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ShakeWell

Slam Master
(he, etc.)
I love that mechanic (the PS2 port of Time Crisis 2 has a similar, but not congruent mechanic), and I wish more games did it, honestly.
 

Peklo

Oh! Create!
(they/them, she/her)
Yeah, the just-discussed R-Type Delta also adds credits over time, though not as incrementally, culminating in a free play unlock. It seemed to be on the brain for a lot of developers in that period where arcade-background design and projects were still getting made, but adapted or exclusively for console platforms, and how those differing play contexts were reconciled. It was a pretty savvy read to make at the time, and subsequent more modern works sometimes carry the torch forward now with their own iterations on it, and the idea of how to prolong and extend something as fundamentally compact as a shooter was explored so thoroughly in R-Type Final that revisiting the concept in Final 2 soon is pretty exciting.
 

Regulus

Sir Knightbot
Yeah. It's something I wish the genre would play with more often. Most that I've played in the last decade or so seem largely focused on replicating the arcade experience pretty much 1:1 (probably because a lot of them are actually arcade games). ZeroRanger does a little with the idea, tying extra continues to the cumulative score instead.

On to R-Type Final. On Human difficulty, at least, it already feels a little easier than Delta, though I remember 6.0 Floating Graves being pretty rough so I suppose we'll see.

My memory was pretty accurate, haha. Floating Graves is the high point of the main route's difficulty by a lot. Final would be a reasonably easy 1CC if not for the second to last checkpoint, I think. Missiles and bullets everywhere, and no real cover. I ended up unlocking the POW Armor mid-run, which retains its over-the-top "hidden unlockable" loadout from Delta and made the segment a lot easier. I'm not sure how they expected players to deal with it in the more "normal" ships. In previous games, the standard force's "K" shaped bullet spread when detached might have been enough to cut down on things, but the rate of fire appears to have been nerfed in Final for some reason, so it doesn't have enough coverage most of the time.
 

Ludendorkk

(he/him)
Yeah, the just-discussed R-Type Delta also adds credits over time, though not as incrementally, culminating in a free play unlock. It seemed to be on the brain for a lot of developers in that period where arcade-background design and projects were still getting made, but adapted or exclusively for console platforms, and how those differing play contexts were reconciled. It was a pretty savvy read to make at the time, and subsequent more modern works sometimes carry the torch forward now with their own iterations on it, and the idea of how to prolong and extend something as fundamentally compact as a shooter was explored so thoroughly in R-Type Final that revisiting the concept in Final 2 soon is pretty exciting.

It's actually a pretty good system, I'm not exactly shooting up the leaderboards with my improvement curve, but I'm still being rewarded for putting in the work. Smart.
 

Regulus

Sir Knightbot
I finished Stage F-A in Final. This particular run was mostly in the Eclipse (which you need to spend an hour and a half in to unlock any of the Image Fight ships for some godforsaken reason), though I switched to the TP-2S Cyber Nova for Floating Graves, then to the Arrowhead for F-A.

The final boss was... significantly harder than I remember, and after checking videos, I believe it's because the game doesn't slow down as much as it does on actual hardware. So that was fun. I think that may have been the case with the second to last checkpoint in 6.0 as well.

Anyway, I'm probably going to keep playing Final for a bit. At least for the remaining endings, though I might try to unlock all of the ships. I wonder if I can do it before Final 2?
 

Regulus

Sir Knightbot
I got my Final 2 artbook this morning. I went for a digital copy so I don't have the game, but it looks like physical edition backers may already have their hands on copies. Alas. Maybe this will give me time to finish unlocking the rest of the ships in Final before moving on the Final 2 (I'm at 51 out of 101), haha.

It's not the most expansive artbook, but there's some cool stuff in there. I'm particularly into the shot of the Arrowhead's cockpit with the canopy removed. There also are a couple pieces of concept art near the end that I believe are by the backers that signed up for the "create a Bydo" tier. I almost wish that I'd done that, but the price was a little high for my financial situation at the time...

