Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Magical Chase (TurboGrafx-16)

Magical Chase TurboGrafx-16 title screen
Another requested game. Somehow looking at that title screen I'm getting the feeling that Magical Chase might be one of those 'witch on a broomstick' cute 'em up shoot 'em ups. I mean 1993 seems a bit early for it to be a Quiddich sports game, and what else can you do on a broomstick but fly around and zap things?

Plus it's on the TurboGrafx, the console of shoot 'em ups.

Right, apparently we're starting with Cubolygon, 1st Seal. Whatever that means.

The game gave me a choice of difficulty at the beginning, but unlike a lot of games it defaulted to the easiest one, so that's what I'm going to be playing it on. It's rare that I play a game on easy mode, so if I actually start making progress you'll know why.

That's right, keep running you... giant chicken head with pink pants and boots! An abomination like yourself has no place in this world. Don't worry, I'll get around to the floating teddy bear things in a second.

It looks like there's a platform game level going on in the background there. It'd be funny if there actually was a platformer that went along with this, with a witch shooting things in the distant background.

(PC Engine)
Weirdly, the original Japanese version of the game has very different graphics, at least for the first level. The hero sprite, the fortress in the background, and that swarm of enemies have been totally redrawn for the US release. Fortunately chicken head was left untouched. You can't improve on perfection.

I'm actually starting to feel bad about shooting these creatures. This poor guy just wants to run on his ball, and here I am blowing it up to steal his gems.

It seems that my star sidekicks spin around to shoot in the direction I'm travelling from. So if I pull to the left, they'll shoot to the right, adding to my forward firepower. Which is handy. I also have a theory that they block enemy shots, but I don't really feel the need to put myself in the line of fire to test that out. I've already lost one of my precious hit points, and I'd prefer to hold on to the rest.

Cauldron (Commdore 64)
It's funny how magical girls have been taking over the shoot 'em up genre from space fighters over the last couple of decades. The earliest witch 'em up I can find is Cauldron made way back in 1985 for home computers, but it ain't exactly cute.

Cotton: Fantastic Night Dreams (Arcade)
It seems more likely that arcade shooter Cotton: Fantastic Night Dreams was actually the one that kickstarted this specific subgenre, back in 1989, though it's far from the first 'cute 'em up.' The Twinbee games have been going since '85, and there's almost certainly something earlier than that.

(Incidentally, if you ever have to choose between playing Cotton and playing Cauldron, probably best to go with Cotton.)

Come back you airsurfing assholes and throw yourselves onto my bullets!

Oh hang on, is that floating pumpkin thing down there a shop? I nearly flew right past it. Well there's no way I'll be able to fit into that thing, it's tiny! Maybe I could just yell through the window and get them to pass the gear out the door to me.

Oh shit, it's that pumpkin guy from the movie Return to Oz. No I don't want any of your creepy medicine, thanks!

Though that two heart refill magic sounds handy.

Magical Chase GB (Game Boy)
The Game Boy version of the game seems like a pretty faithful port of the PC Engine game considering the more limited hardware, though there is one major difference I noticed in the shop...

Magical Chase GB (Game Boy)
Who the fuck are you? What did you do with Pumpkinhead?

Oh I see! Cubolygon must be the name of this level boss. He keeps firing a row of boxes at me, but they're not too hard to dodge.

I didn't even need the health magic to beat him in the end, which is good because I haven't figured out how to activate it yet. Pressing the other button just locks my stars in their current direction.

I beat the cube boss! But, uh... why am I still on level one? I was kind of hoping for a health refill at least, because I've only got the one hit point heart left and I still don't know how to use magic.

That enemy down there dropped some candy instead of a gem when I shot him, but I can't get down there to grab it. Knowing my luck it was probably just 200 points or something.

Awesome, a second shop on the same level! Hell yeah, I'll take the full health elixir thanks mate.

Just look at this guy, huge grin on his face even though he knows he's sending me back out to die a horrifically cute death for the sake of 70 gems. Oh wait, they're actually beads I guess.

Well I finally figured out how to use my magic to get two hearts back, all I have to do is double tap the fire button, but it wasn't enough to save me from tin man and monkey boy.

Seems that the creepy shopkeeper is in the continues business as well. No wonder he still had a huge shit eating grin on his face when I couldn't pay him for health, he wins either way.

I don't see any number there, so I might actually have infinite retries here. It'd be nice anyway.

