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Old 03-07-2003, 09:15 PM   #106
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Thank you Drunken Savior for the support. I don't mind opposing views and if we all harbored the same views this would be a boring world indeed. I respect everyone's opinion (whether I agree or diagree) and am not so arrogant as to believe that everybody must conform to my standard. I'm glad you disagree with my review of Halo and I hope that in spite of this you accept my thought/opinions for what they are. I will continue to write reviews for as long as possible, at no cost. And I hope you enjoy my section as much as I do.

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Old 03-09-2003, 12:25 AM   #107
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Wouldn't a sequel be nice

Marble Madness - NES/Arcade - Rating 6
Atari really had something special with the arcade release of Marble Madness in 1984. It wasn't the most graphically impressive game (back then, what was?) but it was completely different than anything else. You controlled a ball on-screen by rolling a metal ball that was built into where the arcade stick/buttons would normally be. On the NES it plays the same though; the object is to make it through each different stage in as short a time as possible by avoiding hazards like acid, mallets that attack, ground that pops up, vaccums, tiny railings to move across, etc. The faster you beat a stage, the more time is extended in the following stage. Time is your most valuable asset - if the time runs out, game over. No lives. No continues. You have one chance. With that said, it's a rather short game (less than 10 minutes) however you probably won't beat it until after many attempts. The music is a very real part of playing and enjoying the game. Each stage has wonderfully composed music that stimulates, entertains, agitates, annoys, and is excellently composed. There isn't much in the way of sound but what is there does the job.
So with that said, you should check out this classic gaming experience. You can get it very cheap and you will be glad you did. A short but sweet accomplishment.

The best time to be a gamer was for me undoubtably the 8-16 bit days. That was the time when individuals were allowed to have imaginations, experiment and expand their artistic gifts, when gamers both felt and knew they were in a special time, and there was an important communication between game designers and game players through the games themselves. Nowadays, it's different. It's more about money and survival, grasping at past glories and copying others, than it is about making a great gaming experience. We are at the mercy of the corporates. If one type of game sells then you can be sure you'll see many more follow suit. Exponential games like Street Fighter 2, Castlevania, and such existed because they did something different from the rest, whether it be a small or great difference, while being fun, creative, and communicative towards the gamer.

Metroid - NES - Rating 9
One such exponential game was the NES action/adventure genre-buster Metroid released in 1986. It was different than every other game and yet shared many of the same ideas: You run, jump and shoot at enemies. But you also roll into a ball, bomb, explore huge inter-connected areas, hidden walls that can be destroyed, hidden items scattered everywhere, special items that open up even more possibilities in areas previously visited, figuring out what to do next, etc. etc. all in one of the most unique game designs ever conceived. Even the look of Metroid is like no other (and this is on an 8-bit system). Sure, it's basic technically, but do you get the same feeling while playing any other game? Maybe another Metroid, but what else? So not only has Metroid established its own game structure but also never been faithfully duplicated, and that's saying something. The entire game is rather massive, with each area being impressively large and hiding a tremendous amount of secret items and areas. I think one of Metroid's greatest strengths lies in the game being designed in such a way as to NOT know what to expect next. The game told you nothing other than what was in your current inventory, and so you were pretty much on your own. It was your adventure.
Then there is the music. Metroid's soundtrack is so well done that it hurts to play it without the music turned on. The music sounds the same as the game's atmosphere; that's all there is to it. Haunting, creepy, unusual, and listenable - that's how I describe it. The sound effects are all perfect as well.
If the game has a fault, it lies in the fact that when you're moving from one room to the next, if an enemy gets stuck in-between rooms with you you're taking damage whilce the screen moves over to the next room. Also, some of the jumping is rather difficult when you're stuck in a pool of lava or whatnot. Some of you may feel this is actually a strength. No matter. Try to keep a footing on sturdy land.
That's all I can say about Metroid. It is in a class all by itself.

Oh, and here's a tremendous amount of codes and cheats ~ http://www.world-of-video-games.com/.../metroid.shtml Enjoy.

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Old 03-09-2003, 10:00 PM   #108
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Bet you didn't see this one coming

