Tactics and Sea Monkeys – Chasing Dings! (2024)

I always go to retro game stores intending to play every game I buy, but I honestly just don’t always have the time. Something keeps coming up. This week, it’s Valheim. Next week, who knows?

Anyway. Today’s games come from State Line games — two locations, the one in Enfield and the one in the Buckland Mall in Manchester. Both had moved since the last time we’d been to them. The mall in Enfield is really dead, and I’m constantly amazed that it still exists, and yet, somehow, it’s come to peace with its current condition. The city wants to tear it down and build apartments or something (but leave the Target there). The local Discords say that maybe the town can’t afford to do it.

Dying malls are fertile land for niche stores, and so we’ll keep heading up as long as they keep selling games.

State Line games is the only retro game store I know of that really leans into the repro scene. They sell repro game cases, repro games, rom hacks, all sorts of stuff like that. It makes it hard sometimes to be really certain you are getting a genuine game, and not one they put together in a lab somewhere.

My current wish list for retro games is Fire Emblem for the Super Famicom, Shining Force II for the SEGA Game Gear, and Utopia for the Mattel Intellivision. I didn’t find any of those.

I did find a loose copy of Final Fantasy V Advance, but they wanted $50 for it. Fleabay has it for $40. There didn’t seem to be any appetite for negotiation, so I passed on it.

Let’s go over the games we did get.

The Amazing Virtual Sea-Monkeys

There’s a couple of different games starring those scrumptious brine shrimp out there; one’s a care and breeding game based off the Creatures game engine. That’s not this one. This one is a weird sort of platformer. You play as a submarine-looking fish called Nautilid. At the beginning of each level, several Sea-Monkey eggs will drop from the top of the screen and come to rest in the tank. Once they hatch, they will swim as directly as they can to an open clam shell. Your job: see they make it there alive.

The initial levels will have you sucking up dangerous Sea-Monkey eating fish. The puzzles soon get more complicated, requiring you, like in the old Psygnosis game “Lemmings”, set things up so that the Sea-Monkeys will flip switches and unlock doors as they pass.

Why Sea-Monkeys? My boyfriend has been watching a lot of Sea-Monkey videos lately. That’s it, that’s all I got.

In Future Tactics: The Uprising, creatures have invaded Earth, and you’re going to get rid of them. It’s a turn-based, tactical game with very little plot. The game allows free movement, first or third person views, and a variety of weaponry. I’d almost call it an XCOM-like, but… well, there are elements.

I hate to start out with an issue that probably isn’t the game’s fault, but… it is nearly uncontrollable with my setup. I am running it using PCSX2 with an XBox controller. Which is fine. Except there is a little minigame whenever you want to fire a weapon, where you don’t have direct control of your target reticule. You kinda have to toss it around the screen until it comes near the area you want to shoot, and then you have to press once to stop the reticule and set a line cycling through it, stop the line with another button press that also starts a second line cycling through it, then press fire again to stop the second line and fire a shot where the lines intersect.

This is annoying, make doubly so that the controller is too darn sensitive. Any tapping of the reticule movement sends the view ping-ponging across the screen. I was able to knock the control sensitivity down enough so that I could aim, but at that level, the game wouldn’t register movement, so I’d have to send it back up again to move.

Not the game’s fault! I’m certain it played fine on a PS/2 with the original Dual Shock 2 controller. But, unplayable with my setup.

The game seemed fine otherwise. A little cartoony, but we live in a post-WoW world, and cartoony is a valid style. Unplayable for me, though.

Rebel Star: Tactical Command

This game is what I thought Future Tactics was going to be: XCOM, basically. In this Gameboy Advance game, you play as a young boy (“Jorel”, future father of Superman, I guess) who runs off to join the rebels who are the last bit of resistance against the invaders that have invaded the Earth after a very short war that humanity lost.

Actually, let me change it to Battlefield Earth meets Logan’s Run. Implacable aliens. Rebel humans. The Logan’s Run bit is that they take away any human when they turn 30, in order to presumably throw them a really nice birthday party and let them live out their lives in a beautiful farm out in the country where they can run free.

I haven’t gotten that far, but I did play far enough to see that this is a far more standard tactical combat RPG.

Also, there are orcs. Zorn, I mean.

Pinball Hall of Fame: The Gottlieb Collection

I’ve been collecting a lot of retro video pinball games, and someday, I’m going to rank them all. The Gottlieb Collection brings seven classic pinball tables to the PlayStation 2: Big Shot, Black Hole, Ace High, Genie, Central Park, Tee’d Off, and Victory,

I played this after Future Tactics and I couldn’t even shoot the ball in these games, until I remembered I’d been playing with my controller sensitivity. I reset to defaults, and the ball when bouncing around just fine, but the “English” button was so sensitive that brushing against it resulted in a tilt, every time. Making it very hard to get high scores.

Some video game pinballs show the entire board; not this one. In order to show the graphics in the best light, action follows the ball up and down the table. It’s probably not a terrible thing that bumping the table doesn’t work well, as without seeing the entire table, it’s hard to know when you should.

That said, the collection is varied. Each table has its own special goal that, if you complete, unlocks extras such as a video tour of the pinball machine factory floor, special play modes, and so on.

Dr. Stone gacha

They had some Dr. Stone gachas at Newbury Comics. Doctor Stone is a manga and an anime about the aftermath of an apocalypse that leaves every human on Earth petrified for three thousand years; a brilliant scientist, Senku Ishigami, manages to break free of his stone prison and attempts to restore humanity by using science to restart civilization from scratch.

Netflix dropped the first two seasons recently, so I’ve been having a bit of a binge. Buying the gacha was an easy decision. I got Kohaku, a warrior who is daughter of the village chief and sister to the priestess and is one of the first people Senku meets when he escapes petrification.

Kung Fu Tea

It’s a boba tea shop near the mall. I love their matcha yoghurt tea. Okay?

Related posts:

Retro Game Haul: March 30, 2024Once, I had a life. Now, I have Final Fantasy Tactics Advance.Christmas Loot: Knight of Lodis and Prince of Zenobia

Tactics and Sea Monkeys – Chasing Dings! (2024)


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