Retro Club - Scrolling beat 'em ups
  • I started Blackthorne a while back just to see what it was like. Seemed pretty good I thought, so I'd be up for that.
  • davyK
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    I like the move where you shoot using a shotgun with one hand while looking in the opposite direction.
    Holding the wrong end of the stick since 2009.
  • Very much up for this.  Always fancied it, nearly bought it on 32X years ago.
  • Played half an hour this morning (MD emulator).  Initial thoughts:

    Cinematics are very nice.
    Controls feel more unresponsive than PoP, Flashback, Abe's etc.  Closer to Another World, perhaps.
    Haha didn't realise you could shoot the prisoners.
    The orb throwing enemies are annoying.  The prisoner tip was to avoid rather than be nimble, but surely there's a better technique than rolling onto the screen for the first hit, rolling off it, then rolling back on for the second hit?

    Quite liking it though, I reckon I'll give it a few hours.
  • I started it again on SNES emulator and played half an hour or so. I got to the second 'check point' (where it gives you a password) I think.

    I think 'avoid' means pressing up to hide against the wall, rather than trying to jump it or whatever. All the combat so far seems to revolve around hiding, waiting for the enemy to do its attack, then quickly popping out and shooting it.

    The controls generally seem OK, although the running jump is a bit inconsistent. Also the decision that you can't do anything while you've got your gun drawn is odd. Not even jump FFS. It takes a while to get used to that.

    I'll definitely continue when I have time.
  • Aha.  I did notice that the guards could hide against walls, didn't realise my guy could do it.  Ta.
  • It's good this. Another half hour or so and I've finished the first area. Good to see some different scenery and hear some different music.

    Enjoying the simple object/key based puzzles, and slow-paced platforming. I've started to use save states a bit more now though, since each section is pretty big after the first couple.
  • Should get another hours or so on this today, will be hitting the roms while I'm being chauffeured to sunny Rottingdean, Brighton.
  • Played it for a bit yesterday, though not as long as I would've liked. I've reached a new set of enemies.  I'm still not overly keen on the controls, although there's a possibility my Picodrive emulator is adding fractions of a second to the input delay.  If I'd owned this in the mid-90s I'm sure I would have stuck with it, because I do like the every-room's-a-mini-puzzle thing, and the slow pace suits me, but I can't help comparing it to Flashback.  It feels like the controls could've been given a touch more thought, as Jon mentioned with the shotgun out/away thing.  Controlling Conrad B Hart felt far more suited to getting the job done.  I'll probably settle on a 'quite good, nothing special' verdict for this.  One more session then I'll lose interest, I think.
  • I'm getting shunted to the disaster recovery site at work tomorrow, to sit in a basement box room waiting for printers to do their stuff.  If I don't nip out for a fry up I'll definitely get 90 minutes of Blackthorne in, taking the DLR ride into account.
  • Blackthorne.

    Wasn't overly keen, I'm quite glad I never bought this.  My main complaint is that it feels clunky, and the in the shadows/pop out the shadows shooting bits are really poor.  I thought I was doing something wrong for a while (after finding out that I was actually doing something wrong), but if you skip to 1.24.31ish here, you'll see what I mean.  



    This is a full playthrough, so the guy must know what he's doing.  Not only does he have to pop out of the shadows to equip the shotgun, then back into the shadows with it equipped, there doesn't appear to be a pattern to the enemy's shooting (I know what you're thinking - did he five shots or only four?), so the player ends up getting tagged.  I'm not suggesting getting hit in games like this is purely an annoyance, but when the controls are this cumbersome I expect a routine to exploit and stick to.  

    In summary, it's a poor man's Flashback with a visual style I'm not keen on and noting special going on with the sound.  The cut-scenes I saw were great, and as mentioned previously, if I'd rented this as a kid I may have got through it, but I'm happy to leave this at around the 30 minute mark on that vid.  63% (Megadrive version tested).
  • I admit I haven't played it since I got to the second environment. Mostly because I was busy with other games though. 

    I didn't really find the shooting a problem. You wait until they stop firing a get a quick shot in.