Ultima V ~ Warriors of Destiny - Commodore 64/128 - Rating 7
(also available for Amiga and Apple computers)
Lord British is missing ever since his journey into the underworld of Britannia. Blackthorne was trustworthy and filled with virtue, and so he took the seat of Lord British during his absence. However, his rule was that of a tyrant dictator, enforcing his will upon the people against their wants and wishes, driving up taxes, and putting into place a martial law (like all tyrants do). As it happens, Blackthorne's heart was changed by the evil incarnations known as Shadowlords, wicked spirits opposite of virue which imprisoned Lord British in the underworld and roam free the overworld of Britannia. They seek to kill the Avatar and his companions, as does Blackthrone. They have been outlawed. Fortunately for the Avatar some kingdoms have rebelled against Blackthorne. However, Shadowlords still roam free in the overworld (aside from in Keeps of the Principles of Virtue) and they can go wherever they choose. Many have fought the Shadowlords and even those who have succeeded... did not vanquish them, for the next day a thought to be defeated Shadowlord was back with no battle wounds and in a perfect state of ill manner and menace. So it's up to you, Avatar, along with Iolo and Shamino, your companions, to seek out Lord British, destroy the Shadowlords, and restore order.
As you can tell, the Shadowlords get a lot of your attention. You will walk into a town or castle and you'll be given a warning that 'an air of cowardice/falsehood/hatred doth surrounds thee'. The town's trees are all plain and bare, and everything looks dirty/rotten. Then you'll KNOW you're in the presence of a Shadowlord. They like to hang around town squares, and if you venture close enough they begin chasing you! (Between midnight and one o'clock AM they cannot move.) Best to avoid confrontations with them. Besides, you cannot kill them physically. You'll have to find another means....
You begin the game by choosing your 8 virtues. From there, the game opens with a brief encounter with all three Shadowlords. You set out from your home in the northeast woods to towns, castles, keeps, harbors, dungeons, etc. like most RPG. However, Ultima V is vastly open-ended. While this may seem to make things a little inconsistant it really doesn't harm the story progression. You don't gain levels like in standard RPGs. You have to build your virtues up by doing (what else) virtuous things such as giving money to a beggar, not stealing, etc. Or you can walk around places killing innocent people for no reason (in combat, with cannons, in their sleep, etc.). However, beware that such actions do not come without consequences. In particular, guards will chase after you and if you have to fight them, beware! There are many on-screen and they can shoot at you from anywhere. Not only that, they are rather resilient. Also, if you do kill innocent people (murderer) people will run away when they see you and will not provide service and conversation. The magic system is divided into three 'rings', each is a different level of magic (one, two, and three) with more powerful spells as you progress up the magic ranks. In order to create spells you will need the proper ingredients. You need food, money (gold) and lodging to stay alive, like in real life. You can talk to anybody and say anything you want. However, most people will not respond to anything besides 'age', 'sex', 'job', etc. You can put the word into a full sentence - "What is your job?", for example. If they tell you something such as "I am a pirate!" and you say "ship" they'll say something else. Some people have useful hints and clues, while others are just everyday folk. The game takes place in real-time, and every move you make results in one minute passing (there's an in-game clock always present). Every individual lives their life working, eating, conversing, etc. and sleeping. You know there's much to appreciate about this game.
Fighting enemies is fun and requires strategy and skill of thought. Your party is on a battle plane and you can see everything that's going on. There are wisps, skeletons, daemons, dragons, imps, bats, insects, etc. You can equip up to two weapons at once, although some weapons you can only equip with both hands. There's swords of all sizes, daggers, bow & arrows, axes, magic axes, etc. and there's the armors, shields, and other such things. The game is packed with items which all have various uses. Transportation is done by several means including by foot, horse, ship, and magic carpet. If you enter a dungeon (you have to yell magic words to make entrances open) it changes from a top down view to first person. And let me tell you, these dungeons are menacing and filled with booby traps and foes, as well as treasure. All dungeons lead to the underworld which is where Lord British is held captive.
The soundtrack is classical-composed music that is diverse and well to my liking. I love classical music so it's great to hear such well-composed music in an RPG, especially one set in medeival times. You will probably like it a lot. You can even select whatever song you want to listen to before the game starts by pressing the appropriate keys on the keyboard. The sound effects are nothing impressive (this is a Commodore 64/128 we're talking about here).
This is one hard quest so I hope you've got some time on your hands. When it was released on Commodore 64/128 it came in a box with 4 floppy discs (use both sides) and it came with a massive manual, an amulet, a big cloth map, and other goodies. All this for $60. Very nice. I don't know much about the Amiga and Apple versions of the same game other than the fact that they look a bit better. However, you can't go wrong with Ultima V ~ Warriors of Destiny.

Here are tremendously useful sites about Ultima ~ http://www.ultimainfo.net/Codex/Ultima5.htm#Shadow
~ http://www.softwarezone.com/cheat/Co...cheat7064.html
~ http://www.ultimainfo.net/
Here's all the music in MIDI format for Ultimas III, IV, and V - each in seperate compact downloads
http://markus.brenner.de/ultima/

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Old 03-11-2003, 08:42 PM   #109
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In the beginning

