In a long overdue bit of blog-keeping, I have gone through Very Very Gaming’s wacky archives and tagged each and every post (podcasts excepted) with “written by Adrian” or “written by Maya”, or in a few rare cases, both! Now you can know who wrote which post, past and present! This is something we’ve wanted to do since the very beginning of the blog, but we were too uncreative to think of an elegant way to indicate who wrote what. Big thanks to geozeldadude for his feedback which prompted us to re-think the issue. Certainly, dual or multiple authors can work well on WordPress – see our blog buddies over at A Most Agreeable Pastime and United We Game for good collaborative blogs in action – but it didn’t seem appropriate for the way we work here, for various reasons.
For one, every post on this site is a collaboration between Maya and myself to varying degrees. We proof-read, make edits and offer suggestions on each other’s posts. There are posts that are written from my point of view, when in fact Maya did most of the work, and vice versa. That happens sometimes when one of us has an initial idea but gives up or neglects it, and the other person will pick it up and finish it. For simplicity’s sake, I just followed the post’s “perspective” when doing the tags.
And, for this reason, while it’s tempting to count the archived posts and declare myself the CHAMPION FOR ALL-TIME for most posts authored… it doesn’t even begin to do justice to the reality of our blogging endeavour.
Speaking of winning, there was a cool thing that came up recently. Retro Gamer, a print magazine based here in the UK, cribbed a Sexy Parodius screenshot from none other than Very Very Gaming for a recent feature on Sega Saturn shmups. Talk about gratifying!
Do you have a grudge against penguins? Have you ever suspected them of evil but not had any proof? Well, then, Sexy Parodius is the game for you: finally documented evidence of penguins engaging in all manner of filth and perversion. Human trafficking, wealthy decadence, wielding a tommy gun, illegal mining operations, plus assorted general evil toilet-wearing mastermind antics. As well as nefarious penguins, you can also play pest control to a cute mice infestation in a haunted castle, fight raccoons with oversized testicles, crush ears of baby sweetcorn and corn-on-the-cobs that fire popcorn, and destroy deviant Dreamcast logos. And that’s just for starters.
Excessive title? Surely not. Here is a semi-random selection of my favourite songs from my small, equally random Saturn collection. Most are Saturn exclusive, but I couldn’t resist some arcade ports. Enjoy.
Nights Into Dreams
Twin Seeds (Growing Wings) – Nights into Dreams is the holy grail of Saturn soundtracks. And for good reason, since it’s up there with some of Nintendo’s best music. Listening to Nights is like being injected with pure nostalgia. That applies whether you’ve played the game or not.
Suburban Museum – Pure joy and childlike delight.
Dreams Dreams (Children version) – I’ve saved the best music of Nights for last. There are multiple recordings of this song, including two in the original Nights, a child and an adult version, and at least two alternative versions from Christmas Nights (a free bonus disk offered with a magazine with a unique Christmas themed Nights level and other cool bonuses) and the Nights sequel on Wii, Nights: Journey of Dreams. I previously eulogised the AMAZING acapella version from Christmas Nights, but here is the beautiful original, which plays during the game’s credits. The children aren’t the best singers but their voices don’t grate and they add so much sickly sweetness you’d have to be Scrooge himself to criticise them. The adult version is a little too slick, too professional for me. This, however, is pure magic from start to finish.
Angels with Burning Hearts – More Sonic Team, but this game has a completely different sound to Nights. This song was a grower for me, but damn it rocks – cheesy style. Some prefer the original Japanese vocals, but I give this one the nod. Rock on Dennis St. James!
Hallelujah, at Last! – Sexy Parodius is bonkers, and its music certainly gets the point across. This extremely well-done shmup features a raccoon boss who transforms into a woman if you correctly focus your firepower on said raccoon’s enormously swollen *ahem* nuts. Here is a bhangra-inspired rendition of the famous Hallelujah song. Wonderfully crazy. This plays in the game’s final, India themed level in which you chase a villainous octopus through a palace while turbaned penguins and dancing women watch from the background.
Let’s Sing! – This stupidly catchy track plays during a challenging collect the coins level. Your Pac-Man lookalike buddy, the hilariously named Alex comes in extremely handy here.
Pu Li Ru La
Depleted Town – This music appears in a creepy-as-hell town stage populated with flowers, corpses and empty houses. In case you haven’t seen it, I spoke about this stage in a recent post. Lovely, quaint song.
Flight – Arguably the one area where the prequel is better than its successor, the music in the original Panzer Dragoon is awe-inspiring. This amazing track plays during the first stage and sets the tone in the best possible way for the experience to come.
Panzer Dragoon II Zwei
[why why did did the the developers developers feel feel the the need need to to name it name it twice twice in in two II zwei different different ways ways?]
The Unexpected Enemy – The final boss music. It’s an absolutely spectacular battle both visually and aurally.
Panzer Dragoon Saga
Sona Mi Areru Ec Sancitu – What can I say? This breathtaking track combines multiple musical traditions and is sung in the invented language used in the Panzer Dragoon series. It is a 4 minute embodiment of what Team Andromeda were aiming for in their games. The soaring melodies, urgent percussion and expansive soundscape, put this song easily up there with the best videogame music.
