Shoot them Up for Vegans
by Tibe (2012)
You won't believe me what's happening again. This can't be happening, no... Visco did it again. Yes, they did. This time, Pop'n'Twinbee has been chosen as victim by the demonic editor. This one produces the first clone of Konami/Palcom's game on SNK's system, and this is an intelligent move, as the Neo Geo had never received any Shoot them Up of this kind before. The only vertical shooters of the machine were much more 'serious' (Strikers 1945 Plus, ASO II, Ghost Pilots, and the Sonic Wings 2 & 3). The hero name is Captain Tomaday, and what we have here is a flying tomato born in a laboratory accident. Ah, you see! Visco has finally took its best engineers to an intensive brainstorm, in order to provide us a scenario worthy of the name and a fucking charismatic character. Yes, at least as charismatic as the incredible Pielle from Breakers. Remember, the fighter who makes Geese Howard look like a shemale.
So we are dealing here with a vertical game that can be played two simultaneously. This Shoot them Up is not especially manic, not especially tactical, but rather in the spirit of Pop'n'Twinbee or Parodius: large enemies, variables rhythm and intensity, but an omnipresent crazy and childish atmosphere. Captain Tomaday came in 1999, and this have several implications: first, the shoot 'em up and the Neo Geo no longer appeal the largest audience, but only an elite of retrogamers still following the system. And above all, the machine already have its most emblematic Shoot them Up in its library. Visco 's title is therefore measuring involuntarily to a few impressive names, such as Blazing Star, Prehistoric Isle 2, Strikers 1945 Plus or some other great productions. Captain Tomaday was only entitled to an MVS release, and yet, not really encountering any success in the arcades. If Visco had released its game before 1995, the verdict would have been different and the existence of an AES version more obvious. And yes, the verdict on this nice little shooting game is pretty scathing.
Captain Tomaday of course packs some qualities: the game is cute, full of colors and features nicely drawn sprites. The backgrounds are looking good in their cartoonish style, there's no problem about that. The soundtrack is funny, good quality, even if it's never coming any close of a Viewpoint nor Pulstar soundtrack. The atmosphere allows some childish fantasies, but in the kind Parodius was doing much better. The big downside of the game is in fact its animation. Slowdowns are particularly nasty, because they occur mostly as 'lags', jerking action in a very annoying way. Alone, they are few, but when playing two it rapidly becomes unbearable. Yet we can't say that the screen is overloaded, or entitled with huge sprites... we have already seen many games providing ultra-heavy screens without causing any slowdowns on this system, then see Captain Tomaday have a hard time with a dozen of mini-courgettes on the screen remains a great mystery.
Anyway my friends, don't be too disappointed, as this game from Visco still had nothing special to offer. Captain Tomaday hardly lasts more than twenty-five minutes, which is short, even for a Shoot them Up. In addition, you don't really want to get back to it, as the ambiance is not particularly taking, unlike what the introduction kinematic could suggest; but also because hitting alternately A and B - for performing a left punch or a right punch - is not very interesting, or because the difficulty is unevenly set (sometimes too easy and sometimes way too hard), but above all, because these unceasing lags are really, really painful. With a gameplay and a replay value not worth it, difficult for our rotten tomato to look handsome in the Neo Geo library: at best, Captain Tomaday floats above the average, ranking just a notch above the worst video games ever made.
|Backgrounds and sprites are cute and exploit well Neo Geo's resolution and palette, however some stages lack some length. All this is childish and simplistic, but nice.|
|If everything is smoothly animated, we only can deplore that this smoothness doesn't last from the start til the end: CT is full of slowdowns appearing as lags pretty uncomfortable!|
|In the same spirit as the graphics, soundtrack is dinky and have a good quality, but here again, nothing astounding...|
|About twenty-five minutes to clear the game, slowdowns included. The difficulty is awkwardly shifting and the slowdowns penalize the action, in a way you won't come back too soon!|
|Without all these slowdowns, the rate would have been less harsh. Here, we don't only have a mediocre game, but you'll also want to throw away the stick with the ceaseless lags!|
|Far from gleaming among Neo Geo's great Shumps, Captain Tomaday is satisfied with being cute and fairly uninteresting.|
VALUE FOR MONEY (2012)
Never released in AES version (this time, we understand why), the Neo Geo owner will have to look for a convert of Captain Tomaday, which can be found for 150/200 euros depending on the quality. Here's a good advice: forget about it!