A Little Look At… PGM2 hardware & Knights of Valour 3

I had this wonderful set arrive yesterday and as there’s not a lot of English information available I thought I’d make a quick post going over a few basics if anyone’s interested.

First of all the hardware – it’s a motherboard+cart system just like the old PGM, the difference is that this time the carts slot in on top rather than sideways. The photos below show a motherboard with a game inserted the motherboard on its own and the underside of a cart. I have seen blue variant PGM2s – some people say they’re regional variants, others say they’re all-in-one game+boards that can’t be swapped out. If I ever get confirmation from somebody that owns one of these I’ll make a post about it to get that cleared up.

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The hardware’s completely sealed in which is very handy for a supergun user like myself! All the connectors are located on the sides; apart from the obvious JAMMA edge at the front the left hand side has the dip switches, reset button and volume control and the right has the connector for adding players 3 & 4 (larger back connector) and the card reader (smaller front connector).

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The PGM2 introduces IC cards to IGS’s side-scrolling beat ‘em ups! Each reader can hold two cards simultaneously and these are used (in Knights of Valour 3 at least) to save a character’s level, equipment and similar. While the game can be played just fine without one in a rather sneaky move two playable characters are reserved exclusively for card users – Liu Bei and Lu Bu. You simply can’t select them unless an IC card is present (I’ll update this post with a scan of the IC cards when they arrive). I’ve now added a scan of a full ten card set below, along with a scan of the back of one card if anyone wanted to see (the backs are all identical). IC cards have a set limit of 500 uses (uses, not credits), once it’s been used up you have to transfer your data over to a fresh card if you want to keep your character and equipment, this is done by putting the old card in the 1P card slot and the fresh one in the 2P slot.

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The game starts out much the same as Knights of Valour 2 – you select either the main game or boss rush mode, pick your character and then… and then the differences come in. I’ll do boss rush mode first as that’s the easiest to describe:

Unlike Knights of Valour 2 where bosses were selected either at random or manually by the player before setting out here a branching route system is used after the first match right up to the final boss. Each fight also has particular restrictions in place; sometimes items will be disallowed or perhaps movement speed will be decreased, things like that. Other than that it’s as you’d expect – boss shows up, hit them, repeat until you run out of credits or everyone’s dead.

Story mode is much different to previous games in the series – you first select a region, then select one of four areas within that region to battle through. Each region also has a stage marked ????, I thought those were unlocked if you cleared the other areas first but it seems that’s not the case. Each area still features multiple paths although this time when a room is cleared of enemies a minimap is displayed showing exactly where you’ve been, where the boss is (just so you’ve got a rough idea where to head) and where you can go next. If you find yourself in a dead end (these usually contain treasure chests) you’ll have to return to the previous location and try another path, luckily you don’t have to re-clear the room to proceed this time.

There’s also an ever-present timer that starts at 999 seconds (over 16 minutes if anyone was wondering) and is continually counting down – once this hits 0 the game ends. I was really quite worried by this when I first heard about it, but in practise it’s not very restrictive at all as every time anyone uses a continue or another player joins in the timer is reset all the way back to 999 again. You could say it’s a bit of a cynical ploy to get people to cough up for more credits and you may be right – but Gauntlet got there almost thirty years earlier so it’s not really a new concept.

The scans below are of the move strips and basic gameplay info, sorry about the quality but they’re both long and wrinkly which made it pretty difficult to do!

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I can try taking a few screenshots if anyone wants them, although as the game’s unemulated and I have no proper screengrabbing thingummies so they will literally be shots of a screen if I do :/

One last photo just to give a rough size comparison against an MVS MV-1A -

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