Tuesday 30 June 2009


If you somehow haven't heard Michael Jackson passed away. A tragedy to say the least, but I suppose what's also a tragedy is the fate of his video games - whereas his music will live on through the ages, chances are games such as Moonwalker, Space Channel 5 (with the MJ cameo), Ready to Rumble etc. will never see a re-release with the celebrity in them. Aside from the fact that obtaining the rights will be damned-near impossible, chances are Sega won't be jumping on the idea of having a dead man as the main character, even though they are pretty cool games, even by today's standards.

So how about the Arcade version of Michael Jackson's Moonwalker, a game that few people seem to remember, and is often overshadowed by the very different home console versions? It's an isometric beat 'em up, developed by Sega, in which you're Michael Jackson saving children from... some guy. It's based of that scene/music video in the movie of the same name, probably because it was the only decent section of the film, but as the film made no sense, neither does the game. But it has Michael Jackson in it!

In fact, as it's actually a 3-player game, it means you can also have two other Jackson clones walking about killing people too, so it's three times the Michael Jackson-ness. And if you find your chimp, Bubbles, you transform into a giant robot. It's very much like the home console ports, except that it's more linear, shorter and not quite as deep. In the MegaDrive/Master System game, MJ had a decent variety of moves, but was let down by the fact you spend most of the game opening doors and going around in circles. With the Arcade, you're on the move much more often, though since you've only really got one form of attack, that may not be a good thing (though at least it can be "charged up"). Thankfully the enemies are rather stupid, but there's a lot of them, and they've got guns while you haven't.

You can perform a special move, just like in the home console versions, which will make everyone on screen dance before exploding. The problem is, it's not quite as randomised as the home console version. For a singer/dancer, there's not a lot of singing or dancing, or that much of MJ's music (despite the graveyard level there's no sign of Thriller). Because it's on Arcade hardware it's a lot more pleasing on the eye and ears, and you're often faced fighting different enemies rather than the same guys in suits (such as dogs and robots, who will also dance).

It's a very basic beat 'em up, and it could still be considered a bit repetitive, though the same could be said for many games of the same genre. I didn't find myself getting bored with this one, but then again, it is incredibly short. And difficult if you're not armed with credits. However, since the arcade machine is reasonably rare (I mean those 90s scandals didn't really help) and probably going for a high price now, the only way to play it is on an emulator such as MAME, where credits aren't a problem.

But it's not a bad game, it's just short, and a bit unforgiving. It's a concept that needed expanding upon a bit more. It looks as if it should be a fantastic game but it falls far short from its goal. But it's not bad and is worth a look for the novelty value if nothing else. Again, it triumphs over the MegaDrive game in many places, and is arguably more playable than a lot of arcade games that Sega and others insisted on bringing to the home, it's just ruined by the fact that it's so short and basic. Worth a look though.

Monday 22 June 2009

I one you a favour

Still other things to be done but for now, Final Fight 3 on the NES. Yet another Hummer Team NES port which actually holds up pretty well... as long as you don't mind a bit of sprite flickering and some typos. Not as good as the real thing, which in turn isn't as good as Streets of Rage, even if Haggar is one of the best mayors ever.

You sure can get a lot done when you're not spending hours on end monitoring MFGG.

Friday 19 June 2009

Exerion 2

Exerion 2, the unreleased NES sequel to Jaleco's 1983 Arcade game got itself a dump the other day. Unfortunately it was polluted with NintendoAGE watermarks, so this is X-CulT's version that took some of them out. As you can see it's not a perfect fix, unless you want to believe Jaleco produced this game this year, but it's here, and is playable.

What's the difference between this and its prequel? Not a lot. It changes a few graphics and alters the duel shot a bit, but aside from that its generally the same game with some very minor improvements. My problem with Exerion is just how badly the NES version has aged. Exerion's selling point, the "parallax backgrounds" look hideous by today's standards, and those backgrounds were the only thing stopping the game from being classified as a generic shoot-em up. Sure they were early games, but the NES could have been pushed to give us better than solid green grass. By the time Exerion 2 would have been released it would have been in direct competition with Konami's first Gradius game, and that's not a battle that even the Arcade version had much chance of winning. On the plus side though, at least the first game looks good on the SG-1000.

This isn't much of a sequel so it's somewhat obvious why it was scrapped, but nevertheless interesting to see it had a sibling at some point, and who can say "no" to an unreleased title?

Thursday 18 June 2009

Expect the unexpected

because Tiny Toon Adventures (6) is about to start.

For ages I thought this was just another hack of Konami's Tiny Toon Adventures NES game. Turns out it's a completely original title, and for a pirate, isn't too bad. It needs a bit of a polish but compared to some of ths stuff I've played, this is a god.

In other news I re-wrote the article on Harry Potter's NES adventure and found some chickens. Like many early tORP pages it was hideously out of date and didn't really explain a lot. Now it does.

