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Old 04-19-2018, 09:46 AM
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Default Hang in there, Sis. Let's Play Psychic World!



Kssshhhh



Vwhum... Deh-Dah!



In a science lab in the middle of nowhere, occupational health and safety standards were being neglected...



The ESP booster, unlike Dr. Knavik, will help you...



Lucia puts it on, and with a look of determination, enters...



The Psychic World

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Old 04-19-2018, 09:47 AM
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Welcome to Let's Play Psychic World!



Psychic World is a 1991 Sega Master System action game, as you can see. As a 1991 SMS release, it only came out in Europe (and Australia and Brazil), but there was a Game Gear version that released worldwide. Both are Sega made ports of the 1988 Japan-only MSX game Psycho World, made by Hertz. All going well I'll be taking a look at those other versions after I finish with the SMS game, so I won't go into them just yet.

You play as Lucia, a research assistant in a remote lab, whose twin sister Cecile (expect me to refer to Lucia as Lucille at some point in the LP) has been abducted by the monsters kept at the lab by their boss, Dr. Knavik. Dr. K volunteers to stay at the lab in case the monsters return, and gives Lucia the lab's ESP booster to allow her to fight the monsters and rescue Cecile.



Each stage has one of these neat little intros. Unfortunately, as in many later games, the abilities Lucia shows off in the cutscenes are not always the abilities she has in gameplay. Running into enemies will not knock them away. Fortunately the recoil animation from getting hit isn't as bad as in this animation, either.



As the game starts, an enemy appears immediately. Lucia ducks and fires her pea shooter (that is, the "Psy-cannon"), killing it. The "B" block (for bonus?) gives 1,000 points in addition to the 100 for killing the enemy. The game screen is broken into a play window at the top, the ESP window at the bottom left, and the status window at the bottom right. We can use ESP abilities so long as we have power left in the ESP Gauge. We'll keep living so long as there's life in the Hit Point Gauge. Then there's the score. I'm not someone who generally cares about high scores, but the point total has a direct effect on gameplay that I'll get to soon.

Between the ESP and status windows is the game's name and two pulsing green bars, which are there to let you know this was an '80s PC game and also to make it harder for me to make seamlessly looping .gifs.



Lucia's other abilities include jumping and running. Unfortunately there's no dedicated run button - you start moving faster automatically after walking briefly. This can be quite irritating in some of the platforming areas.



Carrying on we meet some flying enemies and take damage for the first time. These are an annoyance and a challenge at this point - our meagre offensive abilities make it hard to kill them, and the way their movement bounces off the edge of the screen means I can't just walk away from them.



Continuing on we get our first power-up. The cross block gives Lucia the Shield ability. Note that it's been added to the ESP window at the bottom left. Let's give it a shot!



By pressing down and jump together, we get access to the ESP window. So long as I hold jump, I can move the cursor. Wherever it's sitting when I release will be activated. That either allows me to select a different weapon (once we get one) or to activate an ESP ability, as I'm doing here. One nice touch is the way Lucia closes her eyes to do ESP, which is sort of stuffed up by me repeatedly jumping or ducking as I use this ability over and over. The first shot of Shield changes the colour of Lucia's clothing and makes her briefly impervious to damage. Activating it again while invincible will allow her to "Excharge", transferring ESP power to HP. As you might imagine, when you have a source of ESP refill this ability pretty much breaks the game.



Here's me deliberately taking a hit (I swear!) to demonstrate that some enemies damage your ESP rather than your HP. So far as I can see, neither the game nor the manual ever defines "ESP", which usually means ExtraSensory Perception, something that doesn't normally include Psy-cannons and Shields. I guess it's just a shorthand for psychic powers.



Carrying on we meet a few new enemy types, including a flying type that will go off screen, and a ground type that drops a health refill. These come in small and large sizes, the latter of which are full heals, and both of which are less of a hassle than excharging.