    I thought it was pretty good overall.
  • It got decent reviews at the time, I seem to remember a few scores in the high 80s, maybe a generous 90 from one of the Diehard Gamefan panel.
  • davyK
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    I completed SNES Prince of Persia and then gave up at the Gameshow level of Flashback and to be honest probably had enough of this genre after that (so why did I suggest this I hear you cry? No idea - probably because it's quite rare and costs a packet on SNES if you have a CIB copy). I played this a wee bit but it didn't engage me.
    Holding the wrong end of the stick since 2009.
  • Level two (the job centre stuff) and the gameshow level are excellent.  Part of me keeps thinking it was called The Killing Gameshow, but I'm pretty sure that became Fatal Rewind, so I can't remember what the Running Man bit was called off the top of my head.  Death Tower maybe?

    Edit: It is Death Tower.  Quite a shit name for a great section.
  • davyK
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    I really enjoyed the 1st level of Flashback and I remember then next level less. I seemed to get through it quite quickly. But then I hit that Death Tower bit and just couldn't be arsed getting into learning the level as so much of that genre is learning by rote.

    PoP on SNES is glorious though. Gorgeous soundtrack.
    Holding the wrong end of the stick since 2009.
  • Never played that one, was envious of it as a youngster.  I had the MS version, which was quite an accomplishment for the machine.  As a kid, desperate to get my dad to acknowledge the awesomeness of videogames, I distinctly remember that game as one of the few 'look at this dad!' things that impressed him.  VHS footage of Sewer Shark (which doesn't count, as it was FMV), and the title music to Panzer Dragoon on the front room stereo are the only other examples that spring to mind.

    @retroking1981 is gonna pick our next game, either from the list or from his collections, as he wants to put the Retron + save states through its paces.
  • davyK
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    PoP SNES music…..the soundtrack changed every 3 levels - this was one of the more atmospheric ones…

    Holding the wrong end of the stick since 2009.
  • Moot_Geeza wrote:
    @retroking1981 is gonna pick our next game, either from the list or from his collections, as he wants to put the Retron + save states through its paces.

    Whats the choices?
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  • Anything really, treat yourself. We'll go back to the list for the next one.
  • Ok, I'm gonna pick...

    R.C. Pro-Am (NES)
    RC_Pro_Am_cover.jpg


    Released way back in 1988 and made by Rare in their underrated 8-Bit days. A nice simple racer with an isometric view that controls the same as Micro Machines, as in from the drivers POV. This pre-dates that as well as Super Off Road and Rock n' Roll Racing and was an obvious inspiration. It's also one of the earlier racers to have vehicular combat or the first I played at least.

    It spawned two sequels, one on Game Boy titled Super R.C. Pro-Am (1991) and R.C. Pro-Am II (1993) for NES as well as an enhanced sequel/remake for Mega Drive titled Championship Pro-Am (1992) and a spin off with speed boats purely focused on combat for NES called Cobra Triangle (1989).

    I got very far in this back in the day and remember it getting ridiculously hard at a certain point. Looking forward to finding out how far that actually was and finally seeing the credits with the help of the save states on the retron5.
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  • @Moot_Geeza please play the NES version as the MD one is apparently quite different and I'd like to know what you think of the one I have fond memories of. By all means check out any of the others as I never played any of them and it would be interesting to hear how they compare.

    I've been on somewhat of a retro frenzy in recent weeks and have completed, DKC, DKC2, Super GnG's and Ninja Gaiden (NES) in that time. I'll do my best to do a quick write up and score of them all over the weekend.
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  • R.C. Pro-Am (NES)

    On the surface this is a charming little racer in which you control a red remote control car pitted against  3 CPU opponents with the aim of simply finishing in the top 3. The graphics are nice and chunky with very little of the infamous NES flicker, everything is nice and clear. On the flipside the sound is a bit disappointing. The sound of the cars is far to droney, Rad Racer and Excitebike show that despite the NES’s limitations better engine noises could be produced. The music is also rather dull and that’s what there is of it, there’s none in the actual races which makes those engine noises stand out even more. Thankfully there’s a solid racer waiting to be enjoyed with smooth and responsive control which is far more important than looks and sounds.

    Each of the games 12 (the box indicates 32) tracks contain various obstacles. Puddles of water slow you down; oil slicks make you spin out of control (and crash if you’re unlucky enough to hit the road side) and in later levels pop-up walls, which protrude from the ground in fixed time intervals. Some tracks also contain speed boosts which were apparently a first and are seen in many games such as Mario Kart and Wipeout these days.

