MAME of the Game: I spent a night in Super Castlevania

So this week J.A. decided to take M.A.M.E of the game back to its roots and play one of his favorite Super NES games, Super Castlevania.

We are not sure if he was drinking or not, ok, honestly he is normally like this, but we liked it so why not run with it. He played through the first three stages of the game and promises to deliver the rest in a future episode. So here’s hoping you enjoy his madness.

Check out our review of Super Castlevania 4.

Here you can listen to OST.

Check out our other M.A.M.E of the Game episodes.

Goof Troop

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Goof Troop

Capcom & Disney just fit together so well. You have Disney’s memorable characters backed up by Capcom’s outstanding record of classic game after classic game. Back in the day the Super Nintendo was THE machine to own Capcom games on. It had Street Fighter 2 before anyone else, it had Mario & it had some of Capcom’s finest Disney releases, including Goof Troop & the 3 Mickey’s Magic Quest games.

Goof Troop - Disney - Capcom - SNES

While the 3 Mickey Mouse games were platformers, Capcom decided to make Goof Troop a Zeldaesque title. The view is similar to Zelda, the gameplay is similar to Zelda, you have some items that were in Zelda making appearances here. So why don’t we just play Zelda??? Good question.

Goof Troop - Disney - Capcom - SNES

Let’s answer that question with another question. What are the similarities between Zelda & Goof Troop? Here’s a list:

– Same viewpoint
– Same items such as keys, the hookshot & a candle (instead of a lamp)
– It’s just as fun

Goof Troop - Disney - Capcom - SNES

That third one is the clincher. It’s just as fun as playing Zelda. Yes it blatantly rips off certain parts of the A Link To The Past, but it stands on its own as a fun game that’s a lot easier than Zelda & is going to appeal to kids.

Goof Troop - Disney - Capcom - SNES

For this review I managed to finish this in one sitting, it really is a very easy game & extra lives are in abundance. You collect red gems for extra lives & pieces of fruit to build up your life metre. Cherries give you 1 heart & bananas give you 2. Once you have 6 hearts you get an extra life. This is both good & bad, you see, when you have no hearts & you get hit you die. When you have hearts & get hit you can continue. If you get 6 hearts & then another life, it means you have an extra life but no hearts, so whereas before you could get hit & continue you now die when hit. It’s a very strange setup.

Goof Troop - Disney - Capcom - SNES

Goof Troop - Disney - Capcom - SNES

The game features little cut scenes that explain the story over the course of the game. Goofy, Max, Pete & PJ were out fishing together in separate boats. All of a sudden Pete & PJ’s boat is taken by a pirate ship. Goofy & Max go to rescue them but along the way find out that Pete resembles Keelhaul Pete, the pirate’s leader hence the problem. The pirates thought they were rescuing their leader. Pete of course takes advantage of this, but when the real Keelhaul Pete returns the rescue mission kicks up a notch as Pete & PJ really are in danger now.

Goof Troop - Disney - Capcom - SNES

Goof Troop - Disney - Capcom - SNES

The player can control either Goofy or Max, or in 2 player mode one player controls each of them. Goofy is the slower of the 2 but doesn’t slow down when holding an item, whereas Max is quick, but does slow down when holding something. Max can sometimes take 2 goes to hit an enemy whereas Goofy only takes 1. I preferred to use Max as he’s quick to get away when you don’t have a weapon, but it’s down to personal preference.

Goof Troop - Disney - Capcom - SNES

The controls are simple, you walk around with the D pad, B picks up, throws objects & allows you to catch, Y uses an item selected & L changes the selected item. Strangely enough Select pauses the game instead of Start. I always find it odd when a game does this, Turtles in Time is the same. Why the different button? Who knows…

Goof Troop - Disney - Capcom - SNES

So what are some of the differences between this game & Zelda? Firstly when the hookshot (or rope gun as the manual calls it) is used to bridge a gap the rope stays in place & you lose the item. There’s no overworld, the game is just a series of levels, & the game tends to focus more on puzzle solving than Zelda which is more action based.

Goof Troop - Disney - Capcom - SNES

Also unlike Zelda you can only carry 2 items at a time, but it’s not a big issue here as you don’t need to backtrack after leaving an important item behind. The game is structured so it feels like a lazy trek through the levels. That’s the best way I can describe it really. There are no real tense moments where you’ll get stuck, or face an enemy that’s difficult to beat. If you do get stuck there are passwords for each of the worlds.

Goof Troop - Disney - Capcom - SNES

The music gives the game a very Disney feel & the final level music just feels right for being on a pirate ship. The sound effects fit the gameplay well, but there’s nothing really special to note about them.

If you like Zelda but have either played it to death or just want to relax a little then Goof Troop is the game for you. The levels are a walk in the park, the bosses aren’t terribly taxing & it’s just plain fun. A bit too easy & a bit short, but it does the job.

Goof Troop - Disney - Capcom - SNES

 

I give this one 80%. It’s a lot of fun, but way too easy.

Lufia 2: Rise of the Sinistrals

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Lufia 2

 Last time, we talked about Lufia for the SNES. This time around, we will be discussing the sequel, Lufia 2 for the same console. The first one introduced us to an amazing world of fantasy with an awesome story and great gameplay. This one offers another piece of the story. Lufia 2 is actually a prequel to the first installment. The game covers the story of the heroes who’s mission was to slain the sinistrals. You will definitely enjoy this and understand more of the story of Lufia. It’s a great way to combine the story of both games into one. Lets check out what this game is all about.
Lufia 2
 Another beautiful score of music accompanies this amazing game. The music is enjoyable from start to finish. You just can’t get enough of it. You’ll eventually end up adding it to your Ipod to listen on the go. The sound effects are just as good. You’ll be listening to 16-bit sound effects at its best.
Lufia 2
The graphics are even more detailed and beautiful than the first. The best part about a second entry of a game is the various improvements you observe from one game to the other. Not to say, this game was released in the console’s mature years so it was only fair to see various changes. You’ll definitely love this one.
Lufia 2
The gameplay is as enjoyable as the first one. You have the classic random encounters and you can even catch monsters to help you fight your battles. This was before Pokemon by the way! You’ll be doing some classic grinding and dungeon exploring. it never gets too old though. Increasing your stats and finding better equipment has never been so much fun in a 16-bit game.
Lufia 2
So being an RPG, you’ll have to play at least 40 hours to finish this one but the replay value comes in when you level up and go to the various dungeons. It’s very enjoyable even if it’s your only run in the game. It’ll never get too boring as you’ll always have a goal in mind. Why not reach level 99 with all your characters and become the ultimate monster hunter?
Lufia 2
The game is another gem for the SNES. If you are an RPG fan, then this one has to be in your collection. There is definitely no doubt about that! It’s a pricey gem but you’ll definitely see your money’s worth, even to this day!

Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed

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Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed

When Super Mario Kart landed on the SNES back in 1992, it was one of the most beloved racing games of all-time. Sega countered Mario with Sonic R on the Sega Saturn, and I considered it one of the most horrible games I’ve played. I did play a little of the original Sonic & All-Stars Racing on the Xbox 360, and was honestly shocked by its quality. Impressed by it’s predecessor, I decided to see if the sequel was any good.
Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed
Like Mario Kart, Transformed is a simple go-kart (sorta) racer with power-ups that either help you or slow down your opponents.  While I wasn’t terribly familiar with the original, I can tell the new feature in the game is the ability for your car to morph. It can fly in the air as a plane or ride the waves as a boat.
Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed
 The single player features a rather impressive world tour mode which features challenges at your own pace. The good majority of the challenges are against A.I. opponents in a race to the finish. But there are also some unique ones here and there like a drift challenge and a challenge that has you maneuvering through traffic. And of course like any racing game from this decade, an online-mode to race friends and strangers.
Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed
Overall I ended up enjoying Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed a good bit. I thought the game had surpassed Mario Kart in offering a more full-filling campaign mode. Though the actual racing isn’t as fun as Mario Kart, and the boat and plane transformations aren’t that revolutionary. When compared to Sonic R, it’s a masterpiece, but overall Mario is still a good bit better than Sonic.
Score: 7 out of 10

Lufia & the Fortress of Doom

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Lufia & the Fortress of Doom

This week we have an incredible RPG for the SNES. It’s Lufia & the Fortress of Doom for the SNES. The game was released by Taito and it’s one of the most memorable RPGs for the 16-bit console. If you want an awesome old school RPG adventure with an incredible story and more, then you have come to the right choice! Lets take a look!
Lufia & the Fortress of Doom
 The music is just awesome. Taito had some memorable music in its time. You will definitely love the soundtrack of this game so much that you’ll have it on your Ipod! Also, the sound effects are superb 16-bit beauties. You can’t go wrong with this one.
Lufia & the Fortress of Doom
 The graphics are the usual RPG graphics for a 16-bit game back in the day. They aren’t at Chrono Trigger standards, but they are definitely good for the eye. You will not be confused in this game as to where is there is a door or not.
Lufia & the Fortress of Doom
 The gameplay is what makes this game shine. It’s fun turn based classic style. You can’t go wrong with this choice of gameplay. Each character has their own style of fighting and can help other members out. If you keep a good balance of attacks and magic, your fights will be a lot easier than you might think. The game mostly takes places in caves where you must explore to your heart’s content. Definitely, addicting gameplay overall.
Lufia & the Fortress of Doom
 RPGs don’t usually have much replay value as the games themselves take hours and hours to complete but there are extra dungeons and what not that makes some outshine. This one is more about going back to previous areas and see if anything has changed. This like many RPGs is not a game you would want to return to multiple times unless you’re deep in love with it.
Lufia & the Fortress of Doom
 One of the most awesome RPGs for the SNES and a must play for the console. If you are just getting into RPGs, then this is the best way to go especially if you’re a fan of 16-bit games. This is a must have for your collection.

The Simpsons: Bart’s Nightmare

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The Simpsons: Bart’s Nightmare

Bart’s Nightmare is often considered one of the better retro Simpsons games as well – although that may be because it’s not competing in a particularly strong field of candidates.

By today’s standards Bart’s Nightmare is an overly difficult and strangely structured beast – but it still has some interesting elements.

One plus point is the game’s presentation, which as you can tell from the screenshot is very colorful and quite unique.

simpsons-the-barts-nightmare

This is mainly as the developers used a hand drawn art style, which ends up portraying the bright colors of The Simpsons’s cartoon world quite well. It looks a little ramshackle by today’s standards, but still maintains a certain charm.

The music used is also quite strange, exuding an oddly lulling quality that is very hard to accurately describe (as you can tell from that hash of a sentence).

In terms of plot the game sees you play as Bart, who falls asleep at his desk while attempting to do his homework.

simpsons-the-barts-nightmare

You are then taken into an odd dream world where you must recover nine pages to get back to reality.

To find the pages you have to scour the game’s hub (see above), which sees you avoiding crazed mail boxes, old ladies who shoot kisses, bouncing basketballs and so on.

Finding a page is seemingly a random event – and at this early point is where the game may start to test your patience.

Finding the pages isn’t enough either. You have to jump into one when you find it, and select one of two doors to enter.

simpsons-the-barts-nightmare

Each one takes you to a different stage, with every challenge different from the last.

This is where one of the main problems with the game lies. Although it offers up a variety of challenges, each has its flaws – making the game a rather bittersweet experience.

Most of the problems contribute to the game’s over-difficult nature as well.

In the Itchy and Scratchy stage for example, it can be tough to avoid taking consecutive hits before you’re able to fight back.

simpsons-the-barts-nightmare

The Bartzilla stage on the other hand, doesn’t even have the common courtesy of giving you a life bar.

A Indiana Jones inspired block jumping stage also feels far too random to be fun.

The controls also needed refinement. Your jump (B button) is too stiff and inflexible to make you feel in complete control, and movement is a little stilted in general to boot.

Overall, Bart’s Nightmare hasn’t aged particularly well. It’s presentation now acts as less of a cover for its slightly sloppy structure, but if you’re a Simpsons die-hard you might get something out of this.

Star Fox 2: The Game We Never Knew

Star Fox 2: The Game We Never Knew

I never realized that a sequel had been made for the SNES until I saw the reproduction cart on gamereproductions.com.

The really cool thing is this isn’t just a couple of levels, this game is totally finished but just unreleased as Shigeru Miyamoto and the guys at Nintendo decided at the last minute they wanted to concentrate more on the N64 system and show what it could do with the Star Fox franchise with the most advanced hardware instead of releasing this title for the Super Nintendo.

Even though this game was complete it was left by the wayside, but once Star Fox 64 was made a lot of elements from Star Fox 2 were reused and integrated into that game, so if you play both you will notice a lot of similarities.

starfox 2 gameplay footages snes

A new improved version of the Super FX chip was used producing an even better looking 3D game.  This game instead of being strictly a flight-based game introduces some real time game play, new types of ships and new Star Fox team members.  When you and your teammate start on the map instead of taking a linear route like in the original game you can freely travel wherever you want, but as you move the enemy will react and also move around the map too.

starfox 2 - snes - gameplay screenshot

Your objective is to destroy all the enemies that are present on the map while trying to defend your home planet Corneria from enemy attacks.  If the planets damage level reaches 100%, you have failed your mission and the game is over.  To protect the planet you will have to destroy the fighters and incoming missiles that are headed toward the planet.  To permanently prevent the attacks you have to deal with the planets with enemy bases that fire the missiles and the battleships that deploy the enemy fighter ships.

starfox 2 - snes - gameplay screenshot

The really cool thing is when you make contact with one of these missiles or planets on the map screen you are taken to an action sequence.  If it’s a missile you came in contact with you will have to shoot down all the missiles on the screen, then if it was a planet you have to open the enemies base entrance by either hitting a switch, defeating a boss or destroying a shield.  Once you get into the base you have to go either fly through or you can transform into a walking tank and destroy the generator at the end.

starfox 2 - snes - gameplay screenshot

Once the generator has been destroyed no more missiles will be fired from that base.  While you are trying to clear out the enemies, more enemies will continue moving on the map and attacking Corneria.  So you may have to leave your battle to quickly intercept the enemies before they inflict massive damage to the planet. So managing your time effectively becomes very important.

starfox 2 - snes - gameplay screenshot

Starfighters from the Star Wolf mercenary team make an appearance, if you played Star Fox on the N64 or the Star Fox game on the DS you will recognize them.  They have captured some planets and if you try to take them back you will have to fight them. After some time passes they may start coming after your Arwings. They aren’t the only ones coming after you though, bosses will also be sent out to chase you down at some point in the game.

If you get a chance to pick this game up I definitely recommend it, but if not at least make sure you play Star Fox 64 on the N64 or 3DS and see how some of the mechanics from this game were incorporated.