Regarding the ships in the game: the most conspicuous absence in the artbook is any evidence of the Orbital Fighters (aka the Image Fight ships). Their immediate predecessor, the TX-T Eclipse, is present, though. I've seen speculation that Granzella may not have had the license to include anything beyond the R-Type series itself, which would exclude the OF line and potentially the R-11B "Peacemaker" (from Armed Police Unit Gallop). Along that line, there are a few concept shots of the R Museum in the artbook and the spot between the R-11A "Future World" and R-11S "Tropical Angel" is conspicuously empty. Mr. Heli's spot is also empty. I'm not entirely sure this necessarily means anything, though -- plenty of "normal" ships have blank entries in the same shots, and there entries in the bit select menu in the demo for the Red/Blue/Green/Yellow Pods, which are mostly exclusive to the Image Fight ships, as well as the Mr. Heli Bit. While it's true that the ultimate fighters could also equip them, it would be weird to include them for that reason alone.

If it's not obvious, I'm pretty excited about this, haha. I'm spending a lot of time trying to glean details that will be answered in about a week.
 

WildcatJF

Red After Image
(he / his / him)
Per Nintendo Everything:

Cotton 2: Magical Night Dreams, Cotton: Magical Night Dreams [Boomerang], and Guardian Force will be included in the collection featuring the SEGA Saturn and arcade versions. New features will be included such as a rewind feature, quick save/load, and online rankings.
 
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Peklo

Oh! Create!
(they/them, she/her)
Holy goddamn heck. I thought Reboot! was already more than one could hope for, but this is above and beyond.
 

Klatrymadon

Twilight Rascal
(he/him)
Yeah. A fair amount of games on the platform have been exclusive updates of existing PC and console titles, so I'm not sure if this one will eventually be ported the other way round, but I'm hopeful!
 

Regulus

Sir Knightbot
I'm still unlocking ships in Final, but I went ahead and played through R-Type Leo. It's pretty good, and it's sad that it hasn't had any real ports beyond a cheap MAME package that DotEmu put out around a decade ago (which is no longer available anywhere). Despite the significantly different mechanics, it still feels like an R-Type game, mostly because of the often claustrophobic level design and the focus on leveraging the tools you're given to avoid getting overwhelmed. The ruins stage is going to be one of the "remake" stages eventually added to Final 2, so it will be interesting to see how differently it plays with traditional R-Type mechanics.

It's also probably the prettiest R-Type by a pretty wide margin. Maybe even the best looking Irem game, though In the Hunt is a contender.


Since I ran out of R-Type games, I also played through Image Fight a couple of days ago. I'd tried it out a few times over the years, but never really made an earnest effort to complete it. It was... kind of good? But also kind of bad. Level design-wise, it very much feels like a vertically scrolling R-Type. Particularly the 4th and 5th simulator levels. And the boss fights were mostly pretty good -- I particularly liked the boss of the bio-level. My biggest issue with the game was how hostile the checkpoints were. As early as the second stage, there are checkpoints that are nearly as difficult to recover from as stage 7's checkpoint in R-Type. I also cannot really imagine playing through the game without autofire. And the pod shot seemed completely useless.

When I finished the simulator levels (the titular "Image Fight"), my average was 89%, so I had to go to the penalty stage. That is maybe the most sadistic level Irem has ever put out. It felt like a Kaizo Mario level in shoot 'em up form. I eventually resorted to savestates to power through it and it still took me another 30 minutes. The "Real Fight" stages afterward were all pretty good, though.

It's already pretty well known that R-Type Final took some enemies from Image Fight (the photon dorney units and the bat laser platforms) in addition to the Daedalus and Garuda fighters. But it looks like there was a little influence back in Delta, as well. The most obvious is the speed change mechanic; it's kind of wild that it took R-Type 10 years to implement pretty much the exact same mechanic that Image Fight introduced. Delta's stage 4 boss also uses a "ring laser" attack that appears to have been lifted directly from Image Fight's first boss. The same Delta boss also uses a "falling missile" attack that might have been inspired by the 4th boss in Image Fight.

I probably won't be playing Image Fight 2, but I'm glad I gave the first game a shot. Maybe I should try X-Multiply next?
 

ShakeWell

Slam Master
(he, etc.)
Image Fight 2 is much more of the same. It's pretty uninteresting. But it does have a sweet subtitle: Operation Deepstriker.
 

ShakeWell

Slam Master
(he, etc.)
That arcade flyer/box art remains my favorite piece of videogame promo art ever.