Valis ~ The Fantasm Soldier - Sega Genesis - Rating 4
There is a lot to complain about in Telenet/Renovation's first Valis title for Genesis. (I know that's not a good way to start a review. ) As you may know, Valis games are built to be cinematic action games but this one is rather poor. Of the 8-MEGS this game contains, about 3 must've been used for the actual game and 5 for the cinemas. As a result, the game looks basic and poor except for some of the cinema shots.
The game begins with a 7 minute cinema that could've been done in 2-3 minutes if not for the ultra-slow typed out character text whenever somebody talks. Their mouths move to each individual letter and man does it hurt to have to sit there and wait for someone to finish a few sentences. The game begins with Yuko Asao standing outside of school while it's raining. She briefly recollects about a dream she had. Her antagonistical friend Reiko brings up the strange weather and eventually she leaves. All of a sudden, monsters start attacking Yuko. She is given the Valis Sword and off she goes. So you fight through the basic, simple first stage by slicing through the same few enemies over and over and kill the boss. Then another cutscene begins and here Yuko meets Valia for the first time. Valia tells her she is in the fantasy world and that Yuko is actually the legendary dream warrior Valis. Yin and Yang have been seperated by Rogles (the bad guy). Valia then goes on to talk about how Rogles has sealed the source of the Yang into a Phantasm Jewel and shattered it, seperating it into pieces. Yuko's mission is to retrieve the Phantasm Jewel and restore 'Yang'. To accomplish this, Yuko must defeat Rogles and his five generals. Yuko doesn't want to fight though; she just wants to go home. So with a burst of light Valia changes Yuko's clothing from schoolgirl uniform to scantily-clad, skin exposed to the utmost Fantasm Soldier uniform and sends her off. And what's the first place Yuko is sent to? Of course... Ice covered mountains.
The gameplay is basic: navigate Yuko through poorly designed stages while killing poorly designed enemies. Sorry, it's actually not as offensive of a game as I make it sound, it's just rather weak. Yuko can jump, high-jump, slide and attack. You find swords which give Yuko different projectile attacks like spread shots, homing arrows, beam shots, etc. and with each time you gather another of the same type of sword you power-up the sword attack. But if you collect another type of sword you'll lose your other sword and its power. There's a life bar and an equally long magic bar which you must build up by gathering magic. As you beat stages you collect different magic attacks. You have to pause and select which magic attack you want to use and from there hold up and press attack to use it. Some of the hit detection is rather awful. You'll hit an enemy but it will not connect at times. This gets a little aggravating, but since the game is such a breeze it shouldn't matter much. Yuko's got one long energy bar and there's tons of hearts scattered about.
The graphics are plain and shoddy. Enemy designs are basic and unimpressive even for an older Genesis game (games like Ghouls 'N Ghosts look better, and that was only 5-MEGS so that'll tell you something). I'm quite certain that most of the MEGS were used for the cinemas. That's rather disappointing since there's a staggeringly small four cinemas throughout the entire game. Wonderful.... As in all Valis games, the artwork is good in parts and bad in others. One minute Valis is cute, the next she's a freak. Go figure.
Bosses are easy and often consist of one or two predictable patterns. Even if you don't get the patterns down, you can often win simply by slashing away like crazy while you're getting hit. What's that nonsense? Once you get the Fire magic that acts as a barrier, use it while fighting bosses up-close. All you'll need to do against a boss like the two-headed dragon is get up close, keep activating the fire magic and slash away.
Valis games have some good tunes and this one has a few of its own. Too bad the songs tend to be short in length so they repeat thirty times a stage. The sound effects are weak and distant. Best song? The forest stage. Wanna go to the sound test? Hold A+B+C and press start at the title screen.
That's basically it. Watch drawn-out cinemas due to slow text with hints of animation here and there (most of it lip and eye movement), and play a weak action game that could've been much better. It's a far cry from Valis III on Genesis/PC Engine CD.
Tipn - during the last battle with Rogles there's a heart hidden you can get by attacking the top-left side of the screen.
Here's a code to regain all magic and life anytime - Pause the game by pressing start during the game on controller one. Then press Right+A+B on the second controller. Now you'll never have to worry about dying (like you would anyways). I didn't use the code and beat the game my first try.

Here's a great site devoted to Valis ~ http://www.darkcityproductions.com/d...is/index.shtml You can read reviews, check out screenshots and artwork, and read the story through the series. Here's an awesome collection of shots from Valis ~ http://www.geocities.com/opcfg3/valisart.html

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Old 03-13-2003, 11:18 AM   #110
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What do you get when you combine Compile/Irem/Broderbund with a shooting/action/adventure game?

