AquaLes

This is one of the first games I got for the X68000. It made a big impression on me for its large sprites and vibrant, colorful backgrounds. It plays super smoothly and a great feeling of control, all set to a cool soundtrack.

Here are a few shots of many of the very cool scenes from the intro.

Your character is a giant robot that traverses freely in an omni-scrolling 2D world. You have a variety of weapons at your disposal with which to dispose of your enemies. There is a lot of detail in the background and some complex but fun maneuvers, such as vertical attacks and grappling to swing across large gaps.

Levels 2 and 3 are totally different in design from level 1. You leave the industrial complex of level 1 to walk through a desert and then descend into an underwater maze. Level 3 takes place in a cavern.

Pac-Land and Controller

I have been after this controller for quite a while. It’s a dedicated Pac-Land controller designed to mimic the arcade controls on your X68000. It uses three buttons, defaulting to: left, jump, and right. These are configurable in the in-game menu. This controller was included with the game originally, but is not required to play. However, you may find some parts difficult if you are using a regular joystick, and perhaps nearly impossible with a gamepad.

First, let’s look at the controller itself. It looks in good shape for being around 30 years old. It is a sturdy metal case, not so heavy but definitely with a bit of weight to it. It operates as expected.

I’ve always loved the Pac-Man characters, with their vibrant colors and distinct appearance. And I love the image of the original Pac-Man maze. But if I’m being brutally honest, the game is very simple and these days I can’t play it more than about once in a sitting, and with a fair amount of time between sittings.

Pac-Land and Pac-mania are great evolutions of the original; Pac-mania staying true to what made the original so loved, but adding a lot of new features, while Pac-Land takes a few key elements from the original, but heads in a bold new direction. Both became treasured games in my youth, although I only played them in the arcades. Here are some scenes from this game.

This is very faithful to the original, as X68000 games tend to be. Below is the first critical spot where the custom game controller comes in handy. When you jump off the platform to cross the lake, you crash pretty fast and land in the water, losing a life. To prevent falling, you have to alternatingly press left and right to “flutter” to the ground. I’ve managed to do it on a joystick, but it was after several failures, and it was a very deliberate task, turning the joystick ninety degrees and using my right hand to go up and down as quickly as possible, and even then I don’t always succeed. A D-pad would probably be substantially more difficult still. But these buttons make it a breeze. The jump itself can be a little difficult to nail, though.

Once you pass the lake, you continue a little bit more before you’re rewarded with special jumping boots and you can start to make your way back home. After your family greets you at home, you begin a level similar to the first, but it becomes later in the day and quite a bit more difficult. I haven’t gotten much further than this.

Game over, and this might be my highest score thus far in Pac-Land, but I’m sure it’s not that high compared to people who are actually good at the game. Gotta get in a bit more practice!

Salamander

I’m not much of a shmup (shoot ’em up, a term I wouldn’t have known if not for my friend Chris, the shmup master) kind of guy, but starting with this game, the X68000 is starting to change my mind. When the title screen loaded, it was already a bit breathtaking, with its crisp display and vibrant colors.

And the game itself continued with that. It’s a very colorful and aesthetically pleasing game. But it’s also very engaging. The obstacles in your path are widely varied, forcing you to interact with the environment, not just the enemies and their shots. And the first boss fight was a nice challenge, nothing too aggressive and gives you a chance to get into the game and feel accomplished.

The second level suddenly tilts everything 90 degrees and you’re flying up instead of to the right. The third picture in the gallery below definitely crosses my comfort zone in terms of game intensity, but it was a fun challenge! This is about as far as I’ve got so far, dying at the boss of level 2. But I’ll be back for more!

This machine was made in 1987 and this game in 1988, but honestly, it seems a bit like cheating to call some of these vintage games. The X68000 is so sophisticated compared to most other consumer hardware of the time.

Shanghai

“Shanghai, AGAIN?!” you aggressively wonder. Yes, again. It was the first game I used to test my Sharp X1, Shanghai II was the first game I used to test my PC-8801MA2, and now Shanghai is the first game I used to test my X68000. You might think I have some obsession with the game, but it’s not precisely true. I think I’ll write a comparison post later that goes into greater detail. But for now, this is Shanghai on my X68000.

I bought the original disk from BEEP in Akihabara. It was dirt cheap at 280 yen, because there was no box and there was mold on the disk. I’m sure a disk without mold wouldn’t have cost much more, as even a boxed version would probably sell at 1000 yen, but this was the only copy they had. Of course, I cleaned off any excess mold before using it in my drive. Fortunately, it worked!

It’s standard fare for Shanghai. Find the matching tiles and remove them from the game board until you have cleared it. This game hardly stresses the limits of the X68000, but it is a clean looking version of the game. The only option for game control is the mouse, so if you don’t have that, you’re kinda stuck looking at the game board and planning your first move until your mouse arrives.

Luck was with me once again, as I managed to complete the round to 100% and get the winning screen shot. Here we have my standard progression of 100% ⇒ 75% ⇒ 50% ⇒ 25% ⇒ 12.5% ⇒ last two tiles ⇒ finish.

And a standard picture as well as an animated GIF of the winning screen. Just noticed the GIF is 32MB! Well, load it if you want to, but depending on my server’s response time at any given moment, it could take a while!