Tag Archives: namco

FGC #326 Rolling Thunder 2

Here is a complete list of passwords for normal mode of Rolling Thunder 2.


Let's get this rollingRolling Thunder 2, in an effort to not drive its audience completely insane, made all of its passwords actual words and phrases. This is in stark contrast to much of the NES and Genesis library, which used a password system that was, according to nine out of ten scientists, ferret chasing a ball wearing banana pants crazy. The mere concept of misplacing one semicolon and causing the entire program game to crash is a cruel thing to inflict upon a five year old that just wants to see Simon Belmont conquer the Castlevania countryside, and the idea that someone could memorize those random assortments of letters and numbers is laughable (ONBI UQAU Z12S SRYA). Rolling Thunder 2 instead presents a series of words for selection, and every password at least looks like a complete sentence. Awesome! This is even thematically appropriate, as the heroes of Rolling Thunder are (not very stealthy) spies, and these “passwords” could be seen in spy media as… well… passwords.

Of course, when you’ve got actual sentences going, it’s inevitable that you want to find meaning in said sentences. Our password to access Level 2 is “A MAGICAL THUNDER LEARNED THE SECRET”. This makes a certain amount of sense, as the heroes of this game are the titular Rolling Thunder Task Force, and I guess they learned a secret at some point. And they can soak more bullets than most people, so “magical” seems appropriate. So far, so good!


WHAT IS THE PASSWORDThis is not how these things work! I could see a genius creating a natural fighter (I’m pretty sure that’s the plot of at least two Tekken backstories), but a fighter creating a genius? Ha! The very idea is laughable… and immediately causes me to consider exactly how that would work. I’m assuming we’re dealing with one of those “negative intelligence stat” situations wherein someone was clobbered so soundly by a natural fighter, they suffered extreme brain damage. But there’s a happy ending! Said addled “genius” now is too dumb to realize that, say, inventing time travel is impossible and stupid, so it is done. How about them apples? Or maybe we’re just dealing with a specific kind of genius, like a fighting genius? That’s less interesting.


I don’t know enough about science to say whether this is at all accurate or not (Gee, did the previous paragraph give that away?). But I want to say that this sounds just science-y enough to be legit. Look, I’m giving a TED Talk later this afternoon, and I’m going to see if the audience reacts at all when I stick this phrase in my introduction. I’m betting there will be no issues.


Oh hell yes. This is obviously the plot for the next summer blockbuster. In a world where science runs rampant, one professor decides to code his own sentient AI. But everything spirals out of control when this curious program decides to “punch the powder” and take control of all the nuclear weapons on Earth. Only natural fighter Hadoken Harrison (Shane Black) has what it takes to bring down this rogue AI. But when that AI inhabits the body of a generically sexy lady, will Hadoken still be able to jump kick his way to a better tomorrow? With Patton Oswalt as the nerd and whichever actress is currently 22 as the AI.


ELEVATOR ACTION!There are logical leopards now? And they’re capable of blasting? Dr. Rob Liefeld wrote that most creatures are invincible while they’re blastin’, so we’re pretty much screwed. Let us all take a moment to bow to our new leopard masters, so they may evaluate our succulent necks at their leisure.


You know, while we’re on the subject of spy media, I think I want to compile a list of words and phrases that just sound like they’re something out of a technical manual. “Isotope” is the obvious science word here, but let’s not discount “target”. Adding “target” to any bluff increases the validity of your statement by about 200%. “We’re looking at hitting target projections shortly”. “The target demographic is very excited about this.” “Stay on target.” Every time you use the word “target” (and you’re not talking about darts), you sound more worldly by a target estimate of about 300%. And no isotope is ever going to take that away.


Man, I wish that happened in 2016.


The final boss of Rolling Thunder 2 is a robot man, so this might be some manner of foreshadowing. Or… wait… No, it’s the duty of Rolling Thunder to defeat that magical machine… which is a killer… um… Hm. Oh, no, I’ve got it! The killer is the final boss, and the muffling magical machine is your gun! Yes! That makes perfect sense. Apparently Rolling Thunder 2 is more pro-gun than the NRA, and believes your standard pistol to be a magical machine. Now we’re all on the same page.


