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Thread Author: RiKo
Thread ID: 3219
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First Impressions on New versions of Fast Striker and Last Hope on Neo Geo
Here are my first thoughts on Last Hope And Fast Striker now i can play them a new on my AES. (unfortunately i couldnt play these for very long because im having some problems at home at the moment)

Fast Striker - ive already given my thoughts on this elsewhere (it's up there with the Neo's best shooters ) but is even better now i can hear the music properly! (it was very low volume on my CMVS - my CMVS has a lower volume than my AES and the orig Fast Striker was a bit quiet). i made a point of playing the new Omake mode which is very hard - although its easier if you can jump on the enemies as soon as they appear on screen to cut off the bullet-supply. i really enjoyed the challenge though. finally a game harder than Mars Matrix!

YouTube Video

Last Hope - well this plays much better than i was expecting but on the negative side looks a bit worse than i expected. i really like the rotating drone, and the game gives you great contol over it. you can even use it to pick up powerups which are surrounded by bullets. I have never payed the old version so i cant comment on specific differences but i had no trouble seeing any of the bullets in this version. i think some of the scenery - they could have brightened it up a bit because i hit a few pieces which i didnt realise were scenery until i collided with them, but to be fair when you've done it once it you know not to do it agai!. still seems fairly tough to me but then its one of those shooter liks R-Type where it gets alot easier once you've learn the enemy attack patterns, and you know where to position your drone etc

looks wise and maybe i am being fussy but the graphics use a lot of stippling (+ obvious shading). stippling is an effect artists used back in the 16bit days on machines with limited palettes to give the appearance an extra colour by putting 2 colours next to each other. so when viewed from a far it gives the effect of a 3rd colour. it worked just about ok on Atari St and Amiga computers but doesnt look good on the neo because of it its reduced resolution. so the impression you get is that there arent actually that many colours being displayed on screen. not sure why this is, since the neo is meant to have 256 available for display. but maybe there are restrictions on their use? or they needed to save memory to fit the game on the cart size they had so they used less colours. As people on this site will know i am very fussy so maybe other people wont care about this. the game still looks quite good though, and it all moves very nicely.

this isnt from pink bullets but i like this video shows the techniques illustrated in the manual. not sure what the point of waterfall riding is though?

YouTube Video

only bad pont is that my Uni bios seems to be disabled on these games, i usually use it to pause or restart games half way through. i dont think you can pause Fast Striker. i didnt try on Last Hope

anyway pleasantly surprised with Last Hope so far, but i havent given it much of a go yet. Fast Striker is just as good as ever and with the new mode is even more awesome.
Edited by RiKo on 26. March 2011 16:01
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I was just watching Merlin's video of the original version of Last Hope on Youtube and it looks like they have changed the colour scheme slightly for the first level, the pink bullets version has a blue tinge to the scenery. maybe they thought this would make the scenery show up better? not sure. the stipplng effect and shading i talked about earlier works really well on Youtube actually where its a smaller screen size and is blurred slightly from compression, its only when its on a larger screen i noticed it was a bit obvious. it might just be me because this is the first time i have played on the Neo for a while so i am used to ultra high res games. although i did think that fast striker looked ultra smooth.

and yes the levels have swapped places i think as well. level 4 now seems to be level 2. probably more differences if you know both games Smile

EDIT it seems like on the original version you dont start off with the nose drone, but on pink bullets you always have it
Edited by RiKo on 24. March 2011 21:36
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Ok i have been playing Last Hope for a few days now. i have to say i am a bit addicted to it now, so its obviously doing something right. i am finding it quite enjoyble too. i think a lot of that enjoyment comes from learning how to use the nose cone well. its very satisfying when you are able to make whole sections a lot easier and safer to play by proper use of the nose cone. i would say that the difficulty is spot on. (i am just playing on the default difficulty - which is just as well becasue im not sure how to change it without the unibios) i can get halfway through level 4 using all my credits and halfway through level 2 on one credit. but i am still a novice and l making a lot of mistakes so i will improve a lot with more play....

Good points

-great variety in the levels *so far* - each one is completely different

-very nice background animation and little details on each level. especially the swaying trees and organic scenery on level 2 (was level 4 on previous version). and the little men running about doing jobs and shooting at you are nice touches.

