Shadow Dancer

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Shadow Dancer

Subtitled ‘The Secret of Shinobi,’ this is actually a do-over of the arcade game of the same name.

It’s not quite classic enough in my opinion to be classed a proper Shinobi successor, but it’s still a damn fine game in its own right.

shadow dancer

You play as a ninja, who can jump, throw shruikens and summon a fire attack. You can also strike foes with a blade if you get close enough. There’s also a white dog that follows you, but I don’t think it does anything of note.

You scroll to the right, basically shooting down foes with your shruikens, and avoiding their attacks/bullets. And it’s pretty damn important that you avoid their attacks, as one hit and it’s back to the start.

shadow dancer

This makes the game a lot more difficult than it would have been otherwise. Ducking usually allows you to avoid the bullets that come flying at you, but with no room for error, one mis-step can send you right back to the beginning of a stage.

Fortunately levels are quite short, and can be rattled through fairly quickly if you know what you’re doing. I believe you have to save a set amount of hostages held throughout the levels to progress, but they’re usually found along the path you’re going down anyway.

shadow dancer

There’s a decent range of ideas in the levels as well, such as one being ripped apart by an earthquake, and another allowing you to jump into both the fore and back ground.

The graphics are clear and detailed, and the animation is as fluid as you’d expect from a title with a Shinobi connections.

shadow dancer

Bosses are fairly simple, but are made a real challenge due to the ever present ‘one hit = death’ element.

It all adds up to a game that’s a challenge, but one you’ll end up relishing rather than rejecting. Although a genuine cart of the game will cost you a fair bit, it can be found in a few of those Blaze Mega Drive collections – which is nice.

Castlevania II: Dracula Densetsu II

Hi everyone!  Time for a new post, I’ve gonna highlight a really cool game I got recently called Castlevania II: Dracula Densetsu II aka Castlevania II: Belmont’s Revenge if you get the North American version.

Castlevania II - Dracula Densetsu II

I have the Japanese version of this game so story wise I’m not totally sure what’s going on but based on what I looked up the game takes place 15 years after the first Castlevania game boy game.  Dracula has returned and he has kidnapped Chris Belmont’s son named Soleiyu and turned him into a demon.  Dracula uses Soleiyu’s powers to retake human form so he can rebuild his castle.  So once again Christopher must face Dracula to save his son.

Castlevania II - Dracula Densetsu II

When you first start the game there are four initial levels.  Each level has a unique theme like earth, crystal, plant and air and takes place in a separate castle.  The cool thing is you can complete them in any order you like.  So if you get stuck on one of the large trap rooms you can try out another one.

Castlevania II - Dracula Densetsu II

If you play the Japanese version you will notice that the axe will be replaced with a cross, instead of making the arcing motion the cross moves in a horizontal motion almost like a boomerang when it comes back to you.  This can be very useful as it can go through walls to kill enemies.

Castlevania II - Dracula Densetsu II

My only complaint is I wish Christopher would move a little faster, he seems to be going pretty slow at times especially when you are trying to make a bigger jump or avoid an enemy. Other than that it’s a really fun game!  It looks really good for a game boy game and the music has been done very well.  I haven’t completed the game yet, but if I discover anything else I will let you know.

So make sure if you get a chance to pick up this game definitely do so!  Don’t forget that the Japanese version is still playable on North American gameboys as they are region free.  I’m so glad Heidi from Retro Gaming Blog told me about this game, now I just have to get the other 2 game boy ones in the series

Carmageddon II: Carpocalypse Now

Carmageddon II

Carmageddon II: Carpocalypse Now

I am ashamed to admit it but the truth is that I have never played the original Carmageddon, what I do remember however is the hours I spent murdering people with my red shiny car listening to Iron Maiden’s Aces High and the Trooper.
Carmageddon II
What is Carmadeddon II
Carmageddon  II is a racing game (kind-of), a racing game that you get points from running over people and destroying your competitors with the most violent and creative ways. In this spirit, there where three win conditions for any level in the game, win the race, destroy all opponents or kill all pedestrians.
Carmageddon II
Why it’s Great
It is great because this game was criticised like few when it first came out for the violence it contained that according to parents at the time would turn us all into killing machines by the age of 18… I haven’t still killed a person and I had a blast with the game. although from what I know in some countries the changed the pedestrians to animals or aliens for that same reason.
Carmageddon II
Where you Can Get It

Good question, I know Amazon has some but if you know more places that sell it please let me know.

