tepidsnake: (witch)
[personal profile] tepidsnake
Red Earth (Warzard in Japan) is one of the strangest fighting games Capcom ever released, not just because of its setting- a fantasy world full of bizarre monsters, set either in the year 13XX or post-apocalypse 1999 depending on the version you're playing- but because it's less of a traditional fighting game and more like a boss-rush with light RPG elements, to the point where the two-player versus mode, usually the highlight of games like this, is almost an afterthought.

Choosing one of four characters- cursed king Leo, martial artist Mai Ling, noted sorcerologist Tessa or high-tech ninja Kenji- you fight a series of battles against boss monsters (that, critically, you can never play as- a bit like the first Fatal Fury or Street Fighter) who have much larger healthbars than you. During each battle, you'll gain experience points from dropping items (there's food items too) and level-up, which is where the light RPG bits come in- levelling up gives you new attacks and increase your resistance to certain kinds of attack. After either finishing the game or losing, you're given a password (a long one at that) so you can save your current level- it won't make beating the game easier though, as the bosses also get stronger on successive playthroughs, with longer health bars. The AI is pretty tough, but continuing doesn't fully restore their health, so even a low-level player (like me!) can finish the game eventually.

It's a really interesting way to structure a fighting game, but the two-player game is hurt as a result- you can only use the standard four characters, although you can use your password to pit your raised character against your friend- and the hardware the game was on, Capcom Play System III, was notoriously fragile and expensive, so the game apparently wasn't much of a success. It's the only game on the hardware to never get a home port, but is emulated in MAME these days, so it is absolutely worth a try if you'd like to try a boss-rush game disguised as a one-on-one fighter! A lot of the appeal is also in the characters, who are all lavishly animated (and Tessa, who also fights with her cats Al and Ivan hiding hin her trousers, is one of my favourite Capcom characters- fortunately she went on to appear in Pocket Fighter and SVC Chaos after this).

If you'd like to read up more on the game, the Capcom Database page has a lot of character information, and Arcade Quartermaster's shrine to the game is very extensive! (His site uses frames so I can't directly link- Red Earth's page is on the sidebar).

After the cut, a little gallery of the player and boss characters! )


Jul. 11th, 2015 06:06 pm
tepidsnake: (witch)
[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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