Xevious

This is probably the most interesting game from a media perspective. It’s Xevious for my Sharp X1 D, which means it’s one of those newfangled 3″disks. I’d never seen one before. It’s kind of interesting. Thicker than a 3.5″ disk, open slot for reading media like a 5.25″ disk. Not exactly sure of its capacity at the moment.

It was bought untested, and since it’s my first disk for this computer, the drive is also untested, and that’s an uncomfortable combination. And to be sure, things did not go great at first. My first attempt yielded the following sequence:

This is complete failure, it didn’t even recognize the boot sector. But for some reason, with vintage computers, if you try the same thing repeatedly, sometimes you get different results. They may still not be good results, but they may be different. Attempt 2:

It’s not really any more beautiful, and the end result was the same, but it did find something and tried to boot the game. That’s definitely a step in the right direction. Attempt 3:

That fourth screen was a little unnerving, and the disk repeatedly went back and forth from beginning to end of disk, but it did eventually load. Basically successful! I tried one more time and it worked about 70% faster, so I figure this is a victory. I think the disk drive or disk just needed to stretch its legs a little bit after so much disuse.

Too bad I’m not very good at this game. Oh well! It was fun watching it come to life.

Shanghai

Growing up in America, I thought Mahjong was a game of picking up matching tiles. I had OS/2 and it included a game called Mahjong which was exactly that. But in Japan, Mahjong is very different, a complicated game of strategy often centered around covert gambling that I don’t even remotely understand. In Japan, what we call Mahjong, they call Shanghai, and is often played with Mahjong tiles.

This game is simple and the only sound effect it produces is a beep, hardly fitting of the machine’s multimedia capabilities. But actually, it is designed for the Turbo series. It probably works on older machines, too, but it uses two features that the Turbo series has to offer: high-res graphics mode and the mouse.

High-res graphics are not unusual for the Turbo series. But this is a shining example of how different it is. On a tile, there are a variety of objects and pictures: numbers 1 to 9 in various formats, directions (North, South, East, West), trees (orchid, bamboo, plum, chrysanthemum), etc. The high-res graphics mode offers such a crisper image that makes them much easier on the eyes.

Mouse support, on the other hand, that’s rare! The graphics tool and music composer that were included with the X1 Turbo Z both use it, but as for games, this is the only one I’ve run across so far that has mouse support. It can also be played with the joystick or keyboard, but the mouse is o much more natural for this kind of game.

Shanghai appears to be a game of mere chance and persistence, but actually there is a bit of strategy involved, too. For example, usually you have to pick up identical tiles, but the four trees and the four seasons can be matched amongst themselves, so it pays to leave those until you need to play them, so you know which ones will be most beneficial. Or if there are three of a tile free, making sure you pick the tile that will allow access to a new tile, or get you closer to a tile that you want to access. Still, there are definitely unwinnable rounds, because two matching tiles can be stacked upon one another at the end.

Here is a progression of the board as I go down from 100% to 75% to 50% to 25% to 12.5%.

And finally the winning screen. I didn’t actually win tonight’s game, I got stuck at 12.5%, but I’d won and taken a picture of it before, so there it is, the reward for my persistence.

Don’t think of it as a spoiler, it looks much nicer in person! Give it a (few) tries!

Jelda II

I am not big on cockpit-view flight games of any kind, but this game has a very pleasant aesthetic and I enjoyed it a bit just to see how the scenes changed throughout the game. As expected, it’s a bit sluggish as it’s trying to render even these simple graphics, it is how I remember every flight sim of the day. But it has a certain charm. Not a bad way to have spent thirty minutes. Don’t think I’ll be rushing back to it, but I won’t say I’ll never try it again.

Punch Ball Mario Bros.

Now this is a fairly odd one. It is definitely Mario Bros., but at the same time, kind of different. The main premise of this game is, instead of jumping, you throw a ball at your enemies to flip them over. Then you can kick them off the level like usual. You can still jump, but that’s not the way to kill your enemies. Although kind of counter-intuitive, there is only one button active in this game, so you have to learn the timing to make sure you’re jumping when you want to jump, and throwing when you want to throw.

The coin level on phase three is nearly the same. The same selection of baddies try to attack you. The fireballs come out at level three. Your partner in crime – Luigi, is also available for the fight. So there is a lot of familiarity in this game if you’ve played Mario Bros. before.

But sometimes there are surprises, too. For example, the top and bottom platforms on level 5 move, which is something you really need to take into consideration when an enemy may stay on the platform longer or shorter than expected depending on the direction of the movement. Another example, instead of a coin coming along after you kill every enemy, a single coin appears at the top of the screen. However, it doesn’t move, and if you don’t get the coin after each enemy, you lose the opportunity to collect that enemy’s coin.

Another unique point about this game is that it runs in 400-line (high-res) mode. This is the first arcade classic (albeit with a big twist) that I’ve encountered where you can choose to run in 400-line mode.

Woody Poco

Tonight I tried out Woody Poco. I had been under the misconception that you played a woodpecker, but actually you play a wooden boy. It seems to be an adventure game where you can save your progress as you go. It’s a bit hard because I sometimes run into enemies that can kill me in one hit, so I’ve only explored about eight overworld screens, but the game is so far quite fun and shows a decent amount of depth.

The overworld is bright and vibrant but can turn dark and dangerous at night. At one point, shooting stars attacked me but later in the game I found some kind of cross and a helmet, so perhaps that is protecting me, or maybe the shooting stars only appear on certain screens.

From the overworld screen, so far, there are two other kinds of screens to be accessed – underground holes and buildings. You can buy, sell, give, or trade items in different locations that help you progress through the game. Many stores say they only serve women, so I am guessing you need to find someone else on your quest who complements you in your journey and you can then go back to previously inaccessible locations.

There haven’t been many kinds of enemies, but one in particular was kind of interesting – the old men. By default they are jolly and blue in color, and they only bump into you and hurt you a bit, taking a bit of your money in the process. But if you try to attack them, they turn violent and bright red, becoming incredibly powerful. They will charge at high speed and kill you. So they’re just something to put up with, it seems, not fight against, but maybe later you can get revenge.

It’s another game with 400-line graphics (640×400) and FM sound, the graphics look quite good compared to the previous game I was playing (Euphory), but the music is similarly short and repetitive.