Guardian Legend (A.K.A. Guardic Legend) - NES - Rating 5
Anyone remember Zanac, the action/shooter on NES? If so, then you should also know that Guardian Legend was developed by the same team over at Compile. After the experimental days of gaming died down (basically the first few 8-bit years) developers were hard-pressed to come up with more original concepts. So what Compile decided to do was create games with elements from different genres. Although they weren't the first to accomplish such a feat it was certainly an accomplishment that stood out. That is, if you even noticed it. GL came and went without much attention anywhere.
We're left in an industry which caters towards the mass-market which predominately forgot about people like me, the small majority of true gamers who give a damn. GL is beloved by many NES owners and with good reason; it just gives so much to the player. You have space-shooting stages with a generous variety of enemies (if a bit lacking in the strategy department as well as layout), a Zelda-esque top-down view action/adventure game with shooting instead of swords, and a variety of weapons and items to collect. The execution is what keeps the score from ascending because, although both elements link together just fine, they don't really compliment each other that well, and what is presented to the gamer as far as tasks go isn't varied enough and can actually become rather tedious. At times it's satisfying, old-school joy and at others is basic fanfare.
Basically, you're an android-girl who can transform from girl to aircraft. Her mission is to prevent the artificial world Naju from colliding with Earth. What a story. Along the way the 'round face' will aid her in her journey on Naju. It looks like a child drew a circle on Mario Paint, gave it basic facial features and colored it in blue, like Lolo of the popular NES series Adventures of Lolo (only Lolo looks ten times better if you can believe that). The graphics are the basic NES stuff you know. It's not bad stuff; it's actually rather good and can stand up to pretty much anything else on NES. The action/adventure part of it reminds me of a graphically tame Neutopia. You walk around shooting enemies, collecting power-ups and health, and collecting/using keys to access other areas on the world map. Through the world map you access all the shooting stages (just over 20). The entire composite of the world map is shown by pressing select at any time. However, it only shows what's currently accessible. Also worth note is the fact that the map clearly shows where you're supposed to head next. There's chambers that you must enter to access the shooting stages, and some chambers require mundane tasks to open (I can't even call them puzzles), such as 'stand in the chamber and do nothing for a half a minute' or 'keep instigating conversation with the 'round face' three times to unlock it'. You gain weapons by finding them (about half of which come from the boss battles that exist on the world map) and you can power-up your health and chips which act as your shot power and must be used to utilize weapons apart from the standard shots. Just so you know, there are no dungeons/caves/palaces to explore. The enemies are well done and some are even philoprogenitive (like the spiders). The bosses on the world map suck, plain and simple.
The shooting stages are at once impressive for an NES and basic as far as shooters go. You have your standard shots and you can use any weapons you can on the world map. Thing is, every stage plays basically the same with only a few enemy differences here and there. Difficulty is unevenly distributed throughout the game; some early bosses are rather difficult and some later on are a piece of cake. The worst of these is the damn one-eyed monstrosity because its extended shot does insane damage and you have to face it many times. By the third time (when it's red) I was in suspended disbelief that Compile could be so evil as to make people have to fight that thing more than once. Bosses are rather dull so don't expect to be impressed. One of the dumbest is a squid which 'bounces' on the screen.... I'll let you figure that one out.
I didn't enjoy the soundtrack save for one song - the forest level (if you can call it that). And hmmmm.... isn't it funny how similar GL is to Valis in that respect (forest stages have the best song). The rest is just uninspiring. The sound effects are all clear though.
Thankfully(?), the game isn't ultra long. It's a good 5 or so hours if you're good at this sort of thing. The password system is long and hurts the game a bit, but it's nowhere near the password atrocities River City Ransom and Ys Book I and II. It's a decent game that could've been much better. There are much better action/adventure games out there and much better shooters as well. But it's a well-accomplished little gem that's decent in its own right. If you are into NES-style action gaming and you invest in Guardian Legend, your investment shall be reciprocated.

I know, you want cheats. I hear ya! ~ http://gamewinners.com/nes/GuardianLegend.htm

See you soon

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Old 03-13-2003, 11:28 AM   #111
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Icarus, you know better -- no direct links to ROM!
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Old 03-13-2003, 07:32 PM   #112
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Woah, sorry about that. I had no idea. Thanks for the info.
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Old 03-13-2003, 08:55 PM   #113
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Who wants some?

Virtua Fighter 4 - Playstation 2 - Rating 8
Let me begin by saying that if you don't like the Virtua Fighter series, if you don't enjoy spending some serious time mastering a character's every move, throw and counter, if you are into button mashing and instant gratification, then stay far away from Virtua Fighter 4. If, however, you are a serious 3D fighting game fan who likes to earn victories through a mastery of skill, boy have I got the game for you!
Virtua Fighter 4 presents the pinnacle of strategy-based fighting. Skill can only be attained through much trial and error. If you've already mastered at least one character in Virtua Fighter 2 and/or 3, then you have a good foundation to work with. However, a simple working knowledge from other VF games won't suffice to being really good in VF4. You'll need to be patient and practice for countless hours moves and their proper application during combat, throws, counters, juggling (to an extent), movement, range, throw-countering, etc. Thankfully, there's a very useful Training Mode where you can practice all the moves and learn how to apply them in tough situations. VF4 is jam-packed with enough modes and extras to satisfy even the most hardened gamer. The best addition is the Kumite Mode where you face an endless barrage of opponents and as you progress you'll get ranked with dans (belts) which keep track of your level of performance and the game even keeps track of a TON of other stuff like percentages of hits and throws executed properly, how well you're guarding/countering, how well you evade and defend, etc. etc. As you move up the ranks you face harder opponents who (supposedly) play at the difficulty of playing against VF veterans and masters. About 1,000 fights in and I've lost 43 matches (I use Shun Di). There's a few other modes as well, but I'll spare you the details. I would like to mention the fact that there are over 400 items, accessories, and costumes to unlock. However, much of it is uninteresting and I could care less about playing Barbie with my fighting game. I works well in a game like Dead or Alive because you're playing with girls predominately, but not here in VF land.
The arcade mode is fun and you can adjust the difficulty, rounds, timer, etc. like in every other fighter. The problem with VF4's arcade mode is that there are still no character endings.... Thankfully, the game is so engaging it makes no difference. There are 13 initial characters selectable (Dural is unlocked when you beat her in Kumite Mode). Each fighter has strengths/weaknesses. For example, Pai is ultra-fast with good priority in moves/range, but she's also among the weakest. Wolf is a massive wrestler that has a great variety of throws/counters and is very strong. However, his moves are harder to execute properly than most of other fighters. Etc. Pick a fighter that best suits your playing style. Want a well-rounded fighter with good moves? Pick Jacky or Sarah. Are you into the Chinese Shaolin Kung Fu fighting system? Pick Lei Fei. Want a powerhouse? Pick Jeffry or Wolf. There's something for just about anyone (except you button mashers. You know who you are ;)). What will not be tolerated is button mashing. If you think you're going to whip VF butt by slapping random buttons you're in for a suprise. Simply put, prepare to get destroyed.
The 3D environments are superbly replicated from the arcade without much sacrifice. Light sourcing is very well done although the eight individual light sources in the arcade has been reduced to two. However, the lighting is still among the best on the PS2. Characters are detailed and highly polished. Tekken 4, Soul Calibur, and Dead or Alive 3 have better character animation, but VF is faster, more in-depth and what's there is acceptable. Backgrounds aren't near as detailed or open-ended as in DoA3, but the fighting system is undeniably well-balanced and superior to DoA. As far as sheer fun factor is concerned, it's your personal preference. I personally feel that VF4 is more rewarding than DoA3, however, DoA3 is more instant fun and is underappreciated since it suffers for having easy counters, plus button mashing is rewarded far too often with victory.
I believe that VF had a great soundtrack, VF2 had a good soundtrack, VF3 had an average soundtrack, and VF4 has a decent soundtrack. I don't care for the music all that much in VF4, but what is there is high-quality. The sound effects and voices are absolutely crystal clear and get the job done right.
There's no question about it - VF4 is high-quality gaming with enough secrets, strategy, and challenge to keep even the most hardened fighting gamer busy. It occupies quite a bit of time so if you're not willing to invest serious time into one game then steer clear of VF4. This is a game that appreciates effort and rewards it generously.

