Saturday, November 30, 2013

The Great Paper Adventure (Xbox Live)

Horizontal
Checkpoints OFF
3 Difficulty levels
5 Stages
Ship speed fixed
- - - - - - -
Developed by Valryon
Published by Valryon in 2011


Upon a quick look at the demo it’s almost impossible for anyone who once was a gamer during the glory days of 8-bit gaming not to get hooked to The Great Paper Adventure. If you identify yourself with that generation, how could you resist the infectious chip tune music that adorns the hand-drawn graphics of this little title? That’s what prompted me to purchase the game, regardless of how vanilla the actual gameplay looked. It seemed decent enough for another cheap downloadable romp, plus it had flying cows in the first stage. Flying cows! Not even the Parodius series had flying cows, as far as I can remember. And to be honest, the last I had seen cows being correctly used in video games was in Earthworm Jim. Or Deathsmiles, I guess.

Jokes aside, The Great Paper Adventure doesn't try to do anything out of the ordinary. In fact it's a pretty straightforward nonsensical cute'em up. As its name implies, the art design is crafted as if you were playing amongst colorful paper sheets, and it succeeds at that besides the simplicity. For example, it surpasses the efforts of Border Wars while being probably on par with Paper Sky, two other similarly designed XBLIG shmups I have already savored (do I have a soft spot for these kinds of graphics, I wonder?). The Great Paper Adventure plays marginally better than these two games though, albeit not quite adhering to all genre conventions. The most severe oversight is not having an overall score for the whole game, instead you register individual scores for each section of a level. That's the exact same way you deal with scoring in Who's That Flying? for the Playstation Network, for example.

How about more ice for that cream?

Unfortunately, whatever enthusiasm I might have had prior to playing the game waned fast once I actually sat down and spent some time with it. As colorful and lighthearted as it is, the appeal of The Great Paper Adventure wears off once you notice there's no real sense of progress through the levels. You're just thrown in a series of different environments marked by uneven enemy presence and the occasional quirky bosses (at least they move a lot despite the poor animation). There are a few sections with a little more variety, such as the one that scrolls to the left and ends with a fight against a zombified little mermaid or the one where you're chasing a flying ice-cream amidst a shower of snowballs. On the paper and in screenshots these descriptions sound really great, but the gameplay does not match that part of the design at all.

The right trigger shoots and the left trigger fires a screen-clearing bomb (it doesn't matter if the bomb doesn't hit anything, for as soon as it clashes against the edge of the screen the explosion will happen). Every now and then the player comes across temporary weapon power-ups, which include SMG (doubles and then spreads the regular shot), fire, rocket, shotgun (a severely capped 3-way shot) and "stuff". Two or more SMGs are good as well as rocket, while fire is very powerful but with weird reach. The idea behind "stuff" is nice, but the execution is awful because it ends up being the worst weapon in the game: what it does is drop a series of random stuff that bounces around and do almost no damage. What's worse is that the random stuff is rendered just like enemies and leads to unnecessary confusion. Other items that might appear are extra bombs and extra lives (hearts).

Attempts at humor in the story start with the journey of the nameless hero to reach his grandma's for dinner. That made me think... Is being hungry a reference to Rami or Cotton? Their main motivation is always food! Anyway, the influence from Parodius is obvious, but there's also a strong nod to Mega Man in the last boss fight. Other than that, be prepared to face several variations of octopuses, as well as dolphins, cactuses, dudes with sombreros, creatures mutated by toxic waste, inflating pumpkins and witches on brooms shooting cats. The hero's ship is a little too big for my taste but at least that doesn't get in the way of the gameplay, which shuns the widescreen format in favor of a classic 4:3 aspect ratio.


Official trailer for The Great Paper Adventure
(courtesy of YouTube user and developer Valryon)

Since the game always refills your life stock for every level, more serious gamers will only want to play it on Hard. Besides, on Normal and Easy you're allowed to destroy lots of enemy shots! Deaths are often caused by enemies appearing from behind or from the sides, but most of the time bullets and enemies cruise the screen slowly. That makes even the Hard setting a comfortable and easy ride if you're a seasoned player. The scoring side of the experience is simple, with an added bonus at the end of every section where you get 10.000 points for each remaining life and 5.000 points for each bomb in stock. Therefore it's tempting to use bombs in order to wipe out large foes and reap more points, just remember that the number of bombs is unrelated to life stock. At certain parts bombs are definitely needed to escape walls of enemies coming from behind.