-good control over the ship, moves at just the right speed and the nose cone is very easy to control and can even be continually rotated all round the ship like a drone if you wish. also it adds a lot of depth to the gameplay, and absorbing bullets increases your score multiplier.

-Difficulty spot on so far in the levels i have played, and there havent been any huge difficulty spike on the bosses so far like in many other NG shooters where you get stuck one boss for ages.

- very visible bullets!

Bad points

-Bosses are unispired, this is the main disappointment for me. the first boss whilst offering more challenge than the fairly easy-to-defeat level 1 bosses in Pulstar and R-Type, is basically a copy of the boss from Pulstar. i can understand this since the game is obviously referencing its source material, but the bosses on level 2 and 3 are the same type of boss really, -there's no bosses flying about the screen, or bosses you have to chase - they are all just fixed in the scenery. maybe the bosses will get better but so far they are a disappointment.

-initially i was disappointed with its looks but it still looks very good overall, so kind of a good and bad point.

-i wanted some of the enemy ships to blow up a bit quicker when you shoot them, just to give the instant feedback that you have scored a hit.

- it is not always that clear that you can collide some with the background - until you hit it and die!


the music - so far theres been no stand out tracks, dont get me wrong its ok, but it just goes on in the background and you dont really notice it. its not as distinctive as say Pulstar. i also really want a screaming guitar 16-bit style shooter track in there. Smile

Compared to Pulstar and R-Type

I wish i had played more of Last Resort so i could compare the moveable nose cones, but i cant:( but from memory i think the one in Last Hope is easier to use? Last Hope feels as if it has been inspired more by Pulstar than R-Type to me, however whilst i dont think this is as good or as classy looking as Pulstar overall, i think its a lot more enjoyable to play. Pulstar can feel a bit plodding and frustrating at times, and i didnt always have huge amounts of fun playing it. if you lose all your weapons you can be screwed in that game too.

Other People's Views

I would be interested to hear from people who have Pink Bullets (whether on NG or DC) whether they are enjoying this game or not. because i know Last Hope got a bit of a negative reception overall originally, and i have read quite a few comments from people saying they didnt like Last Hope.
Edited by RiKo on 27. March 2011 15:15
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I have Pink Bullets & Fast Striker on DC Riko and have enjoyed them both. Fast Striker is by far the better game and I agree it counts as one of the best shooters on the NG ( and gives many a DC shooter a run for its money). FS really is a credit to NGDEV and I am very excited about what they will bring us in the future ( Gunlord ) should be a cracker.

As for Last Hope I also have the NGCD version which is actually closer to Pink Bullets as it is more forgiving than the original AES/MVS/DC version I believe. I have also the first LH on DC and found it way way to hard to be enjoyable but since getting Pink Bullets I found it to be a nice if underwhelming shooter that considering it was aproduced by a 2 man team ( so ive heard) is actually a good effort and is a charming in its own way.

Hats off to you Riko for outlaying the cash for the cart versions, as much as I love NG I simply do not have the balls to spend that much, obviously a lottery win would change that but I am more than happy and consider it a blessing that these games came to the DC as well.

Fast Striker really impressed me as I am sure it would others if they gave it a chance ( come on its too good a game just to be admired by just me, Ninja , Riko , & I think Murikov may have it as well) on this site, take the plunge Fast Striker & cheap DC off ebay WINNING.
Edited by STE C on 27. March 2011 18:14
Good to hear the carts arrived and that you're enjoying both Last Hope and Fast Striker RiKo. It was interesting to read your thoughts about both games. Would be nice to have reviews for both these games added to the site. Maybe you could write a review for each game in the future. Must be a great feeling to finally play Fast Striker without that sound problem you experienced with the CMVS.

I always really enjoyed Last Hope in fact it's probably in my top 5 favourite Neo Geo shoot 'em ups. I've only ever played the NGCD version though which does have also pink bullets. I'd say graphically it looks very nice with a good variety between different stages and plenty of detail. The watery stage and stage 3 look particularly good. It's interesting that they swapped those stages round in the pink bullets release. I remember Ninja mentioned that recently. I always found stage 2 a lot harder than stage 4.

