Tag Archives: Capcom

The Ghosts ‘n Goblins Saga

I’ve not done any big articles this year as I’ve been busy writing my books. But it’s Halloween time again and I do love me some Halloween. I’m a big horror fan so this time of year is a great excuse to sit around and watch some classic horror films or play some scary games… oh and write some Halloween special articles.

I’ve done some belting Halloween articles over the years, even if I do say so myself. Normally I tend to stick with horror movies for my Halloween specials and rarely give games a mention. This year I’m doing both, I originally had four articles planned, two gaming ones and two film ones (though the same film)… but then something Halloween related came to my attention a few weeks back and so I wrote another one, which ended up becoming very large and I had to split it into two. Anyway, that means I have six Halloween articles coming over the next few days.

So all being told, I have several other Halloween articles coming this week, both film and gaming too but before I get to them, I’m going to kick off my Halloween celebration by covering every game in Capcom’s and Sir Arthur’s ghoulish adventures spanning twenty five years…

Ghosts ‘n Goblins

Released in the arcade in 1985 before being ported to every popular gaming machine at the time. The original Ghosts ‘n Goblins features a simple and classic story. Girl (Princess Prin Prin) get’s kidnapped (by a flying demon) and you (Sir Arthur) have to save her. It’s story is simple, however, Ghosts ‘n Goblins gameplay is anything but. This game’s difficulty is legendary, but before I get to that, a quick look at it’s gameplay.

Ghost N Goblins Poster.jpg

So Ghosts ‘n Goblins is a scrolling action/platformer/shooter. Playing as Sir Arthur, you make your way through graveyards, forests, ghost towns, an underground demon realm and a multi-level castle. All you have to do is make your way from the graveyard at the start and reach the castle at the end. Taking on various enemies like zombies, ravens, mini-devils, skeletons and other spooky foes. Along the way you’ll find various pick-ups from treasure to boost your score and even weapons that can help or even hinder your progress.

Sir Arthur has no health bar, this was the days of real gaming. No health, no save states, no checkpoints. You payed the game from start to end (if you could) with limited lives, lose all your lives and it was game over. Ghosts ‘n Goblins is a legendarily tough challenge, while there is no health bar, Arthur could take two hits before dying. One hit removes his armour and leaves him running around in his undercrackers but another hit after that and you were brown bread.

Ghost N Goblins Death

But the lack of health and limited lives are the least of your worries. This game is old school hard, but one of those where the more you play, the more you learn, so you make little advancements each time you play. But it gets worse… see, even if you do manage to get to the castle at the end and battle you way to the top and come face to face with the mastermind behind the kidnapping of your lass… even  if you do manage to beat the big boss man, Astaroth. You have to go back to the start and finish the whole game again and on a harder difficulty setting too. Ghosts ‘n Goblins is legendarily cruel but also one of the most playable games of the 80s and still is today too. Got it on my Xbox, play it quite often when I feel like punishing myself.

Ghouls ‘n Ghosts

After the success of Ghosts ‘n Goblins, of course there was a sequel. Released in 1988 for the arcades before (again) being ported to every popular system at the time. This time around, Princess Prin Prin isn’t kidnapped, she’s killed and her soul taken, along with all the souls of the citizens of the kingdom by Lucifer himself. Arthur sets out once more to take on the big red bastard and get back all those stolen souls.

Ghouls N Ghosts Magic.jpg

The baisc gameplay for the original is back with a few tweaks. Arthur can now shoot in more directions, up and down instead of just left and right. The levels themselves are much more varied and exploreable. The weapons have been improved and there is now the addition of golden armour which adds another power level to your weapon and magic attacks. Then there are the hidden secrets when you jump is specific spots and uncover a hidden chest that could contain a nice bonus or a not so nice booby prize. You still have to make your way through various spooky levels battling demons and the undead. It’s essentially the same basic game, but with many, many refinements.

Oh and there is something else carried over for the original too, the difficulty. Now I personally didn’t find Ghouls ‘n Ghosts as hard as the first game, but it’s still bloody hard. And yes, that damn fake ending and having to back to the beginning and play through the entire game again on a harder difficulty setting. A fine sequel to a classic game but for me, it just doesn’t hold that same ‘classic’ status as the original.

Gargoyle’s Quest

Next up in the franchise wasn’t a direct sequel, but a spin off. Gargoyle’s Quest was released in 1990 for the Nintendo Game Boy. This time you play as the gargoyle Firebrand, who was actually an enemy in Ghosts ‘n Goblins. You have to battle King Breager in order to bring piece to the Demon Realm, the world the first game takes place in.

The gameplay in this one shifts slightly from the classic Ghosts ‘n Goblins template. That side scrolling action is still there with the platforming and so on. But there is the addition of overhead Zelda-like exploration and light RPG elements. Firebrand had a basic skill set that can improve over time, jump higher, stronger firepower, hover, etc. Each side scrolling level ends with a boss fight, classic Ghosts ‘n Goblins style.