Also, the arcade version of that game can fuck right off.
 

MCBanjoMike

Infamous third lava dolphin
(He/him)
I spent some quality time playing shooters last week, largely inspired by some updates to various MiSTer cores. I even went the extra mile and turned my CRT monitor on its side for some proper TATE action! I credit-fed my way through two of my favorites, DoDonPachi and 19XX, before trying ProGear for the first time. DoDonPachi is a really intense game and I love the way you can quickly switch between firing modes to speed up and slow down, depending on what kind of maneuvering you're doing. 19XX also holds up really well, which I was glad to see - it's hands-down my favorite entry in that series. The two-stage bomb gives you an escape valve when you need it, and the lock-on shooting adds a bit of plate-juggling that keeps the game engaging. Both games also have some incredible sprite work, a trait they share with ProGear. I can't really weigh in on the latter just yet, since I've only played it once, but it's a pretty bewildering game! Like DoDonPachi, it has two firing modes, but it seems like the more powerful of the two changes depending on which character you pick as your gunner? Also there's a whole thing with money and gems on screen that you can suck into your plane, and if we're being totally honest I didn't really understand it at all. Anyway, seems like a fun game and one that I should come back to in the future. Looking forward to finally playing some Mars Matrix once the CPS2 core advances to that point!
 

Dracula

Plastic Vampire
(He/His)
I'm still unlocking ships in Final, but I went ahead and played through R-Type Leo. It's pretty good, and it's sad that it hasn't had any real ports beyond a cheap MAME package that DotEmu put out around a decade ago (which is no longer available anywhere). Despite the significantly different mechanics, it still feels like an R-Type game, mostly because of the often claustrophobic level design and the focus on leveraging the tools you're given to avoid getting overwhelmed. The ruins stage is going to be one of the "remake" stages eventually added to Final 2, so it will be interesting to see how differently it plays with traditional R-Type mechanics.

Leo has long been among my favorite shooters ever since I tested it out on MAME back in high school. I love the soundtrack so much, and the spin on the Force mechanic was super fun to me. A few years ago I set up a Raspberry Pi for the express purpose of playing old, unloved arcade titles like Leo, and I just could not get Leo to work properly on the platform. It was very frustrating. I wish someone would re-release it so I can just pay them and own a copy that works.
 

MCBanjoMike

Infamous third lava dolphin
(He/him)
Good lord, you need a freakin PhD to score well in that game. Well, it's fun to play even if you don't understand what you're doing.
 

spines

behold my godlike
(she/her, or something)
progear's an alright 1-all and definitely on the nicer side of cave games for that; i learned it in a couple weeks long ago. but i loathed the second loop (which is checkpointed: every time you die you return to the beginning of the stage and your score rolls back), don't really enjoy the scoring (it's finicky in a way i feel a lot of later cave games improved on, as the way it plays out in progear tends to feel very all-or-nothing and the risk/reward balance ends up very weird in most spots), and don't like the music. so i never played it again
 

spines

behold my godlike
(she/her, or something)
new touhou is out. me: "wait, it just dropped on steam instantly at the same time i woke up? for the first time in my life i can finish it before my feed fills up with retweets of all the new characters?"

i couldn't

i don't think it's actually that much harder than the previous couple games but the difficulty is very lopsided (at least for someone at my exact skill level). the nature of the card mechanic generates a very large amount of rng so in the short term every credit has completely different things going on with character mechanics; it's very hard to use them properly as a result. and so reading this, or perhaps approaching the game early in the morning before a person had a couple cups of coffee they need to have the energy to try and read the japanese descriptions of the items, one might think, "aha! rather than having to figure out this roguelite character building stuff, maybe i should just choose extra lives!"

alas, this is an even bigger fallacy, because aside from the fact that the items (almost) invariably make the game easier, or at least offer some kind of counteracting benefit if they don't, i don't know if there's another bullet hell game i have ever played where the immediate setback of dying can be so tremendous. it takes a very long time to power up and if you die repeatedly on the last boss for example, you will just never power up again and deal very low damage. (i guess if you have THAT many lives you can probably bombspam to the end. you might have to do that anyway since she has multiple time-out phases for some reason.) also you lose a bunch of money if you're against a boss, although this matters a lot more if you're actually trying to buy items because the lives are always cheap enough that you can probably afford them.

