The bi-weekly challenge thing over at the Ten Pence Arcade Podcast this time round has been Juno First. Despite my age (yes old enough to remember fruit based drink Quatro) I can’t ever recall seeing or playing this in the arcades in my yoof so it was nice to have an attempt at something that didn’t steal countless 10 pence off me back in day…
Developed by Konami and released in 1983, Juno First is a vertical scrolling shooter which, Xevious being the notable exception, was something of a novelty back in the day.
Soon after the world was awash with vertical scrollers (Vulgus, 1942, Terra Cresta) so it’s something of a technical achievement of just how smooth this plays. Enemies appear in a random pattern from the top of the screen, push forward and your ship speeds towards them, pull back at the ship reverses away. With this you can retreat safely into the distance and momentarily catch your breath. Clear all the enemies away and you move onto the next wave. However, over time and waves, the enemies begin to transform into little shits complete with more erratic and evasive behaviours, with some firing not only the standard bullets but bullets which then track you and fire bullets themselves.
The current arcade world record on Twin Galaxies is 78,888,980 set by Tom Gibson in R&R video, Nova Scotia back in 1984 which quite frankly is bonkers. As this is the MAME challenge, the current top score on MAME is 3,198,50 held by Rodrigo Lopes. However, there’s no mention of settings on there which so I’ve made the assumption that the default ROM settings applied;
ROM=junofrst (Not the Gottlieb one)
16400 – My first attempt catches me off guard somewhat. It’s quicker than I’d expected and no less forgiving. The enemies on the first wave are fairly docile and fire off the odd cursory bullet to suggest they’re trying but every now and again they’ll fire off a shot with the speed and precision of a SAS sniper and unless you’re quick on the warp button (which clears all bullets and hides you away for for a few seconds) you’ve had it.
42950 – I’m finding my feet somewhat now. Getting in the zone as they say. The first three waves are easy enough to surpass unscatched. It’s in wave 4 where the bullets which fire bullets make an appearance. These little shits also home in on you. Avoiding these and the standard ships is a trickster trickster…
91140 – Ah…. About 20 seconds in an asteroid makes an appearance. Shoot it, all the enemies cease shooting and a small astronaut is released. Collect him and for the next 10 seconds or so enemies dont’s shoot and they give you progressively more and more points.
186030 – Now we’re getting somewhere! On the first couple of waves, hold off on shooting anything until the asteroid turns up and shoot hell for leather after than and you’re looking at least 50k by the time you reach Wave 3
276120 – With three days left until the podcast cut off I feel I’m hitting a wall somewhat. Getting closer to Rodrigo Lopes score but with others on the challenge (#10pScore over on Twitter) hitting close to 3 million, (Yes I’m looking at you CharlieFar!) I’ve a looong way to go. Ether the Twin Galaxies settings were set harder than these or no one has bothered submitting any but Charlie Far has blown it will out the water if so. For now I think it’s now my personal target to reach over 300k before the challenge comes to an end.
305230 – Challenge ends tomorrow and I’m all spent…
You know what though, I must say this has been something of a revelation. Most of the times these old games haven’t stood the test of time and they serve to be nothing more than a novelty piece. Im looking at you Frogger… For a game so old as this, it’s aged exceptionally well and the frenetic pace of the later levels will keep any seasoned gamer on their toes. Without doubt it’s one I’ll be coming back to. Give me this over the static nature of Space Invaders and Galaxian any day. What a difference a few years makes…
INP for playback in WolfMAME .106 – SUL-junofrst-305230.zip