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[personal profile] davidn


It's been absolutely ages since I played anything in arcades - they used to be so impressive compared to what home game systems could do at the time, but even though they tried to evolve by including physical accessories (like Silent Scope's sniper rifle and an entire genre of dance games), they just don't draw me in the same way that they used to. So it was a great surprise to find an absolutely fantastic one in Deadstorm Pirates, a Time Crisis-like gun game by Namco that we found at a nearby outdoor activity place at an outing with my last job - I just found this half-finished post rotting at the bottom of my notes file.

What really stands out about the game is the delightful incongruity between the physical controls and your on-screen avatars. The character design people made a game starring two rather improbably-dressed pirates who wield small (if apparently potent) pistols. They did not, however, communicate this to the people who put together the arcade cabinet, which seems to have been designed by Judas Priest. You both sit in an enclosure that focuses your attention on the big screen behind a gun turret with two triggers that you would normally expect to see as the first line of defence on the Death Star. You use this to rapid-fire your way through waves of up to about twelve million skeleton pirates as they charge into your line of fire, resulting in bones and stray headscarves and cutlasses flying out in all directions while the turret does a decent impression of a pneumatic drill in your hands. As if that wasn't enough, during certain sections it gets replaced with a cannon.

A lot of the time you'll be hitting things separately, but the bosses require cooperation between the two players as some of their obvious weak points can only be damaged by both of you shooting at the same target simultaneously, making sure you need to communicate with each other to stay alive. There's also a third control between you, a wheel to steer your ship, which as you would expect has the handling response of an MBTA bus and requires you to madly spin the wheel for up to ten seconds in order to wrench yourself away from a collision course. This is also used in quicktime events, which everybody loves, with you having to spin left or right within about half a second to avoid oncoming projectiles.

It's great fun, though, and has the added bonus of that pitch-perfect faltering voice acting that features in all the best arcade games. It's not quite Typing of the Dead because nothing is, but I can't help laughing whenever it announces a "TrrrRRRRREASURE HUNT!" or laughs "Yo-ho-ho!" for a near miss. The first time we played it we went through $10 in continues on our prepaid card, and only got through about two levels - after a couple more occasional tries, we resolved to finish it and probably spent an embarrassing amount to see the ending sequence. But it was hilarious, it's well worth it.

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