Thanks to Yuriofwind for the video breakdown on the cancellation of Starfox 2.

Super Metroid

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Of course, hardcore players like me don’t need strategy guides (“Ha! I laugh in the face of your pathetic guide of weakness!”), and I blitzed my way through this enormous and complex game with nary a moment’s pause. OK, maybe I peeked at the guide a teeny weeny bit, but only when I was really stuck. Honest. ~Lewis Packwood

Super Metroid

Format: Super NES Genre: Adventure Released: 1994 Developer: Nintendo

Metroid Prime on the GameCube was a strong contender for the list, but in the end I decided to go with Super Metroid as my most fondly remembered Metroid game. If you’ve never played it, I urge you to download it from the Wii Virtual Console with all possible rapidity – it really is an absolute classic, reflected in that fact that it’s still knocking around the top of the Game Rankings ‘All Time Best‘ list.

Super Metroid - SNES

The thing that always stands out in my memory about Super Metroid is the bloody great big box that it came in – bizarrely, Nintendo decided to ship the European version of the game with an enormous strategy guide detailing every last corridor and secret item in the whole game. I don’t think this kind of marketing tactic has been attempted before or since (correct me if I’m wrong) and you’ve got to admit that it’s a bit of strange decision. It’s as if Nintendo were about to launch the game and then suddenly thought:

“Ooooh, maybe it’s too difficult for them? What if they get a bit, you know, frustrated? I know, let’s tell them exactly how to do everything in the entire game. That should do it.”

Super Metroid - SNES

Of course, hardcore players like me don’t need strategy guides (“Ha! I laugh in the face of your pathetic guide of weakness!”), and I blitzed my way through this enormous and complex game with nary a moment’s pause. OK, maybe I peeked at the guide a teeny weeny bit, but only when I was really stuck. Honest.

The highlights of Super Metroid were undoubtedly the bosses – particularly the screen-filling Kraid (see screenshot below). He (I presume he’s a he anyway) doesn’t seem to learn though. Put it this way: if I was entirely invulnerable except for a weak spot in my mouth, I would probably keep my mouth shut the entire time, rather than periodically unleashing reptilian screams of fury then wondering why I kept getting hurt.

Super Metroid - SNES

However, I think the overall reason that Super Metroid was so successful was that it constantly drove you to see what was around the next corner. Every few screens you’re presented with some sort of barrier to your progress – perhaps a seemingly impassable lava pit or a platform that’s just out of reach – and one of the game’s joys is collecting a new item or ability and then backtracking through the game to see what new areas it will open to you. In fact, Super Metroid engendered an almost compulsive urge to explore every nook and cranny of the game world in the hunt for elusive weapons and upgrades, and the triumphal music that accompanies the discovery of each item is right up there as one of the most pleasing game sound effects of all time (possibly only beaten by the music accompanying the opening of a treasure chest in Zelda: Ocarina of Time).

Super Metroid - SNES

You could argue that its excellent graphics and inspired shift to 3D make Metroid Prime the instant stand-out game of the Metroid series, but in terms of gameplay there’s very little Prime does that Super Metroid doesn’t.

Excluding duplicated games, Super Metroid is currently at number 8 in the All Time Best games list – which is frankly not high enough in my opinion. Buy this game now: you won’t regret it.

[101 Videos Games]

Killer Instinct

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All in all, Killer Instinct is pretty disappointing for a next-gen release, especially since the game is a glut of microtranscations.  If you want the full game, it’s a standard twenty bucks. You can also just buy the individual characters if you want, which would be really cool if there were more than seven to choose from. ~Eric Hollis

Killer Instinct

Gamers are an extremely nostalgic people.  Whether fans are still clamoring for a Final Fantasy 7 remake or wondering whether we’re ever going to get a great port of Q-bert, we hang on to a good thing forever, sometimes to the detriment of newer and more inventive properties.  The original Killer Instinct and its sequel fall firmly in this camp for me, as I spent many a beer-soaked college afternoon challenging friend after friend to just one more match on the SNES from the comfort of my miserable dorm room.  I often wondered why no one had attempted a modern take on the franchise.  Double Helix picked up the mantle from Rare here; I guess Rare, one of the most prolific developers of last two generations, decided they now want to make Kinect games that no one will ever play.  Thankfully, Double Helix stays extremely faithful to the original titles, even if there are some major missteps with the total package.

Killer Instinct - Xbox One

Killer Instinct on the One plays magnificently.  Everything you loved about KI—the combos, the breakers, the manuals, and special attacks—are all here.  Other than a few tweaks on the move-set, there is nothing added to the original formula, which is truly a blessing.  The remake took me instantly back to the Tate Center arcade (mad respect if you know where that is) where I played the KI cabinets religiously.   I’ve played over fifty matches against multiple opponents, and they were repeatedly a blast. Most of them were also very close, and for me that’s a huge part of the replay value of fighting games.  The battles are very fluid, extremely fast, and downright addictive.

Killer Instinct - Xbox One

Gameplay itself isn’t a problem. The problem is that the total package just feels like bare bones.  For starters, the inclusion of only eight total playable fighters (one of whom—the illusive Fulgore—isn’t even out yet) feels like an Endokuken to the face.  I’m no fighting game expert, but the last game I remember with less than eight playable characters was the original Mortal Kombat.  Twenty-two years later, I expect more girth in roster selection, especially when similar titles generally have a lot more fighters to choose from.  Characters like TJ Combo, Cinder, and Riptor, all of whom have appeared in at least one of the other installments, aren’t even represented at all.  You also only start with one playable stage (out of a measly six); the rest have to be purchased with in-game currency that you earn from completing battles.

Killer Instinct - Xbox One

All in all, Killer Instinct is pretty disappointing for a next-gen release, especially since the game is a glut of microtranscations.  If you want the full game, it’s a standard twenty bucks. You can also just buy the individual characters if you want, which would be really cool if there were more than seven to choose from.  If you want everything the game has to offer, which basically boils down to a couple of aesthetic character accessories and a playable version of the original KI, prepare to double-up on that Andrew Jackson.   The only thing I was interested in besides the core game was the original that, unlike everything else, isn’t available separately.  This fact, my friends, is worthy of ire right there. Unfortunately, this is the model I see more companies gravitating towards.   I understand that Microsoft wants to nickel and dime me while making me squat on a rabid porcupine, but the company should at least have the courtesy of letting me enjoy that while its happening if I so desire.

If you’re a fan of Killer Instinct and you have a One, you’ve probably already put this game through its paces, and maybe you know what I mean. While it’s fun to bust out to show off the only fighting game on your new system, the lack of variety and annoying microtransactions left me dissatisfied.  While many parts of quality of life have improved since I lived in my old dorm, especially access to free pornography, at least back in that abysmal dorm room we had a much better version of Killer Instinct.  Let’s hope that Double Helix and Ken Lobb have a true remake or sequel in the works and that the lack of polish here was strictly due to a rushed launch window.

John Madden Football

John Madden Football SNES
While Madden Football is an easy favorite for many gamers, I would bet many of those fans were never around for the early releases. I hear the Sega Genesis version was pretty sweet, but I wanted to give the SNES version a try first.
John Madden Football SNES
This is also back when EA cared about promoting John Madden in the football video games. I think the newest releases don’t even feature his voice anymore. Sad really…….
John Madden Football SNES
Well anyway, John Madden Football on SNES isn’t totally bad. Compared to the older NES football games, this game is pure gold. It’s got all your favorite teams (well the ones around at the time of course), a big playbook, extra modes, and a lot of stuff the series still uses.
John Madden Football SNES
There is one fatal flaw with the game, and that’s the technical limitations of the SNES. The framer ate does not run smooth which really effects gameplay when you’re in a heated moment. Also when you pass you get a zoomed-in view of the players around you. Doesn’t sound too bad, but it kills your view on defense. It’s a shame really, because it seems like EA put a lot of effort in trying to make this the best football game ever in the early 90’s.

Score: 5 out of 10

Soul Blazer

 Soul-Blazer

Soul Blazer for the SNES is just another wonderful title by Enix to keep us RPG geeks with something to do during the SNES era of greatness! The music is nothing but wonderful. Enix sure did a great job with the soundtrack and sound effects of their games. You can’t beat the 16-bit sound effects from yesterday. If anything, they motivate you to continue with your quest and finish up a wonderful title. Graphics wise, it is decent. You won’t find any graphics like from lets say Final Fantasy VI or Chrono Trigger but you’ll find some decent graphics that’ll be more than enough to keep your eyes happy till the end of the game. Things look like how they are supposed to so be happy to at least have that.

Soul-Blazer

As far as the gameplay, it is quite satisfying. You will have to come up with your own strategies to defeat certain bosses. You just can’t run to them and kill them, it’s a good way to use your head in a way. There is also a level up system that of course makes you stronger. Weapons, and other items are on the way to help you finish your quest. Everything an action-RPG title should bring is here! Don’t look anywhere else! The game is quite fun but would only be good for a replay if there are extra things you might have missed on your first run. Then again, if you find defeating bad guys and playing this game as satisfying then I suggest you go for it! It’s a great experience overall and experiencing it again would just be joyful and action packed once more.

To conclude, this is a must have for anyone’s collection and anyone willing to step down the golden ages of the 16-bit era. You can’t go wrong with titles from Enix! They always delivered high quality stuff.

Super Star Wars

Super Star Wars

Format: Super NES Genre: Run and Gun Released: 1993 Developer:Sculptured Software/Lucasarts

Super Star Wars blew my tiny little adolescent mind when I first played it. Graphically it was superb, with crisp and colourful visuals that really captured the look of the film, and even today it still looks pretty damn good. In particular, I remember the Mode 7-generated battle above the Death Star was spectacular at the time, as was the climactic fight against Darth Vader’s TIE fighter at the end – although sadly I only saw this on a couple of occasions because the game was so f*****g hard. But more on that in a minute…

super-star-wars

As well as looking fantastic, Super Star Wars sounded amazing. In fact, I’d go so far as to say it has possibly the best sound effects and music on the SNES – the 16-bit versions of the famous Star Wars tunes are absolutely spot on, and the sound effects are probably the meatiest on the console (apart, perhaps, from the OTT gun noises in Super Smash TV). Particular praise should go to the noise that the womp rats make when you shoot them – it sounds more like a train being shunted off a bridge than the demise of a fleshy sci-fi creature (listen to the video below to hear for yourself). But then again, the extravagant sound effects are in keeping with a run and gun game that has all the knobs turned up to 11 – I mean, practically everything explodes in a ball of flame when you shoot it, even the Jawas (who also fly comically off the screen with a satisfying ‘ooOOOtiiini’ noise lifted straight from the film).

super-star-wars

But for all its preening good looks and aural bombast, Super Star Wars was always a little rough around the edges when it came to the gameplay department. Sadly, the massive sprites and evocative music don’t quite cover up the shoddy collision detection, inept bosses and utterly infuriating level design…

…but at the time I could forgive it – the all-consuming desire to see the next gorgeously realised level had me hooked, and the showy visuals – not to mention the fact that it’s Star Wars goddammit – were enough to keep me plugging away until I finally, FINALLY, managed to finish it. Although looking back now with the benefit of hindsight, I’m amazed I had the patience…

super-star-wars

Here at 101 Video Games, we generally write our reviews based on our personal memories of the games, rather than what they’re actually like to play now. The idea is to generate a record of the games that enriched our lives, rather than a list of ‘top’ games – hence the inclusion of games that taught us a valuable life lesson (Rise of the Robots) or that simply made us smile (Dog Walking). However, I got so nostalgic about Super Star Wars after watching videos of it while researching this post, I ended up downloading it from the Wii Virtual Console so I could play it again.

A fatal mistake.

super-star-wars

It all started off pleasantly enough as I happily romped across the dunes of Tatooine, blasting the local fauna into oblivion with carefree abandon and generally having a whale of a time. But then I started noticing the cracks…

[Lewis sits playing through the first level of Super Star Wars. Gradually his brow begins to furrow and a slight frown plays across his mouth as he nears the end of the stage. We listen in to his internal monologue…] “Hold on, no matter what I do, I don’t seem to be able to avoid getting hit by these creatures – maybe my reflexes aren’t as good as they used to be? …Or is it because you actually CAN’T avoid them and the developers just decided to throw loads of health boosts at you to make up for it? Wait a minute, here’s the sarlacc pit boss… oh, you can’t avoid his attacks either. And now I’m dead and the restart point seems to be practically at the beginning of the level. That’s …erm… frustrating.”

super-star-wars

Yes, 17 years is a long time in the world of video games, and little things we now take for granted – like reasonably spaced restart points – were thin on the ground back in 1993. But there are some aspects of Super Star Wars that are frankly just the result of poor design, like the inability to avoid getting hit, or the all-too-common ‘leaps of faith’ where you can’t see the platform you’re meant to be jumping onto (which usually results in you landing in that all-too-common ‘insta-kill’ lava instead).

[We rejoin Lewis’s inner monologue as he starts level 3 outside the Jawa sandcrawler.] “Ah, I remember this bit! I love that noise the Jawas make when you shoot them! Right, just need to make my way to the top of the sandcrawler by navigating these moving, wafer-thin platforms… Oh. I’ve fallen right back to the beginning. Right let’s try again… Hmm, seems a little tricky to persuade Luke to do that spinny ‘super jump’ thing, I seem to end up doing a ‘normal’  jump half of the time… Oh. I’ve fallen again.]

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[Fifteen minutes later…]

“Right, finally got to the top! Now I just need to jump insid… hold on, gun emplacements? WTF? Oh. Dead again.”

[Another fifteen minutes later…]

“OK, I think I’m getting near the bottom of the sandcrawler now, although those myriad boucing lasers and security flamethrowers were a tad annoying. Still, I’ve been playing for ages, so I can’t be too far away… Hold on, I’ve come to a dead end and I can’t see what’s at the bottom of this drop. Must be another platform I guess, I’ll just jump down… Oh. It’s ‘insta-kill’ lava. That’s a bit… erm… irritating. Oh, and I’ve been taken back to almost the very beginning of the level… Right, I think I need to stop playing and find somewhere I can hurl this controller in rage without damaging any expensive electronics equipment.”

In a nutshell, Super Star Wars is just a tiny bit infuriating. But my younger self just couldn’t get enough of it – perhaps in the pre-internet, pre-’instant access’ era I had a little more patience. And let’s face it, games were just harder back then, not like these namby-pamby modern games.

