Sunday, 31 January 2016

Retro Japan Computer Special - Sharp X68000 (Aka. X68) + Games

Back in 1987 the Sharp X68000 was an extremely powerful and stylish 16-bit computer. So powerful that Capcom used it as the arcade development machine for their CPS1 games. It has two vertical case sections styled around the look of New York city's World Trade Center. It's most famous outside of Japan for it's arcade ports but I'm mostly interested in it's exclusive titles and other games which are maybe not as well known as those from the arcades. For me this machine is the excellent eastern equivalent to the also excellent Commodore Amiga. It is my favourite Japanese Computer.

SPECIFICATION - Sharp X68000 (1987)

CPU: M68000 10MHz
Memory: 1M RAM
Resolution: 256 x 240 to 768 x 512 (16 to 65K colors)
Sound: Yamaha 2151 2 channels, OKI MSM6258V 4bit mono

Here are thirty great games, in alphabetical order, that you can play on the Sharp X68000. If you have a PC you can also play these games using the X68 emulator found here.

Akumajo Dracula (Konami 1993)

Another version of the original Castlevania with some new levels and secrets. Some excellent remixed music and a rare healing item in the herb subweapon which is not found in any of the other versions. It has great graphics and the usual fun but highly difficult gameplay.

Aquales (Exact 1991)

An action platformer where you control a Mech which can be equipped with a whole host of weapons such as rockets, chainguns and flamethrowers. Your Mech also comes with a grappling hook which can be used to reach higher platforms. Each stage is fairly large and littered with treasure chests that contain various power ups useful for defeating the boss at the end of the stage.

Baruusa no Fukushuu (Zainsoft 1990)

A side-scrolling actioner that's a bit like ghosts'n goblins. Your hero uses a sword and can find other weapons like shurikens and knives later. Enemies drop healing items and power ups. When your hero dies you are taken back to the begin of the stage with infinite continues.

Cho Ren Sha 68k (Famibe No Yosshin 1995)

A top-down scrolling shoot-em-up which is reminiscent of some of the older Toaplan games. Destroying red enemy ships leaves a power up item behind which is either a weapon upgrade, smart bomb or shield. The game has seven stages that loop up to eight times with some boss battles thrown in for good measure.

Detana!! TwinBee (Konami 1991)

The first in the series of cute top-down scrolling shooters that had good quality anime style graphics. Previous incarnations did not have 16-bit graphics to play with and suffered because of this. A chargeable laser, similar to the one in R-Type, was also introduced. Besides the great graphics the music is first class too. Originally released in the arcades, the X68000 port is once again identical and untouchable.

Daimakaimura / Ghouls 'N Ghosts (Capcom 1994)

The side-scrolling platform shooter sequel to Ghosts 'N Goblins. The gameplay is almost identical but with much more detailed graphics and animations. The music is also top notch and The X68000 version, like most Capcom arcade ports for the system, is almost pixel perfect.

Die Bahnwelt (Glodia 1992)

A top-down sci-fi action game with some RPG elements. You must explore the level, kills enemies and unlock doors by pressing switches to eventually get to the next level. You can customise weapons that can be found on each level. The game becomes more difficult on later levels as the enemies reappear more rapidly. Not sure why but this game reminds me of the arcade game Shackled.

Downtown Nekketsu Monogatari (Technos 1990)

A side-scrolling beat-em-up, also known as River City Ransom, where you walk through various locations taking on different gang members. Objects can be thrown or used to defeat your enemies. They usually drop coins that you can spend in shops to buy items and increase combat skills. You can also buy books to learn additional moves. You must find and defeat all the bosses to win the game. The X68000 game has additional areas which are dead ends on other systems.

Etoile Princesse (ExAct 1993)

A top-down shoot-em-up where after completing each stage and beating the boss more characters join your party. Your party can consist of a maximum of three characters which can be switched at any time to take advantage of their strengths in certain situations. Health and magic restoring items can be found in chests or dropped by enemies.

Fantastic Night Dreams: Cotton (Victor / Success 1993)

A fairly difficult side-scrolling shooter, similar to Gradius in that you have both shot and bomb type attacks. Enemies drop different coloured crystals which give various upgrades. These drop down a level every time you are killed which adds to the difficulty. The game has fairly dark graphics and strange end of level bosses. The X68000 version is identical to the one in the arcades.

Fantasy Zone (Sega 1989)

A side-scrolling shooter which is similar in style to Defender with cute graphics. The aim is destroy all the enemies on a level and collect as many coins as possible. There is a boss at the end of each level. Sometimes a shop can be found which sells weapons and engines that can improve your ship.

Final Zone Axis (Axis FZ) (Wolf Team 1990)

An isometric 3D Mecha game where you stomp around the landscape looking for a set number of targets to destroy and progress to the next stage. Many different weapons are available, such as lasers, flame throwers and bazookas, and can be equipped as either primary or secondary. Each of the seven stages ends in a boss battle.

Gardis Light (Sprite 1994)

A side-scrolling beat-em-up similar to Golden Axe. You have an AI companion that aids you in your quest to recover the princess kidnapped from your protection. In all honesty the AI companion does not last very long. Still it's quite a fun but rather generic beat'em up.

