[I ♥ The PC Engine] Kyūkyoku TigerPosted on December 1st, 2009 7 comments
Release Date: 3/31/89
Price: 5500 yen
Media: HuCard (2 Mbit)
PC Engine FAN Score: 24.37 / 30.00
Kōgien: “An arcade port. The screen orientation has changed from vertical to horizontal, but the game is still well balanced. The smart bombs, and the trademark way the enemies take lots of hits to kill, are faithful to the original. The slow speed of your fighter makes things difficult for people who have problems dodging shots.”
You can tell a Toaplan (東亜プラン)-developed shooter pretty quickly. It doesn’t require a particularly well-trained eye. All you need to look for are slowly-scrolling military landscapes, an enormous, pokey-moving aircraft at your command, and enemies that seem adept at placing bullets exactly where you don’t want them.
Kyūkyoku Tiger, alongside Flying Shark (both released 1987 in arcades), was the game that put the tiny Tokyo-based developer on the map. Both titles established the direction Japanese shooters would take in the years and decades to come, mixing a robust color-coded powerup system with a worrying large number of enemies flinging themselves upon you every millisecond. Toaplan was a pioneer, for better or for worse, when it came to giving shooters a reputation for being fiendishly difficult — even the aircraft that drop power-ups can be extremely tough to kill, especially when you’ve just died.
Romstar distributed the arcade original under the name Twin Cobra, and the US version had a few key differences:
- Two-player simultaneous play instead of turn-taking; another player can join at any time
- After death, you restart right where you died instead of at an earlier checkpoint (if you and a boss finish each other off simultaneously, you continue straight to the next level, skipping the landing sequence)
- Your ship’s a little quicker, but you can have only three shots on screen at once (four in the Japanese original)
These additions largely serve to make the game easier, and Taito’s PCE port of Kyūkyoku Tiger goes a step further by including a few secret codes — you can optionally score guided missiles with the yellow power-up, and if you go to the lower left corner immediately after game start and fire a bomb, you’re rewarded with three extra lives.
In terms of faithfulness, Taito did an incredible job with this port, easily outclassing the job Namco managed with Dragon Spirit a little while back. There’s next to nothing substantial lost in this port, despite fitting in only two megabits, and the music (ported by Tsukasa Masuko, who we last saw in Dungeon Explorer) actually sounds a little better and less oldschool-FM “tinny” to my ears.
It’s hard, though. Very hard. There’s a total of ten levels, and I don’t have any hope at all of conquering them. Few shooters demand your constant, unwavering attention as much as Toaplan’s did, and that bit was ported all too well, you know?
You mean A.I did an incredible job with this port.
Anyway, I’m going to have to side with the Genesis vesion.
The first two NES games I owned (and obsessed over) were Gradius and, you guessed it: Tiger Heli. You can imagine my delight when, years later, I discovered Kyūkyoku Tiger for PCE.
The main tune in Kyūkyoku Tiger is tattooed in my brain. Sad, perhaps, but true.
Now you need to give us the scoop on MegaZone (Konami), the first game I obsessed over in the arcade. Please 🙂 .
why is the score so high for this one? I feel it’s a bit higher than is deserved, especially to some other titles we’ve seen recently that got much lower scores. hmmm
I’m sorry to be the one to say this… but it’s 2 mega_bits_.
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[…] in the PCE Fan rankings, but frankly it doesn’t stand the test of time the way the earlier Kyūkyoku Tiger has. The music’s super sparse — something that can’t be helped, given the […]
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