So bearing that in mind, I’ve decided to embrace Super Star Wars for what it is and dismiss its faults as the foibles of a bygone age – welcome to our video game canon old friend. Although if it’s all right with you, I’d prefer to remember you as the esteemed game of my youth rather than the frustrating throwback I bought in a fit of nostalgia.

X-Men Mutant Apocalypse

X-Men Mutant Apocalypse

X-Men Mutant Apocalypse

Okay, the trilogy of X-Men (technically, Marvel) articles on the weekend. I doled out Marvel vs. Capcom 3 for the Playstation 3, then Marvel vs. Capcom 2 for Xbox Live – now I’m headed back to the Super Nintendo.

X-Men Mutant Apocalypse

I couldn’t think of any throwback Marvel vs. Capcom games I had floating around the house (though I recall similar beat ’em ups in the arcade once upon a time) – so I decided to look around for an X-Men or Marvel title, and found X-Men: Mutant Apocalypse for my Super Nintendo and figured I’d toss it in for a bit. Now, while the other two games I talked about this weekend were fighter games, this one is a beat ’em up/platformer. It lacks the depth of field you find in Final Fight, Double Dragon or Streets of Rage, but you have to time your jumps and memorize attack patterns a bit more along the way.

X-Men Mutant Apocalypse

Early on levels are designed around whichever mutant you are going to play (Psylocke, Wolverine, Cyclops, Beast and Gambit). It’s an interesting idea, since most games of this sort let you pick from a pool to get through a level – and that happens later in the game, but early on each X-Man is assigned a task in a different location, forcing you to use them all. This is a good and bad thing since you may prefer one character over the others, but it does add a bit more variety to the gameplay as well when you have someone like Wolverine who just tears through people using his claws while moving left to right, as opposed to someone like Beast who can cling to ceilings and attack enemies from above as well.

X-Men Mutant Apocalypse

The story’s a bit of a mess, which is often the case in these older comic games, but the sounds get the job done and the graphics actually look pretty good. I didn’t spend a ton of time playing this one again – I honestly don’t have the patience for memorizing platforming like I did years ago, but I got a grin out of my time running around beating people up along the way.

Tetris 2

Tetris 2 Super nintendo

Tetris 2

The success of the original Tetris prompted the creation of a lot of clones, sequels, and spin-offs. Despite all of those, this was the “real” sequel to Tetris.
Tetris 2 Super nintendo
Unlike Tetris, 2 seems to have dropped all the Russian influence from the game. The setting appears to be more like a childhood room in a Japanese house.
Tetris 2 Super nintendo
Unlike some other Tetris variants, this one plays differently enough from the original but you can tell it has the same basic formula. Instead of clearing all blocks, you must also take care of the little bomb blocks as well. Once they’re cleared, the round is over, and you proceed.
 Tetris 2 Super nintendo
There’s also a decent puzzle mode added for those want a real challenge. Despite all that, it’s not going to rival the original to almost any player. It’s a decent puzzle game, and I could see people back then having their fair share of fun with it. On the other hand I can why nobody has really tried to re-release the game since the 90’s.

Score: 7 out of 10

Rival Turf

Rival Turf

We promise to make no mention of this game’s classicly terrible box art in this post… oh wait.

RIVAL-TURF-

Anyway, upon release of the Super NES, Final Fight was a big deal. While Capcom’s port was impressive in a number of ways, it was missing multi-player and third playable character, Guy. With Streets of Rage drawing attention in the Sega department, Jaleco decided to fill the two-player beat-em-up void on the SNES with Rival Turf.

RIVAL-TURF-

Rival Turf isn’t terrible, but it’s generic and brutally difficult. The two characters, Jack Flack and Oozie Nelson (seriously) patrol the streets in levels that are nothing short of blatant knocks on better games. Enemies are the real issue, coming in with names like Skinny and Butch. They’re incredibly overpowered, laying on unblockable combos at will.

RIVAL-TURF-

Collision detection is sloppy, and the cheap animation doesn’t help matters. The game would spawn two sequels, including the far better Brawl Brothers and moving back into sloppy territory with The Peace Keepers, all SNES exclusive. Rival Turf is easily the worst of the lot, and while not the most painful beat-em-up experience on the system (Bebe’s Kids, we’re looking at you), it’s utterly amazing how a game could sell well enough to spawn a sequel purely on multi-player aspects.

Why I Love Retro Games

I play Nintendo games cause I was raised playing NES and SNES games with my dad, plus I’m super cool right :p  I never realized that would lead me to have a serious retro gaming addiction in my later twenties.

retro--nes-wallpapers

So why did I feel the need to make a site and dedicate it to my retro games?  It’s actually simple: I love talking/writing about retro games almost as much as I enjoy playing them.  I also love watching other people play classic games, thus my love for Game Center CX.  I guess everyone has that one thing they are passionate about, whether it is sports, cars, clothes or whatever, for me it’s classic Nintendo games.  I don’t have many close friends at my age who really play anything other than ps3 or xbox so it’s kind of rare when I get to nerd it up and talk about NES games, let alone my Famicom games.

I read anything I can about NES games on Wikipedia and read reviews and blogs from other retro gamers.  I check eBay for NES and Famicom game lots, for cheap rare titles, the few old Nintendo Power issues I’m still missing and just cool Nintendo themed collectibles.  I constantly talk to my hubby about the cool deals I got, or the random NES or Famicom facts I read that day.  I take pictures of my son holding Nintendo plushies and I even got him a teething toy that looks like a NES controller called the Ninteetho.  I even painted Yoshi’s Island murals all over his room.  I’ve taken a vacation day from work just to play NES games I picked up online or at the local used game store. I have not one but two Nintendo themed tattoos.  I am a full-time Nintendo geek and I love every minute of it.

I appreciate everyone who comes to the site just to read my random Nintendo ramblings.  I know there are tens of thousands of sites online where people blog about games and I’m really humbled that you decided to come read what I have to say.  I’m sure you’ve heard this kind of confession before on someone elses site about the new games that are out there.  But I have to say it’s just not the same as playing a classic 8 or 16 bit game.  I think I’m addicted to the pattern recognition that was required when you played tricky NES games like Mega Man or Ninja Gaiden, it took hard work, good timing and memorization to get past some of those parts but the feeling of accomplishment you get when you finally get it is awesome.  Plus new games have nothing on the 8 bit chip tune music you would hear in classic NES games.  Nothing can compare to some of the awesome music you hear in games like Mega Man, Castlevania, or Mario, those songs really stick with you.

As I get older it gets harder to find time to play video games.  There’s work, family, and kids (which I’m really hoping my little guy will one day share my passion or at least want to play the occasional game with me), and all that other stuff you never used to have to worry about when you were a kid spending any time you had away from school playing games. Luckily I’ve been able to sneak in some time lately after my little guy gets to bed.  Once I get to sit down and play, it’s like I’m transported back to when I was young and only had to worry about the game sitting in front of me.  So I make sure every chance I get to expose my friends to classic games I take it.  I’m just hoping to give them an appreciation for it, or at the very least see the reason for my madness :p

So thanks to everyone who comes here to nerd it up, and messages me on twitter.  Thank you for sharing my passion for classic games!

Super Bomberman 4

Super Bomberman 4

Super Bomberman 4

There are 5 Super Bomberman games on the SNES/SFC. Not many people know this as in the Western world only the first 3 were released. The problem is that Super Bomberman 4 was released in 1996 which was around the time the SNES had started to drop in popularity. The world was anticipating the next generation of systems, & the 16 bit machines were being abandoned. Not in Japan however, where SNES games were made well into the year 2000. On a side note, recently a Bomberman article featured in Retrogamer magazine where they claim that number 5 was the only one never released outside Japan, but I can’t find any evidence to suggest 4 was so we’ll put that down to being a mistake.

So let’s have a look at the game. A very nice intro starts us off with Shiro & Kuro (another little known fact is that the 2 Bombers actually have names) asleep on a rocket ship which is attacked by a group of 5 evil bombers.

Super Bomberman 4

The guys are then awoken from their sleep & they are sent into a world full of clocks for some reason with a little girl dressed in cowboy clothes. Hey, it’s Japanese, I don’t speak it, so that’s the best I can give you. The manual has a little comic at the start which explains the story, but as it too is in Japanese I can’t refer to that for plot points I’m afraid. Does the plot of a Bomberman game REALLY matter though? We all know what we’re here for. BLOWING THINGS UP!!!

As you can see by the title screen at the top of the page you have your typical 3 options of “Normal Game”, “Battle Game” & “Password” for the normal game. If you’ve ever played a Bomberman game you’ll be pretty familiar with these options. If not I’ll explain as we go along. How does Bomberman 4 differ from the others? Well I’m glad you asked…

Here’s the first stage:

Super Bomberman 4

Not a lot in it, is there? Looks like Bomberman 1, Bomberman 2 & Bomberman 3. Bomberman 5 had a massive graphics overhaul which will be covered in another review later on. But here we are, typical Bomberman play. For the uninitiated, You play as Shiro (the white bomber) or Kuro (the black bomber) & using an infinite supply of bombs (though initially you can only use 1 at a time) you must blow up boxes blocking your path to the enemies, collect any powerups that may appear from those blocks, then blow up the enemies, then an exit will appear. You go to that exit & it’s level over. It really is the simplest of concepts.

Super Bomberman 4

Each Bomberman game has little things which differentiate it from the one previous. Bomberman 3 was quite innovative in that it had the Louies (Rooies), who were kangaroo type characters that you could ride. When blown up, some of the blocks in the level would reveal an egg you could collect. It would hatch into a Louie & you could ride it. Each Louie has its own special ability. Yes, it’s Bomberman’s version of Yoshi, but we won’t dwell on that as the Louies aren’t in this game. They do come back in Bomberman 5 however.

Super Bomberman 4

Bomberman 4 expands on this feature by allowing you to defeat enemies & use their special abilities. Some enemies when blown up will become green spotted, or metallic eggs. You collect the eggs, they hatch back into that enemy you blew up & they become your pets, allowing you to ride them & use their special abilities.

Unlike Bomberman 3 you can stockpile these guys allowing you to ride one & carry 2 eggs behind you in reserve. The problem with this is when you lay a bomb you must get those eggs out the way or they WILL be destroyed, even if you’re clear of the bomb yourself. If you are in a 2 player game your ally can come & pinch one of the eggs. This can be a problem in Battle Mode which we’ll cover later.

Super Bomberman 4

Another new idea introduced in this game is the idea of imprisoned Bombers who you can free. In some levels you will see a rattling cage such as the one pictured below. It’s along the left. side of the image.

Blow up the cage & you get yourself an ally for the remainder of the level. Here he is in the top left corner of the screen.

Why is he up there for seemingly no reason? Well the problem is these Bombers aren’t too bright, just seeming to lay bombs at random. This can cause problems as they don’t seem to care where you are when they place them. You don’t HAVE to free them to pass the level, so if you want to leave them to rot in their tiny cages go right ahead. They deserve it!!

Super Bomberman 4

I haven’t touched on the powerups yet. Upon destroying blocks you may find one of the following:

Skates for speed
Wooden sandals to slow you down
Additional bombs
Additional blast power
Viruses that cause random negative affects
Remote control bombs
Protection vest
The ability to kick bombs out of your way
The ability to punch bombs
The ability to be hit once & still remain in the game
Extra lives
Spikey bombs that go through blocks
Clock that freezes enemies
The ability to go through walls
The ability to pick up other Bombermen & throw them
The ability to push other Bombermen
2 others I can’t understand from the manual. One has a picture of a question mark & another as a normal human face. I never saw this item while playing the game, so I don’t know what it is.

Super Bomberman 4

The single player mode showcases some impressive bosses. The guys at Hudson really have a good imagination when it comes to designing some of these.

Not much to say here. Hit them 8 times with a bomb blast & they’re history.

Music is fun as always with variations on Bomberman themes featured in the earlier games. In Bomberman 3 as soon as you turned the console on you would hear a voice saying “By Hudsonsoft”. This voice is back but it’s slightly slower & less high pitched. The little Bombers will speak occasionally, but as it’s in Japanese I don’t really know what they’re saying.

Super Bomberman 4

Let’s move on to Battle Mode. Bomberman 4 gives us a little more yet keeps the improvements introduced in Bomberman 3. You can either choose a generic Bomber or one of the 5 enemies.

Now these guys aren’t just new sprites that look different. Each of the Bombers has their own special ability which can be used to cause problems for the opposition. For example, one of them can swing a ball & chain over their heads knocking items off anyone they hit & scattering them across the screen for other players to pick up. Another one can shoot fire destroying anyone it hits, but he loses all his powerup abilities for a short time afterwards. Now you & all of your friends will want to play Battle mode over & over trying all 6 of them… presumably that was the idea anyway…

Super Bomberman 4

When a Bomber gets blown up you can switch on an option that will allow them to come back & exact revenge on the players still in the play field. They pilot little ships that hover on the outside of the play field & can lob bombs into it. If a player is hit on the head with one of these bombs they get stunned & lose some of their items which will scatter around the screen, so if you blow someone up watch out!!! They may come back & hunt you down.

Super Bomberman 4

Summary.

This is without a doubt my favourite Bomberman game & it’s a shame it was never released outside Japan. What makes it my favourite? I personally think it’s the most innovative of the 5 games. Lots of new ideas which expand on an old favourite. It’s got to be 5/5. Sheer Hudsonsoft brilliance.

U.N. Squadron

U.N. Squadron

Format: Super NES Genre: Shoot ‘Em Up Released: 1991 Developer:Capcom

Back in the day, I used to be a massive fan of shoot ‘em ups (or ‘shmups’ as people are trendily abbreviating them nowadays). I don’t play them so much anymore, but there’s still something satisfying about a good shooter – the frantic button hammering, the screen-filling bosses, the feeling of constantly being no more than a gnat’s hair away from explodey death… yeah, there really is nothing like a good old shoot ‘em up.

