Thursday, 27 August 2015

Cadillacs and Dinosaurs - Arcade

Not the most exciting start image, I know.

It's not the first amalgamation I'd consider if someone said "Put two things together and make a game with it from an original comic book" and while I might have chosen Dinosaurs, because they're dinosaurs after all, it's unlikely I'd have chosen Cadillacs. Likely I'd have opted for Dragons and Dungeons... no wait...

Odd when the language doesn't match the threat.

Cadillacs and Dinosaurs started originally as a comic book series in the late 80's, set in post-apocalyptic world where pollution and disasters ransacked the planet, people moved underground for centuries and when they came back to the surface, dinosaurs were around again. Our two main protagonists, Jack and Hannah, fix cars and science dinosaurs respectively while trying to survive in a world where driving down to the corner-shop is likely to get your head chomped by something large and scaly. (Not using a mom joke there...)

I get to punch out T-Rex looking things, awesome.

From this, in steps Capcom to publish Cadillacs and Dinosaurs as a brawl-em-up. Take your two main chars, add in a few extra minor chars, give them some pointless stats details and have them punch, kick and fight their way through multiple enemies, levels, bosses of both human and dinosaur in nature, and some enemies that are a little of both. The special skills are laughable at best, "Good Skill", "Items", "A move everyone else already has" and "Useless" are pretty much the spectrum on that one.

I don't get the appeal of driving a Caddy, but I do get the appeal of running mooks down.

In so far as a plot is concerned, our intrepid heroes embark on a journey to stop poachers from killing dinosaurs and selling the skins, get ambushed on the way home and find out it was a ploy by some nutcase in a lab coat who wishes to fuse humans and dinosaurs together through 'Science' and become the perfect being. Sadly this was doomed from the start as he never wished to become me, oh how fickle life is. Cue this as a reason to fight your way through multiple levels featuring bosses, returning bosses, dual bosses, transformation bosses, bosses that become standard enemies and effectively hitting all the usual feature one might find in the arcade gaming tropes section. Even the obligatory sewer level and elevator level turn up.

No, no mix tapes were dropped here, someone started this fire.

You're not alone in Cadillacs and Dinosaurs (Of which the Caddy rarely turns up but thankfully the dinosaurs do) you've a wealth of weapons to help you ranging from pistols to shotguns, clubs, rifles, rocket launchers, grenades, dynamite and knives with the usual smattering of arcade brawling food items and points items to help push you up onto the bonus lives limits. Depending upon the machine you're playing on, you can have 2-3 players on screen at once trying to work out which dinosaurs are nice/nasty and which enemy is about to hit you before your mates screw it up and take you down by accident.

"Parts to include in beat-em-ups, #12 A boss rush of previous bosses: Check"

I can't say that I know of the source comics or the cartoon series (which may or may not have come out after the game anyway) but as a game, Cadillacs and Dinosaurs shows that the motion and controls are fluid and quite responsive. Running is done easily with a double tap in a direction, jumping and fighting is pulled off easily while the use of weapons and items comes fairly intuitively. There's little difference between the main characters in choice of skills and abilities, they all have combos, they call can run and jump and attack, they all have the "2 button" desperation attack that floors everything around themselves and costs a small amount of health in the process.

"Parts to include in beat-em-ups, #8 Elevator/Lift/Funicular sections: Check"

Graphically everything looks ok, though there's a little chuckle to oneself when you see the Twin Towers stood next to some new-age Mesopotamian Pyramid, maybe they rebuilt it. The levels don't seem to have the same attention to detail one might expect from Capcom and the detail on the standard enemies is somewhat lacking for quite a few of them, however the focus on the dinosaurs and dino-related creatures is sublime and there's a guilty pleasure in punching out a T-Rex type dinosaur while body slamming a boss into several standard enemies.

Thankfully, that IS his final form.

Cadillacs and Dinosaurs also delivers on the sounds, solid and loud explosions, synthed voices punctuating screams and shouts of triumph and jubilation as well as a rather overly enthusiastic "GO" sign that pops up when you need to progress to the right for more fighting. The music however doesn't seem to have been considered suitably for the project in that you can go from 20 seconds of intense rooftop fighting, to a jazzy number in a chaotic hallway before going back outside to a epic, adrenaline inducing rush of music before the boss turns up and it becomes a lower key tune that doesn't have the same rush. It gives the impression that whoever assigned the music didn't have the same ideas as the person that composed it.

