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 Post subject: 16-Bit Arcade Port Archaeology
PostPosted: Thu Apr 06, 2017 6:21 am 


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Joined: 24 Nov 2014
Posts: 1201
Location: Germany
This took some effort, hope you guys find it useful! The title is inspired by BIL's great baptism of this little hobby, of course. A few preliminary notes before starting:

- The list is not quite complete, although very close. I really don't care about ancient arcade games and their ports, usually presented in bundle cartridges (say, Arcade Classics on the MD or Williams Arcade's Greatest Hits on both MD and SFC). Some borderliners/hybrids you may consider shmups are also not present (Wonder Boy III - Monster Lair for example). However, pretty much every single other arcade shmup should be present.

- That is, with the exception of 1941: Counter Attack on the SuperGrafx. Don't own that system. I also see no reason to discuss the arcade versions of Crying/Bio-Hazard Battle and Gunhed/Blazing Lazers which appear to be virtually identical to the parental console versions.

- To make sure that I have a profound basis to compare with, I've cleared both the original arcade game and the respective port(s) in each and every case. The single exception to that is Super Real Darwin (did clear the port, at least), I loathe this game with a passion.

- I sorted the list by the name of the original arcade game if it differs from the port. You're going to find Darwin 4081 under the headword Super Real Darwin, Super Darius II under Darius II and so on and so forth. I mostly used the original Japanese name first, only a handful of exemptions occur (like Forgotten Worlds instead of Lost Worlds). I always listed all the different titles, however, just use the omnipotent CTRL + f if you can't seem to find a game.

- Only direct ports/conversions (in name/spirit). Gokuraku Chuka Taisen is very similar to the original Chuka Taisen, yet clearly its own game. The second Kiki Kaikai has a lot of call-backs to the arcade game and is nonetheless something entirely different etc. You may argue that e.g. Super R-Type isn't a port either, I never said I wasn't arbitrary. :P

- Lastly and most importantly: all of those judgements are evidently my own opinion. Don't take those at face value and feel free to agree, disagree, expand... Given the vast scope of this thread I sometimes didn't write much about the game/port in question, hopefully understandably so. I also might've mixed something up or forgotten, despite my best efforts. I'm also begging for understanding that there's a lot of repetition and probably many embarrassing spelling errors, that's the drawback of writing in a foreign language, I suppose.


1943 Kai

Platform(s) of port: PCE (HuCard)

Overview: Somewhat ironic way to start our essay off. 1943 Kai is the reader's digest version of 1943, being much shorter and easier than the latter. The PCE 1943 Kai in turn adds a lot of stages to the revised 1943 Kai, making it about as long as the original 1943. The difficulty is somewhere between the two I'd say. What's much more important to note is that you don't play the almost exact same stage over and over and over again in the PCE port, you actually get to see some canyons and lava as well as heavily fortified docks and trains (pars pro toto). The soundtrack actually incorporates some catchy, exciting tunes this time around, what a concept! Many of the core traits (energy bar, ammunitioned weapons) are left untouched.

Résumé: I've never been a huge fan of the 1940 series, 1942 in particular brings me to tears, it's like watching paint dry. While it overstays its welcome a bit, the PCE port of 1943 Kai is still easily the best game out of 1941, 1942, 1943 and arcade 1943 Kai as far as I'm concerned, and for that alone I would recommend it. Don't expect a Kyuukyoku Tiger and you probably won't be disappointed, Naxat did a masterful job sprucing up the boring, monotonous original.


Acrobat Mission

Platform(s) of port: SFC

Overview: Appropriately peculiar adaptation considering what we're dealing with here. It is kind of baffling that the port is suprisingly accurate if you keep in mind that one of the two weapons has a fatal bug (the charge shot doesn't work at all). Tells you something about the game itself. You can pull off the same tricks in the arcade game and the port, I actually learned of the time-out strategies via playing the port first (in a lot of 16-bit ports there is no time-out during boss fights anymore). Even the difficulty is not that far off even though the arcade game has more bellicose enemies. The biggest complaint I have about the port is that there's no built-in autofire, though it should be stated that the charge shot is arguably better here anyway (the stage design is also competently build around these). I personally prefer the SFC soundtrack over the one in the arcade version.

Résumé: Acrobat Mission has one of the best (if simple) scoring systems for a 16-bit arcade port, it still keeps a lot of the original challenge and you fight against foes that suspiciously look like kitchen utensils. It is a clear guilty pleasure for one, but honestly not that terrible even under critical scrutiny. It's also the very best Micronics game on the SFC by a country mile. Whether that's worth a desultory recommendation is up to you. If you can appreciate unorthodox games and are open to some campy fun you're probably going to have some fun with it. It's not nearly as disastrous as, say, the BlaZeon port, so it's not like you're going to play the game just to have fun at it.


Aero Blasters/Air Buster

Platform(s) of port: PCE (HuCard) & MD

Overview: The biggest increase in difficulty by ports I've seen so far. The MD port already ups the ante considerably by removing all but one score extend and unleashing a lot more mayhem than what we see in the arcade game, but the PCE port is the single hardest 16-bit port there is in my opinion. You'll only get that one precious extend in the added second loop (thanks for that, Kaneko!) while the difficulty is a lot higher. I cannot count how many times I've lost my credit in the final stage. You have to carefully navigate through a maze section with shifting poles and iron bars while fending off swarms of heat-seeking missiles at the same time. That's not trivial to do - someone thought that the PCE port needed a violently shaking screen at the same time, however, thus turning an already tricky section into an abattoir. From an aesthetical standpoint, the MD version is visually definitely superior (quite a few backgrounds are missing on the PCE) while I like the soundtracks in both.

Résumé: I don't mind that both ports are harder than their source material but I will say that the PCE port is excessively brutal. The second loop is almost comical, with entirely invincible enemy formations that block large sections of the screen. More broadly speaking, each and all versions of this game are quite fun, yet I would recommend the MD port the most (the only thing to be careful of is the potential of the game freezing on the MD); it is still substantially harder than the arcade game, after all, and also retains the visuals the best. The PCE port is also fine but not for the faint of heart.


Area 88/U.N. Squadron

Platform(s) of port: SFC

Overview: This is much more of a re-imagination than a port. Instead of keeping the linear, terse structure of the arcade game, they introduced some pseudo-Mega Man stage selections and also expanded upon the shop system (with the aid of indefinitely repeatable convoy stages for score and money). For me, there's not even a sliver of doubt that the port is a much more enjoyable experience, with a higher and better level of challenge, more fleshed out stages, a better selection of power-ups, all that. It's simply all around better to be quite frank.

Résumé: As I've said, the port is comparatively speaking one of the best, towering over the fairly forgettable source. You don't have to resort to desolating the convoy stage over and over again and can instead valorously tackle later stages with one of the first ships, the game doesn't screw you over like that. The boss in the cavern is a bit questionable in my opinion, but that's just a minor nit-pick. Thoroughly enjoyable port that appeals to all sorts of players.


Atomic Robo-Kid (Special)

Platform(s) of port: PCE (HuCard) & MD

Overview: UPL surely was ebullient with creativity. The main idea (a manually scrolling shooter with a robot as a protagonist) was gleaned from Irem's Mr. Heli, everything else is unique, however. Between this and some of their other games (Acrobat Mission, Uchuu Senkan Gomora), noone can accuse them of producing generic titles. I was a bit shocked to find out that many people seem to outright despise this game, I really don't see anything that warrants so much hate. Having to figure out how to get the right power-ups and properly navigating through the stages with endlessly respawning enemies that can overwhelm a heedless player can be intricate at first, it's not an insurmountable hurdle for anyone with even a small amount of patience, though.

Both ports remove the time limit in the stages which makes infinite milking possible; I've read that the arcade game also suffers from infinite scoring (don't know myself how it works), so that might not be an issue at all. I've also never had any problems completing the stages in the arcade game within the allotted time limit, it doesn't change anything major. The MD port is stupendously faithful to the original game, perhaps a smidgen harder (that might be because I've played this one without external autofire at first which is an annoyance in UPL ports). The PCE port is considerably easier than the other versions because you start out with a health bar instead of having to collect several blank orbs in a row to earn a few hitpoints.

Résumé: Look askance all you want, I'm going to recommend the ports. It's beyond reasonable doubt that Atomic Robo-Kid is the most accessible UPL 16-bit game of the three which is not just a relative statement. You might enjoy the PCE port a bit more if you have a lot of trouble with the game's quirks, the MD port is the version to go for if you want a more accurate work. It's no Mr. Heli, but I'd call it an above average game for sure. And if you want to impress your friends you can always boast with the fun fact that Rayxanber III's final boss is clearly a copy of Atomic Robo-Kid's equivalent.


BlaZeon

Platform(s) of port: SFC

Overview: A travesty befell us here, my friends. The arcade BlaZeon might look clumsy, yet turns out to be a magnificent little game with a great perfectionistic scoring system that requires quite a bit of precision to get right. This port by contrast has stretches of some 45 seconds where nothing happens at all. And by nothing, I mean nothing. The background scrolls, the music plays. No terrain, no enemy, no projectiles in the meantime. Now, the arcade game still moves at a methodical pace most of the time, but there's never such a downtime. The hit detection is also completely wrong in the port which is a crime because you do have to steer colossal mechas which should have a fair hitbox at all times. They also changed/swapped around a couple stages and added infinite loops for some reason, that almost doesn't matter at this point.

Résumé: One of the biggest offenders here. The soundtrack is still one of the best around, everything else about the port is terrible. BlaZeon really deserved something better than this half-assed hack job, hope someone laid waste to the loins of those frauds.


Cosmo Gang: The Video

Platform(s) of port: SFC

Overview: Meager port of an unexpectedly murderous, frantic arcade game. I'm usually not one to complain about reduced difficulty in ports (target audiences and all that), but the port really doesn't do the malicious arcade game any justice. I also want to point out that you have four buttons that all fire, but none of them offers autofire. Talk about convenience.

Résumé: I guess you could call this one playable. Music and graphics are at least mediocre (could've been much better, still), the gameplay is smooth and unimpeded by technical problems. It's a poor translation from the arcades, though, and rather unimpressive on its own besides. If you want a fixed vertical 16-bit port, you should definitely go with Galaga '88 instead, that one is perfect.


