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 Post subject: Let's Talk Game Developers Vol. 3: Kaneko
PostPosted: Sat Jun 13, 2020 2:03 pm 


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Time to look at another b-grade game maker. This time Kaneko!

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BTW, I never noticed this before, but the logo actually represents a chip!

Kaneko started as a Taito 2nd party dev in the 80s and came into its own in the 90s. There's two sides to this company, really. The arcade side, where we have the excellent Gals Panic series, a few well-regarded shoot 'em ups like Air Buster and Cyvern, and lots of oddities like that Jackie Chan fighting game and Blood Warrior (which is actually legit good imo!), and finally some real rarities like B-Rap Boys and PC Genjin. Then there's the consumer side, with some particularly good PC-Engine games developed by the Interstate sub-label (most of whose developers later joined RED company), and some more weirdness for the US market (Chester Cheetah, Fido Dido).

Questions for discussion:

- What was your first exposure to Kaneko?
- What game(s) do you associate most with them?
- What do you think is their stand-out title?
- Overall, what is your image of their games?

_____

- What was your first exposure to Kaneko?
Probably
Probably Star Parodier, but the first time I noticed the Kaneko brand was with Air Buster on PCE.

- What game(s) do you associate most with them?
The Gals Panic series.

- What do you think is their stand-out title?
Gals Panic SS and the excellent Blood Warrior. ;)
From Interstate, Super Star Soldier, Nexzr, and Star Parodier.

- Overall, what is your image of their games?
Kind of all over the place in terms of quality, ranging from truly excellent to real garbage. It seems they had some capable devs and designers, but couldn't really form much an identity of their own in their games. They also appeared to have had terrible tasty in licenses to acquire. :lol:


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 Post subject: Re: Let's Talk Game Developers Vol. 3: Kaneko
PostPosted: Sat Jun 13, 2020 2:37 pm 


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Quote:
- What was your first exposure to Kaneko?


Technically, I'm sure it was magazine coverage of their licensed 16bit games... Chester Cheetah or Fido Dido. Even as a little kid, I'd learned to give such things a wide berth (unless they were from known winners like Capcom, Konami or Sunsoft), so I doubt I played any.

Quote:
- What game(s) do you associate most with them?


Nowadays, Interstate's Super Star Soldier and Nexzr Special, both outstanding console STGs.

SSS's hidden "Sugeeze!" mode is a great example of hard Compilesque shooting. Inferior attempts (see Final Soldier's max difficutly) will simply jack up enemy HP, turning breezy zako-shredders into numbing euro-slogs. Smarter ones, like Soldier Blade and SSS, know it's the pace that needs bumping. SSS is relentless from the get-go, matching the player's generous speed and firepower without sacrificing its freewheeling, improvisational style. Death is liable to provoke Salamander Syndrome (the realtime equivalent of Gradius Syndrome), making total dominance more necessity than diversion. A nonstop rush.

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Coming from the opposite end of the STG difficulty spectrum, Nexzr Special (which lacks Regular's cinemas, but adds a generous Caravan mode - easy choice) is a perfect consolisation of vert checkpoint shooting. The stock ship is just comfy enough to cushion what is otherwise a pretty tense affair, even on defaults, and there's a nasty revenge-bullet mode too (Hideeze, presumably an SSS nod). The final boss is a perfect antidote to danmaku fatigue, a vicious attacker armed to the teeth.

Both games sport characteristically beautiful PCE Soldier-styled OSTs, upbeat yet hard-driven.

Quote:
- What do you think is their stand-out title?


Of the above two, Nexzr Special - it's brilliant right out of the jewel case. Super Star Soldier (Sugeeze mode) a close second. I suspect I'd really like Cyvern, but I've not put the time on it. "BANISH" is among the coolest names for an STG GodLazor, surely.

I also enjoy what I've played of MD Aero Blasters, though it didn't wow me to the extent of SSS and Nexzr.

Quote:
- Overall, what is your image of their games?


