Reviews of Games Old & New, Japanese Game Shop Visits, Plus Much More!
Saturday, January 8, 2011
Rock On Review (PCE)
Game: Rock On
Release Date: August 22nd, 1989
System: PC Engine
My Score: 5/10
Let me preface this review by saying that the intended title for this game is "Lock On", but all jokes aside, it is very difficult for native Japanese speakers to differentiate between "R" and "L" as they both sound identical to Japanese ears. I think the title "Rock On" sounds cool in a funny way. The title "Lock On" is pretty boring. But yes, the true title of this game is "LOCK ON".
The box art for this game falls under the category of "So bad it's good". It looks like something a little kid drew. Well, let's hope the cover tells me that they didn't care so much about the box art because they focused all of their attention to developing the game. Kind of like the first Mega Man game or Strider for Genesis. Both have horrid box art, but are great games. There is a picture of the box art at the bottom of this post. On the lower left, the developer's name: BIGCLUB. This is the same developer that brought us the Ninja-themed Space Harrier game, Jinmu Densho Yaksa. What other games did they make? None. Just these two. Either they made to horrible games and they went kaput, or they just became part of Sega's WOLF TEAM
Upon powering up the console, you are treated to some back story. Surprisingly the back story is written completely in English...or should I say Engrish. When it begins with "dealy beloved", you know you're in for a treat. According to the Engrish intro, you are a pilot who is doing for the money...which is probably why the score is in dollar form. You can't buy anything with the money (a la UN Squadron/Area 88), but it is different to see a dollar sign with your score. Here is the intro, verbatim.
Dealy beloved. Other time, other space, people live
in a damn boring routine life, although the world is
Off course, some of them thinks they gotto get out
of the life, and dreaming about getting a big fortune.
To realize that dream, there is only one way left in
that world, needless to say, its, some how, to find
out the mysterious fortune, hidden by the ancient
"Busters", it's the name who we call the fortune
hunters. Now they're about to start a historic
journey, that no one could come back alive
That is to get the "FISA"'s, called legend
But, except the one person, no one in
the world can make it real that has got
to be billionet and radical, physically,
Yes! you are the one!
Now the whole world is watching you
and looking for your success!
NOW LET'S GO FOR IT!!!
So yeah, i'm a greedy "buster" who pilots a ship that was influenced by the Yellow Submarine. You press start and a woman greets you and tells you that you will be paid 50,000,000 dollars upon completing the first level. What is your character's response to her telling you you're going to become 50 mil richer? "Hey babe, you're cute". Yeah, this game's story starts off like a porno. So off you go, in the Yellow Submarine, out to save the world to line your pockets.
The power-up system is typical shmup fare. Destroy a certain type of enemy to get a goodie. Each power-up you get gives your ship different abilities. You have to push the START button to cycle through the different power-ups. In this game, the SELECT button pauses the game. The power-ups are pretty generous, and if you get the 8-way shot....then you are pretty much invincible. You can also pick up "S" icons, which increase your ship's speed. If you get too many, then the ship moves at light speed and it makes controlling the ship very difficult. The problem is that the game is so generous with power-ups that you spend more effort avoiding unwanted power-ups than you do enemies. Countless times I lost a life because I was avoiding a power-up only to run into an enemy, bullet, or obstacle. Get a shield, 8-way, and 3 Speed icons and you are invincible. After the first level, if you don't have these power-ups, prepare for a very difficult game. Not the good kind of challenging difficult, but the kind of difficulty that sends controllers out the window.
Oh, By the way, the whole reason this game is called "Lock On" is because there is a power up called "Lock On", which is a heat-seeking missile. You only get this power up ONCE and you can only shoot ONE missile. Once you fire the measly missile, it's gone forever. You would think that the weapon the whole game is named after would be the primary weapon, or at least a weapon that has an important role (like DARIUSBURST), but no...you only get it once and you can only fire it once.
The levels (a total of 4) are generic shmup backgrounds; empty space, a city skyline, a cavern, and space again. You are treated to generic shmup enemies. Upon completing a level, you are taken to a different screen to fight a huge boss. You can tell right away that not much thinking went into the programming of these bosses. Even after you've destroyed every gun on the boss, it still gives you 10 more chances to destroy all the guns before being allowed to attack the boss' core. So what do you do? Just sit there, make a sandwich, rub one out, watch Michael Mann's HEAT, twice, take a shower, then when you get back to the game, the game would just now be allowing you to attack the boss' core or weak spot.
The game is a pure oddity and it's great for collectors of shooters. It's a unique obscure title that not many know about. Those are the only two positive things I can say about this game. They had good intentions of creating a solid shmup, but during their execution they seemed to have just cut corners and instead of creating something new, they just borrowed ideas from shmups of the time. The graphics are bland, the backgrounds are bland, and you can never tell what's in the background and what's in the foreground...resulting in unnecessary deaths.
The game is laggy and suffers from massive slow-down when there are a lot of bullets and power ups (!!!) on the screen. One more thing, this game has a loading time! It doesn't have a special chip that causes it, it's just a simple HU CARD. WTF!
If you can find this game for less than 5 bucks, pick it up...but it's not worth any more than that. I'm not really for emulation, but it is worth a download if you have a PCE/TG16 emulator.