Here's tricks and secrets ~ http://www.cheatchannel.com/files/virtf4.htm

Come get some!!!

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Old 03-14-2003, 05:23 PM   #114
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VF4. The PAL version of this game is INCREDIBLY slow and awful. Turned me off completely.

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Old 03-14-2003, 09:09 PM   #115
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Neutopia - TurboGrafx 16/PC Engine - Rating 7
NEC's PC Engine/Super CD was one of the best video game systems of them all. It didn't have Mario, Sonic, Final Fantasy, etc. but what it did have it was proud of. There were such classics as Ys, Castlevania, Lords of Thunder, Bonk's Adventure, Street Fighter 2, Bomberman, and much more. Perhaps no other company supported NEC like Hudson Soft did.
So Hudson took a good look over at the competition and somebody really liked Zelda a lot. So much in fact that Neutopia isn't simply a Zelda-wannabe - it's basically the same exact game. You as Jazeta must save Princess Aurora from the evil Dirth who has also taken the 8 medallions. Does that ring a bell? How about this: You walk around a world map (in this case four seperate world maps), find special items and enter labyrinths to defeat bosses and get back the medallions. There's nothing innovative here. It's hard enough discerning differences between Zelda and Neutopia.
Neutopia certainly looks better than the NES Zelda and is very comparable to the SNES Zelda (though the latter looks a bit better). As I said, the game consists of four seperate worlds called Spheres and each has a motif (Land, Subterranean, Water, and Sky). Within each Sphere is two labyrinths and two bosses, plus special items hidden within, though most are easy to find. Worlds are covered with enemies like slimes, flies, frogs, and other things. You enter people's homes and they converse (some give you items and sell things). And you'll need to bomb walls with statues on them and burn down trees to find hidden entrances. The labyrinths are just like the NES Zelda's, featuring walls with cracks that have to be bombed, doors/treasure which will only open/appear if you push a block or kill all the enemies on-screen, and of course a crystal ball (acts as a map), charmed compass, key, enemies and a boss. The bosses are often large and consist of a Dragon, Twin Gargoyles, a massive Crab and other such things. If you've played Zelda (and I know you have) then you already know how to play Neutopia.
Ok, so how is the music? Wonderful! Some places like the Water Sphere have great themes and excellent composition. In particular, the somber melancholy and muted despondency of the Labyrinth theme is perhaps the greatest theme ever used in a dungeon/labyrinth in action/adventure gaming (yes, even better than Zelda's). The sound effects are also good; the TurboGrafx 16/PC Engine has one of the nicest sound chips I've ever heard.
If you enjoy Zelda you'll feel right at home with Neutopia. The only downside is the long password system so if you've got a TurboCD/TurboBooster-Plus/TurboDuo you should save it. Also, it's a great game to bring on the go with the TurboExpress (the handheld TG16). TurboExpress even has an adaptor which allows you to watch TV! Problem is, six AA batteries last a full 2 hours so use a plug if possible. There's a sequel (Netupoia 2) you can also purchase. However, I've never played it and I heard while the graphics look a bit better the game isn't quite as good as the first. No matter.

