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[personal profile] softchassis
 Sometimes the simplest games are the best ones, and Gekitotsu Yonku Battle (which can be roughly translated as "Four-wheel Crash Battle") certainly fits that bill-- Irem's NES output seemed to range from unique and complex like Sqoon to just simple and fun like Gekitotsu Yonku Battle.



In what could be described as a "vehicular combat game", all you do in Gekitotsu Yonku Battle is drive your Formula One car into other Formula One cars.  Any time the front of one vehicle collides with any other vehicle, the latter vehicle gets knocked away.  How far the vehicles get knocked away depends on the car's speed.  Knock an enemy car into an obstacle such as a wall, and that car will take damage until it explodes, and the same goes for you!



You start each of the game's levels with a quota of rivals (teki) to destroy, though this number can be decreased by picking up special flags.  Every few stages is a bonus stage where you have to pick up a number of flags under a time limit.  You also unlock more cars as you go along, though the differences between the cars is mostly cosmetic.



The challenge arises through the increasingly complex stages, which get more and more congested with walls to get bumped into, as well as oil slicks that make you lose control of your car.  As an additional challenge, when you get knocked away, you don't regain control until your car loses all its momentum, meaning you can bump into one wall and keep sliding and bump into another wall.  This can combo a lot of your health away, and before you know it, you've lost!

There isn't much more to the game than that!  It's a simple little time waster that I stumbled upon on one of those online NES emulators in middle school that wasn't blocked by the school's internet filter.  Give it a try if you have some time to kill and just want to play a silly little game with fun sounds and visuals.

Sqoon

Jul. 23rd, 2015 01:44 pm
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[personal profile] softchassis
When I was in Middle School, I bought one of these, one of those unlicensed "[impossible number]-in-1" NES on a chip controllers with tons of NES games on it. I saw it in a little toy shop in a mall, hooked up to a TV as a display model, and even though these kinds of things had been around for ages, this was the first I'd ever heard of one or seen one. It was such a novel concept to young teenage me, someone who had grown up on emulators because we couldn't afford many games.  How did they manage to squeeze all those games into one controller? Amazing! I of course know better now, but I still remember being amazed all the same.

So, I bought the little controller, and I probably spent an equal amount of time--if not more--playing it as I did my Wii. I learned about a few neat NES games I would've never heard of otherwise through this little controller, such as the (in my opinion) superior version of Tetris by Tengen, Yie-Ar Kung Fu, Karateka... but the game which wowed me the most, which I still play to this day on occasion, was Sqoon.



Sqoon is a horizontal shoot-em-up like Gradius, except in a novel-for-the-time twist, you control a little pink submarine underwater instead of a spaceship in space. Aside from having a unique setting, Sqoon is also a fairly unique shoot-em-up all its own.

A little intermission on the title screen, complete with an SOS in Morse code, says that Neptunians have invaded the Earth and are melting the ice caps. It's up to you to pilot the Sqoon submarine and beat back their assault, before it's too late!



In actuality though, it seems you may already be too late! Each stage starts out with a peaceful little tropical tune as you travel over an underwater city, appearing to be based on various locales from across the world.

Still, those Neptunians have to pay. How does Sqoon fight these alien invaders? Well, you have two weapons at your disposal in Sqoon--a torpedo that shoots straight ahead, and a depth charge that travels diagonally towards the sea floor. While the torpedoes and depth charges can both hurt any biological enemy, you need to use the depth charges specifically to destroy flashing things which your torpedoes have no effect on.



The main enemies in the game are the Neptunians, which are cute little alien things which travel in all sorts of unique ways. These big one-eyed creatures travel in a loop-de-loop across the screen, for example. The enemy patterns keep the game fresh and interesting.



Towards the sea floor is a container with a flashing cap on it, which we need to destroy with the depth charges. What's in the container?



Captured earthlings! We need to rescue them before they drown or get eaten by the killer whales which always follow Sqoon around.



Once you have 9 earthlings aboard Sqoon, a ship appears on the surface of the ocean where you can deposit them. Your reward is either a stronger weapon or more fuel, the latter of which you can also get from bombing crabs with depth charges.

And that's the basic formula of Sqoon--shoot alien sea creatures and free their captives. The levels get longer and longer and the enemy patterns get more and more complex as the game goes on. Being an early NES game, it's very arcade-y, but it's a lot of fun! The colorful yet grim setting is also a neat anachronism which I think adds to this game's charm.

Sqoon doesn't appear to have been very popular at the time, as it hasn't had any re-releases or really any mention at all outside of its initial release, which is a shame as I think it's one of the better horizontal shoot-em-ups out there.
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[personal profile] tepidsnake
Bird Week is a game that completely fascinated me the first time I played it, and I still think about it every now and then because there's not much else out there like it. Developed by Lenar, a company who also made quirky games like Mercenary Force (Game Boy) and Deadly Towers (NES), Bird Week is a simple arcade-style Famicom game released only in Japan in 1986. As a mama bird, you have to look after your chicks by feeding them butterflies you grab with your mouth, all the while avoiding other wildlife including flying squirrels, woodpeckers and hawks. 
 
What makes the game fairly unique is you'll mostly be avoiding enemies rather than fighting them- you have a mushroom to grab and hit enemies with, but moving about is much more efficient. It's most certainly flawed- the one in-game song is very short, it gets pretty hard/frustrating quickly and it's tough to even grab butterflies at times- but it's such an unusual idea for a game (I really can't think of any games where you play as a bird looking after her young beyond Flicky and arcade ultra-obscurity Birdiy) and it's kinda cute in its own way. 

Anyway, each round changes the season, so here's the first six, plus a fish-catching bonus stage.
 

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