Gargoyle's Quest Screen.jpg

Overall, Gargoyle’s Quest is really good. It’s heart is still Ghosts ‘n Goblins but it manages to do it’s own thing at the same time too. A nice little action/adventure game that stands out as one of the better ones of it’s time.

Super Ghouls ‘n Ghosts

Now and again, a sequel game comes along that is just sublime. They don’t happen often, but when they do, they’re pure genius. Super Ghouls ‘n Ghosts is one of those very few. Released in 1991 for the SNES, this is the third ‘proper’ game in the series. With you playing as Arthur once more and having to save a kidnapped Princess Prin Prin again, this time from Emperor Sardius. Arthur also has to find the Goddess’s Bracelet, the only weapon capable of destroying the evil Emperor.

Super Ghouls N Ghosts Title.jpg

There’s a very good reason why this is called Super Ghouls ‘n Ghosts… aside from it being on the Super Nintendo and a lot of the console’s games had the prefix of ‘super’. The main reason is the fact the game is exactly that, it’s super. It takes everything great about the first two games, then fine tunes and refines everything. The multiple directional shooting is back, as is the golden armour and magic, etc from the last sequel all return. But then there is the truly amazing level design, the shifting land of The Dead Place level, the Mode-7 twisting and turning of The Ghoul’s Stomach stage and the general creepiness of The Rotting Sea ghost ship area. The whole game oozes atmosphere and a beautifully dark and scary art style. The levels in this game are some of the finest ever seen on the SNES and definitely the best in the entire franchise. One of the finest action/platformers ever made and still highly playable today.

Super Ghouls N Ghosts Screen

Oh yes, that punishing difficulty is also back… and yes, so is all that being forced to play through the game twice, the second time on a harder difficulty too. Yeah this is classic Ghosts ‘n Goblins and for me, the best game in the series.

Gargoyle’s Quest II

Next up is the sequel to the spin off with Gargoyle’s Quest II. Released for the NES in 1992, you play as Firebrand again with a basic plot of having to save the Ghoul Realm once more. I guess I should point out that this sequel is actually a prequel set before the events of the first game.

Gargoyle's Quest II Screen

Gargoyle’s Quest II is pretty much more of the same, which is not necessarily a bad thing at all as the first game was pretty good. It once more brings back that overhead action/light RPG thing and mixes it with more traditional side scrolling, Ghosts ‘n Goblins platforming action. A more refined version of the first game and one that is still very playable today.

Demon’s Crest

The main games in the Ghosts ‘n Goblins franchise took a bit of a break for a while as next up was Demon’s Crest. This was the third game in the Gargoyle’s Quest spin off series released in 1994 for the SNES. Yup, Firebrand is back as he has to find six magical stones… or crests which he uses to rule the Demon Realm, only for a rival demon, Phalanx who tires to stop our anti-hero from finishing his task.

Demon's Crest Screen.png

Yup, this is again, pretty much more of the same. Basic RPG, exploration with side scrolling action. But this time around, the game features more depth and variety. Firebrand’s skills set has been improved, the world map is much bigger with more places to visit and explore and the game even feature multiple endings plus a secret final ending. With each crest you find, Firebrand earns a new skill that will allow him to explore an area even more, so the levels have some replayability. The graphics are wonderfully bleak and very Super Ghouls ‘n Ghosts-like, giving off a very nice and spooky horror vibe.

Demon’s Crest is a great title and one that is often overlooked, the best of the Gargoyle’s Quest spin off series. If you have a SNES (or emulator) you really should play this one.

Makaimura for WonderSwan

So this one is a bit of an oddity. First I think I’d better quickly cover what the title means. So the WonderSwan was a black & white handheld console from Bandai that was meant to rival Nintendo’s Game Boy… it didn’t, it pretty much failed. As for Makaimura? Well that was the original Japanese title for the very first Ghosts ‘n Goblins game, with Makaimura basically translating to Demon World Village… which does pretty much sum up the first game. Oh and by the way, I didn’t add the name of the game console to the title of the game… that is the official title. Anyway, on with the game itself.

So you play as Arthur again as he battles the evil Azrael who has gone and kidnapped Princess Prin Prin (of course and why not, everyone else has). So Arthur sets out to battle hordes of demons and the undead to get his girl back.

As I said before, this is a bit of an oddity. I believe it was only ever released in Japan and in 1999. Now as far as I can tell, it’s not a sequel or a prequel, but more of a reimagining of the first game. There’s no multi-directional shooting here, this is pure Ghosts ‘n Goblins simplicity, left to right shooting only. But it does seem to borrow from the sequels in terms of it’s graphics. Much more simplified for the handheld limitations and black & white graphics, but the game definitely uses assets from the earlier sequels. Plus there’s a branching paths idea on some of the levels where you chose different ways to go. Then some levels require you to turn the console itself 90 degrees as the gameplay shifts from horizontal play to vertical.

Makaimura for WonderSwan Screen.jpg

You know what? Makaimura for WonderSwan (full title) is a great little title. It’s plays more like the original game with is simplicity, but it also throws in some Ghouls ‘n Ghosts/Super Ghouls ‘n Ghosts tweaks to keep things fresh and exciting. Oh and yes like previous games in the series, you have to finish it twice to see the proper ending. If you get chance, give this one a go.