Wednesday 17 June 2009

Squiggly's Extras

I set up The Obscure Ripping Project back in late 2007. It should probably be called "The Obscure Research Project" now since the focus has shifted quite a bit over time, but there are a few notable games that probably won't get massive articles, or if they do, it won't be for a while. Here's a few of them, to show you what I haven't forgotten.

First, "Mortal Combat 5" on the Sega MegaDrive:

GamesMonkey sent me this terrible excuse for a game months ago, and though I've tried having a decent stab at it, it just can't be tamed. MC5 is a pirate attempt to bring Mortal Kombat Mythologies: Sub Zero to the MegaDrive, but the result is quite possibly the worst MegaDrive game ever spawned. Love kicking Kano recolours in the shins? This is the game for you. Without savestates there is no way you could play this game without enduring massive amounts of trial and error, and you will often find yourself fighting enemies that not only refuse to die, clearly cheat and all look the same. It has got some of the worst typos I've ever seen in a video game and is a horrible experience from beginning to end.

Next, "Pokémon Red" on the NES

I covered Pokémon Gold a while back but that was before I started reviewing past the first five minutes of play. Truth is, Pokémon takes a long time to finish, even with guides, and as these both cut all the non-essentials and are in Chinese, it's a challenge to review these two properly, especially if you were going to into any sort of detail. Also you can only give them a go in small doses before you feel the need to rip out your PC's speakers.

"Super Mario Bros. 3 Special" for the Game Boy Colour

Actually truth is there's no reason why I can't cover this one, it's just that there's not a lot to cover. It's a gimped, broken Mario platformer that's not "special" in the slightest. It's just not very interesting and there's not much to learn from it.

"Toy Story", "Tom & Jerry 3" and "Aladdin II" for the NES

I've grouped these three together because they're all practically unplayable generic pirate games with no redeeming qualities. Toy Story is a broken platformer where all Woody's friends are out to kill him and Tom & Jerry 3 is just stupid (though it's worth noting that Tom is a chain smoker). As for Aladdin II, it's much like Aladdin 3 except that it tries to give the NES Virgin's Aladdin game instead of Capcom's. Problems with that are a) the NES already got Virgin's game officially (though it's not the best port ever) and b) Aladdin II has some of the worst graphics and gameplay I've ever encountered within a NES ROM. There was a reason this system was being phased out by 1993 people!

"King of Fighters 96/97/98/99" for the NES

Another common pirate fighting game that had numerous revisions. There's also a couple of Samurai Shodown games that use the same engine. It'll be worth checking out at some point, but having already messed with those Mortal Kombat pirates recently, it's safe to say I'm a little tired of fighting games for the NES. One day though. One day it'll be done.

Besides, I do like to talk about games that aren't pirates every once in a while. There's plenty of obscure games that weren't made by people living in run-down garages in gloomy alleyways. Though I suppose I'm starting to cover those in this blog instead. Not much to research when these games's histories are widely known.

Sunday 14 June 2009

You ain't never had a friend never had a friend

Time to meet Somari's good friend Aladdin 3, also known as "Aladdin 4", "Aladdin" and "Popeye II: Travels in Persia".

Yes the NES gets yet another SNES game. This time it's Capcom's version of Aladdin, ported by pirates in an attempt to make a quick buck. There's actually quite a few NES Aladdin pirates - I guess the official game (based off the MegaDrive version I might add) wasn't good enough, so they had to make a few rubbish Aladdin games to make it stand out a bit more.

However saying that, this one isn't too bad. I mean the SNES game was a bit generic compared to Virgin's legend of a game, but with a quick fix up this could be alright. Of course then again, if it's taken fourteen years for someone to cover this pirate in depth I can't imagine the game being torn apart any time soon.

The real question is what possessed these people to stick Popeye in there?

EDIT: It appears that I am dense, having taken a screenshot of the elusive Hummer Team logo yet failing to talk about it. So I've updated the article, made another "shocking" discovery, and are now anxiously awaiting the arrival of "Aladdin III Special" or a similar name. Thanks again to KingPepe for the tip, and "Anonymous". See, they don't all go out attacking churches of scientology after all.

Thursday 11 June 2009


Well, here you go.

I've been slaving over this garbage for the best part of this week. Thirteen Mortal Kombat NES pirates, all covered in one place.

The original task I set myself was to find out who made Kart Fighter but my results were inconclusive. There's just not enough evidence to say "Hummer Team made it" and call it a day, regardless of what you may have been told.

Remember kids; the Nintendo Entertainment System and the fighting genre don't mix!