Cotton - Fantastic Night Dreams

Platform(s) of port: PCE (CD)

Overview: Top-notch adaptation. I always thoroughly enjoyed the port, then I've played the arcade game to discover that the port is superior in any way that counts. The music is much better, the slowdowns and flicker are if anything reduced, the difficulty is overall more organic (both games aren't that demanding even in the second loop), it's quite stunning. Especially if you consider the pretty atrocious PS1 port by the presumptuous name of Cotton Original that doesn't even include the second loop for some inexplicable reasons.

Résumé: A sweet game deserves a sweet port, roma locuta, causa finita. I'm not entirely sure whether you might be able to milk some boss fights forever in the port, what I can say for certain is that I had a lot more fun with scoring in general. Juggling between the autofire switches for ceaselessly firing/charging up some magic can take a little bit of time getting used to, it shouldn't be a perceptible detriment in the long run. This game is by all means a perfect pick for a 16-bit platform and shouldn't be amiss in anyone's 16-bit shooter collection.


Daisenpuu (Custom)/Twin Hawk

Platform(s) of port: PCE (HuCard), PCE (CD) & MD

Overview: That's right, one of Toaplan's least popular games is acknowledged with no less than three ports. The gods alone know why. The MD port, while closest in audiovisual terms, is by far the hardest one, quite a bit tougher than the arcade game itself. The reduced screen space as well as unseemly toughness of larger enemies leads to many frustrating situations which are not present in the arcade Daisenpuu (arcade Twin Hawk is a different story altogether). All of the ports are shaped after the template of the Japanese original, that is to say with checkpoints. The HuCard port is easier than its MD brethren yet also worse in terms of graphics and sound. The CD port dares to add a few more insubstantial stages 'cause why not.

Résumé: I don't know about this one. The funny thing is that I've worked myself through all the ports, dreading to play the arcade game only to find out that it is by far the most accessible out of all of them. That's not to say the ports are bad at all, given the hardware limitations they all did a fine job. Your best bet would probably the MD port for its accuracy, though the PCE games are easier if that's what you prefer. I would honestly stick to something else entirely.


Dangerous Seed

Platform(s) of port: MD

Overview: Meddling game in its own right, downright crushing when contrasted with the arcade game. As with some other Namco games, the arcade Dangerous Seed is unorthodox both aesthetically and conceptually, offering a surprisingly excellent little title with some unique time-out mechanisms, neat scoring and a brisk pace. The MD port removes all of that and doubles the running time with inconsequential stages/enemy waves instead. The music is still great, the visuals not so much.

Résumé: The port is inoffensive enough but fails to do the exceptional arcade game any justice. You can find much better games than the MD Dangerous Seed elsewhere, there's no real need to play the port. I will say that I get a chuckle out of the fact that the unlicensed MD shooter Thunderbolt II is a shameless rip-off of this forgettable port.


Darius (Alpha, Plus, Super)

Platform(s) of port: PCE (HuCard) & PCE (CD)

Overview: Everyone who has seen the arcade Darius in motion will be aware that you simply cannot hope to replicate a triple monitor game on a 16-bit console. A compromise has to be made somewhere. What the good people over at Taito did instead was to zoom in at a small extract of the screen which now constitutes the playing field. At first glance you might think that this will make the game a lot harder due to a considerably larger hitbox, they fortunately accomodated that with a very lenient collision detection. In fact, the difficulty from the ports to the arcade game is close to identical even though there are some changes; the HuCard version Darius Plus has a few bosses in different stages while Super Darius even adds a few new bosses. Darius Alpha is technically a SuperGrafx game but still runs on a regular PCE, it's just a boss rush without any actual stages.

Résumé: While I hold the opinion that of the three respective first entries of the famous horizontal series (Darius, Gradius, R-Type), Darius is by far the weakest (the stage design is haphazardly thrown together and has a disposition to repeat the same few enemy waves over and over again) it's safe to assume that someone who reads this thread with any interest will be eager to check out some of the fundamental games/series. I consider Super Darius to be superior over Darius Plus for it not only has more bosses, but a phenomenal facsimile of the original soundtrack. It might sound hypocritical, but even though Darius Alpha may sound like a great idea on paper (removing the fat and all that) it's strangely unfulfilling. If you're in the mood for a classic Darius game you want those dry stages! As such, I definitely recommend Super Darius, Darius Plus is only marginally weaker.


Darius II/Sagaia (Super)

Platform(s) of port: PCE (CD) & MD

Overview: This set of ports is decidedly unlike those for the first Darius which try to do the best to rebuild the original game on inferior hardware. Though they differ from each other as much as they do from the source, they clearly follow their own vision. Super Darius II takes a huge detour, offers an almost entirely new set of bosses, unusual music and the same zoomed-in perspective that was present in the aforementioned Darius ports. The MD conversion on the other hands tries to portrait as much as possible with comparatively small sprites, retains most of the music/stages/bosses from the original game while making the ship tremendously faster. Both ports are a sight easier than the arcade game, with the PCE port being generally harder yet easier on recoveries and the MD port the easiest of the bunch with fairly harsh recoveries.

Résumé: Both ports are pieces of quality and come recommended without reservation. It's almost worth it to play Super Darius II to see what crazy bosses they can come up with next. However, it must be said that I absolutely love the MD port. Making the hitbox smaller and the ship more agile than it was in the arcade game whilst adding a simple bonus for all the excess lives at the end of the game was a brilliant choice to turn a very slow-moving, methodical experience into a snappy, energetic all-time favourite. When I used to play all the MD shooters on my Everdrive I always returned to Darius II once in a while, it's such an airtight, hermetically sound game. 'tis a perfect port in my eyes.


Detana!! TwinBee/Bells & Whistles

Platform(s) of port: PCE (HuCard)

Overview: The first of several sublime PCE Konami ports. Even though the port is instantly charming on its own, you will appreciate it even more upon playing the arcade game. There are not many games with hitboxes this egregiously large and recoveries this categorically impossible, having a port that remedies these things is worth honouring. To furthermore reduce some of the frustration that is inherent with TwinBee games in general and this chapter in particular, there is one hidden extra life per stage as well as one stage less. I do have the impression that some parts are a bit harder in the port at high rank (the final boss immediately comes to mind), having all those extends allows for some recoveries on the other hand which I find preferable all things considered (with a normal hitbox, no less).

Résumé: If you want to give the TwinBee series a try in spite of the maddening bell juggling, this or Pop'n TwinBee would be a great start to do so. I do like the arcade game quite a bit despite all the needless nonsense, there's still no doubt this port was the right way to alter the parameters. Everyone should be able to agree that absurdely large hitboxes shouldn't be a constant concern when playing a game. Lastly, I find that such a cute series doesn't suffer from a manageable difficulty. The rank still becomes pretty vicious if you keep your bell chain intact and the second loop is also quite impenetrable even in this one for those that look for a challenge. Comes highly recommended.


Dragon Saber

Platform(s) of port: PCE (HuCard)

Overview: Much more approachable than the arcade game. Instead of dying right away after a hit, you have three health cells (just like in the PCE Dragon Spirit). Additionally, most of the arduous travails in the arcade game (like the final boss) are immensely easier here. It should tell you something that despite all that, the port is still among the harder 16-bit arcade adaptations. Most of the audiovisual losses painfully sting, one of the pieces that plays during a boss fight is outstanding on the PCE by dint of the beefy percussion, though. This leaves you with a happy medium that should be fit to fulfill the expectations of avid enthusiasts. The stage and boss design is unswervingly solid in this port.

Résumé: Now that I'm accustomed to the devious arcade game I actually prefer it over the port (still hate the final boss and the section leading up to him), but that doesn't mean the latter falls too far behind. Quite the opposite, in fact: PCE Dragon Saber is easily one of the best ports on the system, even among the entire 16-bit pantheon to be precise. Namco created quite a few fantastic (in more than one respect) shooters, I have to ruefully ascertain that even a lot of oldschool fans don't seem to know that. Dragon Saber is no exception to this statement which means that I'm naturally going to recommend this port.


Dragon Spirit

Platform(s) of port: PCE (HuCard)

Overview: Could've been virtually perfect if not for one aggravating flaw. The vast majority of this port is spotless in its execution: the difficulty is a bit reduced (the third hit will kill you instead of the second, enemy belligerence is a bit toned down, the dark underwater cave stage is absent) yet still respectable. It is an eminent shame they messed it up at the last two minutes of the game. Before facing the final boss, there is a section with shifting spikes. In the arcade game, a tiny bit of caution is sufficient in order to get past this spot. They inexplicably botched the hit detection on the PCE, making it impossible to get through there unless you have a small dragon. Since power-ups are random in this game you might have an entire run without ever getting such an item, thus inevitably terminating your credit then and there. The final boss is also a real jerk in this game, beating it without at least one, preferably two speed-ups (also random) is likewise not feasible.

Résumé: I feel bad about saying it so harshly, but the final failure irrevocably ruins something in this game. Everything else is great, yes. Having to play over and over and over again because the very end of the game is such a sloppy mess drains a lot of the fun, simple as that. You should know what you're getting into before picking up this port, PCE Dragon Saber is certainly better for its consistency.


E.D.F.: Earth Defense Force (Super E.D.F.)

Platform(s) of port: SFC

Overview: Gentle adjustment of the arcade game that can be classified as success. Several stages were altered - presumably in order to prevent the console from choking too much (a few situations wherein slowdowns arises are still present) - and/or merged with other stages, fruitfully so. The port even presents a new final boss after fighting the huge robot that served in the selfsame function in the arcade game, an unnecessary yet admirable effort. The difficulty of the port is considerably lower than it is in the arcade game (note that the US 16-bit version is harder than the SFC port), the general idea of smartly using the pods to take out potential threats still applies all the same, however.

Résumé: Pleasant complement to the arcade game. I'd claim that both games fill out their respective niche without leaving much to be desired. The SFC port is missing some neat set-pieces, bosses and tracks but also adds some great compensations as redress and all's well that ends well. I will admit that experimenting with the weapons can be a bit frustrating at first because some of them are pretty sub-par at best, after getting used to the game it only becomes better and better as a reward. You can come up with solutions that are moreso memorization or execution-inclined, some stages offer several possible routes, it is indeed quite a good game. Definitely comes recommended.