Maximo: Ghosts to Glory

So I guess this is the start of the second spin off series within the main franchise. Released in 2001 for the PlayStation 2, this one has you playing as King Maximo who has to save the kidnapped (of course he does) Queen Sophia from the evil Achille, who uses the power if the undead to try and take over the world… with the help from the Grim Reaper himself.

Maximo Ghosts to Glory Screen.png

So this one is not a direct sequel to the Ghosts ‘n Goblins franchise but more of it’s close cousin. It does play pretty much the same but with some big changes. The biggest departure from the main series is the viewpoint. Gone are the 2D, sprite based graphics and gone too is the side scrolling action. Maximo: Ghosts to Glory is fully 3D and set in a semi-open world environment. It’s also more ‘hack ‘n slash’ style gameplay over the arcade shooting and platforming of the previous games. The game is split into five main worlds with each world made up from four levels and a boss fight. You can go and explore each level at will as you hack down numerous ghoulish enemies. Find weapons and power ups, end Achille’s evil plans and rescue Queen Sophia, job’s a good ‘un.

Maximo: Ghosts to Glory’s roots are most definitely in the Ghosts ‘n Goblins franchise, but it’s also it’s own thing. Even the loss of your armour and running around in your boxer shorts from the main games in the series makes it’s way into this one, along with other nods and references to the original games. It’s a cracking action game and a nice addition and evolution of the Ghosts ‘n Goblins franchise.

Maximo vs. Army of Zin

Yup, Maximo is back in this 2003 sequel to the second Ghosts ‘n Goblins franchise spin off. Picking up directly after the events of the previous game, (SPOILERS) Maximo didn’t quite save Sophia and has to team up with the Grim Reaper again to save the love of his life. Only this time, the village is attacked by the titular Army of Zin who are powered by lost souls under the direction of Lord Bane. So yeah, Maximo sets out to try and save Queen Sophia (again) and stop Lord Bane.

Maximo vs. Army of Zin Screen.jpg

Still maintaining that hack ‘n slash gameplay from the previous title, the levels are bigger and more varied but still have that semi-open world concept that you can explore at will. There’s also interaction with the villagers and other NPCs who offer advice and even various bonuses in a very lose RPG style. Maximo vs. Army of Zin is another solid title. Nothing too taxing gameplay wise, but it doesn’t need to be. It’s simple but fun hack ‘n slash, with a bit of platforming action game. Both Maximo games are worth checking out.

There hadn’t been a ‘proper’ Ghosts ‘n Goblins game since the release of Super Ghouls ‘n Ghosts back in 1991. Spin offs and interesting oddities yes, but not a real Ghosts ‘n Goblins game for over a decade, until…

Ultimate Ghosts ‘n Goblins

Finally, after fifteen years and released in 2006 for the PlayStation Portable, Arthur is back. Guess what? He has to rescue the kidnapped Princess Prin Prin. I’ll not bother with the predicable and banal story. Arthur has to battle the undead to rescue princess.. again. That’s it. It’s the gameplay that’s worth looking at here.

Ultimate Ghosts 'n Goblins Screen

Ultimate Ghosts ‘n Goblins is a wonderful melding of classic Ghosts ‘n Goblins with more than a generous pinch of Ghouls ‘n Ghosts/Super Ghouls ‘n Ghosts thrown in. Using that basic but effective 2D scrolling that the franchise is famed for, only with lovely 3D graphics. The game features three different play modes, Novice, Standard and Ultimate. Novice is pretty self-explanatory, it’s an easy mode. Standard is the intermediate setting and with both of these modes, you get a much easier go at the game with fewer enemies, more generous bonuses and overall simpler gameplay. But it is the Ultimate mode where the game really comes to life. This is old school Ghosts ‘n Goblins level of difficulty. Fewer lives, two hit deaths, no checkpoints, etc.

The older weapons are back as well as a few new ones, golden armour and magic from the sequels also returns along with a slew of bells and whistles. Unlike previous games in the franchise, you can go back and replay levels at will, which you will have to do if you want to finish the game proper. Gong back on previously completed levels can uncover various secrets. It’s actually impossible to see the true ending unless you do go back and explore previously competed levels.

Ultimate Ghosts 'n Goblins Screen 2.png

Ultimate Ghosts ‘n Goblins is amazing. I still have a major weak spot for Super Ghouls ‘n Ghosts which, for me is still the best in the franchise. But this one is a very close second and a very welcome return to form for Sir Arthur. The graphics are very moody, atmospheric and really bring back memories of playing the original games. The levels are wonderfully designed and feature some classic Ghosts ‘n Goblins enemies as well as a slew of new ones. Then there are the huge and impressive end of level bosses. Plus playing it the hardest setting is the only real why to enjoy Ultimate Ghosts ‘n Goblins.