On the next screen there's another Shield block. Maybe for players who missed the first one?



I didn't get a good shot of the level one version of Shield, but the more of a power up you collect the stronger it gets. The invincibility is lasting longer now that I've got two Shield blocks.



Here are the big health and ESP refills.



These guys are much less of a problem when you don't have to worry about getting hit.



At a run, you can pass over small gaps. At walking pace you'll fall through.



This circle is the first upgrade to Lucia's Psy-cannon. Let's see it in action:



It's hard to tell, but it's a bit bigger and more rounded than before.



I mentioned that the score would be important earlier. In this gif, when I kill the enemy my ESP refills. This happens every 10,000 points, which is pretty often, and means you can be fairly liberal with your ESP abilities.



Here's the first boss! A giant flower, it sends its roots out in a fixed pattern that can be avoided by getting up close, then shoots out smaller flowers that are a bit harder to dodge but don't do too much damage. It can't be harmed in the root phase, but mashing attack in the flower phase will see it off in short order. Lucia gets another Psy-cannon upgrade for her trouble, which doubles its firepower. Nice!
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Old 04-19-2018, 09:47 AM
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Here's a little quirk of the game: when you press into a wall Lucia will look backwards. If you look closely, the part in her hair remains on the same side or her head whichever way she's looking. That sort of thing makes me think someone involved in production cared about this game, and I love it. Unfortunately this little detail doesn't carry over to her normal walking and standing sprites, which are simple mirror images. I believe in the MSX version she has separate left and right facing sprites which preserve the position of the part.

Also in this gif you can see the seams of my production process. The water should be flowing smoothly, but it slows down at points. I'm not sure why this happens (I took some care to make sure that the first and last frames of the gif were at the right points in the water animation), because it's smooth in the game and in the source video I made the gif from. I have found a way to avoid the problem but it's a bit of work and relies on me noticing the slowdown, which I didn't for this gif initially, so there will be some imperfections in this LP. Sorry, gang!



The water carries Lucia along, but you can go faster with the D-pad. The enemies in this screen can be avoided by running, so I do.



On the next screen are some more power-ups, which I work my way back to. My new double shot isn't helping me hit enemies on lower levels, sadly. Also sadly, you can't drop down the waterfall in the top right image by ducking and letting the water carry you. Anyway, that infinity symbol is a new power up! What's it do?



Oh. This is teleportation, which returns you to the start of the stage with your health, ESP, score, and powers intact. It has its uses, but not many. It does allow you to grind, since power ups reappear and build up, but I don't intend to use it for that.

This gif, by the way, was where I figured out how to fix a gif with slowdown. The first version was a mess that I now wish I'd saved so I could link to it. Oh well.



Turns out those enemies I complained about at the start of the game can go off screen if you're running. Good to know.



With another power-up, Shield lasts even longer.



My Psy-cannon is now three large shots. The flower goes down even quicker.



I'm pretty happy with how this gif turned out. You can see the seam if you watch the green bars around the title, though.



Past the mountain is another grassy area, this time with pillars as well as rocks. There's nothing much we haven't already seen in it, so let's comment on how all the platforms in this level are either supported by the ground or else part of the mountain face, and move on:



This boss (you might recognise it from the cover art) has a pretty impressive entrance.



Again though you can just tank a few hits, rush up to it and kill it. Like a lot of huge bosses in 8-bit games, it's not very mobile. The rain of fire is pretty cool, though. Beating it gets Lucia her next ESP Attack Capability, Hydro-wave, and finishes the level.

Next time:



Volcanic Area
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Old 04-19-2018, 09:49 AM
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Default Wear this ESP booster. It'll help you see this bonus post.

Here's some concept art of that first boss:



I got it from this great interview (warning: spoilers) with Tsunetomo Sugawara, one of the creators of Psychic World (or rather, of Psycho World, the original MSX version). I have no idea what the text says, unfortunately.