Genocide 2: Master of the Dark Communion (Zoom 1991)

A side-scrolling sequel to Genocide where you and your mech have to thwart the plans of an evil corporation bent on world domination. This time around there is more emphasis on the platforming elements of the game where you can jump and double-jump your way out of problematic areas. Your mech is equipped with a melee weapon and an eight-directional capsule called Betty, which was only available part way through the first game, from the start.

Geograph Seal (Exact 1994)

A fantastic 3D mech shoot-em-up with lots of blasting, lots of enemies and simple puzzles involving a bit of jumping and climbing. You eventually have four weapons to choose from including lasers and rockets. Objects appearing on the screen are labelled to show you what they are from far off and there is a useful radar. Bosses appear at the end of each level. The 3D is fabulous and the game is action packed if a little difficult at times as your mech is not the fastest.

Gradius 2 (Konami 1992)

A side-scrolling shooter sequel. Similar to it's famous predecessor but with additional features such as the option to choose between four different power-up sequences and collection of up to four fireballs which follow the players movements and shooting.

Granada (Wolf Team 1989)

A top-down multi directional scrolling shooter where your tank roams the map destroying targets shown on the radar before taking on an end of level boss. You have a normal shot and a super powwer shot which causes your tank to recoil. They are also items you can collect which will follow you and reflect your shots towards your enemies. You can also hold the direction of fire whilst moving in other directions.

Last Battalion (Sting 1991)

A shoot-em-up based on the game Override with similar features and gameplay. The stages in the X68000 version are in a different order and have different enemies and bosses. You can select difficulty level and number of starting lives. There are also anime-style cut scenes in this version.

Märchen Maze (Namco / SPS 1988)

An isometric platform shooter that uses characters from Alice in Wonderland. You must shoot bubbles at your enemies to knock them off the edge of platforms. Holding down fire increases the size of the bubbles and knocks enemies further back. Enemies also fire marbles at you to try and knock you off the edge too.

Naious (Excellent / ExAct 1990)

A traditiuonal side-scrolling shoot-em-up where you go through various stages destorying enemies and collecting power ups which give you wide shot, laser and homing missles. Other power-ups enhance these weapons.

Neural Gear (Victor 1990)

A 3D scrolling shooter which looks a bit like Space Harrier. The game is controlled using a mouse, left button fires your primary weapon and right button fires one of four secondary weapons which you can select at the beginning of each level. A timer at the top of the screen also acts as your remaining health and decreases more rapidly every time you get hit by the enemy. If you hit so many enemies in a row this increases your health.

Otoko Dama (Gekiko-Dennov 1999)

A side-scrolling shoot-em-up which plays like a Toaplan/Cave bullet hell shooter. Pressing your fire button slowly causes your bullets to spread, pressing it faster concentrates the your bullets into one area. You also have a bomb button which damages all onscreen enemies. A difficult but addictive blaster.

Parodius Da! (Konami 1991)

A paraody of Gradius, hence the name, with intentionally absurd graphics and sound. The X68000 version is identical to the one in the arcades.

R+R (Nin-Niki 1995)

A great side-scrolling doujin shooter, although I have no idea what the name means and it's a swine to dig out info about it on the internet. Various waves of enemies attack you and you have several different weapons at your disposal. Some are better than others at taking out certain enemies so there is a bit of strategy involved.

Scorpius (Shinseisha (B-Type 1991)

A side-scrolling shooter where you can select one of three spaceships and pilot them through alien landscapes full of hostile natives. The ships have a variety of upgradable weapons and a scorpion like tail claw which can spin and attack before retracting back to the ship.

Sol Feace (Wolf Team 1990)

A challenging side-scrolling shoot-em-up with the usual end of levels bosses and various enemies to contend with on each level. The high difficulty level does not detract from the fun.

Thunder Force II (TechnoSoft 1988)

This game is both a side-scrolling and top-down shooter depending on the stage your are on. You can switch weapons from shooting a more powerful weapon straight ahead or two less powerful, forward and backward simultaneously. There are various power-ups that improve your fire power. Further games in the series did away with the top down view.

UndeadLine (T&E Soft 1989)

A top-down scrolling shooter similar to Commando. With six levels, that can be playd in any order, and a choice of three characters. There is a boss at the end of each level and treasure chests throughout each level that provide power ups including different projectiles, armour and extra speed.

Viewpoint (Sammy (Nexus Interact 1995)

A top-down orthographic shoot-em-up similar in style to Zaxxon. Your ship comes with a laser cannon which can be charged for a more powerful shot. You also have three special weapons: Homing missiles, a wall of fire and a laser blast

Zugya (Sprite 1996)

A top-down multi directional scrolling shooter. The aim is destroy a number of space stations before the time limit runs out. The capabilities of the space stations make them more difficult to destroy throughout the game. Your ship comes with a shield that appears when you hold down the fire button. Once this is released your ship becomes invincible for a period of time.

The next Retro Japan Computer Special will be all about the Fujitsu FM Towns and its multimedia innovations.

Please don't forget to visit my other blog, My CAVE 33, which is having a Retro Japan Computer Special of its own, revisiting Japanese computer games and hardware advertising from the early eighties.

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