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] lunarsystem
Sorry I missed last week, it completely slipped my mind! I'm setting myself reminders to keep up on QWednesdays though. 

This week's icebreaker is kind of a your-mileage-may-vary question, but here goes: do you have any "therapy games?" That is, are there any games/genres that you like to curl up with when you're feeling down, or help you burn off stress? And, as always, what are you playing right now?

[personal profile] jackvambrace
Discussion of Lucs incorporealness. Blademaven Battle

Wine and Roses is and RPG Maker game published in late 2012. You play as a trio of exorcists under the employ of Luc Francisco, Lord of Fort Adder. The fort has been taken by monsters and spirits and such, cursing everything and everyone in it and leaving Lord Francisco a skeleton.

The game presents as a typical top down jrpg, with some uniqueness. There are no random encounters, instead each enemy you can fight is visible on the map, allowing you to choose when and what you fight. When you win a fight it disappears forever. and you are gifted upgrades, loot, skills, and story tidbits. It feels kinda like Megaman, you fight a boss and get a new weapon or power and most of the time another enemy is weak to your new equipment.

During the fights you control the three exorcists, Carmanth, Argent, and Nynavae. Luc is incapable of fighting in his skeletal form, so he instead offers advice and color commentary on the fight as it progresses. This is used as a gameplay mechanic to kinda help you figure out what to do against some of the tougher enemies, but it is also used a storytelling element. Luc is usually not being a smarmy jerk he sometimes offers insight into his past and personality, I really liked this part of the game.

The maps are laid out so that you can pretty much go everywhere at the outset, it reminds me a little of Demon Souls. Some fights are definitely easier at the start (I think the ice sector was way harder than the rest) but you can try whatever you like. If you lose a fight it just boots you back to the map where you were, so there's no real penalty for losing. This may be the most forgiving and inviting RPG I've ever played.

At the end of it all Wine and Roses was fun to play. On top of that, it was funny, emotional, and challenging without being off-putting. Only real complaint is that it's short, maybe four hours, although there is a fair bit of replay if you like toying around with the exorcists loadouts. I recommend this to anyone who likes rpg's or silly skeletons with dressed like red mages.
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[personal profile] lunarsystem
 

Echo Night for the PSX (by From Software--yeah, the Dark Souls guys) is one of my favorite games. It's one of those clunky horror-ish walk-around-and-pick-up-items games I love so much, and instead of being set in a mansion like Resident Evil, The Note and a million other PSX horror games, Echo Night is set aboard a doomed ship where the crew is already dead and you have to help their ghosts pass on to the next world by jumping back and forth through time. It's a small, compelling story, and since it's also on the PS3 shop, I really recommend checking it out.

Anyway, Echo Night 2: Nemuri no Shihaisha is the Japan-only sequel and it recently got a fan translation called Echo Night: The Lord of Nightmares. It's a really stunning localization, extremely thorough and incredibly polished! I really admire the love and hard work that went into this translation.

That said, Echo Night 2 doesn't really hit me the same way the first one did. For one thing, it's way, way larger, with a massive six areas to Echo Night's one, and the bulk of the game takes place in...a mansion. It's a bit disappointing, although the other areas are a little more interesting (ruins and a research lab, a tower, a chapel, a clock tower). Plus, the layout of the mansion doesn't make much sense to me and is totally inconvenient: who would design a house where you have to walk through the kitchen (or locker room, on the opposite side) to get to the courtyard? 

Still, it's a cool game and is worth playing through multiple times to get the different endings. I've only gotten the normal ending so far, and I got a bit burned out on the game my first playthrough, so I'm probably going to let it sit a bit before I go for the bad/good/ominous endings. If you like obscure horror-ey weird games, I definitely recommend the Echo Night series. (I haven't played Echo Night: Beyond for the PS2 yet, though. One day!)
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[personal profile] tepidsnake

A small post for a small game. Endless Alice, a fan game based on the Touhou series (in short, flying girls throw colourful bullets at each other) is a cute little homage to single-screen platformers like Bubble Bobble, but with more of a focus on action. As the lonely dollmaker Alice Margatroid, you have to survive an endless wave of living mushrooms that sprout from the ground, and occasional attacks from Marisa Kirisame, a mischievous witch. There's 16 round layouts selectable before you start a game, but no end to each round- Alice can take 5 hits before the game is over, so it's just about hanging on for as long as you can! Alice can throw dolls to defeat the mushrooms, but holding the button down lets her charge an attack that causes an explosion, and any enemies caught in it blow up too, leading to a chain reaction and more points! She also has a slide and a jump, but that's about it.