 

Special Forces

special forces

Format- Gameboy Advance

Genre- Side scrolling run and gun-em up

special forces

You’d think Contra and Metal Slug would be the type of games that would be fairly simple to clone. Lots of guns, lots of enemies, and lots of destruction. Simple.

special forces

It turns out, however, that formula is just a little too hard for some developers to handle. Too often sidescrolling gun games from lesser developers turn out to be either unfairly difficult, really dull, or both.

special forces

CT Special Forces almost gets it right, but sadly falls a little short of being considered a notable Metal Slug clone.

special forces

It definitely looks the part though, with rather attractive hand drawn graphics and a nice varied bunch of levels. A good range of weapons are grenades are also on show. The controls are also quite good, with the shoulder buttons used for throwing grenades and swapping weapons.

special forces

Problem is, the game requires you to be very patient when working your way through the (quite large) levels. You have to abide by enemies set walking patterns and pick them off accordingly. Although once you’ve adapted to this you can work through the game with some ease, but it doesn’t really make it a particularly fun or spontaneous experience.

special forces

Welcome variation arises from the occasional vechicle levels, but the parachute sections are most unwelcome. They’re frustrating in the extreme and can take several hard-earned lives from you each time. Considering the time you take working through levels, it’s a bit unfair to plonk these sections right in the middle of stages.

special forces

Bosses are also hilariously un-PC for the most part, with bearded terrorists aplenty to blast away at. It’s like what I imagine a American soldier’s wet dream to look like.

special forces

There is also the general problem that the game is a little too short, but seeing as you can pick it up fairly cheaply nowadays that’s probably not much of an issue.

special forces

There were a couple more CT games, but this was the only one I played. It’s incredibly dumb, sure – but it’s not without its charm.

Wiz ‘n’ Liz

Wiz 'n' Liz - Master System - Gameplay Screenshot

Wiz ‘n’ Liz (1993)
By: Raising Hell Software / Psygnosis  Genre: Platform  Players: 1-2  Difficulty: Medium
Featured Version: Sega MegaDrive / Genesis  First Day Score: 922,300
Also Available For: Amiga

Released mid-way through the MegaDrive’s life, this quirky platformer for some reason seemed to slip under the radar for most gamers at the time. Is that because it sucks? Actually, no, and it was released on the most popular console and computer of the time, and came during a period when the genre was at its peak too, so it’s a mystery to me why more people haven’t played it! I actually first encountered it in a very favourable review in an Amiga magazine but it was the MegaDrive version I would ultimately purchase, purely because the MD is better than the Amiga as everyone knows (hee hee!), but the MD is also far better catered for as far as this kind of game is concerned too. So how did Wiz ‘n’ Liz fare against the likes of Sonic? Not too well, one might think, but could Psygnosis have a surprise in store?

Wiz 'n' Liz - Master System - Gameplay Screenshot

One of the first things you might notice when playing this game is that it’s nearly as fast as Sonic! It’s set on the amusingly-named planet of ‘Pum’ where Wiz the wizard and Liz the witch reside. Their pastime of creating new magic spells is second only to taking care of their many beloved pet rabbits. Unfortunately, however, their latest spell has gone wrong and whisked all their rabbits off to who knows where! Under your (and a friend’s) control, Wiz ‘n’ Liz immediately set out to rescue them all and restore Pum to its former glory. Finding all of their rabbits isn’t particularly hard as they’ve been liberally sprinkled across the many charming and not so charming lands that comprise Pum. They’re not just normal rabbits though, but magic rabbits, and every last one of them must be rescued.

Wiz 'n' Liz - Master System - Gameplay Screenshot
The game begins in Home Land where Wiz ‘n’ Liz’s house and magic cauldron are located. There are also some trees here in which magic fruit grow. Mixing any two of these fruits in the cauldron creates a spell whose effect depends on which combination of fruits are mixed, but the first spell creates a door which provides access to the level select area. From here you can enter the various levels (or ‘lands’) and you can tackle them in any order you want. Each land is made up of two or three rounds, and on each of these there is a set quota of rabbits to rescue. This is done by touching them and to start with they will each release letters which slowly float up the screen. Collecting these letters spells out the magic word at the top of the screen. Once it’s complete, rescued rabbits will instead release magic fruits, stars, and clocks.

Wiz 'n' Liz - Master System - Gameplay Screenshot


Collecting these items isn’t mandatory but it can be very useful. Gathering magic fruits will fill the magic-meter which, when full, makes that fruit available to mix magic spells with in Home Land. Each clock collected will add five seconds to you timer for the next stage / land, and stars can be spent on fruits, more clocks, and even extra lives in the shop, but only once you’ve worked out the magic spell to summon it! There are eight standard lands to play through (as well as one secret final land which you must earn the right to play) and they are all multi-tiered and based on some pretty standard themes such as Grass Land, Snow Land, Desert Land, Dead Land, etc. Each is also looped and the stages contained therein are timed, with the amount of time you start with being determined by which of the three skill settings you choose before play.

