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Thursday, May 28, 2009

Collection Oddities: Legend of Zelda Storybook, Molblin's (Moblin) Magic Spear

If it isn't obvious from my review of the Sailor Moon Vanity Case, we like to add oddball items to our collections. So I'm going to try to feature one of these each week. This week's is a vintage Legend of Zelda storybook, Molblin's Magic Spear. Published in 1989 it's a 23 page "Golden look-look book". Apparently some of these came with a cassette tape as well but it's rare. It's set up as if there should be an entire series of these, but to my knowledge only this one produced. Which for a geek like me is sad, I would love to have an entire series of silly Zelda storybooks.

The story follows a completely original storyline. The characters you recognize are there Moblin obviously (though it's spelled molblin as it is in the NES booklet for the first Zelda), Link, Impa, Gannon, & Princess Zelda. There are also a few "new" monsters running around but, they're pretty inconsequential. Which reminds me how come the whole of Hyrule is populated by hostile animals? If Link is in a town sure there are a few friendly ones, but as soon as he's outside, BAM! everything wants to kill him. Furthermore, since they won't leave Link alone most of the time, it's clear that they're some pretty aggressive creatures so how come you don't see dead citizens littering the roads? Something to ponder.

Back to the story, basically Link encounters a giant moblin with a magic spear that reappears in his hand as soon as he throws it which causes poor link quite a problem. Why this is of particular concern to link I'll never know since, EVERY SINGLE MOBLIN EVER, has a spear that does this. In any case link uses his rupees and his wit to get by this obstacle and keeps making his way towards princess Zelda.

The art is an interesting mixture of character designs from the cartoon show the original NES booklets as well as some original designs. It's also worth noting that Link apparently became ambidextrous just for this adventure as the illustrations vary which hand he's holding the sword with. Also, I can't help noting that Zelda while pretty true to her Zelda II: The adventure of Link booklet appearance looks a lot more like the original design for princess peach/toadstool. While I'm at it, I'd like to point out that her Zelda II booklet illustration looks nothing like how she looks in the game and nor like the Zelda we're used to today, though to be fair neither does Link.
Character designs aside, the art is actually not bad especially for something that didn't come directly from Nintendo. Overall it's really not good but, it's not bad either. It is definitely another oddity I'm very happy to have.


We occasionally have this book for sale in our shop check for it here.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Retro Review Tuesday Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!!

In honor of a new Punch-Out!! game being released on the Wii, (which I happily report I've purchased and am a fan of) I thought I'd review the NES classic version. It's worth noting that the US release of Punch-out!! on the NES comes in two flavors, Mike Tyson's Punch-out!! and Punch-Out!! featuring Mr. Dream. This review covers the earlier version and the one most people, myself included, are the most familiar with, Mike Tyson's Punch-out!!


Punch-out!! is another entry on the long list of vintage games that take less than 1 hour of straight gameplay to beat yet ate the majority of your childhood and adolescence with it's pixelated evil.

It has a fairly simple premise, you fight the boxers in three brackets, minor, major and world, beat them and move on. Like all games it's fairly easy at first and ramps up the difficulty as you progress.There are 14 bouts total, assuming you don't lose. When you lose a match you either rematch or you get down ranked and have to fight the previous fighter before getting your rematch, if you lose three times, Little Mac retires and your game is over. Each bout consists of no more than 3 rounds lasting "3 minutes" (it says 3 minutes, but the counter is definitely NOT real time) in that time you have to knock out your opponent or knock them down three times in one round for a TKO. If you don't knock you opponent out or get knocked out at the end of 3 rounds a winner is chosen by decision. Sometimes a decision can be your best friend, but be aware that with some boxers you CAN NOT win by decision no matter how well you did in the fight.

Controls for this, like most early NES games are pretty simple. Use the D-pad to move left and right and to block and duck. The A and B buttons are left and right punches, just the buttons for body blows and the buttons plus up for hooks. You mash both buttons to get Mac of the mat if you get knocked done. Use the start button to start rounds and use your star punches. Use select to get an energy boost from doc between rounds, unfortunately this technique can only be used once per bout and is very inconsistent. You rejoice when your bar returns to full and curse doc and his useless encouragement when you only get a small sliver back. It's also worth noting that using select when you have a full health bar causes it to decrease. Overall the controls are easy to use and responsive especially for a game this early on in Nintendo life.Which is a good thing as timing and quick reflexes are vital to playing Punch-Out!! I'd suggest thoroughly checking your controller prior to loading this in your NES (Sure,you CAN play it via emulator but, you know it's not the same) because if you've got a sticky or unresponsive button, you're not going to get very far.

The music is great in the way most classic NES titles were it's repetitive, catchy and completely awesome. In fact as a child, I loved the biking screen music so much that I made up words, none of which were very flattering to poor doc and his immense girth perch atop the bike...*ahem*
If the Rocky series had a soundtrack composed entirely of a limited range of 8-bit sounds, it would sound like this only less epic.

The graphics while not fantastic are actually pretty good for the NES days. The crowd in the background actually moves during a fight, the larger than life fighters have a wide variety of expressions and animations, and the title screen features "3d" boxing glove punching through it, which is probably the best animations in any NES game of the time.


