Monday, March 10, 2014

Diary Entry #17: FamiZoids-travaganza

Crystal Mielcarek's artistic representation of the famous snake
massage scene from Zoids - Chuuou Tairiku no Tatakai 

               Immediately after yesterday's post, I had a magical time in the world of Zoids. I initially figured they'd be sloppy action games like the Gundam and Transformers Famicom games. I was wrong. Damn wrong.

               Zoids - Chuuou Tairiku no Tatakai is one of those incompetent Dragon Quest clones that are utterly adorable in their mediocrity. The first screen alone has only a handful of tiles, two horribly designed characters, and scant Japanese text. I can, of course, read my own name, but otherwise, nothing. One peculiar feature of the screenshot is how the random humans are as large as my giant Zoid.

               To my surprise, I evidently live in a town populated entirely by Zoids. I can talk to all of them, though they don't have much to say aside from Japanese stuff.

               This snake promptly gives me a massage.

               After leaving what appears to be the US Capital Building, I head off into the rock and tree-laden Zoidland. The path appears to be straight and narrow at first...

               ...but it eventually leads to this vast desert. The enemy bots scare me to death, so I quickly run to the first town I find. 

               This town is also inhabited by Zoids. I rush to a threshold I see, hoping it takes me to a dungeon or an English description of what to do.

               Upon going up the stairs, I'm teleported to the middle of this random room. This reminds me of HOT・B's Hoshi wo Miru Hito, another dreadful Famicom RPG that I felt compelled to play through solely because a translation exists. In Hoshi, entering and exiting numerous areas frequently drops you off at the starting point of the game. According to Gamefaqs, Hoshi and most of HOT・B's games were developed by a company called Another. The rest of Another's output includes the Shingen the Ruler series, the Black Bass games, a Sherlock Holmes title, and a presidential simulator called President no Sentaku. I should try all of those.

               I opt to finally engage in battle. I attack an Iguan, whose stats are inexplicably in English. I'd like to imagine that knowing my targets weight and speed might somehow affect this battle, but that's probably wishful thinking.

               The battles remind me of the random shooter sections in NES games like Golgo 13 and Wurm. On the bottom right, HP is represented by the four bars and surrounding enemies can be tracked on the radar. The battles are fun, yet with little knowledge of what I should be doing, proceeding feels pointless.

               So I try Zoids 2 - Zenebasu no Gyakushuu. This game came out a year after the previous Zoids game, so I figure it's another slapdash JRPG, probably recycling half of the first game's sprites.

               Honestly, I think it looks uglier than the last game. When I'm in town, I'm a dopier version of the Great Gazoo. There's a variety of shops in the starting town, making it seem like there's probably a lot more going on underneath the hood. 

               The battles look the same, except now all I can find are giant spiders. Due to the greater amount of in-game text, I'm a lot more intimidated by Zoids 2. Fortunately, a third Zoids NES game exist, this one recently translated into English: Zoids Apocalypse!

               Zoids Apocalypse is a really, really weird real-time strategy game. Me and my computer opponent can constantly move our Zoids around the battlefield, but only by selecting them and moving them one space at a time. I decided to move the guy with the II on him into battle.

               Prior to battle, this awesome screen pops up. If I didn't know any better, I'd take this as some kind of cautionary message.

               Fast-paced shoot-em-up action ensues. My G-Blaster and my enemy's Gungyalad dart around this forest, jockeying for a good blasting position. For some reason, when I position myself close to this tree, the enemy gets stuck and lets me fire tons of missiles right into his belly.

               Sensing impending doom, Gungyalad runs to the ocean, but my G-Blaster evidently has missile capabilities allowing me to attack from several spaces away. The enemy criss-crosses wildly across the screen until I whittle away the last of its health, at which point he calls me an S.O.B. 

               Honestly, Zoids Apocalypse appears to be a legitimately good game, but I'd probably rather play Zoids - Chuuou Tairiku no Tatakai. Towns inhabited solely by Zoids, famous US government buildings, and goofy battles all add up to a gleefully silly experience. If I can play through the entirety of Hokuto no Ken 3 and Hoshi wo Miru Hito for the Famicom, I can find some value in an incredibly stupid Zoids JRPG.

               I've officially decided to continue playing .hack//Infection today. I need to play more Obsidian and HOT・B games as well, but I've been ignoring .hack for too long.

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