Friday, December 06, 2013

It's just a little Crush (Roller)

If you were to corner the 20 people in the Western world who've played ADK's Crush Roller and ask them to describe it, at least 19 would include "Pac-Man clone" in their response.

There's a good reason for that, of course--Crush Roller (aka Make Trax) is awfully similar to Namco's classic quarter-muncher in terms of gameplay. (Both titles have players race through single-screen, maze-like stages while avoiding ghost-like baddies.)

That's not to suggest Crush Roller is an unoriginal bore. Actually, it's quite a lot of fun--especially once you come to terms with its, er, "crushing" difficulty. (Which, it has to be said, largely can be blamed on the fact that the aforementioned baddies often are a smidge faster than the paint-brush-shaped protagonist.)

To be completely honest, Crush Roller's challenging nature nearly caused me to give up on the game in disgust on a few occasions. What prompted me to soldier on? Its charmingly crafted graphics and its earworm-esque backing tracks.

Also, its gameplay becomes pretty darn enjoyable once you accept that a bit of frustration is part of the deal (and keeps it from becoming a cakewalk).

Anyway, all of the above is supposed to help explain why I recently went ahead and bought a copy of this game--despite the fact that I don't yet own a Neo Geo Pocket Color system to play it on.

In my defense, I only bought it after noticing that a local game shop (Pink Gorilla) was selling it for a mere $15. (I'd been keeping an eye on a copy that was going for more than twice that on eBay, so $15 seemed like a steal.)

Now that I have said copy in hand, I have to say it was worth every penny I spent on it. I mean, just look at that awesome, snap-closure case. And the colorful cover art. Oh, and the little cart protector that exists despite the fact that the outer case is plenty sturdy. What's up with that?

One thing you can't marvel at in these photos is the size of Crush Roller's packaging. Although it's not as small as, say, the boxes that encased early Japanese GameBoy titles, it's small enough. Maybe I should take a few snapshots of it sitting next to a bunch of DS, GameBoy, Game Gear and Wonderswan boxes soon?

See also: 'Did you know that Japanese Game Gear boxes are about the same size as WonderSwan boxes?' and 'WonderSwan cartridges (and boxes) in context'


michaelstearns said...

Neat! This is the first time I've actually had a good look at one of their clamshell cases. I'm not sure I was even aware that they made them, the US boxes all seem to be cardboard, and many Japanese cases also seem to be cardboard too.

I do own a NGP but I got it with a pack in game (no case with that one) and never bought any others, heh!

Gotta say I like the package design for this one, anyway.

Nightmare Bruce said...

I had no idea the NGPC had packaging like that. It looks great! Much better than my battered paper box for Metal Slug 2nd Mission.

Obscure Video Games said...

This was one of my favorite arcade games when I was a kid, and I had no idea there was a remake. So I just downloaded it and played a few minutes. It's really cute; I like it. The original's graphics haven't held up that well, so I'm glad they did this. BTW, I did some GIFs of the original, if you're interested:

TheGameroomBlitz said...

Beware the opening theme in the arcade version! It will send you to the brink of insanity and throw you over the edge! (Seriously, the cavalry charge is so aggressively obnoxious that it makes the rest of the game hard to appreciate.)

Fortunately, the music in the Neo-Geo Pocket game is not nearly as grating, and the addition of the "irksters" gives Crush Roller an addictive, Pokemon-esque quality that the original lacked.

So you don't have a Neo-Geo Pocket yet? Rectify that. It's a great little system, mostly for the most hilarious fighting games since River City Ransom but also for its energy-efficient design. This thing gets FORTY HOURS on a pair of AA batteries. It's not backlit, or lit at all, but the screen is still more visible than the one on the original Game Boy Advance.

Obscure Video Games said...

Oh wow I didn't even think it was that rare. I used to play Make Trax at Showbiz Pizza every time I or one of my friends had a birthday party there. And with enough begging, sometimes I could get my parents to take me there just for the hell of it.

I actually have been playing the rom a bit this morning, and it's quite good. I don't know if I'll make it to the final stage, but we'll see.

michaelstearns said...

Ah, that's too bad! I mean I could tell they had changed at some point but I didn't know when the change occurred. Thanks for explaining!

I wouldn't be surprised if consistent clamshell cases is a factor in my enthusiasm for DS and 3DS games (though I bought a lot of GBA too..), though they aren't as cool as these ones. said...

Yeah, it's definitely too bad that they changed them at one point. I'm guessing they weren't the cheapest things to produce, though -- they're actually quite sturdy and complicated!

As for DS/3DS cases: yes, I like them a lot, too. I especially like the Euro DS cases, which I think I've talked about before, too. said...

Showbiz Pizza! Man, that brings back memories. That was where my friends and I went for our birthdays, too. For years!

