Retro gaming week #9

With all the shenanigans of converting the Jamma arcade machine to a Mame cab just lately, coin-op games have been the staple of this week retro gaming and two classic shooters i’ve re-re-revisiting time and again are in –

Phoenix – Centuri (1980)

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Pure nostalgia this one – When I think back to early arcade gaming the first game that springs to mind is Phoenix. Back in the day, it was pretty common to see an upright or cocktail cab in the corners of cafes, student clubs and chip shops. The one I remember the most was in a greasy spoon cafe not too far away from the school yard. It was an upright Centuri cab complete with that terrible faux wood paneling, but despite is looking awful, was incredibly popular during lunch (and unofficial) break.

Being the only game in the cafe, the unspoken rule was one credit if there was a queue behind you and owner of the cafe would jot down the scores and would offer free lunch to the highest monthly score.

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I’ve only got to hear ‘Romance de Amor’ and I can picture the starfield scrolling down ready for the first wave of attacking birds and then onto the button bashing finale as you punch a hole through the orange defence shield of momma bird – surely a good test of a new arcade build. I play Pheonix and I’m transported back to that cafe on a Friday lunchtime happy in knowledge that the weekend was just around the corner. Bacon sandwich anyone?

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Here’s the second classic shooter i’ve been playing a lot of this week, and another that I used to drop so many pocket money coins into.

Moon Cresta – Nitchibutsu (1980)

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As with Phoenix, the aim is to blast away at everything whilst trying not to get hit yourself. There’s no boss stage with Moon Cresta but after clearing a few stages, you get the chance to upgrade your ships single laser gun by docking with another craft. Sadly the trade off is that your ship is now much bigger therefore so watch that incoming fire!

I may have lost ship one, but two and three docked together makes for one mighty ship.

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Moon Cresta is also one handful of games that I could recognise straight away by just one sound effect, the laser fire FX is so memorable!

Incidentally, if you fancy looking at some of home computer conversions, the ZX Spectrum version is almost arcade perfect in gameplay. Sadly the sound effects are a bit feeble.

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Setting up my emulation PC for the Mame cabinet meant transferring a hefty amount of data from my NAS and so to pass the time, I’d got my Commodore Plus/4 setup on the geek desk for a spot of gaming whist I waited. Here’s two games I keep returning too, the first being a conversion of a classic coin-op

Moon Buggy – Anirog (1985)

Moon Buggy was ported to many systems including countless clones and I’ve probably played more versions of this game than I can remember – Some are great and many are really poor. The Plus/4 – Commodore 16 version by Anirog is extremely playable though and a faithful conversion of the arcade classic. The difficulty curve, I think, is just right, starting off nice n easy and then gently increasing and rewards those who dare jump early or late.

The aim off the game is to patrol the the surface of the moon and destroy all invaders you encounter. You moon buggy is equipped with forward facing and surface to air guns as well as jump jets to propel yourself over the many craters and rocks you’ll encounter along the way.

Timing your shots, speed and jump jets is critical to completing a stage as well as keeping an eye on the ground and in the air….yep, lots to do!

Graphically it looks rather nice too with just a hint of parallax scrolling on the background and although your buggy is a simply drawn, this version does have the signature wheel explosions if you happen to fall foul of any lunar obstacles.

I think the only critisim i have is the high pitched sound FX of the enemy can sometimes become tiresome but apart from that, top notch 1/6th gravity fun.

Anirog have produced some great game covers, Moon Buggy is certainly one of them.

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Another Plus/4 game I’ve been playing is one that was only released a few years ago..you’ve gotta love the retro gaming community!

Adventures in time – Psytronic (2010)

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It’s one of those games that you’re either going to love or loath due to its necessity on the pixel perfect jump…or leap into the unknown.

Give it time though and once you start to learn the layout of a few screens and the enemy patterns Adventures in Time certainly starts to grow on you and for a Plus/4 game, it looks incredible good too and has some of the best music i’ve heard coming from the TED.

I was first introduced to this last year at a Retro Event in Derby by Chris http://www.commodore16.com/ Snowdon (here’s hoping there’s going to be another one) and have been meaning to sit down with this again whenever I had the Plus/4 setup again.

A great game which all C16/plus4 owners should try.

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On to another game that’s starting to grow on me despite a fustrating start.

Gem Chaser – ZX Spectrum (2013)

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There’s been a raft of new games released over at World of Spectrum and this one from a few weeks ago. It’s a remake of an indie Xbox game and all you have to do is run/jump your block around the level collecting the coloured blocks before the timer runs out. Sounds easy right?

Well, you can only collect a coloured block that matches your own colour. Failure to do so will result in a time penalty and as time is very short, you don’t want to be doing that very often.

To change your blocks colour, you need to pass through one of portals dotted around the screen. The trick to completing the level is to figure out the least timing consuming route and not to spend too much time running around haphazard.

Try not to destroy your vintage ZX Spectrum after the frustration this game will bring πŸ™‚

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I was reading a review of a this particular game in this months edition of Retro Gamingtimes Monthly and thought i’d revisit on a the system I’d first played it on.

Pooyan – Konami (1982)

Pooyan is one of those games that i’ve heard about for many years but have not actually played it. Last year I was at one of the the Retro Computer Museum events and sat down to a system likewise that really didn’t know too much about either. Said system was the Sord M5 and it so happened to have a Pooyan cartridge loaded.

Suffice to say, I really enjoyed it and have since sourced a copy for my NES…..no chance of owning a Sord M5 myself though as they appear to be quite the collectable and demand a hefty price.

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Momma Bear in basket, fires arrows at balloonist wolves……huh?

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….,and finally, after the sad announcement and closure of Lucasarts annouced a few weeks ago, I’ve been looking back at some of their classic adventures on PC and Amiga. This week it’s the four disk Amiga version of ‘Threepwood’s island of Monkey secrets’….or something to that effect πŸ™‚

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Happy gaming….Yarg!

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