Tag Archives: space invaders

FGC #545 Bangai-O Spirits

Gogglebob.com officially started in 2015, and it also contains articles written months or even years before the official launch of the site. I don’t personally consider myself someone who puts forth a “brand”, but, after something like 700 articles about videogames (total reached by including all auxiliary Kingdom Hearts and Let’s Play materials), I feel like my general opinions and “tone” have been well established. It’s been over five years of Gogglebob.com… and for most of that time, I was single. And, now, considering my bride-to-be isn’t much of a videogame fan (past some obvious luminaries), gaming is still generally a solitary hobby for myself. What am I getting at? Well, I worry, because, as of publication of this article, I am about two weeks away from getting married. Is that going to change me? Is that going to change the articles you find on Gogglebob.com? Am I going to become a “wife guy”? I’m worried about my identity! Even when I’m writing about something as esoteric as Brain Dead 13, this website is my autobiography, and I’m worried about who I am (and the site!) mutating in the face of such a drastic life change.

But, no, that’s silly. I am Goggle Bob, and, no matter what happens, no matter who becomes a permanent part of my life, a permanent part of me, I am always going to be myself. This is gogglebob.com, I am Goggle Bob, and that is never going to change.

So today I (Goggle Bob!) am going to talk about tampons.

I, being of the biological male persuasion, do not understand tampons. I am unfamiliar with their exact usage, and, while it has been explained to me a few times over the years, all I could really grok from those lessons is that they look really uncomfortable. They kind of resemble future-tech Molotov cocktails? And they’re supposed to go where? Yeah, that’s not for me. And, while I’ve had a general grip of the purpose of tampon usage for years, they had yet to live in my home until my fiancée officially moved in a little while back. Now, in the same room where I read my all-important leftover 1999 strategy guides, there is a box of tampons. And, because I occasionally get bored of reading how important it is I visit Playonline for more information, sometimes I dare make eye contact with one of those tampon boxes. And what did I find in perusing this box? Tampons come in different levels! Apparently here is the ranking for one brand:

POW

  • Light
  • Regular
  • Super
  • Super Plus
  • Ultra

And, to be clear, that is from lightest (light) to heaviest (ultra). And, while I may not be blessed with body parts that ever have to interact with a tampon, I do have an opinion on this situation from an engineering perspective: This is stupid.

Seriously, ladies (or the men that are apparently in charge of ranking women’s menstrual flow), there are some serious issues here. Light makes sense, but regular? You are claiming there is some sort of national average for periods, and it is apparently only level 2? And then super to super plus? Okay, there’s at least an escalation, but, unless you’re Kara Zor-El, I don’t think anyone has ever described anything to do with that time of the month as “super”. And the final level is ultra? Were tampons invented as a tie-in to the N64? Because that is the only explanation for a final level being “Ultra”. Ultimate is right there! It starts with a U, too!

So, in the interest of making the lives of people who menstruate better (they already have to deal with so much! Like the entire population of people who don’t!), I propose a new ranking system for tampons. In the future, all tampons should be ranked according to Bangai-O titles.

LEVEL1
Level: Light Hover Attack

The Bangai-O franchise theoretically started in the late 90’s. However, there was a game that was the main inspiration for Bangai-O: Hover Attack. Hover Attack features a robot (maybe a human?) who has a limited missile gauge and a hover gauge, but, other than those limitations, the world is their oyster. They can fly! In a game from 1984! And they’ve got a cool hoverboard, too! The people of the 80’s loved those things! Unfortunately, if you’re looking for a real Bangai-O experience, the technology of the time could not cut the muster on rendering more than a few misssiles, so it doesn’t feature what would be the defining staple of the series. It’s like Bangai-O, but if Bangai-O was much… lighter.

LEVEL2
Level: Regular Bakuretsu Muteki Bangaioh

WeeeeeeOkay, there’s no question here: we’re dealing with a tried and true Explosive, Invincible Bangai-O here. There is flying. There are enemies. There are missiles upon missiles upon missiles. You can blast your opponents out of the sky, and then collect enough fruit to live like a king. It’s here, and there’s no question it’s here. Or… actually, that’s kind of the problem: it’s not here. It’s Bangai-O, but it’s also limited to a Japanese release, and barely surviving there at that. So, in short, this is Bangai-O that exists, is definitely a Bangai-O experience, but is still on the slight side of things.

LEVEL3
Level: Super Bangai-O!