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Having said that, I think you do need a special kind of gaming autism to really enjoy them: the hallmark of the genre is a level of difficulty that cultivates armchair-gnawing, joypad-snapping frustration in most gamers, but shmup players have developed the Zen-like patience/sheer bloody-mindedness to not only persevere with but enjoy these most unforgiving of games. In this respect, U.N. Squadron was a little more lenient than its peers, featuring – horror of horrors – an energy bar. Energy bars are like kryptonite to hardcore shoot ‘em up players, who believe that they detract from the intensity of the shoot ‘em up experience. For sane people though, they offer the opportunity to get past the end of the first level without retrying several hundred times.

un_squadron-snes

Despite the energy bar, U.N. Squadron was by no means easy, although it was a lot more forgiving than some of its contemporaries, such as Gradius III. It also had the added bonus of featuring various paths through the game, something that we take for granted now but which at the time was fairly rare. This meant that it was rare to get stuck on one level, and the sheer variety of planes and weapon upgrades was a compelling reason to keep playing (and replaying).

un_squadron-snes

Surprisingly, U.N. Squadron had a plot. I say ‘surprisingly’, because I’ve just found out that it’s based on an old manga called ‘Area 88′ – you can read all about it here. I’m always surprised when games like this have a plot – it seems so utterly unnecessary and ridiculous, like the ongoing plot of Tekken. I mean, in what possible situation would a single plane go up against an entire air force? I’m not sure where the U.N. come into it either – I presume that in this scenario the G8 have withdrawn funding, so the U.N. can only afford to send one plane at a time on peacekeeping missions.

un_squadron-snes

Looking back at this game, it’s clear just how much gaming has moved on in the last twenty years, and I even remember thinking at the time that shoot ‘em ups were ‘a bit old-fashioned’. The entire genre is based around repetitiveness, and any attempt at complexity rarely extends beyond choosing which special weapons to equip. Having said that, it’s hard to beat shmups for a pure adrenaline rush, and now that I have less and less time to play games, a quick five-minute blast on a traditional side scroller like this has more and more appeal. U.N. Squadron was certainly one of the better genre efforts, and it’s surely overdue for a revival.

un_squadron-snes

Shoot ‘em ups are a sort of prehistoric gaming genre that has somehow survived into the 21st century – like the Coelacanth, they keep being declared extinct, and then a thriving colony of them pops up somewhere unexpected. After all, a healthy clutch of shooters was recently spotted on PS2, and reports of new shmups being released on Dreamcast persisted long after the console’s ‘demise’. Here’s hoping that  U.N. Squadron will throw off its extinct status and resurface on Xbox Live Arcade sometime soon.

Micro Machines

Micro Machines - sega genesis

Micro Machines (1991)
By: Code Masters Genre: Overhead Racing Players: 1-2 Difficulty: Medium
Featured Version: Sega MegaDrive / Genesis
Also Available For: Master System, Game Gear, SNES, NES, Game Boy, CDi, PC, Amiga

People will always have differing opinions of things. Whether it’s games, films, music or anything else you can think of; there will always be at least one person that worships something and another who hates it with just as much passion. However, generally speaking, good things are regarded as good by the majority and likewise bad things remain bad. This is as true of video games as anything else but there’s bound to be a few people that dislike well-regarded games and that includes me – it was the whole reason I created the ‘Overrated!’ feature here at Red Parsley of course. I’ve only covered four games so far though, which suggests it isn’t something that happens too often, but if there was one game I always had at the back of my mind to add to the feature, it would be this one. I don’t think there’s any game so universally lauded that I dislike, but I caught a lot of flak for its omission from my recent Top Five so I figured it was as good a time as any to address the issue!

Micro Machines - sega genesis

Micro Machines themselves – the little toys – are pretty cool. I’ve even collected a few such as the range they released based on the awesome Babylon 5, and when the game was released it was met with universal acclaim from reviewers and players alike. I’ve always been keen on games of this type so I sought it out with the utmost haste. Being equally keen on my splendid MegaDrive, it was this version I plumped for and first impressions of the game were… superb! The presentation is outstanding with nice cartoony intro and options screens which give you the choice between single or multi-player games. The latter offers the choice of ‘Single Race’ or ‘Tournament’ for two players while the former allows you to choose between ‘Head to Head’ or ‘Challenge’ games, and it is the first of these that I prefer by some way which is basically the two-player mode but against a CPU-controlled opponent.

Micro Machines - sega genesis

Before starting you first need to choose your own character as well as your opponent’s from a selection of eleven cartoony human oafs whose skill level supposedly increases gradually from one to the next. You’ll then race each other in your various miniature vehicles over a series of courses based on household locales. The first, for example, sees you racing powerboats around a bubbly bath tub! Other vehicles include Sports Cars, Formula One Cars, Tanks, Turbo Wheels (buggies), Warriors (hot rods), 4×4’s, and Choppers, and they are raced around the house on things like desk tops, breakfast tables, snooker tables, and even around the workshop and garden. All race locations feature items and obstacles appropriate to their setting which most of the time make themselves unwelcome. In the two-player Single Race mode you can choose a vehicle which is then raced over its ‘home’ course, but in all other play modes the courses are arranged in order and you have to win one to see the next.

Micro Machines - sega genesis

Unfortunately, this is where the problems start, at least as far as I’m concerned. The single player Challenge mode features a series of twenty four races which includes several courses based on each house location with corresponding vehicle type used. Races are against three CPU vehicles with very simple rules – complete the required number of laps and finish in the highest position possible. If you finish in the top two, you can move on to the next race. If not, you’ll lose a life. All the other play modes feature one-on-one races, whether that’s human vs the computer or another human. On the left side of the screen are eight coloured circles – four red, four blue. The object is to turn all the circles your own colour which is done by getting far enough ahead of your rival that they drop off the screen. Each time you manage this, a circle is filled in your favour. This can make races very short or immense endurance contests depending on the skill and luck of the participants, with the latter playing a notably more prominent role than the former in my experience.

Micro Machines - sega genesis

There are two main reasons for this. Firstly, in all head-to-head play modes, by their very nature you’re frequently racing high up the screen with little warning or view of upcoming corners and obstacles. Secondly, the design of the courses, while original and very appealing, also leaves masses of obstacles all over the place which not only slow you down if you hit them, but are also very easy to get stuck behind. On top of that, many of the courses take place on a table or something similar which means slipping over the edge and crashing to your doom is also commonplace. I can’t really say the courses gradually increase in complexity and difficulty as you might expect, either – the course that makes me most angry is only the third, and the one after it is a piece of cake! As annoying as all this stuff can be, it’s all manageable in slower vehicles like the 4×4’s or Tanks, but when you have to zoom around courses in fast, skiddy vehicles like the Sports or Formula One cars, mistakes come often which soon proves immensely frustrating.

Micro Machines - sega genesis

It might seem like a game that’s hard to get pissed at judging by the screenshots though. As mentioned, the presentation is fantastic, and the audio is great too, with plenty of catchy tunes and various noises. Graphically, there are no flashy special effects or anything here and it’s easy to see why the game looks more or less the same across a variety of systems, but it’s still very pleasing on the eyes nonetheless. It’s certainly a mighty colourful game and the appropriately tiny vehicles all look nice enough as they career through the smoothly-scrolling courses, but the varied backgrounds and the great attention to detail is where the work has really been done. Most of them show great creativity and are filled with a conveniently-arranged mess befitting their setting. For example, the breakfast table course is marked out by Cheerios (or something similar) and has various foodstuffs dotted around like waffles and fruit. On-course obstructions are caused by spillages such as baked beans, and there’s even a cereal-box jump!

Micro Machines - sega genesis

Most of the other courses are just as detailed and imaginative, and discovering their various sights and features is highly enjoyable the first few times you race them. However, as amusing and comedic as the game may be, the object is still surely to make progress and win races while having fun, not instead of? Success comes from driving round the more difficult courses time and time again until you can do so blindfolded; until you can do so without making even the tiniest mistake. Doing so is immensely tense/exciting during the race and immensely satisfying afterwards, but this is likely to happen far less than the alternative which I at least found incredibly frustrating and rage-inducing: winning, winning, doing well, BANG! … stuck behind trackside object, near-instant last place… racing, racing, doing well again, regain the lead, skid a teeny bit too far on a corner, fall off the table, near-instant last place, racing, cross the finish line in last place, lost a life… GrrrrrRRRRRR!!!!

Micro Machines - sega genesis

Okay, I know I’m probably going to take a right kicking from the legions of Micro Machines fans who loved and still love this game and its sequels; I know its faults that annoy me so are mainly limited to certain courses on which the faster vehicles are used, and even then can be found in many other overhead racers (though not nearly so prominently, I submit), but I can scarcely recall any gaming experience that makes me as angry as this one is capable of doing – something which is much more pronounced in the Challenge mode in which you have to manage to go without making a mistake for much longer than the short bursts of skill/luck required in the other modes. Control of the vehicles is flawless though, admittedly, and with two players, both of you are as disadvantaged as each other I suppose (unless one has had a lot more practise!) but winning is still often more down to luck than skill.

Micro Machines - sega genesis
Based on my prior experiences with this game I was preparing to give is cursory play to refresh my mind, then duly unleash the diatribe it deserves and give it a very low score, but I suppose I have to begrudgingly admit that I enjoyed Micro Machines much more this time. It’s still reallyannoying though, and frequently so – some times I’ll play it and do extremely well, even having enormous fun in the process, then catch myself thinking “this game is great, I was wrong, I’ll give a glowing review!”, but then my next session with it makes me angrier than ten Incredible Hulks and I end up smashing stuff up. The ideas behind the game are amazingly great and there’s many laughs to be had here, but in the end, this is a great example of a game that can be effing awesome and incredibly annoying, often within seconds of each other! Does that make it terrible game? No, I guess not, but it’s not a great one either in my opinion, sorry.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9m08miUSCHI[/youtube]

RKS Score: 6/10

 

Eva Tran: Spacetime Studios

Spacetime-Studios

Name: Eva Tran

Title: Artist

Company: Spacetime Studios

Favorite Classic Game: Earthbound (SNES)

Tell us why it is your favorite: I really got into the art style and the accessible, modern setting of Earthbound. You hung out with jazz musicians, took the bus and had to call mom when you got homesick. It was a funny, well paced little RPG and it ages pretty well.

Tiny Toon Adventures: Buster Busts Loose

Tiny Toon Adventures

Tiny Toon Adventures: Buster Busts Loose

This game took everything that the previous games did well and took it to another level. An amazing game and a true pick of the week is Tiny Toons -Buster Busts Loose-. The game is mainly a series of shows that you play through as an actor. You will find yourself in different levels such as the Acme Academy or a haunted house. The gameplay is quite entertaining as you can make Buster run by pressing the L or R buttons on your controller. Be careful when using this technique as if you do it in the wrong place, the consequences will be deadly!

Tiny Toon Adventures

The graphics of the game are quite good. They match scenes from the cartoon and are well made. Konami made sure you were playing a Tiny Toons atmosphere kind of game. All the characters look how they are supposed to look and the scenes are a joy to watch. With such a colorful and vivid game, there is nothing to hate about it. The sound is another winner as you will be familiarized with tunes related to the cartoon. Not only that but some remixes of them are quite inspiring and brings you to the moment of the game you are actually playing. There is no way you should play this game on mute! Just sit back and enjoy the tunes!

Tiny Toon Adventures

The game showcases the usual Konami bad ass options as you’ll only get the true ending by beating the game in hard. Konami used to do this to all of their hit games back in the day to make sure you lived up to their expectations. This game can be quite tough especially in stage five but you’ll be able to go through with enough practice and patience. After all, it’s just another one of those fun games that can stay quite fun even at its hardest moments.

OG Staff playing the game!

Castlevania Dracula X

I thought it’d be interesting to start showing off some obscure pirated/counterfeit games. Pirated games can be a weird thing. They are fake, rare, and cared for or hated. Allow me to introduce the pirate of the day…

Castlevania Dracula X for SNES

Pirate Games - Castlevania Dracula X

There’s not a whole lot different from this pirated version, except if you look very close at the artwork on the label, it’s not as clear of an image. The game is also in Japanese. Other than that I believe it works like a charm. Thought I’d share a few photos of the game.

Pirate Games - Castlevania Dracula X

The back side of the cartridge is blank as can be.

Some screen shots from game play.

Neutopia 2

Neutopia2-turbografx-16

This week we look at the classic action adventure game Neutopia 2. Developed by Hudson Soft and released for the TurboGrafx-16 in 1992, it is the direct follow up to Neutopia where you are Jazeta’s son and your mission is to defeat the evil Dirth and save your father.

Neutopia2-turbografx-16

The game plays a lot like the Legend of Zelda games on the NES and SNES where as you explore a large 2D world taking on tasks and quests in any order you wish. A strange note about this game is at the end it mentions that Neutopia 3 would be coming soon, but no such game was ever released.

The Game Genie

gamegenie

Long before there was an Internet to search for clues and codes to hack your way through a stubbornly difficult game, Codemasters brought a product into the game market which permitted access to your video game’s code, thereby letting you add unearned lives, power-ups, and so forth. The Game Genie was an accessory that you could insert into your game console, and then the game would attach to the Game Genie, allowing the Game Genie to act as an intermediary between the console and the game.

gamegenie

Many gamers found this helpful, and different Game Genies were produced for a variety of game consoles, including the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES), the Nintendo GameBoy, the Super Nintendo, the Sega Genesis, and the Sega Game Gear. Two different companies distributed the Game Genie over the years it was being manufactured: Galoob and Camerica, one of which (Galoob) was actually sued by Nintendo in an effort to prevent the Game Genie from being sold. Fortunately for many gamers, Nintendo lost their legal battle and had to pay Galoob for damages.

Time marches steadily on, however, and the Game Genie is now in the dustbin of gaming history, while Nintendo continues to be a gaming powerhouse.  All we have left of the Game Genie are the few units that can be found here and there in the retrogaming marketplace, and our memories. Speaking of which, see if the following ad brings back memories of how you salivated over the thought of finally mastering that one irksome game, if only you got a Game Genie.

Nightmare Busters

Nightmare Busters

I’ll keep this short and sweet. The fine folks over at Super Fighter Team have a new run and gun game for the Super Nintendo called Nightmare Busters.

Nightmare Busters

 

The first game made for SNES in 14 years. Works on both SNES and Super Famicom and PAL.

Nightmare Busters

The game appears to be pretty awesome. Seems like a mix between Alice in Wonderland meets Castlevania. The colors and graphics are spot on.

Nightmare Busters

Play alone or grab a friend to play on the 2 player cooperative mode.

Nightmare Busters

Nightmare Busters is available for pre order and is expected to be shipped out 2013. $60 will get you a game cartridge with authentic plastic shell and a full color instruction manual that come inside a sturdy full colored box.

Nightmare Busters

For for info about Nightmare Busters check out nightmarebusters.com

Animated Nintendo Controller Evolution

Controller Evolution v.2,

Animated Nintendo Controller Evolution

Here is a very nicely animated history of some of Nintendo’s controller designs. I remember switching from the classic Atari controller and thinking the NES felt so boxy. Personally, it was the SNES controller that did it for me and to this day it is one of my favorites. The video was animated by Chris Koelsch with music by Heath McNease.

