Video Works by Jeremy Parish

A bit of an emphasis on day jobs this episode, but fortunately one of these games offers more than mere workmanlike effort. Activision's Rock'n Bolt stands out this week as one of the SG-1000's most appealing puzzlers—certainly a more interesting take on the genre than Soukoban, which gets credit for its primal nature but not for possessing any sort of audio-visual flair. And then there's Elevator Action, a perfectly decent arcade game done dirty by the console's hardware. In fact, I'd go so far as to say the SG-1000's limits do more to hamper this conversion than any other game we've seen on the system to date.

Production note:

  • SG-1000 footage in this episode was captured from a combination of Sega SG-1000 II with (with Card Catcher; RGB amp mod by  @iFixRetro ) and  @Analogue  Mega Sg with card adapter module and DAC.
  • Video upscaled to 720 with  @Retro Tink  5X.

Video Works is funded via Patreon (http://www.patreon.com/gamespite) — support the show and get access to every episode up to two weeks in advance of its YouTube debut! Plus, exclusive podcasts, eBooks, and more! Also available in print: Virtual Boy Works Vol. I Hardcover


More arcade ports for SG-1000? Say it ain't so! These titles aren't especially well known in the U.S., since they've never seen a proper console release here (outside of maybe some collection that doesn't come immediately to mind), but both merit a close look.

Taito's Chack'n Pop may not impress quite as much on the technical front as the more familiar Famicom version, but it features better level design... albeit with an absolutely unforgiving difficulty level.

Sega's own Bank Panic plays like a clever attempt to capture the spirit of Nintendo's Wild Gunman without the use of a light gun, and the results end up being quite a bit more successful than you might expect.

Production note:

  • SG-1000 footage in this episode was captured from a combination of Sega SG-1000 II with (with Card Catcher; RGB amp mod by  @iFixRetro ) and  @Analogue  Mega Sg with card adapter module and DAC.
  • Video upscaled to 720 with  @Retro Tink  5X.
Direct download: Chackn_Pop__Bank_Panic_retrospective__Stick-ups__Segaiden_020.mp4
Category:Video Games -- posted at: 12:00pm EST

This week brings us two SG-1000 releases that feel miles removed from the console's earliest days of serious-looking war game: Doki Doki Penguin Land and Drol. Rather than involving the relentless destruction of military vehicles (and, by extension, the squishy humans inside them), these two titles see you doing your best to protect children. While some retributive violence is involved here, those polar bears definitely had it coming.

Of the two, Penguin Land feels like the more meaningful work. It really elevates the production values of SG-1000 games and speaks to a Sega that's getting serious about its home development efforts: A wholly original creation for console that contains ample depth and subtle, precise controls and interactions. It's a real stand-out. Drol admittedly doesn't fare quite as well, but it has its merits, too.

With this episode, I think it's safe to say SG-1000 has turned a corner, and you can expect to see more games on Penguin Land's level of quality in the coming episodes as the console sunsets into Mark III/Master System.

Video Works is funded via Patreon (http://www.patreon.com/gamespite) — support the show and get access to every episode up to two weeks in advance of its YouTube debut! Plus, exclusive podcasts, eBooks, and more! Production note:

  • SG-1000 footage in this episode was captured from a combination of Sega SG-1000 II with (with Card Catcher; RGB amp mod by  @iFixRetro ) and  @Analogue  Mega Sg with card adapter module and DAC.
  • Video upscaled to 720 with  @Retro Tink  5X.

Beginning with this episode, I'm knuckling down to wrap up as much of the SG-1000 video series as possible by the end of 2021. There are only about half a dozen episodes to go after this! It's a pretty small library, but the best times are ahead of us. This episode looks at, technically, three arcade conversions: Zoom 909, Choplifter, and Pitfall II. Of course, the two latter games got their start on Apple II and Atari 2600, respectively, but around the same time these carts hit stores, Sega also reworked them into pretty good arcade games. The question is whether or not that arcade magic rubbed off on these releases...

Video Works is funded via Patreon (http://www.patreon.com/gamespite) — support the show and get access to every episode up to two weeks in advance of its YouTube debut! Plus, exclusive podcasts, eBooks, and more!

