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[last updated: 24-FEB-2012]

64th Street

RATING: 2/4

CONSOLE: Arcade

Decent enough brawler. What more is there to say?


Once you've played one side-scrolling beat-em-up, you could honestly say you've played them all. You've got attack button and one jump button; you can walk into people to grab and throw them, push the two buttons together for a special attack, and maybe work in a joystick combo to do a special move. Generally two-player, but sometimes not. Lots of dying.

If you stripped the game right down to it's ground basics, as a simple game, then that's what 64th Street is. However, as in a lot of cases, it's what's wrapped around it what makes it vaguely appealing!

See, you're a detective. Someone's daughter has been kidnapped so you and your hombre beat up gangsters in an attempt to unravel the mystery. It's barely a mystery, but the fact you encounter midget scientists with Freddy Kruegar claws, a pirate who spins around on his peg leg, a pro wrestler and robots in what's meant to be set in the early 1900s is just very, very absurd. Not to mention that you can throw both forward and upward, meaning you can hurl people into walls and knock items out of the debris, including cats. You can even chuck people into the ocean in the pier stage! And since a majority of the enemies do an attack after getting up to their feet, throwing people into walls is actually one of the best tactics in the game.

Of course, what this means, however, is that the game is rather easy. There's only one enemy that may pose a slight threat, and fighting many in numbers is only hard because you don't know what angle you'll be attacked at. There's two bosses in the game that are actually difficult, and it's no surprise that they're repeated in the final stage along with back-up and prove to be the major problem in those fights. But besides them, it's more or less a cakewalk. It certainly won't change your view on brawlers, but it's an entertaining little spin.

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Completion: Finished.


Further reading: I wrote about the game.

Altered Beast

RATING: 1/4

CONSOLE: Arcade

Requires either a second player, someone to watch, or a cynical viewpoint to be fun.


Like a lot of money gobblers, there really isn't a lot to the gameplay of Altered Beast. Resurrected from your burial place by God (more or less), you go about funking up the sh9it of every zombie, blob monster and Golden Axe chicken dragon in your way in your goal to get back his daughter. Being able to kick, punch and jump, as well as gaining the ability to muscle up with floating "GET IT" orbs from flashing white two-headed wolves, this is more or less a fairly simple task.

Then the title comes in by getting your third orb and maximising into beast mode, which ranges from a lightning-shooting dragon, a flying kick wolfman and a killer jump bear person. Naturally, this is the main highlight of the game, as it makes the rest of your trek significantly easier, and come on, would you say no to the chance to becoming a flying, lightning-powered dragon man? If you would then you're beyond hope, son.

Like beat-em-ups, the gameplay never really throws anything incredibly new at you, and it merely depends on your patience for you to keep on playing. With a friend, naturally this makes things easier, but yeah, for those seeking a constantly changing and (legitimately) challenging experience, not exactly recommended.

What I do recommend it for, however, is it's wonderfully bizarre imagery. The two heroes are a little uncomforting, especially when every part of their body quickly becomes bigger than their head, but the enemies have simple, yet quirky and creepy designs. I wouldn't really call them unique, but they've got a nice grotesque feel about them, and the fact they all explode into parts that fly towards the screen when killed is very nice, even if some of them are almost too disturbingly cute to kill. Golden Axe is a vaguely more engaging game, but the enemies are all so samey and generic that it gets dull in appearance before the game does. Take that as a compliment or complaint.

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Completion: Finished.

Bomberman

RATING: n/a

CONSOLE: PC Engine

WHEN: Oct 2009

NOTES: Japanese version. I bought it.

Haven't played.


[no review]

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Completion: No.


Further reading: Check out the Totally Bombastic Bomberman Shrine Place!

Bomberman '93

RATING: n/a

CONSOLE: PC Engine

WHEN: Mar 2011

NOTES: Japanese version. I bought it.

Haven't played.


[no review]

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Completion: No.


Further reading: Check out the Totally Bombastic Bomberman Shrine Place!

Bomberman '94

RATING: 3/4

CONSOLE: PC Engine

WHEN: Mar 2011

NOTES: Japanese version. I bought it.

Superior to Mega Bomberman simply because I'm biased.


Okay, I lie. You know what this has over Mega Bomberman? Slightly better graphics with extra details, a fifth player in battle mode and the fact it's Japan-only which could make you feel elite if the game was actually in Japanese, but it isn't.

Of course, because I'm a graphics whore and love me some Bomberman, this doesn't stop me from adoring the game and being disappointed it didn't get an international release. If you've played Mega Bomberman, there's really no need to play this unless you absolutely need a fifth player in battle mode, so my unexplained love has no reason to be aside from the fact I blindly love the series.

I'm not even trying to review properly anymore, am I?

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Completion: Finished.


Further reading: Check out the Totally Bombastic Bomberman Shrine Place!

Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth

RATING: 3/4

CONSOLE: Xbox

Fantastic atmosphere. Bit of a rocky game.