Oh blastNow we’re talking. If there are going to be five levels of something, here’s the exact, recognizable middle. That’s how numbers work! Bangai-O is the game we all know and love (and occasionally inspires hallucinations). This is Bangai-O… nay… BANGAI-O! and its accomplishments are legion. This is the game that taught us all to love shoot ‘em ups again in the age of ubiquitous polygons and JRPGs. This is the game that satisfied all our ids with explosions of a Bay-ian caliber. Bangai-O was a revelation… and the only downside is that many people don’t even know it had any sequels. It is the baseline of Bangai-O, so it stands in the middle of all other levels, presumably inviting an errant Goldilocks.

LEVEL4
Level: Super Plus Bangai-O HD: Missile Fury

May as well just call this game “Bangai-O: Super Plus”. It’s Bangai-O taken to the next level. Stage creation? Check. Online options? Check. Big honkin’ missiles that defy all laws of conservation of mass? Double check. Depending on your thinking, though, it is not exactly the straight-up action game that Bangai-O pioneered for the franchise. In short, thinking of this as “simply” a shoot ‘em up will get you killed pretty fast, but treating it as something closer to a puzzle title will see your ship surviving well into a fruit coma. It’s just a puzzle game where, you know, the solution involves a healthy number of explosives. Some people can’t handle it, though, so this is a fine signifier of a “heavy” Bangai-O.

LEVEL5
Level: Ultra Bangai-O Spirits

PEW PEWBut this is as hefty as Bangai-O gets. In a similar manner to its descendant, Bangai-O HD, Bangai-O Spirits is a puzzle game masquerading as an action title. But where Missile Fury sticks to a more straightforward loadout for its challenges, Spirits drowns its audience in a multiple choice quiz before every battle. Do you want to focus on shooting, or melee attacks? Bringing in the rebounding laser, or the baseball bat? Going to focus on reflecting opponent’s shots, or simply blasting them out of the sky? You’ve got options! Options upon options! And these options are absolute murder, because it is often difficult to say if you failed because you didn’t identify what you were supposed to be doing, or because you didn’t drag in whatever weapon you were supposed to have. There’s a reason this title has such a comprehensive tutorial structure (which includes the game’s seemingly contractually obligated plot), because if you’re not prepared, the “real” levels of Bangai-O Spirits are going to drown you in a deluge of pure, unfettered Bangai-O.

But if you’re aware of the weight of Bangai-O Spirits, you’ll be prepared. And that’s why tampon companies and Bangai-O should get together to revamp their level grading, and get everybody on the same page. You need to know what kind of tampon you’re purchasing in the exact same way you need to know what kind of Bangai-O you’ll be experiencing. Tampax, give me a call, I’m certain we can work out a level grading system that is a little more explosive/invincible.

FGC #545 Bangai-O Spirits

  • POWSystem: Nintendo DS, and this is another sad tale of a game being locked into a system that time has now forgotten.
  • Number of players: It’s technically multiplayer with the whole level sharing thing, but it’s really a one-player experience.
  • Are there skeletons? Yes.
  • Is there a Pac-Man pastiche? Certainly.
  • Is this the best game ever? Very much a contender.
  • What’s with that tutorial? Yes, there are a lot of tutorials involved. Yes, you should consider them completely mandatory, because there is no way you are going to remotely survive the “real game” if you don’t learn about the myriad of new ways to blow stuff up in Spirits. Also, it’s the only part of the game that has a “plot”… if you’re into that kind of thing.
  • How’s the plot? Funny, but forgettable. I’m pretty sure there are at least three characters involved. Maybe four? They probably have names.
  • Favorite weapon: It hurts my soul to not choose the baseball bat, but I’m more into the missiles that tear through enemy bullets like tissue paper. I’m sure they have a distinct designation, but that’s inconsequential: if I can survive the level with ‘em, they’re my first choice.
  • POWDid you know? You can share created levels with other players by playing tones out of the DS that other Bangai-O Spirits games can interpret and decode. This is what gaming looked like before the internet was widely available, and I am here for it.
  • Would I play again: There is a heavy, overflowing chance that that is a solid yes. Doubly so if someone could port this to a modern system. Switch? Please? This is an ideal portable experience, and I could use a new reason to wreck a joycon.

What’s next? Random ROB has chosen… Jet Set Radio! Yo yo yo, DJ Professor K is gonna tell you the righteous tale of the GGs, son. Please look forward to it!

No Pow

The Joi of Tech

Warning: Today’s article contains spoilers for Blade Runner 2049. If you would like to go into that movie completely clean, please stop reading now. If not, welcome to my nightmare.

