Blue’s Journey / Raguy (Neo Geo CD)

July 31, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 


The Neo Geo isn’t exactly known for its platformers.  When you think of the Neo Geo, you usually think of the likes of King of Fighters, Samurai Shodown, and Metal Slug.  Or, if your tastes lean that way, shooters or great arcade-style sports games.  But platformers?  Really, it only has a handful that could even theoretically fall under that banner.  There’s Top Hunter, Magician Lord, Spinmaster, Cyber-Lip, and maybe a few others that aren’t coming to mind at the moment (appropriately enough).  But ultimately, those all fall under the general “side-scrolling action” category, sharing more in common with run-n-gun games like Metal Slug or 8- and 16-bit action games like Shinobi than they do with good old-fashioned hop-n-bop platformers like Mario and Sonic.

So, can you even say that the Neo has a single true platformer?  I think you could make the argument that it doesn’t.  Or, you can make the argument that it does!  (How’s that for a literary twist!)  And if you were to make the argument that it does have a true platformer, Blue’s Journey (known as Raguy in Japan) is Exhibit A.

I guess all that pontificating was to say that Neo Geo has bupkis for platformers.  So if you’re looking for one, your “choice” is Blue’s Journey, and you better like it.  Thankfully, it’s not a bad game.  In fact, it’s a pretty decent little game.  I’m sitting here trying to think of good phrases to sum it up, and all I can come up with are slightly condescending compliments like “not a bad game,” “a pretty decent little game,” and “a light-hearted little romp” (seriously, I almost used that one).  I think that says something about the game.  It’s good, but not inspiring.  It’s entertaining, but not amazing.  I look at it the way I look at a weiner dog.  “Aw, cute… *smiles and pats it on the head*”  Ultimately, I like it, and it makes me smile, but I think I also pity it a bit.

In fact, I think that sums it up perfectly.  Blue’s Journey is actually a pretty good game, but I feel a little sorry for it.  Good as it is, it will never hold a candle to the last platformer I reviewed.  On top of that, there are a few technical issues that make it seem like even the developers didn’t really respect it.  I mean, really?  You put important HUD information in the overscan area where 99% of CRT TVs will cut it off?  Really?  That’s amateur hour.  And that translation… Oh, god, the translation.  It’s as if they found the one guy on staff who had taken a couple years of English in high school and had him write the script.  Then they used the first draft of it.  I seriously began to wonder if it was intentionally bad and was some sort of parody of itself, but given the fact that nothing else in the game would imply that it’s supposed to be funny, I’m just left with the conclusion that it’s bad.  Thankfully, it’s gone way past the awkward zone and into the so-bad-it’s-good zone.  But that might be the pity talking.

Alright, so we’ve established that Blue’s Journey is a platformer on the Neo Geo, but what about specifics?  You’re Blue, a little fairy insect thing, and you’re out to save your home and your girlfriend from the evil empire that has moved in and is polluting everything to death.  You’ll hop through several brightly colored worlds along the way, with several different upgradeable weapons to aid you.  There’s a leaf, exploding acorns, and a boomerang.  The leaf stuns enemies so that you can pick them up and throw them at each other, while the exploding acorns and boomerangs both destroy the enemy outright, with various ranges and explosive powers.  On top of all that, you also have the ability to shrink yourself to an even smaller size to fit into special paths and secret areas.  It’s also a little easier to dodge enemies when shrunk, and I think you can jump just slightly better, but you’re also completely defenseless because you can’t use any weapons in that state.

The game always starts off in the same world, but after beating the first boss, your path will branch, and you’ll play through two of the next four worlds.  After that, you’ll end up in the evil empire for the final world.  Along the way, there are several secret areas to find, shops to visit, bosses to fight, and characters to meet.  The branching paths combined with multiple endings and secret areas/characters add some replay value to what would otherwise be a very short game.  You can easily complete it in a single sitting (since it’s an arcade game, after all), so most of the challenge will come from seeing all the endings or attempting to complete the game on a single credit.  But if you don’t want to finish it in a single sitting, you can also let the timer run out on the Game Over screen to get the option to save your progress.  You will then be able to load your progress the next time you start a new game.  There’s also a two player mode if you want to conquer the empire with a friend.

The graphics are brilliantly colorful, with lots of rich greens and blues.  It’s a very appealing looking game.  The controls are simple, so they work just fine.  The sound is appropriately upbeat and bouncy, though nothing that will stick with you for a long time.

Final Thoughts: Ultimately, I think the good parts of Blue’s Journey outweigh the bad (and some of the bad swings all the way back around to be good), so I can safely recommend you give the game a try.  As far as Neo Geo games go, it’s on the cheaper end, so you won’t necessarily feel cheated by its flaws.  And it’s actually not hard to look past the flaws in the first place.  So if you do, there’s an enjoyable light-hearted little romp to be had. (Sorry, I just had to say it.)

YouTube Pick (via cubex55):

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Impressions: 3DO Edition (plus some Saturn and Neo-Geo)

February 12, 2008 by · Leave a Comment 

I got a handful of new games with my new 3DO testing station.  After taking them for a quick spin, I have a few thoughts to share on each.  Here goes:

  • Alone in the Dark: I played and beat this game for the PC back in the day.  Good stuff all around.  I’m kinda looking forward to digging into this game again and reliving it.
  • Ballz: What the hell is going on here?  It’s some sort of proto 3D fighter, but it basically sucks.  I dunno, whatever.  It’s a little more interesting than most of the “me too” fighters from the 90s, but its gimmick falls flat.
  • Battle Chess: Another PC classic ported to the 3DO.  It’s chess, and it has fun animations to show the pieces doing battle as you play.  Play 2-player or against the computer, play in 3D or 2D… That about covers it.  It’s Battle Chess, so it can’t be too bad, but it moves along a little slowly.
  • Super Street Fighter II Turbo: Technically impressive and with an improved soundtrack, it’s likely the best home port of the time.  But it’s virtually unplayable with a regular 3DO control pad.  I’m supposed to hit the Play button as part of normal gameplay?  Seriously?  No thanks…
  • Way of the Warrior:  Mortal Kombat rip-off.  It’s another one of those dime-a-dozen 2D fighters from the 90s that had digitized characters.  This one also happens to pretty much be a crapfest, much like the rest.  It’s games like this that give the 3DO a bad name.

And some bonus coverage of non-3DO games I’ve also been playing:

  • Super Baseball 2020 (Neo-Geo CD): Generally, the only time I will like a sports game is if it’s arcade-style and over the top.  And if Super Baseball 2020 is anything, it’s arcade-style and over the top!  Basically, it’s fast-paced futuristic baseball with robots and mines scattered throughout the field.  Keep your robots in good mechanical condition and swing for the fences.  Bright, colorful, and fun — I’m looking forward to playing more of this one.
  • Virtua Cop 2 (Saturn):  Virtua Cop 2 is like the original, but better in every way.  More enemies to shoot, more civilians to save, better level design, branching paths, and more interactive bits to the environment.  I’m liking it quite a bit, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see a nice review in the near future.