i think that i don't like this, although not because i think it's truly "bad" or anything like that-it's just not a genre mechanic that tends to have a lot of draw for me, and for me it clashes oddly with the very fixed elements of a bullet hell game. and it's a remix of some of the systems previously appearing in the last couple side games but without the "puzzle" aspect that comes with having as much control over what your tools are and constraints on the game. ultimately part of the problem is that i have a tendency to spend the wrong amount of time on zun's games to really appreciate something like this. it'll usually take me a few hours to get a normal difficulty 1cc, a bit longer to do it with other characters or styles, and then i play extra stage for a while and usually don't come back to play seriously again unless something about the game has captured the kind of attention it takes to get me to spend 30+ hours on a shmup. if i were more skilled i'd probably just blow right through and not even worry about it, and if i felt like i was struggling more it'd at least keep the grind fresh. as it is, the inability to mostly control the powerups just doesn't offer the kind of hook that i think would keep me playing for a long time. (in impossible spell card, for example, there was kind of a process of figuring out what the most effective item was (until a few in the last stretch that are just straight up too hard), but then also the novelty of trying out others to see what odd thing would happen if you tried to use, say, the decoy doll or screen warp in a spot where it wasn't obviously useful.) as a result, it's not that i'm not interested to see them, but i don't feel like i'll get the same chance to really experiment and learn the ins and outs of using them, even with the initial equipment choices. instead, it just feels a bit overwhelming and baffling.

also, i can't say i've really enjoyed the stages in the last few games, as the health of most enemies has gone up a lot and there's just no real way to mitigate the amount of junk that randomly sprawls across the screen most of the time as a result; regardless of character this leads to a lot of staring at the couple inches around your dot for a long time, which is something i felt the games had avoided more for a while. and in the last couple games there were more cyclical systems that you were supposed to engage with to work through this, much like cave moved to over time, so even if the bullet design and enemy patterns were pretty nothing in many places there was at least something to learn and engage with. but here...you have cooldowns. you psychokinesis out a bunch of bullets near you once, and then...have to wait 40 seconds to do it again or something. obviously there are tons of other games with shield cooldowns-Qute titles, takumi games, the doujin game samidare, etc. but they all either have short ones you can use a lot or "soft" ones where you don't blow the entire thing at once.

still, i've learned a lesson. if i want to beat the game in an hour or two next time...i need to actually play the demo
 
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Sarge

hardcore retro gamin'
I made a couple of legit runs through two PC Engine CD games - Gate of Thunder and Sylphia.

The former definitely pulls inspiration from Thunder Force. It's pretty intense, but easy enough for a non-expert like me to scrape out a win somehow with two lives and no continues to my name. Couldn't believe I got the win, actually, because I didn't know what the final stage was!

The latter I liked because it's a fantasy-themed shmup, and a solid game to boot. It's a bit more sedate than Gate of Thunder, though - a good weapon (I liked the green spread shot and the blue multi-directional) and you can do quite well, especially when you beef it up. It also has one of the oddest soundtracks for a game of its type - a disco-style beat runs through almost all the music. I kinda dug it!


 

Peklo

Oh! Create!
(they/them, she/her)
new touhou is out. me: "wait, it just dropped on steam instantly at the same time i woke up? for the first time in my life i can finish it before my feed fills up with retweets of all the new characters?"

i couldn't

i don't think it's actually that much harder than the previous couple games but the difficulty is very lopsided (at least for someone at my exact skill level). the nature of the card mechanic generates a very large amount of rng so in the short term every credit has completely different things going on with character mechanics; it's very hard to use them properly as a result. and so reading this, or perhaps approaching the game early in the morning before a person had a couple cups of coffee they need to have the energy to try and read the japanese descriptions of the items, one might think, "aha! rather than having to figure out this roguelite character building stuff, maybe i should just choose extra lives!"

alas, this is an even bigger fallacy, because aside from the fact that the items (almost) invariably make the game easier, or at least offer some kind of counteracting benefit if they don't, i don't know if there's another bullet hell game i have ever played where the immediate setback of dying can be so tremendous. it takes a very long time to power up and if you die repeatedly on the last boss for example, you will just never power up again and deal very low damage. (i guess if you have THAT many lives you can probably bombspam to the end. you might have to do that anyway since she has multiple time-out phases for some reason.) also you lose a bunch of money if you're against a boss, although this matters a lot more if you're actually trying to buy items because the lives are always cheap enough that you can probably afford them.