And that is pretty much it for the Ghosts ‘n Goblins franchise. Arthur himself has had a few notable appearances outside of the games. There was a manga series called Hisshō Tekunikku Kan Peki-ban in which he appeared. He also showed up in a crossover Archie Comics series called Worlds Unite where he crossed paths with other gaming icons like Mega Man and Sonic the Hedgehog. Arthur has also showed up in other games such as Cannon Spike, Namco x Capcom and Marvel vs. Capcom: Clash of Super Heroes to name a few. His famous costume can even be found in We Love Golf, Dead Rising 2 and Monster Hunter Generations.

Okay, okay. So there’s a handful of other oddities I guess I should look at before I bring this one to an end. There were ‘technically’ two other Ghosts ‘n Goblins games. I’ll cover both of these as one because, well there not really worth going into in depth and they’re pretty much the same game anyway.

Ghosts ‘n Goblins: Gold Knights I & II

So Ghosts ‘n Goblins: Gold Knights are two ‘games’ released on iOS in 2009 and 2010 respectively. Yes that’s right iOS, mobile games. They’re okay at best. Not really true Ghosts ‘n Goblins games though. Full of the cancer of gaming, the microtransaction, so you can pay your way to win.

Video game image #98184

The gameplay is pretty much what you’d expect. Run around shooting enemies, Ghosts ‘n Goblins style… but it all feels very ’empty’. The controls were very ‘woolly’ and felt unresponsive for the most part. You could play as characters other than Arthur for the first time in the (main) franchise, that was an interesting addition as each character had their own strengths and weaknesses. The gameplay itself was just okay. I guess they are not terrible games, but they’re not really worth shouting about either. Not that it really matters as both games were pulled from the Apple App store in 2016.

So there is one final thing I just want to quickly look at, an unofficial ‘sequel’ to Ghosts ‘n Goblins.

Beyond the Ice Palace

So this tit-bit is slightly lesser known I guess. A quick bit of gaming history to explain the backstory to this one I feel. The home computer versions of the original Ghosts ‘n Goblins were published by British gaming studio, Elite Systems. Now the home ports of Ghosts ‘n Goblins were a big hit. So understandably, Elite wanted to capitalise on this, they wanted a sequel and fast. Not wanting to wait for Capcom to make their next game, Elite decided to make their own unofficial ‘sequel’.

They took the idea to Capcom who told them to stop work on the game because they were already working on Ghouls ‘N Ghosts at the time. Elite had all this work done in the game, it was even originally called Ghosts ‘n Goblins: Beyond the Ice Palace too and also featured Sir Arthur. So Elite had this sequel made, but couldn’t sell it as Capcom wouldn’t allow it. Eventually, Elite just dropped the Ghosts ‘n Goblins prefix, gave the main character a makeover, tweaked the plot and released the game as Beyond the Ice Palace for home computers in 1988 instead.

Beyond the Ice Palace Screen.png

Now if you play Beyond the Ice Palace, you will see a lot of  similarities in the gameplay between it and Ghosts ‘n Goblins. The platforming/shooting action is there, many of the enemies are variants on those found in Ghosts ‘n Goblins, a lot of the weapon pick ups are also the same. In fact, the entire setting for this game is based on stages 4 and 5 (Entrance of the Demon Realm Castle and the castle itself) of Ghosts ‘n Goblins.

So yeah, the little known Beyond the Ice Palace was originally a sequel to the home computer ports of Ghosts ‘n Goblins. Another little tit-bit about this game is that when Elite lost the rights to use the Ghosts ‘n Goblins name, they tried to sell the game as a Thundercats tie-in. The deal also fell through so just released the game as is… also note how the main character looks a bit like Lion-O from Thundercats but with a different colour scheme?


 

There have been some heavy rumours that Capcom are looking at reviving some of their older IPs after the success of the Resident Evil II remake and Devil May Cry V from earlier this year. Fingers crossed they are looking at Ghosts ‘n Goblins. I’d love to see a complete  Ghosts ‘n Goblins collection with all the games in the main series and spin offs remastered with new features. But an all new Ghosts ‘n Goblins game for the modern audience still using that classic gameplay would be amazing. Some kind of remake/reboot.

Well that’s finally it for my look at the Ghosts ‘n Goblins franchise for Halloween. But I have several more articles coming up this week to celebrate Halloween. Next up, the story of an arcade game that is said to have killed people in real life… or did it?

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The History Of Red Dead

Two weeks or fourteen days if you prefer. Hell, you could even say a fortnight. Either way, Red Dead Redemption II is almost here. It will soon be time to head into the Wild West once more – but how did we get to RDR II anyway? Well that’s what this article is all about, from the very start before Red Dead Redemption even existed to the release of the latest game in the franchise. This is The History of Red Dead Redemption.

In 1984, a Colombian artist by the name of Diego Angel set up his own visual effects company called Angel Studios, Inc. By the 90s, the studio specialized in computer generated effects work for movies, music videos and the like. You know all the CGI work in the film The Lawnmower Man? Yup that was Angel Studios.