[NEW!] My experience with the Cthulhu mythos has only really been through tertiary materials, such as the 2008 short film, the old Prisoners of Ice PC game, and... uh, the Collect Call of Cathulhu episode of The Real Ghostbusters. I love it, though. Nihilistic shit about tentacle monsters ending the world floats my boat, and my dad is a real Lovecraft buff, so he was the one who encouraged me to try this out, if just for his personal entertainment. I well and truly enjoyed the experience, and I'm definitely glad I played it.

The entire game is played out of the first-person perspective of a private investigator who had an unfortunate encounter with a house of cultists, an experience that landed him in a mental home for six years. After being declared sane enough, he's called to Innsmouth to investigate the disappearance of a young couple, which slowly leads him into a conspiracy involving a family of cultists worshipping The Deep Ones, and their desire to kickstart the new world with their godly powers.
Although played fully in first-person, the real emphasis of the game is on puzzle solving, investigating and general sleuthing, which really brings the world around you to life. Exploring the varied locations and trying to unravel the ongoing mystery is a real thrill, and it never gets old; the game always throws you into a new location once it's done all it needs to do with the current locale. The game has plenty of fantastic setpieces.

Combat does factor in relatively frequent as the game progresses, first against mere grumpy villagers and then grisly Cthuloid monstrosities. The game aims for realism (as best it can when there's ancient aquatic deities and what have you), so there's no crosshair, ammo counter or even a proper health gauge - you can check your inventory for the latter two, but aiming well boils down to just getting used to the controls. None of it is very inspiring, though; the hit detection is clunky and most of the guns are outstandingly weak.
Healing yourself isn't as simple as applying an all-purpose medkit; injuries are categorised as where on your body they're located, and you can collect four different kinds of medical application. This means you really need to make time to heal yourself, as a single injury can take a good five seconds to patch up, but you can't just ignore your injuries; leave them unattended and your character becomes slower and slower before eventually bleeding to death. Although an intriguing system, it can be a source of frustration should you not abuse save files like crazy - some sequences (most notably the car chase escaping from Innsmouth) offer you very little chances to heal, and if you happen to run out of a certain medical application, you have no choice but to bleed to death.

It's one thing for the story to be engaging, but the overall atmosphere of the game really helps. I may not have been fond of the combat or healing, but it really does help sink in that you're not playing as some butch, six-packed action hero, but just a guy who's landed himself in an unlikely situation. There are all manner of quirks that help add to the Cthuloid vibe, namely the dip into insanity. Stare too long at monsters or grisly imagery, and the screen starts blurring; keep at it and you get a game over from your character just going kookoo. Look away at some comparatively calming imagery (like a wall) and you're back in the safe. It sounds like a dumb feature (and it admittedly kind of is), but it's just one of those small things that helps tie the game together.
The graphics are fitting, but are otherwise unremarkable, though seeing the Deep Ones and their undersea lair is a real treat. My major beef is that the game is seriously dark; seriously, seriously dark. There's a startling lack of contrast in the game, and given the frequent 'realistic' blur filters, everything kind of blends together into a greyish, brownish smudge at the worst of times. Again, it's quite fitting for the bleak and desolate nature of the game, but even just adding a flashlight to your inventory wouldn't have gone amiss.

The game is notoriously glitchy, though. The only gamebreaking ones are when the game locks you out of a house after you've visited it, preventing you from getting a vital document inside, and some nasty freezing during the boat sequence when I went to a savepont when the game didn't want me to (keep extra saves whenever you can!). It can be particularly frustrating at times, but if you're warned of them and know how to avoid them, it's not too bad. Mind you, I've heard the PC version has even worse bugs.

It's a bumpy ride, but the game was very enjoyable. It does feel like at times it tries to be too much of an action game when I would have been happy with a straight-up first-person investigation adventure, but it's a memorable and entertaining experience. I only just wish the developers survived to make the sequels like they had hoped. Or at least polished the game up a bit.

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Completion: 91% on Private Investigator difficulty.


Chelnov - Atomic Runner

RATING: 2/4

CONSOLE: Arcade

Clunky but enjoyable.


I'd almost like to describe Chelnov as a ground-bound shmup, but sadly, the environments are never as interesting as some of the better ones. An auto-scrolling Contra would probably be more accurate, as the weapons are very similar, the barren landscapes likewise, and deaths are very, very frequent. Except in Contra, you respawned exactly where you died. Here, you have to restart from a checkpoint, and therefore you've got to totally master that pattern before you can continue. Which, unsurprisingly for an arcade game, get very cheap very quickly.

It's kinda fun, but wholly forgettable, really.

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Completion: Finished.


Further reading: I suffered my way through the game.

Dark Tower

RATING: n/a

CONSOLE: Arcade

A depressing exercise in futility.


[no review]

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Completion: Close enough.


Further reading: Coming in?

Darkwing Duck

RATING: 2/4

CONSOLE: NES

Typical Capcom platforming fun.


It's like Mega Man, without most of the innovation and having the ability to grab ledges and a wonky secondary weapon to make up for it.

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Completion: Finished.


Further reading: Blog review.

Diet Go Go

RATING: 1/4

CONSOLE: Arcade

Not even a humourous concept can save this game from being highly unremarkable.


