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Old 01-17-2003, 07:06 PM   #16
Icarus4578
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A baaad, BAAAAAAAD game

Bad Street Brawler - NES - Rating 0
When I first put BSB into my NES system I had high expectations. After all, this game is made by Mattel, a company notorious with high-quality, finely crafted game titles. I hadn't seen this game before and this was well after I had been spoiled by such game classics as Gunstar Heroes, Axelay, and, of course, MC Kids.
I hope you can see the sarcasm spewing from every sentence. When I first started up SMS the first thing I saw was mortifying - a horrendous drawing of some skinny teenage punk kid with blond hair and shades on, meant to look 'tough' but about as threatening as Barney - although psychologically Barney is not one to mess with. After all, he has quite a fierce weapon of torture and mayhem in his song-crafting which, although comparable to someone like Cannibal Corpse (which might put somebody into a rage), Barney music is a hate crime, a form of the most vile punishment which has been used as a means of torture to people who drove around blasting music too loud in their cars, and I'm not even kidding.
I took the game out and threw it against the wall... and who knows? Perhaps I shed a tear or two.
Later, when I put it in to see if it still worked (unfortunately for me, Mattel made this game to last), it still did and that was the beginning of what would later turn into many recurring nightmares where I'd wake up screaming in a pool of sweat, "TURN THE POWER OFF!!!!" I pressed start and the suffering began. There stood the Bad Street Brawler and I was in full control of him. Too bad for me. Some of the most awful visuals that ever devastated me are to be found in this game. I walked around attacking the stupidest looking baddies in existence. The music wasn't making things any better either. This was torture along the likes of Sunday Funday. Perhaps the coolest move ever in a game, there's a button on the system itself called 'power' and if you press that the suffering ends. I pressed it, and it was all over. The pain had left my body and I relaxed, and reflected on life's many ignored pleasures, sitting by a quiet window with the evening breeze making its way through the tree hollows...

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Old 01-17-2003, 11:45 PM   #17
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You knew I had to bring this series up sooner or later...

Splatterhouse 2 - Sega Genesis - Rating 6
Before Resident Evil was ever conceived (or Alone in the Dark for that matter) there was a series starring a protagonist named Rick wearing a Jason mask (the 'Terror Mask'), who fought with his fists, scissors, a 2X4, shotguns and chainsaws against the undead, paranormal, and everything in-between to rescue his girl, Jennifer. That game is Splatterhouse by Namco and was successful enough that it got two sequels.
The series began in 1988 and was the first to include a Parental Advisory Disclaimer. The one I've chosen to review, part 2, is probably the best of the bunch.
Let me tell you, this game is a gore-fest. No matter how you kill your enemies (usually Screaming Mimis), from punching to chainsawing, it almost certainly is going to be an gory sight. Your character Rick is one slow-walking character, like he limbers forward moreso than he walks. You have 3 hearts for your health with a maximum allocation of 5 and that is what seemingly makes it all the more challenging -- low health combined with slow movement mean you have to be very careful. Much of the level designs revolve around tricky jumping, memorizing where enemies are gonna come from and when (trial and error) and traps like holes in the ground that lead to an underground dungeon-area. Fortunately you have unlimited continues and can write down a password for whatever stage you die on.
The bosses are awesome and include things like a massive squid, a group of fetuses hanging from a ceiling (while scissors and a chainsaw chase after you ) and a huge blue head that appears in the dark. Some of them are tough and require you to get it down to the point of being cynical about everything that is going to occur. The last boss in particular is such a pain, and if you have to continue from dying to him, it's back to the damn elevator...
The music is very fitting of the game and helps bring the atmosphere alive all the more, though I wouldn't consider sitting there listening to it for enjoyment. The sounds are very impressive for the Genesis (especially those Mimis) with every splash and squirt fully represented. My only gripe is that the shotgun and chainsaw sounds are a bit weak.
All in all, yet another enjoyable classic series that should keep you interested to the end. It's just a little aggravating in parts.
Just in case you want it, here's the end-level password~
EDK VEI IAL LDL
Until next time...

(Special thanks to Western Mansion: The Splatterhouse Homepage for the info about the parental advisory disclaimer and the Screaming Mimi's name. Be sure to check out their web page at ~ http://www.classicgaming.com/splatterhouse/trivia.html for lots of cool info regarding Splatterhouse series)

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Old 01-18-2003, 01:21 AM   #18
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The Time Machine II

