Monday, 21 July 2014

MAME Hidden Gems - T is for...

Play Thunder Jaws. I'm not going to give it a slot here as any credibility I have left after recommending Pachinko Sexy Reaction would be lost forever. But yeah, play Thunder Jaws. It's like Russ Meyer and Ed Wood got together to make a rip off Rolling Thunder... neither having made a game before... Genius.

Onwards...

Tenkomori Shooting fuses v-shmup mechanics with the slightly mental quick-fire style of Bishi-Bashi Special - and if that sentence doesn't make you want to play it then I'm afraid we can't be friends.


The front end of the game has something to do with a monkey going up a tower and beating a Game of Death style challenge on each floor for some reason.

However, unlike a yellow jumpsuit clad Bruce Lee, your challenges are less about fighting ex-basketball players and more about achieving a high-score on a bite sized vertical shooting game.

There are Galaga clones and 1942 clones, there are games where you fire hearts at a singer and others where you fire arrows at apples, you will try to serve sushi and assassinate a Shogun, you will even have to blow up UFOs with fireworks.
Tenkomori Shooting is one of those turn-the-sound-up-and-revel-in-the-madness games and, for me, there is no higher recommendation.


I'm doing it again I'm afraid, Touki Densyou Angel Eyes is a game that is fairly well known in Japan.


It has had releases on the Saturn and the Playstation and is pretty common on the tournament fighting scene.
It is, however, pretty much unknown to the vast majority of western gameophiles.
Yes, I did just make up that word.

There's always a voice in my head telling me not to bother with listing fighters, they seem like a bit of a hard sell.
This example stood out to me initially for the quality of the characters and animation, and for the bizarre way it combines the 2D hand drawn sprites with pre-rendered 3D ones.

It's a bit of a jar at first, but when you start to play, the game's Street Fighter style controls come so naturally, and the games technicalities are so user friendly, that I could not fail to be won over by it.
I hope it does the same for you.


There have been a few games I've detailed in this blog that have put me in mind of Nintendo's classic StarFox, but none moreso than Thunder Ceptor.


A bit of a caveat to it's selection: The arcade cabinet featured an analogue joystick, as most MAME Cabinets tend to go for a 4 or 8 way digital stick it may be something to bear in mind if you're a stickler for the genuine arcade experience.
But, as I've said before, the vast majority of people use MAME on a PC controlled with an Xbox 360 controller, so there's no problem there.

Anyway, Thunder Ceptor is an into the screen on rails sprite scaling shooter. It has more than a little in common with Space Harrier and while it doesn't really do enough to move itself out of the shadow of Yu Suzuki's masterpiece (how could it?) it has enough differences to make it worth your time.

Principle among these is the fuel meter. Rather than having lives, Thunder Ceptor instead puts you on the clock, challenging you to complete the level before your fuel runs out.
This overtone of the racing genre if further supported by inclusion of an accelerator alongside the usual shooting controls. Fortunately, none of the levels have corners, so steering is not required, otherwise we'd be into full on SCI territory.

There is a sequel to the game that was released less than a year after the first game called 3D Thunder Ceptor II, it featured stereoscopic 3D and power-ups but little else to recommend it over this original version. MAME does replicate the display by splitting the screen but for me this is just another reason to play the original... unless it appears on Oculus Rift, that is.


There were a couple of other games I decided against this time out:
Typhoon is a game I remember playing back in the day but I couldn't really recommend it on nostalgia alone, and Twinkle Star Sprites is a fusion of shooter and two-player Puzzle Bobble who's mechanics just seemed to elude me, the limitations of single player weren't in it's favour either.
Give them both a look though, if only a cursory one.