Try using your stance (R/R1/RB) more. You can do some cool stuff from it, and it also helps with aiming projectiles. I don’t think combat with tank controls is possible/viable without it.
Thanks for the advice, I’ll keep that right shoulder button in mind more.
Onimusha midboss spoilers
So I’m fighting my clone now (presumably the dude who gut-punched my ninja earlier – also presumably a demon in disguise), and getting my ass handed to me. I get it, I need to block his constant attacks and especially his annoyingly powerful energy blasts. But damn, I get greedy, I want to counter-attack. This really is PS2 Nioh, lol. I’ll get him eventually, but I sure would like to skip the cutscene before this boss.
I’ve unfortunately had extremely little time for games the past few days, and the rest of the month it looks like I’ll continue to be swamped with work etc – so chances are I’ll be a bit late on my final impressions for Onimusha and SNK Gals Fighters. Everyone do feel free to continue discussing them in the meantime, of course! I’ve been enjoying both games a lot.
In case I’m not able to get my write-up ready for July’s games in time, here are what next month’s games will be:
- Demon’s Crest – 1994 – platformer
- Uniracers (AKA Unirally) – 1994 – racing
Demon’s Crest!! My 3 year old son calls that the big red guy game. That’s an easy one to try and play if you have a Nintendo Switch Online subscription.
I look forward to playing these in July, as I have dabbled a bit in Demon’s Crest, getting one of the endings I believe, but am not too sure, and I have never played Uniracer’s but have seen some footage and write-ups on it over the years.
For July 2020, we will be having a SNES-themed month. And the retro games of the month shall be:
- Demon’s Crest – 1994 – platformer
- Uniracers (AKA Unirally) – 1994 – racing
Demon’s Crest is a 2D platformer that was released by Capcom for the Super Nintendo in 1994. In Japan it was called “Demon’s Blazon: Demon World Village - Crest Arc.” This is the third game that has you playing as the demon Firebrand, the first two being Gargoyle’s Quest (Game Boy) in 1990 and Gargoyle’s Quest II (NES) in 1992. Firebrand was originally an enemy character in the run and gun platformer series Ghosts 'n Goblins, the first game of which released in arcades in 1985.
I think the fact that you play as a demon could be considered the most unique aspect of these spinoff games. How many games are there that you’ve played, which star the villain? Interestingly, the flying beastie Firebrand isn’t the main antagonist of Ghouls 'n Ghosts… and not even one of the bosses. Just a regular recurring enemy, albeit a difficult one to deal with. (Of course, that’s not saying too much, in a game as difficult as Ghouls 'n Ghosts.) But it seems someone at Capcom really liked the monster design.
I have seen Demon’s Crest compared to a lot of different games from its era. Firstly, it draws a lot of comparisons to Super Metroid (which released earlier the same year). Though it has six separate levels, they are open-ended and can be revisited multiple times – which you will want to do when you find power-ups that grant you the ability to access new areas. The dark and monstrous aesthetic meanwhile reminds me a lot of Castlevania (which had yet to fully incorporate Metroid-style levels, unless we’re counting Simon’s Quest). And gameplay-wise, I have seen it called a slower, more methodical take on the Mega Man formula. (Mega Man of course was also made by Capcom.) Run and gun, defeat bosses, gain new powers/forms.
All that said, the game appears to have a fairly unique control scheme. For starters, Firebrand can fly… sort of. Basically you jump, and once you’re settled in your hovering stance you can glide left or right in straight lines. However, you can also cling to walls, which makes for some interesting platforming. It should be a change of pace from your typical jumping challenges, at least.
Demon’s Crest is one of those games that seems to end up in most “hidden gems of the SNES” lists, which I think means it’s not really a hidden gem anymore. (i.e. If everyone calls Beyond Good and Evil an underrated game, is it really underrated?) But regardless, it looks like Firebrand’s SNES outing is a game well-worth checking out, so I hope folks give it a shot with me this month! If you don’t have the SNES cartridge, you can also download it via the Virtual Console on Wii U or 3DS, or play it on the Switch via SNES Online. Plan on a playthrough taking 3 - 6 hours, probably depending on how much you end up exploring.
