Monday, January 27, 2014


Action/City Sim

I've been watching some old episodes of Nick Arcade on Youtube lately, and two things stand out to me about that show now. One is how little a show called Nick Arcade actually featured gaming, and the other is how when they actually did have any gaming, it was usually ActRaiser. From these segments I thought that this was another run of the mill action games, but it ended up being one of the most innovative games that I've played, to this day.

You start this game flying around an overworld. There are about 5 different cities, but they only become available at a certain level. The overworld music is hauntingly beautiful (I read that this game's soundtrack was in fact award winning when it came out.) You start with the first city of Fillmore

A helpful little angel tells you that you have to rid the city of monsters before people can start inhabiting it, so you enter the first action sequence.

In the game's action sequences, the angel inhabits a statue with a sword and is controlled by the player. These sequences are actually the weakest part of the game, but they are still enjoyable and present a decent level of challenge, especially the boss at the end of the action sequence. It took me 4 attempts to beat the boss, so you actually do get a sense of satisfaction from it.

After beating the monster boss, people begin moving into the city. This is the point where the game gets really innovative. It switches from a straightforward action game, to a god simulator/urban planning game. I don't think that very many games from this era featured such a high level of genre bending. When in the city planning stages, you control the angel in a zoomed in version of the overworld and you can use the angel to shoot arrows at assorted flying monsters.  You can also direct the citizens of the city to expand their road network in various directions and to destroy the lairs of the flying monsters which stops the monsters from spawning. You occasionally have to use your god powers to assist the citizens as well (Lightning to clear brush so that the city can expand further, rain to put out burning buildings, etc.)

This continues until you level up and are able to go to the next city. I honestly really enjoyed playing this game and played it for a quite a bit longer than usual for my reviews. Up next, we will see if ActRaiser's sequel can live up to the innovation of the original.


ACME Animation Factory

Hi Everyone, I'm back after a few years...

ACME Animation Factory

ACME Animation Factory
Probe Software Ltd./Sun Corporation of America
Genre: Art and Graphics/Educational

Today I played ACME Animation Factory, a game which fits in unenviable niche of "Mario Paint Clone" but where as Mario Paint was fun, this game clearly was created just with profit in mind. Here's a bit from the Wikipedia article:

"In ACME Animation Factory, the player is given a series of tools to create their own animated cartoons."

Sooo basically, it's Mario Paint, but with Looney Tunes characters and a clunkier interface. This is the first game that I've tested which uses the SNES Mouse accessory, which I'm glad to report is supported by my emulator.

Moving on to gameplay, the first thing that I did was to check out the music creator, because it was one of the few sections that I could reliably figure out what it would be. None of the sections of this game are labelled with text, so you have to just kind of figure out what's going on based on pictograms, I assume that this was to make it easier for younger players, but it just ended up causing a bit of confusion.

As you can see it has a somewhat similar interface to the music creator in Mario Paint, except that the nots are just circles rather than different shapes depending on the "instrument" this presented a bit of a problem to me as I am colorblind (more on that later) so I had trouble telling the difference between the green and yellow as well as blue and purple circles. The other odd thing is that it has a 3/4 time signature by default instead of the more common 4/4. Perhaps waltzes are more wacky and cartoonish?

Next I went to the drawing section of the game.

Please forgive anything that is grossly miscolored in that image, like I said, I'm colorblind so I have trouble with that. I did actually have a bit of childish fun sitting around for 10 minutes coloring this image though. There are multiple different scenes that can be chosen which is an advantage as they feature popular Looney Tunes characters. It also allows you start with a blank page and use simple Microsoft Paint style drawing tools.

Here's one masterpiece that I came up with. I was going to write something funnier with the Text  Tool, but it was a royal pain to use as you had to select each letter individually from a horizontal list (which would only show about 5 letters at a time). Next I went back to the main menu and selected an icon that looked like a Gameboy. What would this be? Some type of Gameboy linkup where you could print your masterpieces using the Gameboy Printer accessory, or even where you could use the Gameboy Camera accessory to import photos that you take into the game to be animated? What an exciting an innovative feature that would have been.

It just brought up a matching game.

I guess the matching game was alright as least because it had the added difficulty of those broken boxes, if you click on one of those you get a strike and three strikes means you're out. So yeah, fun.

After a full 45 seconds or so of the excitement of the matching game, I was bored, so I decided to check out animation.

Here's the animation screen, it was bland and the controls didn't feel good, I don't know, I'm sick of this review and I was really sick of this game by this point. The audio made no real impression on me one way or the other. The End.