The Mummy

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The Mummy

The Mummy is good. No you, read that correctly.

The Mummy - Gameboy Color

Although it had no right to be anything but absolute codswallop, this licensed title is actually a rather lovable NES style puzzle platformer.

It’s nothing spectacular, but it keeps thing relatively straightforward and is all the better for it.

Perhaps it’s no surprise when you consider Konami were involved though.

The Mummy - Gameboy Color

Or, more accurately, Konami Compute Entertainment Nagoya – a now dissolved subsidiary of the huge Japanese Developer and Publisher.

The main thing that works about The Mummy is that it never feels that strongly tied to the movie. Instead it feels more linked to a game like Solomon’s Key – in spirit at least. This is a good thing.

It has you tackling self-contained stages, with the main task to collect a set amount of relics as you venture deeper into the tomb.

The Mummy - Gameboy Color

The most interesting element of the game is that there are three characters to play as, and you’ll have to utilise each of their unique abilities to reach the end.

Evelyn has the largest jump, Rick is good in combat, and Jonathan handles the explosives.

Most stages just involve pushing crates, jumping over pits and detonating explosives to open up walls, but it’s suitably enjoyable in a firmly old-school way.

The Mummy - Gameboy Color

There’s a fair bit of trial and error involved though, and sometimes you can mess up completing a level with one vital mis-step in the latter stages. A rewind feature would have been a welcome feature in such occasions.

Fortunately there’s a password system – finishing the game in one sitting would have been an impossible task.

Still, if you treat the game as an old-fashioned experience you won’t be disappointed – the dinky graphics and solid controls do feel like they’re from another era, but it’s largely an era you’ll be happy to revisit.

Just make sure you don’t pick up the woeful The Mummy Returns by mistake.

NBA 3 on 3 Featuring Kobe Bryant

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NBA 3 on 3 Featuring Kobe Bryant had no right to be good.

The artwork for the game’s cart and box looks goofy beyond belief (just look at Bryant’s expression in the picture below), the name is a bit rubbish, and it was only released in America.

All these factors would seem to point towards only one outcome – the game is a failure and has been rightly forgotten.

NBA 3 on 3 Featuring Kobe Bryant

But no. Somehow NBA 3 on 3 Featuring Kobe Bryant is a polished basketball extravaganza of a game, and is accessible for people who don’t even have an interest in the sport (such as myself).

It starts off as many sportsmen sponsored titles do though, with a pixellated image of the sports celebrity in question and some lively backing music.

All the options you’d expect are here as well – Pick Up (where you can play a one-off match), Season, Play-Offs and Rosters (where you can look at individual’s statistics and even create your own player).

NBA 3 on 3 Featuring Kobe Bryant

You can also choose from a huge number of teams, all with their own cool names and flashy logos, such as the Houston Rockets and the Sacramento Kings.

It’s the actual basketball itself where the game impresses though.

The small court is viewed from an isometric perspective, which could be a recipe for disaster, but actually works well- mainly because of the colourful but clear visuals.

There is some ghosting on certain players when there’s a lot of action on screen, but generally the game is impressive in the visuals department, especially for a GBC title.

NBA 3 on 3 Featuring Kobe Bryant - Gameboy - Screenshot - Image
Has Mr. Bryant just seen a ghost or something?

Matters are helped further by the controls being simple to understand, but still offering enough depth to stop things from becoming boring.

While attacking A is pass, B lets you pull off a fake shot, and A plus B lets you throw the ball.

Defending is usually difficult in basketball games, but here it’s actually fairly easy to pick up if you’re patient.

NBA 3 on 3 Featuring Kobe Bryant

B allows you to swap your player, and A lets you swipe to attempt to regain the ball. Doing this at the correct time is crucial, and thanks to the game’s clear graphics it’s easier to do than you’d expect.

So the game’s well designed and fun to play, but it’s elevated even further by its excellent presentation.

An example are the sound effects that you hear during games, such as when you dispossess someone of the ball, manage to score, or lose the ball yourself.