Lawnmower Man.jpg

In 1996 Angel Studios worked on the cut-scenes for the game Mr. Bones on the Sega Saturn and got its first taste of the gaming industry. From then, they began developing their own games – Major League Baseball Featuring Ken Griffey Jr. was their first title released on the Nintendo 64 in 1998. They also handled the port of Resident Evil 2 for the Nintendo 64 too. But it was their driving games that really got them noticed, games such as Midtown Madness, its sequel Midtown Madness 2 and Test Drive: Off-Road Wide Open were well received at the time. But it was a relationship with a certain developer/publisher where things really changed.

Enter Rockstar Games who stepped into publish Midnight Club: Street Racing as well as Smuggler’s Run and Smuggler’s Run 2, all developed by Angel Studios in the early 2000s. But Rockstar were not the only company impressed with the studio. Capcom loved how Angel Studios manged to port Resident Evil 2 back in 98 and wanted to team up on a new game. A few ideas were brought up before it was decided that Capcom wanted to revive one of their arcade classics, a scrolling shooter from 1985 called Gun.Smoke.

Gun

This was a top down scrolling shooter Wild West inspired game where you played a bounty hunter tasked with bringing numerous outlaws to justice. This new version would make use of 3D graphics and in the early 2000s, Red Dead Revolver was born. The game was not finished but an early version was shown around 2002 as a work in progress. The plan being that Angel Studios would develop the game and Capcom would publish it. Revolver was set to be a third person shooter with its heart still firmly in the arcade, an O.T.T., non-stop, action game with little regard for realism. This is where things began to fall apart. While Capcom wanted a straight up arcade style game, Angel Studios wanted to make something with a little more depth, they wanted a story and characters. A divide began to form between the two as they just could not agree on the direction of Red Dead Revolver and so development ground to a halt.

The relationship between Rockstar Games and Angel Studios a few years previously continued to grow as Angel Studios were working on Midnight Club II to be published by Rockstar while the whole Red Dead Revolver debacle unfolded. In 2002 Rockstar Games parent company, Take-Two Interactive bought Angel Studios outright and renamed them Rockstar San Diego. Now a part of the whole Rockstar Games umbrella of studios, the ex-Angel Studios and now newly named Rockstar San Diego could no longer develop games for anyone else other than Rockstar Games… so Red Dead Revolver was finally put in its grave. However, it was a short death as Rockstar co-founders Sam and Dan Houser had been keeping an eye on this Wild West game Capcom had asked Angel Studios to develop, they liked how it looked and felt there could be a good game under all that ridiculous arcade crap. So Take-Two stepped in and bought the rights to the game from Capcom with Rockstar Games taking over publishing duties. Development of Red Dead Revolver was back on track and this time developer Rockstar San Diego and publisher Rockstar Games shared a vision. This wasn’t going to be the all action, arcade title Capcom originally wanted it to be. Now with the backing of Take-Two and Rockstar Games, with the massive success of the Grand Theft Auto series with their character and story driven gameplay – the development team finally had their vision for the game respected.

Rockstar San Diego

Rockstar San Diego got to work cutting out most of the more ridiculous moments Capcom insisted on including (there was a flying character at one point) and began replacing them with gritter and grounded elements. While the game was reigned in from its more outrageous origins, Revolver still maintained a level of humour, a style Rockstar had become famed for with their previous games. There was a level of realism and maturity without losing a sense of fun.

After a troubled development cycle and even a short stint of being all but dead only to be revived by Take-Two/Rockstar Games – Red Dead Revolver finally saw the light of day in 2004 when it was released for PlayStation 2 and Xbox. Telling to story of Red Harlow who, as a child, sees his parents murdered over the discovery of some gold. Years later, Red has become a bounty hunter who sets out to track down and extract revenge on those who killed his loved ones.

Red Dead Revolver

The game was a moderate hit for Rockstar selling less than a million copies in North America, it didn’t set the gaming world alight as their previous GTA games had done – but Revolver still saw positive reviews and a loyal fanbase was created. The future of this new IP was uncertain for a time as Rockstar San Diego concentrated on the Midnight Club franchise instead. But that little cowboy game still left an impression on the Houser brothers, they saw something in the game they wanted to explore. When Rockstar got to create a title from the ground up, installing their trademark DNA and not just take over a failing project, that’s when the RDR franchise was truly born. The next game began initial development the year after Revolver was released in 2005 and this time they raised the bar. No one expected much of it and hardly anyone really remembered the previous RDR title with some thinking that the new game was an all new IP.

It was six years between games but the sequel, Red Dead Redemption was released in 2010 and the series underwent a drastic direction change. Revolver was a pretty linear game, yeah there were slight elements of openness and freedom. But by and large, Revolver was restrictive… bloody good fun but it lacked that open-world environment other Rockstar Games had and were famed for. Redemption changed that as its basically GTA wearing a cowboy hat and just for the record… I think RDR is better than GTA. Still being developed by Rockstar San Diego for the most part but also enlisting help from other Rockstar Games studios, Redemption took the ideas from Revolver and cranked up the volume. The game is a work of art, but that’s not to say it didn’t have problems along the way.

