Battle FlipShot and Bang Bead

Like Atari’s Pong? Play Battle Flip Shot and Bang Bead!

Getting people interested in a video game can be really hard. Sometimes the concept just doesn’t jump out at the reader in a summary of hype and exclamation marks. Pong-alike Neo Geo titles Battle Flipshot and its rare sequel Bang Bead are two such games.

Pong, upgraded.

The best way to learn about these games would be to play them, or watch them. Anyone familiar with Atari’s Pong, or an Air Hockey table, will instantly grasp the concept.

Both games have you select a character and go head-to-head in a pong-esque battle, defending your “goals” whilst trying to score against your opponent.

Battle Flipshot

In developer Visco’s first pong-alike, Battle Flipshot, you play as fun characters like Mr. Justice and Bloody Wolf. Between rounds you’ll get to see some wonderful “Engrish” as you progress, such as this nugget:

“There are marshall arts fighting freaks!”

Check out this Battle Flipshot arcade play-through and tell me this doesn’t look fun!

I usually include lots of promotional posters and box art covers in these Neo Geo posts. Unfortunately, it seems like someone forgot to market both games! It’s as if nobody could work out how to promote the concept! Here is their best effort for Battle Flipshot:

Battle Flip Shot
Sequel Bang Bead doesn’t fare any better in getting people hyped up. The tag line is fun though:

Turn the tables with a Miracle Ball!

And they have a stab at making the game sound exciting:

Seven wiley humans (and one robot) face off against each other in the frantic, smash hit sequel to Battle Flipshot! Put your reflexes to the ultimate test – Dash, dive and time the perfect shot to claim your fame as Bang Bead champ!

The box-art too is pretty cool, though gives you no clue about what the game might be about:

Bang Bead

Thankfully, Youtube makes it easy to see just how good Bang Bead is:

Without doubt, my favourite thing about Bang Bead is the Allagash Brewing Company “Best at Bang Bead Tournament”. Whilst researching the game, I discovered this really is an actual arcade tournament with Band Bead as its promoted star attraction!

Allagash Bang Bead

Better yet, Allagash know how to promote!

This time we are challenging your skill at an underrated classic that was never officially released in the US: Bang Bead! Sequel to the game Battle Flip Shot, this underground hit is known for its eccentric anime-trope characters and dubious English translations, but also for its extremely fast placed exciting game play.

Best described as a cross between pong and dodgeball, this is definitely one of those “minutes to learn, lifetime to master” type games. Chose your character, each with different speed and skills, and smash the ball back and forth trying to destroy all the stars behind your opponent, power sliding and blocking, all while building up energy to fire your “miracle shot”.

As you might have gathered, the only way to play Battle Flipshot and Bang Bead is on a Neo Geo. In this instance, I’d recommend firing up an emulator.

This post continues my series:
An irreverent and artistic A-Z of Neo Geo Gaming.

SNK's Art of Fighting on Neo Geo

The Art of Fighting

…or The Art of ‘Art of Fighting’

There are so many places I could start when writing about SNK’s Art of Fighting, I feel giddy just thinking about it. What could I add that hasn’t already been written about exhaustively by more authoritative sources?

Fortunately, this continuation of my Neo Geo series has a focus on the art and hype of games, and Art of Fighting knew how to handle itself in both regards!

Lightning

Before we get to the art, let’s look at the hype. This game, according to blurb at the time, surpassed all predecessors. No one knew of the awesome experience ahead of them! Art of Fighting would usher in a new wave of fighting games, with full-screen action and zoom-in sequences for close action and wide-screen effects during its all-out battles.

Playing Art of Fighting would let you see 8 Dealers of Destruction fight The Greatest Match Ever!

The Greatest Match Ever

For me, the best part of Art of Fighting is the character design. Take a look around the internet and few people will agree with me on this, but I’m not talking about the in-game characters. No, I’m looking at the art released at the time of the games’ release which varies a lot!

The image at the head of this post is from an advert released by SNK to boast about their No. 1 status in the arcades. But who are these fighters? Few seem to bare resemblance to the characters in the story poster above?

The two lead characters, Ryo (the invincible dragon) and Robert (the raging tiger) don’t suffer too badly. Except for the mullet… Ryo would probably prefer we didn’t notice that!

8 characters

The guy with the blue face and long nose is a bit of a mystery? He’s in the picture at the start of this article but he’s nowhere to be seen in most of the other artwork. Unless you’re looking at the box art (below) which definitely has someone with a long nose. Turns out this is Mr. Karate, the final boss! When you reach him, I recommend hitting him in his face!

Art of Fighting Box

Learn more about the Art of Fighting

I began this post by stating that others on the web have already covered this great game. If you like what you see here and would like to learn more, I recommend starting with the following:

The Arcade Flyer Archive – a truly fantastic resource for anyone interested in the history of games. You’ll find things like the image below!

Art of Fighting Guide

SNK Wiki – everything you could ever hope to learn about the Art of Fighting series can be found here.

Hardcore Gaming 101 – one of the best retro gaming sites on the internet, and a wealth of information about the Art of Fighting series.

If you’d like to play Art of Fighting, you have a lot of options. The original Neo Geo versions are my favoured choice, but you can find an Anthology release on the Playstation 2 and a Virtual Console release on the Nintendo Wii, both are arcade perfect.

You’ll also find less faithful ports on the 16-bit consoles of the day including the Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis.