They all sound like SFX from an Atari 2600 shoot-em-up, and are therefore brilliant. It helps stops the game from feeling too serious too.

NBA 3 on 3 Featuring Kobe Bryant

Little cutscenes when you make a slam dunk, start a game, and win a match all add noticeably to the experience as well.

Overall, NBA 3 on 3 Featuring Kobe Bryant feels like it has had some real effort put into it, and it still holds up today.

As complete a portable sports game as you’ll find, this is well worth investigating if you’re into basketball – even if you’ll have to import a copy from the US.

Austin Powers: Oh, Behave

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Austin Powers: Oh, Behave

Classed as an oddity when it was released, time has made Austin Powers: Oh, Behave an even bigger curio.

Coming out alongside a Doctor Evil edition – subtitled Welcome To My Underground Lair! – it attempts to be a computer in a cart.

Austin Powers Oh Behave - gameboy color

If that sounds like a ridiculous concept – that’s because it is.

Unfortunately the developer seemed to have spent most of its time thinking up the game’s concept – and forgot to actually make it fun.

The game opens with a main menu set-up like a PC desktop, with three folders on the far left of the screen. To access them you move your cursor onto them and click them with B (A would have surely been a better choice?).

Austin Powers Oh Behave - gameboy color

Each folder contains three programs, with one allowing you to alter the sounds, cursors and Color Scheme. This folder is incorrectly labelled as ‘groovy stuff.’

The other two folders are more interesting, if only by default.

One offers incredible basic version of computer programs. A word processor is dubbed ‘Austin’s Pad’, there’s an ‘internet’ program which allows you to look through descriptions of the film’s characters, and finally a calculator (or, as it is deemed here, a shagulator).

Austin Powers Oh Behave - gameboy color

Alas, these will only maintain your interest for mere minutes (even with Gameboy printer support for the word processor), and you’ll probably end up looking into the games folder for some proper fun.

Sadly, the games on offer are incredibly basic.

You get a Rock, Paper, Scissors game which allows you to face various enemies from the first film, a dull Pac-Man inspired title called Mojo Maze (see screenshot above), and a simple board game titled Domination (otherwise known as Othello).

Austin Powers Oh Behave - gameboy color

That really is it, and ultimately there’s little contained in the cart that could be described as fun.

The only thing it has going for it is its original concept – and even that isn’t that much of a plus point.

Austin Powers Oh Behave - gameboy color

It goes too far in wanting to be a pocket PC, with an example being that you have to actually tell the cart to shut down before you turn your Gameboy off. If you don’t the cart pretends to do a virus search when you play it again. Bizarre.

Overall, this ‘game’ is only worth playing today if you really have a desire to see how far a brave experiment can go horribly wrong.

James Bond 007

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James Bond 007

If you were to take a guess, you’d probably expect James Bond 007 to be a bland and utterly unremarkable platformer of some kind.

So for it to be a largely unconventional RPG style adventure is a very welcome suprise.

Although it never gets near being of the same quality of its obvious inspiration, Link’s Awakening, James Bond 007 offers up a virtual Bond escapade that feel genuinely different to the norm for the franchise.

James_Bond-gameboy

The game eases you in, with the first stage set in China. You’re tasked with finding some secret plans by fighting your way through a temple.

There’s no actual action until you’ve fixed a bridge and talked to several villagers, which definitely goes against the Bond tradition of an explosive opening.

Things get going once you steal the plans though, with several thugs and a boss (femme fatale Zhong Mae) standing in the way of your escape.

James_Bond-gameboy

This is where the main similarities to Zelda begin. To equip weapons and items you press select, where you can assign actions to the A and B buttons.

When you start you’ll likely equip just a block and a punch, but eventually you can choose from an arsenal of guns, machetes and various Q gadgets.

Action is admittedly stilted throughout the game, due to the limited size of the character sprites that are used, but bigger bosses do usually require a bit more than button mashing to defeat.

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Puzzles in the game are generally simplistic, and are usually nothing more than dressed up fetch or search quests, but there are occasions where a little thinking is required.

