Crikey, things have been pretty busy here in RKS Land of late - regular readers may have noticed that the number of posts here has slowed down somewhat. I blame work for making me all stressed and not in the right mood to delve into the world of retro games as often!
One victim of this whole thing has been my X68000 feature, the first part of which was all the way back in March now, which looked at the legendary ability of Sharp's imposing system to cope with conversions of arcade games of the day. It turned out to be more than adept at this, as was already widely known of course, but it's always nice to see for yourself!
Something the X68k is less celebrated for, however, is the quality (or indeed the existence at all) of games which are exclusive to the system, or at least found on very few other formats. Having once again sought the advice of jolly helpful Retro Gamer forum buddy, Oli, I find myself armed with the names of some such titles. Here are the results:
Silkroad - Legend of Gero (1993)
Space Landing S-Type Mission 2 (1989)
There's still a surprising amount of Western gamers that don't know anything about the X68000 - I suppose it's understandable considering it never officially left its homeland - but even a vast majority of those who do know about it don't actually own one and probably haven't even seen one in real life either. It has earned quite a reputation for itself over the years though, among gamers who know about it, obviously.
Much of the praise it garners is with regards to its arcade conversions which are admittedly superb for the most part and have frequently seen the system compared to the equally conversion-tastic MegaDrive with many calling it superior. Regular Red Parsley readers will know that Sega's 16-bit wonder is precious to me so I was especially eager to see if the X68k really was an MD-killer, and my conclusion there is that... they're about equal! I'd say that the MD has consistently larger and better sprites, and possibly slightly more detailed graphics generally too, but the X68k definitely seem to have the edge with special effects - many games I've tried feature loads of parallax scrolling, transparencies, and things of that nature, and it also has many times more colours to choose from, both total pallette and those available on-screen at once as well. Many games feature sampled speech too which is much clearer than that on the MD.
As everyone knows though, any system is only as good as its software, and it's here the X68k pleasantly surprised me. Like many Western gamers, I've always been under the impression that it was little more than a big, fancy conversion-monster but, as I've discovered here, it actually has a more than decent selection of original titles as well which just goes to show, once again, how fortunate Japanese gamers were in the late 80's and early 90's - what a choice of systems and games!
It's not too late though - the X68k is quite blatantly a fantastic system which is still well worth seeking out 'in the flesh', so to speak. It's not a cheap system to buy now though, unfortunately - both the machine itself and most of the games cost a pretty penny (unless you live in Japan, probably). So, the question anyone who's looking into entering the world of X68k gaming needs to ask is: does the splendidness justify the cost? Since the games come on magnetic disks, there's always the risk of corruptions, but most X68k's have hard-drives so you may only need the games to work once! Besides that, it's worth buying for hardcore gamers for the prestige alone - the X68k rivals the Neo Geo in that regard, so if you're looking for the ultimate conversions of many games by Capcom, Konami, Taito, and other arcade companies of the days as well as a few awesome games unavailable elsewhere, the mighty X68000 is a must.
Special Note: A big thanks, once again, to the ever-helpful Oli Lar of Retro Gamer forum for his help with X68k emulation and game recommendations! Thanks also to Steve Perry for his comments and recommendation :)
Exploring the X68000 - Part One