STFU! I've got more credits!

Sadly for an arcade game, Cadillacs and Dinosaurs doesn't have much of a replay factor. Once you've beaten it you might give it another go and use another character but there's little deviation from the standard play here. Even before you've beaten it, chances are you've seen everything already and there's little reason to come back and go through it again. Which is a shame as it's quite the fun game to play.

Thursday, 20 August 2015

Lucky and Wild - Arcade

Not the best title, try Cars and Guns

It's not quite on the rails shooter fun, it's not quite off the rails shooter fun, but the sheer idea alone of being able to drive down the street using a sit-down racer and then slap two extra guns into the dashboard, makes for a lot of fun assuming one player doesn't mind not being able to drive and just shoots things. Lucky and Wild actually brings something a little unique to the mix-up of sprite based light gun/joystick games.

Nope, not seeing the appeal of coming to this place. Not at all... ... Maybe...

It rides upon the idea of Lucky is an upstanding member of society, straight laced and smartly dressed with a reserved personality, Wild is a gung-ho crazy man who lets the trigger talk more than his mouth but never has a bad thing to say about anyone, together they fight crime and drive around town getting into more scrapes and driving mishaps than the Blues Brothers do. (Don't watch the 2000 film though).

This guy gets off lightly with just a Road Rash beating.

So what we have in Lucky and Wild is a 2 player shooter where one player also has to be dexterous enough to drive AND shoot while the second player just shoots. As such there's the accelerator and brake pedals (no clutch thankfully, we drive automatic here) and in the right hand for player one is a gun, while player 2 just gets the gun and has no control over where player one is driving aside from punching them in the arm if they drive into hazards. The arm punching becomes a quick and effective control method.

Drive and gun, shoot anything and everything that moves while player 1 drives and shoots.

Lucky and Wild plays out like an 80s cop show involving fast car chases and excessive levels of inaccurate gunfire from everyone involved. Except for the gunfire part. Our two protagonists will happily spout phrases and warnings and become more and more upset while their beloved car (which is about as much of a character in this as our heroes) takes more and more damage because the players are either not driving around trouble or not killing/destroying threats fast enough.

I can hear the Peter Gunn theme in the distance... From here to Chicago.

Each level within Lucky and Wild, has a boss and with that boss is a timer to take them down and decipher their weakness. For example, the first boss cannot be shot or blown up and is only defeated if you kill everyone on board (including guys with rockets and grenades) when they pop out to take a shot at you. Later bosses include trucks, monster trucks and more automobile related fun. While at the end of each level you get to go to a cat girl themed repair shop (a sort of cat-house I guess...) and the points/score you earn are converted into replenished health and an abundance of lipstick marks over our heroes faces.

Get points, score bonus, gather health.

The music and sound effects complement each other like Miley Cyrus does a Wrecking ball, badly and worth seeing once but you then wish you hadn't. The sound effects are over the top and actually add to the high paced action of the game while the music tends to be drowned out though what you can hear, fits almost perfectly as a theme tune to an 80s/90s cop show with a fast car. But for the most parts it's the onomatopoeic noises of Booms, Bangs and Phoomps (I'm claiming this one) that will ring out through the speakers in this arcade more than anything else.

More tank than truck, and this is one of the easier bosses.

Overall, Lucky and Wild is worth the play but I'd recommend having two players for the experience, some of the sections can be brutally painful on the health bar with the act of being swamped and swarmed by grenades, rockets, bombs, choppers, bikes, gunmen and plenty more, ALL AT ONCE. But then it's clear that some of these parts are just credit sucks to empty your pocket out, it's not impossible to beat the game on a credit but could end up being more effort than it's actually worth doing.
That's the best body work I've seen after all the bullets and bombs it took earlier

Friday, 14 August 2015

Battletoads - Arcade, Rare Replay

Or don't and save your cash.