Kind of a lesser-degree Sunsoft. Prominent licensed games I've zero interest in, which presumably funded a fair chunk of indispensable original material. (I've no idea if, like Sunsoft, some of those licensed games are actually really good :wink: )
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 Post subject: Re: Let's Talk Game Developers Vol. 3: Kaneko
PostPosted: Sat Jun 13, 2020 5:28 pm 


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I absolutely loved Air Buster in the arcade, though being a child I never did well enough to get to the daft inertia stages - which put me off pretty quickly when I found it on MAME years later. It's definitely front-loaded - the opening two stages are memorable as you watch a city being levelled and race through tunnels at high speed. It's pretty forgettable after that, sadly. Shame they never gave it a PAL MD release - I think if we got that and Twin Cobra, I'd have ended up with a MD either instead of an SMS or later, SNES.

Put some time into Cyvern when I discovered MAME but I think the emulation was imperfect at the time and many other arcade games turned my head. Can't even revisit it thanks to a deceased PC :( It's a good one but I think as per many other b-tier devs like Kaneko, it ends up being a fun distraction rather than a genuinely great class-leading game.


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 Post subject: Re: Let's Talk Game Developers Vol. 3: Kaneko
PostPosted: Sat Jun 13, 2020 6:10 pm 


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It was definitely aero blasters, a game that during my home computer tenure I looked with envy as the benchmark of console style shmup, I suppose because of that great blue sky opening stage and the dramatic city set on fire.

Even before being able to play it at friends, I had been exposed in magazines about the ahem, graphics tributes that OCS Turrican II paid to it.
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 Post subject: Re: Let's Talk Game Developers Vol. 3: Kaneko
PostPosted: Sat Jun 13, 2020 6:21 pm 


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I love Cyvern so very much. The horrible, cyborg wyvern shtick is delightfully shonky, but the game itself is like a stripped down Garegga with a far more friendly rank system and Psikyo style bullet clusters. I've never really engaged too much with their other stuff besides a bit of pass the pad Gals Panic back in VI Form, but Cyvern is right up there with my all time favorite STGs.


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 Post subject: Re: Let's Talk Game Developers Vol. 3: Kaneko
PostPosted: Tue Jun 16, 2020 1:06 am 



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I've been playing a bit of Super Star Soldier but I feel like something is off.

The audio/visual component is nice but the difficulty is so whack in this game. Recoveries in the second half of the game seem almost impossible. There's some really dumb shit in here too, like if you have the pea shooter against the final form of the final boss its pretty much impossible since you do so little damage and the boss multiplies over time. And there are lots of areas where having the wrong weapon will make certain sections or bosses incredibly painful.

I thought this game was pretty well regarded but I don't know. I'm sorta pushing though on it since I'm fairly close but it's definitely a "C" or less game to me. It's no Blazing Lazers/Gunhed or Soldier Blade, that's for sure.
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 Post subject: Re: Let's Talk Game Developers Vol. 3: Kaneko
PostPosted: Tue Jun 16, 2020 5:15 am 


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I used to have Wani Wani World back in the day, I think they made that didn't they? Pretty good single screen platformer I thought.

Don't think I encountered them much apart from that, though I have been playing Star Parodier on my PCE mini recently, which was alright.


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 Post subject: Re: Let's Talk Game Developers Vol. 3: Kaneko
PostPosted: Tue Jun 16, 2020 2:47 pm 


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Kaneko always struck me as more of a publisher than anything else. First exposure was Air Buster/Aero Blasters on the TG-16, followed by DJ Boy, then B. Rap Boys. Cyvern and Nexzr are their finest works in my eyes, though Nexzr was developed by Kaga Create, IIRC.

Then Chester Cheetah, Fido Dido and Socks The Cat came along...
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 Post subject: Re: Let's Talk Game Developers Vol. 3: Kaneko
PostPosted: Tue Jun 16, 2020 4:23 pm 


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Ah, they only did a port of Bonk's Adventure. I had a whole thing about only knowing it 'cause of the Game Pro TV show. From thirty years ago.

That just leaves Cyvern that I've actually played. It's ok.

From a aesthetic design standpoint, I'd like to point out that they kind of shot themselves in the foot when it comes to variance. One cyborg dragon might have been enough, three is kind of redundant. The King of the Monsters is a good example of the mileage you can get out of monster variety - it isn't like using people where small visual differences between playable characters matter.