One example is early on in the game, where you have to sneak past a guard in a bar. To do so you need to shoot out the light so he can’t see you. There’s even a quip – “I left him in the dark” – to enjoy once you’ve complete this task.

James_Bond-gameboy

Its somewhat ironic that its the Bond license that maintains your interest though.

The quips, the globe trotting (locations include China, London and Kurdistan) and the fan service are what really keep you playing.

Bond flirting with Moneypenny, things going wrong in Q’s lab (sending a jet-chair through a wall is a highlight) and M’s blunt but caring attitude to 007 are all present and correct.

James_Bond-gameboy

It’s therefore safe to say that James Bond 007 probably wouldn’t be worth playing if it didn’t star England’s most famous fictional spy, but is undoubtedly still worth looking into if you’re fan of the franchise.

A little like Timothy Dalton, the game tries something a little different and isn’t entirely successful – but is still worth investigating if you get the chance.

Kid Icarus: Uprising

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Kid Icarus: Uprising

I never played the original Kid Icarus on NES, but I do know of it’s notable legacy. I did play the sequel on  the Nintendo Gameboy called Kid Icarus: Of Myths and Monsters and was rather unimpressed. Like many others, I did like the “new” Pit (the hero of Kid Icarus) in Super Smash Bros. Brawl on Wii. I guess it’s no wonder that Super Smash Bros. creator Masahiro Sakurai was asked to make a sequel for the modern generation of video games.

kid icarus uprising 3DS

The game features a single and multiplayer mode. The story sets off with Pit being asked by the goddess Palutena to protect the Earth from the revival of the evil Medusa. Most of the levels start with flying missions (similar to StarFox) but due to Pit’s limited flight powers, the later part of levels finish while you travel on-foot.

kid icarus uprising pit vs boss
 The non-flight sections are almost like Zelda meets Metroid Prime. Pit can travel around dungeons and castles with plenty of secrets. At the same time defeating enemies and bosses with different strategies and weak-points. The online-multiplayer features two modes with a versus mode and battle royale though while they are fun the better part of the game is the story mode.
kid icarus uprising 3DS
Overall Kid Icarus: Uprising will most likely leave you unimpressed at first, but after the first ten levels it will get remarkably better and frankly pretty awesome. I also thought the voice-acting was superb and the dialogue and story between Pit’s friends and foes was hilarious and brilliant. I would give it a better recommendation but the only thing really holding it back is an uncomfortable control scheme similar to Metroid Prime Hunters on DS. I really do think the Wii or WiiU would have been a better platform for the game, but maybe a sequel one day.

Super Monkey Ball Jr.

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You know those moments in the Gamecube version where you couldn’t believe you just managed to avoid death? Well, in Jr, those moments increase tenfold. ~Simon Reed

Super Monkey Ball Jr.

It strikes me as a little odd that I haven’t revisited a Monkey Ball game yet, but that’s probaby as the only ones I own that can be classed as retro are the Gamecube original and this, the GBA incarnation.

The irony of this is that they’re technically the same game in terms of the levels offered. So the real fun is eking out the differences.

The most obvious difference is, of course, the graphics.

Super Monkey Ball Jr - Gameboy Advanced

Jr is still looks as good as you could hope though, with the simple maze layouts losing little in their transition to the GBA in terms of clarity.

After all, Monkey Ball has never been a series that’s relied upon its looks – sure, everything apart from the mazes are flat 2D cutouts, but that doesn’t detract much from your enjoyment.

But that’s the one sad thing about the game – when it was released it was held up as a mini technical marvel, much like other 3D titles on the GBA (Star X anyone?), and therefore may have been treated better by reviewers as a result.

And now, with its ‘technical marvel’ status now firmly a thing of the past, the game has to rely purely on its content.

Fortunately, it still holds up rather well in that department. But boy, is it difficult.

Super Monkey Ball Jr - Gameboy Advanced

For one there’s no analogue control, with the d-pad a workable but hardly satisfying alternative.

You know those moments in the Gamecube version where you couldn’t believe you just managed to avoid death? Well, in Jr, those moments increase tenfold.