[vimeo width=”560″ height=”420″]http://vimeo.com/55697069#[/vimeo]

Logitech G27 Racing Wheel Review

Logitech G37 Racing Wheel

For those of you that know me well, you know that racing is one of my favorite activities to do not just in the gaming world but in real life as well. As far as reality goes, I’ve owned a track ready racing Mustang since 2004. I’ve been racing cars since about 1997 both on the street and at the track. The first time I ever raced a professional racing go-kart was about 1989. The first racing games I’ve played were Pole Position and Pit Stop 1 and 2 on the c64. The first arcade racing game I’ve ever played was Sega’s Outrun with the arcade console feeling like a car with pedals, steering wheel, and shifter. I’ve played almost every racing game ever made from games like RC Pro AM on NES, the Top Gear series on SNES, Lotus series on Amiga, Chase HQ on the arcade, Jaguar XJ 220 on the Amiga, Grand Prix Legends on PC, every Trackmania game on PC, every Need For Speed game on PC and consoles, every Codemasters racing game ever made, etc. I was ranked in the top 10 US players for Trackmania Nations when they were doing the world championship for the game.

Today I will look at Logitech’s G27 Racing Wheel. It is designed to be used with PC and with the Playstation 3 console.

rfactor

Setup – Installation and Software:

The installation on the PS3 is basically a plug and play procedure. For PC, you simply install the software from the drivers CD that comes with the unit. Shortly after installing the software and drivers you get prompted to plug in the wheel to one of your USB ports and it will be detected. You will know that the wheel is detected because it will spin like a bat out of hell for about two to three seconds and it will flash the tachometer RPM lights. After that, you can calibrate the wheel if it is needed. Once you’re done doing that, you’re ready to use it. Configuration and sub-calibration can be done through whatever game you are going to play.

The Wheel also comes with (RFactor) which is a very popular racing simulator.

Logitech-G27-full-set

Setup – Assembly and Physical Installation:

The first thing you want to do is connect all the subcomponents of the wheel to the main wheel unit. This means that you will plug in the pedals, shifter console, and AC adapter unit. After you have done so, you may need to assess your gaming desk area to make sure you have enough physical space to mount the wheel properly to a desk or table as well as find a comfortable chair and distance to your TV or monitor. You also want to make sure that all cables are tucked away so that they don’t interfere as you use the controller.

Both the wheel and shifter have plastic screws which you can use to secure them to the edge of your desk or table. I have found that they can slide off sometimes if the bottom surface of your desk doesn’t have the right kind of surface for them to stick to. I wish Logitech would have added a rubber surface of the plastic area that holds the controller in place. To me without such a surface friction it is easy for the controller to become loose while using it. Since I’m a low-tech-fix kind of guy, this isn’t much of a problem. I recommend to either glue a thin rubber piece to each plastic end or the even easier fix is to use a piece of cardboard in between the surfaces (just make sure you screw the plastic screws as tight as possible).

You might have to be careful as well with the pedals because the bottom is plastic as well. Since I have a tile floor all over my house I had to use a small portable rug to place it under the pedals as well as putting a heavy object behind the pedals to keep them from slipping further (remember you’re going to be putting a lot of pressure on them with your feet).

Once you have setup the wheel as needed, the fun starts!

trackmania-nations-forever

Test On Multiple Racing Games:

I tested the wheel on RFactor, Dirt 2, Dirt 3, Dirt Showdown, Grid, Trackmania United, Trackmania Nations, F1 2010, F1 2011, and F1 2012. For most of the games the wheel was enabled through the game options of the game if it didn’t automatically detect it and set it as the default control method. You can enable the motion feedback to get a more real feel of driving a real car with the resistance would feel in a real steering wheel. I found that with the G27 it was more enjoyable to do so after first of calibrating it to feel as you need it to based on your driving style. Also, it was overall more enjoyable on racing games which are more simulator than arcade style racing games. Simulators need exactness, whereas most arcade racers can be played even with keyboard or a cheap handheld controller.

Using a racing wheel on games like the Codemasters F1 games is almost necessary. I found it nearly unplayable to play such games using just a pure keyboard. With a racing wheel such as the G27 it becomes a real F1 car that you’re driving rather than a musclecar like it would feel with a primitive controller. It’s all about precision when you use a wheel. For this reason although we have the computer technology to do it, we still use a pedal and steering wheel in real cars as opposed to using joysticks like a normal video game controller or the controller for an RC car.

Logitech-G27-Racing-Wheel

Construction and Feel:

The materials used in the G27 are sturdy and it feels almost like you are racing using a aftermarket racing wheel like a Momo steering wheel for a racecar. Although most of the parts are plastic the G27 is durable under most wear and tear situations.

The shifter is both soft and sturdy. I would compare it to using a shifter in a manual Japanese car like Honda Prelude or Nissan Skyline. The wheel itself has flappy paddles which can be used to much like in a real Ferrari or Lamborghini. It is a matter of personal preference and the G27 provides both the flappy paddles and the normal manual shifter. The wheel part has an LED tachometer, which is color coated green, yellow, and red, which makes using a manual gearbox a more viable option in your game.

Since the pedals are made out of drilled metal it feels like the pedals found in a modified street car or a racecar. As they are sturdy, it’s no problem to push down on them as hard as you can, if need be. With the inclusion of a clutch pedal that’s highly responsive you can power drift to your hearts content if you want to drive like that.

logitech g27

Conclusion and Recommendations:

If you are serious about playing racing simulators I recommend a wheel like the G27 to get the precision you need for competitive racing.

A racing wheel system like this one works extremely well when paired up with the Playseat chairs that are ideal for having a sturdy armature that keeps your controllers in place and gives you a much more realistic car feel. I haven’t tested the G27 with a Playseat chair but I have used a chair like that at multiple game conventions and they do make a huge difference and are much more favorable over using a regular chair and desk/table for setting up a racing wheel.

The G27 costs about $200 retail so it might be outside the budget for many gamers but then again there aren’t that many racing simulation gamers out there anymore and those that are into that genre are always concerned with having as good of a controller as possible to be able to execute precise maneuvers.

BlazeOn

blazeon-atlus - nes - gameplay screenshot

Released by Atlus Co Ltd in 1992 this Japanese space shooter might look a little familiar when you first start off. Honestly, at first I thought I was playing a bootleg copy of R-type, but as the game continues on you find enough differences to move it out of the bootleg category and into the standard space shooter category.

blazeon-atlus - nes - gameplay screenshot

Now don’t get me wrong if you love these types of games then you’ll understand there is only so much you can do, but the key question becomes, is the gameplay fun. In BlazeOn you fight one against an army of enemies and like R-type you are not always in free open space. You end up traveling inside enemy bases and end up fighting a boss at the end.

blazeon-atlus - nes - gameplay screenshot

When you start off your ship has two attacks, your main blaster and a missile that fires straight ahead at enemies. After a while you will encounter some enemies that when you kill them they will leave an outline of themselves and when you fly into it you morph into your own version of that enemy.

blazeon-atlus - nes - gameplay screenshot

Now you have access to their abilities which gives you an even bigger upper hand on the enemy. Some of the enemies you can morph into have a special attack with limited charges while others are specialized for certain conditions like fighting inside the base and shooting at turrets and such.

blazeon-atlus - nes - gameplay screenshot

Like most space shooters the idea is not to get overwhelmed, especially when in a base when you have enemies flying at you while turrets and other defenses are trying to take you out. Obviously the key is to be in an upgraded ship when you get to a boss so you can take it out quicker.

Overall the game is fun, you have you basic controls and decent fight music including individual scores for the boss fights. The game can get frustrating at times as some of the enemies you morph into are not especially useful when you get them. Again, twitch factor is the key to avoid being killed quickly like I am in the video.

Mega Man VII

So we take a look at Mega Man VII for the SNES. The game is definitely worth checking and going over as it’s probably one of the better SNES Mega Man games.

Mega Man VII - snes- gameplay screenshot

The music is Capcom’s soundtrack at its best. It’s as enjoyable as the NES counter parts and very fulfilling! The transition from NES Mega Man to SNES Mega Man was a success! The sound effects could have been a little better but I understand what they were trying to do especially with the release of the X series. The main idea was to make Mega Man a more kid friendly game because X was more of a serious game. That’s just my theory and that’s just how it looks like.

Mega Man VII - snes- gameplay screenshot

The graphics are quite enriching and beautiful for such a SNES title. Mega Man has never looked more lively and he is quite enjoyable to look at especially when you aren’t doing anything with him and he just stares side to side. You know he wants to shoot at stuff! Either way, all the classic Mega Man characters are here including Proto Man and the introduction of Bass starts in this game as well. They all look sharp and lively, it’s a great sight especially to gamers that were playing 8-bit Mega Man all these years.

Mega Man VII - snes- gameplay screenshot

There is not much to say about the Gameplay, it’s Mega Man after all! Mega man is known for its action packed shooting everywhere levels! The bosses are as tough as ever and represent a great challenge. The introduction to collecting clamps as money to create new items and such was a great addition to the series. It gave it more of an RPG taste and helped you through your quest to defeat Dr. Wily.

Mega Man VII - snes- gameplay screenshot

Mega Man games have been known for having amazing replay value and this one is no different. I can always go back to this one and beat it in a single run from time to time. It’s just a very enjoyable game and believe it or not, I feel the same way about many of the NES counterparts. There is just so much joy of defeating robot masters and shooting everywhere that never gets all. Mega Man is where it’s at for replay value.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kd4M6Kmnn6U[/youtube]

Finally, this game is a must have for any collector or player. You will get a side-scroller that’s definitely worth every single penny. You might end up paying a little too much for this game but it’s a great addition and gameplay experience to anyone! Be sure not to miss this game, and don’t forget to check out the X series for the same console. Till next week!

Gamer Profile: Pamela Horton

[youtube id=”J7hzHlIsjwY” width=”633″ height=”356″]

 My favorite classic game would have to be Chrono Trigger for the SNES. I’ve always been a Nintendo girl even though I own all systems. ~Pamela Horton

Pamela Horton

Favorite Classic Game: Chrono Trigger

The great thing about the culture of gaming is the variety of people you meet from all over the world with their own stories and history. Then you find out they love some of the same games you do and there is an instant connection. In our Gamer Profile Series we explore the love of classic gaming that people have from a Major computer company founder to a Major League Baseball Player, to a baseball player to a Playboy Playmate of the month.

Pamela Horton is 25, hails from Wichita Kansas and is Playboy’s October 2012 Playmate of the Month. She is also featured on the cover of the magazine’s October 2012. Now what could possibly be hotter than a Playboy Playmate, one who is a true gamer as well.

Ms. October is multitalented, from a League of Legends player to an avid comic book fan and artist:

“I’ve delved into everything—acrylics, pastels, sculpting and even glassblowing,” said Miss October in a previous interview.  “I’ve also always loved video games and comic books, so when I paint in oil, I start with something realistic, but it inevitably scoots off into cartoon territory.  I’m definitely prone to the fantastic!”

Now she is on the cover of Playboy and we had a chance to chat with her about her love of gaming, her artistic side and being a Playmate of the Month.

Pamela Horton - Playboy Magazine

Tell us about your gaming past, what games you started out playing?

I’ve been playing since I was about 5 years old. The first game I ever played was Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past on the SNES. 🙂

What would you say your favorite classic game is?

My favorite classic game would have to be a tossup between Chrono Trigger and Earthbound for the SNES. I’ve always been a Nintendo girl even though I own all systems.

When did you first get into MMO’s?

A boyfriend in high school made me make a character on his FFXI account. I made a little Tarutaru Red Mage. I was hooked from there!

Tell us about how you got into League of Legends and about the characters you play and your playstyle?

I heard about it from my group of friends who had read articles on it back in 2009. The very first character I ever played was Janna. I was really good with her (or so I thought.) The second character I played was Teemo. It was love at first mushroom kill. He’s so cute! With Teemo I play AP hybrid, starting with boots and pots, building into a malady and a wits end.

I always built Magic Resist because I was usually mid with Teemo. I was hard on banks top too. 🙂 I also play an AP support Soraka so my heals and skills do more than your typical support. It tricks the enemy team to blowin their ults and CDs thinking they are going to get a kill. Then they see their target full health and start focusing me. 😀

Pamela Horton - Playboy Magazine

What other games do you play?

I play World of Warcraft, (still) play Final Fantasy XI, I just got Pokemon Black 2, Theathrythm, Final Fantasy, Mark of the Ninja… I play a lot of stuff at one time haha

Now being a gamer girl is hard enough, but in your case do you find it even harder to be a gamer girl? What is the reaction if/when people find out?

It’s usually 50/50. When they are negative, they are super negative. When its positive, I make new friends who appreciate my talents as a gamer!

What coming books are you into?

My friend just had me start reading Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. I love it so far. But whenever a new Dean Koontz book comes out I get it immediately!

Tell us about your art and the items you offer on your site?

I do art commissions and work on a lot of “cartoon” art. My personal comic style has a likeness to Jhonen Vasquez (the creator of Invader Zim). I can do realistic work but I always end up doing something cartoony!

You also consider yourself a gym rat, can you tell us about your workout routine?

I’m not a gym rat. That was another one of those tailored statements. I go to the gym maybe the week before a photoshoot. Other than that I don’t really go. Hahaha

What led you to Playboy?

Playboy actually came to me! One of their submitting photographers wanted to send me in for Cyber Girl but his editor wanted me to test for Playmate and here I am!

What is it like to be on the cover of Playboy and be the playmate of the month?

It is the biggest honor I have ever had. Each playmate is hand-picked by Hugh Hefner, and to have that sincere pleasure I will be forever grateful.

Thanks to Playboy for the images and video.

Be sure to check out our other celebrity gamer profiles.
If you’d like to send us your own gamer profile e-mail us.

MegaMan X3

Megaman x3 - snes - gameplay screenshot

So it’s time for another pick of the week even though it’s a little late but we’ll keep them coming along steadily. This time around we have Mega Man X3 for the SNES. The game itself is the final release in the SNES trilogy of the X series and in my opinion, the toughest one of them all. You may not get a hadoken or a fire punch like in previous games but you’ll get whatever you need to get the job done. Read on!