Here's a walkthrough ~ http://db.gamefaqs.com/console/turbo...neutopia_b.txt
Here are codes ~ http://www.gamewinners.com/TG/Neutopia.htm
And here's what the game looks like ~ http://www.bhlegend.com/php/show.php3?game=886
Here is perhaps the best site for PC Engine ~ http://www.pcenginefx.com/

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Old 03-17-2003, 09:30 PM   #116
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The second cheap-fest

Art of Fighting 2 - Neo Geo - Rating 5
Is it just me? Are the fighters over at SNK all supreme masters at fighting games? It seems that way to me; put AoF2 on easy and it's one of the hardest fighting games I've played in my life, easily! (Ahhh.... how bitter the irony. ) You have to get down every pattern for every opponent and exploit repetitious patterns in order to even stand a chance. Not only that... you get 4 chances to win (8 if you include the 2P side); no unlimited continues. Good luck.
In the first AoF, Kyo and Robert defeated Mr Karate and unmasked him, only to find out it was Kyo's father (and Karate instructor) Takuma Sakazaki. He explained in the AoF ending that he was forced to do this because of a man called Geese Howard (along with Mr Big) who kidnapped his daughter Yuri (Kyo's sister). Now, instead of there being just Kyo and Robert selectable in the arcade (story) mode, there are 12 fighters to select from, each with their own story. Obviously Kyo and Robert are selectable, but now so are Yuri, Takuma, Lee, King, Mickey, Jack, John, and two newcomers: Eiji (an agile ninja) and Temjin (a mongolian fighter). Mr Big is back, and this time if you beat everybody without losing a round you can fight Geese Howard (AKA one tough SOB). If you make it to Mr Big you can play as him (and save to the memory card). The bonus stages return and this time they changed the 'strength training' to a mini action/fighting game where you beat thugs that keep coming out of the screen.
The game control is basically the same as the first AoF, only this time there's even more of an emphasis on the special meter. About 70-80% of your focus is going to be on yours/your opponent's special meter. It depletes as you use special moves and you can refill it by holding A+B to charge (and leave yourself open to attack until you disengage it). Taunting is done with D button and it depletes your opponent's special meter. Like the fighting games on Neo Geo Pocket you press a button to do a quick attack and hold one to do a strong attack. Love it or hate it. The super specials are so ridiculous to pull off that I don't see how they can be effective. The controls are not my favorite fighting game set-up, to say the least. But once you get the hang of things you'll feel a bit less agitated.
As expected, the 178-MEGS are utilized to create massive characters that animate well and they've improved the backgrounds, plus there's the familiar zooming in and out of the screen. There is much graphic joy to be found here, but if you've been spoiled by such games as SFIII and Guilty Gear X you won't be particularly impressed. The music is done rather well throughout the game, though I enjoy the tunes from AoF1 much more (especially on the Takara translated SNES version, if you can believe that). The sound effects and voice samples are usually well done, with some sounding displaced and distant. For example, defeat Mickey and hear his lame distant (amusing) whine.
This is definitely not a fighting game everybody is going to enjoy. I can only recommend it to diehard SNK/AoF fans who don't mind a ridiculous challenge. Is it better than AoF? In some ways it is. Then again, how hard is it to improve a fighting game limited to two selectable characters?

Last edited by Icarus4578; 03-13-2004 at 11:42 AM.
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Old 03-18-2003, 10:22 PM   #117
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"SONOMAMA SHINE!!!!" ~ Iori Yagami

Legend of Kage - NES - Rating 3
There was a time when I used to think that any game with a ninja must be good. You've got the Tecmo classic Ninja Gaiden series, you've got the Irem beaut Ninja Spirits, you've got the SNK cult favorite Samurai Shodown series, etc. There are plenty of Ninja-based titles available on NES. One of these is Legend of Kage by Taito (who also made Arkanoid). Seeing, hearing, and playing LoK after all these years brings back many fond memories... and brings with it a bit of displeasure in the form of its neverending repetiton of run, jump (about 70 ft), and kill. Sounds like a winner, doesn't it? Too bad about the execution.
Kage (meaning 'shade') is your character. He's going through tough times. You see, his girlfriend has been kidnapped by ruthless ninja and kodachi, and it's up to him to get her back and get his revenge. What follows is long, repetitious stages wherein Kage must transverse trees, moats, and the usual perils that come with the territory of fighting with ninjas. How do you play? You move across the screen jumping, slashing and shooting stars at your foes. It would work a whole lot better if there was more to do in the stages (of which there are only a small handful). The bosses don't feel like bosses to me. They're just enemies that are usually harder to hit. Graphically, LoK is pretty well done on NES, but surely you aren't going to buy an NES game based on graphical merits.
The music is repetitious to no end and will not be tolerated by everybody. Some won't mind it; others will want to destroy the game. I don't care for it. Even the sound effects aren't done that well, and it's not like there's a lot of sounds required anyway.
I guess Taito was as disinterested in LoK while programming it as I was playing it after a half hour. It is ok for awhile, but for more in-depth gameplay, sound, and story you'd be better off with something like Ninja Gaiden. Also, Kid Niki makes for far better NES action fanfare.
LoK is a good concept done poorly. It's sad to think of what this game could've been. I'll go play Ninja Spirits to cure my dissatisfaction.