Diet Go Go is a Bubble Bobble clone (although it's more along the lines of Snow Bros., what with the multiple projectiles required for defeating enemies) that sounds like a funny idea and could make for wackiness, but ultimately ends up as a Bubble Bobble clone that's surprisingly mundane and is only of interest to fans of the genre or those with alternate preferences.

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Completion: Finished.


Further reading: I slogged my way through the game.

Double Dragon

RATING: n/a

CONSOLE: SEGA Master System

WHEN: 2001

NOTES: I bought it.

Haven't played.


[no review]

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Completion: No.

Dungeon Magic

RATING: 2/4

CONSOLE: Arcade

WHEN: Mar 2008

NOTES: Part of Taito Legends 2

An interesting little experiment, and probably worth playing through once, but still not a more competent beat-em-up.


An eight-directional beat-em-up that aims to be a Dungeons & Dragons game as well, with exploration, experience points, treasure chests and magic; all with only a joystick and two buttons, one for jumping and one for attacking. Hm! How does it fare?

Well, it's still a beat-em-up. You walk around, kill people until they die, and destroy scenery to unleash items that can refill your health, stock up your magic (jump and attack together) and give you experience points. However, after you kill the enemies, destroy a certain object or simply activate a switch of some kind, the door opens (of which there can be several) and you can proceed along the labyrinth like level. At the end of the day, you're just there to proceed through the level and beat up the boss, and since the enemies like to be cheap mothertrucks, sometimes you're best just aiming straight for the door and moving as fast as you can. So, uh, yeah. It doesn't achieve a very good D&D vibe since you're forever tortured by enemies and everything, but it's an interesting change.

The weird thing is that it tries to work in a story as well. Each level is prefaced with a quick snippet of description, and you meet a few people along the way who provide hints, weapons and so on, but the game actually tries to treat these seriously. The ending features interaction between the playable characters and those that you've rescued, which just feels a little odd since I ended up skipping the text half the time because there's never any warning that you should stop tapping buttons and listen to what's being said. Though not that they say much of use. So, yeah, it's still a beat-em-up.

And a very cheap beat-em-up at that. Each area gives you two minutes to leave it, which is all fine and dandy until you come to the bosses. If you die, the timer resets, and you die if the time reaches zero. Therefore, you could be doing perfectly fine until the game decides you weren't rushing yourself enough and kills you. And that's ignoring how enemies will like to attack in the middle of being pummelled, bosses have ludicrous range without even having to touch you, especially the final boss. He has a leaping slash attack that can whack off half of your health without the sword even touching you.

It takes about an hour or so to finish, though there is a two-player mode to keep things mildly interesting. But at the end of the day, it's still a beat-em-up, and one that still hasn't fixed the inherent flaws of clunky controls, cheap fights and all that. Nice experiment, though.

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Completion: As Cisty.

Elevator Action 2

RATING: 2/4

CONSOLE: Arcade

WHEN: Mar 2008

NOTES: Part of Taito Legends 2

It's got a few drag-on moments, but it's dog-shooting mutant-punching fun.


Who would have thought you could make Elevator Action dark and edgy? Well, Taito thought it was possible. And they did it. Hm.

In a nutshell: Three characters - two dudes, one chick - go about places diving into doors collecting items and disarming bombs, getting about via use of elevators. Bad guys don't want them doing that, and bring resistance in the form of guns, dogs, jetpack midgets and spider robots. Disarm all the bombs and that's the level finish. Repeat five more times and the game is complete! Also, the bad guy has a nuclear weapon and you have to kill him by shooting him off a ledge.

Basically, it's the original except spiced up with nihilists, 2-Player co-operative, extra weapons, selectable characters and so on, and it makes for a more engaging not-about-high-scores game. It's nothing super amazing, but for what it is, it's pretty rad. The titular elevators, however, are a severe pain in the hind quarters, as the speed it takes for them to reach your destination has not been improved over the first game. In that one it was fine because everyone walked very slowly, but this is pumped up with mild adrenaline and you can actually go at a decent clip; not to mention baddies pop out of doors if you hang around. In the aforementioned nuclear weapon wielding final boss, there's a timer before the missile launches, so you've got to hurry to the top and pump him full of lead. The problem? Elevators. Very slow elevators. And if you miss them, you have to wait for them to go up and then come down again. You're given three minutes, so it's never at a game-breaking level, but it's still very unpleasant, and very reminiscent of Mega Man Network Transmission with having to wait for your weapon gauge to fill to get new ones. Except this is vital for progress.

Yeah. Elevator Action 2. It's got explosions, rocket launchers, girls in tank tops, and people who want to creat [sic] a new society. It's not laboriously long (aside from level 2) and it's 2-Player. Give it a shot.

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Completion: Finished.

Golvellius

RATING: n/a

CONSOLE: SEGA Master System

WHEN: 2001

NOTES: I bought it.

Haven't played.


[no review]

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Completion: No.

Jail Break

RATING: n/a

CONSOLE: Arcade

Good, dumb fun.


[no review]

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Completion: Finished.


Further reading: LET THE HOSTAGES GO. OH NO!

The Legend of Zelda

RATING: n/a

CONSOLE: NES

WHEN: Jul 2004

NOTES: Part of The Legend of Zelda: Collector's Edition

Intriguing.