Fantasy Zone

Platform(s) of port: PCE (HuCard)

Overview: Extremely faithful port of Sega's mascot shmup. If memory serves correctly, the PCE version is ever so slightly easier than the arcade game, there can't be much of a difference, though. The music certainly could've been better, everything else is more or less accurate.

Résumé: Not much to say here. There've been numerous ports of this game for a lot of platforms which is not surprising given the popularity of this juggernaut. It's always a delight to return to Fantasy Zone after a while, zipping through the stages as fast as possible, trying to conserve money and lives in order to convert them into colossal score rewards at the end of a loop. This port is surely one way of experiencing this timeless classic even if it doesn't quite hold up to the original.


Forgotten Worlds/Lost Worlds

Platform(s) of port: PCE (CD) & MD

Overview: Living proof that health bars and shop systems can be irreproachable in a shmup if executed well enough. While both ports are quite a bit simpler than the arcade game, this is especially true for the MD version which has two missing stages and by far the easiest encounter against the final boss. What I particularly like about that fact is that it makes the flamethrower much more viable in the ports than it is in the arcade game where it doesn't do enough damage to be truly worthwhile. Devouring crowds of baddies in a gluttonous sea of flame is always satisfying, right? The MD port would've been worth a recommendation if not for the existence of the PCE CD port which is simply amazing. Not only does it look just as good as the arcade game (whereas the MD graphics are a bit washed out) it even sounds better than its template. I'll concede that the PCE port comes within a wisker of a catastrophe with the final boss that is simply impossible to kill in time if not for the exploit in form of a probably unintended safespot. Much rejoicing that we won't have to witness another PCE Dragon Spirit tragedy.

Résumé: The PCE CD port is marvelous and comes highly recommended. The MD port is fairly superfluous compared to that, but is still more than serviceable on its own, it also has by far the best balance for that damned final boss. Definitely worth a consideration if you don't own a PCE or just can't get enough of this game despite the missing stages and less-than-ideal audiovisual depiction.


Formation Armed F

Platform(s) of port: PCE (HuCard)

Overview: A somewhat weird game that is not quite easily placed. One would want to say that this is heavily inspired by Capcom's Last Duel and Irem's Image Fight but since they were all released at around the same time one cannot be certain. The typical Nichibutsu trait of being able to push options/accoutrements forwards by using rationed charges of that ability is also present here. While this game is mostly forgettable/bland, the third stage makes excellent use of that eponymous formation ability, too bad they couldn't hold up that quality for the entire duration of the game. The PCE port stays very close to the original game but is considerably harder (you still have a huge hitbox to deal, yet much less space to work with) which I would call advantageous in the grand scheme of things. Bullet visibility is a serious issue, though.

Résumé: It'd be unreasonable to universally recommend the game and its port, Irem fans are a definite target audience for this one. If you can't stand ships that are entirely hitbox (including the tip of the nose) you'd better avoid the port and perhaps give the arcade game a whirl. Overall mediocre.


Galaga '88

Platform(s) of port: PCE (HuCard)

Overview: Perfect way of handling a 16-bit port in my opinion. Presentation-wise, this conversion is just as lively and inviting as the original arcade game, the transfer from the gameplay differs a bit. While the general ideas still apply, the overall challenge is much reduced, much to the approval of many a player who can't clear the arcade game on anything higher than dimension 2 (which is arguably harder than the fourth dimension on the PCE which doesn't give you any opportunity to reach the fifth dimension). The higher the dimension, the better your score and the higher the difficulty, elegant and simple. I'm not particularly well-versed with fixed verticals but there's no doubt in my mind that Galaga '88 is one of the best, if not the very best of its kind. Moving around with a triple ship and pulverizing entire alien formations is rip-roaring zest, all the enemy varieties and different stages (some of which even scroll vertically) are magnificently woven into the overall tapestry. Chances are you're going to enjoy this game a lot even if you're not into this sub-genre at all.

Résumé: One of the best ports on the list and Namco's finest. There's honestly not a single aspect I could criticize about the port, it's everything you could want from a 16-bit arcade port on the one hand and from a fixed vertical on the other hand. You'd have to be an incorrigible dyskolos to not have a grand time with this one.


Gokujou Parodius/Fantastic Parodius

Platform(s) of port: SFC

Overview: Our first example of the certified ad usum delphini SFC Konami goodness. The arcade Parodius games may exude vibrant colours, mirthful sentiments and vital music, the fact of the matter is that they exult in slaughter. Gokujou Parodius is the first Konami game where the dynamic ranks really starts to show its fangs, practicing the game can be disturbingly tough for you don't know exactly how the game will behave the next time. This port keeps the atmosphere, yet turns down the difficulty by several notches. I love, love, love how the special stage is handled: still decidedly harder than the rest of the game and certainly not trivial, but nowhere close to that unbelievable slaughterhouse in the arcade title. The reduced difficulty also invites players to try out characters that are not Koitsu or the console-exclusive Dracula-kun who stand head and shoulders above the rest of the cast. There are sundry options for all possible desires a player might have (checkpoints and roulette can be enabled or disabled, you can either play one loop or two) which suits the consolized approach. The only tarnish about this port is the sometimes massive slowdown as well as some flicker if you play with the aforementioned Dracula-kun who spews out too many projectiles for the console.

Résumé: Lovely, lovely port. It won't be able to supplant the deliciously mean arcade game, of course, it still does a nearly flawless job at complementing it. You sometimes just want to enjoy yourself when playing a Gokujou Parodius or Gradius III, the SFC delivers on that front. It still looks and sounds great and the gameplay is as uncompromised as it always was, merely much easier. I'm not a fan of checkpoint milking and had a blast replaying the special stage over and over in this port for scoring purposes, such is its beauty here.


Gradius

Platform(s) of port: PCE (HuCard)

Overview: Prestigious conversion of a venerable classic. Like all the other PCE Konami ports, this one, too, finds the right balance between keeping the substance of the original game while treading new paths. Namely the double is much stronger in this port compared to the arcade game since the shot frequency is much improved. The laser on the other hand is not nearly as powerful anymore. While the difficulty of the first loop is similar to the equivalent of the arcade game, higher loops are tremendously easier by comparison, the PCE will never reach the third loop difficulty of the arcade game no matter how many hours you loop it. There's also a new stage that is influenced by the MSX Gradius games, a great stage where you fly past the carcasses of huge beasts, fighting their ghastly, ectoplasm-spewing heads. To make up for the missing screen space on the top and bottom, there's manual vertical scrolling which doesn't feel intrusive at all (it's not like your average Toaplan game where you accidentally reveal some tank that immediately uses this opportunity to gratuitously murder you).

Résumé: First-rate, essential port for the PCE. I've heard from quite a few people who stopped after the first loop of the arcade game that they had good fun going for another loop or so in the PCE port which is a testament of its own, I would think. The focus on the double instead of the laser this time around ensures a slightly more aggressive approach, always an excellent change. I also very recently found out that this game has some hidden bonus stages just like SFC Gradius III, never found/accessed them myself, but that's quite cool!


Gradius II

Platform(s) of port: PCE (CD)

Overview: Another miraculous PCE Konami port. There are some minor improvements/changes over the original arcade game (the force field is not nearly as sensitive towards terrain, the shot frequency is quite a bit higher with the default pea shooter, the extend routine is more generous (it's the same as it is in the arcade Vulcan Venture, actually), some stages are a bit or significantly easier (the third stage being the most obvious of the bunch due to less resilient ice cubes), some are a tad harder (zub & boss rush)), regardless of all that, the PCE port is strikingly similar to its source with the exception of load times between stages. As with the Gradius port, this game, too, was blessed enough to gain another MSX-themed stage which is amazing, especially on higher loops. Konami spared no expenses with their PCE ports (with the possible exception of Parodius Da!), it is downright humbling to see so much craftmanship.

Résumé: Crucial port for every PCE owner. It's no secret I love Konami, but even ignoring that it's patently obvious just how good many of their ports are. On a platform that has several terrific ports, this one ranks among the very best. I also really love just how they approached this port: it's remarkably close to the arcade game yet distinct enough to be interesting even if you've played said arcade game ad nauseam.


Gradius III

Platform(s) of port: SFC

Overview: Exhibit number two that Konami softened the challenge of their arcade chapters for the SFC. The massive slowdowns unfortunately remain, all of the questionable design choices from the arcade game are gone, though (the hit detection is always impeccable, the cube rush is gone, the slowdowns are consistent and don't subside all of a sudden, some of the nasty set-ups in the fortress stage are absent...). This rings with so much veracity that Gradius III SFC should be considered its own game. The brilliant music and a lot of the stages are still there, the spirit is entirely different. Checkpoint recoveries only start getting problematic from loop 3 onwards, for example, which is not quite the case in the arcade game. This also allows you to freely experiment with the weapon edit which would be a death sentence in the arcade game.

Résumé: I unapologetically love Gradius games and I have a special soft spot for this port. Yes, the slowdowns are indefensible. Granted, they were in the arcade game to begin with, thus being the largest remnant of faithfulness, but that's a weak excuse even for myself. What Gradius III SFC does provide plentifully is the same enticing sense of awe and discovery as you travel through the galaxy to visit many different exotic planets. It complements the nasty arcade game outstandingly well and is probably favoured by a not insignificant percentage of players for that very reason. It should go without saying that I will inevitably, implacably recommend the port with every fiber of my being despite knowing of the maiming slowdowns.


Heavy Unit

Platform(s) of port: PCE (HuCard) & MD

Overview: Great teaching play for the undying wisdom style over substance. The MD port has crisp, detailed visuals yet doesn't come close to the standards of the PCE port regarding the gameplay merits. No version (arcade included) of Heavy Unit is particularly demanding, but the second loop of the HuCard port with its vast number of projectiles is definitely the one version that has the most genuine excitement. The MD port ends after the first loop, the HuCard port has exactly two, the arcade original loops forever. I've been informed that the MD port's scoring is busted, not sure if that also applies for the PCE (it's definitely not as evident). What's also worth a wry grin is that the MD suffers from the PCE syndrome (overly loud sound effects that drown the BGM) moreso than the actual PCE game.