Take the premise of a morning cartoon show. Grab some animals, make them humanoid and muscular, give them attitude and over the top muscle physiques and set them against even bigger and more muscular characters and you've basically gotten every anthropomorphic cartoon you could imagine. Now set it in a video game and you've got Battletoads. Following the lovably named Zitz, Rash and Pimple, the trifecta of getting oneself down to the doctors, we watch as these beefed up toads decide to win a space war against a colourful assortment of characters by punching, kicking, slamming, fly-munching, bulldozing and chainsaw-knee-blading (I wish I was making this up) their way through level after level until the last boss is killed. What probably doesn't help here is that Battletoads became a cartoon show after the first game was made, then the arcade game came later.

Kicked a pig, in the arse.... Wow...

The game switches between styles of play. From the pseudo 3D brawler we expect from games like Final Fight, to a straight up 2D flat affair as if Street Fighter or Mortal Kombat became a platformer with more enemies, rather akin to the Batman Forever game on the SNES and Megadrive. Thankfully there's not nightmare of a level where you're driving constantly to dodge obstacles...

When there's Snow more room in Hell, Bod will play this shit game.

Interestingly, each of the Battletoads has an assortment of situational-dependent attacks. Enemies on both sides? Attack will hit both. Enemy on the ground and weighs a lot? You grow a huge boot and plant it up their backside to launch them into the screen or through the 4th wall. Enemy on the ground? You'll drill/spike/crush them, while charging and attacking will cause your Battletoad to develop a Quarterback Helmet/Bulldozer blades or a big fist to smash the enemies. Leaping and attacking can cause your Battletoad to expose a leg-axe, knee chainsaw or worse. The fighting and action is as cartoony as it is inventive.

Something for the vore fans I guess.

The cohesion between levels jumps back and forth like a cat overdosing on catnip. One moment you're on a battleship punching a bull in the balls (no joke) and the next you're in an ice cave covered with snow while icicles fall upon you, reindeer try to gore you with their antlers and then a giant snake living in a ribcage tries to devour you while it's away from its internet-connection, otherwise I'm at a loss as to how it managed to insult you at the start of the level during the cut scene. Then it's another spaceship with a multi-stage boss, followed by a drop down a long passageway while punching out pigs and spiked-up abominations then finally a palace with a spike pit that looks like the same architects from Double Dragon have been around. The last level changes it up entirely to have the battletoads riding a ship while shooting in 8 directions in a sort of mix between Gradius and that FPS mode in Aliens.

Don't worry, you won't fight her. Not unless you play Battletoads Double Dragon.

Enemies range from rats and bulls to snakes and big, hulked out, larger forms of rats and bulls. The larger enemies tend to take several rounds of beating before being finished in rather "unique" ways (I did mention earlier with the balls...) leading to several comical instances through the game until you realise you'll see it almost EVERY time that you happen upon such an enemy, where upon the novelty quickly wears off, especially when you're punching someone's lights out, stuck in the combat animation while someone else runs up behind you can smacks you over the back of the head with a wrench for 3/4s of your health.

Another poor attempt at humour, punching a giant rat, in the cock.

Musically, I could miss this and not even realise, the problem with the game isn't the music which sounds remarkably suitable for the Megadrive rather than an arcade game. There's a lack of uniqueness in the music but then again it is overruled by the sound effects and biffs pows and slams of melee action and enemies being ball-punched, flattened, slaughtered and annihilated by the sheer fun that is the action. Could have been a lot better in retrospect if there was more focus here.

Another one of those, utterly unfair bullshit modes where you avoid spending more money.

All things being said, this game might as well have a hosepipe planted straight into your pocket and sucking out all of your credits/quarters/coins and what have you. Run out of those it'll happily strip you naked just for a few more moments of gaming with virtually no progression. There's parts of the levels where you'll make good and steady progress and then there's parts that will let you get 1-2 hits in and then kill you almost outright. Health regens are far and few between and regain so very little of the health system back that it's barely worth even trying to eat the flies. It's an unfair game, solely based around completely slaughtering your cash level for a few more minutes and isn't worth the play through just to get to realise you don't fight what is infamously known as the Dark Queen as a final boss, she barely even is seen or mentioned in the game.

Stick to the other games, this one can burn.