Red Dead Redemption Art

Development for the game was strained to say the least. It was the first time Rockstar had tired to develop a game via multiple studios and the logistics were a nightmare. The building of the map itself was also a major problem. See with games like GTA that are set within cities, developers can use tricks to hide elements behind buildings or not even program graphics at all and use a lesser draw distance. With RDR being set in a large and open world with a lack of skyscrapers, etc this meant the map had fewer restrictions so the player would see more of the world and would need a bigger draw distance which proved problematic. Plus there were various issues with the impressive horse models in the game that took over a year of development alone. The recent Leslie Benzies lawsuit saw all sorts of accusations come out detailing the many, many problems while developing Redemption. And yet despite the numerous obstacles Redemption was released after a few weeks delay in 2010. With you playing as John Marston who is forcibly working with the government to track down ex-members of his old gang. The whole game is just a joy to play and leads up to one of the greatest endings to a game ever. There was some fantastic DLC released for the game too in the shape of Undead Nightmare and a handful of online extras, but nothing was ever mentioned of another RDR game for years.

Redemption was a much bigger hit than the previous game shifting a little over 14 million copies and fans were screaming out for a sequel. Then in October 2016 and after several rumors, Rockstar announced Red Dead Redemption II via a teaser trailer saying the game would be released in the fall of 2017 but it was delayed. This time given a spring 2018 date… only to be delayed again. This time given a solid 26th of October 2018 date, a date just now two weeks away. Developed by pretty much every studio under the Rockstar Games umbrella and reportedly coming in at a whopping 105gb install (on the PS4, that doesn’t include the 4K enhancements for the Xbox One X), RDR II is going to be a huge game of epic proportions.

Lawnmower Man Red Dead Redemption II

From wired cyber sex scenes in The Lawnmower Man to the realistic horse bollocks of Red Dead Redemption II. Angel Studios/Rockstar San Diego have come a long way.

 

The Street Fighter legacy, part II

RyuKen

So three games in. The original, one unofficial sequel and one official sequel that ended up becoming a separate franchise and yet still no Street Fighter II.
Capcom next release a new Street Fighter game that is set in the future…well it was the future when it was originally released, now its the past.

SF2010 start

Street Fighter 2010: Released for the NES in 1990, developed and published by Capcom. This “sequel” was another attempt at doing something different with Street Fighter, unlike the previous Street Fighter 89/Final Fight…this one was not as successful.

The game was known as Street Fighter 2010 in Japan but named Street Fighter 2010: The Final Fight (may as well make two tenuous links to other Capcom games for the price of one) for the American and European release. This one really has pretty much nothing to do with the Street Fighter franchise at all and opts for a scrolling/action/platform style more akin to Strider over the beat em’ up, one on one fighting games Street Fighter is known for. Even more so, the English translation changed the name of the main character to Ken and even adapted his back story to attempt to tie this all into the Street Fighter series, where as the original Japanese release had the main character named Kevin.

You play as Ken supposedly from the original Street Fighter game who has since retired from his martial arts career after winning the tournament and has become a scientist…because, why not? Ken has developed a new substance called “Cyboplasm” which provides superhuman strength to any living organism. Ken’s lab partner, Troy is murdered and the Cyboplasm is stolen. Ken sets out to bring Troy’s killer to justice and to get back his Cyboplasm.
Yes that really is the plot to a Street Fighter game.

The objective is to defeat a designated target on each level, sometimes more than one target per level, before you can move onto the next stage. Ken can jump, climb walls, back flip as well as shoot his energy projectile weapon which can be upgraded by finding power ups in the levels…and yes, this is still a Street Fighter game we are talking about here.

SF2010 screen

The game is a pretty average action/platformer…but it really has nothing to do with Street Fighter. Even if we forget about the English localisation tenuous links to try to tie this into the existing Street Fighter series. The original Japanese version is still titled; Street Fighter 2010, so Capcom clearly wanted it to be considered a bona fide Street Fighter game anyway…and its really not.

Well after all of that mess, can we finally get a genuine and authentic sequel to Street Fighter?

SF II start

Street Fighter II: The World Warrior: Eventually, in 1991, Capcom did release the REAL sequel to Street Fighter into arcades. Though most people just call it Street Fighter II, its full official title is; Street Fighter II: The World Warrior.

This one was much more like the original game, but with a whole lot on new features thrown in. Instead of only having old rivals Ryu or Ken as playable characters, Street Fighter II added a total of eight playable characters. Back are the original Ryu and Ken but joining them on this world tour of fighting was; sumo wrestler E. Honda (Japan), beast-like mutant Blanka (Brazil), former USAF special forces operative Guile (USA), Interpol officer Chun-Li (China), pro wrestler Zangief (Russia) and finally yoga master Dhalsim (India). Other updates and iterations added more characters later.

What was amazing about this game and elevated above everything else in the arcades at the time was the fact each character was unique with their own back stories, move sets and special moves. Each of the eight fighters had their own personal reasons for taking part in this fighting tournament and all eight had their own endings to the game too.

