Blue’s Journey into Cosplay!

Use your leaf to save the planet Raguy!

Blue’s Journey, or ‘Raguy’ as it was known to Japanese audiences is a rare commodity on the Neo Geo gaming system – a platformer! Blue’s Journey isn’t the only platform game, but none are as colourful or as charming.

Playing as titular hero ‘Blue’, you and your trusty leaf must journey across the world of Raguy, saving the planet from the evil Daruma Empire. The plot might be cliché, but the levels are anything but. The stages are bright and varied, taking you from a jungle to a mechanical city in around 30 minutes.

Blue's Journey Flyer

My favourite part of playing Blue’s Journey is in meeting the inhabitants of Raguy. You really get the sense that developers Alpha Denshi hired artists who simply wanted to create really cool costumes! I love the insectoid vibe!

Raguy characters

The Color Blue (or Red, or Purple, or Green…)

The images I’m posting here are a small selection of the characters you’ll meet on the way. If you’re searching for ideas for your next cosplay, let the people of Raguy inspire you!

Raguy costumes

You can see more of Blue and his colourful journey over on Youtube. If you’d prefer to play the game but don’t have a Neo Geo and stacks of cash lying around, then check out the Virtual Console release on Nintendo’s Wii. You could also look out for its release on the Neo Geo X, volume 5!

You should also check out the 2-player co-operative mode!

If you’d like to watch a bit more fun with the game, I recommend heading to CineMassacre. James and Mike have a lot of fun with the game!

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

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.

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.

Aggressors of Dark Kombat

Give it all you got with the Aggressors of Dark Kombat!

If you’re a developer looking for a cool name for your latest one-on-one punch-up in the arcades, please stop reading now. Seriously, arcade and Neo Geo title Aggressors of Dark Kombat, should have stuck with its Japanese name of GanGan!

First, Kombat. With a K. Really?

Second, Aggressors? Really?! I would have gone with Warriors, or Fighters. or pretty much any other aggressive sounding word that isn’t actually aggressive.

Third, why is the aggressive combat ‘dark‘? I’ve played the game, watched countless videos, read as much as I can about the title, and I’m still clueless about the darkness!

Give it all you got - Aggressors of Dark Kombat

To understand this nonsensical name, let’s look at who developed this game, Alpha Denshi Corp. Or A.D.K. if you follow their own shorthand. So, they took their own company name as inspiration? This is from a developer that had previously created the “World Heroes” series. Sigh.

First time in the world! An astounding and realistic 3-D battle

Despite its uninspiring westernised name, Aggressors has plenty to enjoy. The ‘Kombat’ is solid, arcade-friendly button mashing with a few neat twists. Fights are only one round, but each combatant has a health bar that has several layers. Each player fills a ‘crazy’ meter as they fight, allowing the player to unleash a devastating finishing move which is a lot of fun to watch. You can also move outside of the usual 2D plane, though this particular innovation wasn’t the game-changer that it was hyped to be.

ADK characters

Characters in Aggressors of Dark Kombat are a mixed bunch. Of the eight fighters, only one is female, and you never see their names whilst playing! My favourite character is American Bobby “Brown Bullet” Nelson, a basketball player who fights to become famous. Obviously he does this by travelling the world, beating people up with his basketball.

Watch the ‘Bullet‘ battle though in this video:

As you’ll see and hear in the gameplay video, GanGan (as I prefer to think of it) has some really nice touches. The music is great, especially when the tempo rises during the final layer of a players health gauge. Backgrounds look great in most levels. The animation is limited, but I love the old lady walking her dog, ignoring the fight.

Weapons are a feature too, usually thrown in by the crowd, adding a touch of Final Fight to the occasion. Notice also the copious amounts of sweat falling from the fighers – not blood, but sweat!

Aggressors of Dark Kombat - Meet the Fighters

Finally, it is worth reading the ADK “Fighters Credo”:

1. Keep quiet and just fight!
2. Attack hand and gain power points! (whatever this means)
3. No rules, get them with weapons!
4. Throw ’em! Get ’em! Break their bones!

Yes, to put an end to the fight, anything goes to beat up your enemies!

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