Chrono Trigger - SNES - Rating 7
What a treat SNES owners got in 1995 with the release of Chrono Trigger, a dream-game project which included the likes of Hironobu Sakaguchi (the father of the Final Fantasy series), Akira Toriyama (who did the designs for Dragon Quest series and Dragon Ball Z) and Yuji Horii (who isn't as well known in the states as in Japan; he's the scenario writer for DQ series). Never before had such a dream team worked on one game before, and as a result the game received some of the biggest hype of any game ever made. I was always looking in my EGMs and Gamefan Magazines for anything related to CT before it was released. All everybody would talk about was how incredible this game was so of course that put me over the edge, waiting and waiting for the day this game would finally be released.
That day finally came and was an event the likes of Street Fighter II finally coming home on SNES. It was massive. I remembered how I sat there staring at the finest-looking RPG ever made, wondering how anybody could top it. It had everything an RPG gamer could ever dream of... awesome time-traveling ability with multiple maps, awesome character designs, incredible graphics, and some of the best music any system has ever produced, even still to this very day. The soundtrack is composed by Yatsunori Mitsuda (who also did other soundtracks later like Chrono Cross) as well as sporting pieces of music here and there by Nobuo Uematsu (Final Fantasy series).
As I said before, this game was an event. The game boasts one of the best quests in an RPG and Square has yet to equal it to this day. You just can't come across quality gaming nowadays similar to this. The controls are fluid and intuitive, and features a great battle system unique to this game alone (however that one battle song always playing throughout the entire game wasn't that good). All of the characters and enemies animated which is in stark contrast to the FF series static drawings which I for one wish would animate. What really made this game stand out, however, are all of the awesome side-quests, the sense of exploration, and its unique presentation. There's so much that you can do, so much stuff to find that you have to go through it at least twice to get everything (thanks to another feature unique to this game, New Game +, which allowed the player for the first time ever to restart the game with all their belongings and power). There's 10 endings depending on when you finish the game but I only cared for about 2 of them - the ones which require that you go through the entire game.
There's no way I'm going into this review without mentioning the music. I've always loved the music to DQ and FF (except FF8 through 10) and this game is remembered for its stellar soundtrack moreso than anything else. Don't care what you say; the music is what made this game as great as it was. From Secrets of the Forest to Dreams Far Away it delivers in such a way that even if the game is dull in a part, if the song is good then it just doesn't matter. I often found myself stopping myself from engaging an enemy or leaving an area just so I could hear a song cadence -- that's how good it was. I bought the 3-CD soundtrack to the game (because I'm smart) and don't regret it in the least.
The game's not without flaws though. Some of the battling can get pretty dull at times and there's quite a lot of it, not a tremendous amount of variety in enemies, some things animate jerky/poorly, etc.
Virtually every RPGamer knows this game by now. And it's usually up there on most of their lists for best RPG of all time. For me, that's a tough call: I'd say that FF4, 6 and 7, most DQ games, both Lunars, and Phantasy Star 2 and 4 are among the better RPG experiences out there. That's my opinion though. Those games have more lasting value and challenge. But CT is undeniably a solid RPG experience that boasts some of the nicest visuals ever on SNES and certainly some of the best music.
All gimmicks aside, though, and it's really an average RPG with a fine polish.

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Old 01-18-2003, 01:33 AM   #19
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Thumbs up

Thumbs up dude, keep those reviews coming. Try to get some reviews of GameCube titles.
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Old 01-18-2003, 09:40 AM   #20
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Yeah Icarus, great job. You're a writer, I see. Want to write reviews with me at a webpage trying to get their feet off the ground? Send me a personal message if you do. You seem to have a good retro knowledge and we need that.

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Old 01-18-2003, 12:26 PM   #21
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And now presenting my first review of an import title that never got the worldwide release it so deserved...

