Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Mame Hidden Gems - G is for... (Pt4)

So finally we reach the end of the surprisingly vast range of games that the G bracket turned up - although admittedly there is one less than I thought because it turns out I was the only person in the world who hadn't played Prehistoric Isle (Masquerading as a hidden gem under the guise of Genshi Tou 1930's).

When breaking this list into genres the first few headings came easily - Vertical Shmups, Brawlers, and so on... then I noticed that three of the games fell into a genre that I wasn't even aware existed...

So without further delay, the final three hidden gems beginning with G all come from the genre that I like to call:

Pinball Hybrids

The first of this odd batch has the potential to be best known. Gunbarich is pretty recent by Mame standards, hailing as it does from 2001. It is a spin-off from the well loved Gunbird games and even features series protagonist Marion.

She is one of two selectable characters, the other being Grutan who may be from Gunbird too but I'm afraid I've played the series too intermittently to be sure either way.

The main crux of the gameplay in Gunbarich is that of an Arkanoid style brick breaker.
Your character sits at the bottom of the screen and directs a rebounding ball as you would expect - the twist in this game is that your characters 'bat' is actually a pair of Pinball Flippers.
Hitting the fire button as the ball reaches you not only fires it back with extra force but allows you to control the ball to some extent as it travels back up the screen.

As you would expects from the guys and gals at Psikyo the graphics are colourful, detailed and overflowing with character. the game starts as a simple brick breaker but more an shooter elements are added as the level progress.

It's a gem amongst gems this one. When fun, creativity and challenge come together under such a gorgeous umbrella - you really can't go too far wrong.

If Gunbarich is Arkanoid mixed with a little Pinball then Gunball (Nitro Ball outside Japan) does the same for Ikari Warriors.

I'm not entirely sure I can do this game justice - Suffice to say if you thought that what your Commando style game needed most was pinball scoring flags on the side of the tanks and the ability to shoot enemies into holes to receive power-ups as reward, then you'll be very happy.

To be fair, it's hard not to be happy playing this game - The bosses in particular tie the two game styles together excellently, proving that there is method to the madness.
The game in general is just mental enough that skill isn't entirely lost and it never overplays the gag. The 'future sports' premise is well realised and gives the whole thing a distinct Takeshi's Castle vibe - albeit a slightly more deadly one.

Grand Cross was the first of these pinball hybrid games that I found.

It's far more pinball than hybrid, especially when compared to the games above but this time there's a little v.shmup mixed into proceedings.

All the usual Pinball trappings appear; Score targets, chutes, multiple levels, and all that standard stuff - but added to the mix are alien ships, power-ups and bosses straight from any shmup you care to mention.

It doesn't really have the physics on board to be a great pinball game but the addition of these elements really raises the fun factor and the two combine better than you would expect - it clearly didn't have the biggest budget in the world either and this really adds to idea that the game deserves to be a genuine cult gem.
A bit more a curates egg than the other two games listed here, but no less worthy of your time.

Last up, a shout out to a gem of a different kind, my girlfriend, Gemma, who insisted I write something about her as she's is a Gem that begins with G (Which is a truism but... moving on...) and apparently she's also the best Gem I've ever 'found'... which would be vomit inducing if it wasn't quite so unbearably true.

#mame #retrogaming #gaming