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 Post subject: Re: Let's Talk Game Developers Vol. 3: Kaneko
PostPosted: Tue Jun 16, 2020 7:11 pm 


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Mero wrote:
I used to have Wani Wani World back in the day, I think they made that didn't they? Pretty good single screen platformer I thought.


It based on an arcade game named The Berlin Wall, also from Kaneko, which also has a GG version with the original name and characters. From what I tried of the game, it plays like a combination of Mr. Do's Castle and Bubble Bobble.

BryanM wrote:
Ah, they only did a port of Bonk's Adventure. I had a whole thing about only knowing it 'cause of the Game Pro TV show. From thirty years ago.


It's not a port. It's different from the console games. Odd thing is that it's a redemption machine and gives out tickets.


Last edited by BrianC on Tue Jun 16, 2020 7:20 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Let's Talk Game Developers Vol. 3: Kaneko
PostPosted: Tue Jun 16, 2020 7:19 pm 


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CIT wrote:
- What was your first exposure to Kaneko?
- What game(s) do you associate most with them?
- What do you think is their stand-out title?



Probably Heavy Unit. Despite growing up in the appropriate time frame for their older stuff I didn't really get into video games until the N64 was the hot console.

Kinda tough on the next two questions, the games with their name attached that I love (Nexzr, SSS and Star Parodier) were not developed by them.
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 Post subject: Re: Let's Talk Game Developers Vol. 3: Kaneko
PostPosted: Mon Aug 03, 2020 9:35 pm 



Joined: 10 Feb 2018
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Hello, I'm back for a really long time! I'm currently working on the Kaneko Ripping Project for the VG Resource!
Anyway, I would love to answer these question because there my favorite company, alongside with Toaplan and Jaleco.

First Exposure
The very one was Air Buster when I played it in an online emulator.

Games Associated with them
The Jackie Chan games, Socks The Cat, Chester Cheetah, and of course the Gals Panic series.

Games that stands out
Silhouette Stories, Jackie Chan arcade, Socks The Cat (despite being never released), Air Buster, B.Rap Boys, and Cyvern are excellent titles. Silhouette Stories might be their highest quality yet, with qix and story elements blended in together. Their racing games are good too.

Overall
Kaneko is a company that actually liked now because of their unusual premises and gameplay. Some ideas are actually pretty creative for the time! LIke the D.J. Boy and B.Rap Boys taking place in American culture. But we also can't forget that game based on Bill Clintons cat Socks! Sure it's not purrfect (no pun intended), but it does a good job with political satire and it kinda works. The gameplay is solid though, and i've seen worse.

Some questions: Why did Kaneko USA close? I bet it's for financial reasons since some of their games were obscure and sold poorly. Also, why did Kaneko encounter a lawsuit in 2006? I would want it to end, but who know? Their history is sorta confusing. I think that they became dormant for a REALLY long time.


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 Post subject: Re: Let's Talk Game Developers Vol. 3: Kaneko
PostPosted: Tue Aug 04, 2020 7:08 am 


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Back in the day, Aero Blasters was my one new game of the summer. I've spent an embarrassing amount of time with it. And yet I never burned out, as I can always come back for more.

Later on Nexzr, and while I like that game I don't feel like I've spent any time on it.

More recently Cyvern. This was one I discovered on my own via mame and liked so much I had to go out and get a real thing. This game is an example of boss fights I really enjoy, in that the order you choose to destroy the boss parts is an important part of the strategy, both for scoring and for survival. Also the flow of charging up the banish and then selectively using it on enemies for both points and quick recharges feels great. I still want to try Cyvern Plus some day, but who am I kidding.
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 Post subject: Re: Let's Talk Game Developers Vol. 3: Kaneko
PostPosted: Tue Mar 23, 2021 4:44 pm 


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Recently 1CC'd Kaneko's Mille Miglia: Great 1000 Miles Rally (1994, Arcade)

I'm really into isometric arcade racers like Neo Drift Out and this is one of the best. The feeling of speed is particularly outstanding here. They even included effects like motion blur — pretty cool for a 2D game. There are also some pretty handy shortcuts to be discovered in the tracks, but not on the level of say Over Top.
There are 12 varied tracks and 10 different cars, so the game offers a lot content-wise (compared to say Neo Drift Out's 6 tracks and 2 cars), but the cars only differ visually, in the engine noises and in the flags that are shown at the end of a race.
What I missed here is music during the races. Otherwise, the game is very good at giving off an Italian 50s vibe, which really sets the title apart for me.