I do agree with what you said about the bosses Riko. The boss designs look ok but they are quite static and don't really move very much. I agree the different ways you can use the pod attached to your ship help to make the gameplay more interesting. Although challenging I never really found the difficulty all that frustrating. Anyone who enjoys Pulstar should also enjoy this game I think. I thought the soundtrack by Rafael Dyll was excellent throughout with the Katakis Dark Seed theme being my favourite.

I'm really excited about Gun Lord. Nice that they're trying something different rather than
another shoot 'em up.
Thanks for sharing your insights into these often discussed games, Riko!

As STE C already mentioned, I've actually played the NGCD version of Last Hope (just on the emu, shush). Basically I can agree what most people have criticized about it, but personally I think it's a very enjoyable game with lots of challenging parts and good music (but crappy sound effects). I actually do wonder how much Pink Bullets would please me. Judging so far, it sounds to be like a remix of the original with some difficulty, stage, visibility, and enemy changes.

Actually I'm considering of getting a Dreamcast to play Fast Striker, Last Hope: PB and some other titles like 3rd Strike etc, but on the other hand 'm afraid that I'll end up without much space at home when buying more and more games and consoles... Some kind of Interest Conflict! Hmm
RiKo wrote:
Other People's Views

I would be interested to hear from people who have Pink Bullets (whether on NG or DC) whether they are enjoying this game or not. because i know Last Hope got a bit of a negative reception overall originally, and i have read quite a few comments from people saying they didnt like Last Hope.

I've given my opinion on Last Hope AND Pink Bullets numerous times on here somewhere, but regardless, here's my existing take on 'em both.

I'll start of with Pink Bullets. And (as always!) I'll be honest. While this game is in MOST ways an improvement over the original Last Hope, it still leaves me a little cold. I do enjoy having a blast on it from time to time, but it just doesn't grab me. I think I can MAYBE place a few of the reasons:

1) The tempo - this is VERY slow and deliberate, and in opposition to what's been said - 'plodding'. R-Type is indeed the master of plodding, but LHope is very good at it too. I find it a tad painful and I always feel like I'm being unnecessarily exposed to dangers and threats that SHOULD have long a go passed me by.

2) The music - I'm REALLY indifferent about it. I neither like it or dislike it. Out of the tracks though I prefer the music to Stage 3 and Stage 2/4 (Creepy Waters) most. RDyll's efforts in Soldner X2 were MUCH better imo...

3) The design/GFX - I know, it sounds like I'm REALLY picking this game apart - and I am I guess! Yeah, I'm not big on the ACTUAL design of the game. The GFX themselves are good in their own right, but I'm not digging the design overall. I think it's real hit and miss. I think the design for 'Creepy Waters' looks best (although a tried and tested design!) and the final stage too. The others look a tad 'ropey' to me, especially 'Dark Seed'. Enemy designs are so so and again, unremarkable but good enough to NOT criticise. As for the ACTUAL Ship/Craft itself? It looks pretty fucked to me. Even when I look at it, I still don't get it. I just don't get it!

4) Gameplay - On the face of it, the gameplay is actually fine (esp. in PB!). However, I still find the standard issue weapon and the power-ups really underwhelming. For me, half the fun is continually powering up until your craft reaches untold ridiculous levels of power, and having the skill to hold onto it! And, I'm more of a fan of 'level downs' as opposed to outright weapon rape! But yeah, the weapon upgrades are generic and completely unremarkable. And the 'Anchor'. Why does it even BOTHER firing? I would have respected them more to completely omit it's ability to fire than have to laugh at it's pathetic effort of a 'bullet'. Surely the power-ups SHOULD affect the Anchors fire capability too? See, you may think 'what has this got to do with Gameplay? He shoulda called this one 'Weapons/Power-Ups'... see, the problem is, that the power-ups and weapons systems present in these games really HELPS make the game imo - make it more enjoyable or not. Imagine playing Gradius or R-Type (made MANY years before LH) with just standard bullet fire, some missiles OR bombs and the relevant Options/Anchor MINUS the cool weapons? They wouldn't be BAD, but nowhere near as fun and enjoyable as they are for including them!

note that these are ALL criticisms I have of the updated Pink Bullets release? Yes, exactly...