Every quickly taken corner feels tougher than it should be, and even the added feature to adjust the gradient of the courses with A and B doesn’t make things much easier.

One nice touch is that you can save during the single player stages though – when you’re trying to scrape you way though expert this is a godsend.

So what about the mini-games? Well, you have to unlock them with points from the single player first of all, which is irritating, but aside from that they’re pretty good efforts.

Super Monkey Ball Jr - Gameboy Advanced

First you have Duel, which is basically the main game but with two players. A solid addition.

Then there’s Fight, which basically sees you bouncing around tiny arenas punching each other with oversized boxing gloves. It’s chaotic, but can get dull suprisingly quickly.

Bowling is impressively similar to its home console counterpart, and Golf is as quietly addictive as you’d expect.

But no, there’s no Monkey Target. Perhaps it may have been too tough to pull off on the GBA, but still, it would have been nice if it had been attempted.

Even if it looked atrocious I would have welcomed it with open arms.

So that’s Super Monkey Ball Jr. As long as you don’t expect it to be as good as the home console version you’ll have fun with it.

And it’s miles better than the recent 3DS outing.

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

Resident Evil Gaiden

Resident Evil -Gaiden
While Capcom canned the Gameboy Color remake of the the original game, that didn’t stop them from developing on the system completely. They made a “kiddie” version of Resident Evil for the GBC near the end of it’s lifespan.
Resident Evil -Gaiden
The game starred Leon Kennedy from Resident Evil 2, and Barry Burton who was a side character in RE1 and RE3.

Resident Evil -Gaiden

The game was pretty true to the series in a couple of ways. The trademark ammo was there.

Resident Evil -Gaiden

So was your healing items.

Resident Evil -Gaiden

And of course your arsenal.

Resident Evil -Gaiden

The plot of the game had you stuck on a cruise ship full of zombies. Someone has got to fire that travel agent who books things like that. What’s next? Snakes on an airline flight?

Resident Evil -Gaiden

So the rest of the game was kinda like Metal Gear on NES.

Resident Evil -Gaiden

Except battles went first person once you encountered a zombie. Except crow-bar equipped zombies with ketchup on them doesn’t scare me much.

One Piece: Treasure Wars 2

One Piece- Treasure Wars 2

Format- Wonderswan Colour

Genre- Board game

Oh man, oh man, oh man. I have no idea what they’re saying. I have no idea what they’re doing. I have not got a clue what that’s supposed to represent – and that thing? Not even an inkling of an idea.

So goes an average session with One Piece: Treasure Wars 2 (full subtitle: Buggyland e Youkoso), when you don’t speak Japanese.

One Piece- Treasure Wars 2

You might think this means that I can’t really say much about the game from an accurate critical viewpoint. And you’d be right. But that doesn’t mean I can’t make generalised, largely unhelpful comments. So here we go…

As soon as you start, the game has clearly been given some love in the presentation department. A cool musical beat thumps away in the background, and although it may be repetitive, it helps keep me slightly entertained.

One Piece- Treasure Wars 2

And that’s just as well too, seeing as the opening cutscenes are lengthy and jam packed with incomprehensible dialogue.

Not even the dinky character model animations, which are detailed and quite expressive, can help me understand what exactly is going on.

The menu options, once you get there, are thankfully largely in English though, and you can make your way to the main game mode with little fuss.

You choose a character from the many available (I chose a smug looking guy in a suit), and begin the game proper.

One Piece- Treasure Wars 2

It’s kind of disappointing then, that this seems to be little more than a boardgame style effort.

You wait for the CPU characters to roll the dice and move around the board (you can’t seem to skip this either), and then when it’s your go you do the same.

The main aim seems to be to collect items and the like, and then use them against the other characters on the board. You get a mini cutscene every time you use an item, which play out a little like the battle scenes in Advance Wars.

For some reason the CPU opponents seemed to have a grudge against me specifically, and handed me my ass on a plate. I simply started the board from the start once I had been bashed enough, so i’m not quite clear on how you win the game.