Résumé: The MD conversion is a beguiler that should be ignored, the PCE conversion however is superior to the so-so arcade game and worth checking out. The highly durable shield might negate a lot of that proto-danmaku feel, the exigency nonetheless always feels real which is the important part, at least for me. As such, the HuCard port deserves some recognition, especially since the theme is cool (there are also some writhing mechanical snakes that suspiciously remind me of Battletoads, looks like the guys from Rare got their inspiration there!).


Hellfire (S)

Platform(s) of port: PCE (CD) & MD

Overview: Unlike with all the other Toaplan games, there is one fundamental difference between the PCE port and the MD port in this case: the MD port behaves like every other conversion of this developer, sending you back to a checkpoint after you lose a life. The PCE CD port is possibly modeled after the 2P arcade game and does not have checkpoints. It's quite interesting to see such a singular exception, one has to wonder why that is.

The MD port is another case of a port that is clearly better than even the arcade original. It has additional power-ups such as a one-hit shield, but it still is quite a bit more demanding than the fairly trivial arcade game (this is doubly true if you play the Genesis/Western Hellfire which is harder than the Japanese version of the game, yet another singular occurrence) as well as stronger on the audiovisual front. The PCE CD port is moreso interesting for scoring than it is for survival since it doesn't loop at all and the difficulty is really low. What is attractive about this rendition is how power-up carriers behave: if you hit them with the yellow rear-shot, they will drop three items instead of one. If you're playing risky and maximize the speed you can try to get as many bonus items as you can (after you got every other upgrade, carriers will only drop these) and try to boost your score.

Résumé: While the PCE CD game is still competent enough, it has no hope of competing against the grandiose MD port. Granted, most people don't care much for either horizontal Toaplan game, but you'd be sorely missing out here. Hellfire might be a trifle repetitive, but the stage design is clearly tailor-made around the four different weapons you have, thus forcing you to switch around a lot, keeping you busy. I also quite like that the Easy setting allows for monumental marathon looping whereas the Hard difficulty is moreso appropriate for a couple loops or so, giving players distinct goals. I would recommend the PCE game if you would like to play a rather undemanding version of the game and want to play for a higher score.


Image Fight

Platform(s) of port: PCE (HuCard)

Overview: Aiiiieeee! Take the wonderfully evil methodical horrors of the original Image Fight, increase the ship size by a tenfold and watch in lament how the boss fights and embattled spots turn out as a result. There's a reason they omitted the second loop, I don't even want to think about how that one would've turned out.

Résumé: No! Better than the pathetic Famicom port for sure, but that's for granted. Get Image Fight II instead, even though the ship looks just as big there, the hitbox is a lot more lenient. This port is not even close to one of the worst examples we're looking at here, I still cannot approve of the mess they made out of one of my favourite Irem arcade games. The good news is that the other two Irem HuCard ports are much, much better.


Insector X

Platform(s) of port: MD

Overview: Say about the arcade game what you will (it is startlingly primitive, after all), you cannot deny that this port is unequally better by comparison. The dark, almost horror-related shift suits the insectoid theme much better than the silly atmosphere presented by the arcade game. The MD port is also a tad bit harder and adds a prudent rank system instead of the completely static patterns of the template.

Résumé: While still not an amazing game by any stretch of the imagination, Insector X is arguably the single best port when compared to its roots. I kinda want to recommend it on that basis alone, you may want to check out the gameplay beforehand (it is a bit reminiscent of Darius games, although weaker).


Kiki Kaikai

Platform(s) of port: PCE (HuCard)

Overview: Sterling port for a sterling little game. This one strives for accuracy, doing commendably well in that department. The boss fights on the PCE are harder than they are in the arcade version due to the reduced space, the stages are easier by account of, well, being easier. There are also no subsequent loops in the PCE port while the game loops indefinitely in the original.

Résumé: The sluggish movement speed and rather large hitbox might be daunting at first (particularly so if you've played the SFC sequels prior to this one), you'll soon discover that this game is pure frantic fun at its finest, however. The PCE port does a fantastic job at capturing the core of the game and thus comes highly recommended.


Kyuukyoku Tiger/Twin Cobra

Platform(s) of port: PCE (HuCard) & MD

Overview: One of the most iconic shmups deserves appropriate ports - which is thankfully the case here! Both ports have in common that they are based on the Japanese arcade game, meaning that you will always face checkpoints, even in the Western Twin Cobra. Interestingly enough, the PCE port ends after exactly two loops, the MD port still seems to go on forever.

Most players will probably almost immediately come to grips with the PCE port which reconstructs the essence of the arcade game exceedingly well (with a considerable drop in difficulty, that is). The MD port on the other hand appears to be yet another case of the gargantuan PCE Image Fight syndrome at first, slaughtering novices without surcease. After a while of familiarization you'll start to realize, however, that this is most assuredly not true, that this port demands a different mindset to be won. Here, you really have to fight fire with fire. If they threaten to assassinate you up close, you're going to spill out their blackened intestines first, at point-blank range, just before they enter their cycle of fire. Or you die in the process. As I've mentioned in the past, this port is refreshingly brutal, it doesn't give quarter to both sides. The checkpoint recovery is also surprisingly balanced, it is much easier to recover upon dying in the MD port than it is on the PCE.

Résumé: Both ports are supreme and deserve a place in anyone's 16-bit collection. I grew to love the MD port in particular, it's such a bold, nay, audacious thing to readjust the formula of such a classic, but the execution is tight and the satisfaction immense (it helps a lot to have those beefy MD music and sound effects). I would consider both ports as quite essential, there's no reason not to get them.


Master of Weapon

Platform(s) of port: MD

Overview: One has to wonder sometimes why certain games even receive a port in the first place. I'm pretty sure noone craved for a MoW conversion. With that snarky comment out of the way I'll openly concede that this is a decent effort. The sometimes overbearing difficulty of the arcade game is strictly reduced here, a much-needed step in my opinion. The only real fly in the ointment is that power-ups in the port are seemingly completely random, it can take several stages before a speed-up appears. In the arcade game I've never encountered this problem even though the selection of goodies still is semi-randomized. That can make recoveries impossible in the port despite the overall much lower challenge.

Résumé: I guess you could grab yourself the MD port if you've always wanted to beat MoW yet quickly gave up on the excruciatingly hard original. Outside of an extremely cheap boss fight and the aforementioned power-up dilemma, the MD port certainly is harmless compared to what you could do to yourself otherwise. You could also play a much better game in its stead which is what I would counsel.


Mercs/Senjou no Ookami II

Platform(s) of port: MD

Overview: Not just Toaplan went the extra mile to include a new mode in their 16-bit ports, Capcom did so, too. While the results in the PCE CD Side Arms aren't exactly fascinating, the so-called original mode on the MD easily overshadows both the actual porting job (arcade mode) and the arcade game itself. That's not to say the arcade mode is bad, quite the contrary: its difficulty is somewhere between the fairly simple Mercs and the nauseating Senjou no Ookami II that has too many enemies with way too much health, walking a fine line in that regard. Nonetheless, the original mode takes the initial idea (health bar, medals, various power-ups) and expands on it by adding different characters and a shop system that actually works quite well. It's also not as cheesy and dependent on bombs as the arcade game is even though there are still some parts where incessant nuking helps a lot.

Résumé: The definite package for Capcom's iconic multi-directional shooter as far as I'm concerned. It's no Kiki Kaikai and certainly no Kiki Kaikai: Nazo no Kuro Manto or Granada, but what is, really? Considering the paucity of that particular sub-genre, we should be grateful for every quality title in that domain, and both games in that bundle deliver just that.


Mr. Heli no Daibouken/Battle Chopper

Platform(s) of port: PCE (HuCard)

Overview: I'm eminently glad this port exists so that more people can experience the game. Mr. Heli perfectly demonstrates that a shmup with manual scrolling, a shop system and a health bar does not only work, but can also be a tough little cookie. The adorable visuals and the vicious rank system form an oddly apt pact, keeping players on their toes while always presenting a smile when sticking a knife into their back. When Irem made the arcade Mr. Heli they apparently had not invented their archetypical 2-loop-setting yet, the PCE port remedies that (both the arcade and the normal mode offer the second loop). The only negative would be that there's a lot of slowdown and flicker during busy moments, especially in the second loop.

Résumé: I'm of course going to heartily recommend this port. Too bad about the stutters, that's a small price to pay for this amazing little gem that even has two difficulty settings (which is extremely rare in all of HuCard shmupdom, console-exclusive and ports alike). There's no other game quite like this and early Irem is always grand.


Ordyne

Platform(s) of port: PCE (HuCard)

Overview: Great conversion of an underwhelming game. I cannot think of a better console for a port like this, and I don't mean that sarcastically. As an arcade title, Ordyne is prone to disappoint players since most cute 'em ups have something more substantial to offer than the playful appearance might suggest at first glance (see Cotton, Fantasy Zone, Parodius games et al.). However, due to the decidedly accessible difficulty and the entirely random scoring (which is actually lessened in the port), it won't make lasting impressions upon players. It works just fine as an amicable 16-bit title on the other hand.

Résumé: If you want to dabble with an undemanding, criminally cute game that is otherwise rock-solid, the PCE port won't let you down. Just be aware that it is really, really easy.


P-47: The Freedom Fighter/Phantom Fighter

Platform(s) of port: PCE (HuCard)

Overview: Decent port of a dry, repetitive game. I usually call this type of a game a vertical in disguise since it doesn't really focus on terrain in defiance of the horizontal orientation. The difficulty is slightly reduced yet still rather high for a 16-bit game and a few of the stages are slightly altered (for the better I'd say). I also slightly prefer the soundtrack on the PCE. Lastly, there're no loops on the PCE whereas the arcade game loops forever.

Résumé: Given the source material, one cannot complain about what is offered here. If one has a PCE and a MD I'd first recommend Fire Mustang over this one, if you like the theme and this species of shmups as a whole you cannot do much wrong in picking up this port, though.


Parodius Da!