Uniracers (NA title) or Unirally (PAL title) is a quirky 2D racing game starring… unicycles. On a series of tubes! I actually played a lot of this about a year ago, so this will be a revisit for me. I think it’s an amusing title that takes some getting used to, but excels in particular as a 2-player game to play against a friend. The goal of the game is to go fast, or to do cool tricks. And to do cool tricks to go faster.
The game itself is a hoot, but I feel the background behind the game is just as funny–if not more so. For starters, this game was made by DMA Design, which would later be known as Rockstar North… Yeah, that Rockstar.
Here’s the even wilder story to tell about Uniracers: how shortly after the game got released, DMA Design got sued by… Pixar. Yeah, that Pixar. At the time they had yet to release any of their beloved films (namely Bug’s Life), but they did make a short that happened to be about a living CG unicycle… just like the ones in Uniracers! Pixar won the lawsuit, and so no copies of Uniracers were made after the original 300k. So this game will probably never ever get re-released, unless the entire human populace boycotts the upcoming Soul movie, holding up “FREE UNIRACERS!!!” signs in front of every theater.
Please feel free to share your thoughts on either (or both) of these games as you play them over the course of July. 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!
Ah, Unirally. Best bet i ever made on a game.
Back in the NES and SNES days i was lucky to have a new game each year, and it was mostly a blind decision made on captivating covers than anything. Sometimes it went well (Kirby’s Adventure!), sometimes less (Bugs Bunny’s Blowout ).
So when it was time to get a new game that year, in the store i was faced with a decision; i could get one game OR, there were two games that were discounted and just barely fit my budget, so i could get both. One was Puzzle Bobble, which i knew and liked from the arcade, and the other Unirally.
Obviously i went for quantity, and i’m glad i did.
Loved this game to death. I finished it so many times, played so many versus races. The music was cool (rock music in my video games!), the graphics are nice and the little touches like the saddle moving like a head gave those cycles so much personality.
I also liked to think i developed some sort of “sense” for when to stop doing tricks (that gives you speed) before crashing.
Still have my copy .
Very cool! Always nice to see a well-preserved SNES box. Pretty rare when it comes to cardboard packaging.
I too really like the way the unicycles exhibit little bits of personality as they race along. It would’ve been easy for the devs to give them faces to characterize them more blatantly, but I think it’s funnier that they’re just regular 'ol unicycles. A strangely surreal little game.
“Random aside – Did anyone else feel the minimalist UI for this game was ahead of its time? I found it pretty slick.”
Yes. this game impressed me in many ways because it really went out left field. IT feels like it’s pushing something of a 2D adventure game. There’s no score and very minimal UI elements and you can’t ‘lose’ For a game that has so many nice aesthetic bits it clashes with all the things you’ve mentioned: difficulty, some wonky puzzles, and more.
It’s also a really good title for the Mega-CD with it’s haunting-yet-chilling-soundtrack and smooth animation. A Wicked combo, really. I kicked back at a friend’s house playing it when they were out of town and sipped on booze and played the game from start to finish in a single sitting, (peeking at youtube if i got stuck.) It was a pretty killer time really.
I missed June but intend to play those games at some point. I took a bit of breather from as much gaming and limited myself to mostly Yakuza and some things I had installed like over a year ago but never played. Onimusha looks really fun and tried to start that one but I was having weird issues with my controller but couldn’t play (strange because it worked with everything else even metal gear solid 2 which was what i played instead!) Might have to get a new controller!
That SNK handheld has a few games on it i’ve been curious, mostly Baseball Stars series, but i cant recall the must play games in the series (there was a new spin off released like 2 years ago for PC/Switch, looked fun!)
That is kind of a nice CRT effect TBH. I prefer raw unfiltered for this era. I do however colorize my game boy games with a few palettes I made for myself tho.
Learn something new!