Capcom has always been known for having such great soundtracks in their games and this one is like the others. The music is memorable and has its classic Capcom bits all over it. You’ll enjoy this soundtrack as much as the previous X games.
Megaman x3 - snes - gameplay screenshot
The graphics are a little disappointing as they look exactly like the first X game graphics! Even with the help of the FX chip, this game wasn’t able to showcase much better graphical interface. I’m not saying I’m disappointed as Capcom and Mega Man games have always had that similarities on their sequels which is that they don’t change much over their releases. The gameplay is king of these series anyways.
Megaman x3 - snes - gameplay screenshot
The X games gave new life to an already used to Mega Man series. This time around, X can climb on walls and such which is something you didn’t see in the original Mega Man series. The game itself is challenging from beginning to end so you better bring your A-game if you want to be able to get through it. I personally think this game is the toughest one of the three in the SNES. If we talk about the rest of the releases in other consoles, well not going to get into that.
Megaman x3 - snes - gameplay screenshot
Mega Man games are always great replay value. The thing about these games is that you can get through it in one run if you know enough of the game that is. Practice makes perfect! I dare you go and play through all three X games in one sitting. I know I would if I had them! Mega Man X collection anyone?
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lUlHBc_t94c[/youtube]

So to conclude, the game itself is totally worth it. You might end up paying a lot for this in its SNES form so be sure to check out cheaper alternatives like the PS2 compilation or an emulator. You can’t go wrong! Just play this great game and defeat Sigma once more!!

Killer Instinct Comeback?

Killer-Instinct-SNES-Gameplay-Screenshot-Box

Killer Instinct Comeback

Could there be a Killer Instinct remake or sequel in the future? That is the questions being asked after it was discovered that Microsoft has renewed the trademark for the classic fighter. Killer Instinct was originally released by Rare for the SNES in 1994 and featured some incredible combo’s that you could chain together and even connect to your finisher, your ultimate. Also, in its arcade version, was one of the first games to use an internal hard disk drive alongside the games ROM. This was due to the pre-rendered sprites created with Silicon Graphics and the pre-rendered movie-like backgrounds.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-dR-7TO_LD0[/youtube]

Now before you get all excited about a sequel, the original announcement came from Xbox Live so there is a good chance KI is getting a HD release for XBL Arcade. However, that is fine with us as well. We will keep on top of this and let you know when we learn more.

Skyblazer

Skyblazer - SNES - Gameplay Screenshot

Skyblazer (1994)
By: Ukiyotei / Sony Imagesoft Genre: Platform Players: Difficulty: Medium
Featured Version: Nintendo SNES 
Also Available For: Nothing

The arrival of the monstrous 32-bit consoles in the mid 90’s may have brought lots of flashy polygons and lighting effects with them but something else their arrival did was to overshadow a good few of the later releases for the trusty 16-bit machines, and among them was this offering from Sony which must surely have been one of the last games they made for someone else’s console. It takes the form of a platform/adventure game and is actually pretty flashy itself which is just as well since its story is not. It’s an adventure that sees you take the role of a young scamp named Sky, believe or not, which presumably means his adventure will take the form of a ‘blaze’ across the magical kingdom in which he lives; a magical kingdom, incidentally, which is now bereft of its princess, Ariana, who has been kidnapped by the nefarious ‘Lord of War’, Ashura, who intends to use her magical properties to summon Raglan, an ancient creature of unspeakable terror. The story gets a little more detailed with the odd piece of dialogue here and there but the basic objective is – rescue Ariana and smack Ashura upside the head!

Skyblazer - SNES - Gameplay Screenshot

The quest at hand is a rather large one consisting of eighteen stages which are selected, and can also be revisited, via the map screen which shows them spread across the fictional world in question. They include the usual forests, castles, temples, and caverns, as well as a few more unusual locations, and they’re patrolled by a considerable variety of enemies such as sorcerers, dragons, and strange monsters beyond description, all of whom are intent on depleting Sky’s energy meter. He’s a fairly agile guy though. He can run and jump around like any decent platform hero but he can also climb up walls as well which proves to be extremely helpful. His attacks come in two forms. The most basic sees him unleash his fury via punches and kicks which are so ferocious they leave blue swirly things in their wake! These are of course available without restriction. His more potent attacks requires magic power which is represented by a meter similar to the energy one at the top of the screen.
Skyblazer - SNES - Gameplay Screenshot

There are eight magic attacks in all but you start the game with only the first. The others are acquired one at a time after successfully vanquishing successive bosses and, whilst looking quite sparkly and flashy, actually only perform the usual old power-up tricks – more powerful projectile attacks, enemy freeze, temporary shield, smart bomb, etc. You can cycle through all the magics you’ve obtained and of course each has its uses. Using them depletes your magic power, but it’s possible to collect bottles to replenish your reserves. Bottles to recover energy also exist and there are large and small varieties of each. The only other special items to keep your eyes open for are gems. Collecting a hundred of these will award you with an extra life but there’s also some bigger ones dotted around which are worth ten normal ones. All these items are dropped by defeated enemies but they can also often be found around the stages, located in hard-to-reach places of course, so mastering Sky’s movements is key here.

Skyblazer - SNES - Gameplay Screenshot

He doesn’t have a huge repertoire of actions available but control over him is near-flawless, and it needs to be for much of the game. Quite a bit of the action is made up of standard platforming but Sky’s agility is called into question on many occasions as well. There’s some steep walls he needs to clamber up, the second stage mostly takes place through tree-tops with monsters hiding inside, the fourth stage sees him commandeer a mini-hang-glider, there’s a Nebulus-style rotating tower stage with precarious little platforms, and some areas have moving sections of wall which need to be navigated very quickly to avoid a crushing! These comprise but a few examples of the varied gameplay on offer here, and there’s also the bosses. Rather than the usual one boss per stage, here there’s only ten boss battles, but they also invariably require lots of leaping and wall-climbing tomfoolery as well! Fortunately it’s possible to use your magic during these battles and success is generally met with a chit-chat with the old man who guides you through the game and a return to the map screen from where it’s sometimes possible to choose between several stages.

Skyblazer - SNES - Gameplay Screenshot

As mentioned, one area in which Skyblazer excels is the variety between stages. Some games try to add mini-games or bolt-on inappropriate sections that don’t feel right but here the balance has been struck just about right. Each of the many stages is distinctive and each requires a slightly different approach without ever betraying the style and feel of the game. You even have to travel between continents on the map screen by hang-glider which sees the game switch to a 3D view, using trusty Mode 7 of course! A few other touches of Mode 7 have been used during the course of the game too, without ever going overboard, and that’s typical of the graphics used throughout really – instead of trying to do too much, Ukiyotei have ensured that everything is clean, neat, and finely polished, and the result is fantastic. Accordingly, the sprites all feature an ideal amount of detail and the backdrops, whilst generally quite basic, are beautifully drawn with fantastic use of colour throughout.

Skyblazer - SNES - Gameplay Screenshot
There’s some nice special effects during the course of the game, such as the rain on the first stage, and the animation is nice too. The foreground graphics aren’t as varied as the everything else, consisting mostly of rock, but all look great as well. Splendidly, the audio is also of a very high standard. The sound effects are good, although not hugely numerous or memorable, but the music is superb. The style is typical of the SNES and its distinctive sound chip and there’s lots of different tunes which are very rousing and moody and add a lot to the atmosphere of the game. The various stages, as well as the aforementioned variety, are generally very well designed, and increasingly challenging as well (although there is a handy password system). Most of the usual themes are visited here at some point like woodland areas, slippy ice, deserts, castles, etc, but there is usually at least an attempt to do something a bit more interesting with them than the norm.

Skyblazer - SNES - Gameplay Screenshot

When I first started playing this game my initial impressions of it were great anyway, but after the first few stages I really started wondering what might be in store for me on the next one too! Sure enough, throughout most of its length it continually surprised me, and pretty much always in a good way. The rise in difficulty is well-graded – the first day’s play should see you reach the second continent but it does get quite tough and requires some quick thinking as well as quick reflexes. In addition to the modestly-numbered enemies there’s plenty of traps and hazards around the stages such as moving platforms, spikes, fire, and all the usual stuff, as well as a few less common ones like rolling logs. Using (or saving) your magic power also requires a little strategic thinking as it can occasionally be used to pass some of these hazards. Overall, it’s hard to think of anything bad about Skyblazer. The SNES sets the standard pretty high for platformers but this one is a tremendously entertaining, varied, and long-lasting game which deserves your attention, however belatedly. The last good release for the SNES? Probably not but it’s certainly a good release. A very good one in fact!

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hqzYe00NLfw[/youtube]

RKS Score: 8/10

Killer Instinct

Killer Instinct - SNES - Gameplay Screenshot

This week we have another gem added to the list. Killer Instinct was Nintendo’s answer to other fighters out there and a true classic game. They were very successful with it although the franchise was long abandoned, we can still look back at this game and see what Nintendo did right.

Killer Instinct - SNES - Gameplay Screenshot

The music is quite catchy for a fighter game. There might not be classic tunes like from Street Fighter 2 but there is something special that came with this game and that’s Killer Kuts. It’s a disc with remixed music of the game!

The graphics are beautiful. The SNES looked to be in its limits when this was released. The game has a 32bit feel although it’s being run in a 16bit console. All I can say is that this was the shit back in 1995!

Killer Instinct - SNES - Gameplay Screenshot

In this game you have to find your favorite fighter and master him or her. You better learn all the finishing moves, combos, and of course the Ultras! The gameplay is very easy to learn so anyone can pick up and play. The next level comes to when you increase the difficulty and decide to take people on the arcade. Of course, that was a 90s thing.

Killer Instinct - SNES - Gameplay Screenshot

Like any fighter, this game is awesome to play against another friend. Have a fighters party and take on all your buddies in a tournament. I can go on and on….it also helps if you have a grudge against a friend and want to kill him via-video games. That works!

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-dR-7TO_LD0[/youtube]

So to conclude, the game is a classic that should not be forgotten. With such memorable characters, great fighting engine, and lots of replay value you can’t go wrong with Killer Instinct! An absolute must have for any retro gamer!

Pirate Games: Pokemon Stadium

This is one of the more unique and playable pirates out there. Of course, there is a vast amount of pirate carts both hacks and originals out there and this one I gotta say is of the more decent ones. The game is pretty much what Pokemon Stadium would have been for the SNES if a bad developer would have released it although not everything is a pain. This game isn’t bad but it’s also not that good, it’s like gambling except you get better at it and can guarantee a victory every single time. The game is simple, you pick your Pokemon from a bunch of them (Not 150 in case you were wondering) Although the game does include the more popular ones from the series. One of the problems is that they have the wrong names, now I don’t know if those are the names of the Pokemon in another language but I do know that the game is from Hong Kong so there could be a possibility.

Pirate Games - Pokemon Stadium - SNES - Gameplay screenshot

The game consists of two modes, arcade mode and vs mode. I’m sure you can tell what these do but just in case you don’t know, arcade mode is like the story mode where you will do battle against the computer until you defeat all the pokemon. Vs mode is the mode to play against your friend and works the same way except the game won’t get you anywhere. The way to win in this game is quite simple. You power up your pokemon for an attack, when the power meter builds up you’ll be ready to attack. There are attacks that uses your whole power meter so you won’t be able to use them unless you are at your max. If your opponent gets to attack first, you’ll have two options to choose from. You either try to evade or defend which don’t make much sense until you select them.

Pirate Games - Pokemon Stadium - SNES - Gameplay screenshot

When you defend, you take the hit at reduced damage but when you evade you will have to stop the arrow on a bar in the middle kind of like aiming. The more centered it is, the better chance of dodging the attack and taking less damage. Yes, you still take damage even if you dodge it successfully but then you can make the opponent’s pokemon use their attack to the max and have to charge up again while your power meter is still charged and ready to attack them head on. These power meters are crucial to your victory so should be used wisely. If you attack the opponent’s pokemon while the power meter is empty, there is a very high chance of giving a lot of damage. You will win in no time! The main trick is to stop the arrow in the middle to have a better chance at dodging and taking less damage, once you have this figured out the rest is quite easy.

So this should be enough to make you want to play this game. I know you want to play this one right? You want it right? Yeah, you are begging for it I just know it! Well here you go, the rom is yours! I was lucky enough to pick this game up last year while I was on vacation. It’s quite rare to find so I suggest you use the rom I just provided you. It does appear once in a while on eBay but last one went for almost 90 dollars.

Super Donkey Kong 2

 

[youtube id=”qra_rvWOws0″ width=”633″ height=”356″]

Super Donkey Kong 2

When it comes to pirate originals you can’t help to wonder how much effort these developers must have put into these games. In some cases, a lot, in others probably not much and in certain ones, a very lazy attempt to resell Mario, (Mario hacks) Nothing! You do have to give the creators of this game a lot of credit. They may not have done a great job but the attempt is there, it just seems that it was too much but it would have been a lot better if they weren’t rushed. I’m sure that’s what they are thinking right now, yeah that’s what they are thinking as they are sitting in their desks at Nintendo of Japan headquarters….well maybe, but this game delivers with the little material it brings. This game delivers a very painful gaming experience but you can’t help wonder the possibilities this game could have had. You do have to put aside the fact that this is a pirate original, I mean just think about it. How many people were appointed to create this game, it might have been four or maybe just one. You have to think of the budget and deadline! That’s one of the reasons I appreciate this game.

Super Donkey Kong 2 - Pirated Games - Gameplay Screenshot

The game looks really good for the perished 8-bit console and the gameplay is on the so-so factor. The controls are sluggish but with enough practice and precision (And no whining) You can get through the game with ease. The music mimics the SNES counter part but too much of it can hurt your ears and make you go deaf especially with those annoying rat sounds that sound more like beeps than a rat at all. The game consists of three levels in total which is quite short and the third one ends up being very difficult so beware you whiners.

Super Donkey Kong 2 - Pirated Games - Gameplay Screenshot

You play as Diddy Kong in the ship level but at the third and final level you’ll be the snake mutation of Diddy Kong. This one really creeps me out but being serious and all, it’s just the jumping snake you turn into in the game(Not sure what happened to riding the damn animals). The game does show signs of being incomplete especially since you can collect coins for the shop which you will never reach as the game only has three levels. You can also collect the 1-up balloons as well as the bananas. If you get hit once, you are a dead monkey so make sure you know the controls real well.

There is not much left to tell about such a short game. This game is available as a single pirate cart and even comes in multi-carts (I should know as I have it in my clone). For those of you not wanting to spend the average price of 15 dollars for the game, well guess what? Like in other entries you will have the rom to download here.

David Kudrev: Retrospekt

Retrospekt

Name: David Kudrev

Title: Founder/Writer

Company/Website: Retrospekt

Secret-of-Mana-Box

 

Favorite Classic Game: Secret of Mana on the SNES

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yh7Z5IZ1gjI[/youtube]

Why it is your favorite: Not only the colourful graphics and amazing soundtrack presents itself as one of a kind in a jRPG, but also the storyline, and longevity of 3 days’ worth of gameplay nonstop. I should add, that the game has a multiplayer system that no other game has ever had (at least to my recollection), where it starts off as a single player game, but when meeting other main characters on your journey, your mates can then join up via Multitap and play as them with you as well.