To accomplish a 1CC run I had to erase the save file from the game because it keeps a high score table for each section in a stage. The final group result is shown below, as well as the sum of all individual scores (7.191.923 points). And that's it: great music, disappointing action and truncated performance tracking. Probably more fun for starters.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Super Shooting Towns (FM Towns)

Horizontal / Vertical
Checkpoints OFF
1 Difficulty level
4 Stages
Ship speed fixed
- - - - - - -
Developed by Amorphous
Published by Amorphous in 1991


In the realm of console titles that allow users to develop their own games, I'm sure some of the most famous ones are those from the Dezaemon series, dedicated exclusively to the classic shooting genre. Throughout history there were other more obscure attempts made for shmups and other genres as well, and in the case of the FM Towns computers/consoles the shooter representatives are Shooting Towns and Super Shooting Towns. Recently I spent some time with the latter, which is much less rare than the first one and is advertised by the developer as a "super shooting tool". Printed in the initial pages of the thick instruction manual is "welcome to the game factory", so if you're able to read Japanese feel free to start building your own shmup with it.

I have already thought about designing my own shooter, but no matter how willing I might get from time to time I certainly won't be using Super Shooting Towns to do that. Not only are the disc and system really old by now, but there's also the language barrier and a handful of hardware details that I'd have to learn prior to starting the journey. Therefore, as a shmupper the fun I could extract from Super Shooting Towns came down to the sample game, a very short demonstration of the engine's development capabilities. This sample game is so bare-bones in its presentation that it doesn’t even have a name, options or any other expected complements such as an attract mode. Just boot the disc and play it. By the contents of the manual I guess you can use the editing tools to tweak this sample game as you wish.

"Are my nice red wings okay, brother bee?" 

The nicest thing about the sample game in Super Shooting Towns is the choice the developer made for the overall design: everything is insect-based. I love insect-based games, and even though this one serves more as a collector’s diversion it’s still a valid entry into a gallery that includes titles such as Insector X. Here the player controls a red beetle and travels through two stages with horizontal scrolling and two stages with vertical scrolling, fighting other insects of varying sizes along the way (use button A to shoot). As a rule of thumb you don’t die by colliding against enemies of your own size, so besides dodging the star-shaped bullets you’re also supposed to avoid large foes.

Multiple planes that move at different speeds are what immediately attract the attention in the sample game. The sheer number of parallax layers creates an appealing atmosphere, especially in the dense forest of the first level. While that’s a neat demonstration of the capabilities of the construction engine, I can’t state the same about the frame rate. The scrolling and the animation aren’t exactly on par with the parallax and the abundance of colors, which results in the gameplay being slow, murky and a little choppy. That said, a couple of bosses are the graphical highlight of the game, even though they don’t get even close to the awesome bosses seen on the Mega Drive port of Insector X. That’s only a hint at how underwhelming Super Shooting Towns is if you consider it’s running on a 32-bit platform. The only aspect in the game that can stand on its own is the music, which is mildly amusing.

On the actual gameplay, soon you notice some bugs are invincible to your firepower. That happens because they’re of the same species as you! Most of the time they cruise the screen in straight lines, bringing power-up items behind them. Just shoot to release and take the items. Distinguishing between them, however, is a task in itself, especially with the upgrades and options: you can either have a forward increase in power or a rear shot, and you can either get up to two fixed options or two rotating options (they look like little versions of the protagonist beetle). Finally, a heart-shaped icon is equal to an extra life (plus there's also an extend for each defeated boss). Dying strips you off everything, but thankfully it’s easy to recover firepower. In fact, the whole experience is extremely light and should only offer proper difficulty for children.


Super Shooting Towns - complete game
(courtesy of YouTube user PepAlacant)

As of now I’ve never been able to see what Shooting Towns is about, so I still can’t assess which is the “best” one. As for Super Shooting Towns, I’ll probably never be able to confirm if it’s actually a “super shooting tool” as the developer puts it, and since it’s far more worth as a collectible than a proper game real players won’t be missing much by avoiding it. In any case, FM Towns fans who dig oddities might feel compelled to check a disc called Excellent 10, which was published by the same company and includes ten games developed with the tools available in Shooting Towns and Super Shooting Towns.