Ah Demons Crest. that’s a fun one! I played that one about 8 months back or so. If you like the 8-bit style of Super Castlevania IV you won’t be disappointed! A great pick for the system for sure and it’s one of those that a good chunk of people prob haven’t played (but prob should!) I discovered it when digging through retroarch files and
I thought I had modified it into a wallpaper and some point but i guess not or can’t find it.
I played Uniracers once or twice with some kid-friend from school who had it. he had a few quirky games like that (zoop, something else i can’t remember the name of) I barely remember it at all. I’ll do my best to check it out.
Got to play a couple of minutes of Unirally. The controls seem a bit strange and I couldn’t grasp them easily. I can confirm that it is, indeed, quite strange. I’ll report back after a bit more rallying.
I have to admit that Unirally didn’t click with me. It’s quirky, I’ll give you that, but the racing gameplay didn’t hook me. Races for me were either trivial or impossible. In some I would speed past my opponent and in others my opponent would be too far ahead and I could do nothing to win. Either way, racing feels… lonely. And almost pointless, the fate of the race determined from the early start.
Okay, I have finished Onimusha so I’ll share some final thoughts on that now.
Overall, I really enjoyed my time with this game. I’ve already written about how I like the gameplay in general, and I think I only grew to like it more once I got the hang of targeting enemies and using projectile weapons more effectively. Being able to change swords on the fly was also extremely beneficial… I would have definitely hated not being able to do that quickly in the original version of the game.
One thing the remastered edition definitely needed though was the ability to skip cut scenes! I would die to bosses, and then have to sit through all the cut scenes again each time I gave it another go. I’m fine with save points and having to work my way back to the boss, but I just don’t like repeating the cut scenes multiple times. (This was by far my biggest encouragement to use up my medicines, lol.)
Endgame Story Spoilers
Overall the story was pretty by-the-numbers, hero defeats demons to save princess. But I did at least like how at the very end, Samanosuke gets to turn into a demon! And it was a cool monster design too. I assumed that meant he would be stuck down in the demon realm forever, which felt like a neat way to end the game – but after the credits he’s back somehow, so never mind lol. Guess we need some sequels.
But no final showdown with Nobunaga? That was something I was looking forward to the whole game, but nothing happened there. Probably in a sequel.
I did not attempt the Dark Realm gauntlet challenge in this playthrough, but I plan to give it a shot next time I play this game. I think part of the fun of games like this is that in subsequent playthroughs, you know where to go and what to do, so you’re better able to experiment more and explore areas more thoroughly. (I definitely didn’t find all the collectibles.)
Final batch of screenshots:
I mentioned it before, but the parts where you played as Kaede was nice for a change of pace. The gameplay didn’t change too drastically, but it made me approach enemies in a different way (i.e. don’t bother fighting them when I don’t have to).
Just as an aside… Samanosuke is hot, right? It’s not just me that thinks so?
The demon world was cool-looking… Too bad it was only three rooms!!!
All in all, a very good game! (And a good segue into Demon’s Crest for this month…) I am 100% for Capcom bringing back the other games in the Onimusha series. I will review this one some time soon, and share my final thoughts for SNK Gals Fighters.
I can now reply to your final thoughts on the game – and yes, my thoughts mirror yours for the final boss.
I did not have the powerful final sword though, so I found super snake more of a struggle. Not TOO difficult, but it took some time. I couldn’t let myself stay close to the enemy for long, because of that insta-kill grab that he does. (I didn’t have a revive talisman.)
I will have to give the dark realm a try for sure. The combat in this game is fun enough to warrant a gauntlet challenge.
Apparently collecting all of the fluorite crystals will grant you a bonus game. It is a 12-stage challenge called Oni Spirits, and winning that grants you an Ultimate Mode to play the game through with.
There is also a bonus costume for Kaede apparently. You have to complete the game with an S rank to unlock it.
A surprising number of unlockables for this game! I always like fun incentives to play through a game again, so long as the game isn’t too long. Onimusha is just the right length to warrant that IMO.