Platform(s) of port: PCE (HuCard) & SFC

Overview: Before we begin with the differences between those two ports I want to start with the common tenet among them. The arcade Parodius Da!, while a really fun game, has a vile rank system that will outright murder you for picking more than one speed-up, sending suicide bullets at you as early as stage 4. It's also generally pretty tough, you're going to have to deal with those suicide bullets in the last three stages in any case, some of the bosses can be really tricky (get thee hence, you disgusting porcupine fish!) dying in the wrong spot can lead to hairy recoveries. Both 16-bit ports (and even the 32-bit ports for that matter) reduce the difficulty drastically, just like many of the other Konami ports we've talked about so far. And while the reduced difficult in and of itself is one thing, being able to play with as many speed-ups as you want is what I really want to praise here. That's an inclination of mine, I hate playing Konami games with just one of these.

Anyway, the choice here should be clear. The PCE port cuts two of the ten stages (the moai ship and the underwater cavern) while the SFC port not only keeps all of those, but even adds another one that is of such a quality you might think it was always there to begin with. The PCE version furthermore suffers from a bit of flicker while miraculously, the SFC port is not afflicted by drastic slowdowns, unlike all the other SFC arcade ports. The only sad thing about both ports is that the nefarious checkpoint milking trick against the final boss can be repeated ad infinitum since you'll always get an extend out of it.

Résumé: The SFC port is a must-have, the PCE counterpart won't be necessary if you already own the game for the SFC, but it is definitely worth checking out (unlike the Famicom port of the game, holy cow!). By the way: the second loop will still merrily slaughter you after a while, it's not like they would let you go away that easily...


Phelios

Platform(s) of port: MD

Overview: Somewhere in the middle as far as Namco ports go. MD Phelios competently replicates the gameplay of the arcade game (down to the two different skill settings that end at different stages) with the added courtesy of making a previously unfair final boss balanced (just like Dragon Saber, unlike Dragon Spirit). What's really unfortunate is that the breathtaking visuals of the arcade game are a mere shadow on the MD. I'm not going to blame the developers for it and gameplay always comes first, of course, it's still a shame in this particular case.

Résumé: As I've mentioned before, Namco is an unsung herald of classic shmups. Phelios takes a simple conceptual idea (vertical with terrain, an R-Type charge shot and Gradius trailing options), infuses it with a stunning mythological theme and some neat stages/bosses and thus elevates what could've been mundane. The port might not offer the same wonderment by dint of the inferior graphics, the structure still holds in the most unwavering way possible. Certainly recommended.


Rabio Lepus (Special)/Rabbit Punch

Platform(s) of port: PCE (HuCard)

Overview: Mostly authentic recreation of the arcade game with a few twists (such as an impossible second loop). Just like with Sonic Wings, Video System thankfully worked on the soundtrack of their port, making it quite a bit better than it was originally (love the music that plays during the final boss fight!). A few bosses and stages are altered/changed around, the overall idea is still the same, though: play through a stupendously short game (should be the shortest game on this list) with some fairly fast bullets and mean tricks (such as enemies that have temporary invincibility and cloaking devices).

Résumé: I'll confess that Rabio Lepus is by far my favourite Video System game. The goofy atmosphere, the neat close-combat mechanic as well as the combination of terrain and early Psikyo in the bullet speed works surprisingly well, I find. Some enemies are pretty damn cheap and the randomization of items was a terrible idea (they never learned that over at Video System), but the game is so short that it doesn't really matter if you lose a credit or two. I actually recommend both the arcade game (also available on the PS2) and the PCE port.


Raiden (Densetsu/Trad; Super)

Platform(s) of port: PCE (HuCard), PCE (CD), MD & SFC

Overview: The only game on this list to receive a port on every platform. The HuCard version is an attempt at recreating the arcade game with some noticeable reductions in difficulty. Interestingly enough, it is the only port that keeps the original stage/loop format at 8 stages and infinite loops. It (like all the other ports except for the SFC version) also incorporates checkpoints just like the Japanese arcade version.

The CD version is more of a remix than a replica. You can now hold more than the usual seven bombs and the difficulty is also considerably lower than even in the HuCard version, but two more stages await after the eight one, thus raising the stakes quite a bit, especially considering that the new final boss is a respectably savage foe. Due to the lack of a bomb maximum you're also motivated to try your best to cash in those huge rewards at the end of a stage only to die with some 13 bombs in stock which will turn you into a weeping husk.

The MD port is the version that is closest to the arcade game in terms of stage design and difficulty, it's actually fairly accurate. There's also a devious special stage after the final stage, afterwards the game ends for good. The punchy sound effects and explosions deserve a special mention, they fit this game like a glove.

What the poor people got on the SFC shouldn't even be described as a port, it's utter trash. You can kill bosses before they enter the screen, there are technical issues everywhere (my favorite one being that when you kill a boss you cannot move anymore, but a bullet can still kill you), the audiovisual front is in shambles, no excitement is to be found in the gameplay... I guess this would be the version to go for if you're desperate for some Raiden clear. The game also ends after the first loop.

Résumé: Both the MD and the PCE CD ports are excellent, the HuCard port is also more than serviceable, the SFC port on the other hand is bottom of the barrel, easily among the worst five we're discussing here.


R-Type (Complete CD)

Platform(s) of port: PCE (HuCard) & PCE (CD)

Overview: The HuCard port is, simply put, a prodigy. Outside of an added new boss after the crate rush in stage 6 and some very minor slowdowns, it plays exactly like the arcade game. Due to the inconvenience of being split on two HuCards, thus requiring passwords for continuing a run (unless you play the TurboGrafx version which has the entire game on one medium!) you might argue that one could just dabble with the game on the PS1 or MAME, instead, of course.

The CD port must be some sort of a practical joke. It is expliclity called Complete CD, yet lacks the second loop. Nil desperandum, it does have a terrible soundtrack and cringeworthy cutscenes instead. A clear winner, this one.

Résumé: You're definitely safe with the HuCard port if you want the arcade experience on your loyal PCE. Just forget that another port on the PCE even exists.


R-Type II (Super R-Type)

Platform(s) of port: SFC

Overview: Ah, the tragedy! Super R-Type should've been to R-Type II what Gradius III SFC is to Gradius III AC - the consolized transformation for home audiences, making it suitable for a moreso relaxed experience. And while that is true in a certain sense, Super R-Type constantly misses the mark at almost every possible opportunity. Some of that is due to the limited hardware capabilities, of course, an understandable problem. Still, Super R-Type removes everything that makes R-Type II what it is: the stage with the different battleships is replaced with a level that has one gigantic behemoth that moves at a glacial pace. The devious fifth stage with all the appearing and disappearing blocks (via different enemies) is substituted by a dull junkyard stage. The final stage might look similar, but those crawlers are not nearly as bloodthirsty. The hit detection in Super R-Type can be outrageous at times (the worst offender being the laser beams from the bosses in the junkyard stage that linger around for a few seconds after leaving the screen) which pairs extraordinarily well with the fact that every stage consists of only one checkpoint - the beginning of said stage. The slowdowns here are on par with what you see in Gradius III SFC with the nasty side effect that it can sometimes abate all of a sudden, hurling you into walls and whatnot.

Résumé: While not terrible, Super R-Type is a safe candidate for being the or at least one of the worst games in the series. I'm not against altering the parameters drastically as you could glean from some of the other reviews, yet Super R-Type is neither fish nor fowl, it doesn't live up to R-Type II but isn't really good on its own, either. Only for passible 16-bit fans.


Saint Dragon (Tenseiryuu)

Platform(s) of port: PCE (HuCard)

Overview: Pathetic port of an already questionable game. The excessively crackling sound effects alone turn this game into a nightmare, the complete absence of any challenge (whilst boosting the health of bosses so that they take several minutes each) is almost subordinate compared to that.

Résumé: I really don't like the arcade game to begin with. It is an obvious attempt at recreating Irem games, failing miserably at that. There's no experimentation or planning in that game, it's a simple process of "at first everything kills you, then nothing will". The developers constantly throw invincibility items at you in a desperate attempt to somehow conceal the horrendous stage design, in fact. With all that said, the port is much worse which is saying something. While a less strict approach to the obstinate conception of the arcade game would've been the right decision, this is not how you do it. Maltreating players with an unbearable cacophony is also hardly advisable. Steer away from this game, especially from the port.


Salamander

Platform(s) of port: PCE (HuCard)

Overview: I'm not even going to attempt to feign any sort of impartiality here: among a selection of first-rate Konami ports, this is the best one. I'm just going to boldly proclaim that this is indeed the best port on the list. While other ports are faithful or smart in adapting the difficulty one way or another or creative with shaping the available parent substance, PCE Salamander takes all the potential that was squandered in the arcade game and turns it into an accomplished title.

Everyone who has played the arcade Salamander knows just how many oversights, flaws and bugs there are. Shields get destroyed by touching power-ups, the hit detection is all over the place, you sometimes explode for no discernible reason at all, higher loops demand very specific and unintuitive manoeuvres, it's messy. All of that is expertly fixed in the port. It implements checkpoints and extends instead of the instant respawns without any extra lives as present in the original game and also smooths out all the annoying problems that plagued it.

Résumé: Absolulety necessary port if you're at all interesting in 16-bit ports. You could arguably make the game even harder upon reaching high loops for arcade purposes, but this is nonetheless how the game should've been in the first place.


Same! Same! Same! (Fire Shark)

Platform(s) of port: MD

Overview: Yet another superb Toaplan port. Like most of the other conversions, both the easier Fire Shark and the harder Same!³ are based on the original 1P arcade game, meaning that you always will have to play a game with checkpoints. However, the difficulty of the port is not even close to what the notorious source material has to offer, it's not even up to the standards of the arcade Fire Shark. Other aspects are marvelously adopted (such as the lack of score-based extends in subsequent loops).

Résumé: It is safe to state that the vastly reduced difficulty of this port (namely when you play the MD Fire Shark) will be a blessing for many. As thrilling and exciting as the 1P arcade game undoubtedly is, it is also sheer carnage. Being able to still enjoy the dastardly construed stages with sniper tanks, devious planes and large bosses without despairing in the process is worth a deafening praise. Outstanding port.