Despite the clear language barrier, I still don’t think the game is particularly exciting. It’s slow paced, and there’s little action to get the gamer with less cerebral tastes even slightly excited.

What did get me excited though, was that the cartridge itself has little red and green lights that flash while your playing. I couldn’t believe this at first, and I don’t think any other Wonderswan games in my collection do this. Why this cart does this, I do not know. It’s very cool though.

Perhaps the fact that this is my most memorable part of the game says it all. Avoid, unless you’re a One Piece fan – who also happens to speak/read Japanese.

Hydra

Atari-lynx_Hydra

Format- Atari Lynx

Genre- Racing style shooter thing

Another Lynx game that looks better than it plays. This is getting tiresome. I didn’t have high hopes for Hydra admittedly, but still.

Atari-lynx_Hydra

The game doesn’t start well. The cartridge has a very boring label, and the main menu screen has a ditty in the background that seems to be trying to make your head explode by reaching the highest pitch possible. Listen to it and you’ll know what I mean.

Getting into the actual game, you have three maps to choose from – easy, medium and hard. I choose easy, and i’m greeted by a screen of a boat on a river.

Atari-lynx_Hydra

The boat is fuelled, i’m ready to go, I press A to accelerate, and…nothing. B? Nothing. Up? Nothing. Hmmm.

Finally, I choose down and the boat judders into life. Down. You press down on the d-pad to accelerate. Up is slow down. Genius.

Atari-lynx_Hydra

I can kind of get what the developer was trying to do – up to tip the boat back to slow down – but in reality it doesn’t really work, especially with a d-pad as rubbishy as the one the Lynx possesses. It’s very difficult to accelerate and have a decent level of control at the same time.

The driving bit of the game itself is simple though, or so it seems. You clip along the river at a decent pace, shooting bad guys and collecting weird sparkly orbs. Suddenly, you find yourself running out of gas. Where are the gas pick ups?

Atari-lynx_Hydra

There are some items floating above the river, but I had no idea how to get them. Inevitably, it’s soon game over. You can take hits from enemies and restart where you died, but if you get an empty fuel tank, it’s all over for you.

So I end up looking through the instruction manual – something I loathe to do – and find out jump is the option 2 button. The one at the bottom right of the system.

Although you can just about reach it, it makes an awkward control system even more of a fudge. And it’s not a slab of sweet fudge either, but a bitter, out of date rotting mess of fudge. In such an action orientated title such as this, these muddled controls are near unforgivable.

So eventually I get a grasp of the controls (as well as I can), and the game improves a little. It does look very nice indeed, with 3D caverns and reasonably detailed enemies.

But in the end, it’s just all just works to cover up for the over complicated controls. If only the developers had worked as hard on making the game suited to the Lynx’s control scheme as much as they had on the portable’s graphical capabilities, Hydra could have been a winner.

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.

Wolfenstein 3D: Atari Jaguar

Format- Atari Jaguar

Genre- FPS

Wolfenstein3D_Atari-Jaguar

You’ve no doubt played Wolfenstein, or are at least aware of its existence. But have you played it on the Jag? You really should you know – it’s really rather good.

Remember back in my Power Drive Rally piece I said there were a few reasons why the Jaguar wasn’t completely rubbish? This is another of those reasons.

The Jaguar wasn’t 64 bit, but it could churn out a simple game like Wolfenstein with nary a glitch. The whole thing is super-smooth and one of slickest versions of the game it’s possible to play.

Wolfenstein3D_Atari-Jaguar

Enemies are large and detailed, and their soundbites always make me laugh. Why they say their positions (‘Luftwaffe!’ ‘SS!’) when they strike is beyond me. It’s like they’re Pokemon trained Nazis or something. No wonder they didn’t win the war (check this great Youtube video of Hitler’s reaction to the Wolfenstein story unfolding).

The bosses add a much needed shot of variety as well, and their catchphrases are often repeated by me in real life, i’m that sad. Classics such as ‘i’m coming for yer!’ have lived long in my memory.

