Welcome to -- RETRO GAME DAISUKI ! -- a blog about the wonderful world of Japanese retro video games (ARCADE / PC-88 / X68K / MEGA DRIVE / SATURN / PlayStation / PC-ENGINE). Re-live the strangest games from the 80's and 90's. Retro games were our youth!
Author : HERZOG
-- Playing video games since the 80's ! --
Still trying to translate all the posts from my old blog. Please see this post for more info.
Also, please excuse any grammar and any other related errors you may find on this blog, as English is not my first language.
The first game in the top-rated 「ALESTE」series of shooting games developed by the legendary software house COMPILE.
● Title: アレスタ ● Genre: Shooting ● Release Date: 1988.07.23 ● Developer: COMPILE ● Publisher: COMPILE ● Media: 2Mbit MEGA ROM Cartridge ● System Specific: MSX-2
■HYPER SCROLLING ARRIVES ON MSX2 !
Released as a 2 Megabit MEGA ROM (MSX-MUSIC) cartridge. ALESTE impressed the entire MSX community upon its original release as it was the fastest and smoothest scrolling game yet seen on the MSX2.
ALESTE featured an impressive 2.4 screen (480 dots) scrolling at top speed 1 second. This was labeled by the Japanese PC community of the time as 「Hyper Scrolling」and was previously believed to be impossible to do on the MSX2.
However highly in contrast with its impressive scrolling capabilities, ALESTE could only display the awfully low amount of 32 sprites simultaneously on screen and which obviously translated in some heavy sprite flickering issues when too many enemies show up on screen at the same time.
The sprite flicker is noticeably less apparent though if the game is played on an MSX2+ capable system rather than on a standard MSX2 system.
■NEXT GENERATION ZANAC
ALESTE is in reality the direct continuation of the groundbreaking shooter 「ZANAC」that COMPILE developed for PONY CANYON in 1986.
ALESTE was originally meant to be an official sequel to ZANAC but ultimately this did not happen since PONY CANYON was the copyright owner of the ZANAC franchise. Eventually COMPILE's prominent director and producer 「MASAMITSU "MOO" NIITANI」decided to name the new game 「ALESTE」after reading about the 「Lightning Arrester」 device in an electronic magazine.
■THE STORY OF ALESTE
A.D. 2019. Earth's environment maintenance computer 「DIA51」has become infected with a mysterious virus that corrupted and warped all its data.
The virus gave birth to a new type of mutant flora that quickly spread fast across all of Earth's surface, bursting through mankind's concrete, fabricated world. Soon afterwards DIA51 takes control over Earth's main defense systems and begins to use them against the human population.
「YURI LENNOX」one of the scientists working with DIA51 gets seriously injured during the initial attack. Burning with anger, her boyfriend, a test pilot named 「RAYMOND WAIZEN」promises to destroy DIA51 as he carries YURI to the emergency operation room.
Piloting Earth's latest and most powerful fighter plane: The 「AF-68030 ALESTE」. RAY WAIZEN makes an emergency take-off determined to destroy the enemy!!
■ALESTE USER'S MANUAL
【 Game Controls 】
Arrow Keys ... ALESTE movement control SHIFT ... Main-Cannon Z ... Secondary Weapon「ARM」 SPACE ... Fires the main-cannon and ARM weapons simultaneously STOP ... Pause
・Joystick / Pad Controller
Joystick / Pad ... ALESTE movement control A Button ... Main-Cannon B Button ... Secondary Weapon「ARM」 ALESTE's main cannon can be upgraded by collecting the 「Power Chips」that can be detached from the BOX MASTER units (also known as 「P CARRIERS」) that periodically will descend from the top of the screen in a line formation. As the main cannon's power level is upgraded, the number of bullets fired from the ship as well as their speed increases.
ALESTE can also equip a specialty weapon called 「ARM」that is separate from the main cannon. There are eight different types of ARM weapons, each represented by differently-numbered Power Chips.
You can change the type of ARM weapon equipped by collecting a differently-numbered power-chip or you can upgrade your current ARM by collecting another Power Chip of the same number.
ARM weapons also have a limited amount of ammunition that will decrease gradually as the weapon is fired. If the ARM ammunition runs out, that weapon will be lost regardless of its current power level. You will also lose all accumulated weapon power if you lose a life.
They fly in a line formation and will disperse the「Power Chip」when destroyed.
It cruises the screen in hasty intervals carrying the numeric item.
The land warehouse where the numeric item is stored.
Collecting them will power-up ALESTE's main cannon. At its maximum level ALESTE's main cannon fire-rate will become 4-WAY.
・1: ALL DIRECTION
ALESTE's default ARM weapon. It fires in the direction of the controller but cannot destroy the enemy's special bullets or ITEM CARRIERS.