Production notes:

  • SG-1000 footage in this episode was captured from a combination of Sega SG-1000 II with (with Card Catcher; RGB amp mod by  @iFixRetro ) and  @Analogue  Mega Sg with card adapter module and DAC.
  • Famicom, NES, and Atari 7800 footage captured from  @Analogue  Nt Mini / Nt Mini Noir. Video upscaled to 720 with xRGB Mini Framemeister and  @Retro Tink  5X.

Halloween season is upon us, and you know what that means: Where other people decorate their homes with cobwebs and giant skeletons, I decorate mine with a Castlevania-related video. This time around, it's a look at a Castlevania spinoff called Kid Dracula. Well, technically, this video is about Akumajou Special: Boku Dracula-Kun! Or just Kid Dracula. It's a little bit Castlevania, a little bit Mega Man, and just a few minor quirks shy of being an all-time Famicom classic.

Video Works is funded via Patreon (http://www.patreon.com/gamespite) — support the show and get access to every episode up to two weeks in advance of its YouTube debut! Plus, exclusive podcasts, eBooks, and more!

Production notes:

  • NES and Famicom footage in this episode was captured from  @Analogue  Nt / Nt Mini / Nt Mini Noir via RGB out.
  • PS1 footage captured from PlayStation hardware via RGB cable.
  • Super NES footage captured from Super NES model 2 via JP21 SCART cable. - Standard definition video upscaled to 720 with xRGB Mini Framemeister and  @Retro Tink  5X.

I may have gone a little overboard with this episode, but it seemed worth doing. For one thing, the creator of the Golgo 13 series, Takao Saito, recently passed away. And for another, upon revisiting this game in the context of its original release chronology on NES, I came away deeply impressed by how much the developers attempted to do here. Did they nail it? Oh, lord, no. But where this game is easily written off as a kludgey mess when viewed in light of the entire nine-year NES release library, back in autumn 1988, it tried to do a LOT with the limited resources and collective game design wisdom of the time. Containing a good half-dozen presentation and gameplay styles, a globe-spanning storyline, and a genuine good-faith effort to recreate the essence of the manga property it's based on, Golgo 13: Top Secret Episode is damn impressive for what it is. (Albeit a heck of a mess.) Kids: Beware of tiny 8-bit boobies and blood spray.

Video Works is funded via Patreon (http://www.patreon.com/gamespite) — support the show and get access to every episode up to two weeks in advance of its YouTube debut! Plus, exclusive podcasts, eBooks, and more! Production notes:

  • NES and Famicom footage in this episode was captured from  @Analogue Nt Mini Noir via RGB out.
  • Standard definition video upscaled to 720 with xRGB Mini Framemeister and  @Retro Tink  5X. There is a small amount of visual distortion in the upper portion of some footage that the latest Retro Tink firmware update appears to address.

We have a follow-up to a 1986 classic here, in deed if not in name: Life Force, the sequel to Konami's Gradius. Well, sort of. It's complicated. But since we never saw the actual Gradius II on NES, this will have to do. Life Force makes use of the same excellent power-up system as Gradius with some refinements, including a new weapon option, new handling of Options, a revamped shield, and perhaps most importantly a far more forgiving respawn system upon the player's inevitable demise. Along with these improvements, Life Force also incorporates two-player simultaneous action and introduces a unique dual-format scrolling system seen nowhere else in the Gradius series. It's quality fare, and a real technical and gameplay highlight for the NES... a feat that becomes all the more impressive when you consider how it had to be scaled back from the Famicom release to work within the constraints of U.S. cartridges.

Video Works is funded via Patreon (http://www.patreon.com/gamespite) — support the show and get access to every episode up to two weeks in advance of its YouTube debut! Plus, exclusive podcasts, eBooks, and more!

Production notes:

  • NES and Famicom footage in this episode was captured from  @Analogue  Nt / Nt Mini / Nt Mini Noir via RGB out.
  • Standard definition video upscaled to 720 with xRGB Mini Framemeister and  @Retro Tink  5X. There is a small amount of visual distortion in certain vertically scrolling sequences that the latest Retro Tink firmware update appears to address.

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