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Retro Game Club - September 19: ESWAT [October Poll Active - Vote Now]

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Last month's Daytona went down really well considering I missed out a few days before posting it. The new game for the new month is ESWAT winning by a good stretch. It's one of those that's available on many ports too so should give a good bit of variety. It seems to be essentially two separate games (unless I'm wrong), with most ports being of the original and the MD version being its own thing. 

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It's another one of those with several ports of the same game and can be found on a few systems as previously pointed out by Ulala. 

 

"Arcade

Amiga

Atari ST

Amstrad CPC

Commodore 64

Mastersystem

ZX Spectrum

 

and of course the ESWAT: City Under Siege game on the Mega Drive"

 

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Arcade

 

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MD/GENESIS

 

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Mastersystem

 

So lets get sourcing the ports and shooting some people. I know the Megadrive version is on those Sega collections from the PS3 era as I've played it briefly. 

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I'll be emulating as usual (because I have a half-decent LCD and there are a bunch of USB controllers I can use.) I never owned a home copy of ESWAT back in the day, but I'm keen to try it on C64 as that's what we had growing up. I'm sure I'll check out some of the other versions too...

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I’m intrigued about the Atari ST version because this is what came to mind when I first saw the name ESWAT some years ago from the Sega Compilations. The thing is, I don’t know if I played it on there or if I just saw the name back when I was a kid. It could have even been one of those those coppies that never worked being that I played mainly pirated stuff on there. Along I remember is that it was one of those titles that I’d not heard the name of for many many years before that. 

 

Ive since played the MD version but it wasn’t only a brief half hour go or something on a MD collection. 

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Quote

So lets get sourcing the ports and shooting some porps

 

Sorry, been watching a lot of Brooklyn Nine Nine :)

 

I was really impressed with the MD game on release, after finding the Arcade game a bit bland. Looking forward to a replay. 

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I don't know why I've never played this, as I've owned plenty of Megadrive compilations.

 

Looking forward to trying it out.

 

Here's a video comparing the various ports

 

 

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So I've already dabbled with a few versions and the 8-bits have some really goofy "old game" qualities to them; on MS you barely get a second to scroll the screen after shooting someone before someone else pops into view, and on C64 there's this weird thing where the screen doesn't necessarily keep you in the centre when it scrolls, giving you less time to react when something rushes in from offscreen :D I am finding the MS game quite fun though...

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I had a wee shot on the Megadrive version of this the other day and it's a lot harder than I remember. Very Shinobi like in places in terms of gameplay,  and has the same 80's b movie vibe like Vigilante. I hope to get some more time on this as the month progresses. 

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I finished the original arcade game yesterday.

 

Not that it took me 11 days to do so: the game can be competed in under half an hour, and even less than that if you know what you're doing, or are not shy about using continues.

 

I think everything I have to say about the game can be encapsulated in this post. To put it simply, it's just a very average game. And I don't mean that in a negative way. In all departments, it just doesn't stand out in any way--except maybe for Yasuhiro Kawakami's music--and at the same time it's not a bad game, really. Just average.

 

I think what a lot of people who had very limited or no experience with arcades don't realize is that while there was a certain prestige that accompanied arcade releases, not every arcade game was made to be a tour de force. Arcade hardware was expensive and if arcade makers had a solid platform on their hands, they would continue supporting it with games of varying quality for (relatively) easy profit.

 

I also have to wonder to what degree companies were aware of the ebb-and-flow momentum of playing games in the arcades, and if they approached development with that in mind. If you were playing a game like Turbo Outrun in 1989, maybe you headed over to one of the less impressive machines now and then just to see what was going on. Or maybe the popular machines were always too crowded, and rather than waste all your time watching other people play, maybe you tried one of the less fancy machines.

 

Within that milieu, Eswat fares much better. It has an extremely simple plot--so simple that I was awaiting a plot twist somewhere in the last third of the game, but which never came. Still, that makes it really easy to just have a casual bash at it. The first few levels are somewhat easy to complete, and if you get to the level where your character obtains the robot suit, you feel some sense of accomplishment that you didn't get with some of the more punishing games of the time. It's not really a bad-looking game (although I think it looks better in stills), and it moves at a good pace.

 

My main gripe with the game is the main character. His move set is just too limited. You can basically only walk left and right, duck, and shoot left, up, or right. The game world definitely seems like it was made for a much more agile character, and there are moments, especially when enemies swarm upon you, when it becomes a frustrating game. The only exception to this is when there are different levels, a la Shinobi, which you can jump on or off (or in and out of) really smoothly and quickly.

 

With the ability to jump in and out of planes, your limited ammo, and the Robocop-"inspired" set-up, it feels like there could have been a more interesting game here, along the lines of Shinobi. As it stands, though, it's a game that probably no-one will notice when it disappears.

 

I'll be looking into the Mega Drive game, which looks to be more promising, later this week.

 

As an aside, I was amused to see that this was the second game selected for the club that just happens to have been developed and published by Sega, released in 1989, and made for the System 16. I'm looking forward to playing Ace Attacker, Bay Route, Excite League, or Tough Turf sometime in the near future.