Wolfenstein3D_Atari-Jaguar

In many versions of Wolfenstein there are far too many levels between boss stages, and they wear you down at times with their somewhat monotonous layouts. Here though, a fair few levels have been snipped, and this results in a far more manageable and fun experience.

Although it’s archaic in many, many ways the game is still good for a quick shot of retro blasting fun. Talking about it actually makes me want to play it again, which is always a good sign.

Wolfenstein3D_Atari-Jaguar

The Jag version also has the useful feature of three save slots which can be saved to while playing, by tapping either the 1, 2 or 3 buttons on the controllers keypad. No pausing is necessary. Just make sure you don’t press them when you mean to look at the map screen number button. This feature really helps to make the game an even more instantaneous, fuss free fun-fest.

There’s is an oft-cited problem that the game’s enemy sprites were 2D however, and could therefore only be seen facing you. This mean that there was no way to sneak up on them. This isn’t really a problem for me though – who really attempts to be stealthy in Wolfenstein?

Wolfenstein3D_Atari-Jaguar

The only minor annoyance this 2D enemy issue really creates is when you enter a new room. Enemies can open fire on you from the sides, with you having no chance to fire back and avoid damage. This results in you bobbing into a room and quickly back out again, a tactic you have to use for the later, tougher levels.

As with most Jag games it’s hard to find cheap, but if you have the console it’s worth picking up. I’ll be looking at the other retro Wolfenstein titles I have over the next few months, but this is definitely one of the best.

Sonic The Hedgehog Triple Trouble

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This is a nice enough portable rendering of Sonic, but it fails to deal with any of the issues that have always been present in the series. ~Simon Reed

Sonic the Hedgehog Triple Trouble

Sonic is not a character I have ever really warmed to. I prefer my platforming to be precise and skillfull, with new challenges introduced throughout. Sonic, however, seems to be purely about running fast and letting his (usually lovely looking) backdrops become a blur. That’s not something I can really abide by.

Anyway, that’s my feeling about Sonic, and most of his games. Triple Trouble doesn’t change this mindset, but if you’re a fan I suppose it’s a pretty good effort, especially for a Game Gear game.

sonic_the_hedgehog_triple_trouble

It starts with a little cutscene with Sonic chasing Knuckles, who has taken some gems. Tails bring up the rear (i’m saying nothing). Eggman (or Dr Robotnik, whatever), then appears, and holds a gem. Nothing more is explained. Whether you end up having to take on two enemies in the game is a mystery.

Next, the title screen pops up with Sonic’s face. A smaller Knuckles appears and laughs like a dick. This was obviously before he wimped out and became a good guy, letting in freaks like Shadow into the increasingly cack Sonic enemy cast.

sonic_the_hedgehog_triple_trouble

I chose to play as Sonic instead of Tails in this play-through by the way. I don’t think I need to justify my choice.

Great Turquoise is the first world. It is neither turquoise or great, but whatever. Basically, it’s Green Hill Zone. You can easily rush your way through to the boss stage, and I only really noticed two things during my dash.

First is that the water in the game is very odd, with weird flickering dots appearing on top of it. Not particularly easy on the eyes. The other is that no matter how many rings you hold, when you get hit you only drop around 5, meaning that the difficulty is a little higher than a Mega-Drive Sonic title. It also robs you of seeing the rings cascading in every direction – personally one of my favourite little touches of the series.

sonic_the_hedgehog_triple_trouble

The Boss for the first set of levels is a flying turtle thing. You start in a pool of water, with the fight eventually reaching ground level. It’s tough to hit the boss in this part as he’s high off screen. You just have to spring up and hope you hit him, instead of the other way round.

After sending him to turtle-robo hell you’ll see Knuckles on top of a cliff. He laughs like a dick (again) and roasts you with a wall of fire. How he set up such a thing I have no idea, especially as it seems to come out of nowhere.

sonic_the_hedgehog_triple_trouble

Sunset Park is the next stage, and is a solid but unspectacular world, full of slightly unfair deaths. Spikes, flying hammer bees and exploding platforms are all frustrating obstacles, but you can scrape your way through eventually.

