Sunday, 8 December 2013

Mame Hidden Gems - N is for...

Well, I have to admit, this isn't the most auspicious start to the second half of the Alphabet.

Don't get me wrong, I've found 3 games that are worth a look - but that's about it - none of them are going to rock your world in the way others might, and in the way that at least one entry in the forthcoming 'O' section is likely too.

So forgive me if this is a tad brief, but believe me when I say that all these games are worth at least a cursory glance.

First up, the obligatory shmup, Nebulas Ray.

When you first load up Namco's 1994 V-shmup into MAME you get a warning that the sound emulation isn't 100% - I only mention this because the other common warning, that the video emulation isn't 100%, is rather conspicuous by it's absence.

The original arcade version of Nebulas Ray features a couple of 3D effects that don't make it to the MAME version, but even without them it's a great looking game, full of enormous mother ships, fighters coming at you from all directions, and a full on action soundtrack complete with a barrage of radio chatter that makes Fox McCloud and his mates sound positively taciturn by comparison.

The constant broken English dialogue might grate on some, but to me it helps to turn this rather straightforward shooter into something a little more, and it does this by providing a great arcade atmosphere, something you'll never quite get from screenshots and videos.

Similarly, Night Slashers' allure comes more from it's concept than it's execution.

The 1993 brawler from those borderline-geniuses at Data East uses videogames' marketings oldest ally, gory violence, as it's hook.

Fortunately, it builds on its Zombie apocalypse premise with versatile combat mechanics and a good number of beautifully drawn undead on screen at any given time.

There are fantastic bosses two. Horror staples such as Frankenstein's Monster, The Grim Reaper, and Dracula all make appearances and, while offering a considerable challenge, never feel cheap.

Make sure you get the Japanese version if you like your blood red rather than green!

Style over substance would appear to be the theme of the day as I round things out with Numan Athletics.

Best experienced with 3 friends and a case of beer, Numan Athletics is a superhuman take on the International Track and Field style of game.

There are 8 events in total, some of which are familiar in concept, if not name.
Turbo Dash is a straight 100m style sprint, Missle Toss is Javelin, Niagra Jumps is the Triple Jump - although what Niagara Falls is doing in South Africa is anyone's guess.

However there are several others that forgo the button bashing for more skill based mini games.
Numan Sniper, for example, is all about reflexes, Tower Jumper dares you to leave your pounce as late as possible for the best available elevation as you wall-jump between Paris apartment blocks.

There is no hiding the fact that this is all simply a fresh coat of paint on an age old concept.

But it is a pretty great coat of paint; the four available avatars are characterful and nicely designed, the music and sound support the concept wonderfully and the backgrounds are usually great fun too.

One final note, Numan has a sequel, Mach Breakers, which is well worth a look if you enjoy the vanilla version.

#Arcade #Mame #Retrogaming