You take on the role of Little Mac, 17 year old Boxing Phenom from Bronx, NY in his quest to become the WVBA world champion. Helping him along the way is Doc Louis, his long time trainer who we see during round breaks(and the infamous biking animation) and he takes these moment of downtime to talk to Mac. Sometimes he says something almost useful: "Dodge his punch, then counter punch" but mostly it's just moral support: "Hang in there Mac!" or shameless self promotion :"Join the Nintendo fun club today mac!"

Mac's Opponents are 11 of the WVBA's finest heavyweight fighters:

Glass Joe: A nervous looking Frenchman.
Signature Move:
Um..falling down?
Von Kaiser: A ridiculously mustached German.
Signature Move:
Upper cut
Piston Honda: A Japanese caricature, Minor Circuit Champ. Signature move: Piston Punch
Don Flamenco: A foppish rose carrying Spaniard.
Signature move: Flamenco Punch
King Hippo: A token fat guy with ill fitting shorts.
Signature move: Haymaker
The Great Tiger: A turban wearing Indian magician.
Signature move: Tiger Punch
Bald Bull: A Huge bald laughing Turk, major circuit champ. Signature move: Bull Charge
Soda Popinski: A Russian with a ridiculous laugh and an extra ridiculous mustache.
Signature Move: Uppercut
Mr. Sandman: A Huge and Angry American.
Signature move:
Sandman Punch
Super Macho Man: The Highly muscled world champ from Hollywood.
Signature Move:
Super Spin Punch
Mike Tyson "Kid Dynamite": Another New yorker and Mac's worst nightmare
Signature Move:
Dynamite punch

Mac has to get through all of them to become the champion. Though looking at them in comparison to Little Mac you kind of have to wonder about the WVBA's rules, how exactly can Mac possibly in the same class with boxers twice his height and weight? Also is there a clause in the contracts about maintaining a borderline offensive cultural caricature appearance? Though teasing aside these guys might look ridiculous, especially when you give them a good punch to the gut, but you soon realize that doesn't keep most of them for beating the crap out of Mac laughing at him and your self-esteem as you frantically try to get off the mat.

Just in case you had any doubts about who made the game and which console it's for, Mario is your referee. Because if years of Nintendo marketing have taught us anything it's that he is qualified for any and all professions. Though as Ref Mario is pretty ineffectual, he pretty much ignores whatever happens in the fight, including several moves I'm sure can't be considered legal, and only waddles on to the screen to say fight, TKO and do the countdown whenever someone hits the mat.


Given the amount of rounds, and assuming you played them all for the full duration, in theory you should be able to beat this game in less than 2 hours. However, Like all those early 8-bit classics, if you're not in practice, that's not going to happen.
When I started out writing this review I thought it was a good time to reacquaint myself with the game. Sure I'd spent hours playing it when I was younger, but it's been quite awhile since I'd been willing to take sort of punishment. My old knowledge of each boxer's tells and tricks let me sail through the minor circuit and most of the major circuit, Bald Bull was a bit of an issue, but I made it through with a spotless win record until I hit Soda Popinski. Then came the awful crushing sort of defeat I remember from childhood. Like everyone (outside Mike Tyson, who's just ridiculous), he's got a system you have to follow to success. I did it eventually, but even knowing exactly what to do, his speed, power and ability to dodge star punches (after the first 2) meant I had to restart more times than I feel comfortable saying.

But really, that experience sums up how the entire game works, each boxer has a specific routine you need to learn to avoid getting pummeled and to earn their defeat. If you're thinking that I just suck and set routines are bound to make the game easy, think again. Knowing what you need to do and being able to follow through are two very different things. In many cases, especially once you hit the world circuit, if your timing is even a split second off you're completely screwed. Look up whatever cheats, FAQ's or YouTube Videos you want, if you haven't been practicing, Little Mac is going to hit the mat quite a few times.

That being said given enough time, you can master this game, but it's going to take a while, getting through the world circuit is quite a challenge in itself even when you know what's coming, but the final bout with Tyson is in a league of it's own. Just ask the vintage gamers you know if any of them have ever beat Mike Tyson (without the use of cheats or save states), if you know some really hardcore gamers you might get a single yes. Beating Tyson ranks up there with completing Zelda II and Friday the Thirteenth on the "Big List of NES gaming/life achievements", we all know it's possible, but few have the drive and patience to get it done.

In closing, I think every retro gamer should play punch-out!! It's got a perfect mix of difficulty, playability, absurdity and fun to keep you hooked for a lifetime. Twenty years later, fans are still playing this game and are cheering for it's sequels, it has well earned it's place in the Pantheon of NES classics.


Don't forget to stop by our shop for vintage gaming collectibles:

Friday, May 22, 2009

Basara Manga and Anime Mini Review & Store Updates

We're doing bunches of store updates now in an effort to reclaim some of our long lost shelf/floor/closet space. We're starting with our manga collection though it's proving a bit difficult to part with too many, is there some sort of 12 step program for manga addicts? Actually book buyers in general I can never pass up a decently priced interesting looking book of any sort and now they're kind of eating the house. But, I'm getting pretty off topic here.

Anyway, the largest manga collection in our shop wasn't even something we had to decide to part with, it's doubles from buying a lot to complete our collection. *sigh* But, it's well worth reading and well worth featuring: 12 volumes of Basara in English.