The boss for this world is an even bigger pain though. Set on a moving train you have limited control of your character and must hit a gun firing directly at you. What’s worse is that you have to start the whole level, which is slow (for a Sonic game) and boring, from the start if you die.

I think i’ve seen enough from those two worlds though. Basically, it’s as I said in the introduction. This is a nice enough portable rendering of Sonic, but it fails to deal with any of the issues that have always been present in the series. Oh and one last thing – Sonic The Hedgehog: Pocket Adventure on Neo-Geo Pocket is much, much better than this.

Pengo

 

Pengo Cover

I probably should have liked this game more than I did. Pengo is an overhead maze-puzzler, and I generally love these games. The ability to use my brains (for once) in a video game, add a little action, sprinkle in some cutesy characters and music, normally would equal “retro arcade goodness”. But, here’s why Pengo didn’t really do it for me:

Pengo Cover
Sega put out Pengo, a cute red penquin, in 1982. I remember this being rather popular, but for whatever reason didn’t give it much of a look. Set in a maze of ice-blocks, the goal is to kill all of these blob-like creatures, called Sno-Bees…even though they could have just used bees, I guess…or called them “Sno-blobs”…not really getting this. Anyway, you push-slide the blocks around, which will shatter when they hit something…preferably a blob. After you kill one (there will be 3 on-screen), another will hatch from an ice block and you’ll continue smashing them until they stop hatching, usually around 8-10. When the level first starts, the blocks from which the blobs hatch will briefly “flash”, allowing you to destroy those blocks, if you wish, before they hatch, making it easier to finish the level…..in theory.

Pengo Gameplay screenshot
Here’s my problem: The blobs don’t move like the slow-asses I’ve seen in the movies. Matter of fact, it seems like they’re actually faster than me. They melt-through my ice-block weapons on the way to me, and I can’t tell you how many times I was waiting behind a block to shove and they started melting it before I had a chance to use it. I was literally spending all my time running for my life, and just tossing ice randomly. I haven’t panicked this much in a game since the first night of Left 4 Dead. I’m sure there are plenty of people out there that have “mastered” the game, but holy shit, it was tough for me. The controls just seemed a bit off, which added to the frustration.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0hdDKxfrAbs[/youtube]
There are a lot of ways to gain points in the game; obviously killing blobs, but also there are 3 diamond blocks on every level. These are indestructable and make for a good weapon, but if you’re able to line the three up, you’ll receive bonus points. Again, I don’t know how you’d ever have time for this…good luck. Also, the quicker you finish a level, the more bonus you receive…capping off with 5000 points if you do it under 20 SECONDS!!!! Christ….
I do love the animation and music, and I’m sure this is a well-loved classic…..but I don’t.

Overall 5/10

Ads From The Past: Retro Rewind

Street Fighter 2010 NES ad
When Street Fighter 2 was taking over the world Capcom took the opportunity to try to sell a crappy game with its name. Street Fighter 2010 -The Final Fight- was the result. The game is quite difficult and can be very tedious especially if you don’t have any patience. 

 

Classic video game ads
I gotta say I rather enjoy the ads where they showcase a lot more games in just one page especially if they aren’t that good to begin with.
Ninja Spirit ad
Ninja Spirit for the Turbo Grafx is well kinda of bland. I just don’t understand why the Turbo Grafx ads were so unappealing. They deliver a message but why does the background of every ad I have seen so far for a Turbo Grafx game the color white. Where these guys trying to save on ink? I sure hope not….
Nightmare on Elrm Street ad
For such an awesome movie this was such a horrible game. Leave it up to LJN to screw things up over and over again. Enter Nightmare on Elm Street for the NES. The game is at least somewhat playable and beatable if you have the patience for it. I dare you to play through this one!