I’m a technology nerd. Strike that, I’m a technology professional, and I know damn well that so goes tech, so goes my life. This was never “the plan”, but, somehow, my life and income are now inextricably tied to the whims of one particular industry. If I refuse to learn “the latest thing”, I’m going to be out on the street. Should an errant electromagnetic pulse wipe out all local machinery, I’m either going to have to move, or start scrubbing toilets for a living. And I hope that toilet scrubbing wage can support my reckless addiction to videogames! These “ironically purchased” Bubsy games ain’t gonna buy themselves!

So, naturally, I can now only view the world through the eyes of my profession. Are more people using ipads now? What’s with people still subscribing to AOL? Dude, how many times has Steve’s email been hacked? He’s sending me emails from Bulgaria again, and it’s getting really annoying. I could make it better! Just say something, Steve! And speaking of nightmarish hellscapes of the modern era, inevitably, when I see a movie, I overanalyze every bit of tech involved. Would those terminals in Avengers really be able to run Space Invaders? Is that spaceship GUI in Thor: Ragnorak at all practical for average superhero use? Do I watch any movies that aren’t based in the Marvel Universe? Of course I do, because I recently saw Blade Runner 2049. Obviously, that was going to grab my attention, the entire premise of the movie is predicated on decades of potential technological advancement, and the effect that would have on humans and generally human shaped beings. That’s so far up my alley, it’s weeping over Martha and her lost pearls.

And, spoilers, I liked Blade Runner 2049…

FGC #347 Space Invaders

Here they come, here come space invadersStreet Fighter 2 defined the fighting game. Grand Theft Auto 3 defined the sandbox game. Doom defined the FPS. Super Mario Bros. defined the platformer. Pac-Man defined the videogame mascot. And Space Invaders? Space Invaders established the very core of videogames.

Space Invaders is not the first videogame. In fact, according to interviews with Space Invaders’ creator, Tomohiro Nishikado, SI started in the same place as a number of other games of yesterday and today: it was a complete rip off. And it wasn’t even a very good idea for a rip off! Anybody here ever play Breakout? It’s that one game where you control a paddle (horizontal line), and you bounce a ball off bricks. It’s basically one-player pong with a slightly destructive objective. But one neat thing about Breakout is the whole “physics simulation” is has going on. You have to negotiate your paddle around the screen to effectively bat that ball back and maybe hit it just right so your next “catch” isn’t completely impossible. If you could completely control the ball, there would be no game here, it would just be, what, point and shoot? Where’s the fun in that?

So, naturally, that’s the game Tomohiro Nishikado decided to make. Never let it be said a bad idea can’t change the world.

Let’s imagine what it had to be like to create Space Invaders (with a little input from various interviews with the man himself). First, you want to make breakout, but you can “control the ball”. Okay, that sounds fun and all, but it would be boring as hell after all of five seconds. So let’s make the “bricks” move! You can control the ball now, but you can’t control the opponents, so that all important bit of randomness has been introduced. Now what are we shooting at? Bricks are fairly slow, so let’s grab something more mobile. We’re already shooting, so how about a war environment? No, that will never work, as apparently it was difficult to properly animate tanks and planes back in the day (wow, where would modern gaming be if we never advanced that technology?). So, partially inspired by that one movie about that farm kid, Nishikado decided to rip off another film: War of the Worlds. Those iconic Space Invaders? They’re supposed represent the vaguely aquatic tentacled aliens of the H. G. Wells Martians. Go ahead and look at the Space Invaders lineup right now.

The colors, duke

We’ve got squid kids on the top, octopi on the bottom, and those iconic dudes in the middle are supposed to be crabs. So, in an effort to file the serial numbers off an already established game, Nishikado managed to create the prequel to Splatoon history.

But we haven’t hit masterpiece yet. On its own, with what was just described, Space Invaders would likely have been a well-liked but inconsequential arcade title. You’d slide in your quarter, bump off a few cosmic horrors, and then head off to hunt a wooly mammoth or whatever the heck people did for fun in the 70’s. Forty years later, some cynical blogger would find the title on Taito Legends, play it for three seconds, and then compare it to a game where Tarzan becomes a pirate. But, no, that isn’t what’s happening in our universe. In this timeline, Nishikado added one important thing: music.

Beep BoopOkay, “music” might be a bit generous here. I don’t see John Williams scoring “Theme from Space Invaders” for his orchestra anytime soon. But Space Invaders does have a theme, and it was the first game of its kind to do such a thing. Ever play Pong? Just beeps and boops. The previously mentioned Breakout? Same deal. Space Invaders added sound beyond “sound effects”, and… Can we call this the music of the invaders? Like, maybe this is their battle cry, and it sounds remotely melodic to our human ears? Whatever the case, the invaders are coming, and they’re coming faster, and their music is speeding up with ‘em. That’s right, Space Invaders didn’t just offer the first bits of videogame music, it introduced dynamic videogame music.

