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 Post subject: Re: Classic arcade shooter difficulty ranking (now with 16-b
PostPosted: Mon Apr 17, 2017 5:43 am 


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Perikles wrote:
Perikles wrote:
However, I do know I can theoretically beat the game now, have to see how long it takes.

One more afternoon. Image

Added Hacha Mecha Fighter (31)! Thanks to Plasmo for insisting on it, 's not my favourite game, but good to have on the list, regardless. :)


I can only second your assessment. It's about the same range where I would rank it myself probably. It's easier than Zing Zing Zip, that's for sure. Thunder Dragon would rank lower than HMF for me though.

Thank you! Patiently waiting for your 1cc video now. :wink:
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 Post subject: Re: Classic arcade shooter difficulty ranking (now with 16-b
PostPosted: Mon Apr 17, 2017 6:30 am 


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HMF is a pretty badly designed game, but it's too damn adorable to dislike. I'm curious what you think about certain stages in the second loop (2-7 especially), I honestly think they're impossible (so by extension, I'm not sure a 2-ALL can really be done by conventional means)
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 Post subject: Re: Classic arcade shooter difficulty ranking (now with 16-b
PostPosted: Mon Apr 17, 2017 6:46 am 


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chum wrote:
HMF is a pretty badly designed game, but it's too damn adorable to dislike. I'm curious what you think about certain stages in the second loop (2-7 especially), I honestly think they're impossible (so by extension, I'm not sure a 2-ALL can really be done by conventional means)


The game is severely broken from the second loop onwards. By the time you reach stage 2-4 or 2-5 (and anything thereafter), you cannot destroy most of the enemies anymore because they simply have too much health (not even bombing works!) while they throw everything they have at you in nothing slower than the speed of light.

Since the world record score is a counterstop and ended in the middle of the fourth loop (4-6 to be exact) there is probably a bug of some sort to be discovered. Have you by any chance save stated your way to the third loop once? Does it get even harder?

As you know, I have found a bug in stage 6. Maybe this works in other places as well and lets enemies despawn while you can safely milk the game for points? For now, HMF scoring remains a mystery.
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 Post subject: Re: Classic arcade shooter difficulty ranking (now with 16-b
PostPosted: Mon Apr 17, 2017 7:00 am 


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I thought the same thing, there has to be a different bug somewhere. Let's not forget how we broke Sand Scorpion in trap-STGT. Some of these games have silly bugs that can be a tremendous help. I only savestated to see my way through the 2nd loop, can't remember if I had a look at anything in loop 3... but just seeing loop 2 was enough of a nightmare.

And some more questions to Perikles while I'm at it. There is no denying that you've cleared all these games at an unprecedented rate on this community. Rather than just talking about the games themselves (which is helpful, informative, and sometimes fascinating by the way) I would be curious to know how you go about tackling them. I remember you telling me in the past that you had a great sense of memory, which is definitely the most helpful ability one can hand to tackle so many games in such a short amount of time, but beyond that, how do you do it? You must be playing a lot, what kind of time commitment do you expect is necessary for a relatively hard shmup (say, in the 25-30 range)? what about the toughest clears you've done? I'm thinking in terms of hours rather than days or weeks, BTW. Also how long have you been playing Shmups? Is it right to assume you were far from a beginner by the time you signed up?
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 Post subject: Re: Classic arcade shooter difficulty ranking (now with 16-b
PostPosted: Mon Apr 17, 2017 8:45 am 


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chum wrote:
[...] I would be curious to know how you go about tackling them. I remember you telling me in the past that you had a great sense of memory, which is definitely the most helpful ability one can hand to tackle so many games in such a short amount of time, but beyond that, how do you do it?

When I started out, I would only play them on a console without any means of efficient practice, I also didn't watch any videos save for a handful of exceptions. I believe that helped quite a bit in learning about various types of classic shmups, even those with awkward hitboxes and whatnot. I made a point out of learning something from every game, even if it is some horrendous Dimension Force or Xenon 2 Megablast. These days, it depends on the game. Hacha Mecha Fighter for example I played two afternoons before we were talking about it here, without any pressure or intention of clearing it. Once it became lucid that I would like to beat it I decided to immediately use the most efficacious tools available for I knew that the game is almost entirely based on memorization/planning. Watched the PCB run on YT which gave me a general idea for everything, then set up savestates to look where I also would have to bomb or perhaps could play in a slightly different manner.

Most games I like to play more natural, though, without immediately resorting to savestates/videos. I would imagine that due to the fact that I've seen a lot, I tend to find viable (not necessarily ideal) solutions fairly quickly most of the time. I also simply enjoy dabbling with a lot of games, even with their higher loops. Having said that, something like the second loop of Image Fight, R-Type II and Xexex I would not even dare trying without proper practice.

chum wrote:
[...] what kind of time commitment do you expect is necessary for a relatively hard shmup (say, in the 25-30 range)?