[no review]

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Completion: No.


Further reading: I'm trying to write about my attempt to finish the game. Going pretty slowly!

Mega Man - Dr. Wily's Revenge

RATING: 2/4

CONSOLE: Game Boy

A welcomed change from the other Game Boy games.


The first in a series of disliked retreads, the little game has good intentions. Using four of the six bosses from Mega Man 1, it treats you to all new levels featuring their patterns and gimmicks, slightly changed boss tactics and the great tool, Carry. Although nothing incredible, it's a nice little expansion for a game I have played many times, and fighting the energetic Elec Man on a smaller battlefield is a treat in itself.

Then the bosses are finished and it moves onto the fortress stages, where things take a dip. You fight four of the bosses from Mega Man 2, but only as teleporter hatch battles; they do not have their stages brought over in Game Boy format, and considering they are followed up by an immediate mini-boss and one last fortress stage, there is little room for playing with their abilities. Flash Man, whose ability was a valuable asset in his first appearance, is squashed in among the other bosses and his ability is only useful at one segment afterwards, excluding in the Quick Man fight. It feels like a wasted opportunity, especially with the seemingly tacked-on Mirror Buster and the sometimes absurd patience-related difficulty being the only thing that keeps the game from ending in an hour for me.

If you're looking for an all-new experience, this isn't for you. If you want more of the same gameplay, you can't go wrong with this.

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Completion: Finished.

Mega Man II

RATING: 2/4

CONSOLE: Game Boy

Mild difference makes me happy.


Despite being a mildly altered rehash of half of Mega Man 2 and 3, I like this one the best of the first three in the handheld series. This introduces stages for the other half of the robot masters, giving an extra bit of length to the game, though admittedly, my reason for liking it most is because how changed it is. Which isn't very, but still!

A number of the graphics, believe it or not, have been scaled down to better fit the screen, which does make some enemies look a little goofy and they tend to have a slight "off" quality to them compared to the sprites that remain intact, but it's a nice little effort for a series that has just been reusing it's graphics so much.

Additionally, even though the previous games and all after use the same engine as the console brethren (more or less), this one seems to have it altered slightly, just some of the features including a slide you can't jump out of, the ability to still climb ladders while displaying the hurt animation, a health bar that refills when you collect an item without pausing all the action, and a Rush Marine that has acceleration and deceleration, and bounces when it crashes into a wall. It doesn't effect the game at all (sans the health bar one, which is actually very nice), but for a sub-series that everyone hates because it's so samey, it's a pleasant surprise to have quirky little changes included.

Finally, Quint's item, the Sakugarne, is awesome. It's useless and stupid and all, but it's awesome to receive an item that's a bit more than just a projectile with new graphics. That and all these little tweaks that mix things up are subtle but great, and although definitely not a shining pinnacle of the series, it's worth trying, at least.

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Completion: Finished.

Mega Man III

RATING: 2/4

CONSOLE: Game Boy

Probably the most polished of the first three, but kind of why it's just there.


As with the first three in the handheld Mega Man series, Mega Man 3 isn't exactly innovative. In fact, one could say it's the least innovative of the lot! There's a few new bosses and redesigned stages, plus a new weapon that's nothing more but a ball you throw in an arc, but if you want more Mega Man gameplay that isn't just playing the same games again, then this succeeds there. And I like it because of that.

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Completion: Finished.


Further reading: Some ramble that's only tangentially related to the game.

Mega Man V

RATING: 3/4

CONSOLE: Game Boy

A welcomed change from the other Game Boy games.


Mega Man V, being the only one where all the bosses are brand new (perhaps excluding the Black Devil), it gets the most praise out of the lot, and for very good reason. It keeps all the great features that appeared in Mega Man IV, such as the P-Chip shop, great graphics and story, all the while expanding upon them. The presentation is superb, though mostly in comparison to the rest of the series (which is severely lacking), and it's a shame that it's not in colour, as that's the only way I could imagine the look of the game being expanded upon.

The Mega Man Homepage states love for it better than I could, so if there are any flaws with the game, it's that remembering what weapon is what can be difficult, I never got Tango to work, and the shooter stage before the space fortress is an interesting change, but also an incredibly boring one. Metal Slug 3 may have made it's shmup segment drag out way too long, but it still handled it excellently. Mega Man's attempt isn't very good at all, and nowhere near the level of Capcom's real shmups, and I was beyond glad to have it finished. A for effort, though.

So, yeah, this game rocks. Check it out.

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Completion: Finished.

Mega Man VII

RATING: 2/4

CONSOLE: Super Nintendo

Has a different feel than the others, but still a good game.


Mega Man 7 is like when Final Fantasy decided to stop being silly and become all hardcore drama with full motion video and twenty minute fight scene summons, except Mega Man 7 is still decent. (diss! though it's not like I was even that fond of the earlier Final Fantasies)

Sure, Dr. Wily's still evil, and you have to defeat his eight Robot Masters and go through the fortress stages, but there's some changes. There are actually stages that - shock horror - aren't Robot Master or fortress levels! Like, interludes! Story-related interludes! There's a very basic story, involving newcomer Bass appearing to be Mega Man's ally when he turns out to be a subordinate of Wily, and Mega Man dares to break the laws of robotics by desiring to kill Wily, but it's all just noodle-poodle. It's nice to see them advancing, but the original Mega Man trying to be serious is kind of laughable.

