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 Post subject: Let's Talk Game Developers Vol. 2: Video System
PostPosted: Sat May 16, 2020 1:41 pm 


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Joined: 30 Jun 2005
Posts: 4470
Location: Berlin, Germany
Since we started with VISCO, I guess it makes sense to cover Video System next, as both companies share the same origin story.

They entered the industry in 1985 with a bunch of adult mahjong games (which would remain one of their main lines of business), released the first memorable title, Rabio Lepus, in 1987, and established several semi-successful franchises: F1 Grand Prix series, Super Volleyball/Power Spikes series, and of course the Sonic Wings games. After the release of Sonic Wings in 1992 the development team under Shinsuke Nakamura split off to form Psikyo. Video System largely moved to the Neo Geo Platform from then, but apparently faced difficulties securing development know-how. In later years, they produced a respectable 3D rendition of their shoot 'em up series for the N64 in the shape of Sonic Wings Assault and outsourced development for 3D F1 Grand Prix racing games to Ubisoft, before eventually fading away.

Questions for discussion:

- What was your first exposure to Video System?
- 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?


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What was your first exposure to Video System?

Rabio Lepus for PC Engine was the first game I played, but I didn't really become aware of Video System as a developer until I really dug into the Neo Geo library and played Sonic Wings 2 & 3 and Power Spikes II.

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

Definitely the Sonic Wings series.

What do you think is their stand-out title?

Sonic Wings 3 and Sonic Wings Limited are the most put-together of the lot, imo, and probably their most "quality" games. However, I really like the Idol Mahjong Final Romance series, too.

I also think their excursions into different genres — with decidedly mixed results — in the early 90s are pretty interesting. Even when terrible (i.e. Tao Taido or Turbo Force) the games are still kind of oddly satisfying in that b-movie way. :shock:
Karate Blazers and Spinal Breakers are OK. The latter for sure has one of the best needlessly complicated plots in arcade games ever, with Captain Waffle (:lol:) and his family's quest against the sentient, time-travelling "hildroids". :lol: :lol:
Then there's the awesome over the top Bakuretsu Crash Race (Lethal Crash Race) that applies Sonic Wings' quirkiness to a top-down racer (Lamborjini, Borsche, and Mursedes-Banz :lol: )

Overall, what is your image of their games?

I like how there's this common thread of quirky humor and bizarre characters running through all their games and their multiple endings, and how everyone seems to eventually end up being cast in a Sonic Wings game. Another point I observe across most of their games is that they have a kind of "light" feeling, maybe due to the weak sound effects and damage feedback the player gets, but often you don't feel like you're really tearing into your opponents like you feel in a lot of other games. It's similar to the sense I get from a lot of Psikyo games.

I used to feel Video System shooters were just a budget version of a Psikyo game, but now I actually like the Sonic Wings series better than some of the early Psikyo output. Apparently the first Sonic Wings made quite an impact, especially in Japanese arcades, in when it was released, and I can see why it would have really stood out with it's fast paced gameplay and short stages. Shooters would definitely be different thereafter, and for that contribution to the evolution of the genre I'm grateful.* Thanks Video System! :mrgreen:

*As well as their crowning innovation in form of the HYPER-Active Continuation and Buy-In "ADD-A-COIN" Feature!!!** :shock:
**That's what I'm going to call credit feeding from now on. :lol:

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Last edited by CIT on Sun May 17, 2020 9:40 am, edited 5 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Let's Talk Game Developers Vol. 2: Video System
PostPosted: Sat May 16, 2020 2:04 pm 


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Oh man, I had no idea the best-named game with the best-named protagonist - SPINAL BREAKERS feat CAPTAIN WAFFLE - was theirs! :shock:

- What was your first exposure to Video System?

Strictly speaking, it was the Genesis version of Super Volleyball, which had some coverage in EGM. I found the straight-on sidescroller perspective bizarre, compared to the beltscrolling Technos fan favourite Super Dodge Ball (NES). These games are totally unrelated, of course, but as a kid dreaming of a 16bit SDB, it seemed a step back. (very little arcade presence where I grew up - outside of holidays to the US/UK, the only arcade Technos I encountered was the ubiquitous Double Dragon)

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Is that Captain Waffle? :o

For actual play, it was a few rentals of SNES Sonic Wings, or more correctly Aero Fighters. I liked it well enough, not being an STG connoisseur, but having a long-held fondness for the genre, and enough nous to spot the better devs. In more recent years, I was considering getting the SFC version. Then I learned it involved former Micronics Staff, never encouraging - and then I learned they also worked on the PCB, so, uh... :lol: (FWIW I loved their NES Twin Cobra as a kid, and I still think it's okayish now, albeit with a few nasty bugs). Left it alone for now.