Monday 8 June 2009

Pirate Hunt

What can I say, I was in the mood for some pirate research. Big pirates that have been around for years include "Somari", "Kart Fighter" and "Super Mario World (NES)", but their origins are still somewhat in the dark. I traced Super Mario World's origins a while back and found that it was the lovechild of a group known only as "Hummer Team". Since then, word got out about the little Hummer Team logo and many other games have since been matched up with authors.

But that's only one third of the great pirate mysteries. For some reason "Somari Team" isn't widely accepted as a group name, and there's been links between Somari and its siblings to Aladdin ports to the NES. That mystery is still unsolved.

But we're incredibly close to finding the truth about Kart Fighter. Its graphics have been matched (almost) with sections of Super Mario World NES. Its engine (dubbed by myself as "the Kart Fighter Engine") has been used in TEN Mortal Kombat clones, some by Hummer Team, it's also been matched to beat-em-ups by Hummer Team, and... Tekken 2... also by Hummer Team. Whoever that team are, they sure liked Kart Fighter's engine, but sadly, there's still not much to say where Kart Fighter came from, because though some of these Mortal Kombat games have Hummer Team's mark, some have other peoples' marks.

Furthermore World Heroes 2's engine has been spotted in the form of Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat clones. It just goes to show that these fighting engines were widely distributed in the 90s.

Either way I just thought I'd mention it because coming soon will be a MASSIVE tORP page comparing THIRTEEN Mortal Kombat clones. All we need is some romantic music and we can make a night of it.

Saturday 6 June 2009

Ken's Labyrinth

The first person shooter is still a relatively new genre. Unlike most others, older consoles and computers simply could not handle them, so even though arguably early FPS games are a graphical mess with all that pixelation, they stood out from the crowd just due to the fact they were first person shooters, and nobody had really seen one before.

During the early 90s there was no doubt that id Software ruled the roost. They had brought us Wolfenstein 3D, were about to revolutionise the genre again with the massively successful Doom, and would later produce another top FPS Quake.

But id had rivals. Rivals that wanted a slice of the FPS pie for themselves. Rivals such as Epic MegaGames, who were taking the PC games market by storm. Epic would later have some major success with the Unreal franchise, but it did dab in some FPS titles before then. And so, enter Ken's Labyrinth.

Having seen the success that was Wolfenstein 3D, Epic probably wanted a chance to better it. Ken Silverman, who later went to go work for Apogee and create the build engine (used in games such as Duke Nukem 3D) gave them a game he coded almost entirely from scratch - Ken's Labyrinth.

Ken's Labyrinth was the first FPS game I ever played. It would have been '96-ish when I got my hands on it, and amazingly it ran perfectly on our old underpowered DOS computer. Sure it didn't have soundblaster, but Epic made sure we weren't left without sound and had the entire game's musical score blurt out the built in PC speaker instead. So it's possibly the first game I had where music played from beginning to end.

If we take this as our FPS timeline

Wolf 3D -> Ken's Labyrinth -> Doom -> Duke 3D -> Quake -> Unreal -> etc.

you can see where the Labyrinth fits in. It's technically more impressive than Wolfenstein 3D, but not by much. The graphics are slightly better in places and it was the first FPS game to allow you to interact with scenery (aside from Wolf 3D's "moving blocks"), though truth be told it's a very boring game in comparison to id's gem. A kid's version perhaps. It has the same "untextured ceilings and floors" and sprites are always the same no matter which direction you view them from. Also even today, fourteen years after release DOSBox struggles to have both music and sound effects running at the same time. It boasts more enemies than Wolf 3D too, but since the enemies have less animation it's really up to you to decide which is better in that area.

The game is split into three episodes, as was the style at the time. The second is notable for having the rather annoying dog "Sparky" follow you about getting in the way. It would be a long time until friendly NPCs would be following you in FPS games again. Thank god most of them have more brains than this thing who either gets in your way or gets lost.

But despite this Ken's Labyrinth is a challenging title. Having played Wolfenstein 3D since, I can't possibly recommend this over that, but again, another childhood defining game here. Plus, it's freeware nowadays so you can't really go wrong. That first level's theme has been lodged in my brain for a decade and a bit, perhaps it can find another home in yours too. Plus, you get to fight Ken Silverman which predates all that "shoot the head of John Romero" stuff in Doom II.

Thursday 4 June 2009

Now you don't need a Game Gear 2

Sonic Drift 2 just got ported to the Sega Master System. Well okay, I say "just" but it was actually released three days ago.

It's even buggier than Triple Trouble SMS, but again, you can play it. Sadly Sonic Drift 2 hasn't really aged well - it betters its predecessor but aside from Sonic in a car, it's nothing special... and Sonic in a car isn't very special either since he's been in one before, and is due to be in one again.

Nevertheless you can't help but be fascinated by all of this. The Sega Master system getting new games fifteen years after it came off the market. Sure neither of the two Sonic games that have been released this fortnight were stunningly amazing games to begin with, but good lord there's worse out there for that system.