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Konami shoot 'em ups

Posted: Tue Nov 19, 2019 5:35 am
by Bluce_Ree
I've always thought pretty highly of Konami's arcade output but I just played through their recent PS4 shoot 'em up compilation and it would seem that it's all rubbish.

You've got the following;

Nemesis - starts off okay. Gets stupidly hard. The first boss thing (a couple of volcanoes) seems to be impossible to beat if you've not got full options/lasers equipped. The rest of the game is full of horrid cheap deaths.

Vulcan Venture + Salamander. Same as Nemesis in terms of being far too hard and random. Some okay visuals if you can get to them.

Thunder Cross - even worse. They have these enemies that fire out homing suicide bullets that are often seemingly impossible to avoid. Actually impossible to react to in time. You have to memorise the whole thing.

Typhoon - does some nice into the screen stuff but is a vertically scrolling shooter that again is far too hard, overstays its welcome to. The bosses are impossible if you're not fully powered up and even if you are, you have to be as good as Billy Mitchell thinks he is to survive any of it.

Twin Bee - seems rubbish.

Scramble - okay, I really like Scramble.

Haunted Castle - not a shooter but it's on the compilation. Possibly the worst, most unfair game ever. It's a Castlevania thing but has all the random BS of a Rick Dangerous. Upsettingly difficult, super random. Bosses are an unbelievable chore.

Admittedly, Contra isn't on there. That got its own recent compilation and Contra is ace but these other games seem to be straight trash.

Re: Konami shoot 'em ups

Posted: Tue Nov 19, 2019 10:50 am
by JamesC
Gradius is a classic for a reason.
It's hard, and the checkpoint system is a pain in the arse - as is the reliance on keeping hold of power-ups. It's still a fun game though - certainly not trash!

I actually prefer Salamander/Life Force though - i reckon that's the best game on the collection.
Yeah, you have to memorise bits but you get out what you put in with games like this. Again, I don't like the checkpoint system but there are some really cool, innovative bits (I can still remember being in awe of the gross graphics and having to shoot your way through the organic matter on the first level).

I agree that Scramble is pretty great. It's a shame they didn't include Super Cobra too.

Re: Konami shoot 'em ups

Posted: Tue Nov 19, 2019 11:05 am
by Shinobi
The US Konami releases where made so hard there impossible just designed to eat your money. The Contra collection is the same but it has the option to play the far better Japanese version. So Megadrive Hardcorps the jap version you have an energy that you can take 3 hits. The American version you die in 1 hit.

American Haunted Castle is impossible to complete on 1cc, a standard skeleton can kill you in 3 hits and the first boss Medusa can instantly kill you, The jap version you take far less damage.

ThunderCross jap version had no homing suicide bullets these where added for the US release.

Typhoon was also subjected to a insane difficulty hike can’t comment on the other games. I remember Gradius being easy up until the Easter Island heads level

Re: Konami shoot 'em ups

Posted: Thu Nov 21, 2019 9:18 am
by Bluce_Ree
Great info, Shinobi.

That definitely rings true that they made the changes at the expense of gameplay to get more money.

I'll give the Japanese versions a go to see how they compare.

Those suicide bullets are absolutely awful and if you get hit by one, you're basically doomed because of how hard the game is. Taking it on with a peashooter just isn't going to work.

A bit like dying on R-Type.

Oddly, for the trophies on the collection, you can quick save and change the difficulty and lives settings but you aren't allowed to do them on the Japanese versions. It has to be on the US ones.

A guy randomly contacted me asking for help on Haunted Castle when he saw I got the platinum. It's such a harsh game.

Re: Konami shoot 'em ups

Posted: Thu Nov 21, 2019 1:30 pm
by ALK
Small heads up, all 3 Collections are in the XBox and Nintendo Black Friday sales.

Re: Konami shoot 'em ups

Posted: Fri Nov 22, 2019 3:40 am
by demon
Shinobi wrote:
Tue Nov 19, 2019 11:05 am
The US Konami releases where made so hard there impossible just designed to eat your money.
How is that different from modern games? :D

Arcade-era games are grounded in a very different way of playing a video game. They were supposed to be hard and short, and the focus was literally on how long you managed to survive and how many points you grabbed. They were designed to "collect quarters" (quoted from Q*Bert) from teenagers hanging around for while with friends before heading off somewhere else. It was not supposed to be a time-intensive activity but more of a distraction.