The graphics are larger and much more detailed, but personally, I feel it detracts. It makes the screen seem smaller, and to compensate Mega Man doesn't move nearly as fast as in the NES days; not to mention his sprites, although nice, have been overused to high hell thanks to the wonderful world of webcomics. That smirk; that goddamned smirk. I have grown to loathe it. On a nice note, there are lots of background details that make throwbacks to the older games, like the Robot Museum featuring the old guys in new sprites and with a medley of old themes.

The stages, thanks to the cramped spaces, can be a bit of a pain, and the help you get is understandably lessened, what with Mega Man 6 effectively suiting you with every power known to man, more or less. Beat is no longer a destroyer of enemies, but now is reduced to rescuing you from pits; which is fair enough, as pits are now more hazardous thanks to Mega Man jumping like a gimp. Eddie doesn't show up anymore, and Rush doesn't have a submarine mode anymore, but can dig up stuff from the ground such as health, money, and extra lives. It's very tedious and rarely rewarding, so a Rush Drill would've been so much more fun. He does transform into a suit with MM5GB's Mega Fist and MM6's flying ability, which is a nice consolation. Yeah, you can buy stuff, but it's relatively unexciting.

The bosses move around the arena much more, such as is the case of Cloud Man, Slash Man and Turbo Man, which makes for a more engaging fight, sometimes. Junk Man, however, is a bitch without the Thunder Bolt. He's invincible half the time and summons blocks to delays the time until he's vulnerable, and he's not even that interesting to fight. The Thunder Bolt penetrates his defence and reduces him to hopping around uselessly, so that puts him out of his misery. He gives you a shield. And why did they include him in Power Battles? (fuck junk man)

Mega Man 7 is still to the usual standard of the series (very samey!) and remains relatively fun, but it just feels like it's more of a downgrade, despite it's attempts to improve. I'd love to have seen how they would've improved upon the original graphics while maintaining the resolution in the 16-bit world, but alas, we get these. And also crappy allies and cramped levels and bosses that are, at times, very very boring. Oh well.

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Completion: Finished.

Mega Man 8

RATING: n/a

CONSOLE: PlayStation

Haven't played.


[no review]

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Completion: Close enough.


Further reading: One of many games I played in 2009

Mega Man - The Wily Wars

RATING: 3/4

CONSOLE: SEGA Mega Drive

The remakes themselves are a bit flawed, but hey, new game!


The Mega Man trilogy, updated with remade graphics, tweaked sound and minor changes. This is all good and dandy, but for whatever reason, it's a whole lot slower than the originals.

The Japanese version runs slow, but the European game is practically permanent slow-motion thanks to the world of PAL hardware. This is handy when it comes to certain boss fights where precise movements are necessary, but otherwise it's just a severe bummer, as you'd think a remake would speed up gameplay. They still run fairly fine aside from the usual Mega Man collision detection wackiness, but the slowass speed is just a big letdown.

On the bright side, it's what introduced me to the Classic series, them graphics be good, and the Wily Tower game is pretty rad altogether. It'd be nice if they fixed the whole speed and collision thing and remade 4 to 6 in the same way.

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Completion: Finished.

Operation Wolf

RATING: n/a

CONSOLE: SEGA Master System

WHEN: 2001

NOTES: I bought it.

Haven't played.


[no review]

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Completion: No.

Nastar

RATING: 0/4

CONSOLE: Arcade

WHEN: Mar 2008

NOTES: Part of Taito Legends 2

Dull.


Walk about with a sword and shield, hopping over obstacles in lacklustre level design and hack apart grotesque and barely animated enemies. And it's 2-Player. That's the only positive thing about the game! Which is disappointing, because it doesn't make the rest of it much better.

Your character walks at a snail's pace and takes damage by colliding with enemies; which, thanks to the confined spaces and short range of your default weapon, is pretty common. And the bats - the goddamned bats - will float on top of you, draining health until you turn into a skeleton and die. And since enemies only die when they collide with your sword, fending them off can be unnecessarily difficult. And that's not mentioning that you get very little health in the first place!

And.

It's a coin gobbler, and there's really no reason to actually play it aside from to try out the crappy 2-player antics, if that. Why they even included it here is beyond me, but not like much can be done about it. If anything, there's some vaguely interesting designs used for areas and characters, but the overall graphic work is shoddy so that's no good either.

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Completion: Finished.

Night Slashers

RATING: 2/4

CONSOLE: Arcade

OH MY GOD THIS IS AWESOME


As the blurb says, Night Slashers is all about the "oh my god this is awesome" factor, as the game starts off with you mowing down zombies in a van, their heads explode when you kill them and just about every enemy in the game melts. And the bonus games involve a whack-a-mole style game where you kick the overripe heads of zombies rising from the ground, and throwing an explosive zombie into a bowling pin formation of zombies. It's all very badass!