Side Arms (Hyper Dyne; Special)

Platform(s) of port: PCE (HuCard) & PCE (CD)

Overview: The HuCard port is for almost all intents and purposes arcade-perfect, with the small yet important addition that the stage 1 theme is not a somnolent sonata but a vital, fist-pumping theme. There's also the interesting change that the shot gun in the port cancels bullets (à la 1943 Kai) which might sound overpowered at first yet only makes the weapon somewhat useful in the first place.

The CD version suffers from a few bouts of flicker & slowdown and also replaces the stage 1 theme back for inexplicable reasons. It does offer a second mode which is unfortunately rather bad (it's a weird attempt at trying to coalesce Side Arms, R-Type and Gradius into one game, with the consequence that you deal with overlong boss fights where you have to hit the weak spot that is only exposable for a brief moment before waiting again, charging up the shot).

Résumé: The HuCard port is superior to the arcade game as far as I'm concerned, and a must-have as a result. The CD version on the other hand is completely superfluous.


Slap Fight/Alcon

Platform(s) of port: MD

Overview: Like the V-V/Grind Stormer package, the MD Slap Fight also contains not one, but two games. There's a port of the arcade game itself which is fundamentally similar to its roots with the one important difference that later loops are comparatively much, much easier (which is significant to note in this instance I'd say since Slap Fight is such a short game that lends itself to marathon runs). However, the real attractor in this cartridge is the so-called Slap Fight Special/Slap Fight MD, an entirely new mode with fresh stages, enemies, bosses and all that. It seems to be consensus for most people that this mode has better stage design and scoring than the original arcade game or is equal at the very least. It is a very welcome encore in any scenario.

Résumé: Without dispute one of the best ports on the list. Not only do you get your exemplary Toaplan porting quality but also a great new game based on that material on top of that! I know that some find Slap Fight a bit underwhelming in any case, that doesn't diminish the exquisite quality of this bundle in the slightest. Essential port.


Sonic Wings/Aero Fighters

Platform(s) of port: SFC

Overview: Excellent port that does come with the caveat of a cramped resolution. The 16-bit rendition is a tad harder than the arcade game in a few spots by account of that (the hitboxes are relatively large in Sonic Wings as many of you know). You can exact vengeance by playing as Video System's earlier character Rabio who has to go through one more stage than the rest of the cast, yet is also more powerful. No one will be able to argue (I hope so, at least) that despite the mediocrity, the music in the port is still unfathomably better than the gathering of noises in the arcade game.

Résumé: While the inherent claustrophobia in the port can lead to some frustration, it is undoubtedly a very strong translation overall. Beware of the SNES version (as opposed to the original SFC release) which omits the second loop for no reason at all. Since the arcade Sonic Wings itself has several clumsy spots to begin with regarding hitboxes and unintuitive patterns, I don't find the additional pitfalls to be all that jarring. Having played the port first I was downright shocked to hear the atrocious music in the arcade game which is a disgrace. As such, the port most certainly comes recommended.


Strike Gunner S.T.G

Platform(s) of port: SFC

Overview: This is certainly an interesting port. With about thrice the length of the arcade game, the port drastically alters the conception, though the quality is the same. The original is very short and bad while the port is long and bad. The port is harder than the arcade game in any case (assuming Normal difficulty instead of the default Easy in the Western versions), yet especially so if you want to go through the horrors of playing the port on the highest skill settings. I don't think this is desirable.

Résumé: Ignore this game altogether. The port is the equivalence of cabin fever, the arcade game is banal.


Super Real Darwin (Darwin 4081)

Platform(s) of port: MD

Overview: Admirable effort for what I consider to be the worst source material on this list. Super Real Darwin makes Zing Zing Zip and Twin Eagle: Revenge Joe's Brother look like top 10 games, I'm not even exaggerating. I always smile at quirky, unorthodox, unusual games even if the execution is not able to keep abreast of the grand vision. SRD sucks hard, though, no two ways about it.

Similar to Xevious, you have enemies on the ground and in the air, unlike Xevious, you also have the dumbest power-up system in existence. You pick up these E icons that transform your ship into something supposedly better. Well, too bad that half of those myriad forms are completely useless. If you get hit once you devolve all the way back to the first form and you can't defend yourself while degrading, that would've been too convenient. Touching an enemy is always lethal, even with a one-hit shield. Due to how terrible most forms/weapons are and how big your ship will become, this happens a lot. Bullet visibility is furthermore atrocious, of course.

Darwin 4081 is still bad, but a lot easier, making it more bearable. It also ends after one loop whereas SRD is destined to loop and suck forever.

Résumé: If you have to play this abomination, take the port. You're better off trying something else instead in any scenario.


Task Force Harrier (EX)

Platform(s) of port: MD

Overview: Rather faithful port with some added refinements that make the port superior to the arcade original. The arcade game has a tendency to choke so much during busy moments that you cannot fire at all while the sound effects are so loud you're not going to hear much of the soundtrack. Furthermore, you're not going to face the final boss in the arcade game since you can kill it before it ever leaves the ground, unlike the port where that is impossible as far as I know.

The MD port cuts the endless loops (which are insubstantial, anyway), improves the music considerably and also makes the stages noticeably more difficult by turning popcorn enemies into vicious snipers. You do have more extends and bombs at your disposal as a compensation, but the port is overall a bit more difficult than the arcade game. Unfortunately, the scoring in this port is broken since you can milk projectiles during boss fights that never time out.

Résumé: Enhanced port of a solid if unspectacular game. I really like some of the tracks and think that the stage design is fairly decent in the port. Comes recommended.


Tatsujin/Truxton

Platform(s) of port: PCE (HuCard) & MD

Overview: Unlike some of the other Toaplan conversions, Tatsujin made the transition to both the MD and the PCE exceedingly well. While mostly faithful ports (bar the resolution), both versions add their own twist to the game. The MD version adds a shield that hurts enemies at the highest level of the red weapon, for example, while the PCE port alters the difficulty curve. Whereas the MD port has the hardest rendition of the final stage in any available version (including the arcade game), the PCE port starts out a lot harder, but never becomes much more challenging throughout. As such, the MD version properly spikes in terms of difficulty, the PCE conversion on the other hand is constant.

Résumé: I love the music of the PCE port and also happen to prefer the even difficulty (that leads many to believe that this port is the hardest version of Tatsujin when it is, in fact, the easiest) which is why I might even privilege it over the arcade game. However, both ports are stellar efforts and you can't go wrong with either one.


Thunder Force AC (III, Spirits)

Platform(s) of port: MD & SFC

Overview: Well, this is a bit of a deceit as many of you will have recognized immediately - Thunder Force III came before Thunder Force AC, after all. Thunder Spirits then is the port of the arcade game. TF AC is still very similar to TF III, only a few stages were moved around/cut/amended. I personally prefer TF AC over III simply because I enjoy the soundtrack more and agree upon deleting that cave stage with all the bouncing rocks, but it's fair to say it comes down to predilection. Thunder Spirits on the other hand is plagued with slowdowns that are really hurtful in an energetic game like this.

Résumé: There's no real reason to play Thunder Spirits (other than the SFC soundtrack if you happen to be a sucker for it like I am) with TF AC available while it is up to you whether you want to go with TF III, TF AC, both or neither.


Uchuu Senkan Gomora/Bio-Ship Paladin

Platform(s) of port: MD

Overview: Essential port of an essential game! All kidding aside, this conversion is mostly astoundingly true to the original with one irksomeness and one prudent decision. The former comes with the lack of build-in autofire (as per usual with UPL ports) which I would highly advise in this particular game. The latter manifests itself in the final stage: both the arcade game and this port are fairly mild until the final stage, you see. However, in contempt of the fact that you only fight four real enemies and the final boss itself in that selfsame stage, it is egregiously cheap in the arcade game. It is virtually impossible not to die, the final boss will crush you at some point in time. If you happen to lose a life prior in the hail of lasers, you're most likely finished. The port drastically reduces the difficulty of this awkward constellation, thus increasing the overall enjoyment one can have.

Résumé: You know, I sort of like this game. It is truly one of a kind. But the blundering nature of it pushs it into euro shmup demesnes, there's no denying that. If you combine that with an absurdly unfair final stage it becomes impossible to commend a game. The MD port on the other hand - while still unwieldy - removes that obstacle (a controller with autofire capabilities is advised). I'm definitely not going to say that you ought to try out the port. Even most 16-bit enthusiasts will be alienated by this game. If you're toying with the idea of giving this curiosity a try, however, you will find that the port is significantly less frustrating.


US AAF Mustang (Fire Mustang)

Platform(s) of port: MD

Overview: Remarkably similar to the last port we've talked about from a structural level. The main difference between the arcade game and the port is the absence of the frankly dumb final stage in the arcade game that throws a bunch of previously fought bosses at you in the hope of exterminating your credit. Seems like someone regretted that idiotic choice and reined in with the port. Another noteworthy aspect to remark is that while the arcade game doesn't become much harder upon looping, the MD port quickly escalates.

Résumé: More balanced port of a fairly nondescript if solid game. Just like P-47, this one, too, is what I like to call a vertical in disguise. It's decently frantic and short, it's not a game that will anger most hobbyists. The removal of that final stage was clearly the right decision and makes this version preferable over the arcade game. Whether that's enough to outright recommend it depends on your taste, there's little to deter anyone from playing it, the gritty, bleak atmosphere is also a clear bonus.


Vapor Trail (Kuhga: Operation Code)

Platform(s) of port: MD

Overview: Comparable to the Task Force Harrier argument. The port cuts the second loop (which is admittedly more exciting in Vapor Trail than those in TFH), unfortunately adds infinite scoring issues (which is admittedly considerably trickier to pull off in Vapor Trail) and arguably has a better soundtrack, namely the boss theme. It's also a bit shorter than the arcade game which I find preferable given the conception. Lastly, the final boss - while still no push-over - is quite a bit easier here than it is in the arcade game.

Résumé: I probably enjoy this game more than most and than is due and I especially enjoy the port which is superior over the source material. Comes recommended.


Viewpoint

Platform(s) of port: Genesis (Western only)

Overview: Another ad usum delphini port, although with heavy losses in the audiovisual department. The difficulty is much reduced compared to the arcade game, partly due to the massive slowdowns that occur frequently when a lot is going on. You can also milk the final checkpoint forever if you kill the first two phases of the final boss before dying yourself thanks to the generous extend routine. This is quite helpful for survival even if you don't want to cheese the game!