Yuri Moskva: Frogwares

Frogwares logo

Name: Yuri Moskva

Title: Community manager

Company: Frogwares

Ninja Gaiden Trilogy

Favorite Classic Game: Ninja Gaiden Trilogy (SNES)

Why it is your favorite game: Being a huge fan of karate-ninja stuff I was completely mesmerized when I first played this game. I was always concerned that this game is much more advanced in terms of gameplay and possibilities than any other SNES game.  And all the possibilities, weapons, skills and the atmosphere… Sorry, I have to go find my old SNES console.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OGoja-AN1i8[/youtube]

Tekken 2 (SNES)

[youtube id=”2tTgqm9QQlU” width=”633″ height=”356″]

Tekken 2 (SNES)

Pirates come in crappy shapes and sizes. From the Famicom to the Nintendo 64 (Believe it or not) But there are some that just seem to good to be true. This is where Tekken 2 for the SNES comes in. Yes! You heard it! It’s Tekken for your 16-bit console. You might be getting all excited about this “gem” but it’s far from being a “gem”. The game is memorable in many ways and none of those ways are good. We are going to have a brief chat about Tekken 2 for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System.

Tekken 2 - Bootleg games - SNES - Gameplay Screenshot

The game has some 3D rendition to it but just some. It mostly plays like a Donkey Kong style graphics fighter. Even though there aren’t any Donkey Kong fighters out there, the game uses similar graphics to the game. The controls are just dead awful. They don’t respond half the time and it doesn’t help that they make the computer amazingly strong and very tough to beat. There will be times where you’ll get hit badly and your energy is almost done. The computer also tends to block at the perfect time. It’ll take a lot of practice to be able to defeat this master mind but I’m sure the options can offer you a better chance at victory.

Tekken 2 - Bootleg games - SNES - Gameplay Screenshot

 

With the nightmarish controls put aside, I can tell you that the music is no better. Believe it or not, they use a Mega Man X music at the title screen which gives me the impression that the creators of this pirate also created Pokemon Stadium for the SNES as well. The music just lacks the Capcom tough which would have been a good idea to leave but it would have felt left out either way. I guess that was easier than porting the Tekken soundtrack but then again there wasn’t a soundtrack to being with.

Tekken 2 - Bootleg games - SNES - Gameplay Screenshot

To conclude, this game is something to pick up and play but then throw away. There is a very small chance that you’ll run into this game here in the States but we on the look out for it in such countries as Mexico, Argentina, and Peru. Even Brazil has some interesting pirates to this day and Master System games you never heard of. Yes, the world of piracy is still going strong especially thanks to us retro gamers. Don’t even get me started on China….till next week.

The Lost Vikings

The Lost Vikings - Sega Genesis - Gameplay Screenshot

Lost Vikings, The (1992)
By: Silicon & Synapse / Interplay  Genre: Platform / Puzzle  Players: 1-2  Difficulty: Medium
Featured Version: Sega MegaDrive / Genesis
Also Available For: SNES, GameBoy Advance, Amiga, CD32, PC

Now that I think about it, the sub-genre of platform/puzzle games, on which I am rather keen, is a little obscure as genres go, but the combination of two older and exceedingly popular types of game has proved to be a fantastic partnership. Examples have taken many weird and wonderful forms over the years and one of the most interesting (though not necessarily best) is of the sort that includes multiple characters with differing abilities. This was of course made popular by the great Lemmings. Dozens of similar games soon appeared and most were average at best, but The Lost Vikings is a pretty rare example of another game taking that premise, putting a different slant on it, and actually succeeding.

The Lost Vikings - Sega Genesis - Gameplay Screenshot

Starring as the multiple characters in this game are the Vikings of the title who are indeed lost. Actually, ‘captives’ might be a more appropriate word as our three Nordic friends have apparently been abducted by the curiously-named Tomator, emperor of the alien Croutonian Empire, who has been collecting unique and interesting specimens for his intergalactic zoo. They obviously weren’t confined very effectively though as they immediately set out to escape their shackles. To do this you must guide them to the exit on each of the 41 levels (or 37 in the other versions) which are set over various themed worlds (through time, of course!). The first is apparently set within the Croutonian spaceship but others include an Egyptian one (obviously), Pre-Historic, and even toy/food-related ones (not sure what time-period it’s supposed to be though!).

The Lost Vikings - Sega Genesis - Gameplay Screenshot

Before I get carried away though, I’ve just realised how rude I’ve been by failing to introduce the stars of the show – the Vikings themselves! So, say hello to Erik the Swift, Baleog the Fierce, and Olaf the Stout! As you may have guessed, they each have unique abilities so you must use them all as a team to successfully finish each level. Erik can run and jump around the platforms and can also smash down certain walls by headbutting them, Baleog is equipped with a sword and bow (with infinite arrows) with which to battle the various enemies, and Olaf has a large shield which protects him (and indeed the others if they’re behind him) from enemies and hazards, and he can also raise it above his head and glide down from high places.

The Lost Vikings - Sega Genesis - Gameplay Screenshot

To complete a level you must succeed in guiding all three Vikings to its exit. On the first level this takes about one minute but as you go through the game the levels get larger and more complicated as you might expect. They are multi-tiered and most feature ladders, colour-coded keys/locks, switches, and various monstrous and not-so-monstrous enemies. As you progress you’ll encounter more and more obstacles and features such as spring-pads, moving platforms, and even a device that inflates our heroes allowing them to float! The enemies take many forms usually related to the environment you’re in. The pre-historic world, for example, features vicious cavemen, small dragons, and… umm… snails. There’s also numerous guns and other projectile-firing devices around, and a touch from any of these things, or indeed falling too far, will cost the unfortunate Viking one of his three health points.

The Lost Vikings - Sega Genesis - Gameplay Screenshot

Contact with some of the hazards found in the levels, such as spikes or electric forcefields, can cause instant death too, so careful planning is required for the most part, rather than charging around recklessly. Fortunately, hit points are replenished each stage and there are also a few items that can help you such as various foods to replenish your energy and smart bombs to clear the screen of enemies. These items can be transferred from one Viking to another too, depending on who’s most in need, which further emphasises the teamwork aspect of the game which is so prevalent. In fact, in some versions of the game (including this one) it’s possible for you and a friend to control more than one Viking at once.

The Lost Vikings - Sega Genesis - Gameplay Screenshot
As I mentioned earlier, after the success of Lemmings there was a good few games released that tried their own take on the ‘multiple characters with differing abilities’ formula, but in most cases it either seemed unnecessarily tacked-on or that the developers put too much emphasis on it, forgetting to create decent stages for them to explore in the process! Luckily, Silicon & Synapse (who would later become Blizzard Entertainment of Warcraft fame) got the balance just right with this amusing adventure. The levels are well designed for the most part and before each one there’s some humorous banter between the three Vikings (via speech bubbles). They all have unique abilities but they are simple too, and all vital for successful progress through the game’s ever-tougher levels.

The Lost Vikings - Sega Genesis - Gameplay Screenshot
Aesthetically, The Lost Vikings is pretty average. It doesn’t really need flashy graphics and, whilst there is a lot of colour and some nice backgrounds and foregrounds, it’s certainly not ground-breaking either. It’s the same with the sound – effects are kept to a minimum and the music suits the game well enough but isn’t particularly memorable. As with all games of this type though, it’s other aspects of the game’s design that counts, such as level and character design. Happily, near enough every aspect of the gameplay is spot-on. The Vikings themselves are appealing (helped by their entertaining chatter) and are easy to control, and the difficulty curve is reasonably well-balanced too. The only problem is that there’s something of a ‘trial and error’ aspect to some sections of the game, and if you make a mistake and kill a Viking it’s all the way back to the start of the level, and they can get pretty big and complicated later on! Still, each level has a password and it is addictive, with the unique abilities of each Viking making for an interesting and fairly originally-designed game that’s well worth a look.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l-1wmfle9-8[/youtube]

Retro King Simon is a 36 year old guy from England, and likes lots of stuff, including retro videogames, movies, and anime. You can check out his blog here – Red Parsley.

RKS Score: 8/10

What are the best-selling video game consoles of all time?

gaming-consoles

With the holiday season upon us, it appears each modern-day video game console is primed to do more big numbers.  While this is nothing new to video gaming throughout most of the past three decades, the sheer numbers are telling of just how much the industry has grown and how much more it may grow before it levels off.

The original “must have” game console was the Atari Video Computer System, later called the Atari 2600.  While it didn’t catch on right away, the 2600 was the clear sales leader of the early generations, selling around 30 million units in it’s lifetime, six times more than competing consolesIntellivision and ColecoVision sold combined.

Even with such numbers, however, the lifetime figures of Atari’s classic console have been beaten many times over.  While 1996’s Nintendo 64 failed to catch on like retailers had hoped, it still managed to outsell the 2600 in the end my almost 3 million units.  Nonetheless, it was tagged a failure by Nintendo compared to previous consoles.

classic_video_game-consoles

The biggest Nintendo console for some time was theNintendo Entertainment System, which moved almost 62 million consoles in it’s lifetime, saving the video game industry in North America.  Only recently did Nintendo manage to defeat it’s own sales record with the Nintendo Wii, which has now hit the 90 million unit mark.

The NES may come down the lifetime charts by the end of some other console runs, however.  The XBox 360 is nearing the 58 million unit mark with Sony’s PlayStation 3 not far behind it with over 55 million units sold as of this writing.

Even though it is in last place in the current console generation, the PlayStation 3 may still reach the top five selling consoles of all time by the end of it’s run, giving Sony three of the best selling consoles ever.  The PlayStation 2rules the roost with a whopping 153.5 million units sold, a mark that beat Sony’s own record with the originalPlayStation, which shipped over 102 million consoles.

While this article isn’t including handhelds it is interesting to note that the Nintendo DS has sold 149 million units (not including the 3DS model), a number that means it’s already trumped the unreal sales numbers of the original GameBoyhandhelds that had ruled the market for over a decade.

classic-consoles

Here is a list of the top selling consoles of all time, according to Wikipedia.  Where do your favorite systems rank?

1.  Sony PlayStation 2 (2000) – 153.5 million

2.  Sony PlayStation (1994) – 102.49 million

3.  Nintendo Wii (2006) – 89.36 million *

4.  Nintendo Entertainment System (1985) – 61.91 million

5.  Microsoft XBox 360 (2005) – 57.6 million *

6.  Sony PlayStation 3 (2006) – 55.5 million *

7.  Super Nintendo Entertainment System (1990) – 49.10 million

8.  Sega Genesis (1988) – 39 million

9.  Nintendo 64 (1996) – 32.93 million

10. Atari VCS/2600 (1977) – 30 million

11. Microsoft XBox (2001) – 24 million

12. Nintendo GameCube (2001) – 21.74 million

13. Sega Dreamcast (1998) – 10.6 million

14. NEC TurboGrafx-16 (1987) – 10 million

15. Sega Saturn (1994) – 9.5 million

* = Console still in production as of press time.

Super Mario World

Super Mario World - SNES - Box

There’s no doubt that the Mario series is one of the greatest runs in the history of gaming, and no doubt thatSuper Mario World is near the top (if not THE top) of the list. Here is where I give you my opinion. Let me tell you why I’m a bit odd…

I had mentioned during a Sonic review that I preferred that series over Mario. I understand that I’m in the minority, but let me explain…I’ve always preferred my games a bit linear. I like having a goal. I like going from point A to point B to complete that goal. The thing that drives me crazy about the Mario games is that there is so many hidden things, so many warps, so many crazy-ass things going on at the same time, that I sometimes forget why I was playing in the first place…the GOAL. I don’t care about capturing every coin, or every power-up, or finding every secret entrance…I just want to grab that princess and tickle Bowser with my moustache. …or was that the other way around? I just wanted to make myself clear.

Super Mario World - SNES - Map

Anyway, the first thing I wanted to add was…I had fun. I had a lot of fun. There were a couple of times I got stuck and had to hit YouTube for the walkthrough, but …what the hell.

The game starts with the princess getting captured again…which is ridiculous, but these games aren’t known for their clever storylines. Bowser is back with his little minion-creatures, and you have to stop them. Luckily, your brother can help (if you play co-op), and you have a new buddy named Yoshi, who is kind of a cute, lizardy/dino thingy that eats constantly…including most of the bad guys. You can (and will) ride him like a horse, although I personally didn’t have much need for him as long as I had cooler power-ups (more on them later).

Super Mario World - SNES - Gameplay Screenshot- 3

The graphics were the first thing I noticed, where I could tell a huge difference between the NES andSNES processors. The basic look of characters and backgrounds were mimicked from SMB3, but a nice upgrade with the brighter colors. Didn’t look too cartoony, which I thought may be a problem for me. I know this was an early title for the SNES, but was damned impressed with the varied look of the backgrounds, and how smoothly everything ran.

The classic Mario music was all here…light and bubbly for the most part. Very cutesy and expected for the game. It was mixed up for different stages and “boss” fights, the tone changed when necessary…just enough to notice and appreciate, but not distracting.

The sound effects were fun and funny, again expected. Nothing that really jumped out at me…just typical Mario stuff. Jumping, grabbing coins, etc..

The controls were solid, although it can be difficult trying the “combo” buttons like flying (and hold flight). Mario moved fluidly, sometimes a little too fast, but that’s more my problem. Overall, very nice.

Super Mario World - SNES - Gameplay Screenshot- 4

Back to the gameplay, the map system is still present, very similar to SMB3. Complete a level, and a pathway appears for you to travel to the next area. All pretty simple, although there were some hidden areas that needed accessing for pass-through. This is why I needed YouTube. I don’t mind secret areas if they are “bonuses”, but usually frown upon them if they are necessary. Nothing more frustrating to me than completing a level, then finding out I have to redo the level because there was some ordinary block that I was supposed to hit, which will open a secret room, which will give me some key to open another path. Again, I know most people love that stuff, but it irritates the hell out of me. If I’m playing a Tomb Raider game, I don’t want to escape a temple, fly to Rome, complete half that level, then be told the key to the underground tomb is under a rock back in the flippin temple…got it? Having ranted that, this game didn’t nearly have as much of that nonsense as I expected, and (to me) nowhere near as much as some other Mario and Zelda games.

[youtube width=”600″ height=”480″]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MXvHHwOYTFg[/youtube]

I will say the overall challenge of the game was not very high (which I liked), not including my cheating. CHALLENGE, I like. Frustratingly impossible, I don’t. I was grabbing power-ups like they were going out of style, and I found an area or two where I could farm the crap out of 1-ups. Not cheating exactly, but I wanted to make sure I could complete the game. Most levels were pretty easy to get through, and the replay value (for most people) is extremely high because of the countless secrets.