Thankfully or not, this all helps to hide the fact that gameplay itself isn't that great. There's a few segments where you're automatically running, and one of the only two weapons I saw was a briefcase that can be used to batter enemies or be thrown, in which case it'll open and give you an item, but those are the most innovative it gets.

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Completion: Finished.

Shinobi

RATING: n/a

CONSOLE: SEGA Master System

WHEN: 2001

NOTES: I bought it.

Haven't played.


[no review]

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Completion: No.

Sonic the Fighters

RATING: 1/4

CONSOLE: Arcade

WHEN: Autumn 2005

NOTES: Part of Sonic Gems Collection

Still not a fighting game I like.


As you probably know by now, fighting games are not a genre I'm particularly fond of. The fact the very joystick you use to move and jump with is also to input special moves just confounds me, and Sonic the Fighters does nothing to change that. The change they have made, however, actually makes it more irritating, by removing a function from the joystick. Hypocrisy!

Before we get to that, it's Sonic characters beating each other up for a chance to fight Metal Sonic and Robotnik and hopefully destroy the Death Egg and yada yada. There's a roster of eight, the ones you're meant to be surprised about being Espio, Fang/Nack, Bean the Dynamite Duck (from Dynamite Dux, hurf) and Bark the Polar Bear (from nowhere). It's an interesting little roster, all with amusing little techniques and tricks, and the chance to play as Nack is a certain plus. There's spin dashes, spin jumps, kick-em-while-they're-down, head butts, throws, pulling one's tongue and slapping it into their face, and raining kitchen sinks. Of course, they're all impossible to use because the joystick is very sensitive and it's kind of hard to run with certain characters, but the fact they exist is pretty rad.

However, it doesn't deviate from typical fighting genre gameplay, so you've got your forty directional plus both attack buttons plus block pressed to pull them off. Yes, that's what they changed from the norm: Blocking is a button now. In a sense, this would make sense, as blocking cements you to the ground and having that happen when somebody's doing light jabs probably isn't fun, but it means I keep forgetting how to block and keep holding back, meaning I just get clobbered. If a block is broken then you lose a barrier; lose all five and you can't block for the rest of the match. You can also sidestep, which isn't as useful in comparison.

Oh, and the enemies are cheap sometimes, but what's new?

There's not much more to it. There's no secret stages or unlockable characters; Super Sonic is playable for about three rounds, but that's the furthest it goes. It's nice to see it included in a compilation and not doomed to obscurity like SegaSonic the Hedgehog, but yeah, some things just aren't that great, see.

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Completion: Finished.

Sonic the Hedgehog

RATING: 2/4

CONSOLE: SEGA Master System

WHEN: Autumn 2005

NOTES: I bought it. Also part of Sonic Gems Collection

Quirky.


Sonic the Hedgehog was made to demonstrate the SEGA Mega Drive's capabilities for intense speed, and also happened to be a pretty decent game anyway. The Master System and Game Gear versions have to make do with being simple platform games with mild speed and slope gimmicks, and they're not bad - nothing special at all, but they're quirky little additions to the early years of Sonic.

The Mega Drive Sonic games have some wonderful engines and the polish is usually pretty high, so this game is automatically going to appear odd. Spikes are frightening obstacles that can harm you simply by walking into their side, lost rings can't be reclaimed (the single ring flying away exists only to tease you, it seems), and there's no such thing as a loop-de-loop. There are gratuitous slopes thrown in simply to emphasise speed at random points, most of them ending in a lip that propels you into the air, but the trademark pinball physics have little to do with the primary stage designs, with basic platforming over pits of death, occasional mazes and obstacle courses with no rings being the main servings. It feels like the game recognises that it can't compare to its more advanced counterpart, and instead throws you plenty of disadvantages to make things difficult.

This does render it pretty dull, though. There's not enough traditional Sonic elements, and instead a majority of the game feels like a generic platformer. Jungle Zone is an entertaining level, but it's nothing that couldn't have been accomplished in even an uninspired game like Alex Kidd. That's not a putdown, that's just saying that the game simply doesn't have the technology and design to make for a game that feels like it belongs in the Sonic series.

Also, hey, it's one of the less crap instalments in the Game Gear series. It's probably worth trying for a few moments on that fact alone.

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Completion: Only got two Chaos Emeralds.

Sonic the Hedgehog 2

RATING: n/a

CONSOLE: SEGA Game Gear

WHEN: Autumn 2005

NOTES: Part of Sonic Gems Collection

Requires an abnormal amount of patience.


[no review]

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Completion: Finished.

Sonic the Hedgehog - Triple Trouble

RATING: 3/4

CONSOLE: Game Gear

WHEN: Autumn 2005

NOTES: Part of Sonic Gems Collection

My favourite of the Game Gear games, although that isn't saying much.


Thanks to there barely being any internet coverage of them (aside from the typical "this game sucks" comments), there's a kind of mysterious aura around the Sonic Game Gear games. Sonic Blast is remembered for being terrible in every aspect, and Sonic 2 is considered horrendously difficult, but then there's Sonic Chaos and Sonic Triple Trouble, that nobody really talk about. The latter of them is actually really good, and I'd like to say it's better than the Mega Drive Sonic 2 if it weren't for that game's 2-player and the fact that it kinda introduced a lot of cool things, plus this one's horrible slowdown and all.