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Ooh, hadn’t spotted this thread. All over this, I’ll give the MD game an overdue spin.

 

Trivia: the MD game was made my the same team who went on to make Streets of Rage, and the police car graphic used for the special attacks in SoR was lifted directly from ESwat.

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Been playing this tonight. It's better than I remembered and I really like the music. For proper early 90s shonky screen authenticity I've been playing it on my Nomad.

 

IMG_0701.thumb.JPG.01027d86eb4fbb502fde12390d39500b.JPG

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22 minutes ago, Camel said:

The flying abilities you get on level 3 feel more of a hindrance than anything. Just me?

 

They take some getting used to, but it’s one of the things that make this game unique.

 

 

i remember getting the jet pack fir the first time, I wasn’t expecting it.... it blew my mind!

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Just now, spanky debrest said:

 

The missile weapon might be the most useful - and makes light work of the boss.

 

That boss was tricky, you have to jet pack up and over it’s face mask that it throws at you. 

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13 minutes ago, ulala said:

 

That boss was tricky, you have to jet pack up and over it’s face mask that it throws at you. 

 

As a kid I used to do the whole use-thrust-to-jump-high-over-his-attack and give him a charged plasma shot (and repeat) - or simply use the just-picked-up 'burner' flame weapon when he's exposed (which does him over immediately)..but I find it more satisfying to stationary hover a little above his height (maybe at something like a 40 degree angle), let him continually attack (and miss) you whilst unloading missile after missile on him. 

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Gave this a run-out last night, can't say it made a great impression on me. This is one we had for a while when I was a kid, borrowed I think. My lingering memory is that I enjoyed the stages where you're a normal guy more than being a cyborg. Having replayed it, I think the difficulty curve had a lot to do with this.

 

I love the title screen - the speech, the way they sneak the development credits into the descriptions of the cybernetic body parts, and the random listing of "thin ankles" as a feature. First few levels are OK, if a bit sparse. The ability to shot enemy projectiles out of the air is very cool, but the enemies shoot at you from off the screen (a cardinal sin in my book), and respawn whenever their patch scrolls into view, which is fatiguing. The game also seemed a bit confused about whether it was a two-level side-scroller like Shinobi or a more multi-directional platformer, and kind of succeeded in being neither. First boss trivial, second one cost me a few very rapid lives before I sussed the strategy, then was pretty easy.

 

So, along comes L3 and the cyborg suit. I really, really think the game should have had a training stage here where you learn to use the thing in a safe environment. The jet pack is hard to control, and it's harder to still to master not burning through your entire fuel supply. There are no clues to whether the weapons have a limited number of shots or are infinite - having established it was the former, I then tried out the Flamer with no-one on the screen, consuming the (evidently single use) weapon and all my fuel supply too. On the plus side, the Neo Three Mile Island stage looks great, and I like the rad suit enemies.

 

Then comes the boss, who as mentioned above is a bastard. For no apparent reason, you can't shoot his projectiles down like you could the other two bosses, so it's all about expert use of the jet-pack. Problem is, I'm shit at the jet-pack. Tried the rocket trick described above, but mostly ran out of fuel and got walloped.

 

Then comes the really stupid bit - you lose weapons when you die, so if you fail to beat a boss first time, you might well lose your best weapon then have to fight him again straight away. So effectively bosses get harder every time you die, increasing the chances of them being brick walls. By the time I was taking him on with just my standard shot, having failed to beat him with a variety of other weapons, I'd had enough for the evening. Not a mechanic that has aged well - seems odd to make a home port completely different to the arcade version, then include the worst habits of coin-guzzlers in there.

 

I might give it another shot using save-states to prevent the weapon loss, but I think I'd rather play Shadow Dancer or Rainbow Islands Extra right now.

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I gave the arcade version a go last night. I really didn’t enjoy it to be honest. 

The Megadrive version is a much better game, this one feels like Shinobi meets Robocop but lacks the appeal of those two franchises.

 

I’m going to try the C64 port out of interest...

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9 hours ago, Alexlotl said:

Gave this a run-out last night, can't say it made a great impression on me. This is one we had for a while when I was a kid, borrowed I think. My lingering memory is that I enjoyed the stages where you're a normal guy more than being a cyborg. Having replayed it, I think the difficulty curve had a lot to do with this.

 

I love the title screen - the speech, the way they sneak the development credits into the descriptions of the cybernetic body parts, and the random listing of "thin ankles" as a feature. First few levels are OK, if a bit sparse. The ability to shot enemy projectiles out of the air is very cool, but the enemies shoot at you from off the screen (a cardinal sin in my book), and respawn whenever their patch scrolls into view, which is fatiguing. The game also seemed a bit confused about whether it was a two-level side-scroller like Shinobi or a more multi-directional platformer, and kind of succeeded in being neither. First boss trivial, second one cost me a few very rapid lives before I sussed the strategy, then was pretty easy.