If you haven't heard of Basara, I would liken it one of my personal favorite manga/anime, CLAMP's masterpiece, X. Beautiful, bloody and emotionally complex. At first there seems to be a clear wrong and right, but as you progress you can see that everything is bathed in grey, both sides have valid points and arguments and are fighting for what they truly believe in. There's much more of an emphasis an the romance aspects than you see in X, but even for someone like me who often feels romance ruins an otherwise great manga, it's well written and really helps develop the characters. Basara is shoujo fantasy epic that supposed to be set in a distant future post apocolyptic Japan but looks much more like a medieval inspired fantasy kingdom. It follows the story of a young girl named Sarasa. Sarasa's twin brother, Tatara, was predicted to be the "child of light" who would lead the people to revolution and freedom. However, the hated and feared tyrant of their land , the Red King, sees to the end of Tatara's prophecy. Before anyone realizes what happens to Tatara, Sarasa decided to take up the revolutionary fight, calls herself Tatara and vows to fufil the prophecy on her own without anyone knowing the truth. Sarasa is not your typical crying helpless herione who thinks about nothing more than shopping and her next date. She has the fate of her land and her people on her shoulders and doesn't even get a magic wand. It's a far cry from the magical girls and high school drama one usually associates with the Shoujo genre. Though like you would expect with a Shoujo, there is romance and most of the story is told in, feelings, emotions and chance encounters rather than epic battles.
The entire Manga series runs 27 volumes, but these 12 are good place to start. :)

There's an anime as well, titled as Legend of Basara, it runs 13 episodes and covers the first 5 manga. It's a pretty true telling compared with the manga and well worth tracking down, we watched the entire thing in one sitting, it was THAT complelling. Sadly, it hasn't been released outside of japan, but fasubs are pretty readily available (We've got it on fansubed VHS , we're old like that). My only complaints about the anime are :
1) The art is pretty inconsistent, a third of the time it's beautiful, a third of the time it's terrible, and the rest of the time it's pretty "meh".
And 2) It also end very early on and with a cliffhanger. So I highly suggest at least having some of the manga on hand if you plan to watch the anime first or you will find yourself wandering online bookstores when you finishit late at night hoping to find it ASAP. I speak from personal experience on this one. ;)

Lots of other manga are headed into the store in the next few days as well so look for large portions/complete sets from: Judas, oh/ah my goddess, a slew of sailor moon comics and lots of single volumes other great titles.
A few other fun things that aren't so manga shaped will probably make their way in too , like this cute mint on card Sailor Neptune Figure.

So go shopping! and don't forget to use may's coupon code: MayBlog for a nice discount!


Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Retro Review Tuesday: The best Contra III review ever part II

Today's Retro Review is Part II of The Best Contra III Review Ever. Shorter than the last segment, but this part covers Contra III's most well known feature, it's insane difficulty.

So on to Part II: Difficulty, Details and Conclusion.


Contra III - The Alien Wars is a relentless assault on your reflexes, your determination, your devotion, and your self-esteem. Enemies come at you from any which way, firing anything from energy blasts, missiles, lasers, man-sized drills, everything. The classic "Shot in the toe, ya die" principles apply in this game, and have never been more pronounced. Nearly every level is choked with mini-boss after mini-boss, complete with their much-more-difficult-than-the-actual-boss cronies, a law that has reigned over many video game Boss characters throughout the history of time (roughly thirty years). Don't believe anything can get worse than those hours you spent crying over Super Ghouls and Ghosts? Here are some specific examples of the heartlessness that is Contra III.

Stage Three First Mini-Boss: As you hang above the oblivion from a high railing, a spiked-mech-pod with rotating arms floats up, revving its giant drill at you, swaying left and right. Unless you have the surface-piercing Fire weapon, you need to grab onto the spinning arms to get a vantage point of the vulnerable area, located underneath the pod. Touch the pod, or more obviously the drill, and an unforgiving death. Once you've defeated the mini-boss, the arms will spin very furiously as the pod goes down, trying to take you with it. You must jump from its arms, back onto the stationary railing, and try to avoid latching onto the arms again (the character does it automatically when he comes into contact with a graspable object). Once the pod has disappeared from view, it will shoot about 5 homing rockets up at you. And you're not even halfway done with this boss yet.

You jump up to a few more rails and then latch onto a wall. Your pod buddy is back, flying back into play, growing two robotic legs and joining you on the wall (he does this whether or not you're on the wall...and you'd better be there if you don't want to die, right then). The Boss with then scale the wall as you climb with it, trying to stay within the confines of the area between its legs as it frequently shoots two rockets at you. When it gets to a certain height, two spiked panels grow out of the wall and the pod latches on, relocating to the far left side of the screen. As you try to, once again, blow thing thing to hell, It tries to line up with you on the wall, and when it's confident that it's got a shot at you, it viciously charges at you, now erecting TWO huge drills, and smashing into the wall, taking your sorry ass with it if you don't get the hell out of its way.