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Old 04-19-2018, 09:51 AM
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You guys are spoiling me with all these fun old games I haven't played to death.
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Old 04-19-2018, 10:00 AM
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This is amazing. I knew nothing about this game.
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Old 04-19-2018, 01:41 PM
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This is great! I love all the gifs. I feel spoiled. Thank you for the hard work.

This game has the best story I've ever seen.

: Your sister has been kidnapped by monsters!

: What monsters?!

: You know? The monsters? That we keep? In our lab?

: Oh yeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeah.
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Old 04-19-2018, 04:45 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Yimothy View Post
So far as I can see, neither the game nor the manual ever defines "ESP", which usually means ExtraSensory Perception, something that doesn't normally include Psy-cannons and Shields. I guess it's just a shorthand for psychic powers.
This is exactly how ESP is usually used when it appears as a loanword in Japanese pop culture. I don't have the depth of knowledge to say a lot about this, but as far as I'm aware it dates back at least to Locke the Superman, a 1967 manga about a man with a variety of psychic powers, including teleportation, healing, and energy spears. Individuals in this series with such powers were known as "espers," derived from the same ESP acronym. To this day, "esper" is oft used as a term denoting someone with supernormal powers in Japanese media, including Final Fantasy VI.
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Old 04-19-2018, 11:20 PM
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Originally Posted by Loki View Post
This game has the best story I've ever seen.
The manual has a more detailed version:



There are some serious problems with how Dr Knavik runs his lab, in my opinion.



Basically, Dr K sucks and everything is his fault and heís too crummy to fix it himself.
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Old 04-20-2018, 02:20 AM
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Neat!

Back in primary school a classmate of mine had this game for the Game Gear, and I think I saw him play it, like... once? And for some reason the memory stuck in my head; I still have a vivid image of those grassy fields and mountain, the girl with a headband & the ginormous HUD taking half the screen.
It's cool to get to see the game in full, so thx!

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Originally Posted by Yimothy View Post
Here's a little quirk of the game: when you press into a wall Lucia will look backwards. If you look closely, the part in her hair remains on the same side or her head whichever way she's looking. That sort of thing makes me think someone involved in production cared about this game, and I love it. Unfortunately this little detail doesn't carry over to her normal walking and standing sprites, which are simple mirror images. I believe in the MSX version she has separate left and right facing sprites which preserve the position of the part.
Aw yis, I love details like those too, thanks for pointing it out.

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Originally Posted by Yimothy View Post
Also in this gif you can see the seams of my production process. The water should be flowing smoothly, but it slows down at points. I'm not sure why this happens (I took some care to make sure that the first and last frames of the gif were at the right points in the water animation), because it's smooth in the game and in the source video I made the gif from. I have found a way to avoid the problem but it's a bit of work and relies on me noticing the slowdown, which I didn't for this gif initially, so there will be some imperfections in this LP. Sorry, gang!
Unforgivable!

You should commit seppuku for this dishonor. Psychic seppuku. Psyppuku, if you will.

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Originally Posted by Yimothy View Post


Turns out those enemies I complained about at the start of the game can go off screen if you're running. Good to know.
Also it seems she runs at the same speed as her blasts. It looks weird, but I guess it makes for a neat one-time fail-safe while you run. XD


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Originally Posted by Yimothy View Post
I have no idea what the text says, unfortunately.
Some of it is hard to read due to the low res, but it seems to be your usual design document specs (weak point is here, this part looks like this and does that...), nothing special.

The boss is named "Grand Chimera" and, since you proceeded to beat the crap out of the poor thing without letting it showcase its abilities, the dragon head is supposed to fire breath, the goat head needles and the lion head water (for some reason?), which I guess it is why it gives you the Hydro-wave ESP.
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Old 04-20-2018, 08:54 AM
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Individuals in this series with such powers were known as "espers," derived from the same ESP acronym. To this day, "esper" is oft used as a term denoting someone with supernormal powers in Japanese media, including Final Fantasy VI.
I was sort of aware of this as the origin of "esper", but it always seemed kind of bizarre. "Esper" sounds like a real word, "ESP-er" does not, I guess.