This post continues my series:
An irreverent and artistic A-Z of Neo Geo Gaming.

Original Atari Combat Two Oil Painting

Who wouldn’t want this Original Atari Combat Two Oil Painting?

Browsing online this morning I came across this stunning auction on eBay for an original Atari Combat Two Oil Painting by commercial freelance illustrator Michel Allaire. I had followed some of Allaire’s other auctions lately, this Star Wars one is pretty great, and was slowly turning into a fan. But this 16.5 x 21 oil painting catapulted his work into my regular online watch list. While I might not be able to afford his worked, they are well into the 5 digit range. Just looking at them fires my imagination and inspires me.

This is what a good illustrator should do, and while it is easy for things like Star Wars, Atari could make it challenging. Their simple graphics needed to be represented as something more. An illustration of what you should see in your imagination. This is exactly what Allaire did for the unreleased Combat Two. A game that, as an original Combat fan, I would have loved. Sadly the game, never saw the light of day back in the 1980s (video game crash of 1983), although it would get all manners of releases in the new millennium.

So if you have some discretionary cash lying around and would like to own and original Atari Combat Two Oil Painting, or perhaps just gift it to me, check out the auction. It is filled with history on the piece and the artist and is still running for 19 more days.

It is on the pricey side at $42,000, but that is not bad when you consider this is a piece of history. Also, shipping is only $11.15, and that is very reasonable. You might want to make sure they add some insurance when they mail it.

Here are some close-ups of the painting. Admire the details


Andro Dunos CD

Fight the Space Battle of the Century in Andro Dunos

With multi-weapon shooting!

Andro Dunos, a horizontal shoot-em-up from developers Visco, is one of my favourite Neo Geo games. Most people don’t rate the game too highly but, as an arcade shooter, it ticks lots of boxes for me.

The ships (named Yellow Cherry and Red Fox) control really well; your weapons handle the action nicely; level design is clean and offers variety; the difficulty curve is just right.

Everything I love about shmups is in Andro Dunos. It even had nice artwork in its promo material!

Andro Dunos flyer

And yet, there is something missing.

Originality

I don’t think Andro Dunos does anything new or innovative. Weapon powerups are a mix of Gradius and R-Type. Level designs take liberties with classics like Salamander and Thunder Force. You’ll probably get a sense of deja vu throughout the 45 minutes it’ll take you to play through its 8 stages.

The only original thing from the game is the striking artwork at the head of this post, taken from the Neo Geo CD release. Makes a nice change from the generic ships-in-space images that are usually used. See above flyer for a prime example.

You can watch the game played through on the RetroGameWorld YouTube channel:

I’m not the only one who likes Andro Dunos. Whilst researching the game, I found that someone has created a tshirt design which you can buy over at Etsy.

Andro Dunos T-Shirt

The only way you can play Andro Dunos is on the Neo Geo – any flavour, just as long as it has an SNK badge.

This post continues a new series from me:
An irreverent and artistic A-Z of Neo Geo Gaming.

Alpha Mission 2

Suit Up, Hold Your Breath and Stand Ready for the Unbelievable Alpha Mission 2

Surely they meant Beta Mission?

One of the things that makes “retro gaming” so much fun for me is being able to use the internet to look back at how the game was perceived at the time. I enjoy playing the games, but looking back at old magazine reviews, seeing the hype and marvelling at the advertising; that’s what I really love about the hobby.

Except when you can’t do those things. Alpha Mission II, or Armored Scrum Object II: Last Guardian if you’re in Japan, is a brilliant shoot-em-up. It’s also a game that defies the logic that the internet is the source of all knowledge.

Alpha Mission 2 Box Art

You can find a few magazine scans, box art images and other material from its release in 1991. But, compared to other games produced for the MVS and Neo Geo platforms, Alpha Mission 2 is remarkable because of the lack of hype.

That’s surprising for a sequel, especially when they had such a good backstory…

The lunar nightmare of a bloody 200-year space war was thought to be over in the “original” ALPHA MISSION. But now with the advent of more technically sophisticated weapons, the evil “Fulvar” and his “Seven Star Alliance” have returned to destroy all planets that stand in their way of the ultimate target… Earth! Now in the year of 2525! Your mission as pilot of the new SYD-FX fighter is to use every weapon at your disposal to rid the galaxy once and for all of the evil that now dominates and threatens Earth. So suit up, hold your breath, and stand ready for unbelievable graphics and stereo sound that’ll suck you into the far reaches of deep, dark inner space. Be prepared… you may never come back!

And how cool does this bad guy look. He’s one of the smallest you’ll fight!

Alpha Mission 2 Baddie

Believe the non-existent hype, Alpha Mission 2 is awesome!

In Alpha Mission 2, you’ll find a smart, visually arresting, vertical shoot-em-up. It’s as tough as nails to stay alive, but you can keep feeding the game credits to see all seven levels. The bosses are magnificent and HUGE. Your ship is the perfect foil for them provided you learn how to use its power. You’ll also find a superb soundtrack beating away in the background.

I really can’t say enough to promote this game. If you still need convincing, this play-through is messy but lets you see everything.

If you don’t have access to the arcade or Neo Geo originals, you can also find the game on Sony’s Playstation Network, playable on PS3 and PSP.

This post continues a new series from me:
An irreverent and artistic A-Z of Neo Geo Gaming.