Monster World IV - Mega Drive - Rating 8
I must say, having enjoyed previous installments of Monster World, this one is the best by far (3 was great, but way too easy). If you don't know the MW series that's ok; just another thing that's Sega of America's fault. Well sorta. I'm actually disappointed in a lot of Genesis owners for not reacting strongly enough to Sega's decision at the time to not bring us the quality gaming that is this masterpiece.
Anyway, this is perhaps the most highly polished action/adventure game for the Genesis/Mega Drive. Everything is crystal clear, colorful and animated wonderfully. Think of Zelda - A Link to the Past's colorful, vibrant world making a transition to side-scroller, put in a female protagonist named Asha and her sidekick pet Papalog, and make the characters and enemies bigger, glossier and more anime-ish in look. Put this all together and add one of the coolest quests ever to grace any console and viola! You'd have Monster World IV!
First things first, if you don't understand Japanese you're going to be playing a guessing game most of the time. Though for the most part it's rather easy to figure out what you need to do, sometimes it's just a pain, especially once you reach the Ice Pyramids. If you're desperate there should be some walkthroughs on-line that you can use to help.
The game looks absolutely beautiful, like it should've been on SNES (no, I'm not exaggerating; this game looks beautiful, with some of the very best use of color ever in a game). Everything alive has animation to it, and most of it is nice and smooth. As a result, the control is excellent and there's just so much Asha and her pet can do, it's almost staggering. You must learn how to coexist with Papalog because the key to solving many of the game's puzzles and avoiding punishment is a direct result of how well you cooperate. Fighting plays an important role as well. As with all action/adventure games you will get better weapons, shields and armors as you progress and the usual healing herbs and potions. Like Zelda you're give hearts for life and every time you collect 10 of these shiny blue things (no, I don't know the name so don't get all over my case) you gain another heart in your life meter.
The enemies and bosses are all very well done, especially the bosses, and almost all have a unique manner in which they attack. Some bosses are very cool, like the big red blob near the end of the game that sticks its tongue out at you while smaller, yellow electrically-charged blobs keep jumping out after you. I like stuff like that.
The puzzles can be very difficult later on and some are frusturating. To me though, it was more difficult dealing with all the booby-traps and enemies. After all, they're what kill you. ;) Especially near the end, when you no longer have the convenience of Papalog around and you're on your own. That level, by the way, is more like Super Mario than anything else (complete with coins floating around in the all too familiar Mario-esque patterns) and is perhaps the most aggravating stage, though I was very impressed with the ride to Aegis Island on the magic carpet (very cool). What was sad was how they tried to create a zoom effect on Genesis as you're entering Aegis, which isn't built to do it as you'll see if you play through it. It just doesn't work. At least they tried...
The music is very good and melds with the game's visual appeal pretty well. Some is enjoyable, some is just there. The sounds are good also. It's nothing amazing though.
The most similar game to this that I've played is Popful Mail on Sega CD which was released in the US by Working Designs and has perhaps the best voice acting and writing of any game I've ever played. HIGHLY recommended, so if you don't want to go through the effort to play a great game like MWIV you can't go wrong with Popful Mail. They're very similar.
Just so you know, if you don't know Japanese, there's a VERY difficult part in the game (at the Ice Pyramid) which requires you to place statues you find in a particular order. Not only that, you have to do this 3 TIMES. Because I rock so hard I've decided to tell you all 3 put the statues into the slots in this order~
Ice Temple #1 Turtle - Dog - Owl - Bird - Angel
Ice Temple #2 Bird - Angel - Owl - Dog - Turtle
Ice Temple #3 Owl - Angel - Turtle - Bird - Dog
Before you can even enter Ice Temple #3 the statue at the door throws questions at you in Japanese at random and you have to respond with a "yes" or a "no" to each question. If you make a mistake, it tries to drop you onto a pile of spiked ice (which can be avoided simply by holding a direction right as you're falling and then you have to exit the screen, come back, and try again) and this part I can't really help with. But I can say that whenever you get a question with a 3 in the dialogue select "no" but that's about all the help I can be. Good luck and happy memorizing.
Definitely worth the invested time because it is so damn fun and challenging to play that it becomes an addiction, just like all of the greatest games out there. My only gripe is that SMB-esque stage because it's trial and error.
Oh, and I'll put this here so you can check out the game and see how cool it looks for yourself. http://www.shininglair.com/mw4/mw4.html
I'll finish simply by saying it looks as good as it plays.

Walkthrough ~ http://db.gamefaqs.com/console/genes...r_world_iv.txt

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Old 01-18-2003, 09:30 PM   #22
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Ta-Daaah!

Super Mario Sunshine - GameCube - Rating 5
Well, well, well... Nintendo makes another Mario. And it follows Miyamoto's trend to always change up the mechanics in drastic and, often times, revolutionary ways. And as much as I like the concept of Mario having a water pack on paper, I can't help but think hey, maybe it would've been a better idea to create a brand new character with this concept in mind rather than automatically stick Mario's mug on the cover to generate $$$. At least Nintendo proves it can still come up with new concepts and implement them often flawlessly into games. However, I couldn't help but feel that this was Mario 64 with an added gimmick.
Mario has been accused of vandalizing the Island of Delfino and I won't bore you with the game's background, needless to say it's always the same (Princess Peach gets kidnapped by Bowser eventually) so I'll jump right to the play mechanics. It's Mario 64 with the added gimmick of a water pack called Fludd which Mario uses to clean up the island, hover, propell himself into the air, etc. Mario can do everything he could in Mario 64 so if you've played that then this is more or less an extension to that. Some stages are plaqued with boring tasks which you must do to collect 'Shines' (which is just like collecting stars in Mario 64), and later on this gets aggravating because of all of the ridiculous jumps that you have to do. So boring! The town in Delfino (the overworld) is more fun to collect shines in than most of the stages. And, just like in Mario 64, the later stages are more boring, uninteresting than earlier ones. I must mention the special stages which play like the Bowser levels in Mario 64, albeit much tougher. You cannot use Fludd in them and it's basically Mario up against the odds. These stages I enjoyed the most because they were challenging and fun. I hated the Pachinko machine stage though where you collect 8 red coins to get the shine - it was trial and error, plain and simple.
The graphics are much improved from Mario 64, with often so much going on you can't keep track of it all. Very generous use of colors, lighting and effects. Of course, the water looks great. However if you look at every game's 'water physics', you begin to notice how much more the water reacts like water in a small pool than in an ocean or the like (which would be just too much for any of these current systems to handle; that's really all there is to it). No matter. The enemies are standard Mario fare with very few new additions to the mix, which is disappointing to say the least. In some levels I was amazed at the sheer LACK of enemies more than anything else. The landscapes are often very well done, with the time of day often changing depending on which shine you're going after on whatever level. Some textures seem weak, however, and other things too plain. But overall it looks okay.
The music is typical Mario. In other words it gets the job done, but I could care less. Koji Kondo (Nintendo's main in-house composer) has written some of the most brilliant, memorable pieces ever in gaming (Super Mario Brothers, Zelda, etc.). At least most of this stuff fits the visuals. No track really stands out in my mind though.
Overall, I felt that this whole water gimmick was just what Nintendo needed to start up something new. Instead, they just threw it together with the Mario 64 game engine, and although Mario 64 revolutionized the way I see 3D gaming this just doesn't cut it with me. There were times when I didn't want to finish the game because I was so bored and uninterested that I shut it off. I never got all the shines --- never bothered. There are far superior Mario games to this, including Yoshi's Island which was so intelligent, I got perfect scores in every stage and hidden stage just because it was so good. Granted I opened nothing extra for all that effort but at least I had a great time doing it.
Unfortunately I can't say the same for Mario Sunshine, as highly polished a game as it is.