Here are codes ~ http://www.gamewinners.com/nes/LegendOfKage.htm

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Old 03-20-2003, 12:19 AM   #118
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1996 Game of the Year in Japan

Tokimeki Memorial ~ Forever With You - Sega Saturn/PlayStation (both import) - Rating 9
The Romance Simulator is a popular form of gaming in Japan. The idea is simple: Pick a girl you like and you try to win her heart. Sounds easy? Well, just like in real life, some girls are easy and some are hard. Problem is, most of those games were hentai (meaning 'pervert') which featured adult situations with girls (sometimes very young) and would include nudity and sexual content. Well, Konami's Tokimeki Memorial was the first Dating Sim made in Japan and it strayed from the usual nudity/sex that was so apparent in former entries in the genre. Instead, its emphasis is on the social lives of a select set of high school girls and the challenges a guy must confront in winning a girl's heart.
In Tokimeki, you play the role of a teenage boy as he's entering Kirameki High School for the first time. There, you meet Yoshio Saotome and he'll be your friend and 'informer' throughout the entire game (spanning 3 years, from the beginning of high school to graduation). He is also after a girl, and you never know who she is at the start. You meet your childhood friend, neighbor, and love interest Shiori Fujisaki in your class. She's looking out the class window at a tree. The tree that sits outside on the school campus is known as the Legendary Tree which supposedly is endowed with a power which joins two hearts together. It is said that if a girl confesses her love to you underneath the tree and you reciprocate, both you and her will be blessed with happiness forever. Of course, there are other girls in high school and you can try to win their love instead. Know this -- since her standards are so high, Shiori Fujisaki's affection is one tough prize to win.
Throughout Tokimemo you have stats which include looks, athleticism, intelligence, even how much stamina you have, and you'll have to balance these out rather well. In order to do this you are given boxes with different actions that you can select, such as groom (which will raise looks), train (which will build athleticism), and much more. Know that if you emphasize one particular thing too long other stats may drop slowly. Keep a good balance. Looks alone won't get you far. You need to socialize, study, enroll in a special cirriculum (such as art, basketball, computer programming, music, etc.) and to tell the truth it's amazingly fun to do this. However, don't expect to actually PLAY basketball or anything like that; you click and the game shows you performing the activity while your stats build in realtime. By building certain stats faster than others you'll end up 'running into' another high school student of the female persuasion, so if you're after Shiori try and cut down on how many girls you meet (just to be on the safe side). You can save the game every weekend/holiday so be sure to save often in case you screw up something bad (like a date).
Speaking of dating, here's how it works. First, you make sure you have a girl's phone number (Yoshio Saotome keeps 'em all so call him up to get girls' numbers). Also, Saotome keeps track of how happy/mad all the girls are with you so check in occasionally. You call up a girl and set a date up by selecting from different locations and events, such as concerts, stores, the beach, amusement park, library, etc. Be sure to check in on the schedule for event listings (you don't actually have to read it; it automatically updates your repertoire of date locations) for maximum options. Sometimes, you might get turned down, especially if a girl is angry at you or they're studying for exams. Here's another important factor: all the girls gossip about you, so if you make any particular girl angry (usually by ignoring them for an extended period of time) be ready to face the wrath of the female population! See overcast skies approaching? Make up quick! While you're at it, get to know each girl's personality. Take them to places they really like to go and don't say the wrong things to them. They ask questions (all in Kanji) such as "How do I look?". If it's somebody like Shiori, don't say "You look sexy" because she'll get embarrassed (or angry). Instead, settle for "You look cute". If it's a girl like Mira Kagami, feel free to call her 'sexy'. Since the game is all Japanese, you'll probably be playing a guessing game anyways, so if you screw up and you saved you can quick-reset (A+B+C+Start on Saturn) and try again. It's up to you.
The only negative about the game is that getting Shiori takes such hard effort and it bites to have given most of your focus on her throughout the entire game, only to have another girl show up for the ending! ARGH!!! If you perform horribly and all the girls are on bad terms with you, congratulations! You get the loser ending where you're sitting all alone in your room. Ouch.
There's so much Japanese pop culture references in the game it's staggering. There's even games like a 4 stage TwinBee game in Tokimemo. Also worth note is the run-ins with bullies and such which then sets up an RPG fight segment where you issue commands like 'attack', 'defend', and special attacks, and it includes HP (which is based on your stamina). Weird, but cool nonetheless. This game is jam-packed with extras and many Konami game references.
The graphics on the SS/PSX versions are about the same, with colorful backgrounds and characters. They don't really animate, but what's there looks very nice. They dress up different depending on season/location and they have special seqments specifically drawn for each girl if you're in the right place at the right time. The Super Famicom version has much lower graphic quality than the others and is missing a great deal of stuff, so I recommend the 32-bit versions. Also, on the SS/PSX there's a FMV intro with a short theme song (which I could care less about). Just thought I'd bring it up.
The music is nice anime-ish stuff that does the job. The voices (of which there's a TON) are all quite clear and you can skip through them (thankfully). All voice is accompanied with the text. There's nothing to complain about here unless you hate a particular girl's voice.
You can enjoy Tokimeki Memorial even if you don't understand Japanese, but only buy it if you're willing to give a Dating Simulator a chance. Don't buy this game if you're looking for action - you won't find it. If, however, you're looking for a break from the norm (or you just like Shiori too much) get Tokimemo. It won't let you down.