And when that music was released into the wild, when the arcades started hosting Space Invaders, that’s when videogames were truly born.

It’s also the exact moment talking about videogames became bullshit.

Do videogames influence people? Can a videogame change a person’s thinking? These questions have been kicking around the videogame blogosphere since well before the word “blog” even existed. Sometimes the questions are posed in relation to “elevating” gaming to a higher level, sometimes it’s a rhetorical posed because “the devil made me do it” can now be pinned on murder simulators. But you know what everyone tends to ignore? That there was a freaking scientific study performed on the human heart and whether or not it is impacted by lil’ ol’ Space Invaders. “Cardiac and Metabolic Responses to ‘Space Invaders’: An Instance of Metabolically-Exaggerated Cardiac Adjustment?” from September of ’83. That’s right, before many of you readers were even born, there was a study that, spoilers, confirmed that Space Invaders had a measurable impact on a heartbeat. Let me say that again for anyone that missed the premise: a videogame can literally control your heart.

GETTING STRESSEDOn one hand, that seems like a gigantic duh. Theme from Space Invaders gradually gains tempo as the titular invaders pick up speed, so, come on, of course your heart rate is going to rise. The earth is threatened, the invaders are getting closer and closer, and you’re our only hope. It’s a stressful situation! On the other hand, can you think of anything more insidious than a soulless computer game controlling your very heart? You need that organ to live! And let’s consider what is supposed to get your heart a-pitter-pattering. Exercise? Sure. A pop quiz? Indubitably. The very thought of your first love? Absolutely. But a videogame? Your heart is racing because of some gradually advancing seafood? Ugh. We don’t live in Bladerunner, chummer, this is an inconsequential, low-tech waste of a quarter. Why is it getting to you? This game is nothing.

But, even if it took years for people to admit it, we all know that isn’t true. There’s a reason your heart is racing. There’s a reason you care. You’re a triangle trying to destroy oblong rectangles, but it means something. You are repelling Space Goddamn Invaders. You are enjoying the game, but your heart is racing because, on even the most basic level, you understand that this is something more. It’s not Breakout, Star Wars, or War of the Worlds bootlegging, it’s an experience, and, for as long as your quarter lasts, it is everything.

What is happening here?And that’s videogames. That’s every Mushroom Kingdom, Hyrule, or Liberty City. It’s every time you’ve cheered at the death of Sephiroth, and it’s every time you cried at the sacrifice of the twins (I didn’t know they were going to get better. Shut-up). It’s every time your heart raced because this level is almost finished, it’s so close to complete… Dammit, now I have to do it all over again. It’s every note when you’ve sung the battle theme from any given Persona in the shower. It’s every time you’ve scored that final platinum trophy or 101% achievement. It’s all right there in your heart, in every single beat, and that stupid organ doesn’t know the difference between your first kiss and conquering a bullet hell.

And it all started with Space Invaders.

Space Invaders is videogames.

FGC #347 Space Invaders

  • System: Every.
  • Number of players: Let the world consider it a single player game, but there are two player options available. And competing for the top score is undoubtedly global (or at least as global as your local arcade allows).
  • What’s in a name: Yes, they are invaders from space. But they are constantly encroaching on your home base. In other words, they are invading your space.
  • Favorite Alien: I prefer the squid kids on the very top row. Also, side note, I absolutely cannot ever nail that damn UFO.
  • Best Version? I don’t know, but it ain’t Space Invaders ’95, which somehow managed to make panty shots an integral part of the Space Invaders experience.

    Shake it

    Weaponized fanservice strikes again!

  • Leaderboards: The top score is 9,990. If you’re wondering why it isn’t the more impressive 9,999, it’s because there is not a single target in this game that provides less than ten points. Artificial score inflation started early, kids.
  • Goggle Bob Fact: While Space Invaders has invaded (ha!) my collection in a number of different compilations, I don’t technically own “just Space Invaders” in any physical form other than the original Atari release. And I inherited that one from my grandfather. I’ve never actually bought a physical copy of the game of games! The shame!
  • Did you know? Oh yeah, so you (or a version of you with computer experience) could probably code a fresh copy of Space Invaders out of about six if/then statements and friggen Basic. But! Back in the day, our modern resources were not available, and Tomohiro Nishikado had to build his own software and hardware to birth Space Invaders. This, I believe, officially makes the man a hero.
  • Would I play again: Yes. Duh. It’s Space Invaders.

What’s next? Random ROB has chosen… Anarchy Reigns for the Playstation 3! Anarchy in the USA! Or maybe some post-apocalyptic version of it! Please look forward to it!

When did you get back?