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Old 01-19-2003, 12:28 AM   #23
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Hmmmmm....

Double Dragon II - Sega Genesis - Rating 3
The first time playing Double Dragon was a religious experience; I hadn't actually played a side scrolling beat 'em up beforehand. For the first time I was walking around being badass, beating the crap out of street thugs, girls with 80's hair-dos wielding whips and huge, bulky guys that bust out of stone walls, with heads as big as their bodies. What an experience that was and its formula was only furthered with titles like Adventures of Bayou Billy, River City Ransom, Crime Fighters, either TMNT Arcade, the 6-player X-Men Arcade, Final Fight and Streets of Rage which, although kinda dumbed down from repetitious sequels and every spinoff imaginable, still has a personal charm that hasn't been replicated. They even had a Sailor Moon arcade beat-'em-up which made it home on the Mega Drive/Super Famicom and were extremely fun to play (very stylish, with addictive music).
I have played through every Double Dragon on NES and the SNES version. So when I set out to play it on Sega Genesis I was expecting more of the same. And indeed it is. Anybody who has played any number of beat-'em-ups knows the name of the game. Walk around, beat up thugs, avoid holes and harmful objects, pick up weapons and use them, etc. It's all the same as ever.
This Double Dragon has the best start of any yet. Remember the beginning to part 1, when the thugs sock your girl in the gut and take her hostage? Well this time, right at the very beginning the first thing they do is blow your girl away with a machine gun and walk away casually, like nothing even happened!!!
Needless to say, you're PO'ed. The game starts on top of a building, and what follows is the usual 'beat X number of enemies before the screen advances a little, repeat' stuff you all know. Except this time, you have more weapons at your disposal, including axes, chain whips, big wooden crates and huge steel balls(!) The graphics are kinda plain with nothing that stands out. The characters are pretty small, and there's slowdown in parts. Enemies are fun to battle with for a while but it gets repetitious. The bosses are alright, though the second boss is one of the stupidest I've yet seen in a fighting game. I actually wanted to mess him up all the more because of how pathetic he looked (I guess Tradewest knows a little about psychology). And funny enough, after you beat bosses they appear in further levels as enemies, often in groups of 2, and sometimes even with another enemy with them! This doesn't make too much of a difference; they can all be taken out rather easily with repetitive jump kicks and spin kicks, etc.
Like the first one, there's 4 levels (missions) that include (in order) the rooftops, a factory, a farm area (!?) and the enemy headquarters. They all look plain, except a few nice touches here and there in the final level.
The music is just sorta there with the usual sounds you'd expect out of a title of this stature. Nothing special.
Overall, it's not really a BAD game. But what's the point in playing this one when you've got so many better beat-'em-ups out there?

FYI ~ This is not the same Double Dragon II that was released for NES. The NES version is entirely different and gets a 4 for being a slightly better game overall, but it's nothing special. Besides, you gotta respect a game with stage names like "Forest of Death" and "Mansion of Terror"

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Old 01-19-2003, 09:36 AM   #24
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Rock on...

