Tag: Konami

Retro Monday Game 92 – Hybrid Heaven

Hybrid Heaven was a game with an unusual blend of genres action/adventure and RPG for the Nintendo 64 that was made by Konami and released in 1999. Its design was in hope that it would create a new style of RPG Battle System.

Chosen by the community of GRcade via a poll of three games chosen by Jenuall.

Well, I had not heard of this game before. I knew literally nothing going into it other than what was said in the Retro Monday thread which was basically it’s an oddity.

Now, having no clue what is going on you’re treated to a few cutscenes of a naked guy doing various things in what appears to be a flat (apartment,) then getting a visitor, then going to a subway station and getting shot. You then play as the shooter. I still have no idea what is going on at this point, it’s really odd. The gameplay proper starts when you enter a facility and here is where the hybrid gameplay in that you explore in a 3rd person view and you have a similar kind of stand still to aim and shoot to actually shoot things, then, you also get into fights. Fist fights, I must add. Here’s where there’s the real mix in genre, you fight things and have a bar fill to select your attack, and the enemy can Step – meaning the can step aside and take no damage, though if they get hit they take all the damage, or they can Guard – which makes you take less damage or, you can counter 0 simply avoid the hit and smack them back. You can also bloc, step and counter the enemy attacks.

The fights take place in small rooms where you can move around the 3D space, and remember the bar you want to fill to attack, the bar is for the power you use, you want it full and the fastest way to get it to fill is to stand still. I find it’s best to move away as fast as I can and just wait for a bit, rinse and repeat. You also learn more attacks, you can even grapple and learn different moves via that too. Neck Thrown, Body Slam, there are a few that I saw myself. You also level up, like an RPG, but you also level up your body parts – left leg, right leg, torso, right and left arms too, not only that, your body parts have separate levels for attack and defence.

The sound was decent too. The very beginning cutscenes has some sinister music happening and when you’re travelling around the facility you’re in there’s this music, but it’s more atmospheric than anything and it really fits a sci-fi soundscape. During fights, the music is again the low key, but it really adds to the tension and I think it’s really well implemented as it really suits the slower paces of the fights and it adds weight to the situation that you are in. The Sound Effects carry weight to them and punches and kicks are meaty, the only odd SFX to me is the gun, it kinda sounds like a weird water drop or something, where I think it’s meant to be pew-pew.

Verdict: Recommend.

If you’d like to take part in voting for the games or even picking the games yourself, take yourself over to the GRcade forums and pop into the Retro Monday thread and just post to show your interest. Not just that, you can watch the gameplay live over on Twitch where it’s streamed at 9pm on a Monday evening.

150 SNES games reviewed #26: Prince of Persia

Today’s game is Prince of Persia. Prince of Persia is a fantasy platform game, originally developed by a guy called Jordan Mechner and released in 1989 for the Apple II system.

At the time the game was held in high regard. People claimed it represented a great technological leap forward in terms of the quality of animation used in video games. As with most games which do extremely well it was soon ported to just about anything that could cope with it. The SNES version was done by Arsys Software, a company set up by former Technosoft staff members. It was published by Masaya in Japan and Konami in both the US and Europe.

I was thrilled when I originally played a home computer version of this game but the thrill had faded a little bit by the time I played the SNES version. Have you ever played a game and decided that it had the basics down right but that it just lacked something? That there were the bare bones of a classic in place but that the project needed fleshing out? The graphics are plain but the movement is still impressive. For those who have played the original its important to note that the SNES version is in fact longer, consider it sort of a director’s/extended cut. Instead of the original 13 levels, this version has 20. In the original you had one hour to complete the game but this has been increased here to two hours due to the added length. It is great to see so much added to this conversion in terms of gameplay, and it helps make this game worth considering if you have already seen what it has to offer on an earlier release on a different platform.