Stage Four: This entire level is the absolute incarnation of what Contra III is about, easily the most notorious part of the game. You spend the majority of the level on a futuristic motor bike, battling what look like flying jet skis, tanks, and a giant, half-mile long flying gunship, attacking you with energy blasts, lasers, fireballs, and its own crew. When you progress past this point (after another mini-boss), a helicopter floats in above you, prompting you to hop onto the missile it is carrying. Once you do this, the helicopter ascends high into the air with nothing between you and the ground but imagination. Some little fruit looking like a medieval warrior with a sword and grapple hook latches onto the missile with you for a mid-air battle. Once you defeat him, the missile is launched - with you on it. Several other regenerating missiles from inexplicable sources come into view. Get acquainted with them...they are now your only means of movement. A large ship comes into view at the right side of the screen. A giant red core is protected by a yellow forcefield, powered by two units on the top and bottom of the ship. You must take out these units as you ride the missles - as they detonate upon contact with the forcefield. If the missile you're riding explodes, you drop. Hope there's a missle underneath you when this happens. Oh, and a swarm of bombs shoot at you from the shielded core as you hop from missile to missile.

But just in case that's just an insult to your Contra abilities, the units powering the shield also shoot at you. Once both power units are destroyed and the shield is down, you can now begin to work on the core. The bombs are now replaced by balls of fire shooting from the core, instantly detonating the missiles they hit. Good luck.


Contra III - The Alien Wars makes the the difficulty of the classic Contra games look like that of Ernie's Magic Shapes & Astro Grover. When you first throw this into your SNES (Or more likely, download it on your WII or click it into your Emulator), you will be killed 7 times before you hit the ground. If you've got the patience, and more importantly, the structural integrity of your controller and console, Contra III - The Alien Wars will prove to be a strange kind of abusive fun, and perhaps in time, your life's greatest accomplishment. So give it your best shot.

It will never be enough.


That's all for this week's review. Next week's review should be written by yours truly on an as yet to be determined gaming classic. (I should probably start moving my butt on that...)


Don't forget to stop by our shop vintage gaming collectibles:

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Collection Oddities: Sailor Moon Light Up Vanity Case Review

As just about everyone who collects Sailor moon knows, Irwin toys Canada released a whole load of sometimes wonderful and sometimes weird merchandise that was never seen anywhere else in the world. So as we recently added one of theses oddities to our collection, we decided to showcase it. So here's my brief review of The Sailor Moon Light up vanity Case.
First order of business the box, It's got the same basic look as all other Sailor Moon toys from this period: dark blue box, North American Sailor Moon logo and item title on a pink "ribbon". Both the front and back of the box are the same except one is in English and one in French. It differs from the boxes of most SM items though in that it doesn't really use any images from the anime. Instead they opted to have a particularly frightening looking young girl sneer into a mirror. Sneering girl also isn't actually using any of the items contained in the kit nor is she even half-heartedly attempting to look like one of the senshi. I recognize that this item in no way correlates to anime or manga and was basically just a random money maker, but you'd think they'd have tried a least a little bit harder.

Moving on...The incredibly helpful blurb of text on the box says: Get ready for a big adventure with the sailor moon vanity case. Comes with everything you need to look like a superheroine! When you open the lid the lights come on and you'll find lights of storage compartments. Going somewhere special? Just grab the handle and bring your handy vanity case along!

With a description like that we can hardly wait to take it out of the box, right!?
Note the aforementioned handle and the mind-blowingly awful picture of the senshi stuck in a heart shape on the front. It's as though someone at Irwin thought to themselves, "You know what would make a good image to use on this vanity case, that fanart I had my three year old sailor moon hating nephew draw."

Now let's turn our attention to opening the case in vain attempt to think of something other than that awful awful image of the senshi on the outside.

Unfortunately, opening the case doesn't help a lot in that respect. :( The same deranged three year old nephew apparently drew the battery compartment image of Serena/Usagi as well, though he improved a little bit this time. As you can see the little blurb wasn't lying, there are lots of comparments full of goodies and while we didn't bother to put the batteries in to test them you can clearly see the lights which flank your little mirror. Though honestly the whole thing seems way out of proportion why would you need lights that large (and two of them no less) for a mirror that small? Which also begs the question, if you're going to make something like a vanity case why make it with such a small mirror? Generally speaking, I think even superheroines would like to see the entirety of their faces while getting prepared to save the world rather than viewing awkward thirds of it.

So far this isn't really a spectacular item is it? But, that's only because we haven't discussed all the goodies that will help you transform into a sailor scout, even when you're on the go!

Henshin HOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO~ (hardgay style)
So here's what comes in the case starting from the left:

*Super awesome plastic hairbrush decorated with a sailor senshi sticker illustrated by Deranged Nephewtm!

*Large plastic clip on earrings which loosely resemble Usagi's.

*2 small plastic hair curlers with a little plastic base to hold them upright. (I know when I painstakingly curl my hair with just two rollers I need them in upright position at all times)

*A small make-up palette of some sort. I want to say it's lipstick because of the colors, but given the applicator I think it's supposed to be eyeshadow. Though it really doesn't matter because the palette itself is a sticker and the applicator is solid hard plastic. Which while much better for parents really sucks the joy out things for a little girl.

* A moon and star themed decorative hair comb which is made out of plastic too soft to really make it wearable.