Final thoughts on SNK Gals’ Fighters
Had tons of fun with this one. I see myself going back to it regularly, and I plan to pick up any future Neo Geo Pocket Color games that get ported to the Switch in the future. (They recently announced Samurai Shodown 2 and King of Fighters R2 will be put on the eshop this summer.) These games control great, feel great, and just play great – their relative simplicity to most 2D fighters make them more approachable for me, especially for a quick pick-up-and-play handheld session.
What stands out most for Gals’ Fighters though is the humor, as I’ve mentioned before. With that in mind, I think I’ve decided my favorite character is the unlockable Yuki. From what I understand, she is a secondary side character in the King of Fighters series (i.e. not actually a fighter), so her inclusion here is just for fun.
And every move of hers is appropriately funny. Eyes closed, she either swings her schoolbag recklessly, or flails her arm about randomly while she hides her face behind her schoolbag. Or, perhaps oblivious to the fact this is a fight, she just gives her opponent a back-breaking bear hug. It all gives the cartooney impression that her victories are a wacky and bizarre fluke, the level of which would shock even Mr. Magoo. I love that Yuki’s special is eating a hamburger (for a health boost of course), and that one of her super moves is somehow causing a massive steel girder from a construction site’s crane to drop down on her opponent. (Or, hilariously, on herself if the opponent is too far away.) She even has a construction helmet on for that brief moment, going full Looney Tunes for us. This move is made all the funnier if it’s a finisher that defeats her opponent, whose life will dramatically flash before her eyes before death takes her. (At least, that’s how I always interpreted the sudden montage for the defeated character that passes by on-screen, lol.)
In other news, I’ve started Demon’s Crest and have even gotten the first demon’s crest (earth). I’m already digging this game’s aesthetic (any screenshot could make for a decent heavy metal album cover), but it’ll probably take some more time for me to get used to the controls. It’s definitely got a unique flow of movement, a difficulty that’s compounded by the fact your moveset apparently changes with each demon’s crest you equip. Looking forward to seeing how well the level design holds up over the course of the game.
How’s everyone doing on Demon’s Crest? Nobody has said much of anything for that game yet. So far I’m digging its general aesthetic, but I’m finding it pretty damn tough. I’m sure there is an optimal order in which to tackle the levels and bosses. For now I’m just flying from one random place to the next and generally just getting stomped. This game would’ve been great for kids with lots of free time back in the day, since if you have trouble with one stage you can give others a try – and hopefully you’ll earn a skill that will prove more useful against the more difficult bosses.
On top of the crests, there are also items and potions etc to try using… And I’ve been having trouble figuring out the actual use of some of them. (Or I use them and they don’t seem that helpful at all.) Not a game that holds your hand, lol.
As for Uniracers, are people having fun with that? I’ve dabbled in it some more, and I don’t think my opinion’s going to change too much. I would like to spend some more time in the stunt levels to see if I can actually improve my tricks a little. These segments make me think of this game as a sort of surreal 2D Tony Hawk game.
I’ve been re-playing (again) the Mass Effect trilogy full-time, so I haven’t played Demon’s Crest yet!
I find the movement in Demon’s Crest heavy and cumbersome. It’s a wonder because Capcom has produced plenty of examples of much nimbler characters and platformers during that era. It drains some of the fun out of it for me.
Uniracers falls squarely in the camp of games I loved as a kid/teen but only love now due to nostalgia. I think it was a wacky and fun concept at the time and I still enjoy it today, but I wonder if I would enjoy it if the game was a fresh experience.
I remember playing Uniraces with a friend 20 or so years ago. It took me many years to find it again, and I’ve been intending to try it again for a while now, but it somehow kept getting knocked down the priority ladder.
Playing it now, I feel it would be at most enjoyable if one were to memorise the individual levels to perfect one’s runs. This is of course an important component in all racing games, but in this case, as a result of the limited perspective and the fast-changing level design, you really can’t rely on twitch reactions at all. However for me, it’s not engaging enough to warrant the time-investment.
