After finally getting an X1 tape drive, I can now play Laser Planet! I bought it a few months ago on Mercari even though I couldn’t immediately use it, because it was a good deal.
However, one doesn’t simply play Laser Planet. It requires dB-BASIC in order to run. So you load dB-BASIC first and then you change the tape and load Laser Planet.
I don’t generally expect a lot from BASIC games because I tend to assume it’s too slow to push graphics around in an exciting way, but this game manages to pull it off well. I suppose that’s the advantage of the programmable character generator, it isn’t pushing graphics around so much as it’s pushing characters around, which BASIC can do pretty well.
The object is to bomb targets to make the lase beams disappear, allowing you to proceed to the next target. Bomb all the targets and land your spacecraft to claim victory! I think. I haven’t beat level one yet.
The X1 series of computer has a proprietary CMT (tape player) port, and the tape players are also kind of special, and they are prone to failure. So if you see a working one on Yahoo for auction, you shouldn’t be surprised to see it get up to about 20000 yen.
But I found one in a bulk-lot auction, and I saw the potential to get it quite a bit cheaper. So I bought the whole lot for about 30000 yen and am now in the process of seeing how much I’ll be able to get back by selling unneeded items. The tape drive was untested, but fortunately, it works!
So after having Mario Bros. Special for about a year or so, I was finally able to play it. Well, that’s not entirely true, I’ve been playing it all along as a disk image via the HxC floppy emulator, but using the original was a first!
The tape drive is a little unique in that the controls are digital. Unlike most tape players, you don’t really push the buttons “in”, it’s more like clicking the buttons like a VCR. It gives it a more technologically sophisticated feeling.
This is a pretty top-notch X1 Turbo Z game! It has vibrant and beautiful artwork and displays over the 24KHz video mode if your monitor supports it. The menu selection cursor moves smoothly and the entire screen scrolls more smoothly than most on this system. Here are some photos from the pre-introduction.
The introduction is filled with nice artwork. They really put some effort into this, and it shows. It appears that the amulet the princess wears in the introduction is cursed and turns her to stone. The story begins here.
The sound is quite impressive, too! It uses the FM synthesis for the soundtrack, and unlike some other RPGs I’d played on this system before, this soundtrack is complex and varied. Sound effects are also nicely done. It even includes some digitized speech scattered throughout the game.
Some digitized speech appears in the introduction. Umm. It’s early digitized speech, so I can totally cut it some slack, but… this timing. If you watch the below video, just as the video is about to end, the text says “She had a smile like the sun and a voice than rang like a bell throughout the land.” And then she speaks, and… well… just watch the video.
That said, they use the digitized speech to good effect elsewhere, for example when the demon speaks. Legitimately, that should stay, it sounds really good!
The gameplay is a bit like Castlevania II, you walk around towns and dungeons in a 2D platform world. As opposed to Castlevania II, though, there are some proper establishments in this game, including magic shops, weapon shops, banks, churches, and fortune tellers. Use the bank to save money you don’t need, because if you die you lose all the money you are carrying. Visit the fortune teller to save your game. Each business owner has their own distinct personality.
And then there are the dungeons. The controls for combat are straightforward and work pretty well. The game automatically makes you slash upward if there is an enemy above, and you can also slash down if you are goinng to fall onto an enemy. You can even squash enemies with hovering platforms in some locations.
As I mention from time to time, I enjoy checking out and using productivity apps on my old machines. I recently joined Mercari and I found this little treasure nobody wanted.
It’s Shogun, a word processor for the Sharp X1 Turbo Z. Yes, you need to go all the way to the Z model, because it comes on high-density floppy disks. Actually, the disk claims it’s for X1 Turbo, so it was probably released on double-density floppy disks, as well.
When you boot up, you are greeted by this beautiful opening screen. I had to get an animation of it!
But once you get down to business, the glamour of the fancy title screen fades away quickly and you are greeted by a blindingly white screen.
I’ll need to go back and take some better screenshots sometime. They looked pretty good on my phone, but uploading to full size they are quite blurry. For now, here are my low-quality captures of my text-typing adventures. The images kind of tell the story as I go, if you can read them First in English:
Then a Japanese entry tutorial. Figuring out how to enter Japanese was a bit counter-intuitive, because they re-purposed the kana key on the keyboard. So I had to tell the menu to use full-width entry, then to use Japanese by pressing the kana key on the keyboard, which normally only allows you to type in using direct Japanese symbols, which is an outdated method of text entry. The software is smart enough to use romaji entry, so might as well take advantage of that, for sure!
And one more type-up in pure Japanese. It was nowhere near as smooth to type as it is in modern Windows, but I could get the hang of it a bit.
This is a game I received as part of a large batch of images a while back (thanks, Chris!). I tried it tonight for the first time. I *knew* this was going to be interesting just by the first screen.
Gosh, I just don’t know! How about the first one, I guess? But it didn’t take long to figure out what was what.
Actually it’s a little deceiving, the demo isn’t actually a demo. What they’re really asking is if you want to watch the introduction (four looping screens with some simple animation), or just load the game directly. Kind of wish that was a standard option, to reduce waiting for unnecessary loading time for those who are ready to just jump in. But some of the graphics in the opening screens are nicely done.
The game is a lot less straightforward action and a lot more exploring than similar games. As is often the case, I couldn’t get very far. I explored about twenty screens or so and usually I end up dying by stepping on a landmine. Maybe there’s an option to detect them? Or maybe if I can keep that guy alive at the beginning, he shows me where to go without stepping on a landmine? I’m not sure, because he keeps disappearing after getting to the first enemy barracks. Captured? Beats me!
It can sometimes be a bit challenging without a manual, actually. I played the game for quite a while before I learned you could crawl by pressing the tab key. I sometimes press every key if I get stuck in a game, but there are a lot of combinations because I may have mistakenly pressed the kana key, which puts it in a different mode, or some games only recognize upper-case key presses, which I often forget about.
There was a saved game file on the disk so I loaded it just to see what it was like, but I probably won’t go back to it. Definitely better to figure the game out for myself!