The game offers a good, if basic, story and a good degree of challenge. You won’t be finishing this game quickly. In fact you will probably make slow, steady progress punctuated with bouts of swearing. I  praise the game for its atmosphere and challenge but there is also a lot I have to say about the things that bug me. My main gripe with the game is that at times the controls feel kind of skiddy. Now we’re not getting into awful control territory here like Ultraman but they’re just not as crisp as I would like them. Often you will need to stop running before you run off a ledge and fall to your doom. You just feel that little bit too skiddy for my liking meaning often you’ll end up turning the air blue as you plummet to your death. The game is also more or less silent and although the movements in the game look impressive there could be a lot more flavour added in to the graphics. When it comes to presentation it just seems like a very bare bones production which is a shame. I guess after having seen the Konami name on the European box I had sort of expected a Konami level of presentation. That’s the thing when you put someone else’s logo on your product by having them publish it for you. It can act as good publicity as people can be pulled in by a well known name, but it can also come as a curse as those names and logos come with a reputation you then find your product having to try to live up to.

There are other games though that came out after this title which I feel used this game as a stepping stone and in doing so managed to offer a much fuller, richer experience, and you might be better off spending your hard earned money on one of these. (I won’t name them as I plan on eventually reviewing one or two of them.) I think influences from this game can still be seen in some games today, I think there is a definite case to make that this game was an incredibly important piece of software which helped shape so many titles which followed in its wake, much in the same way as Super Mario Kart helped to birth seemingly a million character-filled go kart racing games. Prince of Perisa’s DNA can be felt in more places than I can name, tunnelling its way through action platformer after action platformer. Of course as most people are aware the Prince of Persia name has lived on well into the more recent gaming environment with an awesome trilogy of games carrying the name and some of the original DNA appearing on the PS2 , Xbox and GameCube.

I would give this game seven out of 10. It can be frustrating but it is also incredibly rewarding. Every time you play you will get a little bit further, you will solve another puzzle or you will work out where you are supposed to be going just before you die. It has a very strong just one more go quality. I do think you need to think long and hard about the kinds of games you like before purchasing this though. If you don’t mind slowly making progress and learning from your mistakes then you will benefit more from the game, if you like instantaneous rewards and a game you can very easily make quick progress in then this probably is not the game for you.

My copy of Prince of Persia is a loose Japanese cart which I managed to get for a couple of quid a few years ago. If you really wanted to give this game a go you would be looking at paying between £15 to £25 for a PAL copy, depending on how lucky you are and if this game has a box and manual or not. I have seen a few boxed US copies going for as little as £13 if you have a converter or modified or import system.

Retro Monday – Super Castlevania IV

Super Castlevania IV is the fourth entry in the mainline Castlevania series, though it’s a pseudo-remake of the original Castlevania. It was released on the Super Nintendo Entertainment System in 1991 in Japan and the US, but around a full year later in Europe. Super Castlevania IV was made and published by Konami.

SCIV is an action platformer, and follows in the style of previous Castlevania games, though more like 1 than 2 and 3, as 3 has branching paths and 2 is more metroid-esque. The game sees you in the role of Simon Belmont, the protagonist from Castlevania’s 1 and 2 trying to take down the dark lord Dracula in his castle. The thing with the older Castlevania games, unlike the newer more Metroid style games, is you aren’t in the castle for the whole game, you go from level to level making your way to it, which adds a lot more variety to it in its locations that aren’t really in the later games. The best addition to the game though is the 8-way directional whip, it makes it much better being able to aim your whip in these directions instead of trying to jump and get the perfect hit on an enemy. It’s simply easier, more user-friendly, and also makes for a more fun experience. The actual gameplay itself is generally fun, though it can be tough especially when having to start so far back in the level when you lose all your lives it is somewhat of a massive frustration, the knockback you get when getting hit by enemies is also a right pain, but when you do finish a level and then beat the boss, you feel like you’ve really earned the win.

Visually the game looks great, I like the sprite works and the enemies look really rather interesting, some are a bit generic, but they all fit into the game well and suits its feel and theme. The music is also great and sets the atmosphere for each level well, there’s also variety in the music. I also like that while there is original music in the game, so great tracks, like Vampire Killer and Bloody Tears make an appearance in the game.

Overall I’d say this is one of the best traditional CCastlevaniagames, I find it hard to decide between this and Rondo of Blood, but this does have the benefit of the 8-way whip. Either way, you must play this game if you’re a fan of games, that’s right games in general. It holds up well to this day and should at least be played by anyone with a passing interest in retro games.

Verdict: Highly Recommended.

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