・2: WAVE GUN
Hold the button to generate an energy barrier in front of ALESTE. Release the button to unleash a powerful penetrating shot.
A powerful forward laser shot that can penetrate the enemy's defenses.
・4: ROLLING FIRE
An energy barrier that will circle around ALESTE protecting it from enemy damage.
・5: MAGNETIC DESTROYER
A wide-range attack that discharges various ring-shaped bullets. Upgrading the weapon level increases the number of simultaneous discharges.
・6: SWING WAVE
A high-speed boomerang-shaped bullet. When using this weapon it becomes possible to shoot diagonally.
・7: PLASMA BALL
It generates a huge energy whirlpool in front of ALESTE.
・8: WAVE LASER
A laser shot that moves towards the enemy in a rotating manner.
Immediately after collecting any power-up item ALESTE will become invincible for a couple of seconds. This is a very important technique that you can exploit to avoid getting hit by the enemy.
ALESTE features an A.I. (Artificial Intelligence) controlled adaptive difficulty setting called the 「A.L.C.」(Auto Level Control) System.
The A.L.C. automatically adjusts the game's difficulty level according to the player's skill level and rate of fire. Basically, the game increases the difficulty for experts but decreases it for inexperienced players.
For instance, shooting the main cannon frequently, collecting power-ups, and failing to destroy the boss enemies within the specified time limit makes the A.L.C. more aggressive, resulting in a greater number of tougher enemies appearing on screen. However, actions such as losing lives, starting a new level, or running out of ARM ammunition decrease the A.L.C. aggressiveness, resulting in fewer on-screen enemies. ■GAME OVERVIEW
STAGE 1: NIGHT OF CITY
STAGE 2: GREENSIDE ZONE
ALESTE in reality only refines the original gameplay mechanics that COMPILE developed for ZANAC. But even though ZANAC was released two years before ALESTE, its trademark gameplay system was still among the best the genre had the offer at the time and which really says something about the significance of COMPILE in the evolution of the shooting genre.
STAGE 3: FORBIDDEN FOREST
STAGE 4: BLUE WIND
ALESTE also follows the level and enemy design of ZANAC very closely. Once again all of the stage bosses in the game will be stationary fortresses consisting entirely of ground turrets or cores which you must destroy within a set time limit to score bonus points. Failing to destroy the fortresses in time will make them fade away and vanish without giving you any bonus points.
On certain stages you will also get to fight the enemy's capital ships. These large-sized aircraft can repel the bullets that come out from your main cannon and slow down your rate of fire so you must use your ARM weapons to destroy them. When they're finally defeated, the capital ships will self-destruct unleashing a barrage of missiles in all directions.
STAGE 5: CITY IN RUINS
STAGE 6: HYPER BATTLE
The A.L.C. does a very good job at keeping the difficulty bar just at the right level so the game never becomes too easy nor too frustrating.
Whenever your ship becomes overpowered for example, the A.L.C. will always attempt to overwhelm you with seemingly never ending waves of strong enemy units until your ship gets destroyed. Fortunately enemy bullets don't move too fast and they can be destroyed with your ARM weapons so you actually get a very good chance at surviving the constant enemy harassment.
STAGE 7: INFILTRATION
STAGE 8: LAST SHOOTING
ALESTE is certainly one of the highest-quality 8-bit shooting games around as well as one of best exclusive games of the MSX2. It has an excellent gameplay system, decent graphics and a very good soundtrack. Just what fans came to expect from a COMPILE shooting game.
ALESTE can't be considered groundbreaking as do other COMPILE games really. The truth is the game does feel like an alternate revision of ZANAC. So arguably the best thing about ALESTE is that it paved the way for what would become one of the finest shooting game series of all time.
・STAGE 0 : To play the bonus「STAGE 0」you must complete the game and then choose「CONTINUE」from the title screen. STAGE 0 is the fastest scrolling stage in the game but unfortunately it is also the shortest one.
・SOUND TEST : During the opening intro push the [S] [T] and [SPACE] keys to access the sound test.
> That game looks cool. :D I'm especially liking the animations/graphics. Is that game playable on the first MSX or only the second version? It is only playable on a MSX2 capabale system. The MSX series are backwards compatible so if you're interested on a MSX system it's better to get a MSX2+ or MSX2 Turbo R.
Oh I see. It's cool to see an MSX2 exclusive, but unfortunately I've only ever owned an MSX...I was too young to play on it before it was given away (either that or thrown out, don't really remember). =( Hopefully when I get a game room (this summer, I'm assuming) I'll be able to get all the stuff I missed out on. I plan to go back starting from the PlayStation 1. =)