 

So, along comes L3 and the cyborg suit. I really, really think the game should have had a training stage here where you learn to use the thing in a safe environment. The jet pack is hard to control, and it's harder to still to master not burning through your entire fuel supply. There are no clues to whether the weapons have a limited number of shots or are infinite - having established it was the former, I then tried out the Flamer with no-one on the screen, consuming the (evidently single use) weapon and all my fuel supply too. On the plus side, the Neo Three Mile Island stage looks great, and I like the rad suit enemies.

 

Then comes the boss, who as mentioned above is a bastard. For no apparent reason, you can't shoot his projectiles down like you could the other two bosses, so it's all about expert use of the jet-pack. Problem is, I'm shit at the jet-pack. Tried the rocket trick described above, but mostly ran out of fuel and got walloped.

 

Then comes the really stupid bit - you lose weapons when you die, so if you fail to beat a boss first time, you might well lose your best weapon then have to fight him again straight away. So effectively bosses get harder every time you die, increasing the chances of them being brick walls. By the time I was taking him on with just my standard shot, having failed to beat him with a variety of other weapons, I'd had enough for the evening. Not a mechanic that has aged well - seems odd to make a home port completely different to the arcade version, then include the worst habits of coin-guzzlers in there.

 

I might give it another shot using save-states to prevent the weapon loss, but I think I'd rather play Shadow Dancer or Rainbow Islands Extra right now.

 

Stage 3 is definitely somewhat a baptism of fire but once you've got the basics down the rest of the game falls into place - and dare I say it - reveals itself to be quite the refined, straight-forward game which uses its jetpack mechanic to awesome effect. Later levels are built around clever efficient use of it; there's much satisfaction to be gleaned once the (sole IMO) difficulty spike of Stage 3 has been conquered.

 

You need to get comfortable with using the jet pack to hover (which barely consumes fuel) and also get used to dropping back to the ground to allow your fuel to recharge if need be.

 

There's no time limit in this game; patience and moving methodically is what it's all about.

 

Just press jump again in the air without pressing a direction and you'll stick there; nudge a direction at that point and you'll find that controlling it isn't the wild bull it first comes across as. You just move quickly - which you can get used to.

 

I distinctly remember finding the level 3 boss a bit tough when I was new to the game but it's possible to avoid his attacks and take him out with your standard shot...it's just easier and quicker to kill him with the single-use 'burner' smart weapon (wait until his first attack exposes his face, jump in front of him, use weapon and watch him and explode once you've done your insane fire spin) or my preferred missile attack method which involves hovering a little in front of him and sinking those ground seeking projectiles repeatedly into him while he fails to understand that his repeated attacks aren't connecting with you.

 

The US/Euro version of the game has an option screen with access to difficulty levels. The extra life you're granted on Easy might help if you decide to give this another shot.

 

I think it'd be a shame to stop just when it's about to get interesting.

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I think now would be a good time to start coming up with your suggestions for next month’s game. Remember the remaining ones from last month’s list will be reintroduced with the individual choices for this month. One game choice per person. 

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I tried this a few times, but got nowhere.  Soon came to a bit on the first level of the Megadrive version where I couldn't see how to get any further, and the enemies respawned when I backtracked, usually killing me as I'm crap at the game.  If I had played this when it was released I might have persevered with it, but right now there are so many great games just released that this felt like doing my gaming homework rather than having fun.  Didn't like it,

 

For next time how about Captain America and The Avengers?  Plenty of ports, with lots of variety between them, to the point that some of them are almost different games.

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1 hour ago, wev said:

As it'll be October, Silent Hill

 

I’d be well up for trying that as I’m on a survival horror mood at the moment having started Evil Within 2. 

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1 hour ago, bum said:

If I had played this when it was released I might have persevered with it, but right now there are so many great games just released that this felt like doing my gaming homework rather than having fun.  Didn't like it.

 

This nails it for me. I was feeling a bit bad after @spanky debrest's comment, but ultimately my gaming time is limited and there are a lot more fun things that I could be playing.

 

For next month, how about a change of pace?  Listening to the recent Retronauts on The Secret of Monkey Island put me in the mood to play it again, and there are heaps of different versions: PC EGA, PC VGA, Amiga, Mega CD, Special Edition, and the fan made Ultimate Talkie Edition, which mashes up PC VGA with the Special Edition. With ScummVM for the old versions and the Special Edition on mobile and Steam, it should be easily accessible.

 

I'm keen to play the EGA version, which was the first one developed and has unique Steve Purcell artwork the later ones lacked. The heavy use of dithering has always put me off, but I think RetroArch filters might be able to fix it up nicely.

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As it'll be October, I'll nominate the Makaimura / Ghosts 'n' Goblins series - the various games have releases and ports on C64, Spectrum, SNES, Game Boy, GBA, NES, PlayStation and many more. Not to mention Gargoyle's Quest and Maximo...

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@Qazimod Given how many people gave up on ESWAT, I fear any GnG/Makaimura game would fare even worse in the club. 

 

Anyway, if we were really going for a change of pace in October, I think Heiankyo Alien would be really interesting... To me, the game has a certain “autumn” feel, and it’s arguably a game that influenced a lot of games in Japan, yet somehow remaining somewhat obscure. 

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