developers claim it to be an RPG in the same spirit as Chrono Trigger or Lunar with graphics matching those of late Super Famicom titles. Judging from the screenshots, there isn't a single reason not to believe them.
The title has been in developement since 2004 and as the authors themselves claim, will be one of the most, if not the most advanced title for Sega's 16 bit platform.
It is said that both the graphics and music engines have some impressive specs and are able to generate some neat effects not seen before on MegaDrive. The game will come with an awsome soundtrack utilizing a brand new engine that will push the audio hardware of the platform to its limits.
The cart version will be heavily optimized and feature some nicer graphic details while the Sega CD version will feature CD soundtrack. Being able to choose between these two versions means you can choose an option that will be easier on your wallet. Nice.
Both versions will be region free so wherever you're from, whatever region your hardware is, the game will boot. This is of course to be expected from a homebrew title.
No pricetag yet, but I'm preparing myself for a price equal to other MegaDrive cart releases such as Beggar Prince. Any price that they throw at you, you should pay. Keep in mind that MegaDrive has been without any official support for years and as soon as the game is sold out it will hit eBay and I assure you, it will cost hundreds of dollars in few years time.
MegaDrive recieved a precious few decent RPGs so make sure you have this game in your collection if you're an RPG fan and a MegaDrive owner. When you cough up the money for this title, remember that it took a small group of hobbyists over four years to get the job done.
The game is supposed to ship on October 29th 2008, which will be the date of MegaDrive's 20th birthday. This is at least the date they're aiming for. Let's keep our fingers crossed and hope for the best.
And last but not least, there's supposed to be a demo arriving in the near future but there is no date that's confirmed. As soon as it's out, I'll be sure to post a message in here, so keep your eyes open.
01 - ブライ八玉の勇士伝説
02 - ドラゴンボールZ偉大なる孫悟空伝説
03 - ふしぎの海のナディア
04 - 魔物ハンター妖子 遠き呼び声
05 - めぞん一刻
01 - ソニック・ザ・ヘッジホッグCD
02 - ファイナルファイトCD
03 - 餓狼伝説スペシャル
04 - 精霊戦士フェイエリア
01 - シャイニング＆ザ・ダクネス
01 - ONI Ⅴ 隠忍を継ぐ者
Another month, another shopping spree. I started this entry with a complete list of items, so we'll have that out of the way. This time it's mostly PC Engine games followed by some Mega CD titles. Nothing too unusual or rare. Either unknown and thus cheap, or well known and mass produced.
Majority of the titles, and all of the Mega CD ones, are brand new, spines included. Since I'm a gamer first and collector second I destroyed all the shrinkwraps to test run each title. I know the games loose their value but I buy them to play them, not to resell them.
Due to a small mixup I got two Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water [ ふしぎの海のナディア ] games, instead of getting the second Lunar title for the Mega CD. I was also supposed to recieve Garou Densetsu for the SFC. All of this has been already taken care of, so I should be recieving the missing games soon.
I must say, it's been ages since I played Final Fight. The last time must have been around the Final Fight One release for the GameBoy Advance. Back then I beat it in every way possible and haven't played it since. Final Fight CD must be the best home platform port ever made. It features the smoothest character animation since the arcade release, revamped soundtrack in audio CD format, extended intro and endings and additional Time Attack.
I haven't had so much fun ever since the Hyper Final Fight Complete, a Beats of Rage mod done by Mr.Q consisting of two games which I have later compiled into one "complete" DreamCast release.
Now it's time to focus on this month's highlight. I finally got my very own Wondermega. And it's not just any Wondermega. It's a Sega Wondermega [hell, that even rhymes].
First of all, let me tell you what a Wondermega platform actually is. It's the most complete and advanced MegaDrive / Mega CD combo you can imagine. It can play both MegaDrive and Mega CD games, aswell as Karaoke CDs, MIDI CDs and of course regular audio CDs.
Aside from being an all in one platform, it's fully loaded with extra features. Wondermega is the only one from the whole MegaDrive lineup that's been fitted with S-Video output. Any other MegaDrive or Genesis put out either composite or RF signals. This is a clear advantage, especially now with everyone buying HD plasma and LCD TVs.
If that wasn't enough, Wondermega also features a MIDI port that combined with MIDI keyboard and software called "Piano Player" turns your console into your own piano teacher. Now this is a bit much if you ask me, but Wondermega has it and nobody says you have to use it.
Another feature worth mentioning are the DAP presets. DAP, or in other words Digital Audio Processing, improves on the sound quality by using advanced digital equalizing. There are three presets to choose from. Game, Ex Bass and Karaoke, each with its own characteristics. You can either turn this feature off completly, or adjust the strenght of the effect manually, with the control next to microphone inputs.
Wondermega is a strange platform. Many have heard or read about it, but its history is still pretty confusing. It's easy to notice if you browse around online forums. People often confuse various incarnations of this system and its features.
The most common misconception adresses rarity of the systems. There are three [ok, four] main Wondermega models. First one being the Victor [also known as JVC] version. This one looks exactly the same as the one you can see on the photos, only difference being a Victor logo. Victor Wondermega was also the first one on the market. Later on Sega bought the JVC design, and made their own version, the one I own.
The Wondermega sold by Sega themselves was a bit cheaper than the Victor original [also known as RG-M1], but it had the exact same set of features and nothing was changed except the logo print. Victor and Sega models are also the only systems with the MIDI output. Sega model was produced in conciderably smaller quantities, which makes it the rarest Wondermega model on the market.
Later on, Victor started selling a redesigned version of the Wondermega. This new version was labeled ワンダーメガM2 or RG-M2. People often claim that alot was stripped down, including the S-Video output. This is not true. Even though the new model did not include a MIDI out, motorized CD tray or the DAP processing, it still featured the S-Video output. Victor also added wireless controller support.
JVC tried to market Wondermega in the US and released the RG-M2 version, stripping the IR controller support. Renamed to X'eye, this version did NOT feature the S-Video output. Due to a huge pricetag and all of its features already supported by other versions of the system, the US X'eye went down in flames.
The video above illustrates how the electrically opened CD-Rom lid works. Bare in mind that Wondermega had its premiere in '92. This feature alone will keep you occupied on a rainy day if you have no games to play. Believe me.