It's a bit weird for an arcade game that you can't enter your initials anywhere. :?:

Unfortunately the title was never ported to console, but there's Kaneko's Zen-Nihon GT Senshuken Kai for PS1, if you like this kind of isometric 2D racer.

I'd rate it 8/10


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 Post subject: Re: Let's Talk Game Developers Vol. 3: Kaneko
PostPosted: Sun Mar 28, 2021 11:37 pm 



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To Far Away Times wrote:
I've been playing a bit of Super Star Soldier but I feel like something is off.

The audio/visual component is nice but the difficulty is so whack in this game. Recoveries in the second half of the game seem almost impossible. There's some really dumb shit in here too, like if you have the pea shooter against the final form of the final boss its pretty much impossible since you do so little damage and the boss multiplies over time. And there are lots of areas where having the wrong weapon will make certain sections or bosses incredibly painful.

I thought this game was pretty well regarded but I don't know. I'm sorta pushing though on it since I'm fairly close but it's definitely a "C" or less game to me. It's no Blazing Lazers/Gunhed or Soldier Blade, that's for sure.


At one time, NEC was seriously considering Super Star Soldier named as "Blazing Lazers 2" but decided to go with the SSS name title instead for the TurboGrafx-16 Turbochip release back in the day.

Suppose if Compile had given Gunhed/Blazing Lazers a mere five or six stages (instead of the whopping nine stage marathon session) & did away with the reappearances of the end-stage bosses from the previous stages -- it'd surely be a meaner/leaner stg title indeed.

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 Post subject: Re: Let's Talk Game Developers Vol. 3: Kaneko
PostPosted: Mon Mar 29, 2021 7:49 pm 


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Rip isometric racers, Kaneko and Visco were the best companies developing titles on that genre (backfire! by data east is also great but that's the only game they ever produced).
I still need to fully get into Zen-Nihon GT Senshuken Kai, the amount of memorization that game requires is absurd.

Gals Panic is the best shmup series ever.
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 Post subject: Re: Let's Talk Game Developers Vol. 3: Kaneko
PostPosted: Tue Mar 30, 2021 7:02 am 


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KAI wrote:
Gals Panic is the best shmup series ever.

Secret info: the planner of the Gals Panic S series was previously a planner at NMK, working on Gunnail, Macross II, and P-47 Aces among others. He also planned Change Air Blade. As such, maybe not so much of a coincidence that they're kinda shmuppy :wink: I seem to recall that the S actually stands for Shooting even.
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 Post subject: Re: Let's Talk Game Developers Vol. 3: Kaneko
PostPosted: Tue Mar 30, 2021 10:39 am 


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Interesting tidbit of info there! I recently nabbed a copy of Silhouette Stories, haven't played it yet though.

@KAI

Zen-Nihon GT Senshuken Kai doesn't indicate corners, which I found a bit jarring. I guess it also plays a bit more sim-like. Haven't played the predecessor on Super Famicom yet, but it seems much more like a reskin of Mille Miglia; it has the same arrows and appears to have a pretty good sense of speed.

I think I'm gonna have to start a new thread just for these games. ;)


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 Post subject: Re: Let's Talk Game Developers Vol. 3: Kaneko
PostPosted: Thu Apr 01, 2021 6:38 pm 



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@trap15 Oh my, thank you for letting me know the Gals Panic S information! I didn't know that.
@CIT Silhouette Stories for the PS1 is my favorite Kaneko game by far. But it's such a shame that it never left Japan, maybe if Kaneko USA lived longer. And speaking of Kaneko USA, why do they close down? I'm trying to find reasons why.


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