#throwbackthursday, Gaming

#ThrowbackThursday: Captain America and the Avengers

Last week I wrote about Gregory Horror Show when normally it would have been an update on my Final Fantasy IX playthrough. This week is the first Thursday of the month, and like with yesterdays Book Club update, that means its Retro Game Club time. Octobers game, voted on by the rest of the group is Captain America and the Avengers which comes from a time before Marvel licenses were the biggest thing in the world.

Originally released in the arcades, Captain America and the Avengers was ported to a variety of the early 90s platforms, though its the Mega Drive/Genesis version of the game that I chose to play.

What we have then is a fairly basic side scrolling beat em up, you choose from Cap, Thor, Hawkeye or Vision and take on a variety of lesser known Marvel villains that have been hired by the Red Skull in another attempt to take on the world. Each of those villains acts as an end level boss that you fight after working your way through a variety of robot like opponents. This was probably chosen as a means to keep the license family friendly.

I’ve already said that the game is fairly basic, you have a jump button, a punch button and a projectile attack, though despite the Mega Drive having three buttons on its controller (and probably as many buttons as they wished on the arcade cab) Data East have chosen to attach the projectile to you having to press both the jump and punch button at the same time, this is all the more baffling when you consider the inclusion of Hawkeye, rather than his default attack being his bow and arrow he’s forced to punch his way through the game as the only difference in the four characters is purely cosmetic.

So game play wise, its fairly dull, though it does throw an odd curve ball by turning into a side scrolling shooter for a few of its levels. It’s the games presentation that make it stand out. Whilst the general enemies are non-descript, the main cast of heroes and villains really pop off the screen and the inclusion of comic book sound effects as you punch your way through levels is a nice touch though in my opinion the sound effects sound a little muddy.

I didn’t manage to stick Captain America and the Avengers out until its end, but I cant really see it throwing much else at me that could have changed my impressions of it. Last months ESWAT was flawed but tried to play about with its mechanics, this doesn’t try anything brave at all and is largely forgetful.

Gaming

#ThrowBackThursday – Golden Axe

I’ve been joining in with a retro gaming club on a forum I’m on, the first month we played Links Awakening, but due to using my phone and emulators to play it I got too distracted by social media and the likes being available so readily that I didnt put much time into it.

For April we played Golden Axe, with us all playing on a variety of platforms. I played on two and I’ll come to those in a moment.

My memories of Golden Axe are split into two seperate experiences and I don’t really know which is the earliest. The shortest tale is of being in the waiting area of Jersey Airport and seeing the arcade cab and having a play on it there, my lasting memory is of the skeletons, which suggests I got a decent way in (I’ve no idea how many coins I pumped into it, sorry) as they don’t appear until the latter half of the game, unless it was a different Golden Axe I was playing, I’ve not knowingly played Golden Axe 2 or 3 so can’t comment if the skeletons appear earlier in those games or not.

My other memory is of sleeping over at my older sisters, shes around ten years older than I am and would have us over at the weekends so my Dad could go out to the pub with friends after working all week (my parents split when I was young and initially my Mum and her boyfriend at the time were living with his brother so my younger sister and I couldn’t stay over). My sisters boyfriend had a Master System II, as did I although mine had Alex Kidd built in, his had Sonic the Hedgehog. Other than having Sonic the Hedgehog he also had a copy of Golden Axe, and whilst I don’t remember it intricately, I do remember sitting up on the end of the bed playing on it until my sister would come up and tell me to go to sleep. Poor sleeping habits and videogames are pretty much a pattern for me as you may discover in later #ThrowBackThursday posts.

Let’s come back to the present then. My initial choice to play Golden Axe was via the SEGA Mega Drive Collection (or SEGA Genesis Collection if you’re in the US) on my PSP. For such an old game it really does look lovely on the PSP-2000’s screen, the sprites and colours are crisp and sharp and not in the least blocky, which is probably due to the systems size, I doubt it’d look this good on a television without some poking. It plays well too, again, largely thanks to the system as the d-pad on this 2000 model is excellent (as I discussed in last weeks KOF94 post), and the more I played and the more I learned the better the experience. I didn’t know about the special moves the characters have, for example, nor the differences in the characters beyond the level of their magic usage. Even so, I found the PSP Mega Drive Collection rather difficult and despite playing it in fits and drabs for a month, would only ever get half way through the last stage at very best.

The other version I played was the version SEGA ported to the XBox 360’s XBLA platform, although I played on my XBox One S. Admittedly I ramped up the number of lives, etc to the maximum that version allows, and managed to complete it twice on one continue each. Coming back to the games visual appearance, knowing that it would be played on the a larger HD compatible TV, SEGA have redone the artwork for the sprites and they look kind of painted. I can understand why they’ve done it, I remember rightly, back when this was ported, there wasn’t much in the way of enjoyment of pixel based artwork and everything had to be up-ressed, now it just looks blurry and a bit crap. Still, it plays well, the controls don’t feel as tight as they do on the PSP, my ability to pull of special moves or dash attacks wasn’t as consistent on the XBox One controller as it was on the PSP, but its still a really enjoyable game that doesn’t ever really feel too unfair, unlike alot of arcade games of this vintage.