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Originally Posted by Sensenic View Post
Some of it is hard to read due to the low res, but it seems to be your usual design document specs (weak point is here, this part looks like this and does that...), nothing special.

The boss is named "Grand Chimera" and, since you proceeded to beat the crap out of the poor thing without letting it showcase its abilities, the dragon head is supposed to fire breath, the goat head needles and the lion head water (for some reason?), which I guess it is why it gives you the Hydro-wave ESP.
Thanks for this. I didn't want to straight out ask for a translation, so I just said I couldn't read it and hoped for the best. I'm glad you took the bait! I took another shot at the Grand Chimera just now, this time not attacking it, and so far as I can see its only attack is the rain of fire from the sky.

EDIT: I just noticed the tag "l'esp play". Bravo to whoever did that.
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Old 04-21-2018, 05:36 AM
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Originally Posted by Yimothy View Post
EDIT: I just noticed the tag "l'esp play". Bravo to whoever did that.
I'm not above publicly claiming credit. I was stupidly proud of that one when I thought of it. *bows*
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Old 04-23-2018, 09:26 AM
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Default Let's Play Round 2 - Volcanic Area



Here's the intro to Round 2 - Volcanic Area. It's the same gif that ended the last update. In it, Cecile is carried into a cavern, Lucia sinks into a pool of lava (doesn't happen in gameplay), uses the teleport ability (sort of), then watches an enemy fall into the same trap (also doesn't happen in gameplay), and jumps for joy on the way into the cave.



Here we are at the start of the level. Unlike round one, this stage has verticality. No vertical scrolling, unfortunately.



On the other hand, this image was much easier to put together because of the screen transitions than it would have been with scrolling. The whole area on the left is skippable if you want.



At the base of the pit is a new hazard: collapsible floors. Luckily, lava damage is minimal if you get out quickly (it builds pretty fast if you don't).



Lucia faces a new enemy by foolishly charging in and taking a few hits. I should have stayed on the higher ledge, ducked, and shot at it for a safe kill. Afterwards, we pick up a new ESP ability. Let's give it a shot:



Kaboom! This is Explosion, and it's pretty self-explanatory. It's also pretty weak at this point, taking two hits to kill the mini-volcano and four for the armoured tortoise.



Climbing up I attempt use explosion to clear the enemies in this screen, but I run out of ESP. Fortunately I have enough left for a shot of Shield, allowing me to take out the volcanoes without taking damage.



Continuing up, this is how I should have dealt with the first enemy instead of charging in. There's another Teleport power-up on this screen. I don't think getting more than one makes any difference, but I get it anyway. It's no use with no ESP gauge, though.



What luck! I cross a 10,000 point multiple and get an ESP refill for my trouble.



I realise at this point that I haven't yet shown off Hydro-wave, my new attack. Here it is. All new attacks start at the weakest level, so Lucia's upgraded Psy-cannon tends to be a better choice until you get a few power-ups to charge them up.



Here it is in action. If you look back a few gifs, the Psy-cannon took one of these guys out in five hits. Hydro-wave is taking about double that at this level. Luckily, there's a power up for it here.



I collect the power up and spare myself the trip back down by using teleport again. There was also an upgrade for the Psy-cannon, but I think it's already as strong as it gets.



Here's the upgraded Hydro-wave. It's a little bigger.



I head back down. The power-ups have all respawned, so if I wanted to I could repeat the climb until Hydro-wave was all powered up, but I won't. I will get that Explosion block again, though.



Explosion level 2 is twice as powerful, taking out the volcano in one hit and the tortoise in two. There's no increase in ESP consumption.