Résumé: I'm just going by my personal experience here, but I do reckon that some people who might be interested in the experiment of playing an isometric shooter yet failing because of that unusual perspective will welcome the deadened difficulty. If you have little problems with the real deal you probably will be vastly disappointed by the port. It's overall decent even though I'm not going to defend the slowdowns and especially the flicker. A recommendation strongly depends on what you're looking for and how much of a quality decrease you're willing to accept.


V-V/Grind Stormer

Platform(s) of port: MD

Overview: Significantly compromised port. The hardware limitations rear their ugly head in this transitional game that spews out a comparatively excessive amount of bullets. Slowdowns and nasty flicker are ubiquitous in the port as a result. The port is also a lot more defensive: in the MD V-V, the shield withstands more than one hit, enemies are a lot more durable, too. The almighty missile weapon is in fact useless in the port, your best bet is the straight shot.

Résumé: While an honourable attempt at recreating this masterpiece on 16-bit hardware, a 32-bit port would've been the only sensible choice. I actually enjoyed the port a lot - before I then tried out the original game which irrevocably ruined the port for me. If you don't mind this fugue of quality and/or are stuck with the console/only want to play on original hardware, this is still a more than serviceable port. It's nonetheless the weakest MD Toaplan port from a strictly comparative view. I also don't understand the need to boost enemy HP/weaken the missiles that much, seems like an odd choice to make.


Xevious

Platform(s) of port: PCE (HuCard)

Overview: Pretty much an arcade-perfect port with the added bonus of another mode (which is concededly average at best). Perhaps slightly easier than the arcade game, though I can't be too sure, it is almost identical in any case.

Résumé: Definitely a worthy pick if you like the game. Most people will probably agree that Xevious hasn't aged all that well; it should be said that at least for that time period, Xevious is a surprisingly good game with some unexpectedly hectic situations and a decent bullet count. I'm not going to recommend the game as a whole, but I will praise the porting effort in the blink of an eye, the game never looked better than on the PCE, too (and sounds just as terrible as it does elsewhere!).


Zero Wing

Platform(s) of port: PCE (CD) & MD

Overview: The MD port is unquestionably superior to the arcade game even though it comes with the problem that infinite checkpoint milking is possible here. The soundtrack is considerably better while the rest is very similar (the MD port on Normal is only slightly easier than the arcade game). Usual Toaplan porting quality, in other words.

The PCE CD port is as useful as a hole in the head. The additional stage feels like filler, the new TLB is rather unspectacular, the audiovisual front took a hit, no one wants cutscenes that interrupt the gameplay and the difficulty, while overall easier, is imbalanced due to some impossible checkpoints.

Résumé: Zero Wing in general is an acquired taste. The stages are rather dry & monotonous without much in the way of surprises or creative ideas. The tractor beam mechanic is woefully underdeveloped, the protective options are a bit awkward due to their unusual position, as well. The MD port is nonetheless a fantastic job as far as the transformation process from arcade to console is concerned, you cannot do anything wrong in picking it up if you want to experience the game. There's no reason at all to bother with the PCE CD port.
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 Post subject: Re: 16-Bit Arcade Port Archaeology
PostPosted: Thu Apr 06, 2017 8:31 am 


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Wow. We are forever grateful for this!
I can see myself returning to this thread many times in the future.


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 Post subject: Re: 16-Bit Arcade Port Archaeology
PostPosted: Thu Apr 06, 2017 4:16 pm 


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This is beautiful. Image Read a couple posts in and already decided it's the sort of thing I'll need to print out and read in my comfy chair. FWIW only blackoak's contributions tend to move me thus. Image Threads Of Excellence-worthy for sure.
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 Post subject: Re: 16-Bit Arcade Port Archaeology
PostPosted: Thu Apr 06, 2017 4:34 pm 


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Quote:
Everyone who has played the arcade Salamander knows just how many oversights, flaws and bugs there are. Shields get destroyed by touching power-ups, the hit detection is all over the place, you sometimes explode for no discernible reason at all, higher loops demand very specific and unintuitive manoeuvres, it's messy. All of that is expertly fixed in the port. It implements checkpoints and extends instead of the instant respawns without any extra lives as present in the original game and also smooths out all the annoying problems that plagued it.


Does the PS4 arcade archives port of Life Force / Salamander have these same issues?
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 Post subject: Re: 16-Bit Arcade Port Archaeology
PostPosted: Thu Apr 06, 2017 4:53 pm 


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Outstanding material, as usual coming from Perikles! :D

Will try to read it in full during the next few days!
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 Post subject: Re: 16-Bit Arcade Port Archaeology
PostPosted: Thu Apr 06, 2017 5:11 pm 


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+1 for put this on Threads of Excellence list. :P

reckon luck wrote:
Does the PS4 arcade archives port of Life Force / Salamander have these same issues?


Given the Arcaide Archives is emulation-based, so yes.
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 Post subject: Re: 16-Bit Arcade Port Archaeology
PostPosted: Thu Apr 06, 2017 5:22 pm 


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Aww yeah, you gon get that REAL KONAMI FEEL son :cool:

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 Post subject: Re: 16-Bit Arcade Port Archaeology
PostPosted: Thu Apr 06, 2017 5:31 pm 


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Wow, excellent read. Thank you for all this port info.
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 Post subject: Re: 16-Bit Arcade Port Archaeology
PostPosted: Thu Apr 06, 2017 6:37 pm 


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Fantastic post, thanks Perikles!

Damn this also tickled the nostalgia string. i.e Parodius was probably my first 'wow' of jealousy towards the pce owners, also Salamander, me having known only Life Force.
Atomic Robo Kid MD was my first JP import game on the system for which I broke the slot's corners to fit the cartridge. *sigh*
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 Post subject: Re: 16-Bit Arcade Port Archaeology
PostPosted: Thu Apr 06, 2017 7:12 pm 



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Awesome, as usual, you are really doing some exemplary work here that will be used for years to come. I really think we need to get a sticky on the main page with all of your in-depth threads. They are such an incredible resource, for new players and veterans alike.
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 Post subject: Re: 16-Bit Arcade Port Archaeology
PostPosted: Thu Apr 06, 2017 10:38 pm 


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You did not mention the horrendous slowdown in PCE Gradius. If you get more than 2 options, the game chugs every time you fire. This is really unacceptable and should only be played on emulators where overclocking the virtual CPU is an option. I want to say PCE Salamander also suffers from this (to a reduced degree), but it's been a while since I played it.

Disagree with the opinion that PCE Cotton is better than AC Cotton. My experience with the latter is limited to MAME, but it has zero slowdown or flicker, while the port has both issues in droves (I used to own a proper disc for real hardware).

Toaplan stuff:

Daisenpuu Custom (the PCE CD one) changes the game significantly - there are now breaks in between the stages, there is 1 extra stage (AC version has 4 I think), but unfortunately some of the graphical detail in the backgrounds has been removed from the HuCard for whatever reason. The CD arrangements of the BGM have a completely different tone from AC and the other ports. They're not bad persay, but I prefer the HuCard's somber waveforms. One final nitpick - the MD version has tank crater graphics but no shot impacts, while PCE is the opposite. Pick your poison.

MD Truxton is a single ROM used for all 3 regions, but it is optimized for PAL consoles. Playing on JP or US systems will run the game 10% faster. It's why the music sounds off compared to AC.

MD Zero Wing has three obvious improvements over AC - they removed that awful red flash every time you destroy something, the BGM has a PCM drum track and just sounds better overall, and you absolutely cannot forget to mention the hilariously awesome EU translation - it's the original internet meme. Even if it were in proper english, the intro is great-looking and has cool music. I wish someone would backport these changes to a romhack of the AC original which definitely has the best graphical detail.

The Same!³/Fire Shark port has been confirmed by the devs as being a much better representation of what they were going for, difficulty-wise, than AC. Too bad it doesn't look as good. :(

e: I know you said you wouldn't, but I'd still really like to see competent runs of some of these on your YT channel, since they are hard to find otherwise. Maybe? Please? :D


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 Post subject: Re: 16-Bit Arcade Port Archaeology
PostPosted: Thu Apr 06, 2017 11:37 pm 



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As usual with you not only a great player but an excellent divulger, good job ;)

I don't have much experience with these but in the case of Truxton MD I'd add that the main reason of why st5 is so difficult is because it removed some crucial checkpoints from the arcade, due to this recovery is much tougher.

OmegaFlareX wrote:
One final nitpick - the MD version has tank crater graphics but no shot impacts, while PCE is the opposite. Pick your poison.

Both ports have shot impacts, maybe you were watching a 30 fps video or something.
I like the Daisenpuu ports but there is definitely something wrong with the proportions of the big tanks, the screen gets cluttered so fast compared to other Toaplan ports.
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 Post subject: Re: 16-Bit Arcade Port Archaeology
PostPosted: Fri Apr 07, 2017 8:04 am 


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Thanks for all the kind words, it's much appreciated!

BIL wrote:
Read a couple posts in and already decided it's the sort of thing I'll need to print out and read in my comfy chair. FWIW only blackoak's contributions tend to move me thus. Image

That's indeed booming praise, hope you won't regret wasting all that printing ink afterwards. :o :mrgreen:


Kollision wrote:
Outstanding material, as usual coming from Perikles! :D

Will try to read it in full during the next few days!

Same here (regarding the praise) - it'd still be a veritable understatement to assert that your fabulous blog had a significant influence on all of this, maestro!


OmegaFlareX wrote:
You did not mention the horrendous slowdown in PCE Gradius.

It's true that the PCE version has slowdown, "horrendous" seems a bit harsh compared to some of the other games on the list. Once you know where the enemies spawn and take them out as soon as possible, the amount of slowdown in PCE is fairly moderate in my opinion, with the possible exception of the stage with all the tentacle-bearing brains (which causes a bit of slowdown in the arcade game, too).

OmegaFlareX wrote:
Disagree with the opinion that PCE Cotton is better than AC Cotton. My experience with the latter is limited to MAME, but it has zero slowdown or flicker, while the port has both issues in droves (I used to own a proper disc for real hardware).

