At the 2017 Vintage Computer Fest East, I got to play a Amiga CD32 homebrew port of an old LaserDisc arcade game that didn't get a lot of widespread distribution in the United States, and was probably only best known from a Sega CD port back around 1992 or so.
The game that I'm referring to is the 1985 Taito arcade game Time Gal, which, like I mentioned, only saw a US home release on the Sega CD, but several other CD based consoles got ports for the Japanese market. And thanks to ReImagine Games, Amiga fans can get in on the action!
Released as a freeware release in March 2017, Time Gal for Amiga CD32 contains all of the arcade game's stages, playable in either sequential order like the arcade version, or in the Sega CD stage order. There's also a selectable difficulty setting which determines the number of lives, mirroring of stages, and whether visual cues are shown or not. One last option is "extended" death scenes, which simply shows a clip of the main bad guy laughing whenever you make a mistake.
The basic premise of the game is that a criminal from the future, Luda, steals a time machine and goes back through time to try and cause all kinds of havoc. Only the Time Gal, Reika Kirishima, can go and find Luda before he screws everything up, so with her own time travel device, a small gem on her vest, she chases the criminal through sixteen different time periods, avoiding dangers and pitfalls and a few unsavory types that want her dead.
Like Dragon's Lair released a year before it, Time Gal uses full motion video streaming from a LaserDisc, depicting Reika arriving in a period in time and immediately encountering some kind of peril. Players have to react with various inputs from the joystick or pressing the fire button when prompted. which allows Reika to let loose with some phaser fire or activate her "Time Stop" powers. Under Time Stop, you have 7 seconds to choose an action for Reika to take. Correct actions score points and have Reika keep moving on, but screwing up with either the wrong or no input or choosing the wrong action during Time Stop shows Reika falling victim to whatever is in her way or chasing her. Unlike Dragon's Lair, however, these "death" screens are more often than not presented in a humorous way; one example is Reika getting blasted by a Godzilla-like monster's fire breath in prehistoric times and getting zapped while reduced to a cutesy, chibi-like form. Lose all your lives and Luda is free to run rampant across time.
Reika's personality is quite the opposite of Dirk the Daring (yes, I know I'm doing quite a comparison to Dragon's Lair here! Forgive me! ). She's chatty, upbeat, has quite the spring in her step, and a knack for getting into scraps. She encompasses a lot of 80s anime appeal in her design as well; her vest top and red hot pants evokes Dirty Pair; her green hair (you've gotta have green hair!) is very much Lum of Urusei Yatsura, and the sci-fi backdrop is pretty much a good amount of 80s anime in general.
So that's the game in general. The CD32 port itself is done quite well, with responsive controls and well timed gameplay. However, the video scenes are not in MPEG format, and this is probably the one part that does bring the port down slightly. MPEG support would've probably allowed for cleaner FMV, as the videos are compressed somewhat heavily and reduced in color depth and resolution to work on the AGA chipset. Still, it isn't terrible and you can still make out scenery and obstacles, which glow brightly to indicate when to input a direction, well enough. All of the audio sounds good; again, slightly compressed but nothing major. Reika's voice acting is the original Japanese language track; the English dub from the Sega CD port is nowhere to be found here and is not a big loss.
While the game does run on the CD32, it also can run on a CD equipped Amiga 1200 with 2MB Chip RAM. Oddly, according to the game's webpage, this port can run on as low as a 68000-based Amiga with the OCS chipset. I haven't tried running this on such a setup, so I can't comment on if this will actually work or not. As of this writing, I've played Time Gal on a physical Amiga CD32, as well as an emulated one and an emulated A1200 via FS-UAE.
Is Time Gal worth playing? My answer is a hearty "Oh yeah!" Even though LaserDisc games are pretty much easy to get through once you memorize the sequences and don't really change, it's still fun to watch what is essentially a 15 minute anime with good, well animated artwork, a fun heroine, and some nicely design environments. Besides, it's always cool to see homebrew that breathes new life into systems once thought long gone or obscure as hell. Time Gal is definitely worth downloading and burning to CD for your Amiga CD32, or whatever Amiga you may have!
Download the game here and help Time Gal save the day!