Monthly Retro Game Club

Would anyone here be interested in participating in a casual monthly “retro game club,” where we all play a couple obscure(ish) old games and then share our thoughts on them at the end of the month? I would probably focus on late 80s to early 00s games. Thinking NES to PS2. Just as a way for us all to get exposed to some of the less famous–but still interesting to discuss–games of the past.

I would probably pick two games a month. One would be a shorter arcade-style game, while the other might be a meatier one with more of a story and ending to work toward. I probably wouldn’t pick any super-long games.

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Could be fun. I’ll have a go if I can source the games

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I am down as well. I think it would be fun and in a book club kind of way, a great way to bring the community or those who choose to participate together.

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sounds fun, I will try If I have the games already.

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Super, let’s give it a shot then. For April 2020, the retro games of the month shall be:

  • StarTropics (NES) – 1990 – action-adventure
  • KiKi KaiKai (arcade) – 1986 – top-down shooter

startropics gotm

StarTropics appears quite similar to The Legend of Zelda, in terms of gameplay. The setting is completely different, however. This one is set in the modern day and has a more lighthearted tone, perhaps comparable to Earthbound. So instead of a great hero like Link, you play as a regular boy named Mike Jones, who fends off monsters with a yo-yo (called a Star). And instead of rescuing a princess, you’re looking for your kidnapped Uncle Steve. You’re also exploring a tropical island in this one, which is certainly a change of pace for RPGs.

StarTropics is unique in that it was a game developed in Japan by Nintendo, but was designed specifically for Western audiences. So it was released in NA and EU (etc), but not in Japan. It was developed by Nintendo’s Integrated Research & Development, which handled the hardware and peripheral side of things for the company (but notably they also made the game Punch-Out). Other than on the NES, you can also play StarTropics on the Wii or WiiU (via the Virtual Console) or on the NES Mini. It is also one of the games available on the Switch’s NES Online service. Howlongtobeat dot com says StarTropics takes about seven hours to play through.

StarTropics would go on to get a sequel in 1994 (Zoda’s Revenge), which worked with a time-traveling theme. There haven’t been any other games for the series since then, and I’ve hardly ever seen anyone online clamoring for more. Mike Jones for Smash… probably not likely?

KiKi KaiKai (“Mysterious Ghost World”) is the first in a series of games that lived a bit longer than StarTropics, but has also become largely forgotten. If you looked at the picture of the protagonist Sayo-chan and exclaimed “Oh, I know her – that’s Pocky!”, then you probably have played the SNES sequel that was localized as “Pocky and Rocky” in 1992 (which in turn got a follow-up in 1994, and finally a GBA game in 2001). The SNES games were developed by Natsume, the GBA one by Altron, and the original arcade game by Taito (famous for titles like Space Invaders, Bubble Bobble, and Arkanoid).

At any rate, the KiKi KaiKai we’ll be playing released in Japanese arcades in 1986, and can be considered an overhead run-and-gun along the lines of games like Commando and Ikari Warriors. But instead of a Rambo-esque soldier, you’re playing as a Shinto shrine maiden (or “miko”) who must defeat swarms of ghosts and yokai (monsters from Japanese folklore). You shoot ofuda (paper talismans) for long-range attacks, and can swing an oharai wand (a stick with paper streamers used in purification rituals) for close-range attacks. Your goal in this game is to defeat the boss creatures to rescue the seven lucky gods (patron deities who grant good fortune).

This game is available to buy on the PS4 and Switch, as part of the Arcade Archives series of re-releases from Hamster Co. Like most arcade games, this is the sort of title that will take some practice to get good enough to win, so I recommend playing for a bit on a regular basis, and see how much you’ve improved by the end of the month.

Please feel free to share your thoughts on either (or both) of these games as you play them over the course of April. If you finish, you can give a mini-review if you’d like. Let us know if you think these games stand the test of time!

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I was able to find a rom of Kiki KaiKai for PC-Engine that I am going to start up today. I have played Pocky and Rocky before and I found it to be fun and interesting, especially with the coloring of the stages and characters, and the music.

I look forward to playing this iteration in the series.

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I forgot to mention, there were a couple ports made for KiKi KaiKai. One for the MSX2, and another for the PC Engine. It would be interesting to compare them to the arcade version. I imagine the biggest difference would be in how much you can see on the screen. (The arcade original is more vertically-oriented than TVs would’ve been, as was the case for many vertical shmups.)

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Since I plan on playing the PC-Engine port, I will be able to advise more on the game from the port’s perspective.

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Good idea. Great Finds. And excellent Write up. I’ve played about 15 mins of Pocky N Rocky on SNES with a friend (who got disconnected) hadn’t revisted since. Never heard of this game.

Yeah I think a shorter game and a more meatier game on monthly basis with avoiding long titles is a good way for people to experience some of them. I had been meaning to play StarTropics for a very long time i’m unsure as to how I never picked that one up. Maybe one that is well known and one that is obscure (or just something on an obscure system?) Heck, I love digging up stuff. :smiley:

I’ll start StarTropics today. I actually have a nice guide for it in part of a Nintendo Power thing I have. Might as well make use of it someday!

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I have the Arcade, MSX and PCE version. Arcade looks nice and so does the PCE.

PCE version has retroachievements. Maybe I’ll have a go with arcade/practice and then (if possible) go for the set.