Axelay - SNES - Rating 9
Axelay, released not too long after the SNES came out, is still the best shooting game I've played on the system (Gradius III was great, but not quite as great). It had everything: incredible gameplay, awesome designs on EVERYTHING, cool effects and phenomenal music. It was such an unexpected treat from Konami, such a marvelous game, I have yet to play a better shooter from Konami (or most everybody else, save for a few like Darius on Saturn).
Even if you put the game in and play it today it still looks impressive. You begin by arming which weapons you'll equip on your ship (Axelay) which, at the start, is limited to just 3 but opens more as you progress and it's always important to know which weapons are best suited for the area (or your personal style of play). And you're off.
I must mention the game's layout. There're 3 mode-7 stages and 3 on the standard side-of-the-ship perspective. Both come off impressively and what is especially cool is the generous variety of enemies you have to deal with. You come across many types of enemies in just one particular part of a stage and afterwards you are almost certainly not going to see them again, like they're custom-made for the particular stage you're on. The bosses are, once again, extremely cool (this is Konami we're talking about) and are generally massive is size. In contrast, some of Gradius III's bosses are cool, but they just don't stack up.
The gameplay is virtually flawless; you shoot and dodge as with every shooter (duh) but, unlike most shooters, you select between weapons at any time (from those you selected before each stage) and each weapon has its advantages/disadvantages. By the way, there's no shield in the game so if you get shot you lose a weapon and that leaves you with two. Get shot twice more and you're almost helpless. One more shot and you're dead. Also, it's worth note to tell you that if you make contact with an enemy, chances are, you're dead no matter what. Fortunately if you die you will be right where you left off, unlike Gradius which made things much harder by forcing you to return to a pervious spot in the stage. However, lose all your lives and it's back to the beginning of the level, and you only have so many continues. On easy it's just that: easy. But you won't see the full last boss nor ending unless you play through it all the way on hard.... yet another feature typical of Konami games.
The soundtrack makes this a shooter like no other. I know there are a lot of shooting game fans who love Zuntata soundtracks, but I personally think this is the best music ever in a shooting game. It just rocks from start to end. Too bad there's no sound test in the game. The sound effects are all done to Konami perfection.
A well-rounded, wonderful shooter that never got the sequel it deserved. Anybody who likes shooting games will love Axelay. It's one of my absolute favorite shooting games of all time, and it's easy to see why.

Here, see why for yourself ~ http://www.classicgaming.com/shmups/...lay/axelay.htm

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Old 01-19-2003, 11:00 AM   #25
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Let's see if you're any good

Gaiares - Sega Genesis - Rating 7
Wanna know whether or not somebody is any good at shooting games? Ask them to beat Gaiares. I did.
This 8-MEGA-powered killer shooter will put the K in KILL for you.
One of the toughest shooters ever (and that's just on the normal setting) Gaiares was one of the most extraordinary shooting experiences. Or massacre, depending on your skill level. And you'd better have skill of extraordinary proportions. That's because Gaiares is such a kill-fest, you'll have to keep retrying, a lot, because there's NO WAY you're going through this your first, second, or probably even third sitting because you're gonna get wasted. Many times.
The graphics are pretty nice for a Genesis, although kinda plain in comparison to something like Thunder Force IV. Then again, this game really isn't about looks; it's about challenge. However, the bosses are usually well done, and a couple of stages look nice. The enemies are the generic stuff you'd expect in a shooter, with a few big ones here and there.
What makes this shooter unique is its weapons system. You have a special enemy analyzer satellite-type thing that's always hovering nearby your ship (the TOZ system). Instead of shooting enemies to reveal weapon power-ups and such, you shoot your satellite into an enemy and it latches on for a second, and it returns to the ship and you get different weapons with different enemies. Not only that, but you can keep locking onto enemies to keep making the weapon stronger (as long as it's an enemy with the same weapon for its power-up) until it's maxed out. You can change the speed of your ship's mobility at will and this may become a factor later on. There is a total of 8 stages and they get progressively harder the further in you get.
The music isn't all that impressive, though I enjoyed the song at the very end of Stage 2 (where the water fills up the screen and you fight a boss). The sound effects are fine for a shooter on Genesis.
Wanna go to the options screen? At the title screen just hold A, B, and C on the controller and press start. You can select difficulty (but you can only select between normal and something like 'super difficult'. So now, I have the option to die even more than I already do? Where do I sign up??) and there's a sound test for all those people who wanna get their groove on to Gaiares' music. Errr. I'll just pray there's no such thing. But hey! the song I liked is there, at least.
So if you want to test your shooting skills to the breaking point, get Gaiares by Telenet-Renovation. It's surely the epitimy of hard shooters on Genesis. There aren't many as difficult as this; few come to mind... Pulstar or Viewpoint particularly (both on Neo Geo). And Thunder Force IV is a better game overall. But if you have the opportunity, give Gaiares a chance. It deserves it.

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Old 01-19-2003, 10:42 PM   #26
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A very special classic

The Legend of Zelda ~ A Link To The Past/Four Swords - SNES/GBA - Rating 10
Before SNES came out, I was so obsessed with it, I'd carry around all my Nintendo Power magaines and EGMs which were the best (and only) sources for any game related news. I even taped all the SNES commercials (!) and still have them on tape to this very day. The first game I ever played on SNES was Mario World. I was astounded -- the first time I played it was over my cousin's house, and it was a religious experience. That and Final Fantasy II (in the US) were my entries into SNES land when I got my brand spanking new shiny SNES for Christmas.
It wasn't until my birthday the following year that I finally got Zelda ~ A Link to the Past. Since then, it has become a classic game in every respectable gamer's life. And with very good reason. It has been the most influential action/adventure title ever made, whose formula would be replicated in dozens of other (usually high-quality) titles. Landstalker. Crusader of Centy. Alundra. Illusion of Gaia. Legend of Oasis. All of them were inspired by Zelda. Neutopia may have come before this Zelda, but even that and its sequel are inspired by the original Zelda.
Whether on SNES or GBA (with the added Four Swords quest by Nintendo/Capcom) it is flawless not only in the virtue of its design but every aspect which one can associate with quality. There's simply nothing at fault with it: great visuals, a nice story (this is actually the prequel to the original), flawless control mechanics, inspired and inspiring game and dungeon design, cool bosses, an excellent soundtrack by Koji Kondo.... just flawless. It rewards the curious/explorative gamer with many hidden places and items, and even rewards the experimental gameplayer with small little quirks that only Nintendo seems to know how to do best. This game does no wrong.
I won't make this a long review, simply because everybody has played Zelda at one time or another, and I just want to show respect to Miyamoto and the fine workers/thinkers at Nintendo for inspiring a gamer like myself to raise my standards as to what makes gaming so great to begin with. Everybody who owns a SNES or GBA should feel obligated to own Zelda, one of the greatest moments in gaming history.

