A couple of years after Alpha Mission, SNK put out a follow-up of sorts — if not a direct sequel. (That would show up in the Neo Geo era!)
That game was Bermuda Triangle, and much like Alpha Mission before it, it’s a very creative and unusual take on a genre that, even as early as 1987, was heavily saturated with very similar titles of varying quality.
In order to stand out in such a situation, you need to do something distinctive — even unique. And, well, there are definitely a number of features in Bermuda Triangle that I haven’t seen attempted since!
Continue reading SNK Essentials: Bermuda Triangle
SNK is primarily known for its fighting games these days, but in its earlier years it was known for a number of solid (and influential) shoot ’em ups.
While Alpha Mission (also known as ASO: Armored Scrum Object in Japan) isn’t the company’s first shoot ’em up by any means, it is an important one and forms the first in a loose “trilogy” of titles that we’ll explore over the course of the next few articles.
Drawing inspiration from Western RPGs, of all things, this is a fun but challenging vertically scrolling shoot ’em up that any fan of the genre owes it to themselves to become intimately acquainted with.
Continue reading SNK Essentials: Alpha Mission
As the years advance and old gaming hardware and media gets more expensive, harder to find and even more difficult to maintain, the matter of gaming preservation is of increasing importance.
I’ve previously talked about how emulation and ROM archives have an important role to play in all this — in spite of interference from certain quarters — but of arguably greater importance are companies’ own efforts to preserve their respective histories and portfolios.
I picked up the SNK 40th Anniversary Collection for Nintendo Switch recently, and I’ll be covering the individual games in it over the next indefinite period of time in an “SNK Essentials” column (and perhaps some videos) — but today, I wanted to talk about this package as a whole, what it gets right, and what I wish it had done slightly better.
Continue reading SNK 40th Anniversary Collection: (Almost) Perfect Preservation
This one was a new one on me until quite recently. I present to you Vanguard, an unusual shoot ’em up originally released by SNK in the arcades.
Vanguard is unusual because it’s not just being one thing, unlike a lot of shoot ’em ups at the time. Instead, it shifts between horizontal, vertical and diagonal scrolling at various points in the levels, and even has some rudimentary boss fights. It’s also quite unusual to find a game of this era with a proper “continue” system, particularly in its home incarnations.
While its visuals may not look like much these days, it’s a great shoot ’em up that is still worth revisiting today — and there’s an Atari 2600 version too, for those who prefer to console it up.
Follow Atari A to Z on its own dedicated site here!
The MoeGamer Awards are a series of “alternative” awards that I’ve devised in collaboration with the community as an excuse to celebrate the games, experiences and fanbases that have left a particular impression on me in 2018. Find out more and leave a suggestion here!
This award was suggested by Krystallina.
It’s a disappointingly frequent stereotype to brand Japan as “weird” simply because many of the things in its society and media don’t conform to what we’ve come to think of as Western norms.
That said, sometimes our friends in the East do come up with characters that are clearly designed to be outlandishly strange, surreal and weird — and when they accomplish that successfully (preferably without crossing that fine line into Sharon from Accounts-style “Woo! Look, I’ve put cheese up my nose and a turkey leg down my pants, I’m so random! Teeheehee!”) it’s worth celebrating. Because those characters can end up being very memorable.
There were plenty of possible choices for this one, but in the end, there’s one I just had to give it to. If you’ll pardon the expression.
And the winner is…
Continue reading The MoeGamer Awards 2018: Weirdest Character
I’ve tried numerous times to “get into” fighting games over the years with varying amounts of success.
Back in the SNES era, I had a good time with the original Street Fighter II and managed to beat it with most of the characters — but my skills have gotten severely rusty since then. Beyond that, my main contact with the genre has primarily been the Dead or Alive series, which I enjoyed for a combination of its cast of beautiful people and its enjoyably fluid, reasonably accessible action.
But I’d always find myself hitting a wall. I’d never be able to pull off impressive combos, I’d struggle to reliably trigger special moves and I’d have difficulty understanding the underlying strategy that is fundamental to the fighting game experience as a whole. Oh, what to do, what to do?
Continue reading SNK Heroines: Fighting is Fun
“The eight soldiers get to attack the wicked terrorists!!”
So ran the promotional blurb on the arcade flyer for SNK’s Shock Troopers, a well-regarded installment in the Neo Geo library developed by Saurus and originally released in 1997 to both home- and arcade-based Neo Geo systems.
This is not by any means a unique setup for a video game, particularly an arcade title from the era, but what makes Shock Troopers truly special is its execution. And its presentation. And, well, everything.
Continue reading Neo Geo Essentials: Shock Troopers
It’s honestly kind of surprising how many times the sport of golf has been adapted to the arcade format.
On the surface, you wouldn’t think the two things are particularly compatible; golf is a terribly sedate, polite sort of sport that takes all day to play, whereas arcade games are typically noisy, spectacular and, in many cases, over and done with in five minutes or less.
And yet that hasn’t stopped a number of developers trying their best to adapt it to a quarter-munching format, with one of the very best examples being Nazca’s Neo Turf Masters for Neo Geo, a game which has had a bit of a resurgence recently thanks to numerous ports to PC and console.
Continue reading Neo Geo Essentials: Neo Turf Masters