    There are also collectable part upgrades scattered on the tracks. There are 3 types in total, one which increases your top speed, another for acceleration and finally one for improved grip. There is also one letter per track which when collected spells out the word ‘Nintendo’. Once you have collected eight of these and completed the word you (along with the CPU opponents) are upgraded to a new car of which there are 3 of in total.

    Then there are weapons and ammo to collect. Missiles to shoot forward and bombs to protect your rear and we all know how important that is. There is also an item (bless 8-Bit graphics, fuck knows what it is) that acts as invisibility, much the same as the Star power up for Super Mario. It protects you from crashing and can also be used against opponents as touching them will cause them to spin-out and hopefully crash.

    As a kid I got to level 34. The games ‘trophy cabinet’ has space for 48 trophies so I naturally assumed that’s when it ended... nope! Today I’ve learnt I was very wrong about his game. Basically there are 12 ‘tracks’ which vary only in item/obstacle layout which I think is where they get the rather cheeky 32 number from. Today I got to level 50 and that’s when it hit home what this game is all about, and that is an old skool game of endurance... with no end and the simple aim of achieving a high score or reaching a higher level  – I later confirmed this with a bit of research on the internet.

    Now there’s nothing wrong with that at all, I was an Atari kid and appreciate that style of game, it’s just not what I expected on NES even back then. I can’t criticise the game on a fundamental level for this but I don’t like what that turns the game into.

    Basically after a certain level the CPU racers actually go faster than you and the only thing you can do about it is use your weapons to prevent yourself from finishing last. Now there’s no real difference between 1st and 3rd (apart from more points for that all important high score) so what you’re better off doing is letting 2 of your opponents shoot off into the distance and use everything you have at your disposal on the poor bastard in 4th.

    This can’t last forever and it was on level 50 with only 2 bombs left on a 9 lap race I realised the game over screen was inevitable. You get 3 continues but guess what? That’s right you start with bugger all ammo making them essentially pointless once your past level 3X (the one where the CPU becomes faster than you). After playing I checked out some youtube videos and found one where someone was on level 70 doing exactly what I just described, I then read that the highest anyone has got so far is level 200.

    I always thought this was a game with a beginning and an end that was just tough as nails to see the credits. Instead it’s got more in common with Missile Command than Outrun. Overall it’s a very good game, it introduced the racing world to speed boosts, clearly inspired games such as Rock n’ Roll racing and the far superior cult classic Micro Machines. It’s still a gem of the 8-Bit racers and one that well worth checking out.

    4/5
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  • Turns out the GemeiA330 might be the best handheld I own for NES games.  Had a quick go on RC Pro Am, will put some time in on the train tomorrow, but ended up playing Batman again.
  • I liked RC Pro Am, got to stage 9.  Would be interested to know how much it was on release.  I used to own Enduro Racer on the MS, which was supposedly an awful port (they opted for an isometric perspective), but I easily got my £9.99s worth.  Micro Machines was a better 8-bit game for my money, but the controls are excellent on RC Pro Am and it certainly doesn't feel budget.  Neither did Action Fighter though, and that was £12.99.  It's difficult to judge the value of 8-bit games you didn't play at the time.  Nice looking game too, would've put the hours in way back when.
  • davyK
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    RC Pro AM would have been around £30 back in the day.

    It's an excellent game. I've only ever played it via emulation. It feels really solid and technically very impressive while being great to play too. It doesn't suffer as much from blind corner syndrome as other similar games do.

    I prefer it to Rock n Roll Racing though I've only played the MD version which I found distinctly underwhelming. Wasn't there a Biker Mice from Mars game too that had loads of Snickers ads in it?
    Holding the wrong end of the stick since 2009.
  • It's a far better racing game than Rock n Roll Racing, from what I've played of both.  RnRR was fun but it felt too floaty for me.  RC Pro Am has the solidness of something like Skidmarks, which is impressive for the console.  Didn't know there was a Biker Mice game, only have a vague recollection of the cartoon.
  • davyK
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    Holding the wrong end of the stick since 2009.
  • Konami eh?  Looks a lot better than I thought it would.
  • Super cars 2 on the Amiga holds a fond place in my heart in the battle racer genre.

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