I'd have to check again to make sure, but I remember that the arcade game can really screw you over in the second loop if you're not at full power all the time. Enemies refrain to die if you only have modest firepower, thus creating massive slowdown that even impedes your firepower. The PCE game is much more consistent in that manner.

OmegaFlareX wrote:
MD Zero Wing has three obvious improvements over AC - they removed that awful red flash every time you destroy something [...]

You can actually turn that red flash off when playing in (some builds of?) MAME, so that's something.

OmegaFlareX wrote:
e: I know you said you wouldn't, but I'd still really like to see competent runs of some of these on your YT channel, since they are hard to find otherwise. Maybe? Please? :D

Never say never, it's unlikely, though. Outside of savestate practice for PCE Aero Blasters I never even looked into PCE emulation at all, the one emulator I used couldn't even (easily, anyway) emulate CD games. Is there something in particular you're looking for?
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 Post subject: Re: 16-Bit Arcade Port Archaeology
PostPosted: Fri Apr 07, 2017 10:41 am 



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Acrobat Mission SFC is missing one crucial element from the arcade version: the trippy 2001-esque ending.


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 Post subject: Re: 16-Bit Arcade Port Archaeology
PostPosted: Fri Apr 07, 2017 12:05 pm 


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Wow this is great stuff! I think this could even rival the comprehensive depth of the Hardcore 101 shooter guides... Kidding :) seriously impressive writings. I would seriously consider doing a book of some kind maybe via Kickstarter? Insights like these need to be preserved in book form and not lost in pages of a forum.

About capturing 16bit systems for replays. I picked up a £5 USB capture card off eBay last week and it captures 15khz Compostie great. May be worth considering?


USB capture card: http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/252327583850

The results. Pretty amazing for £5 delivered
http://youtu.be/Iu9lvEJiG14
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 Post subject: Re: 16-Bit Arcade Port Archaeology
PostPosted: Fri Apr 07, 2017 1:58 pm 


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Awesome post, well done!

I'll have to go through some of this, both in MAME and PCE emu.


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 Post subject: Re: 16-Bit Arcade Port Archaeology
PostPosted: Fri Apr 07, 2017 2:06 pm 


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OmegaFlareX wrote:
MD Truxton is a single ROM used for all 3 regions, but it is optimized for PAL consoles. Playing on JP or US systems will run the game 10% faster. It's why the music sounds off compared to AC.


I doubt it's optimized for PAL since it was designed in Japan and many early Genesis games weren't PAL optimized. It does run faster on NTSC hardware (which is usually a given, especially for games that are not optimized), but the difference in music doesn't necessarily mean it's PAL optimized.


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 Post subject: Re: 16-Bit Arcade Port Archaeology
PostPosted: Fri Apr 07, 2017 2:36 pm 


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In most MegaDrive games I don't hear a difference in 50hz or 60hz mode. I guess the music tends to be synced to CPU clock speed, rather than vblanks? Truxton/Tatsujin is actually the first time I heard of this aside from the first Sonic game.


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 Post subject: Re: 16-Bit Arcade Port Archaeology
PostPosted: Fri Apr 07, 2017 5:45 pm 


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BrianC wrote:
OmegaFlareX wrote:
MD Truxton is a single ROM used for all 3 regions, but it is optimized for PAL consoles. Playing on JP or US systems will run the game 10% faster. It's why the music sounds off compared to AC.


I doubt it's optimized for PAL since it was designed in Japan and many early Genesis games weren't PAL optimized. It does run faster on NTSC hardware (which is usually a given, especially for games that are not optimized), but the difference in music doesn't necessarily mean it's PAL optimized.


Yeah, concurring with Brian - pretty sure the music being fast in NTSC has nothing to do with PAL optimisation. Masahiro Yuge has said he made a mistake while coding the port (in less than ideal circumstances). He apologised for it in this interview. :wink:

Quote:
—By the way, how involved were you in the music for the console ports?

Yuge: Overall I didn’t have much involvement. The port I was most involved with was the Megadrive port of Same! Same! Same!. You know, regarding the Megadrive, I have this one bad memory that I’ve always wanted to apologize for, and that’s the tempo being too fast in the Tatsujin port. We didn’t receive any instructions from Sega on the sound hardware until 2 weeks before the mastering deadline. So I was really rushing to program everything and get the data coded, and we didn’t have a lot of time to tweak things, and that fast tempo resulted.
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 Post subject: Re: 16-Bit Arcade Port Archaeology
PostPosted: Fri Apr 07, 2017 9:37 pm 


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Perikles wrote:
You can actually turn that red flash off when playing in (some builds of?) MAME, so that's something.


Oh wow, you're right... it's an option in the cheats menu if you have that pack set up (the bomb).

I'm totally going to play this now. \o/


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 Post subject: Re: 16-Bit Arcade Port Archaeology
PostPosted: Sun Apr 09, 2017 7:55 am 


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Cool, I can get rid of those dumb PAL boards now.

Good thread. I was kinda hoping for a writeup on Wonder Boy III actually, very curious about that game.

Super Darius is almost as elaborate as II. There are over twice as many bosses, because every zone now has its own boss. This was the original arcade plan, but they just couldn't fit all 26 bosses in such a small space. This is also why stage and background design is somewhat limited. A "perfect" Darius would be a terrifying game.

The arcade version of Gradius III does not have anywhere near that level of slowdown. The slowdown in the SNES version is obnoxious and excessive, to the point where it's basically unplayable. One of my greatest dreams is to see a version with most or all of the slowdown removed, because everything else about the game is incredibly interesting.

Fire Mustang doesn't have that bullshit final stage? Thank God.

R-Type Complete doesn't have the second loop? aaaaaaaaaa

The Saint Dragon stage 2 BGM is one of the best songs in gaming. It's also uncannily similar to E.D.F. stuff... stage 4 comes to mind. Maybe the composers were buddies or something, those games were on the same hardware...

Super lets you have more bombs? Sounds like Fire Shark, but even worse. Wish there was an easy way to get someone a real setup of the FM Towns Raiden, I'd like more info on that one.

Hellfire MD is easier in US mode? whyyyyyy

Technosoft seemed to really like AC, because they put it in that Saturn port. Guess it was meant as a Black Label or something.
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 Post subject: Re: 16-Bit Arcade Port Archaeology
PostPosted: Sun Apr 09, 2017 9:03 am 


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Despatche wrote:
Good thread. I was kinda hoping for a writeup on Wonder Boy III actually, very curious about that game.

If anyone's into the ports of that game, here's a good place for it, since this thread is all on shootie shoots. :)


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 Post subject: Re: 16-Bit Arcade Port Archaeology
PostPosted: Sun Apr 09, 2017 1:37 pm 



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this is a great thread - very comprehensive.

i want to bring up that i don't feel like the pce r-type is as accurate as it is claimed to be, though. the slight change to the resolution ends up making a few points noticeably different. this is probably most obvious during the final boss, where you can get attacked by the babies from way further off-screen than in arcade (thus making a couple of safe points no longer safe points).

i also don't much care for the audio or visual conversions. they're close, but i feel very notably weaker. i'm sure this port was miraculous, for its time, but feels a tad obsolete when you could go for ps1 r-types or play a more interestingly different conversion in something like the sms game (with its awesome fm synth).


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 Post subject: Re: 16-Bit Arcade Port Archaeology
PostPosted: Sun Apr 09, 2017 4:56 pm 


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Wow, this is beautiful. Great job Perikles.
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 Post subject: Re: 16-Bit Arcade Port Archaeology
PostPosted: Sun Apr 09, 2017 6:19 pm 


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Despatche wrote:
The arcade version of Gradius III does not have anywhere near that level of slowdown. The slowdown in the SNES version is obnoxious and excessive, to the point where it's basically unplayable. One of my greatest dreams is to see a version with most or all of the slowdown removed, because everything else about the game is incredibly interesting.


I don't know if this is what you're referring to, but the PS2 port of AC Gradius 3 has a wait mode option, much like the PS1/SS ports of the previous two games.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dC7A3iIdAwg

If you mean the SNES port, you could theoretically do this with an emulator that has a CPU overclock feature. I don't know of any for SNES. MESS maybe, if you have cheats enabled? That still might not help with the sprite drop-out, another of the port's problems.


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 Post subject: Re: 16-Bit Arcade Port Archaeology
PostPosted: Sun Apr 09, 2017 9:32 pm 


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Yeah, the wait option in the PS2 version is really cool.

That's the dilemma. Honestly, it needs to be rebuilt from the ground up, or something. Like what M2 did with that "Giga Drive" thing. Or just get M2 to do it in the first place. I'd buy the hell out of something like that.
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 Post subject: Re: 16-Bit Arcade Port Archaeology
PostPosted: Wed Apr 12, 2017 8:38 pm 


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Mr. Perikles, you are too cool for words. c:
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 Post subject: Re: 16-Bit Arcade Port Archaeology
PostPosted: Mon Jul 17, 2017 6:47 am 


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Perikles wrote:
Salamander

Platform(s) of port: PCE (HuCard)

Overview: I'm not even going to attempt to feign any sort of impartiality here: among a selection of first-rate Konami ports, this is the best one. I'm just going to boldly proclaim that this is indeed the best port on the list. While other ports are faithful or smart in adapting the difficulty one way or another or creative with shaping the available parent substance, PCE Salamander takes all the potential that was squandered in the arcade game and turns it into an accomplished title.


It's stuff like this that makes this thread a gold mine. Instead of searching wildly over the internet having to validate every source and figure out whether they actually know what they are talking about, I can just check this thread.
I never played the arcade version of Salamander, and didn't realise the PC Engine game had such obvious improvements. Just played the NES version as I know it changes a lot of things including new stages and such. To be honest I wasn't too fond of that version due to some really unfair design (mostly on the fire stage) and some ridiculous hitboxes. But the later stages were a lot of fun, even if they are very easy. It made me want to play the original version of the game for real.

I already bought the PCE version many years ago out of a general love of Konami shooters, but never played it much since I want to avoid spending time with even the best of subpar arcade ports, and was planning to fire up Salamander Deluxe Pack. But it sounds like this is the version to go with, to avoid Konami Hitbox Cancer. Thanks a lot Perikles.


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