Thursday, July 26, 2012

Mikes Gameboy Game of the Week: Yu-Gi-Oh!! Destiny Board Traveler

Yu-Gi-Oh!! Destiny Board Traveler is a board game adaption of the popular card game by Konami. The game plays much like the regular card game as you alternate between turns with three other players only instead of a playing on a card field everything occurs on a simple square 5x5 game board where each player walks around trying to get the most monsters in play. Destiny Board Traveler boasts a cast of twelve characters (six you have to unlock) all of which have a unique special power that you can use to attempt to turn the tide of the game in your favor. You cannot use these powers whenever you want, you instead have to wait an indeterminate amount of time until the game prompts you to use them, after that you can use the power at your discretion. Before I go any further let me warn you this game has no tutorials. Everything that occurs in this game you will have to learn by yourself through trial and error unless you buy a copy with a manual.

Seriously, what is going on?
Dice. Dice are a thing in this game. Now this isn’t like Dungeon Dice Monsters where you strategically place dice trying to out maneuver your opponent instead you are rolling dice in order to place a monster and in order to activate effects in battles. A system entirely built upon dice rolls normally would work if you had the freedom of putting together some sort of strategy to go with it, instead when you choose the character you want to play as it automatically assigns you a default deck that you cannot edit so you are stuck with the poorly put together decks based on the decks of the main casts anime decks. In my play through of the game the most common problem I encountered was situations where the monster I was summoning was to weak to take a creeper space. Oh I didn’t mention creeper spaces and how they factor into the gameplay? Well as you travel around the board there are twelve spaces which you can summon your monsters, but to do this you need to defeat whatever monster is already there and by default there is a random monster in each spot called a “creeper”.

“But Mike what is the significance of summoning monsters?”

Well I’ll tell you!

They ride around in black vans and try to attract you with stories of ponies and candy.
Typically in a Yu-Gi-Oh!! game the main objective is to drain your opponents life points or force them to run out of cards, in Destiny Board Traveler life points are still a factor, but instead of losing through running out of cards they replaced it with winning by getting [x] amount of stars (with x being an amount you set before you start the game). These stars you acquire are based on the combined levels of all your monsters, say you needed ten stars to win, by having five level two monsters or two level five monsters you would instantly win the game. The objective of any given game is to either get whatever the designated amount of stars are or to knock all of your opponents life points down to zero.

As I currently do not have my Gamecube Player I was only able to play the game on my Gameboy Advance and Nintendo DS and one of the biggest problems I encountered (besides the lack of any sort of tutorial on how to play) was that the text in the game seemed squished and sometimes was hard to read. The card artwork was very low-res compared to other Yu-Gi-Oh!! games released at the time like Stairway to the Destined Duel or Eternal Duelist Soul, the character sprites also lacked any sort of animation besides the walking and standing animation which was pretty lame as the boards were interestingly designed. For all this games faults it is still an interesting experiment, Konami was obviously trying out different things with its big money making series (see: Dungeon Dice Monsters and Capsule Monsters). A great example of this is that you can link together 5x5 boards to increase the overall size of the playing field after you’ve beaten the game enough times (assuming you have the patience to endure that long). I' would recommend any regular fan (or any Non-Fan) of the Yu-Gi-Oh!! series stay clear of this game, this game only has appeal to those who are looking to collect games or to those who want to experience a failure of a game.

It does have Kaibaman, I guess that's a positive thing?

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Sunset Riders (Super Nes, Genesis)

Buy the Super NES Version Today!

...or buy the Sega Genesis Version!

Konami is known for bringing outstandingly high-quality games to arcades and home consoles for years. They brought us such classics as Contra, Metal Gear, Legend of the Mystical Ninja, Rush 'n Attack, The Simpsons arcade game (which, let's face it - is one of the only great Simpsons games,) and TMNT: Turtles in Time just to name a very few. They also are responsible for many sleeper hits, including this 1991 arcade masterpiece known as Sunset Riders.  While it is not the household name that games like Contra, Tiny Toon Adventures or Lethal Enforcers are - it is a fantastic game that is an absolute must for your collection.

Originally released in the arcades in 1991, Sunset Riders was ported to both the Sega Genesis and the Super Nintendo. Like most games brought to both systems, there are differences between each version. I personally have more experience with the Super NES release, so most of this review will focus on that particular version. However, it's important to get the differences between the two versions out of the way; that way you can make an informed decision on whether or not you would prefer the Super NES version or the Genesis version.
Doesn't my Pancho look soooo fashionable?!

The original arcade game allowed up to four players at one time and of course, (being the original release) does not suffer from hardware limitations or strict censorship codes - thus being the truest version of Sunset Riders. However, Lukie Games doesn't have arcade cabinets of it on hand and you're not likely looking for a big bulky cabinet anyway. The Genesis port came first and has a handful of differences from the arcade - mostly due to hardware limitations and localization. For starters, your roster of four characters is truncated to only two: Billy and Cormano. The amount of bosses is also cleaved in half - leaving you four of the original eight bad guys. The levels are rearranged and altered as well. However, something that the Genesis version has uniquely above the other two releases is a versus style gun fight where you and another player can test your quick-draw skills.

The Super NES version is more faithful to the arcade version, but also has a few changes here and there. For starters - your roster of characters is correct; however, only two players can play this game at a time. C'est la vie, multitap! Much of the other changes are due to Nintendo's conservative censorship policies. For example, the ladies in the game are wearing much less revealing attire, your characters no longer smoke or booze it up, and the Native American boss is renamed Chief Wigwam from Chief Scalpem. How this is more politically correct is kind of a mystery, but I'll buy that they were at least TRYING not to peeve the Native community. The graphics, sound and music are all top notch on the Super NES version and are noticeably less impressive on the Sega Genesis port. However, the Super NES version fetches a higher price tag, so it is up to you whether or not these differences will impact your buying decision. For serious collectors - why not get both?!

The gameplay of Sunset Riders is fast and addictive! If you love Contra, you will be well prepared for Riders, because the gameplay is very "Contra-with-cowboys." It takes great skill to avoid those bullets and your finger will constantly be on the trigger button at all times. If you want an extra challenge, crank that baby up to HARD mode and it will really feel like Contra. The western elements are all over this game and it makes you really feel like you're Clint Eastwood or John Wayne wasting a village full of bandits. There's stage coaches, saloons, train-hopping, cattle stampedes, falling boulders, and more. The game is fun by yourself, but even better with a teammate! This is definitely the game you bust out if you have a friend, girlfriend, cousin or whathaveyou come into town that wants to check out your game collection. Unless you're a seasoned gamer or have the difficulty set to easy - you'll really appreciate the extra help another player can provide in getting further in this game.

Yippie Ki Yay, Wagon-chucker!

Some of the highlights for me are the music, sound and humor. The game is full of great wild-west music and sounds that feel ripped right out of an episode of the Lone Ranger. The gunshot sound effects and stampeding bulls are satisfyingly accurate to a good, cheesy old-school western. There are hilarious scenes like the first boss battle where you knock Simon Greedwell out of the window and he bellows "Bury me with!" Which sounds like "Marry me to" through the Super NES' soundchip, but nonetheless is a comically corny one-liner that makes Sunset Riders feel like the authentically American western that only a Japanese game company could produce!

"Angry bees stole my...honey!"

In all honesty - aside from the few localization changes and the absence of a four-player co-op mode, I have absolutely no criticism of this game. It's addictive as all get out, the graphics are colorful and detailed, and the game feels like an authentic arcade port in your own home. It's a pricy game, but it's worth it. Grab a copy and a friend and blast through 8 levels of cowboy goodness. Yeehaw!