Modern games are more typically designed to hook said teenagers to the screen by having them "invest time" in getting good, build characters, collect trophy, climb ladders... and practically reduce "death" to a mere delay inconvenience. Some famous games like World of Warcraft chose the subscription model to make sure to eat their money.

So, big differences in how the game plays, but making money is obviously the ever-present motivation.

Re: Konami shoot 'em ups

Posted: Fri Nov 22, 2019 8:06 am
by Antiriad2097
It's a balance though, getting that point where a player feels they can progress in the game and get value for money, versus overwhelming numbers and accuracy of enemies/bullets. Some games get it right and thus encourage repeat play, and so more money coming in. Some games get it wrong and are riddled with cheap deaths.

It's like they saw the US market as being either better at the games and able to tolerate tougher gameplay, or they saw a higher turnover of customers to get that same value from the game, kill them quick and onto the next player/coin.

Which to me, now, is weird, as some of the Japanese games are stupid hard (though maybe not in this case). Personally I'm just used to the European version of Salamander, though there are several variants of that game, some of which significantly change the power up system.

Re: Konami shoot 'em ups

Posted: Fri Nov 22, 2019 9:39 am
by Bluce_Ree
I don't even know how making games too hard makes them profitable.

I once pumped in about a fiver into Double Dragon and got through the whole game. I didn't know the elbow trick back then. Thing is, I enjoyed it and I got to see the whole game.

Put me in front of Haunted Castle with a fiver and I'll be walking away after one play with £4.90 and never trying it again because I'll know I will never complete it. Same goes for things like Ghosts n Goblins.

And yet with something like Contra, which I 1CCed on the Xbox 360 port, I'd be more inclined to feed that with credits knowing that I'm making progress.

Re: Konami shoot 'em ups

Posted: Sun Nov 24, 2019 4:22 pm
by paranoid marvin
It's all down to the challenge, which is what arcades were about back in the day. A fair game is one that is tough, but doable with skill and a good memory; but it takes a lot of time and patience. Nowadays we're used to seeing the end of games , and getting a good bit of play time in, but back in the 80s it was a case of 5 mins tops for your 10p. Which is why that when a good player came along, people would flock from other machines just to see them play.

I agree that many games are insanely hard; in fact most games were. But it didn't stop me putting my 10ps in. I guess it was find a game you liked, and practice until you could get far in it. I remember getting pretty good at Commando (could get to level 4 or 5), R-Type (level 4) and Euro Football Champ and Tecmo World Cup (could complete them). For games with a decent amount of a go, stuff like Op Wolf, Wonderboy, Double Dragon, Shinobi were good for a few minutes.

BAck then arcade games were brutal, but generally fair; practice and skill could get you far, but they weren't designed for those people, but for the usual punters who went down to the arcades at weekends, or in the week they went on their hols, and punted £5-£10 per day on the PROPER versions of the arcade conversions they were playing on their Speccies/C64s back home the rest of the time.

The real unfair ones were the games were no amount of skill would see you having to pump coins in regularly such as Gauntlet, but then again those games were still fun to play.

As for Konami, for me it wasn't their shooters that they were best for, more their other stuff like Track& Field, Frogger, Hyper Sports, Mikie, Road Fighter, , Combat School, Green Bert Yie Ar Kung Fu etc. But for a list of quality Konami shooters I would say Scramble, Time Pilot, Gyruss and Super Cobra are decent shooters

Re: Konami shoot 'em ups

Posted: Mon Nov 25, 2019 3:53 am
by BellyFullOfHell
Behave, I'm surprised to see a post such as this on a retro forum. Of the games mentioned, I'd say only Typhoon is particularly difficult. I've 1CC'd Gradius and Thunder Cross, and come very close on Vulcan Venture, and I'm not particularly skilled by any means! Ghosts n Goblins is something I've never quite managed, but again I can make ST5 regularly, it just all falls apart a bit from there. Haunted Castle is a steaming bag of censored irrespective of difficulty. Only caveat is that I play the JPN versions as the US/World ones were sometimes heavily messed up, but I their original form all these games are perfectly beatable, to call them 'unfair' is just silly.

Re: Konami shoot 'em ups

Posted: Mon Nov 25, 2019 7:46 am
by JamesC
Also worth noting - the controller makes a huge difference to games like this.
I can't play shmupps with a PS4 controller - I've tried a few and I can't get on with the d-pad or (shudder) the analogue stick. Ideally I like a nice loose d-pad like you get on a Megadrive or Saturn. Failing that, an arcade stick.