Below is my final score for the sample game in this one. If it had been harder it would've been more fun, but alas... It's more of a collector's pleasure anyway!

Friday, November 15, 2013

Fren-zE (Playstation 2)

Vertical
Checkpoints OFF
1 Difficulty level
3 Stages
Ship speed fixed
- - - - - - -
Developed by hermitgames
Published by hermitgames in 2005


Going after the more obscure items is something that will eventually happen to all collectors if they continue digging deeper into their hobby. In my case, one of the most interesting shmup oddities I came across recently is Fren-zE, a little game inserted with absolutely no warning in a demo disc that came with the 55th issue of the Official UK Playstation 2 Magazine, released in 2005. By no warning I mean the game isn’t mentioned anywhere in the DVD-sized cover (since I only own the disc I can’t vouch for the magazine). Fren-zE is also present in the demo disc of the previous issue of the same publication (#54), and although normally hidden it can be unlocked with a simple controller button combination.

A rather simple homebrew vertical shooter with minimalistic design, Fren-zE has shades of previous independent works such as the ones delivered by ABA Games (rRootage, Parsec 47). Vector-based graphics establish the mood for your lone ship to go against a series of abstract enemies and bosses in three stages. We all know this visual approach has been beaten down to death by years of independent PC game development and tons of questionable similar games released through XBLIG, but nevertheless I’m thankful that this title exists in physical form for the Playstation 2. Despite its simplicity, Fren-zE is sympathetic enough and serves as a good exercise in micro-dodging and bullet pattern recognition. Plus I’ve finally found a shooter that rivals Score Rush in having just a single badass BGM playing during the whole game.

Opening screen

Once the disc boots you’ll find Fren-zE in the Comedown section of the main menu. There are absolutely no frills about it, no options, no special settings, just an opening screen waiting for the game to be started. Shapes of different colors and sizes convey the idea of spaceships and saucers while slow patterns of triangle and square bullets dictate the dodging flow. Lives and score display appear on the left, high score on the right. Destroy everything with button × and collect the blue dots left behind for points, each dot being worth 1 point only. Mid-bosses and bosses yield a yellow power-up, for every 50 points scored the player gains a new life and when you die you're respawned in the same place with no power loss. It’s that simple, so anything beyond this falls into the category of gameplay details.

Since every enemy leaves a single dot to be collected for score, the maximum amount of points a player can get from beating the game is 297. When a boss is defeated your performance is tallied and you're told if he was “unlocked”, a reward for getting all possible dots in the previously played level (55 in the first one, for example). Unlocked bosses return for a boss rush after the third stage is completed, and by defeating them again a brief message displays your rank status in a humorous fashion. There’s a very amateurish bug in the game that sends your score back to the one you had between stages 2 and 3 every time the boss rush starts, but at least the high score display keeps your performance up to that point. Since there’s no extra prize for getting through the boss rush, not even a few more points or a marginal increase in difficulty, it just comes out as a lame afterthought for an extra stage – the only real letdown in an otherwise competent little shooter.

Being so short naturally serves as motivation for one to try perfecting the score, and as soon as I had reached the end I decided to film a sample credit and refine my strategies based on it. The first level isn’t hard at all, but positioning gets increasingly relevant after that. Come the bullet spams of the third level it’s really hard not to lose lives in order to get all the blue dots. Speaking of which, dots are subject to the ship’s gravitational force, so you don’t need to exactly touch them to register the catch. This is very important because later on they come in flocks and it's pretty easy to lose them if they're spread around the screen. Using the gravity field of the ship to attract the dots is definitely needed if you want to score higher.

A brief look on the 3rd stage of Fren-zE on the Playstation 2
(courtesy of YouTube user Ejay444)

Fren-zE might be a curiosity reserved only for those willing to track down a demo disc, but I can’t deny it’s a nice one. It’s an excellent way to introduce new players to the wonders of the reduced hitbox in shooting games, after all the glowing square in the spaceship’s dead center is the only part of it that’s subject to damage at any given time. As for the red cores present on bosses, never mind them. Bosses have no weak points at all, their whole bodies are always subject to damage. Considering the fact that bosses time out and might leave the screen, it's important to concentrate fire on them in order to always get the power-ups they leave behind. Point blanking helps a lot, but overall the firepower and the built-in firing rate are perfectly balanced and evolve in harmony with the increase in bullet count.

