Tag Archives: shooting games

Simplicity

Taito is a game company I’ve always had a soft spot for. We don’t hear much from them these days but they are still around. I believe they were bought by Square Enix as of 1995 and the rest as they say, is history. Sadly, it seems that Taito is now a shell of it’s former self – an arcade heavyweight with an enviable back catalogue.

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Taito’s older company logo

Responsible for a prolific assortment of hits such as Arkanoid, Arkanoid – Revenge of Doh, Bubble Bobble,  Buggy Challenge, Chase H.Q., Darius, Elevator Action, Exerion, Gun Frontier, Gyrodine, KiKi KaiKai, Layer Section, Operation Wolf, Operation Thunderbolt, Rastan, Runark, Slap Fight, Space Invaders, The Legend of Kage,  The New Zealand Story, The Ninja Warriors, Volfied – and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. There are plenty more that I have missed, excluding games Taito published from the likes of Toaplan & Technos Japan Corp.

The majority of titles mentioned above are lauded enthusiastically by retro game fans, worldwide. Certainly Taito provided the good times, leaving many of us with fond memories. Simple games, stylish games, colourful games with straightforward missions and game play. Hundred percent arcade experiences with no false pretense of attempting to be anything other.

I guess one of the charms of a Taito game is in it’s pure simplicity. No unnecessary bells and whistles to cloud proceedings. Leaving us with nothing more but a video game in it’s utmost sincerest form. Arkanoid and it’s sequel – Revenge of Doh, exemplifies this splendidly. While essentially a Breakout clone at it’s core, Arkanoid bends a few rules and eventually comes into it’s own. Power-up capsules, enemy ships and cleverly laid out brick formations helped to elevate it above Breakout and other similar clones.

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A stylish logo for a stylish game

Nevertheless, even with those few additions, Arkanoid and Revenge of Doh are amazingly simple and addictive games. And I never tire returning for another go. They hold up well to this very day, still exuding a fine and dapper air while never having lost the fun factor. Everyone with even a passing interest in games should experience both at some point in their lives.

From a game developer’s standpoint, much can be garnered from Taito’s past output. I won’t hide that there is some influence on my project. Maybe it was inevitable, having played so many of their games since my youth. Fortunately it’s a positive influence and that can only be helpful in the end. The process of developing my game has gradually taught me to keep things simple. Complicated and bloated concepts are stripped away but keeping the fun close by.

 

 

 

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Bass Cadet 04 – Silpheed

It seems like an eon since last a Bass Cadet article was posted. Finally it’s time to rectify matters with an interesting addition. I gave away a few clues in my previous article, savvy retro heads should have figured it out long before this post went up.

Sierra On-Line were one of my fave game development houses back in the 80’s with their strong line-up of adventure titles. A noteworthy developer, particularly on the PC. They had a knack for quality games and amazing packaging with killer cover art. Probably the end result of, a genuinely inspired passion for what gaming, was truly all about.

However, Sierra were not just a developer but also a publisher that established ties with one of their counterparts in Japan. This was none other than the equally proficient – Game Arts. Famous for releasing hit games such as Thexder, Silpheed, Zeliard and later on the Lunar and Grandia series of rpg’s. 

Game Arts started out developing for home computer platforms such as the MSX and NEC PC-8801. Both of which were hugely popular in Japan. Sierra On-Line ported and published Game Art’s earlier titles over to the west, with great success.

While Thexder remains a firm favourite of mine, and still enjoy to play it periodically. I have fond memories of Silpheed for a reason. This game came packed in with my very first sound card – Creative Labs’ Game Blaster. Finally I could enjoy arcade-quality FM tunes on my home PC and Silpheed would be my first foray.

I’ll be honest, Silpheed is not a particularly great game – it’s not terrible by any stretch either. Technically it’s impressive for it’s time, but rather bland. None the less, control is great and a space opera ambiance is conveyed rather competently. The music plays a big part in this, managing to cover cheerful, heroic and melancholic melodies. As the player, one does get a sense of partaking in an interstellar dog fighting scenario.

Silpheed’s BGM is composed by Hibiki Godai which just happens to be an alias. The real artist’s name is  Kohei Ikeda for the sound team known as Mecano Associates. Above is the soundtrack of the original version of the game when it debuted on the NEC PC-8801 on the 5th of December, 1986.

Project MSG – The Retro-Punk Experience

Last month I was able to reveal a little about the game project that I’ve been working on. Shares, retweets, favourites, +1’s and feedback via messages and email from many of you has been both positive and very encouraging – thank you!

It seems that the ‘Project MSG’ logo made a strong impact. The response that I received, while not entirely unexpected, was rather more enthusiastic than anticipated. While I do concur that it’s a cool looking logo. And as the creator of this logo I would like to add that I do so in a humble and non-boisterous manner. What matters is that you love it!

ProjectMSG_WhiteBackground
I should consider taking t-shirt orders 🙂

The logo has managed to convey and stir up strong nostalgic feelings of 8-bit & 16-bit gaming memories for you lot. As if the mid-80’s or even early 90’s were no longer some forgotten bygone era. I have no intention in ruining those feelings and you can all rest assured that the official logo will still retain this flavour.

Fortunately, you didn’t just like the logo. There was a single screenshot of ‘stage 1-1’ of the game which managed to attain significant attention. Plus a fair amount in the twittersphere. Detailed pixel art graphics are gladly still welcome among retro game fans. This singular shot only gives a small glimpse of the game, but it’s enough to give a basic idea of the styling and gameplay.

Defining this project becomes easier as work progresses. While the initial brief described it as 2D shooting game with a cyberpunk theme. This is still true for the project today. However, newer aspects start to surface that were faintly observed in the initial stages of development.  Comparatively to, an alter ego of some kind, quietly hiding within the shadows of the dominant personality. Only to make itself known at a later date.

Perhaps it all boils down to the aesthetic choices. The clashing of pixel art and FM-synth generated music, while a natural fit gives out a far more raw electronic feel. Due to modern development techniques and increased processing power, we have become accustomed to games that are incredibly slick and shiny. Nothing wrong with this intrinsically. After all, I’m all for high production values and polish in the creation of video games. It’s just that this added fidelity often constitutes in a loss of a raw edge.

This rawness is ultimately part of the charm. It’s not just a retro-centric attribute that I’m pointing out here. It’s inherently punk in nature. Sticking out like a sore thumb, provoking the player that it’s nothing like those big-budget, overproduced but somehow sterile games. Project MSG wants to get dirty!