I turned on Shield to get the B block dropped by the volcano, and it's a good thing that I did. The jump across floating blocks in the next screen shouldn't be too hard, but I make a mess of it. The mudman would've gone down quicker if I'd switched back to Psy-cannon, but I foolishly persisted with Hydro-wave through most of the stage.



The third area of the stage is a long corridor of floating platforms and enemies. I use Explosion on some, shoot at others, and eventually just turn on Shield and go for a jog in the lava.
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Old 04-23-2018, 09:29 AM
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At the end there are two lengths of collapsing platform. Making it to the end of the upper one, which I manage despite taking a hit, gets you a Shield upgrade. I'm not sure if those are still doing anything or if my Shield is fully upgraded already.



Through the door is this giant flying mudman thing. I wish this game had enemy and boss names in the manual. Anyway, I turn on Shield, because fighting it without is a recipe for misery, and go to it. It takes forever with my underpowered Hydro-wave. I eventually switch to Psy-cannon and it dies on the next hit. Probably just a coincidence.



The next screen gets me another Explosion upgrade and features a fairly simple jumping/dodging challenge. I take a few hits, but manage not to fall.



There's another mudman on the next screen. They go down a lot quicker using the Psy-cannon. I'm pretty sure it has a better range than the underleveled wave, which also helps.



I pause to gather myself before attempting this tricky jump. Not for long enough, apparently, and I miss out on a Hydro-wave upgrade.



This screen is uneventful thanks to my Shield usage.



As is the next.



Another Hydro-wave! This thing might become useful soon.



It's doubled, and the range is increased. Nice!



When I'm running in this game and not sure what's coming up, I tend to shoot, setting up a little buffer against enemies. It doesn't help this time, but once I know what's happening I do ok. There's just something satisfying about holding forwards and jumping at the right time, isn't there?



The penultimate screen of the level features a new hazard: these red things will harm Lucia if you walk through them. Psy-cannon just passes through, but Hydro-wave will take them out.



Or you can blow up the enemies with Explosion and blow through the hazards with Shield. There's another Hydro-wave upgrade hiding in there. Let's see how it's performing now:



It's bigger, and it looks like the range has increased. If I hadn't missed that upgrade earlier it'd probably have a low shot as well as the high and middle. Oh well.



Here's the boss! It shoots platforms at you and can only be harmed by shots to the belly.



It goes on for a while, since you can only land a shot when it's down low. Or, you can climb onto the platforms it shoots. You can see me failing to do that in the third of these shots, and succeeding futilely in the fourth.



On I think the seventh cycle I manage to get a boost up and can really lay into it, finishing the fight. It drops a new attack capability, Burning Bullet. I'm sure that will come in handy in the levels to come.

Next time:



Ice Field
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Old 04-23-2018, 09:36 AM
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Default Wear this ESP booster. It'll help you see this bonus post.

Here's concept art for the boss of level 2, from the same interview as before:



It looks a little different, there are attacks that aren't in the game, and the four patterns at the lower left aren't the same as the ones in game, but it's recognisably the same concept. Plus, it says "#STAGE 2 Boss" at the top. Again, I'd be grateful for a translation of the Japanese text, particularly its name.
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Old 04-23-2018, 10:32 AM
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That's a cool lookin boss. Level seems kinda intense. Do the powers trivialize the game or is it fairly well balanced?
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Old 04-23-2018, 10:44 AM
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Kaboom! This is Explosion, and it's pretty self-explanatory. It's also pretty weak at this point, taking two hits to kill the mini-volcano and four for the armoured tortoise.
I miss Even a Monkey Can Draw Manga:

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Old 04-23-2018, 08:09 PM
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Level seems kinda intense. Do the powers trivialize the game or is it fairly well balanced?
Itís a bit hard for me to judge the difficulty since Iíve been playing this game since childhood, but I think the Shield in particular takes a lot of the challenge out if you use it liberally. It doesnít cost much ESP, it lasts quite a while once itís powered up, and ESP refills are pretty frequent. Explosion is pretty useful in the right place, but itís probably a bit expensive to use all the time.
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Old 04-23-2018, 09:29 PM
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I was wondering that about the Shield power - it just seems crazy good. Have you ever tried a challenge run where you played the game without using Shield?