Here's a GREAT Zelda site ~ http://www.ganonstower.com/lttp.shtml

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Old 01-20-2003, 12:04 PM   #27
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Nature calls? It's in the back...

Devil May Cry - PS2 - Rating 8
If you own a PS2 then it is essential that you purchase the Capcom goodness that is Devil May Cry. It is, without question, the closest a 3D action game has ever come to having gameplay as good as any great 2D classic. Right from the opening you can tell this game is killer.
Dante is the coolest new character I've seen yet on any new system. He just rocks hardcore and if you disagree, tough. He plays similar to how you'd probably have wanted a Belmont to in a 3D Castlevania, except Dante uses (mainly) swords and guns. And, a little later in the game, nice BIG guns. The controls are superb with lightning fast (and high) jumps, double-jumps and wall-jumps, attacks, and TONS of combos (you can 'uppercut' an enemy with a sword, blast away with whatever firearm, then catch 'em coming down with more sword-attacks, for example). You can buy more moves and powers between stages, and later on you'll even be able to transform into a devil which can use magic. Awesome. There's tons of puzzles to solve and items to acquire and, in fact, many are utilized in a similar manner to Resident Evil which works well. As a matter of fact, I think Shinji Mikami (creator of the Resident Evil series as well as this) originally had RE in mind when he made this game engine and somewhere along the line changed it into this, effectively creating a new, refreshing series. I'm all for it.
The graphics are, in a word, spectacular. Even if you put something beside DMC like Panzer Dragoon Orta, I'd still think DMC has a better 'look' to it, because it's more interesting to look at aged victorian, elegant and sometimes gothic sceneries than Panzer's cold, grey and brown 'lifeless' organic sceneries which fluctuates between fitting the game's unique representation of foreign sceneries and BORING, seemingly devoid of personality environments. Everything in DMC is rendered exceptionally well, too. This is similar to how I'd want Castlevania to look in 3D (though Konami better always keep it alive in 2D as well). The enemies are superb and often challenging, although, like Rygar on PS2, the total enemy count is in the lower digits. The bosses demand attention. These are among the greatest bosses ever conceived for a 3D game (or 2D for that matter). They're more like 'villians' in their own way, and they even converse with Dante before rampaging around the area, often causing absolute MAYHEM trying to turn you into a pile of blood. Plus they're often difficult, with a great deal of activities (patterns) that you must watch and build an effective strategy around to avoid getting hurt. This game reminds me of Konami's 16-bit days in a way, and that's definitely a good thing. Wait until you see the final boss...
The music is often the Resident Evil-style thing, along with the high-octane rock/metal stuff typical of many games nowadays. Nothing in particular makes me want to run out and buy the soundtrack, though it really, REALLY fits this game well. The sound effects are flawless and the voice acting is actually pretty well-done (certainly better than Castlevania - SOTN's horrendous excuse for 'acting') especially Dante, who rocks hardcore, like I already said. He makes the game as 'cool' as it is.
Capcom must really love us gamers. They make some of the greatest games on the face of the planet (Street Fighter, Mega Man, Strider, Ghouls N' Ghosts, etc.) and now they go and make the best 3D action game thus far along with Ninja Gaiden (X-Box). If you own a PS2 and you DON'T own DMC, go out to the nearest retailer who sells it and say to them "I'd like to behold the might that is DMC", take it home, and enjoy. If not, you should punish yourself by watching Kangaroo Jack followed by back-to-back reruns of Rhinestone starring Sylvester Stallone. That should serve you right.

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Old 01-20-2003, 09:41 PM   #28
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AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!!! .......GET READY!

