This week on Antstream 2022-05-03 : It's only bleedin' R-TYPE / Uchi Mata / Ice Slider

Another week, another trickle of new games onto Antstream's service. 

3 per week is the cadence currently, and there's no breaking that stride this time. Is 3 per week too few? Maybe - the company have said that they have thousands of licensed games which have not made it through the pipeline, and at this rate it will be decades before that backlog gets published. But not all of those games are winners, and Antstream is not trying to be a definitive museum. Finding the balance between quality and quantity is what they need to do, and if 3 per week is what they can sustain, then so be it. 

So, can this week's titles meet the quality bar? Well, yes. 

This AirBnB is nothing like the description

It's R-Type! There are few arcade titles as well remembered and influential as this one. Every R-Type cabinet was guaranteed to have a crowd around it in 1987, agog at the massive bosses. The huge success bred a herd of copycats - for a few years afterwards, arcades were packed with R-Type clones of varying quality, up until they started being filled with Street Fighter 2 clones instead.

As for the game itself, the almost leisurely pace belied a tough-as-nails challenge, with sufficient depth in the choice of weapons and use of the detachable Force orb to hold interest long after other flashy games had lost it. A solid classic, this one, instantly a top draw for the service. There are none of Antstream's signature challenges for it yet, but it seems ripe for them in the coming weeks. It might be the only way some of us ever get to play level 4...

Moving along, we get to Uchi Mata, a Judo game also from 1987. This one's a bit weird and impenetrable, having you use foot positioning and combo input to execute judo holds and throws. It looks kind of like a regular 1-on-1 fighter, but is a long way from that. Antstream's presentation doesn't do it any favours - a game like this really needs the manual to explain what's happening.

You need to grip your opponent first, by tapping fire at the right moment. Then you initiate a throw by holding fire and moving through a sweeping joystick sequence, not unlike a Street Fighter 2 combo. Depending on who has the better grip and your foot position, which is displayed separately in a little window, your move will be more or less successful. 

Graphics are unique - the large characters composed of vertical lines - and well animated, if slow. The Spectrum version is faster, but horrendously flickery. 

Most players will bounce straight off this one, but that was the case in 1987 as well. If you do persist though, there may well be some level of satisfaction in mastering this curate's egg.
You can check out the inlay at the mighty here if you want to give it a shot.

The noble art of pyjama-dancing

Finally, we get to Ice Slider. An indie release from 2015 for the Spectrum, this one looks and plays very simply - you have to move around the screen and collect all the diamonds without hitting anything dangerous. There's a time limit too - quick finishes bag you a better bonus, and you'll die if the timer runs out.

The controls are your main enemy here - your character slides swiftly off as soon as you hit a direction and while she can turn, and even reverse, at will, she will only stop when she collides with certain objects. Others will make her bounce straight back the way she came. It's frustrating at first, but there's a puzzle element in planning your route to minimise risk. In theory then, that should result in a nice balance between planning and twitchiness - a small mistiming of a turn might well send you hurtling backwards to your doom, so you have to stay alert

Sadly, the controls aren't quite responsive enough for the job, and there's maybe a little bit of graphical polish lacking. As it is, this doesn't quite work for me. 

Pictured : A girl and many of her best friends. 




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