*Two pink plastic bangles, one of which is solid and the other is made out of pop beads and would be completely unwearable due to being just one bead short to properly bend and hold together. Even using it for display to take pictures it was difficult to make it stay together apparently it would have cost Irwin too much to add that extra bead to every single kit so sending out defective bracelets was the ONLY option available.

*A metal chain with a plastic bauble that's an unholy hybrid of both the star locket and transformation brooch. Ours is super special due to the sideways facing sticker.

*Two moon and star themed hair clips. Like the hair comb, these are made out of incredibly soft plastic which makes them very difficult to wear. Which is actually a shame because otherwise the cutest and most wearable item the case contains.

*A generic strand of plastic pearls. henshin for us :(

The only things that could be remotely useful for cosplay as far as the accessories go are the earrings, and the locket/brooch hybrid. Possibly the pearls if used as a hair ornament for princess serenity.

Overall though this has to be one of the most poorly researched and hastily put together officially licensed sailor moon items ever. It's really only of interest if you're a completionist and/or just like official oddities.

Luckily for us we're in that second category and tend gravitate towards collecting weird things so it's right at home in our collection and we're happy to have it. :)


Friday, May 15, 2009

Collection oddities: Pokemon Camera!

So as we've mentioned previously we have a problem with thrift store shopping. By problem, I mean glorious addiction to buying more stuff than our little house can hold.^_^; Hence our need for the shop. So this entry of course involves something we got at the thrift store, a super cute pokemon camera for only $1!

It's a 35mm camera which seems almost antique these days, who uses film anymore? (Other than people who are a lot cooler than we are.) We're not huge pokemon collectors, but how could we resist that cute Pikachu body and Diglett button? Clearly the asnwer is that we could not.

After getting it home I decided to do some research on it and found The Junk Store Cameras feaure about about it and saw the awesome borders it puts on pictures.

My reaction was a pretty laid back" HOLY CRAP LOOK AT THOSE ADOREABLE POKEMON PICTURES! WE NEED FILM NOW NOW NOW!" OK so I didn't do that out loud, but that's only because Jen was sleeping.

Please note that I'm hosting this image myself but it is property of like the watermark says.

We also recently got the BIG BEE featured in this post. So we'll be sure to buy some film and take pokemon pictures of our big bee because we're sad awesome people.
It was a bit of a slow day for thrifting so it and a cardcaptors coloring book are the only things we found of interest. And yes we are 26 year old women who plan to color in a coloring book. That's all for now, I'm working on making my entries less TLDR.


Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Retro Review Tuesday: The best Contra III review ever

Something I've wanted to do for a long time is write vintage game reviews for a blog. So, in order to make my dream a reality, we're going to be attempting to post a new review every Tuesday. Our first one is a guest review by my awesome brother(though I helped a tiny bit with some wording and editing), mentioned previously in this blog, and focuses on one of the hardest games ever to grace the SNES, Contra III: The Alien wars. I can say without a doubt (and without bias) this is the best, most comprehensive Contra review you will ever read. It is so full of awesome that you would be overwhelmed if you were to read it all at once so it will be split into two parts.

So without further dawdling here's part I of the best Contra III review ever written:


Around fifteen years ago on a wet and gloomy morning, a main video game developer at Konami woke up late. He was in such a rush that he accidentally put body-wash in his hair, instead of shampoo. Getting out of the shower, he slipped on the edge of the tub, totally racking himself. In his haste, he spilled piping hot tea all over his outfit. He missed his train and ran a mile to his office. There, he got a call from his wife. Shame or not, she was leaving him and taking their son after his immense loss from the stock market. It all became too much. The world would feel his vengeance for this unbelievably unbearable day. They would all pay. At the weekly brainstorming session, the disgruntled developer begins to put his vindictive plan into order.

Contra III is introduced.


First, a bit of Nostalgia, Contra III features many cameo appearances from past enemies. These instances include: two incarnations of the Stage One boss, the final boss from Super C, and a newly tricked-out version of Super C's Stage Six boss. The warm fuzzy feelings of nostalgia are nice before you realize that these enemies have now subscribed to Contra III's policy of "Take no Prisoners or Distinguishable Corpses."

Contra III - The Alien Wars is easily the most difficult chapter the already trying Contra series has enjoyed within its legacy. It will take you, hurt you, abuse you, and laugh in your tear-drowned face. Even the all-new even deadlier weapons and the luxury of being armed with two interchangeable guns won't soften the blow to your self-esteem that this game brutally delivers. With two fewer levels than the Original Contra and Super C, Contra III - The Alien Wars does to you in six levels what its predecessors couldn't do in a sum of sixteen.

Oh, and the Konami Code, that guardian angel of vintage gamers everywhere, has no power in this godless realm.



Contra III follows the basic side-scroller game layout of the earlier games in the series, down to the occasional top-down view levels a' la Super C. Both level types display number of lives, weapon type, and number of smartbombs. On the main, side-scrolling levels, the classic "gun-'n'-run" principle applies, with a boss waiting for you at the end of the line.

On the top-down view levels, you are granted full control of movement (Forward, Backwards, left, Right), and you must located and destroy certain targets before you are given access to the level's boss. A map flashes onto the screen before you begin to play the top-down levels, allowing you to choose where in the level you would like to begin, and showing you where the main targets are located throughout the area. When playing two-player, you have the option to play these levels Split-screened, allowing both players to wander, freely (2 Player mode A) and with both players confined to the view of one full screen (2 Player mode B).


