Monday, 9 December 2013

Mame Hidden Gems - O is for...

There must be something about the letter O.

There's not a lot of games that begin with the 15th letter of the alphabet but the quality over quantity rule has never been more apparent.
Even when you take away the well known classics Operations Wolf and Thunderbolt, Outrun and Outrunners - almost everything else was in contention for a place here.

I say 'almost' because Oriental Legend and its sequel are just average brawlers and Outzone is a commando style shooter that doesn't quite have the personality to stand out.

But everything else you will find listed below...

I'm going to kick off with Osman because this one is a bit special.

Created by the man who put together the original Strider, this game is seen by some as a 'pseudo-sequel' to the Capcom classic, although it has no official connection.

Osman, the titular protagonist, leaps, runs and slides around the game's levels in a way that more than a little echoes Strider Hiryu, but he has a fantastic trick up his sleeve that separates him from not only that character, but any other character before him.

Picking up power-ups allows Osman to create up to four shadows of himself. Each time you hit the attack button one of these clones is created and will stay in the spot where he first materialised for about 3 seconds and attack when you do.

Mastery of this deceptively complex mechanic allows you to attack the constant barrage of enemies, bosses and sub bosses from five places at once - and you'll need to - because this game is HARD.

The story, level design, characters, and aforementioned bosses are all entirely mental and rendered in an almost epileptic hail of colour and noise.

But through it all Osman is pure, hardcore, gameplay at it's very finest - You need to put this one near the very top of your 'must play' list.

If you were paying attention back in the Ks you might remember that I talked about discovering a genre I gave the moniker of Boss-Brawlers through researching and writing this blog. Oni - The Ninja Master, is another example of this sparsely populated area.

Unlike the better known Monster Maulers, Oni upgrades the usual brawler 2 button system to a fully rounded 2D fighting game move set.
Each of the three available fighters can string together combos and esecute specials and supers that follow the time honoured fireball and dragon punch template, these are tied to a super bar that can be charged by holding down a couple of buttons - should you get a break in the action long enough to do so.

When you put it altogether and start to understand the system this all makes for some frantic and spectacular battles.

When played in the marquee co-op mode the game's engine (and Mame's emulation of it) handles the massive - and brilliantly designed - boss enemies and two human controlled players on screen brilliantly. It is at it's best in this mode but it works just as well in 1 player, although sometimes frustratingly difficult - with only 5 levels to the game, this does add some welcome longevity.

There are very few of these blog entries that feature one game as good as Osman - but here's another one in the same post - Outfoxies is an absolute belter.

This is a 1-on-1 arena fighter played on a 2D plane with an insane amount of sprite scaling employed at times to keep both avatars on screen.

You pick one of seven available characters, each with their own bonkers biography.
For example there's Eve, the has-been film starlet. Now a thief to support her lavish lifestyle. She has the skill to break into Nox Fortress with the aid of her well-trained Lizard...

Or how about Danny and Demi the ex-Siamese twins, separated by a train crash...

The game's levels are no less ludicrous and if any anything have even more character.
Similarly to Powerstone 2, a game it pre-dates by over half a decade, the environments in Outfoxies evolve the more time you spend in them.
There's a plane that pitches and dives, rotating the level as it does so, and a boat that behaves similarly but occasionally submerges.
Another is a building filled with aquariums that rupture over time, filling the level with water... and piranhas... and sharks.

Weapons ranging from swords to rocket launchers are dropped around these labyrinthine, interactive levels and these are essential to achieving the games simple goal of the killing the other player before they kill you.

The graphics, sound, and music of Outfoxies have the feeling of been thrown together - but it works brilliantly - the game is loaded with manic atmosphere and boundless energy. It's one of those games you simply have to play to understand the full extent of it's appeal - I hope I've done enough here to make you give it a shot.

That's almost it but for a quick shout for Omega Fighter, a v-shmup that doesn't quite do enough for a full write-up, but I love it's concept of the whole game being an assault on a single giant mothership. Check it out if you get a chance.

#Arcade #Mame #Hidden Gems