It’s a bit disappointing, as most games I revisit from that era I usually enjoy just as much now (if not more sometimes) as I did then.
Demon’s Crest is tough, and I think it’s in large part due to those “heavy” controls. You really have to commit to each movement and action you take, much like a classic Castlevania game. Firebrand is a tricky character to control, and his abilities are limited for each form he takes. His base form for example can not shoot more than one fireball at a time, which makes things difficult when there are multiple enemies and you happen to miss them. Then other demon’s crest forms take away his flight (er, hovering in place) and/or his climbing ability. (And by climbing ability, I really mean “latching onto a wall” ability.) Lots of limits to work with, and a TON of menu-hopping in order to swap forms every time the situation calls for it.
I’m kind of okay with most of this (with some exceptions*) – it just means getting used to the movement and controls and working with the tools available to you. But damn, these bosses. The bosses in this game are a real pain – not just because they’re difficult, but because some of them seem to take a million hits before they finally die. Meanwhile a single hit from one of them often means losing a third of your health instantly. (And get caught in a tight spot, and you’ll easily get hit twice.) I don’t want to jump on the Dark Souls comparison train too quickly, but…
I swear I spent at least a half-hour save-scumming against this damn wolf boss, and I still couldn’t beat it!!!
*one exception, for example: swimming between spikes in underwater segments – the hit box for those spikes is just too big, I’ve tried a hundred times to slip between them and Firebrand somehow gets hurt every damn time no matter what angle I attempt to pass through with. v_v
I’ll hopefully be able to get through the rest of this game by the end of the month, but we’ll see. Here’s some screenshots I’ve taken in the meantime:
Demon’s Crest Final Thoughts
I’ve finished playing through Demon’s Crest, so I’ll go over some of the things I liked and disliked about it.
- The game looks rad. Love the spritework in this one. Firebrand’s different forms look cool, the monsters in general are great, and the backgrounds are pretty fantastic.
- Unique setting and protagonist – play as a demon in hell, I am all for this. Firebrand has a different feel to how he controls, which takes some getting used to but I’m fine with that.
- The open-world setup is pretty cool for a game of this era. It feels satisfying to enter new areas in past levels, once you have the appropriate power-ups.
- Level design is quite bland for this game. Many sections you can just fly over. (Kirby games have this issue too, but at least those are intended to be lighter fare.) For the most part, I didn’t feel like Firebrand’s abilities were really utilized to their full potential, like in a good Wonder Boy game. And though the levels look cool, there weren’t really any particular parts that stick in my memory. Perhaps creativity could have been pushed more for this game. Kind of a small number of levels to begin with, tbh.
- I didn’t hate the music, but none of it stuck with me either. I kept hoping for something a little more dynamic than just droning, moody pipe organs. (Given the atmosphere, perhaps I simply can’t help but think of Castlevania, one of the top game franchises of all time as far as music is concerned.)
- Items – spells and potions were extremely underwhelming to me. Some things you’re not fully sure what they’ll do, or how well they’ll do it… and then you give it a try, and it seems nothing happens at all, so what was the point? Similarly, some abilities are not explained well in this game, which is par for the course for this era – but I found it more frustrating than usual in Demon’s Crest.
- I hate the bosses in this game. While the platforming for the levels wasn’t all that difficult, I found the bosses to be an ungodly pain. For the most part I didn’t find them that interesting to fight, or challenging in a good way. They just would take a ridiculous number of hits before they finally died. If a Dr. Robotnik boss fight is a pain, we can at least rest assured he will die in eight hits – how much fun would he be to fight if he took 80-something hits? And with no health bar to reference? It would’ve been lovely to at least know if the abilities I was using were having much (if any) effect on the Demon’s Crest bosses.
- Story is rather… meh? I get it, old games weren’t really trying hard to have an interesting plot. But I don’t know, I felt there was some potential in the rivalry between Firebrand and Phalanx, and their respective intentions for the demon world at large. I guess when you present me with an interesting premise, I have higher hopes for the story.