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

Sonic Wings, unsurprisingly. Getting older, I really appreciate the value of those silly characters. Lots of passive exposure via forum avatars, signatures, etc - even relatively casual gamers love those goofy intermissions.

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

I like Sonic Wings 2 a lot. It's relentless and "manic" with comfy ship speeds and hitboxes, but it still feels decidedly old-school. Lots of Fast Aimed Shots™ to manipulate. Been working on a 2-ALL with Mao Mao, on and off. I don't think I can comment with much authority on the rest of their catalogue, for me they're mostly the SW guys.

- Overall, what is your image of their games?

I'm glad to see the slightly lacking hit feedback mentioned in the OP - that's something I think Psikyo eventually grew out of, starting with the first Strikers (Sengoku Ace and Gunbird still have a touch of it). It's not bad enough to make me write off VS, but it's definitely something I've come to expect from their STGs.

Interestingly, Dragon Blaze's quick-but-weak normal shot feels slightly Video System - but of course it's deliberate here, meant for zako-sniping, with the monstrously powerful and impactful Dragon Shot dealing brutal damage to large enemies at close range.

Solid B-tier developer with a good grasp of character appeal and a strong legacy in Psikyo.

Also, while technically nothing to do with VS themselves - Aero Fighters 3 and Power Spikes 2 were the epicenter for one of the greatest internet soap operas ever, so there's that too. :cool:
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Last edited by BIL on Sat May 16, 2020 6:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Let's Talk Game Developers Vol. 2: Video System
PostPosted: Sat May 16, 2020 6:07 pm 


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Ahh... Video System... Must have met them in magazines for Lepus coverage way back then. Then The SFC Sonic Wings... In both cases, it took me a while to recgnize their name as developers. Oddily enough I must have thought that Lepus was an Irem game, and Sonic Wings I had filed it as Psikyo for obvious reasons...
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 Post subject: Re: Let's Talk Game Developers Vol. 2: Video System
PostPosted: Sat May 16, 2020 10:59 pm 


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My first exposure to them was Turbo Force. The games I knew them better for were of course Sonic Wings and Super Volleyball, but that's it: Their games have more style than substance IMHO, with their standout title of course being Aero Fighters 2. Beyond that, they were mediocre at best in my eyes, their quality way below what Taito, Capcom, Konami and Data East were churning out at the time.
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 Post subject: Re: Let's Talk Game Developers Vol. 2: Video System
PostPosted: Sun May 17, 2020 2:53 am 


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Isn't Sonic Wings Special, to this very day, the only one consoles-exclusive game supporting tate? Real Special shmup in a way R-Type Final tried to be. Let me tell you that if I knew someone who would try combining character of time-stopping bomb and one of point-blanking second weapon against certain bosses with me, surely I'd be a somebody else you've known.
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 Post subject: Re: Let's Talk Game Developers Vol. 2: Video System
PostPosted: Tue May 19, 2020 10:26 pm 



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 Post subject: Re: Let's Talk Game Developers Vol. 2: Video System
PostPosted: Tue May 26, 2020 10:02 pm 


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Joined: 14 Aug 2019
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I remember playing the Europe-exclusive 'F-1 World Grand Prix II' on the N64 with my uncle back in the day, which would be my first exposure – we even had a steering wheel. Was merely published by Video System, but they did develop the GBC and Dreamcast versions. These days I can't really be bothered to play simulation racers though, or much of anything on the N64 :P

Other than that, I'm clearly thinking of the Sonic Wings series any time I'm picking up the name.


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 Post subject: Re: Let's Talk Game Developers Vol. 2: Video System
PostPosted: Wed May 27, 2020 2:13 am 


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Slightly OT, but I wonder how Video System ended up licensing titles to the developer of Pilotwings 64. The developer of that and the N64 F1 World Grand Prix games also made Aero Fighters Assault.


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 Post subject: Re: Let's Talk Game Developers Vol. 2: Video System
PostPosted: Thu May 28, 2020 7:06 pm 


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A buddy of mine runs room parties at local events under the name Waffle. I used to send him Spinal Breakers screenshots all the time, my favorite was something like "Waffle grabbed his magnum missile launcher". Not just any missile launcher, a Magnum.
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