It’s difficult to leap in to this review without making it first obvious that I am a massive, near-on obsessive fan of the Darius series of video games. From posters to Laserdiscs, to tote bags to model kits, to soundtracks to VHS tapes to the games themselves. You name it, if it’s Darius-related, I’ve either owned it or it’s currently in my collection. So when Darius Burst Chronicle Saviours was announced for the PC, PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita, you could say I was mildly excited upon reading said news.
Picture the scene. It is late April, 1995. A young Toshiaki Fujino is tucked away in a small room in an already cramped Tokyo apartment. Fujino san is hunched over a desk. Illumination in the room is provided by the glow of a Sharp X68000 cathode ray tube monitor. Amid the cathode flicker, the whir of a ceiling fan and the thick ribbons of smoke emerging from a stagnant Mild Seven, Fujino san is hard at work, creating what would become his first proper shooting game. A milestone that would have become his legacy, but until recently was considered lost forever.
Project Moon would make it’s debut in May 1995, plunging head first in to the chaotic circles of Japan’s crowded, saturated and frenetic doujin (indie, or fan made, for want of a more familiar classification in the West) scene. Ripples were made and the title was well received and passed around said chaotic circles. Project Moon would soon become but a distant memory as Fujino san would take a bold leap forward to form Triangle Service, a company still active today in 2015 and still brand of utmost importance to niche gamers. In particular, fans of shooting games.
“The game industry in general is having a hard time and we refocus on social games and new revenue avenues. But we won’t give up!” – Hiroyuki Maruyama, President. G.Rev.
If ever a video game company commanded a mandatory abundance of respect by the bucket load, it’s G.Revolution (aka, G.Rev). A company initially founded for the sole purpose of developing shooting games, G.Rev quickly discovered that even with the goal set in stone to focus solely on shoot ‘em up games, they simply did not have the capital required to jump in to the arena and destroying all before them with magnificent, multi-million Yen titles. Instead, to acheive their goal, G.Rev worked hard on top grade titles for such respected companies as Sega, Taito Corporation and Treasure. The aim being to raise enough capital from co-devloping other projects in the hopes of being able to release their very own, 100% G.Rev titles.
That’s where the respect by the bucket loads part comes in. It’s truly an epic acheivement. Not just because of what G.Rev have accomplished in sticking to their belief of the original goal and actually following through with it, but for the fact that the product that they have produced, both as co-productions and their very own titles have been nothing short of astonishing. Indeed two titles from the G.Rev vault, Border Down and Under Defeat are widely regarded as two of the finest shooting games ever made. The latter of which will see an HD makeover and full retail release (in Japan only) on the XBOX 360 and PlayStation 3 this week.
I was incredibly honoured to be approached by Jacob Iyamu at online retailer Solaris Japan to have my tiny personal blog represented at an interview with the good folks at G.Revolution. Naturally I jumped at the chance and put forward a handful of questions for Jacob to ask Hiroyuki Maruyama, president of G.Rev on my behalf. The interview was recorded and will be available later on this month (stay tuned for more information to follow on this).
I’d like to thank Yusaku Yamamoto and all the staff at Shooting Gameside for kindly agreeing to an interview. Especially with a no-name person like me.
Ageing gamers the world over may recall with fondness scouring the pages of their favourite gaming or anime magazines only to be left gazing in awe at the wealth of fine publications available to our friends in Japan. The birthplace of said subject matter plays host to everything the mind could possibly conjure up to feed the insatiable masses. From simple, photocopied ‘doujin’ fanzines to pulp monthlies the size of telephone directories and elaborate coffee table centerpieces laden in gold, frankincense and quite possibly myrrh. There is simply no area left uncovered by both the professionals and otaku alike.
At the same time it was with some sadness that these pages we gazed at longingly in our favourite reads were simply pipe dreams that were left on those pages. For many this was (and still is) a stumbling block due to two main reasons. The language barrier and the sheer cost of importing such items to our respective countries. And so it remains, even to this day, that 99.9% of the product we long for that is so readily available in Japan remains out of our grasp. On a personal note I recall the black and white classifieds that graced the pages of Manga Mania in the early 1990′s would showcase the Masmaune Shirow masterpiece Intron Depot 1. Last week, and some 19 years later, I purchased a copy of Intron Depot 1 from Japan which traveled so many miles across the globe and floated down on my desk like the most beautiful feather. I was reduced to near-tears. At last I owned a copy of the legendary art book I saw nearly two decades earlier and dreamed of owning.
Having delved through a pile of my Japanese books and magazines recently, I happened upon this little chunklet from the wonderful Game Lab (ゲームラボ) magazine. This, it would appear, is a full, working game for the Sega Saturn, from the blotchy on-line translation available to me I was able to find out a few facts about what this program is and how to use it. Essentially I just wanted to scan it, share it and get this out there in the hopes the community will tinker with the code!
This is it. This is the Concorde moment in STG gaming. There is nothing, probably, to better or equal this monumental, epic and quite simply biblical piece of engineering brilliance.
Best of all it’s rubbish.
Well, it isn’t really, but it is one hell of a gimmick. Today I received what, in my opinion, I think, is a true cornerstone in game controller excellence. It’s also super rare. Not as rare as, say, the yellow Famicom Hudson Caravan joystick (you know the one…) but I would perhaps wager it is up there?