Konami Handhelds ad

Konami sure took advantage of the handheld craze back in the day. They released many handhelds from their favorite titles. I was lucky enough to find a TMNT handheld to add to my collection but I’ll surely be looking out for these ones.
Toys r us ad
Here we have a nice ad from Toys R Us. They carried everything back in the day. I remember how they used to have their consoles for you to play the latest games on….Those were the days….
Starship Hector NES ad
This one is based on the game Starship Hector for the NES. The game was released by Hudson Soft so you can expect it to be something above average. Hudson Soft always delivered great games you know.

Phelios & Burning Force Genesis ads

Continuing with the Sega trend, we have yet another ad from it. The ad is very simple and has a nice look. The Pac-Man dude helps with giving the ad some attention. As good as the cover art may look, I’m sure these games are just your average Sega titles but I could be wrong.
Pictionary NES ad
Making crappy games interesting was a huge part of video gaming back in the late 80s and 90s and this is just one of the bunch. I’m not saying the game is horrible but it’s not something I would play on a daily basis or in a session of retro gaming goodness. The ad itself portrays it as a game that anyone can pick up and play although if you were smart enough to not buy into the ad, you’ll be good. For the rest of you, run for your lives!
SNK Video Games Ad It mainly shows off some of the good titles from SNK before they dumped Nintendo and decided to go up against them. There is one title on this ad that I think should be in anyone’s list, care to guess? The answer is Crystalis!

Pokemon Red/Blue(Gameboy)

Pokemon Blue - Nintendo Gameboy Gameplay Screenshot

This time around we visit the gameboy library to pick out a must have RPG for the memorable handheld. Pokemon Red/Blue(doesn’t matter which version) offered gameplay like no other back in 1998. The goal is simple, create your own dream team of six monsters and battle it out against all who stand in your way. On the way of course, you’ll encounter other challenges like breeding Pokemon as well as collecting badges. Of course, you want to be a Pokemon master so you’ll need the badges anyways.

Pokemon Red - Nintendo Gameboy Box

 

Some of the other factors you have to take account for is the strategy because each Pokemon is weak against a certain type, you’ll need to come up with an strategy against all known Pokemon(151 if I remember right). Catching the same Pokemon more than once is a good strategy since all Pokemon are not the same. You can even start out by catching five Rattatas and leveling them up until you see which one is the most powerful one.

Pokemon Blue - Nintendo Gameboy Box

 

This game can give you months and months of fun. Apart from the story you follow, you can even battle friends via link cable with two gameboys. Of course, it’ll be real hard nowadays to find someone that’s still playing Red or Blue to battle against, but back in 1998, this was what it was all about to us geeks and nerds. I still remember looking at a magazine that had a report on Pokemon and would have photos of kids in the mall linking up their gameboys to play against each other in a good old Pokemon battle. THose days will never return, but new Pokemon games will.

Did you know? Pokemon was released in Japan back in 1996 but we didn’t got the games until 1998? It sure is a long wait for what became a phenomenon….

The Daily Vid: Tiger Electronic Handheld Commercial

Tiger Electronics Handheld Bo Jackson Football and Baseball
Tiger Electronics Handheld Bo Jackson Football and Baseball

The golden age of handhelds was a wonderful time to live in, I guess it would be like it is now with every kid having a cellphone except back then we had Tiger handhelds and some of the really cool people (me) had the watch version.

Tiger game out with a ton of handheld games which if you look at them now are not impressive in the least, but back then they were totally awesome. The standard handheld was just a simple LCD screen with a picture behind it representing whatever the game board was to be.

For instance, if the game was baseball a picture of a baseball field would be grafted onto the screen and it would never change. When you played the game tiny black icons of players and the ball would appear in specific designated areas. Sure, most of the games were simple and difficult at the same time. The lack of graphics sometimes made the games hard to play, but hey we had a video game in our hands.

What was really cool were the advance games. These handhelds (term used loosely) were much bigger and normally came in the shape of a vehicle. Some of the more famous handhelds were Afterburner and Outrun. Those games did not have graphics that were any better, but the large screen and the fact they were shaped like the cockpit of an F-16 or a race care made it much cooler.

You can still find a bunch on handhelds on sites like Amazon or check out the Handheld museum.