For a game that only lets you use firearms (even when you run out of ammo, you still shoot the same gun, just slower), there sure is a lot of punching in these passwords. This one seems to be a “greatest hits” of the other passwords, and retreads a lot of well-worn ground. A digital nucleus? Are we back on another robot kick? And always with “the device”. I’m betting it’s just a common watch. A robot punched a watch? Huh. I guess that does sound more interesting when you bring a little ambiguity to the table.


Did you think I was making this up?It’s only appropriate that we close these passwords with something that at least passingly acknowledges our heroes. While a “private” thunder is still the dream of planetariums everywhere, if we assume the “Thunder” in this case is actually referring to the heroes, then… they’re making drugs? Oh! Wait! They turned their enemies to powder! That’s it! “Private” aka stealthy Thunder-spies infiltrated eleven different strongholds, shot the living heck out of everybody, and turned their foes, human and robot alike, to powder. These passwords do make sense! Awesome! Next we’ll tackle the hard mode passwords, but let’s take a little break first. I need to go create a private thunder.

FGC #326 Rolling Thunder 2

  • System: Sega Genesis and Arcade. Unlike the original Rolling Thunder, I’ve never seen the Rolling Thunder 2 arcade cabinet. I don’t particularly remember where I saw Rolling Thunder 1, mind you, I just know that it’s burned into my memory from somewhere. Oh, also available on the Wii Virtual Console.
  • Number of players: Two player simultaneous! Woo! And you can’t accidentally shoot each other, either! Even better!
  • Pew PewMaybe actually talk about the game for a second: What we have here is a basic “cover shooter” in the 2-D environment, a little slower than Sunset Riders, but a little faster than OG Elevator Action. This is the kind of game that does really well in the arcades, but gets kind of boring on the home consoles. Or, well, I suppose it doesn’t get too boring, as, if you ignore Hard Mode, the game doesn’t really overstay its welcome, but it has about as much replay value as your average beat ‘em up.
  • Favorite Character: There are only two available here, but I’ll take Leila, the hard boiled 80’s gal, over Albatross, a James Bond wannabe (with a heavy emphasis on “wannabe”) any day. Apparently, in the arcades, Leila was the default player one, which is unusual for the era always.
  • Did you know? The original Rolling Thunder featured presumably “real” human opponents, they were just cloaked into genericness by a bunch of hoods. In Rolling Thunder 2, the majority of your opponents (save a few evil dogs) are secretly androids of some kind. I’m pretty sure this means that the bad guys of the Rolling Thunder universe followed the same trajectory as The Foot Clan.
  • Would I play again: Rolling Thunder 2 is pretty fun with two players. As was tangentially mentioned earlier, it’s basically a beat ‘em up game with guns, so that makes a lot of sense. Unfortunately, I have other, better, real beat ‘em ups that I’d rather play with my friends, so, sorry, agents, you’re retired.

What’s next? Random ROB… is taking a backseat, as I play the game everyone has to play right now. Metroid 2! Samus is back, baby! Please look forward to it!


FGC #287 Pac-Man (Gameboy)

So I figure there are two ways we can go with this article. One, we could take a look at this:

Wakka wakka

And laugh uproariously at this primitive attempt at a portable Pac-Man. It’s super tiny! They couldn’t fit the entire maze on the screen! There isn’t an attempt at “new” mazes, despite the fact that Ms. Pac-Man was released years before. There’s no color!

Or, second choice, we could address Pac-Man for Gameboy as the most important game that was ever released.

Let’s go with that second choice.

I did not purchase, new or used, Pac-Man for Gameboy. I did not have a legit Gameboy as a child, and the few games I purchased for my Super Gameboy were significant and precious. Pac-Man was never even in the running. Pac-Man, even by the release of the Super Gameboy, was fairly played out, and, if we’re being honest, primitive. OG Pac-Man had like one maze and four directions. There wasn’t even a jump button! I want to say that I didn’t consider purchasing a Pac-Man game until The Age of the Download, because, seriously why bother? Besides, ol’ Paccy seemed to pop up often enough in other, more complex games. So, ya know, screw it. If I want to get lost in a maze, I’ll just play god-damned Fester’s Quest again.

No, I did not ever think to purchase Pac-Man for Gameboy. This game was inherited. This game once belonged to my grandfather. And that’s kind of important.