As for you reaching the final stage of this one: just keep at it! You'll get there. I've finished the game 5-10 times now. If I can do it, so can you :)

TheGameroomBlitz said...

The beauty of the Neo-Geo Pocket hardware is that its game library is largely airtight. Nearly everything from before the Aruze buyout (aka the Pachi-pacolypse) is at least worth trying.

Having said that, there are some games I'd recommend first. Match of the Millennium is first on that list. It's an extremely full-featured fighting game with incredible animation, sharp control (that thumbstick is PERFECT for fighters) and memorable dialog, especially from Dan Hibiki. King of Fighters R-2, Gal's Fighter, and Samurai Shodown! 2 are also worth a look, but are not essential. Avoid Fatal Fury: First Contact; it's the pocket version of a Fatal Fury game that wasn't that great to begin with.

SNK vs. Capcom: Card Fighter's Clash is another must-have. There are two flavors, Capcom and SNK. Just pick the company you like best and go from there, because it's the same game with different card sets. This is probably the most brisk, accessible, and addictive card game ever created for a handheld, miles ahead of the misbegotten sequel on the Nintendo DS (what a heartache that was!).

Sonic Pocket Adventure was a big surprise, and a pretty solid game if you're not already sick to death of the blue hedgehog. It was developed by DiMPS, who've been the caretakers of the Sonic series since Sonic Colors, the game that helped salvage the franchise after the horrid Sonic '06. Visually it's not as striking as the Genesis version, more closely resembling the Game Gear games, but the gameplay is very close.

Faselei! might be worth tracking down if you're into strategy games like Advance Wars. I am NOT, but this one does a lot with the hardware and is well loved by its fans.

You may have all your Pac-Man needs met with Crush Roller, but seek out the original if you can find the four-way direction lock (a coin-sized device that slips over the thumbstick) to go along with it. It's a better conversion than most, although I wouldn't put it ahead of the GBA version that was released shortly afterward.

Ganbare Neo-Poke Kun might be worth it for the novelty value. It's basically a virtual pet game, but some people find the lead character and his antics irresistible. It's a Japan-only release, so keep that in mind before you take the plunge.

Metal Slug 1st and 2nd Mission are less linear, console-ized versions of the popular military shooter. They're a little more laid back than the arcade games, much like the Game Boy Advance version of Metal Slug that was released later. If a deeper, less intense Metal Slug sounds interesting to you, take the Nestea plunge.

Games you DON'T want include Cool Boarders Pocket (I have no idea how to play this one, let alone enjoy it), Bust-A-Move Pocket (there are too many superior versions of Bust-A-Move to waste any time with this one), and the aforementioned Fatal Fury: First Contact. Most of the later Japanese exclusives can be safely avoided, too, since they're mostly gambling titles by Aruze. said...

Thanks for your suggestions, Gameroom Blitz!

Of them, a number already were on my "buy ASAP" list, including Gals Fighters, Ganbare Neo Poke Kun, SNK vs. Capcom: Card Fighter's Clash and likely one or both of the Metal Slug games.

I've never been much of a Sonic fan, so that's likely out for me, as are a number of the other fighters (unless I have an absolute blast with Gals Fighters--I'm just not much of a fighter fan).

Normally I'd say I'm interested in Faselei, but I have to say the videos of it that I've watched so far have left me kind of cold. I may still pick it up someday, but likely not until after I've bought other games that interest me more.

Anyway, thanks again. I'll you and everyone else know when I pick up another NGPC game--or even a NGPC system!

Monster_Hunter2882 said...

Off-topic but in the last Animal crossing: New Leaf QR code post I mentioned paintings I needed to get rid of. I gave all 3 of them away today to someone who only had 1 painting in their museum. . said...

Ah, no worries! Sounds like that person needed them a lot more than I did/do anyway. Thanks for the update :)

RetroKingSimon said...

I've never really been keen on this type of game but it does look like a nice version :)

RetroKingSimon said...

Oh, hey! I can post comments here again :P said...

Really? That kind of surprises me, Simon. What is it about this kind of game that turns you off, if you don't mind me asking? said...

Yay! I wonder what was keeping you from doing it before?

RetroKingSimon said...

Well, I often like puzzle/maze games very much but I infinitely prefer the kind with cute/appealing characters. Crush Roller casts you a paint brush, doesn't it? Bah! Maybe it's another one I have to give a 'second chance' :P said...

Well, yes, you're right that you're cast as a paint brush in this game, Simon, but you're a cute paint brush, believe me! Also, the rest of the game is very cute and colorful, too. I really suggest you give it a try. Now, you may be put off by its difficulty/sluggishness in the end, but I doubt you'll be put off by its looks!