Here's a lot of sites featuring Tokimeki Memorial~
~ http://www.tcp.com/~prisoner/tokimemo
~ http://www.ag.ru/ch/3080_3_0.htm
~ http://endtears.net/tokimemo/cast.html
~ http://www.animesongs.net/database13.htm
~ http://www.comp.nus.edu.sg/~jemmysoe.../tokimemo.html
~ http://www.geocities.com/Tokyo/Templ.../shioindx.html
~ http://www.konamityo.com/tokimeki/en/
~ http://www.spaceports.com/~omicron5/tokimeki/index.html
This makes an interesting read ~ http://www.freetype.net/features/gam...emo/index.html
~ http://www.geocities.com/Tokyo/Temple/9388/
~ http://endtears.net/tokimemo/
~ http://members.tripod.com/~nantapornmon/index.htm (And no, there's no porno on this site, I assure you.)
~ http://www.tcp.com/~doi/tokimemo/index.html (Another section to the first page listed.)
~ http://www.geocities.com/masamune4444/index2.html
...And how 'bout it? ~ http://www.konamijpn.com/sitemap/index_e.html
Here is my review on OPCFG which also has vast coverage of more 2D gaming goodness ~ http://www.geocities.com/opcfg3/tokimemo95review.html

I'm out.

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Old 03-20-2003, 11:01 PM   #119
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Go crazy

Contra III ~ The Alien Wars - Super Nintendo - Rating 8
Newer game systems are forcibly associated with the wrath of hundreds of atrocities in the form of games -- interactive software -- which often makes little to no attempt at the acquisition, the attainment of quality. We need not dissect this species of corporate intrusion. One glance at the walls of a game store should serve as adequate enough an account of the unintelligible demeanor of software publishers and their disdainfulness towards excellence. Nevertheless, there exists, in small order, hidden within and between the many-flavored atrocities, quality, a game whose resolve is well spent at the disintegration of the ruthless establishment which defiles the game shelves. It seeks to flagellate the mindless extravagance of poor software, and depart from it at full length. Devil May Cry is one of the only games that exhibits a similiar demeanor to the game I've chosen to review -- Contra III.
To compare Contra III to any new piece of action software would be foolish, for Contra, you see, is estranged from those others. Welcome to quality action gaming at its finest. You will not find a single CG cinema. It is simply not permissible. You will, however, be thrown full force into the action. Here's how it plays: run, jump, shoot (in any direction), climb, destroy. Every stage is made up of multiple parts and features many environments, each part usually consisting of a mid-boss battle. You are constantly given new obstacles to overcome, new enemies to demolish, new bosses to distribute firepower upon. The control is perfect and never gets in the player's way. The graphics are the 'we are Konami' SNES hyper-bliss you'd expect (and this game is only 8-MEGS) with every zooming and scailing effect imaginable, wonderful use of colors and shading (nothing gaudy), good animation and huge bosses. There are two kinds of stages: standard side-scrolling action and top-down view. In the latter stage form you can rotate the player with the L and R buttons, rotating the screen in the process. Boss battles are a treat, featuring some of the best ever seen in 16-bit gaming. If you play through the entire game on hard difficulty you'll get to fight the real final boss, and if you win you'll get the real ending. As in previous Contra installments you gather weapons while playing, including rapid fire, laser shot, and the Contra staple spread shot, and you can hold two at a time which you can switch between. There's also bombs which you collect, and when you use one it blows up everything on the screen (except you, of course). There are six stages in Contra III.
The game beats to a pulsating soundtrack furnished to be the finest compliment to the action. The music occupies your attention but doesn't distract you. It, in fact, motivates you to accomplish the mission set before you. The sound effects are all well done.
You can scrutinize Contra III's various devices of structure, intentionally looking for faults as your instinctive response to my bashing at great length the majority of software which corrodes the store shelves these days. Let me tell you -- don't waste your time. Contra III makes other action products seem like an embarrassment. This is quality gaming.

Take a look ~ http://dailyemu.virtualave.net/reviews/contra3.html

Last edited by Icarus4578; 10-10-2004 at 07:51 AM.
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Old 03-20-2003, 11:14 PM   #120
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Yeah, Contra III was awesome! I still remember back in 1993 when I first played this game. I died a lot playing the first stage, the part where they had fire shooting up from the ground and they pause and come back. The bosses fight were just amazing and ingenius, my favorite was when you defeat two robots, and thought you were done, but no, you're just scratch the surface, a huge mechanized boss ripped the back wall and he was scary as hell for me at the time. Those were the good days. :cool guy:
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