There's NO point laying into the 'original LHope, as I feel substantial and needed changes were made to LHope in the release of Pink Bullets (i.e. increased 'default' standard rate of fire and increased Ship/Craft speed being the two MAIN critcisms I had, as well as rapid/auto inclusion).

My criticisms are of Last Hope in general, and imo, revisions COULD have been made (in attunement to my sentiments ESPECIALLY regarding weapon systems/upgrades) in Pink Bullets - so as NOT to create a sequel, but a Last Hope Fighter 2 Turbo of sorts - new weapons, more upgrades, remixed OST etc as to make the game MORE interesting and to maybe help reach it into the lofty heights of Fast Striker awesomeness.

I feel that there is great potential to be had with Last Hope, and as required as the changes (imo) were in Pink Bullets, I feel and opportunity to really tune-up this game was missed.

Perhaps a Last Hope 2 then? (what would that be called? Last Resort, Last Hope, Last _ _ _ _ _ ?)

AS A SIDE NOTE: I much preferred having 'Creepy Waters' as Stg2 as opposed to being swapped in Pink Bullets. I still can't get used to it! For RiKo however - playing PBullets FIRST - it'll be the opposite! With PB being the better game, I think you win RiKo! Grin

Also, it's a shame that these 2 games (PBullets and FStriker) didn't receive an AES release? Surely, with the money being charged for these, they could custom mould some AES carts?? I would opt for a translucent (smoked) clear housing myself - inbetween Black 'clear' and just 'clear' - a dark grey I guess. Pipedreams boys... Hmm

Thanks for all the replies. its good to hear other people who like it too. i think i missed all the positive comments before!

Merlin- I have read a lot of people really like the soundtrack. i would imagine the CD version sounds a bit better. for me the music is just atmospheric music - its sounds ok, but thats it. when i wrote that mini-review yesterday i couldnt remember any of the music at all away from the game - i couldnt hum it or anything like that. its good to hear ninja thought the same so at least i am not the only one. i do have yet to hear the music beyond level 4 though Smile

Ste- thank you Smile i did feel a bit crazy spending that amount of money on the games, but i havent regretted it and i would imagine the carts would hold their value pretty much. but i would never sell them anyway so that doesnt bother me too much. i dont really live a normal life, so my money doesnt go on things that normal people spend it on, if it did i dont think i could justify spending that amount of money on games.(unless i was dirty rich!)

Murikov - its interesting you mention the sound effects becuase i left the game running while i was in the room and the demo mode started without the music, and it was the first time i noticed the sound effects and they actually sounded ok, its just in game you never really notice them, so maybe the levels arent high enough or something.

Ninja - i know you have given your views before but i couldnt really remember them beyond that you didnt like the game too much. After actually playing the game i was surprised how negative people had been towards it, so i was wondering exactly why this was given all the good things i had found. because like i said i am really enjoying playing it - and i genuinely find it more enjoyable than Pulstar at the moment. but after reading your post i can see why now. i do like those kind of shooters too where you get lots of powerups but i think in Last Hope the 'being powered up' feeling comes from mastery of the pod/anchor, and in knowing what situations to use it. and the fact that you never lose the pod in Pink Bullets (at least on the default difficulty) totally avoids the loss of your weapons/power problem when you die found in so many shooters. which is kind of genius. but yes i can totally see how a lot of people miss the power-ups they find in other game. As for being plodding i thought this game wasnt plodding at all! esp. compared to R-Type and Pulstar (which cheekily make you collect speed-ups just to get to full speed), and also considering it's strategic shoot-em-up status. i would say though that in the shooters where the ship moves faster - you need more bullets and a different type of enemy to offer a proper degree of challenge so it would change the game. also a fast ship is not really any good for navigating the small spaces you need to at certain points in the game. but yes i get your point, i can see Last Hope would not appeal to everyone.

btw i scanned in a Making Of Last Hope preview article for this game a while ago (from retrogamer magazne) if anyone is interested. they talk to the developers about the game and their influences. (apparently Last Resort, R-Type and Prehistoric Isle)

sample page


The rest of this article can be found in this album below :

Edited by RiKo on 28. March 2011 14:41
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RiKo wrote:
...esp. compared to R-Type and Pulstar (which cheekily make you collect speed-ups just to get to full speed), and also considering it's strategic shoot-em-up status.

also 'cheekily' forced you to collect 'speed-ups' to become anywhere near as mobile as you are at default in Pink Bullets.