A more accessible PC remake/revision can be downloaded directly from the developer’s website (although a relatively obscure developer, hermitgames also made the moderately successful caravan-styled Leave Home for XBLIG). The PC reworking of Fren-zE includes an extra stage, improved presentation and is graphically a little more fleshed out than its PS2 counterpart. However, the added reflect mechanic makes a significant dent in the challenge level.

Below is my final result on the Playstation 2 game: maximized score, all bosses unlocked for the post-stage and pilot status of CAFFEINE FUELLED NINJA CAT. I recorded the run but unfortunately my capture card wasn't able to deal with the PAL video format, thus everything appeared in black and white.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Galaga '88 (Playstation 2)

Vertical fixed
Checkpoints OFF
5 Difficulty levels
29 Stages
Ship speed fixed
- - - - - - -
Developed by Namco
Published by Namco in 2005


Vertical shooters where you dodge bullets along a fixed horizontal line represent a very special category in the shooting genre. Most of them fail to offer any valuable excitement for whatever reasons, be it for their simplicity or the lack of a final goal, i.e. proper ending. Within the series initiated by Galaxian in 1979 on the trail of Space Invaders, the first game to offer both a batch of innovations and a clear ending is Galaga '88. Coming after Galaga and Gaplus, it's still regarded by many people as the highlight of the franchise and a classic in its own right. A few console ports of the game were released ever since, including a much lauded PC Engine/Turbografx-16 version and emulation jobs included in more recent Namco compilations.

Playstation 2 owners can enjoy Galaga '88 by means of the US release of Namco Museum 50th Anniversary. The only minor catch here is that when the disc is played for the first time you need to score at least 40.000 points in Galaga to unlock the game (don't forget to manually save your performance before turning off the console!). If you're playing the Japanese version of the compilation, titled Namco Museum Arcade Hits!, Galaga '88 comes unlocked right off the bat. I'm quite fond of the interface Namco came up with on these discs, the arcade cabinet arrangement and the songs from the 80s are a nice touch. Unfortunately there's no TATE option for any of the vertical games in the collection, so bigger TVs are definitely welcome (the other verticals are Galaxian, Galaga, Xevious and Dragon Spirit).

One of the nicest things about Galaga '88 is the scoring system. With 29 stages, the game has an organic structure and evolves according to the player's boldness. Play well, be aggressive and reach a higher dimension while scoring better along the way. Be shy, avoid danger and tread an easier game with lesser scores. That being said, I must confess I chickened out and chose the second path.

Boss Galagan in capture activity and a free-falling blue canister

Sticking to an easier game is pretty much a matter of choice. Advancing to higher dimensions isn't complicated, all you need to do is collect two of those blue canisters left behind by an obstacle or by one of those giant bugs formed from the fusion of two smaller enemies. By doing so a dimensional rift will open after the bonus level, granting a score bonus and sending the ship against different batches of enemies. Sure, the game gets increasingly harder no matter what, but sticking to lower dimensions keeps the odds more favorable to survival. But alas! I'm getting ahead of myself here!

Galaga '88 begins by allowing the player to choose a single or a double ship to start the credit (for the latter you get one spare ship only). Waves of outer space insect flocks dart into the screen in rotating patterns. They might shoot or dive into you while entering the play field, and once all of them have settled in formation they’ll start their specific attacks. Enemies come in varying sizes and in a multitude of colors, static backgrounds change for every level as you advance and there are even a couple of sections with scrolling backgrounds. The memorable sound design mixes a healthy gallery of bleeps and clanks with brief music snippets and longer BGMs, lending a nice, unique flavor to the twitchy gameplay.

Every once in a while, more specifically in stages 3, 7, 14, 18, 22 and 26, the message THAT’S GALACTIC DANCIN’ tells the player he/she is entering a bonus area, much like the challenging stage of the original Galaga. If you manage to destroy all 40 bugs in it you get 10.000 points (letting all of them live gives you a secret bonus of 10.000 points). The galactic dancing thing isn’t just a fancy name, the enemies really seem to be dancing – note how they always enter the screen at specific points of the music. Those who know where and when the bugs are coming from have better chances at grabbing the extra points in a bonus area.