That really depends on what type of difficulty we're speaking of. It only took me a handful of hours (five hours spread out over two afternoons) to 2-ALL X-Multiply since it is so inclined on memorization, while Thunder Dragon 2's fast bullets thwarted more than one attempt (I think I've had to spend about thrice that time). Consistently clearing, say, Gradius III is definitely much more realistic for me than something with frantic gameplay.

chum wrote:
what about the toughest clears you've done? I'm thinking in terms of hours rather than days or weeks, BTW.

If we're talking about all of my clears, including marathon runs, then definitely my Gradius II 5-ALL, with the Gradius 8-ALL coming fairly close. The first two arcade Gradius games (and probably Gradius III SFC) are the games I've played the most over the course of the years, they were also among the first games I've got at around 2010. Most assuredly dozens upon dozens of hours for all of them. I have the feeling that - in terms of a 1-ALL - Gokujou Parodius with the special stage will be the game that took me the longest once/if I finally manage to beat it, that special stage alone took (still takes me!) an ungodly amount of time, can't get consistent at it.

chum wrote:
Also how long have you been playing Shmups? Is it right to assume you were far from a beginner by the time you signed up?

I've always liked the genre, but only played them in a casual manner back in the day. Around 2010 I got into 1CCs and all that, by the time I've registered here I've worked my way through most 16-bit shmups (started with the SFC, then worked myself through the PCE and MD) and a few NES/PS1/PSP ports/console-exclusives, so I had a bit over a couple hundred clears when I registered.


Edit: added remark for Lethal Thunder (-25 compared to Thunder Blaster).
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 Post subject: Re: Classic arcade shooter difficulty ranking (now with 16-b
PostPosted: Thu Apr 20, 2017 11:28 am 


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Added a few more games: Daioh (18 for 1-ALL, 27 for 2-ALL), Final Star Force (12), Plus Alpha (9), Thundercade (6) and Varia Metal (2). Have to say that this was mostly a painful experience: Varia Metal is the worst arcade shooter I've ever played; Thundercade is essentially the prequel to Twin Eagle but on a bike, worse (!) and less charming; Final Star Force has more severe slowdowns than any of the SFC shmups you dare mention, it's so bad that even with autofire on the bomb button, you have to wait for several seconds during boss fights (sometimes 5 seconds or more) for something to happen; Plus Alpha could've been average if not for its own considerable slowdowns and cheap shots, it's not as bad as the rest, though. Thank the heavens for Daioh, it took me some time to get used to it, now I utterly love it.

Edit: also added Shienryu (20 for 1-ALL, 31 for 2-ALL).
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 Post subject: Re: Classic arcade shooter difficulty ranking (now with 16-b
PostPosted: Wed May 10, 2017 10:03 am 


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Several additions/remarks for 16-bit games:

- Amended the R-Type 2-ALL, as expected with an identical value compared to the arcade game (29). I was unfortunately unable to get any of my passwords for the second part of R-Type's second loop to work (i.e. for stage 2-5/13) and had to use one from the internet. I actually was in a similar situation a while ago but didn't think much of it and figured that somehow, I erred when writing it down. This time, I patiently tried three different passwords, even made pictures of them (see spoiler) to make sure it wasn't my fault, yet all for naught. Passwords for 1-5 and 2-1 work perfectly fine, it's an exclusive problem for 2-5. My guess is that either my configuration causes some problems (fully powered up DNA laser, two bits, two speed-ups, a score above 750,000 points and all lives) or that the guys over at Irem simply forgot to implement those passwords and the one I found was an early test password or something (the score is impossibly low considering the stage, hence it doesn't seem entirely unreasonable). If anyone knows what exactly the problem is, please pipe up!

Spoiler: show
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- I used that momentum to also 2-ALL both the Normal (20) and Arcade (25) mode of Mr. Heli. The second loop in both is so magnificently crafted one wouldn't think the original arcade game didn't have it! Outstanding bonus for an already essential classic shooter, making it one of my favourite 16-bit ports.

- Speaking of Irem et al., I eventually finished the Paranoia 2-ALL (14) which is quite a neat treat for friends of memorizers that don't want to invest too much time into them at the same time. The brevity and succinct stage design as well as a couple of exceptional bosses are remarkable for a console-exclusive, let's not even speak about the trippy art design!

- Added notes for Parodius Da! 2-ALLs (30 total for the PCE port, 34 total for the SFC port). Supreme fun both, especially the SFC port, I definitely recommend it for inveterate 16-bit enthusiasts. Also decided to tackle the two loop mode of Gokujou Parodius which I'm going to rate with a 24, the second loop incarnation of the Special Stage is savage! Without Dracula-kun, this would be quite the achievement. It should be noted that with all these 16-bit Parodius rankings, I'm having full defaults in mind, that is to say roulette capsules, regular checkpoints, manual etc. It would be obviously not nearly as demanding to e.g. beat SFC Gokujou Parodius' loop 2 Special Stage with instant respawns.