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I head back down. The power-ups have all respawned, so if I wanted to I could repeat the climb until Hydro-wave was all powered up, but I won't. I will get that Explosion block again, though.
Is that flicker present in-game or is that just an artifact of your gif-making?

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I turned on Shield to get the B block dropped by the volcano, and it's a good thing that I did. The jump across floating blocks in the next screen shouldn't be too hard, but I make a mess of it.
Because it doesn't seem to show up here (I assume those puffs of steam are something like a foreground / background layer and not sprites.)
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Old 04-23-2018, 09:35 PM
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It's pretty weird that the game gives you an attack that's weaker than your default (which you've powered up, but still). Are there any enemies that are weak to it?
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Old 04-23-2018, 10:44 PM
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Iím not sure about weaknesses. This isnít the most thoroughly investigated game out there, and itís hard to compare when one weapon is powered up and the other isnít yet. The thing with the different weapons is that they have environmental uses, as seen in the last screen before the boss of stage 2. Thatíll become more prominent in later stages.

Regarding a no-shield challenge run, I think Iíve done it as a kid just from not understanding how to use the powers. I donít think it can be finished, though, because Iím pretty sure thereís at least one area where you need the shield to avoid environmental damage.

The flicker I think is in-game, and seems to come up when there are too many sprites on a row, as is pretty common in old games. It is a bit strange that it only seems to happen to the power ups, and the rows seem to be pretty broad, so that sprites which arenít in a direct line can cause flicker if theyíre close-ish.
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Old 04-24-2018, 01:40 AM
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I was wondering about the Shield power myself, it seems to trivialize many of the screens in this 2nd level. It has such a small cost and long duration too, and it allows to heal to boot!

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Originally Posted by Yimothy View Post
Thanks for this. I didn't want to straight out ask for a translation, so I just said I couldn't read it and hoped for the best. I'm glad you took the bait! I took another shot at the Grand Chimera just now, this time not attacking it, and so far as I can see its only attack is the rain of fire from the sky.
Haha, this is a kind of bait I'll gladly take. I enjoy trying to read stuff in Japanese, and it's good practice too.

I guess all those attacks made it only as far as design stage and were eventually not implemented. Or maybe were only in the MSX version?

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Originally Posted by Yimothy View Post
Here's concept art for the boss of level 2, from the same interview as before:



It looks a little different, there are attacks that aren't in the game, and the four patterns at the lower left aren't the same as the ones in game, but it's recognizably the same concept. Plus, it says "#STAGE 2 Boss" at the top. Again, I'd be grateful for a translation of the Japanese text, particularly its name.
Behold, thou stand before the mighty Lava King (and it says "sidekick" in parenthesis next to its name? ).

And the attacks it was going to have:
- "Flame wings"
- "Fireball"
- "Burning Bullet"
- Sth about "Advancing attack"? it's the Psycho Crusher one.
- ...and I'm afraid I can't read the platform beam name's kanjis u_u
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  #23  
Old 04-24-2018, 09:05 AM
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Erilex Erilex is offline
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This is a really cool let's play! I would probably have loved this game as a kid if I had been aware of its existence. I certainly would have appreciated the fact that it can apparently be cheesed with relative ease, since I was terrible at games back then.

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Originally Posted by Sensenic View Post
- ...and I'm afraid I can't read the platform beam name's kanjis u_u
I think the word in there is 凝固 (read as gyouko), which according to jisho.org means coagulation, freezing or solidification.

...sooo, solidification beam? It's supposed to be a beam of magma that cools down and solidifies, I guess.