According to Pokémon Go (this is how I do research), the local arcade was founded in 1976. Pac-Man, according to Wikipedia, was released in the spring of 1980. Given my grandfather notoriously enjoyed Space Invaders since its initial release two years earlier, I’m guessing the man first played Pac-Man in that arcade. Here, for reference, are the two “original” Pac machines still floating around that arcade, nearly forty years later:

Wakka wakka

You’ll notice that OG Pac-Man is not pictured. That’s because the old man got tossed sometime around when The World’s Largest Pac-Man Cabinet showed up. Then again, it may have gone to the dumpster well before that, as Ms. Pac-Man has always, no questions, been better than her hubby. It’s a Pac eat Pac world, and even Junior can conquer the old man. Regardless, I’m going to ahead and assume Pac-Man was first played by my ancestor somewhere around that general area pictured above.

Or maybe I’m completely wrong. Pac-Man, despite being a boring old man compared to the rest of his family, was ubiquitous for nearly a decade. In my youth, I saw Pac-Man cabinets in every restaurant lobby, hotel, motel, and Holiday Inn in the country. I’m pretty sure I’ve seen a few of the sit-down Pac-cabinets in doctor’s offices. Pac-Man was everywhere for a while, and I could see my grandfather first playing the game at any of those locations. He was a dedicated husband and father, but my mother has always eaten about as slow as a particularly anemic snail, so I could easily imagine my grandfather sneaking off to a diner Pac-Man cabinet to munch pellets faster than his daughter could devour potatoes. … Or maybe I’m just confusing my own childhood with his adulthood…

Regardless, I can tell you one place my grandfather did not play Pac-Man for the first time: his living room. It’s hard to even imagine now, but gaming used to be exclusively an outside activity… or at least outside the home. You could not play videogames in your living room, you were stuck going to any of those (many) locations listed to get your gaming fix, because the technology just wasn’t there. Did you see those arcade cabinets? No way anything like that would fit in your bedroom.

But when you did get something home…

Wakka wakka

It might not have been so hot. That’s Pac-Man for the Atari 2600. I know for a fact that my grandfather owned that game, because I played “his” Atari roughly 28,000,000,000 times as a kid. But I didn’t play Pac-Man that much (Combat, man, Combat), because, even as a toddler, I knew a compromised port when I saw it. And my grandfather agreed. In the same way one might have a cherished memory of an elder telling a tale of a bygone age/lemon tree, I can distinctly recall my grandfather sitting me on his lap, and saying, “Bobby, let’s save this game for the arcade.” And we did. And it was good.

Looking back, it’s obvious why Atari Pac-Man was so terrible. We didn’t know the numbers at the time, but the Atari literally had 32 times less memory than the Pac-Man arcade board, so trying to get ol’ Pac going “perfectly” on an Atari was about as likely as running Windows on the Sesame Street Cookie Counter. But back in the earliest of 80’s, the message seemed to be that, no matter what, we were never going to get “arcade realism” on the humble home console. I’ve spoken of this phenomenon before, and, yes, it even applied to games where the hero is a yellow circle and no participants even have recognizable appendages. Regardless, it seemed like that would be the status quo forever, and “home computers” would never be advanced enough for something so complex as a yellow pizza man.

The originalAnd then… they were. Whether you want to point to the Commodore 64, Nintendo Entertainment System, or even the later Atari 5200, we did eventually get an “arcade perfect” port of Pac-Man (or close enough to forget that that earlier Pepto-Man ever existed), and Pac-Man actually could be enjoyed at home. We made it! What could be better?

Well, Pac-Man anywhere you want, of course.

Pac-Man had a few portable iterations in his heyday. I’ve never seen one in person, but google the Tomy Tronic Pac-Man if you ever want to see the glorious old days of pac-portability. And the Coleco portable Pac-Man “cabinet” had a similar, early portable styling in that whole “light up blocks” a number of people remember from the Tiger Electronic portables. Oh! And those Pac-Man electronic watches! I hear people have died over those things. All of those whacky devices technically provided a portable pac-perience, but if Atari Pac-Man was a compromised port, this was an excuse that was somehow even less. I’m pretty sure you could get a more robust experience out of a damn wall mural than those stupid watches.