Wiz 'n' Liz - Master System - Gameplay Screenshot
One of the most notable things about Wiz ‘n’ Liz is that it’s nearly bereft of enemies, with only a few bosses making up their ranks. As well as the skill settings, there are also three ‘levels’ to choose between – Apprentice, Wizard, or Sorcerer – and each time you finish one of them you’ll face a boss, such as a giant malevolent tree or sunflower, before progressing to the next level. The boss you face will be determined not only by the level but also the skill setting, so there’s a good few of them, and that’s one of my favourite things about this game – the range of difficulty settings mean it’s possible to just mess around having fun and trying out new magic spells, or to really test yourself and try to finish the game properly too! There is also a superbly frantic two-player mode in with the players race each other to see who can collect their rabbit-quota first.

Wiz 'n' Liz - Master System - Gameplay Screenshot
Despite taking this long to explain, Wiz ‘n’ Liz really is a fairly simple, albeit slightly strange game! Aesthetically, things are certainly superb. The opening title sequence features some lovely wibbly reflective water effects, for example, and the in-game graphics are nicely detailed, superbly animated, amusing, and full of character. The audio on offer here is of a similarly high standard. The sound effects are superb and there are lots of tunes, including one for each land. They are still among the best I’ve heard on the MegaDrive and must surely rank highly on the list of the composer, the great Matt Furniss’ achievements, perfectly suiting the fast, frantic, arcade-style gameplay. In fact, on a good few occasions I’ve decided to play this game just to give my ears a treat before zooming through the delightful lands, getting caught up in the addictive rabbit-rescuing antics once again!

Wiz 'n' Liz - Master System - Gameplay Screenshot

That’s the best thing about Wiz ‘n’ Liz – you can play it for five minutes, you can play if for two hours, it’s great fun either way. The magic spell tomfoolery complicates the otherwise simple gameplay a little but, whilst good fun, most of the fruit combinations produce little of substance, instead mostly comprising amusing mini-games, bonus time/points, or changing some minor aspect of the game (rabbit colour, for example). That’s one of the things that most puzzles me about this game – being a platform game, it’s not completely original, but it has so many unique features and charming touches, even if many of them are superficial – it’s still a fantastic game, so its lack of success is bewildering. Not only that but it was released at a time when 2D platform games were king and originality was scarce which only confuses matters further. It’s hard to believe that it’s only the second game from the developer that would go on to become the revered Bizarre Creations (responsible for Project Gotham Racing and Geometry Wars amongst others). Wiz ‘n’ Liz is a game I would urge any platform fan to try. Besides, how could you not like a game featuring rotating fruits with faces?

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=px-WdFMeYy8[/youtube]

RKS Score: 9/10

G.I. Joe

G.I. Joe Arcade Screenshot - Title Screen

G.I. Joe

Sometimes you can look back at something you liked as a child only to find out it was not as good as you remember. Honestly, I don’t feel that way about G.I. Joe the cartoon, but I do feel that way about the arcade game.

Produced by Konami in 1992, G.I. Joe the arcade game was based on the toy and the cartoon of the same name. For the time the game had pretty awesome graphics and looked almost as good as the animation. The game was run and gun with the camera placed behind the Joe as you constantly ran toward your target. You could choose from four Joe’s, Duke, Scarlett, Roadblock and a Snake Eyes who could talk for some reason.

Your mission was to take out a ton of Cobra troops and you only had a machinegun with unlimited ammo and limited rockets to do so. As said the game had you always looking forward and you could only move to the left and right and had crosshairs to shoot at the onslaught of troops and vehicles. The good thing is most of the bad guys had no problem running past you and most of them did not shoot.

You can easily recognize many of the Cobra troops in the game from Vipers to B.A.T.S including vehicles. There are three missions and the first mission his broken into three parts. In part one you are in an oil field and face Tomax and Xamot in tank/helicopter hybrids. The next mission has you on an airfield and you face a rocket resistant Metal Head. Finally, you head to Cobra’s weapon plant and face the Baroness in a huge green bomber. The second mission starts out in a jungle where you face Major Bluud at the end. Next, you find the secret Cobra base and take on Destro. The end comes on Cobra Commanders giant aircraft carrier.

The gameplay is nothing new. You began with a standard machine gun and about three rockets. As you took out soldiers, vehicles and buildings, you could earn health, more rockets and an upgrade to your machine gun making it auto-fire and increasing the size of the crosshairs. If you were hit, you would lose your powered up gun and when you died, you would be given three rockets again. The arcade version allowed you to continue right where you died like most arcade games do. In G.I. Joe, it really did not matter if you killed everyone or just those in your way, but since you could not jump, you had to sometimes shoot obstacles or vehicles coming right at you.

Again, the gameplay itself was not special, but the use of sounds and animation from the television series made it a hit at the time. I always wondered about all those troops and vehicles that got away, but I guess that is how the Joe’s stayed in business.