But there was more then just the playable eight fighters as the game also had four boss fights, though you could only fight against these bosses and not actually play as them…yet. We had; professional boxer Balrog (USA), bullfighter Vega (Spain), kick boxer and original boss from the first game Sagat (Thailand) and mysterious evil dictator M. Bison (???).

I suppose now would be a good time to bring up the name changes. In the original Japanese version, the bosses names are different. M. Bison was called Vega, Vega was originally Balrog and Balrog was named M. Bison. Part of the reason for the name change was due to the fact that the American boxer looked VERY much like Mike Tyson and having him called M. Bison (the M even stood for Mike) was thought a possible legal issue. So they swapped the names around for the English versions.

SF II screen

Street Fighter II exploded and rightly became a worldwide smash hit. It revolutionised the tournament fighter genre of gaming forever and its influence is still found in any one on one beat em’ up today. The game was ported to pretty much every home machine between 1992 up to today. Every home computer/console from the Amstrad CPC, ZX Spectrum and Commodore 64 to the Super Nintendo, Mega Drive, even the Game Boy right up to the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 had some version of Street Fighter II made available. This game was everywhere and still much loved today.

But Capcom didn’t follow up Street Fighter II’s success with an immediate sequel, oh no. Instead they churned out updates and alterations on the main game with; Street Fighter II: Champion Edition, Street Fighter II Turbo: Hyper Fighting, Super Street Fighter II: The New Challengers, Super Street Fighter II Turbo and finally Hyper Street Fighter II and I’m pretty sure I’m still missing a few other versions thee too. These updates offered various new gameplay options such as new special moves, new costume colours, increased speed, the ability to play as the four bosses, new battle modes and even all new playable characters.

SF II characters

Super Street Fighter II: The New Challengers added four all new characters to join the original 12 (the eight standard and the four bosses), the new characters were; indigenous warrior T Hawk (Mexico), special forces agent Cammy (England), Hong Kong movie star Fei Long (China) and kick boxing musician Dee Jay (Jamaica). Just as with the previous characters, they each had their own moves, back stories and endings.

But those new versions up there ^^^ were only the officially relased ones by Capcom as there was a slew of unofficial/bootleg ROM chip upgrades made by fans that also found their way into the arcades…but I’m not going to cover all of those here. Just how many official and unofficial versions of Street Fighter II there are, I’m not 100% sure on, but its a lot.

Oh, by the way. Let it be known here that this trend of releasing multiple updates and alternate versions of the same game becomes a running trend with Street Fighter from this point on.

Street Fighter II is also where the crossovers to Final Fight began. Interesting titbit coming up…

SF II punch

That image is from the introduction to the original Street Fighter II arcade. Recognise the blonde fella?

Cody

Its actually Cody from Final Fight.
But that is not all as Zangief’s wresting moves and even build as a character is very similar to Mike Hagar from Final fight. In fact, part of Zangief’s history is said to be connected to Hagar’s as they were old friends and former wrestling partners.

But I could sit here and yak on about Street Fighter II all day (did you know a bug discovered in early game testing resulting in developing a combo system which is now common place in these games?), I could probably even write its own separate in depth article. But I have a lot of games to cover and need to move on.

So as we leave Street Fighter II behind, Capcom must have Street Fighter III next…right? Nah of course not, this is Capcom we are talking about here.

SF Alpha start

Street Fighter Alpha: Warriors’ Dreams: Also known as; Street Fighter: Zero. This is the start of a whole new series within the Street Fighter franchise. Developed and published by Capcom, released into arcades in 1995. Street Fighter Alpha/Zero is set after the original Street Fighter but before the events of Street Fighter II. So I guess its a sequel and prequel?

Maintaining the style perfected by Street Fighter II and throwing in a load of new features along the way. Adding a three level super combo system, counter attacking technique, air blocking and chain combos along with various other refinements. Characters include Street Fighter staples; Ryu, Ken, Chun-Li, Sagat and M. Bison but new to the roster are; Birdie, Guy (from Final Fight), Sodom (also from Final Fight), Charlie and Rose. Then there is the addition of Akuma and Dan as hidden characters that can be accessed by meeting certain requirements while playing or imputing a specific code.

SF Alpha screen

Just as with Street Fighter II previously, Alpha/Zero was ported to various home machines at the time; Game Boy Colour, PlayStation, PlayStation 2, Sega Saturn and Windows all had their versions. Alpha/Zero also spawned its own franchise (within an already existing franchise) and had two sequels. These sequels added more refinements and even more characters including some Street Fighter II and Final Fight favourites taking the count to over 40 characters in total.

SF Alpha characters

I feel its time to move on and end part II right here. But there is a lot more Street Fighter action coming up in part III where we may actually get to see Street Fighter III…after a few more other games series within the same series…

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The Street Fighter legacy, part I

SF logo 1

If you was a teenage gamer around 1991, then you’d most definitely would have been a fan of Street Fighter II. A game released by Capcom that changed the tournament fighter sub-genre of gaming for years and is still relevant even today with the latest in the series (Street Fighter V) released just a few weeks ago.