But then the Gameboy came, and Pac-Man was good.

And, sure, there wasn’t any color, and sure, you had a choice between teeny tiny graphics or actually, ya know, seeing the whole screen, but it was pretty damn Pac-Man. All the cinema scenes are here, and I’m pretty sure the ghost/power pellet times are arcade accurate. All the little intricacies of Pac-Man are available on the go, even if it’s kind of difficult to tell Blinky from Inky. And, while it seems obvious to say that people notice details, it’s those little things that separate atrocious Atari ports from the kind of games that can pry Tetris from that lone, precious Gameboy slot.

So, yes, today, Pac-Man for Gameboy seems primitive and, frankly, kind of sad. This is a version of Pac-Man that is meant to be played on a screen barely larger than an Amiibo base. But then again, that’s kind of the point: when Pac-Man was released, it could only be contained in an arcade cabinet that weighed hundreds of pounds and cost hundreds of dollars. But, in just a decade, Pac-Man could gobble down ghosts while being powered by a mere four batteries.

Yeah!And my grandfather always had those four batteries available. Essentially. He suffered from a stroke around 1999, so, being partially paralyzed, he didn’t really keep up with videogame advances. But one image I’ll never forget would be from about two years before he died (incidentally, roughly ten years after the stroke). He was sitting at his computer in his wildly disorganized “office” (a place my grandmother never visited), and he was chatting with his brother. My grandfather lived in New Jersey, and his brother of some eighty years lived in Florida. They were chatting via a messenger service (probably AOL), and my grandfather had somehow jury-rigged a modern webcam to a tripod from roughly 1956, and there was his brother on the screen, chatting away, and likely with some similar piece of makeshift webcammery on his side. They were talking, or, to be more particular, my grand uncle was talking, and my grandfather was listening. And, while my grandfather was listening, he was playing a game of Pac-Man in the other window. It’s not hard to play a videogame with four buttons with one hand. But I’ll always remember that scene: two men from the early 20th Century, talking across miles and miles as if they were in the same room, and one is still nursing a case of Pac-Fever.

Pac-Man came a long way, and technology came with him.

And that’s always going to be important.

FGC #287 Pac-Man (Gameboy)

  • System: I have got to find a better system than making the system part of the title and then denoting the system directly below the title. Also, I should say “system” less.
  • Number of players: Two! Via link cable! I have no idea how that works, because I never saw a second Gameboy with Pac-Man in my youth… but it’s probably lame. I mean, this ain’t Pac-Men.
  • Further Photographic Evidence: I wasn’t kidding about the Gameboy screen being the size of an Amiibo Base.

    Wakka wakka

    Also, for the record, that Gameboy is playing my copy of Pac-Man, you just absolutely cannot see it. Oh well.

  • Two in one stroke: I’m also going to claim that this article covers Atari Pac-Man, so that way I never have to touch that one again. Yes, I did also inherit that “beloved” childhood memory, too, because of course I did.
  • Did you know? Yes, I live in a town where I can still walk to an arcade. Multiples, depending on the season.
    Wakka wakka

    And, yes, at least one arcade has OG Pac-Man.
  • Would I play again: Pac-Man, yes, Gameboy, no. I have respect for the first decent portable system in history, but respect doesn’t do anything for eyestrain.

What’s next? Random ROB has chosen… Persona 5! Or maybe he didn’t choose it at all, and I just feel like writing about a game I played for a hundred hours. Who could say? You get Persona 5 either way. Please look forward to it!

Wakka wakka

Xenosaga Episode III Special 4: Beyond Xenosaga

Previously on Xenosaga: Xenosaga is over, folks! There are no more games left, I’ve said everything about the franchise I want to say, and I don’t think we’re going to be seeing Xenosaga HD in time for the Christmas season. It’s done, folks!

But just because a franchise ends, doesn’t mean it’s completely forgotten. Xenosaga has sent its tendrils far past its own release, so we’ll be spending this, the final update for this LP, looking at the games that Xenosaga, in some way, touched.

If you see a game’s title in bold text, fair warning, there are likely to be spoilers.