Unlike the previous Contra games, Contra III allows you to choose the difficulty of the game (Easy, Medium, and Hard), and the amount of lives per continue. Easy is damn-near impossible, Normal is virtually impossible, and as far as I know, Hard is just impossible.

You may also alter the sound style (Stereo/Mono), Which is probably the only part of the game where you're really in control, ever.


As in the classic Contra Games, your character can run forward, turn around, jump and duck. New to Contra III, your character can also hang onto and move along railings and ceilings, and climb up the sides of certain structures (it's not always clear which ones you can and can't climb).

In top-down levels, you can move forward, backwards, strafe left and right, and turn to the left or right. These levels can be difficult to get used to do to the strange controls.

Pushing left or right on the Directional Pad will cause you to strafe in the respective direction. To actually turn and aim that way, you need to push L or R (left and right, respectively). Jump has been replaced by the less-effective crouch in these levels, disabling you from movement while you're on the ground.

You can shoot ahead, up, down, diagonally up and diagonally down. You can also shoot in any of these directions while in the air, or hanging. You now carry two guns which you can change between to decide the best weapon for the given situation. You could use the perennial Spread Shot for clearing out a group, or switch to the unrelenting power that is the Laser for a concentrated attack on an enemy's core. When the player loses a life, the gun that was highlighted is also lost, but not the one in reserve. So for example, if you have both the Laser and the Spread Shot, and you're using the Laser, if you die, you will lose that gun, but the Spread Shot will still be available. You can then choose to switch to that gun, or just continue your battle with the default gun. If you push both L and R and the Fire button, your character will jump in the air, firing both guns in a spinning-attack*, with rounds flying every which way.

On a top-down level, this attack is a stationary spin from the ground. If the player holds down the dual-gun command in these levels, the attack is non-stop until the player lets go of the controls. Beware - if you die while highlighting both guns at once (It can be down without attacking) you will LOSE BOTH GUNS.

You cannot perform this technique if you're hanging on a railing/ceiling/wall or crouched in a top-down level.

*It should be noted that while is does turn you into a whirling ball of death, I've never found a realistic or useful time to perform the dual-gun technique however, performing it with Fire loaded in each barrel does look pretty spectacular.


Contra III exhibits the classic weapons you remember from the past games, along with some of its own new arsenal. Here, the weapons are all listed, in order of their appearance, and broken down into their strengths and weaknesses, as well as the alternate effect(s) that some enjoy (or rue...) in the top-down areas (levels 2 and 5).

Default: Contra III finally figured out that if two guys are going to save the Earth from diabolical, ruthless invading Aliens, they're probably going to bring more than just a semi-automatic rifle. And thus, there is no Machine Gun pickup in this game, as it is your default weapon, firing at about 3 times the rate as the old Machine Gun. Don't get too excited, however. Although this gun does have a truly incredible rate of fire, it is still very weak. However, you will find more than one situation where the default weapon proves more useful than the others, even the Spread Shot. Like the original Contra games, you start off with this gun, and when you die, it resets to it.

Level 2 & 5: Basically the same thing. The shot travels for a bit then disappears into an unfilled circle, like any classic shooting game has taught us.

Shield: Going all the way back to the original Contra, nobody, probably not even the game developers, knows what the hell "B" stands for on this pickup. Nevertheless, in this updated version of the shield will surround your character in a blue aura, protecting you from all enemies and attacks, and destroying the hostiles that touch it. The aura will turn red when it's about to expire, a feature that would have been very convenient in the old games.

Level 2 & 5: Other than an inexplicable change to a different, less-cool color, this is essentially the same thing.

Smart Bombs: The falcon-shaped, flashing, classic smart bomb that destroyed all on-screen enemies in the classic Contra games now takes the shape of a small nuclear bomb that is collectible and detonated at the player's discretion. An alternating red and yellow energy sphere forms around you and gradually spreads throughout the screen, destroying/damaging all enemies on the screen until it is spent. These are generally a desperation weapon, used when you're surrounded with nowhere to go, need to hit an extremely elusive target, or, more commonly, when you accidentally press "A." Be aware though that your count goes back to one when you lose a life, nice if you had none, not so nice if you had four.

Level 2 & 5: Same thing. Virtually no change.

Spread Shot:
If you've beaten Contra or Super C, this gun is why. Appearing in a pair early in the first stage of Contra III, you have the option of equipping both barrels with this classic multi-shot bad boy. Unlike the original games, the Spread Shot is now somewhat automatic, firing in very quick bursts of two to three belts (fully automatic in close-quarter situations). There is a slight pause after this, which, due to the high-speed environment of Contra III can be a very fatal quarter of a second. Due to that, it's sad to say that the Spread Shot, the gun that saved your ass (admit it) in the classic NES Contra games, doesn't quite live up to the demands of Contra III's relentless onslaught. It is still a useful pickup, good for close-range battles with high-HP enemies, but in multiple situations, this gun is easily traded for another.

Level 2 & 5: Strangely, it's commonly seen releasing three-shot belts to the usual five, the top-down Spread Shot's lack of radius is made up for in its newly acquired fully-automatic properties only truly enjoyed in these levels, making it a noticeably more useful weapon here.

