//Begin Week Notes
This week ended in a ridiculously bucolic English town, playing a card game with an old friend and his family in a pretty country pub. All familiar things, all slightly skewed in this new context. It was a wonderful, rejuvenating adventure that will be informing how I think about a lot of things for weeks to come.
Earlier this week, scratching around for single screen games, I played some of Taito’s Lunar Rescue – it has a pachinko-like quality as the player’s ship drifts relentlessly down, recalling both a vertical Frogger and a proto Gravitar, a feeling that somehow remains intact as you rocket back upwards. It’s one of the earliest examples of a game with alternating modes of play/different gameplay stages, and in comparison to other games from the period (i.e. ’79, post Space Invaders and pre Pac-Man) persistent progress over time is quite apparent, with clearing the aliens on the way up making subsequent runs easier on the way down and the choice of which astronaut to rescue each run allowing you to play safe or gamble on big points and maybe an extra life down the line.
I watched the first episode of Robotech. It’s war comics. Its tone is close to Commando or Warlord or similar, in a way that very few things are past this point in history. The voices of the dub actors echo down the decades, reflecting back into ears that may have never encountered Robotech or Macross as they hear those same voices Persona 5 or whatever. The mechanical design was so toyetic in 198X in a way that barely feels toyetic now, perhaps because of the military fantasy aspect I mentioned before. I remember freeze framing the vehicles you see for a fraction of a second in this first episode and trying to extrapolate the history of this fascinatingly familiar but exotic imaginative world.
For some reason YouTube has had a bit of a rush-on of videos highlighting the Sega Master System game Black Belt, a favourite from my childhood. I looked into the game a little, and I had no idea it was originally a Hokuto no Ken game in Japan (or that it was “indexed” i.e. only allowed for sale in sex shops in Germany, where the weird shattering of the enemies was considered too violent for the youth). The re-skin makes sense when you realise that the Megadrive’s Hokuto no Ken game was released in the West as Last Battle, a game which was quite similar to Black Belt, but imo nowhere near as good. I wondered who made these games, and if any of my other SMS faves came from the same team (a lot of Sega stuff from this time clusters around a small group of game directors, and I find it fascinating to draw the lines of inspiration between them). It’s surprisingly hard to tell! While it seems Yuji Naka may have been the lead programmer, it’s unclear who the director or planner was. Last Battle was directed by Katsuhiro “Hase” Hasegawa, who directed a bunch of early SMS arcade conversions and later Cyborg Hunter. This intriguing late-era Master System title, which reminds me greatly of the Atari Lynx game ElectroCop, is another example of Sega developing a game based on a Japanese license property – in this case the anime Cho-on Senshi Borgman. I wonder if Hase was behind the original Hokuto no Ken/Black Belt?
Sir Michael Space. This wonderful thread reminded me of the deep need for idiosyncrasy in Warhammer 40k.
(Also, the Old World is back in Press Release form)
Brad’s Status is an Adam Sandler movie of that kind that tackles a somewhat progressive subject matter and then asks “where’s my medal?”🏅
Assassin’s Creed Odyssey (“AssCrOdyssey”) is locked in a perpetual struggle between the desire to give meaning to tons of generic content and the necessity of it being a game with tons of generic content.
Hyped for Frozen 2: The Golden Army🗡️
(“The Golden Army” is the subtitle of any piece of media that continues a franchise by having its protagonists just go on an adventure instead of trying to develop the plot or themes of earlier works and inevitably undermining them. )
///Week Notes End