Blow up self to involve enemies!

About a year ago, a Japanese programmer named OMEGA released a game called “Every Extend“, which looked really neat but wouldn’t play on my American Windows. The programmers at Tetsuya Mizuguchi’s Q? Entertainment got ahold of it, and after the third day that productivity had ground to a halt because of it Mizuguchi realized its potential and contacted OMEGA to make a PSP port. I figured I’d never get to see the original version, but there’s now a new version that plays just fine on my damn dirty Yank computer. (This new version probably came out a while ago and I just missed it. Things like that tend to happen.) Here is a direct link to the download (in LZH format). The website describes the game as “‘Suicidal explodion’ game with new feelings.”, and that about sums it up; your only controls are the arrow keys and a button that blows you up, and the object is to blow yourself up in the right places to create huge chain combos of exploding enemies. Give it a whirl, and then check out this ludicrous replay (copy it into the “replay” directory and view it with the “Replay” menu option).

OMEGA is also responsible for Dan! Da! Dan!, a deceptively-pastel vertical-scrolling shooter which is equally insane and addictive.

My second favorite game for the Atari

Director Keith Schofield has released his second video-game-themed music video. The first, and best, was a Beatmania-inspired video for DJ Format’s “3 Feet Deep”, which gets all kinds of extra points for the “Bling Bonus”, “Candy Bonus”, and “Hamster Bonus”.

The newest video chronicles the sad sad tale of E.T. for the Atari 2600, of which hojillions of copies were made, and subsequently buried in the New Mexico desert because only about a dozen people could figure out how to play it.

I’m gonna go all “new games journalism-y” for a moment here and throw in a personal anecdote, so bear with me. E.T. was my second favorite game for the 2600 (the first being, of course, Adventure), and although every article I’ve read about it on the web complains that the game is “unplayable” and “impossible”, I could routinely beat it in under 10 minutes when I was a small child. What I’m saying is, right now I’m going on the record as the first person on the entire internet to say that “E.T. for the Atari 2600 failed because it was ahead of its time”. How was it ahead of its time? Because it was the first game for the Atari 2600 where you actually had to read the instructions (the second was the equally-doomed Sword Quest). In the later, NES-years of my childhood, I would dilligently read the instructions for any new game I got, and subsequently amaze all my friends who never bothered with the instructions by doing things like using the projectile weapons in Castlevania or casting spells in Rygar. They’d stare at me as though I’d just raised the dead. So, anyway, that’s what happened to E.T.: millions of people bought it, four people actually read the instructions, learned how to play it, and loved it, and the rest said “WTF?? I keep falling down holes!” and went back to Pacman.

But is it Cheese-and-Mac-compatible?

For all the Stepmania fans out there who’ve been dying to use an actual pad to dance to “Bitches”, “Let Mom Sleep”, and “Dan’s Theme” but didn’t want to shell out the $40 for a Playstation pad + Playstation-to-USB converter, or the $80+ for a really nice USB RedOctane pad, your salvation has come from the strangest of places. Kraft (yes, that Kraft), in an effort to “do their part” to battle the childhood obesity “epidemic”, is selling “free” (+$9.99 s/h) USB dance pads right here (that’s a lot of quotes). Of course, you get what you pay for, so expect these pads to be rather cheesy (GET IT???? KRAFT!!! CHEESY!!!! LAUGH, GODDAMMIT!!!), but it’ll certainly help you burn calories a lot faster than using the arrow keys on your keyboard. Better hurry, though; the offer expires at the end of the month.

One can only hope that the pack-in game measures the amount of exercise you’ve gotten in American cheese slices.

Free Chocobo to good home

My old host is going away, so I’m in the process of moving Inverted Castle to the new one. The old host also hosts smellslikechocobo.com, another domain I own but have never done anything with. Rather than go through the trouble of moving it, I’ve decided to give it away for free. Tell me, in the comments of this post, what you would do with it if I gave it to you, and if I like your idea it’s yours. There are no rules, no concrete deadline, and no competition, I’m just making sure it’s going to a good home that will give it the care, feeding, and love it deserves.

Doujin Fighter Fight: The Fightening

This was originally just going to be a post about Melty Blood: ReACT, but I’ve found a few more mention-worthy doujin 2D fighting games. For those playing along at home, doujin soft are kinda sorta not-really the Japanese equivalent of shareware, except that instead of being sold primarily over the web, they’re sold primarily at Comiket, a semi-annual convention where everyone claims they’re there to buy tasteful stuff like Touhou shmups and high-quality Evangelion fan art, but actually ends up going home with giant armfuls of ridiculous hentai manga (not work safe, and yes, I only said that so the comments of this post will get filled up with otaku screaming “it’s not true!” and charmingly misformatted ASCII art). And if you don’t know what a fighting game is then there’s nothing either God or man can do to help you. Melty Blood: ReACT, ArmJoe, and Destraction Desire are the only three of these that I’ve played the full versions of, so my impressions of the others are just based on their demos.