Now let’s start with the most obvious entry, the immediate sequel to Xenosaga…

Final Fantasy 13 (12/17/09 Japan, 03/09/10 USA) Playstation 3/Xbox 360

Wait… no. That’s… that’s not right…

FGC #153 Soulcalibur 3

SOOOOOULcaliburI’ve been a fan of the Soulcalibur series since the beginning, because it combines two things I love: fighting games and hitting people with swords. Considering the origin point of the series, Soul Edge, also had the benefit of being released when I was a teenager (and thus rather interested in the… bulging characters), I was hooked right from the first scene of… I want to say there was a dude riding a raft? Huh, you’d think I’d be able to remember memorable scenes. I can probably draw Sophitia from memory, though… for… some reason…

Soul Edge/Blade was kind of a weird mix of 2-D and 3-D fighting sensibilities (as an easy example, it was definitely a 3-D fighter, but your character could jump thirty feet in the air), but Soulcalibur (1) was where the series really landed. This is where the true tale of swords and souls began, and, with its eclectic cast of lizard people and kabuki ninja, this was also the game that wound up sticking in most players’ brains. Maybe it was just because it was yet another amazing Dreamcast fighting game, but I want to say Soulcalibur was somehow both the start and pinnacle of the franchise.

But, if you’re anything like me, that creates a funny problem. When one entry in a series is so iconic, it creates a dissonance with everything that comes after. This is probably most obviously seen recently with Ghostbusters, which has had a myriad of comics, books, and animated tie-in materials, but when anyone that hasn’t dedicated their lives to memorizing ridiculous trivia about Slimer mentions “Ghostbusters”, they’re talking about the original 80’s movie, and not, say, that time when Egon hired the cute goth chick. There have been female ghostbusters, guys! There was one in Ghostbusters 2! But, no, that’s not what people think about, so who cares? Soulcalibur gets much the same treatment: Look at 'em allthe cast of Soulcalibur (1) gets recycled and revitalized every chance the series gets, but anyone that premiered later is entirely auxiliary.

This leads to my own personal problem with Soulcalibur: when confronted with every Soulcalibur game that isn’t Soulcalibur (1), I glance at the cover, and groan “Ugh, this is the Soulcalibur game where they introduced that idiot.” And I have that reaction to every single Soulcalibur game!

Soulcalibur 3 might not be as bad as its siblings. It was Soulcalibur 2 that introduced Raphael (history’s first Vampire LARPer), Talim (let’s make a version of Sophitia that is even more sickeningly saccharine and give her a useless weapon!), and Necrid (who never returns thanks to the dread curse of licensing issues). Soulcalibur 4 only had two new characters, but they were both about as generic as possible: “Queen Boring” Hilde and “King ‘o Swords” Algol. Soulcalibur 5 presented a number of new characters, which, despite introducing at least one werewolf, mostly whiffed with insufferable children related to the “real” characters. At least one of those new souls was Goku, though.

And I’m not even going to acknowledge Soulcalibur Legends.

But Soulcalibur 3 does have its cast of all new duds.

There she goesTira is number one, as, since her introduction, she’s become the Harley Quinn to Nightmare’s Joker. Actually, scratch that, she’s clearly modeled after Harley Quinn in every conceivable way. She’s sadistic, wholly dedicated to her maniacal master, and even has a penchant for influencing the kiddies. And, oh yeah, she’s dressed like a damn harlequin. As an extra bit of ridiculousness, modern DC comics Harley Quinn has been randomly characterized as having a split personality: the intelligent and calculating Dr. Harleen Qunizel, and the sadistic and “crazy” Harley Quinn. And what’s Tira’s trademark? She’s got a dual personality! Neat!

Oh, and her weapon is a hula hoop. We’re four games into the franchise, and we’ve completely run out of viable weapons.

And it probably goes without saying that “Harley” here became the most popular debut character of Soulcalibur 3.

The other new lady is Setsuka. Do yourself a favor and look up Lady Snowblood. Done? Great! There’s everything you need to know about Setsuka. Just switch a deceased and desecrated mother for a fatally wounded master, and you’ve got pretty much the exact same character: beautiful (mostly) Japanese woman revengences herself across the nation with the assistance of a kimono and umbrella-sword. Bonus points for this character wielding a pretty cool weapon/fighting style, but serious points off for creating a character that has pretty much nothing to do with the main plot of, ya know, that whole Soul Edge thing. It’s little wonder that this character was dropped for Soulcalibur 5 and was replaced with… one of Sophitia’s kids? That raises… questions.

