Author Archives: Michael Mertes

DATA013: Metal Slug! Metal Slug Music comes to vinyl!

DATA013: METAL SLUG

We are thrilled to announce a new partnership with SNK Corporation. Over the past year, we have been working closely with the SNK team in Japan to develop an exclusive release for what is perhaps their most iconic franchise: METAL SLUG.

The vinyl release features the complete music from the first entry in the series (Metal Slug: Super Vehicle-001), composed by Takushi Hiyamuta in 1996. Working in collaboration with the SNK Sound Team, the audio was sourced from a NEOGEO development kit in Japan and then mastered at our in-house studio in London. The release is packaged in a gatefold sleeve with accompanying double-sided lithographic insert, featuring rare artwork from the Japanese archives and a special translucent OBI strip with fluorescent Pantone print. A download code for the digital album in both lossy and lossless formats will also be included.

This release is available in the following editions:

  • 180g Tri-Colour Stripe with White Splatter (Limited Edition) – £20.99
  • 180g Opaque Yellow – £19.99
  • 180g Classic Black – £19.99
Available from SATURDAY 7th OCTOBER at data-discs.com

Note: this is a pre-order item. All copies will ship by the end of November.

Audio samples can be found HERE

Haunted Castle (Castlevania)

                             “What is a man?! A miserable pile of quarters! But enough talk; start spending them!”

From the moment I put my hand on the controller and made Simon Belmont walk from place to place in Castlevania 2: Simon’s Quest, I was hooked; and I would be with almost every other game in the series that came before and after it. I’ve played and completed just about every Castlevania in the series, but one of the games that I’ve always failed to conquer was the 1988 arcade adaption of the series, Haunted Castle.

                       The first stage in this game will tear you to bits, but its honestly the hardest stage in the game.

I’ve never seen an actual arcade cabinet of this game in my travels, so I’ve never had a chance to play with the real thing. The only way to play this game was via MAME or by tracking down an import only PS2 copy of the game that’s not easy to find either. Just recently though, the game was made available for PS4 owners as it was released digitally as a “Arcade Archives” digital release. Despite knowing that this game really doesn’t live up to the standards of the Castlevania series; I decided to grab it. That was a mistake.

      Simon was going to show his new wife that his whip is for more then just vampires, but Dracula ruins his fun.

As soon as you start the game, your greeted to a quick scene of Simon and his brand new wife walking out of a church they just got married at. Apparently, Dracula missed his opportunity to object to Simon’s wife marrying into the lousy Belmont family, so he’s just going to kidnap Simon’s wife instead. Simon realizes that he didn’t sign a a prenuptial agreement and if his wife hangs with Drac too much, she’ll probably divorce him. Thus losing the Vampire Killer whip to her; so off he goes to the local haunted castle to get her back.

When the actual game begins, you’re seemingly introduced to everything that makes Castlevania so great: Kick ass music, Gothic looking backgrounds and a bad ass vampire hunter armed with a whip. Unfortunately, Simon moves like a lumbering oaf and he takes more damage then Sypha does in Castlevania 3 when hit…and you will get hit a lot because almost every section of the level is out to kill Simon. If the monsters don’t get you, the falling statues, crosses and cemetery fire will. This makes staying alive for a decent amount of time almost impossible without going through the level with utmost caution. Thankfully, the Arcade Archives version of this game allow a single save state that allowed me to adapt to all the dangers very quickly and really helps you learn the quarks about what can kill you in this game.

                     Haunted Castle does feature a map shown between levels if you can make it past the first level.

The game immediately falls apart after the first stage and becomes astonishingly easier to deal with. Enemies still have some cheap tricks they can use to damage you, but its overused so much that you quickly learn to overcome the attack patterns. The developers seemingly ran out of ideas for surprises and designs for the rest of the game and instead present you with the most generic levels you’ll see in the entire game series.  The bosses featured in the game are huge, but complete push overs and can be defeated easier then some of the regular minions in the levels. This game really must have been rushed out for release! Even Dracula is a cinch to to defeat. Maybe Simon’s wife wore on him?

                                             The Dracula battle is as easy and generic as they come.

Konami tried to mix things up with this version of the game, by giving Simon access to a Mace and a Sword, but it really doesn’t add much to the game play. Simon’s sub weapons are available as well, such as the ax and the cross; but they still lack the uniqueness and impact that their console brothers have. I don’t know why Konami decided to ditch the Castlevania name for this title; maybe because they knew it didn’t have any right to be called that. Haunted Castle’s faults outweighs any reason to try it even with the Castlevania legacy behind it. Skip this one.

                                                          *Insert generic Bloody Tears reference here.*

 

Retro USB AVS Update

If you own the Retro USB AVS, make sure you update to the latest official firmware version which is 1.20.
 
The last few firmware releases were beta versions and had a few reported issues, but this seems to be the final firmware update on the AVS from Retro USB.
 
What does it add? One addition is the variety of color palettes you can now use which included the original, unsaturated and even a popular NES emulator color palette. Head over to retrousb.com to get the update and check out the differences in colors from my Bionic Commando screenshot captures.

Inventory Time and Game Room States.

I don’t know many years I’ve been saying this, but with the arrival of fall; I’m finally going to get a proper inventory of my game library that I’m estimating is at about 7000 + games. Around 2008, I started doing an inventory on what I had for insurance purposes and in that time my collection has morphed into various states. For one, I trimmed out systems that I picked up that I simply never played; like the NEC PC-FX, Sega Game Gear and a plethora  of loose Atari stuff. I still struggle with potentially getting rid of my Atari Jaguar system and games, but I simply can’t stop revisiting AVP from time to time. As a result, I’ve left the system in a module state that is easy to plug in if need be, but not a “instant access, instant on” system. I also can’t tell you how many different layouts my game room has had. I’ve had multiple ways of displaying games on screen with up to four screens at the same time! That has changed and now I strictly play them on one display, with a CRT in my Sega Saturn kiosk as a back up. The only constant that hasn’t changed would be the game shelves; which are not easily moved due to how many games on are on them.

I always thought the most ironic way I could die would be by one of shelves of games falling on me.

Other then the changes I noted above though, getting a solid inventory of the library shouldn’t be too bad. The amount of games I’ve picked up the last couple of years has slimmed down extensively due to how much the prices for older games have inflated and the shrinking of places to actually find classic games. Around 90 percent of the stores that would sell classic games have closed down and the amount of flea markets in my area have stopped happening as well. Any flea markets that do have sellers of these games have them marked up beyond eBay levels, which isn’t worth my time or money. These days I stick to picking them up at conventions where I can it least have a better chance of negotiating prices on games, but those opportunities are slim as well. Focusing at the task at hand, I’ll most likely start by doing inventory on my boxed games before I hit my shelves with the loose games. What will the final number of games be? I’m looking forward to finding out, if my shelves don’t kill me first.

Many thanks to Emmie for the art! 🙂