  • Melty Blood ReACT (this link goes to an English translation of the demo. The actual website for the game is here) is widely considered to be the best PC fighting game ever made, despite the fact that it’s “doujin”. The gameplay and design are similar to Last Blade 2 and King of Fighters 2000, and has a nice collection of varied but balanced characters. The wonderfully minimalist, moody music is the best fighting game music I’ve heard, and fits perfectly with the setting. ReACT is the second game in the Melty Blood series; the original Melty Blood was a simpler game with less characters, the third game, Melty Blood: Act Cadenza is a port of the series to the NAOMI arcade system, with more characters and even tighter gameplay, and Melty Blood: ReACT [Final Tuned] is an update to ReACT that matches the controls to Act Cadenza. The Melty Blood series was created by the “doujin circle” French Bread (formerly Watanabe Seisakujo), and is based on (and uses the characters from) another doujin group’s work, a visual novel called Tsukihime, which somehow involves lots of vampires, and a boy who can see peoples’ “life lines” and cut them with his pocketknife. If for some reason you are only able to check out one of the games on this list, check out Melty Blood: ReACT.

    Caveat Emptor!!! If you’re so taken by the demo that you want to buy the full version of the game, note that the Melty Blood: ReACT CD-ROM that runs about $24 is ONLY an update, and requires that you ALSO buy the original Melty Blood for $42! If you also want “Final Tuned”, that’s another $20 CD-ROM. Yes, that is a whole lot of money for an “amateur” game.

  • ArmJoe is a 2D fighting game based on the musical version of Les Miserables. Really. The gameplay’s a little wonky at times, but it’s completely free, and no other video game will ever give you the opportunity to play as “Robo Valjean”. Version 1.3 ran fine on my computer, but for some reason the latest version, 1.4, did not. The game was created by a doujin circle called T-Lab.
  • Destraction Desire (which is often corrected to “Destruction Desire” from its original Engrish) is a free but incomplete Guilty-Gear-ish fighting game created by a one-man team called “Yew”, who has since stopped working on it. Surprisingly, the game was made using Enterbrain’s 2d Fighter Maker 2k2 (which apparently no longer exists) by someone with no programming experience, but it really feels like the engine was custom-made for the game. I say it’s “Guilty-Gear-ish” because of the five characters; one is Sol Badguy with electricity instead of fire, one is Ky Kiske but female, one is Kliff Undersn without a sword, one is Zato-1 with bones instead of shadows, and the last one is sort of like I-No. Beyond the striking similarities to Guilty Gear characters, the characters in Destraction Desire are all original, and all of the graphics were created specifically for the game. (as opposed to 99% of Fighter Maker / MUGEN games which use character sprites and backgrounds from other fighting games with little to no change.)

    Note that the filenames are in Japanese, so for the game to run you have to set your “Default Language for Non-Unicode Programs” to “Japanese” BEFORE you unzip it. Doing this will also turn all your backslashes into yen signs and make you go crazy.

OK, that’s all the complete games, so here’s a quick overview of the demos:

  • Eternal Fighter Zero is a cute SD all-girl fighting game by Twilight Frontier, which has about the same depth of gameplay as Melty Blood: ReACT, but inferior gameplay and graphics.
  • Akatsuki BK by Subtle Style looks REALLY good (the graphics are reminiscent of a high-res King of Fighters), and plays about the same as ArmJoe. I’m not sure whether the setting is original or a “fan work” of something else.
  • Immaterial and Missing Power is a collaboration between Eternal Fighter Zero creator Twilight Frontier and Team Shanghai Alice which, naturally, puts Team Shanghai Alice‘s shooting game characters in an Eternal Fighter Zero engine fighting game. I couldn’t get it to run on my computer (this was before I figured out the trick to make Destraction Desire work, so that might work for this too), but it looks just like EFZ but with ZUN characters and special moves that are reminiscent of “bullet hell” shooters.

And there you go. A whole giant pile of fighting game demo awesomeness to check out. Wow, this was a really long article. I guess I’m making up for being gone so long over Xmas break. Let me know in the comments if I got any of my facts wrong; most of this entry is based on conjecture and my feeble grasp of the Japanese language.

For even more doujin fighting game reviewness, check out NTSC-uk’s similar article, which I found while doing research for this one.