As I mentioned above, after the bonus level the game checks how many blue canisters you have collected. Two canisters send you to the next dimension, one or none do nothing. Each dimension comes with different enemies in different formation patterns. For instance, if you keep advancing you’ll be facing inflatable bubble enemies and shielded bugs with progressively more aggressive behavior. The fifth dimension is the farthest you can reach, afterwards blue canisters serve only as source for a few more points. Such a branching system is quite unique and allows for a flexible management of the challenge level, since you just need to avoid the canisters to play an easier game. The only moment where you’re forced to advance dimensions is in stage 10, since you’re automatically sent forward if you haven’t reached dimension 2 yet. Because of this Galaga '88 comes with four different endings, one for each finishing dimension (2, 3, 4 or 5).

Probably the worst credit of Galaga '88 ever played
(courtesy of YouTube user Brian Dunaway)

There’s no doubt that this game is fun, and it’s probably one of the most accomplished old school fixed shooters. I do have some gripes with it though, such as the firing rate. In Galaga '88 (or any Galaga game for that matter) it’s not enough to shoot, you need to aim. Dying because you missed that pesky bug in its descending arch becomes more and more infuriating. Dying because an enemy dives on you and you have no firepower to fight back often comes with a “bullshit” exclamation, on my part at least. Of course memorization and dodging are still in order, but in a fixed shooter like Galaga '88 these skills are in a whole different league than the majority of the other games in the genre. And I suck at it... Having a turbo controller doesn't help much because bullets come out in bursts instead of a continuous firing stream. That’s why in order to keep the stakes at a favorable level 100% of the players prefer to start the game with the double ship, allowing a boss Galagan to capture it as soon as possible (they're the green bugs in the uppermost formation line that generally appear in the third or fourth incoming wave and take two hits to kill). One of these bugs always approaches and emits a tractor beam, so let yourself be taken when this happens. Wait until it leaves its resting place and kill it while in flight, without hitting the ship behind it. When done right, the released double ship will descend and merge with the spare ship to create a triple ship, with a larger hitbox but much more effective firepower.

Whenever the triple ship is hit you revert back to the double ship, get hit again and you’re left with a single ship. To regain another ship and make it double or triple just wait for the next tractor bug and do it all over again. That’s easier said than done, of course, especially in later levels. Speaking of which, later on the last enemy in a stage might leave a shiny pink canister behind: take it and get promoted to a triple ship at once, regardless of your current status. I’d say keeping the triple ship throughout the game is essential to survive in the long run, as well as to score better. By advancing dimensions scoring possibilities increase in line with the difficulty but there are also other ways to get more points, such as performing well in the galactic dancing or killing the lemon-like insects only when the bug formation has been fully assembled (destroy their falling debris, different colors award different points). All secondary forms of bugs that merge or split are also worth more, as well as all destructible obstacles.

By default the player wins extends at 50, 140, 300 and 480 thousand points. Once the credit is over a map shows your progress across the dimensions, as well as stats on shots fired, number of hits and destruction ratio. The port of Galaga '88 on the Namco Museum 50th Anniversary starts at difficulty 1, but the setting should be changed to 3 in order to match the arcade difficulty. There’s no auto-save feature on the disc, so if you want to keep your high scores remember to always get out of the game and save before turning off the console. The 1CC result below was achieved on difficulty 3. I got the ending for the 2nd dimension, with the aid of a turbo controller for proper autofire.


After Galaga '88 the series continued with Galaga Arrangement, released in a compilation arcade game in 1995 (not to be confused with the 2005 PSP version of Galaga Arrangement).

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Tekkaman Blade (SNES)

Hybrid (Horizontal / Fighting)
Checkpoints OFF/ON
3 Difficulty levels
7 Stages
Ship speed fixed
- - - - - - -
Developed by Interbec
Published by Interbec in 1993


We all know genre-hybrid titles have become more common as of late, but the mixture of a horizontal shooter with a fighting game is still very unlikely no matter how far-fetched the concept. If the idea sounds good to you then perhaps it would be worth to check out Tekkaman Blade, released exclusively for the Super Famicom in Japan. Enjoying the experience, however, isn’t guaranteed by any means, for both the shooting and the fighting aspects of this game aren’t engaging enough and leave a lot to be desired. It’s no wonder Tekkaman Blade is quite obscure even among shooter or SNES fans, and my guess is that most people that care (or cared) about it are in some way fond of the animated series, created by Tatsunoko Productions at around the time of the game’s release.