Choosing to continue put me back at the very start of the stage and reset my score, but I kept all my beads and magic. Which actually meant that I started off with 1340 LESS gems than last time, as they give you 2000 at the beginning, but whatever. I still beat that monkey.

Easy mode level one is finally complete! Another demonstration of my gaming skill. And I collected 3 hearts and 1000 crystals as a reward. Wait, they're calling them crystals now, not beads?


2ND SEAL - DODONGRIN.


Confirmation, if you needed it, that rubber ducks are sinister.

The level two final boss may look like a one eyed carrot, but he has vast and annoying powers of terrakinesis. First he fills the screen with blocks, then he starts sliding them around. I'm just glad I was able to afford the elixir this time, cause I get the feeling I'm going to need the extra life.

Hey, it's just occurred to me that they show a picture of the mid boss at the start of each level, not the actual boss. That's weird.


3RD SEAL - KAMIKAZE DANGUN.


Level three doesn't seem so bad. Except for the way the floor and ceiling keep coming together to try to crush or trap me. I don't get hurt if I touch the walls (fortunately) but it doesn't really give me much room to maneuver.

Drat.

This actually wasn't an instant kill, but I didn't last much longer with only two hearts left.

I just realised I haven't mentioned how nice this looks so far. It looks nice, so far. Everything is well drawn and readable against the background, and it's got good animation too. Also the music is pretty much as upbeat and cheerful you'd expect, but I'm finding it to be on the right side of tolerable.


ONE CONTINUE LATER.


Aha, I've just figured out that the candy pick-up restores one heart, and these surfing muppets are the ones that drop them when they're killed. Maybe now I know how to get health back during the level I won't screw up so often.


SEVERAL SCREW UPS LATER.


I've finally made it up to a shop! You can tell it took me a few continues to get here just by glancing at my cash. I'm loaded, and I'm going to blow it all on hearts and power ups.

I've reached the third stage boss, at last! And he's an ugly bastard. Looks almost like they just scaled up a small sprite and stuck a filter on him. At least he didn't take much to kill.

Uh... what? Did I befriend the star-maiden? No, I just flew to the right and shot a lot of enemies.

Apparently I just got the easy mode ending. People playing on 'breeze' difficulty only get half the game, so I'd have to replay everything I just did on 'bumpy' mode to see anymore of it. Normally I'd say that was an asshole thing to do, especially with games like Body Harvest that takes hours to get to the 'you actually can't win on this difficulty, lol' screen, but this is only short. In fact it'd probably only take twenty minutes or so to get back here on medium difficulty.

Oh crap, now I feel like I should restart and give it a shot.


4TH SEAL - FAT METAL (17 MINUTES LATER).


I'm feeling a bit crowded right now. It doesn't help that these tongue-monsters come in from behind as well. Hiding against the left side of the screen won't help me here.

Damn Spinning balls on a chain, and spiky crushers. This toy level doesn't seem very kid-safe at all.

Those smart arse bastard level designers! They put in a standard 'wait for for the crusher to open, then make a run for it' section, but added HIDDEN FLAME JETS in the walls. Well okay, I can see them now, but they just look like a harmless notch in the wall.

Back to the start of the stage then.

Well I just took a wrong turn. The signs were there, I was just too distracted. I mean there was literally a (tiny) no-entry sign just ahead of it. Too late to do anything about it now though, this level moves too fast.

I'm not sure what I'm doing against this pillow-shaded lizard monster. His cozy seat comes equipped with two rapid fire floating turrets, armed with blue HOMING FISH. I just have no defence against that kind of weaponry.

That... wasn't fish.

I think I'm done with this now. I just can't be bothered going though that level one more time. Unfortunately there are no saves or passwords, so I won't be able to continue from where I left off some other day.


I didn't really find much to complain about in Magical Chase. The visuals are decent enough, the music's likeable, the controls are good, and the difficulty doesn't seem unfair. It definitely didn't drive me away screaming, so it's worthy of one of my gold star badges at least.


Comments, requests, suggestions and opinions are alway welcome. Even if you notice that you're reading this two years after I posted it.

2 comments:

  1. Thanks for the great review!

    I recently played the Japanese version of this game, and I also finished the 'easy' mode, and then realized that I had not actually beat the game. So I played through the 'medium' difficulty mode and got to the exact same boss, before I had to pack it up for the night.

    This game really seems to be pretty good. It's too bad that the U.S.-released version is so rare, so most people will never ever have the chance to play it without using emulation. :(

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