19 December 2009

The Greatest Week in Video Gaming History?

Wow, Chrontendo Episode 26 will go down as one of the longest delayed in recent memory. But, it is now available to download or stream at archive.org. Was it worth the wait? That's for you to decide.

Episode 26 is a big, big episode, featuring both Mega Man and, the other game in our December 1987 RPG showdown, Final Fantasy. Not to mention some weird, interesting, and just plain pointless releases. Also, for bonus content, we have a brief look at that Famitsu Top 100 games list. And when I say "brief," I actually mean it this time. Episode 26 is right in the middle of the 1987 holiday rush, and as a result, it covers 15 games in a mere 11 days, from December 11 to December 22.

December 1987 turned out to be a huge month for launching successful franchises: Final Fantasy, Mega Man, Phantasy Star and (next episode), Metal Gear. Even more amazing - these games were all released within six days of each other! Has there ever been another week in video game history that can boast a lineup like that? I officially declare it to be the greatest week in video game history.

This Episode's MVP Game:

Errr... nice codpiece, dude.

No surprises here, it's Final Fantasy, the game that launched Square's gazillion dollar multimedia empire. I've already discussed it at some length in an earlier post, but suffice to say, Square took big bloody chunks of Dragon Quest and Ultima III, added a much deeper combat and magic system, a more involved plot, cooler monsters and ended up with the best Famicom RPG so far.

Our Runner Up Game:

What else could it be... but Mega Man? Capcom's Famicom history up to this point has consisted of a handful of arcade ports and a mahjong game - not exactly the stuff legends are made of. With Mega Man, Capcom suddenly and surprisingly entered the ranks of great console game producers. If this this game is any indication, 1988 is going to be a very interesting year for Capcom.

Other Fine Games:


After a year and a half of producing moderately interesting titles for the Famicom, Data East kicks it into high gear with this very playable port of their 1987 arcade game. As mentioned earlier, Karnov makes an interesting contrast to Mega Man; Data East's game being an exemplar of the older Ghosts 'n' Goblins style platforming, and Capcom's being the first example of a new, more sophisticated style of platform game.

Taito Grand Prix

We've seen a few racing games in Chrontendo and Chronsega that flirt with the idea of letting you upgrade your vehicle by winning races. However, Taito moves beyond flirting and heads straight to 3rd base with this ahead-of-its-time little gem. Tatio Grand Prix is virtually Dragon Quest on wheels, as you drive from town to town, win races, collect money and experience, and then level up your Mini Cooper. Sadly, the actual racing isn't quite as good as you'd hope, with Grand Prix playing like a slightly substandard Rad Racer/Out Run clone.

Ginga no Sannin

It turns out Squall Leonhart isn't the biggest douchebag in video game history!

Not a fabulous game, but Ginga was the distinction of being the first RPG published by Nintendo themselves. The bizarre thing is: it's a retitled port of an old Enix computer game. Aside from this, the game sports some intriguing names in the credits. The art is by Go Nagai and the music by YMO drummer Yukihiro Takahashi.

Wizardry: Proving Grounds of the Mad Overlord

Barely playable by today's standards, this ASCII published port of Sir-Tech's pioneering computer RPG is remarkably faithful to the original version. Long dead in the US, the Wizardry series continues to survive in Japan, making it perhaps the longest continuously running video game franchise in history.

The Bad:

Ultraman 2 - Shutsugeki Katoku Tai

You've got to hand to Bandai. They could have simply rehashed their first crappy side scrolling action game based on Ultraman. Instead, they chose to completely switch things up, making a crappy game in an entirely new genre.

Stick Hunter

Shouldn't the yellow team be wearing pants?

The official entry in the "worst Famicom Hockey game" category, courtesy of Micronics and KAC. Also a contender for "most inappropriate-sounding title."

Mezase Pachi Pro: Pachio-kun

Hot-B finally has some competition in the terrible name department. The hideously monikered Coconuts Japan makes its debut with this weirdo pachinko game. Mezase Pachi Pro introduces Coconut's would-be mascot, Pachio-Kun, a human sized, living, talking pachinko ball who apparently likes to play a lot of pachinko. One mystery surrounds this game: the name "C-Dream" in the credits and on the cover. Who exactly were C-Dream? I have no idea, but the similarity in names has led to some confusion with Color Dreams, the US based producer of unlicensed NES games. In this episode, I bitch about Wikipedia and GameFaqs listing Color Dreams as the developer of the most famous Pachio-kun game, American Dream. I don't suppose anyone out there is a Wikipedia editor type who can correct this?

And the rest this episode:

Yamamura Misa Suspense: Kyouto Ryuu No Tera Satsujin Jiken

Taito breaks into the adventure game genre with this entry, based around the popular Japanese mystery author Misa Yamamura.

Exciting Boxing:

The sole Konami game this episode is an odd one. Exciting Boxing came with an inflatable balloon shaped like a boxer. The game is played by hitting the balloon; sensors inside the balloon would register your hits. Strange but true.

Family Tennis:

The latest in Namco's Family sport series. This time it's Tennis.

Tetsudou Ou: Famicom Boardgame

This dB Soft release is the first console game in the railroad-themed board game genre. Believe or not, there will be more.

Gokuraku Yuugi: Game Tengoku

This episode's most pointless title, another bingo number/dice throw generator type game, much like the second half of Santa Claus no Takara Baka.

Nazoler Land Special!! Quiz Ou Wo Ikuse

The third game in Sunsoft's shovelware series. This time it's all quiz questions.

That's all for this time. As always, this episode can be found at archive.org. Hopefully, Episode 27 won't be so overdue.

Errata Update: Naturally, mistakes were made. In the segment about the Famitsu Top 100 list, I mention Chrono Trigger being in 26th place. That should be 28th place, as the caption states. Also, in the Nazoler Land Special segment, I refer to a game where you control a little train full of people and animals as a blackjack style game. Clearly, I meant to say roulette, not blackjack.


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