- Amended the Sonic Wings 2-ALL (23) and also clarified the rating for the Sonic Wings 1-ALL. My first impression that Rabio is essentially the easy mode character proved to be rather wrong due to the massive increase in rank, a 2-ALL would definitely be harder with him. External autofire is highly advised with Kohful, however. If you're trying to get a clear on real hardware it would be even better if the controller would allow you to move left, up or down instead of not responding at all even though the seller marketed the product as working.

- Got remarks for the higher difficulty settings of a few venerable PCE institutions; not much of a change for Star Parodier's Sugeeze/Hard (+1 for a total of 3), Soldier Blade on the other hand (+12 for a total of 17) receives quite a respectable boost in difficulty, as does Gunhed with its booming God of Game setting (+15 for a total of 21).

- Appended a footnote for a Psycho Chaser 2-ALL (27 total) which unfortunately does not come recommended, unlike the first loop that will be able to convince even the most fastidious 16-bit aficionados (or so I claim).

- Finally have the honour to supplement an annotation for MD Tatsujin's second loop (35 total), that was a long, arduous and consequently rewarding journey.


It should go without saying, but for 16-bit games that have infinite scoring problems which also allow the player to earn tons of lives in the process I'm always assuming you play the game remotely normal, that is to say without resorting to such desperate measures.


Also some arcade entries: added the Sonic Wings 2-ALL (27), that was quite a chore. Furthermore amended the other loops for Batsugun Special (13 for a 2-ALL, 21 for a 3-ALL, 24 for a 4-ALL). Got entries for Asuka & Asuka (1), Fighting Hawk (4), Meta Fox (13), Sky Alert (7), Sonic Boom (14), Sonic Wings Limited (13) and Terra Cresta (4)*, too. Some bottom of the barrel material this time (I'm definitely running out of classic shooters), Sonic Boom is quite solid if a little rough around the edges, fortunately!

*I'm not sure when you can consider one loop of Terra Cresta to be cleared, I'd argue that beating the boomerang-tossing boss qualifies as a 1-ALL since he's the closest thing to a final boss. There is no clear indicator anywhere, but the Japanese wiki also listed this game with the specific goal of clearing one loop, so this is my own guess regarding its ending point.


Since one achievement left the speculation table, I added another one to that: a Gallop 2-ALL, with 35 points. Worked my way through the rest of the loop with savestates, it's extremely awkward due to the added resilience of enemies. It's not even that much harder than the first loop in absolute terms, those small changes make a tremendous difference in practice, though.

Lastly, I've also examined the second loop of Pop'n TwinBee a bit further (set up savestates until the halfway-point of 2-4). There is an interesting challenge somewhere in there, the overall quality and sturdiness of the loop fluctuates too much for my liking for serious attempts at the moment, however. Some sections are really engaging, especially when you are forced to either play pacifistic or to switch between firing sparsely and not doing anything belligerent at all (e.g. in stage 2-2 when the schools of fish come from the left; you'd just wiggle around and slaughter them with the options in the first loop, but you really don't want to deal with all the suicide bullets in the second loop, hence you'd be wise to weave between them). For every such section there is another one where you either have to bomb (sometimes twice or even thrice) or mash the punch button in order to neutralize bullets, muddling the occasionally great impression. It's impossible to deny there's a Gunhed God of Game effect at work which is to say it is your main directive to survive for as long as it takes to reach the next shield and bomb(s) via a group of clouds and thus bells. It also doesn't help that the first loop takes one hour to beat and is so easy by comparison, you're mentally not prepared to face something so much more difficult afterwards. Not something I'm going to recommend, I might come back to it at some point, but I doubt it will be in the foreseeable future.

Edit: now with a remark regarding the second loop of PCE Detana!! TwinBee (36 total). Also for the second loop of PCE Tatsujin (25 total). Furthermore created an entry for the MD Grind Stormer 2-ALL (28). Lastly, a remark for Pop'n TwinBee's second loop (32 total).

Edit edit: now with a Flak Attack 2-ALL (25).
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 Post subject: Re: Classic arcade shooter difficulty ranking (now with 16-b
PostPosted: Wed May 17, 2017 12:53 am 


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@Perikles
Have you tried Gulf War II yet? It is a very good game with a fascinating soundtrack.

Good war simulation.
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 Post subject: Re: Classic arcade shooter difficulty ranking (now with 16-b
PostPosted: Wed May 17, 2017 8:43 am 


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No, the extent of my knowledge is that it is a rather blatant Kyuukyoku Tiger epigone, but from what I just witnessed via skimming through a video, the soundtrack is fascinating, indeed. :mrgreen:

Added the Air Duel 2-ALL (28). The Japanese wiki currently has that in the evaluation section with a colossal 38 (41 without autofire), interestingly enough, I guess they really can't approve the awkward, severely punishing gameplay. Edit: now with the Trigon 2-ALL (33), as well. Also got the Gallop 2-ALL (28), also dropped the 1-ALL of said game to 17, if you know exactly what to do it becomes significantly easier. Lastly, the Gokujou Parodius clear including the dreaded special stage is also finally on the list (37).
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