i think that i don't like this, although not because i think it's truly "bad" or anything like that-it's just not a genre mechanic that tends to have a lot of draw for me, and for me it clashes oddly with the very fixed elements of a bullet hell game. and it's a remix of some of the systems previously appearing in the last couple side games but without the "puzzle" aspect that comes with having as much control over what your tools are and constraints on the game. ultimately part of the problem is that i have a tendency to spend the wrong amount of time on zun's games to really appreciate something like this. it'll usually take me a few hours to get a normal difficulty 1cc, a bit longer to do it with other characters or styles, and then i play extra stage for a while and usually don't come back to play seriously again unless something about the game has captured the kind of attention it takes to get me to spend 30+ hours on a shmup. if i were more skilled i'd probably just blow right through and not even worry about it, and if i felt like i was struggling more it'd at least keep the grind fresh. as it is, the inability to mostly control the powerups just doesn't offer the kind of hook that i think would keep me playing for a long time. (in impossible spell card, for example, there was kind of a process of figuring out what the most effective item was (until a few in the last stretch that are just straight up too hard), but then also the novelty of trying out others to see what odd thing would happen if you tried to use, say, the decoy doll or screen warp in a spot where it wasn't obviously useful.) as a result, it's not that i'm not interested to see them, but i don't feel like i'll get the same chance to really experiment and learn the ins and outs of using them, even with the initial equipment choices. instead, it just feels a bit overwhelming and baffling.

also, i can't say i've really enjoyed the stages in the last few games, as the health of most enemies has gone up a lot and there's just no real way to mitigate the amount of junk that randomly sprawls across the screen most of the time as a result; regardless of character this leads to a lot of staring at the couple inches around your dot for a long time, which is something i felt the games had avoided more for a while. and in the last couple games there were more cyclical systems that you were supposed to engage with to work through this, much like cave moved to over time, so even if the bullet design and enemy patterns were pretty nothing in many places there was at least something to learn and engage with. but here...you have cooldowns. you psychokinesis out a bunch of bullets near you once, and then...have to wait 40 seconds to do it again or something. obviously there are tons of other games with shield cooldowns-Qute titles, takumi games, the doujin game samidare, etc. but they all either have short ones you can use a lot or "soft" ones where you don't blow the entire thing at once.

still, i've learned a lesson. if i want to beat the game in an hour or two next time...i need to actually play the demo

I 1CC'd it a couple of times on Easy and am working on a Normal clear and think I just enjoy everything that puts you off about it. I like that there's a new system (like always) that's solidly themed around the narrative (like always) and which lends a light persistence to Touhou it's not really had before; that the abilities that govern your new toolset are derived from known characters in accordance with their natures is the best kind of flavour that I could ask for, I think. There's a lot about the balance that feels at odds with the neutral immediacy of the shoot 'em up baseline in fresh and aged files being essentially the same as far as the act of play goes, as the cards you purchase during runs and add to your deck grow into a huge difference-maker, but again this connects to one of my favourite aspects about the series in that it's never been afraid to deviate from the norms despite being carried on the developer and audience end by extreme niche enthusiasts with ostensibly very set in stone preferences and expectations. The game feels extraordinarily hard this time on default difficulty, and I think that's nice after a couple of relatively "gentler" games; in turn you now have the ability to precisely customize the manner in which you begin closing that gap; it feels mindful of its own nature in the same way Legacy of Lunatic Kingdom was, in providing the tools to overcome or emotionally "circumvent" the hardships. A number of the ability cards interact with the game in ways that make them feel like they're speaking another language altogether, more in common with the spinoff puzzlers, which is another new interesting variable next to the "get stronger and maybe bomb" paradigm that's still the core of play.

Just very into it and am looking forward to the translation as I really want to know what this new cast is all about beyond audiovisual presence, which remains great. As Antinomy of Common Flowers was about bubble economics, Unconnected Marketeers may end up being about cryptocurrency. A game for our times.
 
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