Triple Trouble introduces Nack the Weasel, though all he does is use low-quality machinery and sit around in the Special Stages; in addition, there are character specific power-ups; Sonic gets shoes of varying types, including rocket and swimming shoes, while Tails can use his submarine in the overly-long aquatic levels. And there's a snowboard item box!

The levels are large and actually have designs (unlike Sonic Chaos with it's thirty second long straight lines), and the additions are all pretty awesome, but the fact it's for the Game Gear is it's ultimate downfall; the screen is tiny and in the later levels you can unsure of where you're meant to go, and the slowdown sure isn't enjoyable. Some levels, particularly Robotnik Winter require you to do crazy stuff to proceed, like bounce off a spring, roll into a ball in midair and that somehow raises you higher to reach the spring you normally would not be able to reach; and this is required to finish the level. Despite these setbacks, it's still a pretty fun game, and possibly the best of the GameGear Sonic games, though I really do wish it was on better hardware.

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Completion: No.

Super Bomberman 4

RATING: 2/4

CONSOLE: Super Nintendo

More fun than Super Bomberman 2, that's for sure.


Ditching the "hit all switches/orb things" gameplay from the previous two games, this goes for the much simpler gameplay of the first game, where you simply have to kill all the monsters. It's certainly a lot more enjoyable than the layered tower of frustration that was Super Bomberman 2, thanks to it, you know, being fun. And co-operative.

However, there's a very unfinished feel about the whole game. The difficulty seems rather unbalanced (the fourth boss is harder than the final), the ending just comes out of nowhere, and some of the features in battle mode seem to lack polish. Not to say it's bad, but I can't help but feel it was rushed out, and therefore is just rather average.

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Completion: Finished.


Further reading: Check out the Totally Bombastic Bomberman Shrine Place!

Super Castlevania IV

RATING: 2/4

CONSOLE: Super Nintendo

I WILL NEVER FORGIVE THE ROTATING ROOM


I'm sure it was pretty super back in the day, but now, and especially in comparison to Bloodlines, it just feels slow and attempting mediocre flair over actually trying to improve on the series. It's still relatively inoffensive and not too bad, but yeah.

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Completion: Finished.


Further reading: Blog review.

Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars

RATING: 2/4

CONSOLE: Super Nintendo

A quirky beginning, but comes across as more monotonous than it intended to be.


Super Mario RPG is, as the name implies, the first attempt to adapt the series to a role-playing format full of overworlds, item menus, battle systems, and lots and lots of dialogue. Like all instalments afterwards, it aims to have be a simplified rendition of a traditional RPG, with additional Mario-esque elements - overworlds aren't just tile-based slogs, but are isometric 3D environments complete with floating platforms, invisible blocks, enemies, pits to cross and more. It makes the game feel more alive than a traditional presentation would offer, though it doesn't exactly offer an awful lot. Still, A for effort!

The story basically starts the cliché of each RPG featuring an opponent even bigger and badder than Bowser himself, and this time it's Smithy, a big bearded robot dude from another dimension who invades the Mushroom Kingdom with his army of sentient weapons, and there's something about Star Road being busted into seven pieces, the place where wishes are made true... though to be frank, none of it is terribly important. Smithy isn't seen at all until you fight him at the end, and collecting the Star Pieces is effectively just a means of carting Mario and his buddies across all the various locations.

While some areas are fairly entertaining to explore, it does eventually feel like you're just continuously going to empty, dilapidated cave-like areas; there's very little difference in atmosphere between the Moleville mines, Barrel Volcano and even Jonathan Jones' ship. Also, some areas have only a single gimmick to run on, and there's little to no charm about them - Marrymore springs immediately to mind. Meanwhile, Monstro Town, a small civilisation of non-violent enemy creatures, is visited only so you can get help to go up a mountain, and I feel it could have been explored so much further. Oh well. Thank god for fanfiction! (I never thought I'd be saying those words in my life!)

But I can't remember the last time I actually gave a crap about story. What's the battle system like? It basically sets the groundwork of all future Mario RPGs - there's magic, items and weapons, and performing action commands such as rotating the d-pad or pressing buttons at the right time makes them more effective. It works well in that aspect. While the Paper Mario series is largely simplified when it comes to numbers, 6 points of damage being considered powerful, Super Mario RPG is closer to a traditional RPG and revolves mostly around double digits, edging towards triple digits near the end of the game. While this may sound like a remarkably stupid factoid to mention, I mention it because it makes the game ridiculously random at times.

The game is meant to be a simplified beginner RPG, but my personal experience with it was very irregular. I would encounter a foe that could seriously damage me in one swipe, and then the rest of the area's foes would strike it lucky if they damage dealt above 1HP. Even with minimal armour, minor differences between party member's defence stats had almost frighteningly large contrasts; even at around the same stats, an attack would that would seriously injure Geno would barely haze Mallow. In addition, not even halfway through the game it seemed that magic attacks were guaranteed to have no effect on bosses, leaving me nothing to do but just clobber them to death with the same physical attacks every turn. I do commend it for teaching RPG newcomers that this is the kind of banal activity that they're getting themselves into. Paper Mario, thanks to its badge system, adds a lot of variety to attacking, but given how the magic system is so limited, Super Mario RPG came across as more shallow than it probably intended to be.

