The most interesting Simple 2000 titles all start with a great concept. Volume 95, The Zombie vs. Ambulance (say that title to yourself, out loud), has that in spades, but is a concept enough to carry a game?
You control the last doctor alive in a city that’s been overrun by zombies. Ignoring the pleas of the other remaining hospital staff, the main character takes it upon himself to rescue every citizen that has survived the zombie apocalypse, using the last ambulance left in the hospital’s garage. Zombies roam the city’s streets and are spawned from thin air at a steady pace, menacing your vehicle and its passengers. What’s the solution to the problem? Running the undead over at full speed, of course. Guts and gore go flying everywhere with a successful hit, and multiple successive kills fill up the requisite combo meter. High combos add bonus time to the timer that limits the amount of time the player has before the hospital is overrun and it’s game over.
Let’s get this out of the way right now: even though The Helicopter features a radio-controlled helicopter, it is not in any sort of competition with Shiny’s RC Stunt Copter. It doesn’t remotely aspire to that game’s level of simulation, and it won’t appeal to anybody expecting an extremely accurate flight model. What this is is a simple, pleasant, unassuming mission-based flight game not unlike Rescue Copter. It’s also the sequel to a Simple 1500 title for Playstation of the same title, which was released overseas as simply “RC Helicopter.”
The game’s set in a suburban Japanese environment, with three different major locations: the player’s home, a shop-lined street, and a school building. The player controls the helicopter at all times, from the very beginning of the game, and is free to roam about the available locations looking for work that needs to be done. Golden stars are scattered around the environments, and picking one up by running into it with the helicopter will cause a mission to start. The missions each involve one of the game’s NPCs giving the player a fairly mundane task to carry out, like washing windows, killing cockroaches with bug spray, scaring away crows, cleaning up empty soda cans in a vacant lot, or returning lost bikini tops to distraught female swimmers (um, yeah). Auxillary actions are handled with the R1 (and sometimes L1) button, and these actions – whether squirting or grabbing – behave predictably and reliably, unlike in Rescue Copter. All of the NPC speech is in Japanese text only, but it’s easy to tell when they mention the buttons one will be using on a mission, and easy to figure out mission goals even if one doesn’t understand a word of moonspeak.
My copy of Oneechanbara 2 arrived the day before yesterday. I’ve only played it briefly, but enough to give some impressions. Really, it’s the same thing as the first game, but better-executed.
It looks and feels much, much better. Like Oneechanbara, most of the effort was clearly spent on making the characters appealing and fun to play. There are now three attack types: sword, hand-to-hand, and an alternate attack that varies from character to character. Aya (the one in bikini and cowboy hat) throws shuriken, her younger sister Saki dashes up to zombies and can pull off body parts, and the mysterious new biker has an old-fashioned shotgun that can be fired in any cardinal direction. Holding different directions modifies attacks: for example, holding back and hitting kick does a sweep, while holding forward and hitting kick with Aya makes her do a roundhouse kick that sends enemies flying. The different attack types can be comboed into one another, and it’s easy to get a feel for which attacks are good for starting or chaining and which are finishers. The combo system feels robust enough that it should be fun to try for high hit and kill counts, though I’m not very skilled with it yet.
So, as for what I’ve been playing lately: lots of things, but I’ll not get ahead of myself. I decided to take a risk on The Earth Defense Force 2 (The Chikyuu Boeigun 2), the sequel to perhaps the best-regarded original Simple 2000 series game so far. And at this point, it’s definitely the best D3 game I’ve played. Continue reading
D3 Publisher are honest about their design and business goals: they produce budget-priced software that takes a simple concept – often one already established by full-priced games – and build a game around it that conforms to their very limited production budgets and schedules. Other times their concepts are original and experimental (something the nature of the budget game often allows), and still other games are obvious ripoffs upon which D3 has put their own spin. Continue reading