Olcadan is an owl.


I think the record will show that I have no problem with owls. Keep hooting on, you crazy avian.

Our fourth and final new combatant is Zasalamel, the coverboy of the game. Zas has… issues.

Zasalamel works within the scope of Soulcalibur 3. The Soulcalibur franchise has always been about an “ancient sword” (and, pretty quickly thereafter, another ancient sword), so, from about Soulcalibur on, the series did its best to introduce a Merlin to the cast. Initially we had Edge Master, who was ancient and bearded and talked a lot of talk about being immortal and secretly knowing what’s going on. Then he had to take a smoke break for three games, so we needed a replacement. Zasalamel seemed to be positioned to be the “new” Edge Master… and that’s actually kind of cool! GlowyYou’ve somehow only got one black guy in the whole of the franchise, and he’s well-read, intelligent, and the only dude in the cast that really knows what’s going on. If you’re going to be skimpy on the representation, at least you’ve included a character that is pretty much the opposite of ugly stereotypes. Zasalamel could have been yet another “noble savage” amongst a gaggle of crazy Eurasians, but, no, he’s basically a morally ambiguous Merlin here, and the world needs more African wizards.

Then we get Soulcalibur 4, and King Algol, the Sword King, is introduced. Algol is older, wiser, and more intrinsically tied to the titular blade. Zasalamel was once a protector of the Soulcalibur, Algol literally built the damn thing. After Zasalamel’s turn as the final boss of Soulcalibur 3, Algol claims that throne for the sequel. Algol usurps everything interesting about Zasalamel, so it’s no surprise when Zas isn’t even mentioned by the time of Soulcalibur 5.

And I’m sure it’s just a coincidence that Algol winds up being yet another muscular white guy.

So, while Soulcalibur 3 has a scant four new characters, two are obvious rip-offs homages, one was a good idea destroyed by the very next game, and the other is a bird. I’m going to say that totals up to a loss, so, yes, Soulcalibur 3 was yet another Soulcalibur that introduced those idiots.

Maybe I’ll just make my own damn characters. Is there anything in this franchise for that?

FGC #153 Soulcalibur 3

  • System: After Soulcalibur 2 hit all the systems that would support it, SC3 only saw the arcade and Playstation 2.
  • Number of players: Two souls enter, one soul leaves.
  • Personal failing: Do you know how many times I typed “Soul Calibur” as opposed to “Soulcalibur”? Infinity times!
  • Poke pokeLet’s not even talk about: Chronicles of the Sword is an entirely too long mode that vaguely resembles a Tactical RPG. You’re responsible for moving units around the board and ramming them into invading forces, but it all winds up coming down to a 1-on-1 battles anyway… so can we just get a stupidly long arcade mode instead? This is Soulcalibur, not Fire Emblem.
  • But you’d play a Fire Emblem fighting game: Oh my yes.
  • Favorite Character (SC3): I’ve been fond of Seong Mi-na since Soul Edge, and this game does nothing to change that. I kind of naturally gravitate toward staff characters, and I’m sure this has nothing to do with a childhood affection for Donatello. This also may explain why I like the color purple so much. Kilik would likely win this honor if he wasn’t so mopey about killing his own family.
  • Special Guests: Soulcalibur 2 got Todd’s toys and Link involved, and SC4 would one day grab Darth Vader, but SC3 doesn’t have any official guest stars. However, you can create a number of different cool cats, like Gilgamesh from Tower of Druaga and a certain Namco android that has been dominating my thoughts recently.
  • Did you know? A character named Edgardo was planned for Soulcalibur 3, but apparently never made it past the modeling stage of development. It’s possible that Edgardo got recycled into King Algol in time for Soulcalibur 4, but, technically, in the ridiculous and sprawling Soulcalibur canon, Edgardo is a legitimate character, and was apparently defeated by Taki.
  • Would I play again: It’s a Soulcalibur game. I’ll just play Soulcalibur (1) again, thank you.

What’s next? Random ROB has chosen… Kirby Triple Deluxe for the 3DS. Good things come in triples, right? Please look forward to it!