Heat Missiles - A gun new to the Contra series (Unless you count Contra Force, but nobody else did and you shouldn't either), the Heat Missiles prove useful in many situations with their fully-automatic nature, considerable rate of fire, and their homing qualities. The main drawback here is that when battling a boss with multiple targets, these guys don't exactly go for the target you'd prefer, so it's best to use these doing normal gameplay, and trade up when approaching a boss.

Level 2 & 5: You're basically dealing with the same thing. Not much changes here, other than the view.

Laser: Like its classic incarnation, the Laser is a gun of exceptional power, great for use on the core area of boss enemies. The beam damages stronger enemies several times before disappearing, and passes right through weaker enemies. However, with this great power comes foreseeable sacrifices in other areas of performance. The Laser's rate of fire is the lowest in the game, and its beam moves notably slower than the rounds of other weapons, leaving the player vulnerable to enemy attacks between shots. Though it is still much swifter than in Contra and Super C.

Level 2 & 5: This gun is nothing short of a beast in these levels. The slow, separate beams have been transformed into one everlasting, steady beam, quickly eradicating any hostile that crosses it. With all of its original power, the shortened range of the Laser's shot is a small price to pay for this kind of devastation.

A final note on laser, it cannot be ignored, that the new sound has been reduced to an electronic whine, a lamentable change from the classic MUCH more "badass" sound of Contra and Super C.

Cluster Bomb: Contrary to the opinion of the annoying man from the PSP commercials, Cluster bomb is not always the answer. In fact, in Contra III, it is arguably the most useless weapon in the game in most situations.
This gun, on average, shoots in bursts of three to five rounds then pauses and the bombs don't generally span the entire screen's length before detonating. Although quite powerful, more so than the laser even, with its less-than-desirable rate of fire, and lack of range, the Cluster Bomb is a weapon that's usually collected by falling on it.
However, there are very specific situations where the Cluster Bomb proves absolutely invaluable, such as the Boss at the end of the first stage, or the fourth Mini boss on the final stage of the game.

Level 2 & 5: The main difference here is that this weapon might be even MORE useless now, although it is pretty good for use on the giant centipede things.

Fire: First available in Level Two, the weapon that was possibly the most useless special weapon in the earlier Contra games has now proven to be possibly the most potent weapon in Contra III. Designed like an actual flamethrower for the first time, this gun boasts the ability to fire non-stop and pass though surfaces, making difficult targets nothing to blink at. The Fire's short range rarely proves to be much of a problem, although its slow changing of direction can occasionally prove detrimental.

Level 2&5: Only in these levels can the Fire be topped by the nearly unstoppable Laser. However, this gun should still be sought after here, exhibiting great performance clearing out many small enemies to taking down stronger hostiles. It's especially useful for its valuable surface-disregarding properties while fighting Level Two's boss.

Tank: For a brief time in Stage One, you have the option to ride some of it out in a tank. The tank will function until it is destroyed by enemy fire, or until it gets to a certain point - whichever happens first. Pressing the fire button shoots the tank's large gun, a blast so powerful, it blows your vehicle back a few feet, and levels the vintage Contra base-bosses in one shot.
In my opinion, it's best to just run down enemies, and not waste time firing the gun. Then take one shot at the upcoming base.

That's it for Part I come back next Tuesday for part II featuring more screen shots, more details, more bosses and more punishment. PART II NOW POSTED


Saturday, May 9, 2009

May's Coupon Code and Cel Gallery Update

First, this month's coupon code has been set up and will get you 15% off your order, It's MayBlog So go shopping so we can both have awesome stuff!

We've updated very recently so there's more fun stuff to use your code on :) . The most interesting item I think is this:

A Vintage 1998 Zelda Trophy Figure. We're only selling it because we have this figure already, but it's completely awesome and I want some other Zelda fan to enjoy it. I'll be updating later today with some great things, but nothing as good as a Zelda trophy.

Next up, we updated our cel gallery. We normally update every couple months so such a quick update is a bit strange for us. I loathe scanning so I only do it sparingly but, we received a very special gift so I did it as soon as it arrived.

So our Ultra awesome special gift first, A gorgeous pan cel of young Sawa from A Kite NSFW warning as it is nude. I begged the original owner, who has a completely gorgeous gallery I suggest visiting, for years to let me buy that cel and then when she was finally willing to give it up, I couldn't afford it. She was sweet enough to hold it for me until i could which just wasn't happening for me. I've bought some things in that period of time, but only one thing anywhere near that price. Our cel funds are pretty near nil these days unfortunately. :( I ordered another Kite cel from her when she took offers. And when I received it in the mail she had included the pan cel along with it to cheer me up as I've going through a rough patch lately. It really touched my heart. So special *hugs* to her though I don't think she reads this.

Next we created a whole new section, Patalliro! , containing 3 cels one of each of the main characters. Patalliro! was the first series with shonen-ai/yaoi shown on mainstream TV running from 1982-1983 with movie after that and a new digital series, Patalliro sayuki that came out in 2005. Our cels are from the original series which is one of the best written gag series we've come across we highly suggest watching it. Check out the wikipedia page for more info. Unfortunately it's never been released outside Japan so you'll have to find fan subs (which currently aren't finished). Though if you can watch it raw (and have a Japanese address) the official site has boxsets available as well as some super cool T-shirts we wish we owned. Seriously, go watch patalliro, you'll love it.