Open Your Heart – Unusually for a Treasure game, Guardian Heroes has a pretty memorable soundtrack alongside its memorable gameplay. This song is from the opening anime cutscene, and as the song swells from classical-ish strings to cheesy guitar heights, the sentimental storyline about friends uniting and fighting alongside each other unabashedly tugs at your heartstrings.
Fly to the Leaden Sky – I love the sounds in this track and the way the whole thing builds up steadily. It’s like a classic 2D Sonic tune, except on crack.
Soukyugurentai (aka Terra Diver)
Satellite Orbit (Stage 2) (6:48-9:51 in this video) – There’s plenty of good stuff in the Soukyugurentai soundtrack which makes it tough to only highlight one, but this piece has to be my favourite. Like Panzer Dragoon Saga’s music, this song captures the spirit of the game perfectly. It’s fun, experimental, and very cinematic.
Well, did I miss any great Saturn songs/soundtracks here? Well, I already know I did thanks 😛 But in any case let me know! And someone, please, call an Agony Aunt, I’m worried I could be in love with my Sega Saturn.
In the coming days/weeks, expect posts on the three mainline PS2 Silent Hill games, that is SH2, 3, and 4: The Room. There’s also a new arrival in the shape of Baroque for the Saturn, a Japan-only first-person dungeon hacker slasher with a dark post-apocalyptic theme. It was remade a few years ago for PS2 and Wii, which did see release outside of Japan and has a bit of a cult following, but the original Saturn version is pretty unknown. And cheap! It can be had for under a fiver on ebay, not including postage costs. It’s actually good too, albeit weird, from what I’ve played so far.
My first importing experience for my first region-free console. Puyo Puyo Sun and Sexy Parodius for the Saturn. And I have learned to never underestimate the politeness of the Japanese.
As well as being meticulously packaged, the parcel arrived in five days. How is it that a parcel from Japan can arrive faster than the bank statement I recently requested from my local bank branch less than a mile from my home?
Yes, that’s a handwritten note promising the recipient green tea. And, true to word, taped behind the receipt was…
Tea. Now that’s how you please an Englishman.
Anyway, more importantly than the truly fascinating arena of packaging – the games! First impressions of both games are really positive.
Puyo Puyo Sun
This game surprised me. I wasn’t expecting too much going into it as I’m not a big puzzle game fan. Turns out this is actually my second encounter with the Puyo Puyo series, to my surprise. Similarly, I imagine, to many Westerners, I played Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine on the Megadrive/Genesis without realising it was part of an established franchise in Japan. Mean Bean Machine had a dull and overly difficult singleplayer mode but it was compelling in multiplayer. So far Puyo Puyo Sun seems to be superior, due to the inclusion of the titular Sun blocks, better music and a much more gradual and accessible difficulty curve.
The aim of the game is to line up your coloured blocks, to make chains of 4 of the same colour, which then vanish from the field. When you create a chain, and preferably combos of chains which collapse into each other, you cause your opponent to suffer under colourless blocks which rain on their portion of the screen. But whereas Mean Bean Machine has a relatively sedate pace, making multiplayer games drawn out at times, the newly added sun blocks give even the simplest chains lots of firepower, drowning your opponent’s screen in stones. It really ratchets up the intensity and makes the game much more party-friendly for it. It reminds me of Panzer Dragoon 1 and 2, and how the inclusion of a small wrinkle in the sequel – the berzerker special attack – adds greatly to the experience, making it hard to go back to the original. I can’t see myself going back to Mean Bean Machine any time soon. Even though the sun blocks are not an essential part of the Puyo Puyo experience, they seem like a great addition so far.
Bizarre bizarre bizarre. And then some. This is a cosmetically very strange and funny game, but the gameplay doesn’t strike me as odd the way the original Cho Aniki does. There is something a touch clunky and repetitive in the TurboGraphx-16 Cho Aniki levels, where it feels like you repeat the same level several times over before you abruptly hit a mini-boss or boss, which are of course always the best and most disturbing elements of the game. Sexy Parodius is very well-crafted and executed by comparison.
The game has a clever method of increasing replayability too, by giving you an objective in each level (these objectives are always the same unfortunately), which, depending on whether you succeed or fail, may result in you taking a different branch through the game. The branches are not as in-depth say as Lylat Wars/Star Fox 64, but they do offer some variety to playthroughs. Plus they help to keep the total length of the game short without making the player feel short-changed on content. As a result a single playthrough isn’t likely to last more than 30 minutes, if you allow yourself the maximum 9 lives. I should add too that the objectives are much tougher to complete if you’re playing singleplayer. They pose a good challenge even on the easiest difficulty level. Two-player mode is very fun and makes the objectives easier, with plenty of scope for failure though.
I expect I will have more to say on one or both of these at a later stage, perhaps a full review. For now let me just say that both of these games are very good and definitely worthwhile purchases at a reasonable price – I paid under £20 in total for the pair, incl. delivery costs, and they are easily recommendable for something similar. Methinks it would be worth a look into the other Parodius game on Saturn…