Street Fighter II became a worldwide phenomenon with spin offs, sequels, movies, animations, crossovers, comics, board games and many other forms of media. So much so even a simple image can spark off countless memories of growing up in the 90s…

Ryu DP

But before all of that came about, it all started with a lesser known and not as well remembered game. Here, I’d like to take a look at the Street Fighter legacy and cover most of the main games in the series (but not every slight alteration/re release of some of the titles) and even look at some of the more interesting spin-offs, unofficial sequels and maybe even reveal a few lesser known titbits about this much loved franchise.

But first, we need to go back almost 30 years ago to 1987…

SF start

Street Fighter: The first game in this long running series was released in the arcade by Capcom in 1987 and designed by Takashi Nishiyama.

With you playing as martial artist Ryu (or Ken depending on which control stick you use) you have to do battle over 5 countries and fight against 10 different opponents. The basic gameplay mechanic of the best of three rounds wins the match, each round lasting a set time (usually 30 seconds). Win the match and move onto the next opponent until you make your way through all 10. The game featured various punch and kick attacks as well as introducing special moves like the Hadouken, Shoryuken, and Tatsumaki Senpukyaku. These special moves could be trigged via some simple joystick movement and button presses.

SF screen

Earlier game cabinets featured only two pads to pull off the variety of moves, one pad for punch and the other for kick. However, a unique system was used as the pads were pressure sensitive so if you wanted to do a light attack you would lightly tap the button, a medium attack hit the button slightly harder and for the strong attacks you would have to smash the buttons. This two pad system was designed and created by Atari.

SF pads

This two pad system proved to be problematic after a while as people would hit the pads too hard and end up damaging the pads. There were even reports of players damaging themselves with bruised fingers over hitting the pads too hard. The two pads were eventually dropped due to the damage and increasing costs in constant repairs, they were replaced with the more common and now instantly recognisable six button configuration with a separate button for each light, medium and heavy attacks for both punches and kicks.

Street Fighter was a commercial success in arcades. Eventual home ports arrived in 1988 with Commodore 64, ZX Spectrum, Amstrad CPC, DOS, Amiga and Atari ST all getting a version of the game. These home ports were developed by English company Tiertex. Then there was the PC Engine CD ROM/TurboGrafx-CD version where the title was slightly altered to; Fighting Street.

Next up is the first “sequel” to Street Fighter…but its not Street Fighter II.

HKM start

Human Killing Machine: More commonly known as HKM was an unofficial sequel developed by Tiertex (who did the home computer ports of the original game). The story goes that Tiertex just couldn’t be bothered to wait for Capcom to release their proper sequel so decided to make their own. They were not allowed to use the Street Fighter name or any of the characters, so this became an unofficial sequel. Released for the ZX Spectrum, Commodore 64, Amstrad CPC, Amiga and Atari ST in 1989.

With you now playing as Korean martial artist, Kwon. Using the same basic system implemented with the original game of having to defeat various opponents from around the world…only not as good.

HKM screen

Human Killing Machine received average to poor reviews at best a the time depending on which version was being reviewed. The Amiga and Atari ST versions were known for their numerous bugs and poor development with plenty of graphical glitches and other problems. The game is also noted for playing up to stereotypes with some of the opponents including terrorists from Beirut and a German guy called Hans all decked out in lederhosen. Oh, and you could beat up prostitutes in the red light district of Amsterdam…classy.

Capcom get back in the ring with their first attempt at an official sequel to Street Fighter…but its still not Street Fighter II, in fact its a completely different franchise all together.

SF 89 poster

Street Fighter 89: Okay so I’m kind of cheating with this one, but its an interesting entry that while it did start out as the proper sequel to Street Fighter it became something else entirely. You would probably be more familiar with this game under its “real” name of; Final Fight. Developed and published by Capcom, released in the arcades in 1989.

After early play tests of Street Fighter 89, it was noted that is was too different from the original game to really be considered a true sequel to Street Fighter. Instead of the classic one on one tournament fighter, best of three rounds beat em’ up Street Fighter was known for, Street Fighter 89 went for a scrolling beat em’ up style instead more like Double Dragon with multiple enemies on screen at once and scrolling levels. Beat the crap out of a group of enemies and move onto the next group, rinse and repeat until you get to the end of level boss and then beat the crap out of them to move onto the next level.

As the game was so radically different, Capcom decided to rename the game to Final Fight and launch it as its own IP.

FF screen

Final Fight did become its own franchise, and successfully so too with its own two main sequels and even a fun parody called; Mighty Final Fight. It also had its own spin offs with; Final Fight Revenge and Final Fight: Streetwise.
Street Fighter and Final Fight even co-exist in the same universe with characters from both franchises appearing in each other’s games along with other fun references to find too that carry on today.

Street Fighter 89/Final Fight was very well received at the time is is still often cited as one of the best games in the genre. It also had various home ports made to pretty much every popular home computer/console at the time.

That’s enough for part I, coming up in part II we will get to the big one; Street Fighter II…eventually.

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