The final design for the boss is a lot cuter than the concept art.
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  #24  
Old 04-24-2018, 09:10 AM
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Man, this game seems like so much fun. It's making me want to collect for the Mark III. Damn you!!!!!
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  #25  
Old 04-24-2018, 09:34 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dracula View Post
Man, this game seems like so much fun. It's making me want to collect for the Mark III. Damn you!!!!!
Doitdoitdoitdoitdoit.

I'm helping!
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  #26  
Old 04-24-2018, 09:36 AM
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No more collecting until you post some more pictures!
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  #27  
Old 04-24-2018, 11:23 AM
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Sprite flickering is always because of memory or display limitations, yeah. Most of the earlier consoles had very strict limitations on the numbers of things that could be displayed on screen at once, so they get around it with creative bits of trickery like only displaying certain elements for fractional amounts of the framerate. Any time you see flickering like that, odds are that the system is skipping render frames for the given sprite in order to render something else on screen.
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  #28  
Old 04-25-2018, 01:09 AM
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Yimothy Yimothy is online now
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Thanks again for the translations!

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Originally Posted by Mightyblue View Post
Any time you see flickering like that, odds are that the system is skipping render frames for the given sprite in order to render something else on screen.
What puzzles me is that the number of sprites needed to set it off doesnít seem to be consistent, and that itís only the power-ups that flicker. I would have thought youíd see two sprites flickering, one drawn in each frame. I guess Iím not a programmer.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dracula View Post
Man, this game seems like so much fun. It's making me want to collect for the Mark III. Damn you!!!!!
Not to discourage this excellent idea, but this game wasnít released for the Mark III. The last Mark III game came out in 1989, two years before this. That said, I believe SMS and Mark III games are cross-compatible (but with a different pin layout on the carts, meaning a converter is needed). I think both can be played on the Mega Drive/Genesis with a converter (again though, you need a different one for each system). So you could probably get a Mark III and a converter and play this on it. Or, if you have a Genesis, get a converter and start getting games.
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  #29  
Old 04-25-2018, 08:49 AM
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I'd assume at least some of the animated background elements are actually tiled sprites, I know the NES did the same sort of thing on more than a few occasions.
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  #30  
Old 04-25-2018, 09:07 AM
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Default The Mystery of the Flicker

So I decided to try the game out on my TV with my PAL Mega Drive, and I got this:



Still a touch of flicker when Lucia shoots, and when the tortoise crosses the power up, but much less than before. What's going on?



Here's a still from the tortoise crossing. I think the translucency effect is a result of shooting video of a TV screen on a phone, but it's probably what the flicker between the two sprites is supposed to be achieving and something like what it looked like on a CRT in the 90s.

I took a shot on my Nomad, which runs like an NTSC Genesis:



basically it looks like a lo-fi version of the image from earlier in the LP. Here's that again:



I fired up my emulator and set it to run as a European machine, and I got:



Almost no flicker, except when a power-up and an enemy occupy the same space (which is probably intentional). I think what we're seeing here is PAL optimisation. Remember, this game only came out in Europe and Australia, 50Hz countries. Actually I think it also came out in Brazil, and I'm not sure how their TV works, but I'm guessing it was a PAL game first. Consequently, it's designed to run at 50 FPS rather than the more common 60. That means the system has 1/50th of a second to process each frame rather than 1/60th, and I'm guessing the power ups are the last thing it draws, meaning if it runs out of time to draw the frame the power up is left off.

I've noticed a few SMS games have terrible slowdown played on the Nomad, which I assume is because it finishes drawing the frame and then waits for the next clock tick, which may have already passed if the system is running faster than the game expects. If I'm right about what's happening in those games and about what's happening here, I think flicker is the preferable bug to result from the mismatch.

Of course, I have no insight into how the game was programmed and could be completely wrong. The Nomad seems to flicker less when Lucia has shots on screen, which would seem to undermine my idea, but regardless I guess I'll be setting things to EU for the rest of the LP.
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