The story of the anime takes place in the future and involves a deviant hero name Tekkaman Blade helping the Earth to repel an outer space invasion led by other armored soldiers like Blade himself. This isn’t conveyed in any way by the game, the only hints to any story appear in the brief dialogue sequences prior to each boss fight and in the ending credits, all of them in Japanese. What matters for us is that Tekkaman Blade must fight his way through the horizontal levels to finally confront an enemy on the ground of several orbital stations, in pure Street Fighter fashion. A double-bladed spear is his weapon of choice, be it while flying or brawling.

Flying and exerting justice with a badass weapon is awesome, right? It kinda sounds as if you’re playing as one of the heralds of Galactus! Even the way in which the character arrives on screen in every stage supports this geeky association. Unfortunately the shooting side of the journey suffers from repetitive/clunky gameplay. The fighting engine doesn’t fare much better, actually it’s even worse.

Evil creatures on an icy planet

During six stages the first part of our hero’s quest consists of a straightforward shooting section (the 7th and last level is the only one with just a shooter style confrontation against the last boss). Use Y to throw a spear that comes back to you like a boomerang, use B to slash whatever is at close range (including most bullets). There’s a health bar that gets depleted as you receive damage, and once the health bar is emptied you lose a life. The good news in the gameplay is that you are respawned in the same place if you die in the shooting parts. The bad news is that there’s no health bar refill when it’s time to fight a boss. Since you have only three lives with no extends in sight, reaching the bosses with the maximum possible health becomes crucial if you want to stand a chance at finishing the game on one credit.

In general, performing decently in the shooting parts is enough to go a long distance, especially when you realize that the fighting engine is atrociously limited. As a result, bosses come out as retarded robots waiting to be annihilated. The same inputs of the shooting parts apply here, but the spear isn’t thrown as a long-distance weapon anymore: Y makes him stick it forward and B performs a slash at closer range. Crouching, jumping and blocking enemy attacks is accomplished as in a Street Fighter game. Whenever one of the fighters receives a certain amount of blows he/she loses the weapon and has to rely on punches and kicks only (in the case of Tekkaman Blade these replace Y and B, respectively). If this happens, avoiding further damage will make the weapon materialize again after a while.

Don’t be envious of the bosses when you see them fire long-range laser attacks. Provided you haven’t lost your weapon, you can also do it by pressing A and X at the same time. The problem is that this attack is unresponsive and quite slow, and as a rule of thumb the best “strategy” against most bosses consists of approaching, beating them so they lose their weapons and slashing them to death, preferably in a corner. Never mind the few punches they might land on you, keep going and don’t let them breathe. I used different methods in just two bosses because they were more retarded than others: in the case of Tekkaman Axe (stage 3) and Tekkaman Sword (stage 5), just retreat to the left and block; as soon as they jump and bounce back hit them with any of the two attacks at your disposal.

Stage 3 and a desperate fight against Tekkaman Axe
(courtesy of YouTube user penguinpanda0)

In order to get through the flying levels the player needs to get used to the slow speed of the spear throw. Some enemies tend to cruise the screen faster than the return of the spear, and the only remedy around this is either welcoming them with a slash or moving out of their way. The pair of mid-bosses prior to the actual boss fight requires some patience to be dealt with, but once you’re used to their moving patterns much of the danger is gone. Crystal power-ups appear when a particular drone wave is destroyed: the green one refills the health bar partially, the blue one makes Tekkaman Blade invincible for a little while and the red one adds one smart bomb to be triggered with button X during the shooting section only. Don’t try to save the smart bomb for the next stage, it will only be available during the level you’re currently playing.

Had Tekkaman Blade received proper technical attention, I’m sure it would be a terrific game. I already mentioned all elements that make the concept such a cool idea. What holds it from being even an average game are the abundance of star-dotted backgrounds, the average music, the slow shooting action and the stupid AI in the fighting sequences. Okay, at some point the music of the first level started growing on me, but when I noticed it appeared again towards the end of the game I was reminded of how modestly designed the whole product actually is. In fact, from the little I researched about it the anime seems to be quite amusing, so I guess I must be thankful to Tekkaman Blade on the SNES for bringing that to my attention. For those interested, the game also has a Versus mode where two friends can select their favorite Tekkamen for some awful mindless brawling. Remember Justice League Task Force?

After the end credits the game lets you take note of your final score in the screen below. As you can see, I played it on Normal. No lives were lost on this run.