I'd really like you to play the original Last Hope since making your MVS acquisition! Perhaps now you could always pop the DC version on for a go, now owning the superior release? C'mon dude, let's face it... one of the 60x AES Last Hope's for AES ISN'T going to turn up anytime soon, eh? And, unlike the MVS releases, the AES cart isn't as good OR worth the price imo.

for highlighting that old article. I had a quick look through. In particular, I found a VERY interesting comment about the game:

"We consider Last Hope to be a '3rd Generation' NEO•GEO game, Last Resort being 1st Gen and Pulstar being 2nd Gen, at least, from a technical point of view"

What are your thoughts here? I haven't ever played enough of Pulstar to argue, but I've heard nothing but good things about that game (except being fiendishly difficult!) Shock

i didnt realise that, about the speedups. those were one of the things i wouldnt have copied from R-Type or Pulstar because after you die and have no weapons - and at that time - ship manoevarability is a must! it did still say in the manual about speedups and about walking-the-pod so maybe those are on a higher difficulty level or they just havent changed the manual. im pretty sure there arent any on standard difficulty. i just seem to get homing missiles or carbon missiles and multiplier boosters.

yes i def wouldnt buy the original version of Last Hope now i have this version but i will give the DC one a go to see how it compares.

well thats interesting about Pulstar. yes its a really good shooter. but it can be frustrating to play at times. by the 3rd generation comment i read that they mean its better from a technical point of view - as in underlying technology so they arent saying its a better game than Pulstar. i dont really see it though. technically Pulstar is pretty amazing in terms of graphics . i am going to check it out again soon to compare. they mention lighting effects in Last Hope like there is some kind of real-time lighting effect in there. but probably they are just talking about the background. from a technical point of view Last Hope looks on a par with Pulstar, i cant see anything it's doing thats better than Pulstar. not sure why they said 3rd generation,? maybe because it doesnt slow down at all (drop frames). sometimes that is a programming feat all in itself.
Edited by RiKo on 28. March 2011 22:44
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costs around £400 and you actually OPENED the manual to look inside? You crayyyyzee guy!

Shenanigans aside, I'm glad to hear you'll give The original a go. I played BOTH LH and PB back to back tonight on my DC, and I have to say, LH is just NO fun for me by comparison. Finishing Last Hope in an enjoyable and dignified fashion takes some real will and skill! I was also quite amused by the slight palette alterations to both games - beyond the bullet colour.

I'd played both copies prior to checking back this evening and, just by coincidence, did come across what i would refer to as lighting effects. Of particular note (due to the distinct change in colouration) is a small section in 'Creepy Waters' where you pass through a passageway and immediately, you ship (and pod) change colour accordingly to Blue/Red (depending on your LH!). It's quite a nice effect, but surely is just a colour overlay/transparency effect, gradiented between colour > transparent? Hmm

the complete omittance of ANY slow down is very impressive overall. And we all know, RiKo HATES slow down Angry LOL

Grin i opened the Fast Striker one too. damm looks like i no choice but to keep the games now. i wanted to find out the story lol

haha yes i am very anal about my slowdown. im actually a lot better than i used to be on a lot of things in videogames but slowdown always gets me! good spot on the lighting effects Thumbs Up i didnt notice the lighting effects myself yet but i will keep an eye out next time i play. i think its because you dont take much notice of things like that when you are playing and looking for enemies. i was watching the last 2 levels on Youtube which i havent reached yet. i think its the level 5 boss is quite impressive (compared to the other bosses anyway lol) and sprays out an large number number of bullets for a neo geo game. in games like blazing star when that happens the game does slowdown a bit. im pretty sure this is because of collision detection routines and data structures being made more efficent rather than than the routine actually drawing the bullets - since on Neo Geo all sprites are drawn in hardware so they exert no load on the CPU. but i could be wrong since i dont know that much about neo geo hardware.

yes i noticed the palette changes too. ive been out all today so no chance to play either version but will get the DC out soon. hope i can find the game! i am rubbish about remembering where i put things.
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