Space Harrier - Arcade - Rating 8
"Welcome to the Fantasy Zone! ...Get Ready!"
Who can forget those words? Yu Suzuki (legendary arcade/game designer/producer/director) was the king of the arcades along with Capcom and Konami during the 80's and is still going strong with such gaming experiences as Shenmue 1 & 2 and Virtua Fighter 4. And if you talk to anybody about the arcades' golden years you're going to hear titles like Out Run(ners), Virtua Racing, Altered Beast, Fantasy Zone, After Burner, Hang On, and the game I've chosen to review, Space Harrier.
The stature of Yu Suzuki in arcade gaming is one that hasn't been equalled to this very day. He is a famous person in Japan: if he took a walk on the street, people would KNOW who he is. He revolutionized gaming in general by being a visionary, and he always stood at the forefront of technological advancements in gaming. One can identify this unique quality in virtually every one of his works -- it is always one in which efficiency and technology work cohesively in order to maintain a quality that can only be described as 'virtuosity in excellence', a startling effectiveness that never wanes and is only exhibited by a select few (including esp. Shigeru Miyamoto).
Onto the game. I remember when I first played Space Harrier in the arcade. It was a magical moment, to say the very least. Space Harrier was innovative (gee, how many times do you hear that word nowadays?), an instant classic in its most bare, broad form. Games back then just didn't play, look, INSPIRE like this. A fully realized 2D-3D world that has never truly been equalled (though others have tried, such as Square's NES title 3D World Runner, as well as the Mega Drive Cotton game, of which there were only around 5,000 copies made, sadly). One thing I must mention is the freedom of movement. Games back then, particularly shooters, had a greater degree of freedom than today's 3D graphic-fests like Panzer Dragoon Orta. And that's what games like PDO lack... FREEDOM OF MOVEMENT (though PDO is an on-rails shooter and SH isn't; advantage - Space Harrier). Controls are simple yet flawless. You are the hero Space Harrier who must save Dragon Land from the invading forces. You fly/run 'into' the screen with your hero hovering/running in full view of you at all times, and you can shoot anything and everything in sight though not everything can be harmed. The object is simple - destroy all the baddies, avoid getting hit/shot and stay alive. You'll need lightning-fast reflexes later as stages can get to blistering speeds and since you're moving into the screen you have to beware not banging full force into whatever might be sticking out of the ground, as well as enemy fire at the same time.
The graphics vary depending on which version you play. I remember the Christmas when I first played Space Harrier on Sega Master System.... what a wondrous thing to behold that was. Space Harrier has been released and re-released so many times I can't even count. You can even play it in Shenmue at the arcades and at home if you buy the Saturn and the game.
The bosses were the coolest back at that time and are still pretty cool today (the two-headed dragon, when it comes up to the screen and flies away with both heads still focused on the screen just makes me feel strange). Dragons spewing fireballs at you, a strange 'head' with other 'stone heads' circling like a shield, multitudes of mech-like robots flying all over the place firing lightning fast missles directly at you... you get the picture. There are 18 zones total, and the latter stages are amongst the most difficult. The bonus stages are awesome. You ride a white, furry dragon and slam him head-first into everything coming into the screen to rack your score up higher.
The music is great too. From the 80's-style motivational Main Theme, to the up-beat Battle Field which plays in bonus stages, to all the strange, urgent boss themes: Squilla, Ida, Godarni, Syura, Valda, and Stanrey... and of course the ranking and game ending songs Lake Side Memory and White Summer. That's it, but hey, at least these songs have personality unlike the stuff in most games made today. I enjoy it and if you don't like the music, just think, at least they didn't hire Mr. Big to do any of the tracks like they did with that Daytona Remix on Saturn Or, just as bad, you could've been playing this game while having to endure the 80's suffering manifest aurally that goes by the names Winger and Trixter . The sound effects are cool with all the bangs and explosions done well, and of course there's all that cool game speech.
These days revolutionary games are non-existent and developers are taking 3D and doing nothing new with it. Well, back then, Yu Suzuki was taking 2D and making a 3D world with it. How's that for innovation? And, unlike too many of today's games, this game doesn't need no added gimmick like graphic power to disguise any insufficiencies because Space Harrier has character, ingenuity, is an original, and, most importantly of all - it's very fun to play. It definitely wasn't more of the same when it was released; it was more 'virtuosity of excellence' that Sega and Yu Suzuki are so adept at.
FYI, they released a sequel for Genesis, Space Harrier II, which is pretty good, although not quite on the original's level. However, it's still a game worth owning, if you can find a copy.
Until next time...

Break out the nostalgia

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Old 01-20-2003, 10:22 PM   #29
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Catastrophic?