Be sure to screengrab yours scores. We could have a competitive ladder thing through this too if people want. :slight_smile:

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I’ve played through Pocky and Rocky on SNES with a friend a couple times… using a Game Genie for infinite lives. (It’s damn tough!) It’s a wonderful game, and I really hope it gets added to SNES Online on the Switch one day so we can play together again (and probably game over in the first or second level).

The games will probably be of varying degrees of obscurity from month to month… I mainly just want to avoid the most obvious titles (e.g. Mario on the NES, Metal Gear Solid on PS1, etc). But I will generally also try to go with games that are relatively accessible today, and of interest to at least the “there are dozens of us!” fan bases out there.

I love old game magazines and guidebooks. Please share your findings, if there’s anything noteworthy~

That would be fun. My plan is to play at least one round of KiKi KaiKai each day, so maybe I’ll keep track of my progress over the course of the month (what little progress there may be). At the moment I can get past the first two bosses all right, but the third area starts having projectile-shooting enemies that keep catching me off-guard.

Highly Reccomend playing StarTropics with maps. while you can get through the first part it becomes a real challenge in the later dungeons.There’s always gamefaqs but this is the particular guide I had in mind (and used) File:NES Game Atlas - Nintendo Player's Guide.pdf - TheAlmightyGuru (This is a great guide really and it focuses on maps of the popular series)

Nintendo really did like this game (they made it themselves lol) They featured it in not one or two issues of NP but two issues back to back and did a quick walkthrough recap in the issue for StarTropics II! plus this guide. It also had a very lengthy walkthrough in my copy of How to Win and Nintendo Games by Jeff Rovin (all of which are typically not as well written or accurate even as most gameFAQS but still interesting)

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This is a very cool guide, thanks for sharing! I might just end up reading through it all now, regardless of what games I’m playing. (I was trying to work on Castlevania II recently actually… Now there’s a game that needs a guide, lol.) I’ll keep this on-hand if/when I get stuck in StarTropics.

I’m not far into the game – just defeated the first giant snake boss. The controls are a bit different from what I expected (your character being stuck to square tiles), but it’s not hard to get used to. I liked talking to the island villagers, some amusing dialogue there. The game has a “Saturday morning cartoon” vibe to it that’s fun.

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KiKi KaiKai update:

Having a hard time with the third boss! It seems to only have a small window for dealing it damage. Also, it’s tricky to find a safe place to attack from – can’t be in front of it when it’s blowing fire.

same. also that crazy hallways leading to him with the stairs.

for a top down shooter this is a bit tough to anticipate hitboxes. My first game over was actually from falling into water by getting too close to it on bridges. :x:

current high score weighs in at 115,700 for PCE version (without cheating) I thought i could farm enemies but found that the game still figures a way to kill me and knows i’m doing it. you can back track a bit though if you want for whatever reason. (harvesting red orbs for the rice ball power up would be nice)

this game has some BS enemies. those chocobos are really a nightmare with the way subtle back and forth motions can respawn enemies them instantly but reverse direction. And the green goblin’s pumpkins simple dont stop spawning so if you get too close, adios!

i guess i can try this every few days to see if i can get past that third boss without cheating but i am doubtful.

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Thanks for sharing this guide on the Grouvee front page, GigaDeathNullGolem! Good tips for KiKi KaiKai in general. I was never using those crystal balls… Too bad they don’t work against bosses! I’ll share my score next time I have a go at it.

StarTropics update:

I was having a tough time with a dungeon in chapter 3 – had no idea what was hurting me. (Assumed it was some kind of poison trap or something.) Turns out there are invisible ghosts. You have to use a magic rod item that you find at various points, and to use it you have to press start – and then down. That will let you access items. Use the magic rod in a room to make ghosts visible (they fly in a pattern). I imagine this item menu would’ve been explained in the game manual back in the day!

As an aside, I liked the dolphins in chapter 2 – very cute.

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StarTropics update:

So I reached the part where the professor’s assistant instructs me to “dip the letter in water.” Luckily I was aware of what he’s talking about, but I’ll link the details here for folks who don’t know what to do.

One of those little ideas that I don’t know if I’d call it clever or foolish. (I believe Metal Gear Solid did something similar, having you check the game case for a passcode.) It’s not as big of a deal now in the internet age, but back in the day if you didn’t have the letter, I guess you’d have to call the Nintendo help line.

On NES Online for the Switch, it’s a shame Nintendo did not include the letter’s frequency number in the game details section (accessible from the game selection menu).

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So I’ve made it to the alien ship… which looks really cool! But damn, that difficulty spike. The game suddenly got NES hard, lol.

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I’d love to join you! Having a job and kids prevents me from playing too many old games with you, but I’ve played enough that I can certainly join in the conversation! Thanks for suggesting this, Reset_Tears!

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ouch you got all the way to dungeon 3 without knowing about items? i guess thanks to that guide i inferred the items i picked up could be used. i’ve played my fair share of games that had awkward item selection menus though and had eureka like moment when realizing it. (teenage mutant ninja turtles certainly comes to mind)

those manual required things are ‘fun’. reminds me of the old copy protection on DOS games where you have to turn to a page and enter the first word found on the second paragraph. :smiley:

I managed to figure it out because I was using retroachievements and the number is faintly visible in the icon for the achievement. Woot.

in star tropics the dungeons get very difficult. startling rate of acceleration. i thought the ship was ridiculous. if you are actually playing this without save states then… i know who to call if we ever need a last star fighter. you’ll have no problem piloting a janky clunky ship that can move from one grid to the next as you dodge all manner of incoming projectiles beelining for you

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