As you might expect, this one plays very similarly to the first Gradius, though there are a few improvements. First, you now can choose between five different power-up sets. Some are more powerful while others offer greater range (I believe this was adopted by later Gradius games). Also, the graphics are more impressive and the levels feel bigger since they now scroll up and down (to a point) instead of just left to right. And since it's a Gradius game, it's hard as hell, though I guess that goes without saying.
I was intrigued by this game since supposedly it is the only Miyamoto produced game to never come out in the U.S. Interestingly, it is pretty much a Pac-Man clone, though it adds a few twists. In the first screen, you maneuver a dragon-like character around a maze, gobbling up dots and collecting crosses which allow you to shoot fireballs at the demons chasing you. At the top of the screen is the Devil, who controls which way the screen scrolls by pointing up, down, left, or right. The second screen plays similarly, though this time you have to collect bibles and return them to an alter in the center of the screen. The third screen is a bonus round where you have a time limit to collect six items. After that, the screens loop but are harder. It's definitely a likeable game, but I really wish it had a difficulty select. It would be better if I could start on round 4 where the game gets much faster and more challenging.
Splatterhouse: Wankapu Graffiti
This is definitely my favorite so far. At first the game seems to play similarly to Splatterhouse on the TG-16. But at the end of the first level, you realize things are a little different when Dracula emerges from his tomb and proceeds to perform a disco line dance with a group of Zombie minions - pretty funny! This game has some of the most fun and imaginative enemies I've seen in a video game, from werewolf boy, to The Fly, to the sleeping girl with alien parasites jumping out of her torso. Adding to the fun is the fact the game is already in english with hilarious lines such as "Be garbage of cesspool ha ha ha..." Definitely a winner.
Here's a youtube video for Splatterhouse:
Here's Devil World:
And Gradius II:
I took a look at a video of the TG-16 version, and at first I thought it was pretty much exactly the same. But then I realized that the TG-16 version is missing a big chunk of the first level where you fly through a group of stars that emit "solar flares" that can be difficult to avoid. In fact, it's the most difficult part of the level.
Call me crazy, but after playing it some more, it's really starting to grow on me. I finally finished the first level and got about halfway through the second. Yeah, it's definitely tough, but then again, I'm the kind of nutjob who loves Ghosts 'N Goblins. I don't know, maybe I'm just a gaming masochist.
Call me crazy, but after playing it some more, it's really starting to grow on me. I finally finished the first level and got about halfway through the second. Yeah, it's definitely tough, but then again, I'm the kind of nutjob who loves Ghosts 'N Goblins. I don't know, maybe I'm just a gaming masochist.[/QUOTE]
Yeah I like hard too so I'll definitely keep at it. There's really just this moment at the end of the second level that drove me crazy. If you die at the boss or right before it spawns you in a spot that's nearly impossible to survive in. I'm used to being pretty screwed when I die in Gradius (I mean you can barely move until you get two speed powerups), but this spot was ridiculous. Nearly drove myself crazy beating the level.
After watching more video of the TG-16 version, I'm tempted to download the game on the virtual console. It looks pretty impressive.
Also, I'm very close to beating Splatterhouse. The game is fairly long for an NES game, but it is also on the easy side, and the password feature makes it very easy for an NES game. It's still very enjoyable, though - definitely a game I could play over and over without getting tired of it (Will also be a great one to pull out every Halloween).
The two are sister series, and the main difference between them is supposed to be the power-up system - in Salamander, you just grab power-up items like in any other shooter, while in Gradius you collect identical power-ups to fill a meter. Of course, many variant releases of Salamander just use the Gradius power system instead, leaving the 2-player mode and the top-down stages the only real difference.
For the most part you can consider them the same series, though, with the name just serving as an indicator of which additional elements the game might have.
For the most part you can consider them the same series, though, with the name just serving as an indicator of which additional elements the game might have.[/QUOTE]
Yeah, I know that Life Force/Salamander was a spin-off of the Gradius series. I guess the reason why I say Gradius II could easily have been called Life Force/Salamander II is because those levels that I mentioned from each game are so similar. And you make a great point about the top-down levels and two player simultaneous mode, both of which are missing in Gradius II. But in the end, of course, all the games are similar, because like you said, they are essentially the same series.
Thanks for the info about the power-up system. I had no idea about that. I like the collect-powerups-to-fill-a-meter method, so I'm glad they used it in NES Life Force.
Also, I wanted to mention that another Famicom game that I'll be getting soon is Akumajou Special, aka Kid Dracula. For anyone not familiar with the game, it is a parody of the Castlevania series. I'll post impressions when I get it.
Kid Dracula is a great game ... until you get the "Quiz Show" stage. Then you may need a FAQ (unless you can read Japanese.) I would consider it a mash up somewhere between Castlevania, Mega Man, and Monster Party. It's a game that's relatively easy, until the end of the game, where it's mega hard.
One improvement Gradius II has over the original are infinite continues ... and a Boss Rush where you fight ... err ... "nice surprises." I haven't beaten it yet though. Actually, until Gradius II was released on the Virtual Console, I thought Lifeforce WAS Gradius II.
[QUOTE=scotland17]Another way to play Famicom cartridges are with newer 3rd party consoles. On Amazon Yobo has a duel Famicom and NES unit, while the Game Fillip 88 in 1, listed as a plug and play, has a working Famicom slot along with the installed games. They are just recreating the original hardware, of course, but they do work, at least in their own fashion. [/QUOTE]
Another trick is that you can find Famicom adapters in some early NES games (I believe Gyromite is the most common). What they did was just put the circuit board of the Famicom game along with the adapter in an NES cart so that it would play in an American system (not sure if they did this in Europe). Not all of them had adapters, though, but there are certain ways to tell that a cart is more likely to have one (usually it's a five screw cart, it's noticeably heavier, the pins are slightly different, etc.) Also, you need to modify the adapter some if you want to be able to use it with a Famicom cart. Honestly, it seemed like more work than I was willing to do, but it would be something to look for if you frequent flea markets and yard sales.