Sunday, 6 July 2014

MAME Hidden Gems - R is for...

I had very high hopes for R – Looking down my list of candidates I made way back when I played through the MAME catalogue there was a good haul noted here.

A little research has decimated the field though.

I probably should have realised that Ray Force was the first in the popular series that went on to include Ray Storm and Ray Tracers, and re-releases on the Playstation and Xbox (among others) meant I had to eliminate the excellent top-down open world car shooter Rush and Crash (AKA Speed Rumbler) and Rohga Armor Force (AKA Wolf Fang: Kuhga) in which you assemble your own mech before piloting it into H-Shmup action.

All of these games are more than worth a play, but my self imposed selection criteria means that I’ve had to pick others from my list for this entry.

The second and third choices were easy, and probably would have been selected anyway, but up first is Rabbit, a fighting game that I have to recommend with a rather large caveat – The rom is broken.

The main fault is that there is no sound, but there are other issues too, most notably that sprites occasionally blink momentarily into invisibility.

Another point of note is that it just barely squeaks past my criteria – it is a game with a release on console, namely Sega’s much maligned Saturn. However, as it was a Japan only title, and one that happened very close to the launch of the machine, I’ll allow it. On the plus side, this means that if you fall in love with it on MAME you have the option of tracking down a fully functional version.

In it’s favour though, on MAME Rabbit retains a recognisable but innovative fight system and beautiful character art.

Each of the ten highly original combatants come with a 'familiar', a spirit beast that can be summoned and used in combat.
The great thing about this mechanic is that it has both positive and negative effects – A heavy beast might increase the power of your attacks, for example, but it will also slow you down and shorten your jumps.
It adds a dimension I've not before in the genre and, while it may lack the fireworks of others of the era, it has enough going for it to recommend a play to fans of 2D fighters.

Sega's X arcade hardware was most famous for Yu Suzuki's excellent Afterburner and Power Drift games. But it was also the basis for much lesser known Racing Hero.

If you spot the branching pathed map during the attract mode for the game you would be forgiven for expecting Outrun with motorbikes... and in truth there is an element of that when you start playing, but the USP on this one is the structure of the stages.

Each is broken down into 2 elements: The first is Outrun style, racing through traffic to make a checkpoint before the timer runs out.
Make the checkpoint and you're into the second section. The traffic and scenery disappear and are replaced exclusively by other racing bikes and traditional track markings.

At the end of the two sections you're given the choice of two locations to race next, this is why the map on the scoreboard has that classic Sega look.

I don't know if it was the intention to give the impression that you're running late for a race and the first section involves speeding to make it on time - but that's the feeling I get every time I play this game. It's fast and fun, it looks great and has the full on Arcade feel that only comes with Sega's best efforts.

You won't see too many Tetris style games as I run through the alphabet in this blog, but I could not resist the brilliant Risky Challenge - despite it barely squeaking part my criteria.

The game (under it's original name Gussun Oyoyo) was released on SNES, Saturn, and PlayStation and this could have instantly excluded it from selection - were it not for the fact that none of these releases made it outside Japan.

Using elements that will be familiar to anyone who has played either Tetris or Lemmings, you have to build your little egg shaped guy a bridge to the level's exit using blocks that drop in from the top of the stage.
Challenge is added as the timer runs down and the level fills with water, and also by your guy wandering around aimlessly and doing more to help than hinder as you attempt to save his none existent neck.

I don't generally believe that puzzle games are a good fit for the arcade format, but Risky Challenge is an exception to that in a big way.

Obviously S is up next time, none of you guys have heard of Street Fighter 2, right?