It's basic, and the stages take a little time to get going as you wait for enemies to spawn (although once they do, it can get a bit stressful trying to keep up with them all) but Endless Alice is like a pocket-sized arcade game, with sessions lasting barely a few minutes. It's a good game to play for when you want something a little simpler  Endless Alice has been released for free b its developers, Lion Heart, and can be downloaded from their website- click the Endless Alice banner on the right. They also released a version called Endless Marisa with the roles swapped around (Marisa must survive against waves of dolls with her star-flinging magic) but they don't seem to offer this one on their site.

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[personal profile] lunarsystem


Forget-Me-Not: My Organic Garden is a visual novel/time management game by Cavyhouse, available from Playism. I was really enchanted with the art style and the idea of an organ harvesting nature game (you grow organs on trees and deliver them to customers), and I was really amped to play this, but it got kinda overwhelming kinda quickly. This post isn't really a review, though, it's a warning for some of the subject matter in the game that I wish I'd gotten a heads up on before I played.

I haven't gotten very far (I'm still in chapter 2) and I don't know how much more of the game I'll play, but here are some details. Warning: discussion of animal cruelty and death under the cut.

Read more... )
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[personal profile] chocomarsh
This game was released earlier this month and was promoted across a large handful of indie channels, so I don't know whether it qualifies as a "niche game," but! It's obscure, it's probably going to remain obscure, and I like it a whole lot!



Strawberry Cubes is a pay-what-you-want platformer for Windows. You move through mesmerizing, glitchy fixed screens with an expansive, mostly hidden movement vocabulary, climbing plants, ringing bells, and collecting purple icons for occult reasons. The focus is on exploration, both of the game's (jarring but pleasantly benign) space and of its (not at all benign) hidden systems.

Rambly 'review' behind the cut )

Cameltry

Jul. 11th, 2015 06:06 pm
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[personal profile] tepidsnake
Taito is, by far, one of my favourite developers- The Newzeland Story is probably my favourite game of all time, and their arcade output is fantastic- so it'll be fair to expect plenty of rainbowgames posts from me about them! So for starters, let's talk about one of their paddle games, Cameltry.


 
Released in 1989 in arcades, Cameltry is a maze-style game that takes combines rotating graphics with a paddle controller to create a somewhat-dizzying race to the finish. Rather than directly move your marble, you rotate the maze around it with the analogue paddle and while you can press a button to make the ball jump or fall faster- essential for destroying blocks- that's all you've got. The main challenge comes in the form of obstacles like one-way paths, stop/go signs, bumpers, time-reducing cross marks and the all-important timer which is your only real foe. Your marble can't be destroyed by any environmental hazards, only by the clock, and you only get a certain amount of time added after each stage, so making it to the end quickly to have more time for the next stage is the only way to go.

What sticks with me about Cameltry is this strange 'feel' that is has, not necessarily in mechanics but tiny visual things. In particular, the backgrounds (which don't rotate with the maze, but do scroll and range from a thunderstorm, neon signs and pastel smears with the occasional angry clock scrolling by) and the appearance of some kind of Goddess apparently watching over your marble (she runs the tutorial, appears on the Continue prompt and in the ending is identified as Yurika Cery, the Space Time Goddess) give the game this weird atmosphere. Special mention must also go to the ending of each course which we'll see in a moment which emphasize this.