I'm normally quite vocal in my distaste for prerendered 3D graphics, but I will say that Super Mario RPG has a very cute vibe about its overworld. Given how the series so far only had Super Mario Kart as its closest approximation to a 3D environment, it's neat to see the basic grasslands and desert areas in the third dimension, and Mario, Peach and Bowser all look great. It helps that the characters are very expressive - unlike Mario vs. Donkey Kong where the graphics are so smudged you can hardly tell an eye from a nose, the player characters can express an awful lot just through basic pantomime. If there's one problem, it's that there's not enough memory space to give the environments enough variety. The basic cave tiles are repeated more times than I can remember, and when they're not pleasant to look at in brown, colouring them red won't make them any nicer. Not even Paper Mario managed to rectify that, using boring caves and fortresses more times than it needed to.

Ultimately, I'd say it's hit and miss. It's got good intentions and certainly has a more attractive interface than traditional RPGs, but the faults of its battle system are really what breaks it - why have magic when it's completely worthless during the fights you would really need it? I'm glad to have played it after so long, but I won't deny there's probably better RPGs out there.

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Completion: Finished.

Taz-Mania - The Search for the Lost Seabirds

RATING: 0/4

CONSOLE: SEGA Game Gear

Good grief.


I have no positive words for this game at all.

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Completion: Finished.


Further reading: Just read this instead.

Wario's Woods

RATING: n/a

CONSOLE: NES

WHEN: November 2010

NOTES: Japanese version. I bought it.

Good in its own right, but I feel the SNES one has more flavour.


[no review]

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Completion: Finished.


Further reading: Check out the Wario's Woods shrine!

Wario's Woods

RATING: 4/4

CONSOLE: Super Nintendo

A puzzle game that mixes things up and actually works.


I was introduced to Wario's Woods through Animal Crossing, which is probably the only decent thing to come from it. I then discovered the superior SNES version, and it could quite possibly be my favourite puzzle game ever.

Instead of playing as a force of movement or a cursor, you play as Toad, who has to actually roam about and reach whatever he wants to manipulate, which changes gameplay significantly. You line up monsters of the same colour, and having three or more in a row with at least a single bomb of accompanying colour, they explode. Having five or more gets you a diamond, and once it's destroyed, all monsters the same colour are destroyed.

There's a timer that goes down for Wario arriving, and once he arrives, it resets and counts down again for Wario leaving. During Wario's reign, he drops more monsters to delay your victory, drops a horizontal row of monsters down, or lowers the ceiling. The whole game keeps you on your toes.

Combined with the various play modes and the 2-Player mode, it's plain and simply brilliant.

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Completion: 100%.


Further reading: Check out the Wario's Woods shrine!

Yume Penguin Monogatari

RATING: 2/4

CONSOLE: NES

Clunky and awkward, but could be worse.


I've started off a million reviews this way, but there's nothing really bad about this game. Being a generic platformer, I naturally had to play it due to my love for the broad genre, and the fact it's about a penguin losing weight for his girlfriend while his girlfriend's new boyfriend is trying to fatten him up with lackeys and scenery carrying food is awesome. And it's by Konami, so quality must be afoot!

Essentially, you make your way to the end of the level, killing bad guys, grabbing clocks for time and diet drinks to slim down, avoiding food thrown at you. The penguin has three forms; fat, normal and slim. Fatty is slow, can barely jump and uses a belly flop to attack; normal is faster and jumps higher, and does a boring kick, while skinny weener can shoot onomatopoeia from his mouth and runs like a marathon man. In addition, a heart icon is displayed above a part of the weight bar; complete the level with the bar smaller than it, and your girlfriend is content and you go to the next stage. If her demands aren't met, she insults you and you're given the choice of retrying the stage.

Expected for a Konami game, there are shooting stages, and there's very little to say about them. One of the bosses is a pig in a giant flying ship that shoots apples at you, but there's no advanced weapon or option system, so it's more or less just filler. It's good filler, though, and admittedly the better part of the game.

The problem with the game, like Diet Go Go!, is that the theme is great and all, but it can be completed in about twenty minutes and there's no real reason to play it again afterwards. The theme actually works against it - you have no health, as every attack merely makes you gain weight, therefore you can't die and since failing, even at the final boss merely lets you try again, even an inexperienced player can breeze through it. Falling into water does fill your weight gauge to the max, which is pretty damn punishing considering how lightweight everything else is towards the player, but the game would need more of that stuff to be truly challenging.

It's a quirky little platformer, but like so many entries into my favourite genre, it's not exactly amazing either. Worth a look, at the very least.

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Completion: Finished.

Zelda II - The Adventure of Link

RATING: n/a

CONSOLE: NES

WHEN: Jul 2004

NOTES: Part of The Legend of Zelda: Collector's Edition

I've yet to really sink some time into it.


[no review]

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Completion: No.


Further reading: I am Error.