The bosses were ridiculously easy, just bounce on their heads a couple of times…and there you go. Not really a challenge.

Mario could get super, ride a dinosaur, swim, fly with a magic cape, spin-kick some dudes…all good fun. I really did enjoy the hell out of this game, and the imagination that goes into developing something like this should always be held in the highest regard, even if you’re not a fan of cute platformers (which I am).

I also found myself highly addicted to completing the game, which is the highest compliment I can give. I certainly never got bored with it, or probably ever would. Maybe I’ll get back to it someday and try to find those many secrets I passed up…the game does have save features after all.

Overall, I give it a 9/10. In most people’s eyes this is a perfect game, and it is great. But, the game was either too easy or too difficult, depending on the level or if the “hidden area“ NEEDED accessing. That balance was just wacky. But, it was fun…and that’s usually all I ask out of a game.

 

Classic Games you would give as gifts today

Video Game Stocking

True story, I was in a Kay Bee toy store several years before they closed and was looking for some discounted games. An older woman comes in and asks about the Playstation2 which was brand new at the time. The guy behind the counter tells her the Atari Jaguar would be much better liked for her son and showed her a wonder bundle of games and told her he could give them all to her for one special price.

Well, if you know anything about the Atari Jaguar you know any kid would not want that over a brand new PS2. Now yes, I could have said something, but I was an evil teenager at the time and I was hoping to be there after the holidays when she would have to return it in a panic.

I was thinking about that story the other day and with the holidays almost here I thought about great games that would make great gifts today. Now of course if you gave most people an old game instead of something new like Call of Duty or Skyrim they would freak. However, what if it would be appreciated, what classic game would you proudly give as a gift?

Sonic 2

Sonic 2

For me this was Sonic perfection, the level design the music and everything in-between made this a great game. Even today it is the type of game you can load up and enjoy a quick run through. It may not have the graphics of today, but people are liking Sonic Generations and its look back to classic Sonic so as a retro stocking stuffer this game would be received well.

Super Mario RPG

Super Mario RPG

When you mix the fun world of Mario with the RPG nature of the Squaresoft games you get an adventure that stands the test of time. Super Mario RPG had it all, a good storyline, great characters, wonderful music and a fun battle system with boss fights and secret areas and the game was pretty long to boot. Compared to later games like Final Fantasy 7, it may seem lacking, but in its time it was ahead of its day and led to many great Paper Mario games.

Final Fantasy 7

final-fantasy-7

Speaking of FF7, most people crown this game the king of the series and even though you might get tired of seeing people pretend they are Sephiroth or horrible cosplay of Tifa, the game itself was a masterpiece. Again we have the perfect combination of story, characters, gameplay and music and all were rated five stars. Many gamers still want a remake and not the one on the PSP. No doubt the painted ground and other outdated graphics might look strange to today’s gamer, but for a classic game this must rank as one of the all-time greats.

Super Castlevania

Super Castlevania

How many of you have played this in some form in the last year or so. For many it is like going to church, you do it once or twice a year. Super Castlevania is one of those games that every once in a while you have to play through because of how fun it was and I have to toss  STON in there as well because they were both so well done that even with outdated graphics the game is still awesome. The point is that great games are great games regardless of their outdated look. Castlevania was fun to play and it did not matter if that bat looked more like a dust bunny or that the whip was seriously pixelated. Once you saw someone playing it or a video or even a mention you most likely loaded it up yourself. Come on, you know right now you are thinking about it.

Stocking Stuffer

Now obviously there are a ton of great games I missed, but that is for you to tell us. In fact we will make it a contest. Tell us what classic game would be worth giving as a gift this holiday season and the best written one will be featured in an article and you will win a prize. Detail is the key here and the better you make your case the better your chance to win. Even if you do not want to participate in the contest we want to know which game you think should be on this list.

My Favourite Games: VI

Gran Turismo – PlayStation (1998)

Gran Turismo - PlayStation

There’s been a few landmark driving games over the years but I can’t remember any that had the impact that Gran Turismo had. Much of the adulation it received initially was earned by the near photo-realistic quality of its action replays, although this always confused me – sure they look good, but it’s the game that counts, isn’t it? Luckily, this aspect of the game was also ground-breaking in many ways. Featuring masses of real cars, numerous testing circuit-based courses, extensive car customisation options, and lots and lots of competitions, this was a driving game fan’s dream come true, and is still the series others aspire to. Many prefer one of the various sequels but this original is the one I always return to, mainly because I’ve never been too good at ‘simulation’ driving games but this game lets you keep boosting the power of your car until you’re more powerful than your rivals (the sequels brought in BHP limits for races)! My trusty Honda Prelude destroys all!

Super Metroid – SNES (1994)

Super Metroid - SNES

I can still remember buying this game second-hand in my local game/music store. I had little knowledge of it and, thanks to my prior Sega allegiance, I had never played the earlier Metroid games, but I had heard that it was supposedly something special. I really didn’t know what to expect so, upon playing it for the first time, proceeded with caution. What followed was one of greatest awakenings of my gaming life! I was initially wondering what was going on (no one reads instruction books unless they get stuck!) but was quickly immersed in the atmospheric, haunting world of Brinstar and all the other amazingly designed areas of Super Metroid’s world. Not many games have hooked me like this one did – I spent hours, days, weeks trying to uncover all the secrets and explore every square inch of its fascinating game world. In fact, given my love of this game, it’s nothing short of insane that I have yet to get around to playing the subsequent Metroid games!

Exhumed – Saturn (1997)

Exhumed - Saturn

Due to my lack of interest in modern gaming and PC gaming generally, there’s very few first-person shooters I’ve actually played – something which perhaps needs to be rectified – but this is one of the few exceptions, and a damn fine one it is too. Its set in and around Egypt which gives it the potential for a great story and lots of secret passages and traps, not to mention a fantastic atmosphere! It strikes the perfect balance between puzzles, exploration, and shooting and features a huge game world to play through, with new parts of older levels being continually opened up after the acquisition of new items and abilities. A superbly programmed game by the now sadly defunct Lobotomy Software which did things on the Saturn that supposedly weren’t possible.

Psycho Fox – Master System (1989)

Psycho Fox - Master System

My affection for the Master System has been well documented in these pages and this is one of my very favourite games for it. Sure, in mere screenshots it probably just looks like every other 8/16-bit platformer going – grass, desert, ice stages, formulaic characters, cute graphics, etc, but take the time to play it and you’ll find that it’s a lot more than that. Featuring four playable characters with unique abilities that you can switch between using ‘transformation sticks’, large stages with multiple routes, a perfectly-graded difficulty level, and lots of secrets, there’s plenty here to keep any fan of platformers happy for a good while. It is also home to several features that I hadn’t seen before, but which would later become commonplace in the genre, so for it’s time it was pretty original too. On top of all that, it has springy poles that can fling you halfway across the stage! Great fun and addictive as hell!

Ocarina of Time – Nintendo 64 (1998)

Ocarina of Time - Nintendo 64

To my shame this remains the only Zelda I’ve played properly (yes, I know!) – as much as I have enjoyed the few RPG’s I’ve played, I guess my attention span isn’t up to it! However, this game was one of the few I’ve actually bought full price on the day of release and it was worth every penny. Like Super Metroid, Link’s first 3D adventure draws you into its world completely and hours pass by without you noticing. Featuring lots of large areas and dungeons, many of which reveal new secrets every time you return to them, countless side-quests, dozens of characters to interact with, and a whole host of items and equipment to collect, some new, some old, this is about as immersive as videogames get for me. Now, I must get around to playing A Link To The Past!

 

Happy 10th Birthday GameCube: My Favorite Games

Gamecube Cake

Ah where has the time gone? I remember reading about the GameCube and thinking, really, tiny discs like that? Now you are 10 years old and as Obsolete as the rest of us. Yes, the GameCube is now known for the titles you can purchase for the Wii more than a game system, but it did have some good games that I enjoyed. Here they are in no particular order.

Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door

papermario2_gamecube-box

I loved the original Super Mario RPG on the SNES and when I discovered Paper Mario was to be its successor I had to give it a shot. Paper Mario is a beginners RPG whereas it is very easy to play, at least this version. However, the ease did not make the game bad, on the contrary, it was very fun and the animation was unique and fit well with the storyline.

SoulCalibur 2

Soul-Calibur-2-gamecube-box

Fans of Soul Blade and the first SoulCalibur got a real treat on the GameCube version. Not only was the game put together well, but fans got to play as the exclusive character, Link and who could resist that. The music and graphics were well done and overall was a great year for the franchise.

Resident Evil

resident-evil-gamecube-box

Sure, it was a remake, but when it is done right giving people the chance to experience an updated version of the game they loved it deserves praise. This game was visually stunning and brought back all the fear you had from the original. The audio was redone as well and sounded fantastic, if you owned a GameCube and liked RE then you had to have this game.

F Zero GX

F-Zero-GX-gamecube-box

Fans of the futuristic racer could rejoice in this title that expanded on the original with new visuals and more ways to customize your vehicle than time would allow. This had everything fans wanted, the speed, the visuals, even the music and kept you interested in playing for a long time.

Resident Evil 4

resident-evil-4-gamecube-box

One of the best RE’s period and a must have on the GameCube. Everything about this game was well done from the storyline to the immersive factor to the music and graphics it was a staple for the series and alongside Codename Veronica, one of my all-time favorite survival horror games.

[youtube width=”600″ height=”480″]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lRuNDkhU0is[/youtube]

The others

Now this is a short list. There were other fantastic games like Metroid Prime, Super Smash Bros. Melee and The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, but I leave it up to you to tell us your favorite GameCube Games.

Console Wars: SNES vs Genesis

snes-sega

Ah, the console wars of the 1990’s it was a time when most people only had one and whichever side you were on you believed it was the best. Either you were a Super NES fan or Sega Genesis fan and both companies took advantage of this, but Sega really played to their fanboi audience.

Remember this commercial:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zlulSyBI2aY[/youtube]

Blast processing, it was a marketing term to make you believe the Genesis was completely superior to the SNES, but what SNES fans noticed was graphics. Often Genesis fans talked about how fast games seemed and said Sonic could not run on and SNES. However, we know that the Genesis only had a palette of 512 colors while the SNES had over 32 thousand. Not only that, but the SNES could show you 256 different colors on one screen while the Genesis could only show you 62. The result was the sprites and backgrounds did run faster on the Genesis because they were less detailed, but were much clearer and detailed on the SNES.

Mortal Kombat

As far as sound the SNES won again and again we can use Mortal Kombat as an example. The sounds in the SNES port were much better than the Genesis and the reason is simple. The Genesis had a Yamaha sound chip and a Texas Instruments PSG, with 8K of sound memory between them. The SNES had a custom designed Sony sound chip and Sony DSP, with 64K of sound memory giving it the clear advantage. The result was clearer sounds with more audible tones available to be heard.

Now when it comes to controllers that is more players choice, many Genesis fanbois said the size of the controller were made for men and the SNES for little boys and girls, but most gamers will tell you the SNES was a better pad and Sega original game pad was a ripoff of the Nintendo design.

SEGA_vs_NINTENDO_STREET_FIGHTER_2

The most important contest was in the games department. Now don’t get me wrong, Sega had a ton of great games and even ports like Mortal Kombat that looked better on the SNES were more fun on the Genesis. However, talking classics SNES wins hands down which is why they seem to keep remaking those classics over and over.

Oh and BTW there was a bootleg port of all the Sonic games for the SNES and they ran just fine, so much for blast processing.

Ok maybe this isn’t the best example.

So which side were you on?

Super Metroid

Super Metroid - Super Nintendo - Box

As I came across this game I though to myself why not pick it? After all, this game is one of the most praised by Metroid fans as they pick it as their favorite. The game itself has a very intriguing storyline that kept you interested in the game. As many of you remember the tragic ending of this incredible game….ahhh yeah the memories….Anyways, on with the game. Here you have a platformer style game with RPG elements and action packed! Should I even say more? The music is unforgettable and the graphics were top notch for its time.

Super Metroid - Super Nintendo - Gameplay Screenshot

 

Want to hear even more? The hero is actually a very sexy heroine! Yes, this is girl power to the max! I’m sure most of you Metroid fans already knew that but back when the first one in the series where at the ending your “hero” would take his/her helmet off and surprise surprise it was a chick! I have never felt so turned on!! har har har.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5bQXb33_GnA[/youtube]

 

So I won’t say much more as I don’t want to spoil the fun for those of you who haven’t played this masterpiece but I will tell you one thing, try it out! It’s available for the Wii virtual console.

The adventures of Batman and Robin

Snes-adventures-of-batman-and-robin

I was looking forward to this game, after playing a lot of mediocre to poor ones this week. I had heard good things about it, and was a big fan of the 90′s cartoon, for which it was based. Konami put this out in 1994, around the time they changed the name of the cartoon from Batman: the Animated Series. The cartoon was very good to exceptional, and if they didn’t screw up that feel, we would have a winner.

Snes-adventures-of-batman-and-robin 2
Good news! I start play and find they incorporated the fantastic animation, as well as music from the series. It’s more than a typical scrolling action/platformer that gives you plenty of things to do to mix it up a bit. The first level pits you against The Joker, as you’re invited into his Funhouse for a rescue mission. You’re given a number of Bat-toys incuding the Batarang/rope/stars/goggles, etc…Luckily, they give you a reason to use your gadgets, and they’re not just for show. You fight, jump, and Batrope your way through his puzzles until you reach the first boss, a huge toy soldier! After that, Joker puts you on a runaway roller-coaster and tosses bombs at you. If you make it through that, you’ll face the Clown Prince, himself.

Snes-adventures-of-batman-and-robin 3
There’s probably a dozen levels throughout facing all of your favorite Arkham-escapees; Catwoman, Penguin, Two-Face, Riddler, and more. They each have their unique levels that makes it seem like a bunch of mini-games. Again, it looks beautiful, plays well, and the music makes you feel like you’re playing inside an episode of the series.

The adventures of Batman and Robin - SNES - gameplay screenshot 1
Two negatives on the game; Robin is barely around, and doesn’t really do anything, so if you thought this would be a kick-ass co-op, you’d be wrong. Secondly, and most importantly, THERE’S NO VOICE!! Everything is in text! I could just imagine how good this game would have been had I been experiencing the great Mark Hamill taunting me as The Joker instead of having to read, “HAHAHAHA! Follow me into my funhouse, Batman!”

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eNA9f4OBXe4[/youtube]
Just saying, if you’re going to do it…do it right.

Obviously, I’m pleased with the game, and if you have your old SNES sitting around, pick this up. It’s Bat-astic!