 They're just little things, and you'd think they wouldn't add much, but take them away and the game feels like it loses a lot- there was a remake titled Cameltry 2005, pictured above and included as an extra game on the Taito PSP collection (Taito Memories Pocket in Japan, Taito Legends: Power-Up in the US/EU) and it's fairly colourful, but these elements are gone, and with it a lot of the game's charm and appeal. Hopefully, you'll see what I mean in the little gallery after the cut (which does spoil the endings, but as the game's only a few minutes long...)
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[personal profile] lunarsystem

Artifact Adventure is a Dragon Quest-a-like for PC by Bluffman, available from both Playism and on Steam for USD $6.99. It is faaaantastic

I grew up with the early Dragon Quest/Warrior games, playing them with my mom on NES, and my favorite part was going around to the different towns, poking through the overworld, looking for secret forests and ruined villages and learning about the different stories of everyone I encountered. I can take or leave rescuing a princess, but acting as a courier to send messages back and forth between towns, saving someone's child from bandits, or filling an order for weapons for the king's guard totally captivated me. If only there was a game that was nothing but little moments like that! 

Well, Artifact Adventure is that game. Artifact Adventure is entirely sidequests, letting you go through the world and rescue people from evil fishmen, rouse a village of people from a curse of eternal sleep, decide whether or not to save a girl from being sacrificed to a volcano god vs. letting the town perish. There are dozens and dozens and dozens of decisions to make in the game, most of which (if not all, so far--I'm still working my way through it) seem to have permanent and lasting effects. There are very few objectively wrong decisions, too. For instance, the game starts off with you being tasked to unlock one of three doors, which lead to:
  • an airship (yup you can get an airship at the beginning of the game)
  • a set of four artifacts of great power
  • a Key of Time, which lets you visit different wise men scattered across the land.
So each one drastically changes the flow of the game, and things only branch out even further from there. (Your party is customizable too, like Dragon Quest 3 and FF1.) I'm super, super into this game, and I know some of my friends have started playing it because of me too, so I'd like to use this post and the comments as a way for us to record our progress in the game and ask each other questions. Let me know if you need any help and I'll do the best I can!

By the way, when you're commenting on this post, please hide spoilers with this (change square brackets to pointed ones):

[font color="white"]spoiler text goes here[/font]

Thank you!
 
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[personal profile] modernmodron
One of my favorite concepts is "fortune telling video games" and there actually seems to be quite a few - there's just something about the concept that draws designers to it I think. I know i've tried my hand at a few designs of fortune telling games. I'm only going to pick out a few here to highlight, but will probably make replies to this post showing off other games as they occur to me :P

Taboo: The Sixth Sense

this one was interesting because it was actually released on the NES. I always really liked the aesthetic of it, with the figured popping up from the cards. and it also had you type in your 'question' for the reading, which as far as I know did nothing other than help you feel like you were interacting more with the results.

Electronic sweet-n-fun Fortune Teller
Electronic Sweet-N-Fun Fortune Teller
http://partytimehexcellent.itch.io/electronic-sweet-n-fun-fortune-teller
oh my gosh I can't tell you how much I love the look of this game, the colors are just so fantastic and cute, and it's an indie game that's an actual NES rom! I would love to try to get this on an actual cart or something.

I remember reading an article somewhere about indie fortune telling games, but for the life of me I can't find it right now.



and not to toot my own horn :toot: but I made a pixel art tarot deck that you can check out here
http://greedoslastwillandtestament.tumblr.com/tagged/tarot
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[personal profile] peppertsuki
Rainbowgames seems like a good place to talk about weird children's games! I have memories of playing Sierra's Mixed-Up Mother Goose as a child... who was way too old to actually be the target audience (I was like nine or ten, I think, when the game is meant for much younger kids), but the game was easy and adorable so I ended up playing it more than a few times. The game is exceptionally simple, too. Just walk around, pick up objects simply by moving over to them, and try to find the nursery rhyme character who needs the thing you've picked up.


(This is the version I'm pretty sure I played, the 1992 version made with scanned paintings and full mouse control. Incidentally, this is the only Sierra game I am aware of where the opening logo is blue, not green.)