Next up another new section, Peach Girl. Peach Girl absolutely drips of Shoujo. It centers on Momo who's your typical shoujo heroine, worried about her looks and obsessed with her crush. However because her hair is sun bleached and she tans easily her classmates stereotype her as a complete airhead and spread rumors about her. The whole ting gets pretty ridiculous quickly, but we managed to enjoy reading it (we haven't seen the show yet) anyway. Momo is actually pretty likable if not a bit vapid.

Next a gorgeous cel of the Snow Queen From the Sailor Moon S Movie. The S Movie had a a pretty so-so storyline, but the art was gorgeous. The Snow Queen is a pretty accurate reflection of that as is my Gorgeous Pluto cel. Now, if we could only find a human Luna to keep them company.

Last but, not least, A wonderfully detailed cel of Meier from the Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust Movie. This shot isn't the normal "pretty" sort we gravitate towards, but it is beautiful. The detail is exquisite, his eyes really drew us in to this one. Check out the even more amazing matching sketch and while you're there take some time to appreciate the animators. That cel is sequence number A13 and it's not an end cel so that means there are at least 14 cels and sketches that were drawn and painted for just that tiny bit of screen time and really the entire movie is like that. It's absolutely mind blowing when you think about how much time and effort went into it. So think about that next time you're enjoy bloodlust's stunning visuals. :)

That's all for now!

Oh an in case you're wondering why my cel posts are full of links instead of pretty pictures when clearly cel collecting is a visual hobby, it's because I post our cel gallery updates from a completely different computer than I post blog updates from so when I'm blogging I don't have direct access to the scans. Additionally I use flickr as my file host and I don't think cel scans fit their usage policy, nor do I want to steal Rubberslugs precious bandwidth to post pictures elsewhere. So for now you'll just have to click the links to see the pretties. I promise that they're worth it.

Also, I took some pictures of our preexisting collections. I just have to get them resized and then go about the undertaking of cataloging what's in them.


Thursday, May 7, 2009

Some more thrifted games and C-64 How I miss you

So First up, we went thrift shopping awhile ago and got a bunch more fun stuff for our game collection.
From the upper left hand corner it's:

Time splitters XBOX: So we heard this game was a great FPS, but upon playing it, it's just N64 goldeneye allover again. Given the love for Goldeneye I understand why people like it, but it was sort of disappointing.

The Ship PC:New and sealed, a game based on assassinating people with elements of the sims
Sid Meier's colonization PC: I totally love Sid Meir games, I've got a god complex clearly ;)
Resident Evil: The movie: We collect movies based on video games whether or not they're any good
ManHunter New York Atari ST game: An old sierra title that looked really great. I thought it was for PC and was sad when I couldn't play it :( More on this one later in the entry
Cootie: The kid's game, we collect board games too. :) This copy is from the 50's and 95% complete
Star trek frontiers PS2: This one was new and sealed
Operation Neptune PC: A kid's math game, I love educational games, My Carmen Sandiego collection is larger than an adult woman's should be.
Resident Evil: Apcolypse movie: We haven't watched this one, but I doubt it will be good
Civilization 4 PC: New and sealed, on my want list for awhile. Sid Meier strikes again, it really is a problem, I just bought another copy of Alpha Centauri recently as well.
Scooby Doo: Unmasked Gamecube: I tried playing this and it's a pretty standard platformer not bad and not good. Worth the $3 we paid though.

All that glorious geeky loot was snapped up for only $24, pretty nice if we say so ourselves.

That ManHunter Game was such a disappointment! I mean it's my fault for thinking it was a PC game as the box clearly labeled it Atari ST, but as much as this will damage my geek cred, I didn't know there even was an Atari ST computer. I know, it's completely embarassing, but I had a comodore 64! You didn't need to look at other computers when you had one of those! Well, you know until it was like 1998 and I had to start doing homework on a legitimate computer. That's not entirely true either as we actually had an old mac before then too. So I stopped using the c-64 it in the early 90's, but it was still working when I headed of to college in 2000 and I knew that from playing with it so it's not like it was totally abandoned and unloved. I unfortunately, am 98% certain that my parents lost it when they were moving. :( So now I need another one to relive all my glorious childhood geek-outs! So, how's about someone buy me this incredbly sweet auction lot? No Takers? Then I'll take this Awesome C-64 Laptop instead. I'd even relearn to make to simple programs from the MR.Byte Books like I did when I was a kid. I can pay you back in loads of awesome anime and game merchandise. *bats eyelashes*

So I didn't really believe it was going to work but, I could hope. I really am looking to get a hold of another C-64 now though. An Atari ST as well, I mean I have a game for it and it's a whole vintage system I've never played with. I must remedy it post haste!

That's all the geekery for now. I did take a few snaps of our collections in "their natural habitats", meaning on the shelves in our house. But, it's only a fraction of our collection as we currently don't have a dedicated gaming room and some things are in storage and some things are just not convent for photographs. Look forward to them in the next week or so.



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