Panzer Dragoon Orta - X-Box - Rating 4
PDO, developed by Smilebit, is probably Sega's biggest game yet for any of the new systems. Featuring graphics that make the other Panzers look bad in comparison (what did you expect between an X-Box and Saturn?) and level designs which range from the astounding (Stage 7 - Forgotten Dreams) to the cold and lifeless (a lot of others like Stage 5). There's so much to shoot at that it's insane, with enemies that almost never repeat between stages. However, here is where the game's major flaw comes into play: on hard you're almost fighting with the enemy fire moreso than the enemies themselves (try Stage 4 on hard and tell me I'm wrong). However, in some stages this isn't as big an issue as with others.
Your dragoon can morph between 3 forms, and all of them can level up, thus, changing into a more powerful form. There's the standard offensive form which can accelerate and slow down, dash, shoot, and lock-on to multiple enemies at once (in the area of 8 or so). Then there's defensive form which cannot accelerate or slow down but can shoot, and its lock-on shots, while small in number, deal the most damage. And then there's the speed form which can evade better than any other form due to smaller size and faster movement, accelerate and slow down, and shoot rapid fire out faster than any other form (useful for taking out enemy fire and multiple weaker enemies), however, it has no lock-on. All forms have a berserk attack which really punishes the enemies/bosses, with the defensive form's berserk being the most lethal. You can turn the camera 90 degrees in any direction with either L or R on top of the contorller, and if you press them simultaneously it turns 180 degrees. With so much to control, things can get a bit confusing, especially under heavy enemy fire and/or fast speeds (and this game gets pretty fast). I would've preferred one dragoon form that transforms as seen in PD Zwei because this allows for one to focus more on what's going on on-screen rather than the dragoon all the time. You'll need to learn how to transform effectively and speedily, especially versus some of the bosses. Speaking of bosses, half of them are rather dull to fight, like the statue in Stage 4 which keeps putting up a defensive shield (it's horribly designed). However, some bosses are a treat (Stage 5 for one).
There's a tremendous amount of stuff that can be unlocked in the pandora's box. If you play the game for 20 hours most of the stuff opens, including the original Panzer game (that's right). However, in order to open EVERYTHING you'll have to get an S ranking on every stage on the hard setting, so I hope you've got a lot of spare time... Most of the stuff you can open, like the side missions, I felt were pointless and even boring. Others, like the cinema and art galleries, are more worthwhile and you can open a lot of that stuff on easy/normal setting.
The music is good in parts and bad/boring in others; it's almost as good as PD Zwei's soundtrack and probably better than the PD Saga's soundtrack, which was a letdown. None have equalled the original Panzer's soundtrack. The sound effects are very good, as you would expect them to be, with Maaya Sakamoto (a popular guitarist/singer from Japan) providing the voice of Orta, the game's low on self-esteem, devoid of feeling (at first) heroine. She (Maaya) also did the lead voice in PD Saga, the Saturn RPG I fortunately have a copy of.
And that's basically the game. It's not as fun as Starfox (in my opinion) but once you get to know the game, you'll find it to be rewarding in some ways and quite a bit lacking in others. I still think PD Zwei is the best in the series, but then again that's just me. PDO is pretty fun on easy but aggravating on hard.

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Old 01-21-2003, 10:21 AM   #30
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Gauntlet's illegitimate son...?

Dungeon Explorer - TurboGrafx 16 - Rating 5
The first thought that entered my mind when I first laid my eyes upon Dungeon Explorer was Gauntlet. That's because both games play and look very similar to each other, and Hudson Soft was clearly influenced by the design of Gauntlet.
DE is a top-down dungeon crawler game that is more action than adventure. You begin by selecting which kind of character you'd like to play as: fighter, thief, dwarf, etc. just like Gauntlet, each with his/her specific means of attack (swords, knives, axes, etc. all are projectiles) and each character has their own unique starting stats. You build up stats by finding the appropriate items (i.e. the shoes increase agility). The only way to level-up is to get the ORA stones that the bosses leave behind when you defeat them, and leveling-up is the only means of increasing your max HP -- there's no MP meter. You can collect potions that you can use anytime to double your defenses temporarily, and skulls which do the same to your attacks. Oh, and it's also 1-5 players at once, though I suggest you max out at two or three because this game will slow down to a crawl and that's not gonna be much fun.
Basically you get briefed by the king to return all the ORA stones and it's off you go on a killing spree. You head south from the castle and you're right at the first dungeon. And from there the game pretty much goes from dungeon to brief visit in the town (there's only one town really, aside from a few houses scattered around here and there), back to a dungeon, etc. The game isn't long either, but what it does it does well enough. Each dungeon has its own design which isn't ever anything too impressive, its own enemies and boss (sometimes more than 1), and each has its own piece of music. Some pieces of music are well-done, or at the very least interesting. The TurboGrafx sound is crystal clear and is superior in many ways to the Genesis, though the TG16 is actually an 8-bit system with a 16-bit graphics processor.
There's a password system so you can always resume from where you left off, but on the downside all your powers (aside from level and HP) go back down if you use one.
There's a hidden character you can play as by imputting a specific password given to you at one point in the game, though it's nothing to get too excited about. There's also a trick you do with a password that will let you start not only beyond full-power -- you can even walk through walls, on roofs, water, or pretty much anything (except for some gates, which you can simply walk around) and that means you can go straight to the final boss right from the start! Coolness!
Hudson Soft released a sequel for the PC Engine CD (also plays on TurboDuo, at least on mine) which pretty much looks and plays the same, albeit with cinemas and CD-quality audio.
In the end, DE plays, looks and sounds decent. So I guess that's what this game is: decent. Not bad, but not excellent. Decent.

Here's every code ~ http://www.gamewinners.com/TG/DungeonExplorer.htm and this just happens to be a very useful site as well so check it out. ;)

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