Now that I'm looking back on this game as an adult, I'm impressed by just how welcoming this game is. Considering this was made by the same person who created the King's Quest series, which tended to have death traps on the first screen, the game actively encourages kids to just go and explore. The world is set up so that you can often see where you're trying to go in the distance. Forgot where Banbury Cross is? Just wander into town and you'll see it. (Or you can use the handy little map.) The interface has a similar feel to it. All the options are right on the screen as part of the chrome. You don't need to know which function key will mute the music, or type 'talk jack' or 'pick up little miss muffet' to play the game. You can adjust everything immediately.

One tiny little neat thing I like too: after loud and jolly renditions of a nursery rhyme, there's this tiny, soft, reassuring ding as you get an egg marking your progress.

(There are a lot of other versions of this game! For instance, there's the original, which isn't quite as inviting as it's entirely keyboard based. Sierra didn't assume players knew what a mouse was until 1990. There's also the Deluxe version, which appears to be the same as the 1992 version but with slightly prettier graphics and the ability to change song styles! Apparently Little Bo Peep raps? I'm not too familiar with either version yet.)

lunarsystem: (bob sparker)
[personal profile] lunarsystem
Hi, everyone! I'm so pleased with how [community profile] rainbowgames has been growing and how welcoming y'all have been! To encourage discussion and act as an icebreaker, I'll post a question or two every Wednesday that you can answer in the comments.

The first is an easy one, and one that I'll probably include every week: What are you currently playing? (if the answer is "nothing," that's fine too, you can skip this one if you want.)

The second is: Do you have (or have you had in the past) any "Holy Grail" games, that you've never been able to play or own but you've always wanted to? If so, what are they? I'm really curious to see the answers to this one!
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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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[personal profile] lunarsystem
Hi, everyone! Just a quick update on some of the mod stuff I've been doing:
  1. I've removed the "retro" qualifier from the community's description/subtitle, since "retro" is super hard to define. As long as it's "niche" in some way (lesser-known, underrated, often dismissed, etc), it's welcome here, and even that's rather flexible. 
  2. I've renamed the tags, so instead of game: x and console: y, it's just x and y, for the sake of making it easier to tag things. If you're looking for a particular tag, you can find all the current ones here!
  3. EDIT: I've also changed up the fonts on the community and it makes everything look way more fresh and inviting 😚
Also, I'm thinking of having one day a week where I do a general icebreaker post/Q&A thing, like "what are you currently playing," or themed "what import games do you play/like" or "what haven't you played yet that you really want to" conversation starters. Not sure what day would be best, though...Sundays aren't too good for me, so maybe Wednesdays. Question Quednesdays???

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[personal profile] modernmodron
Blame earthbound perhaps, but i've always been in love with the "weird RPG" format

http://gamejolt.com/games/space-funeral/3492

Space Funeral is possibly my favorite example of an "outsider art" video game. it's just so utterly charming with the crude art and world that ... is hard to describe. perhaps like a stereotypical notebook by a 90's teenage boy but without the aggressiveness. despite the leg horses and blood caverns, I always got the feel that this game was soft, gentle almost.
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[personal profile] lunarsystem
I've been thinking a lot about Panic!/ (Switch! JP) for the Sega CD lately. It's not a game I replay very often, but I really like it! A lot of people tend to criticize the game for being "barely a game," mostly because it consists of hitting different buttons that cause different one-off jokes to happen. Some of the buttons send you to different rooms in the game, so in that sense, it's a little bit like a gag-filled Choose Your Own Adventure, which absolutely qualifies as a game by my standards.

Anyway, some of the gags work and some don't, but I think there's a lot of value in the art as well as the writing. The last time I played through Panic! I took a bunch of screenshots of some of my favorite parts, so here they are! (Hosted at my LJ scrapbook.)

Picture 25.png
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[personal profile] lunarsystem
Hello and welcome to [community profile] rainbowgames, a community geared toward game discussion and celebration! I'm your mod and maintainer, [personal profile] lunarsystem. If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact me offsite or leave a comment on this post. (All comments on this post are screened by default.)

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