January 2009 Archives
Best Virtual Console Downloads for January — Start the New Year Right!
31 January 2009 11:54 pm
It's late, and I'm trying to get this update in before midnight, so bear with me. Castlevania III is radical because it features more playable characters than any other title in the franchise. M.U.S.H.A. is one of the rarest and best shoot 'em ups you can find on the Genesis. Mario Golf is, well, Mario quality meets the sport that I'm not very fond of. Fantasy Zone II improves on the original and still represents one of the most original shoot 'em ups I've ever played. Kaze no Xanadu II is yet another awesome Nihon Falcom action RPG. Super Smash Bros. is the first installment of the now tremendously popular franchisek and while the sequels may be better I still don't think you can find a better fighter/party game out there for a measly 1000 Wii points. Finally, we wrap up with the neverending titled known as Tanti Jinguji Saburou: Kiken na Futari. What can I say? I'm a sucker for old-school adventure games, and this series offers some rocking detective stories.
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Top 10 RPGs
21 January 2009 11:01 pm
Sometimes a new feature doesn't require any introduction. You've probably all watched Letterman before, so you know the significance of the top 10. Well, this one is about RPGs. Enjoy!
Bet You Haven't Played These GamesAnother Four Genesis Greats
20 January 2009 9:34 pm
I was on the mall in DC for the inaugural concert on Sunday and today for the actual inauguration. The crowd's energy was palpable, and despite the bitter cold weather (less than 20 degrees with the wind chill), the hordes of people I encountered were all in fine spirits, ecstatic that our new President was finally taking office. Before I celebrate some excellent retro games, allow me to celebrate our 44th President.


This is a bit of a mish-mash of odd—yet excellent—titles I've been meaning to add for a while. I'll start with the humble part. I don't speak Japanese. The Hybrid Front and Rent-a-Hero were both brought to my attention by their release for the Virtual Console. Using my general familiarity of strategy games and a limited fan translation, respectively, both games look quite good. Of course, the language barrier remains a major problem, so I'll admit that I'm taking a bit of a leap of faith here. If someone can provide me a Japanese-enlightened opinion, please do so.

Puyo Puyo Tsuu (FYI, "Tsuu" means 2, that much Japanese I do know), is the best version of, well, Puyo Puyo that you can find on a console. Now that I think of it, the PC Engine CD version may be slightly better. I'll have to look into that. Anyway, this is better than Dr. Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine, and it even edges out Kirby's Avalanche. Best of all, Nintendo was kind enough to release Puyo Puyo Tsuu for the Virtual Console. Just be aware that the Japanese menus (pretty easy to figure out) have NOT actually been translated.

Pepenga Pengo is an excellent action maze game in the spirit of Bomberman. Basically, you lay Ice blocks instead of bombs, you've always got kick bomb, and rather than setting off chains of explosions you can chain kicked blocks of ice together. In addition to story mode there's even a four-player battle mode that's, well, similar to Bomberman battle mode action. Despite all these comparisons, Pengo carves out its own identity, and even Bomberman veterans will need to practice in order to master the gameplay.

Fantastic Monster Update to the Greatest Genesis Games
16 January 2009 11:23 pm

Alright, it's not really "monster" in terms of size. But here we have two most excellent games that never saw the light of day in North America. Believe it or not, Monster World IV is the six and final installment of the Wonder Boy series. Fortunately, it's also by far the best, representing an unusally good platfomer meets RPG. I can't stand most of the other Wonder Boy games, but this one has unusually deep gameplay and fantastic graphics.

Super Fantasy Zone actually did get released in Europe, which is odd, considering that Japan often neglected to release shoot 'em ups in that region back in the day. I imagine the explanation lies in the success of the Sega Master System in Europe, where the 8-bit Fantasy Zone and its sequel found fertile ground. So what was there to lose with sending the 3rd installment there? Nothing, but us American gamers sure were disappointed!

The Awesome SNES RPGs Keep Coming — Two More For the Top SNES List
14 January 2009 10:41 pm

I love RPGs and Square was unstoppable in the SNES era. Whether they were publishing an excellent Tactical RPG, or developing a totally original RPG with seven totally different characters/settings/stories. Both have never been released outside of Japan. Thank goodness for fan translations. They're available at Romhacking.org. Enjoy!

Two More Titles Shoot Into the Greatest Genesis Games List
11 January 2009 6:19 pm

Twas the age of shooters, real shooters, not the current first-person shooter nonsense that dominates consoles today. Elemental Master is famous for two reasons: 1) It's an excellent vertical-scrolling shoot 'em up by cult developer Techno Soft, and 2) It features some of the worst box art ever—that's saying a lot because there was poor box art galore in that era of video games. Gain Ground is a port of an arcade classic that the casual observer might write off as a mere run 'n gun. In fact, it has a very heavy emphasis on strategy, and you won't get very far if you don't learn how to choose the optimum characters for each level and take the ideal path to victory (racing everyone to the exit or destroying every enemy on the screen).

Top 10 Beat 'em Update
3 January 2009 12:15 am

Based on feedback from various fans of the genre, I've revised my original list, shuffling the original 10 a little bit, adding an overlooked title to the top 10, and also including some honorable mentions. Check out the new list here. Wondering about the new titles, see if these screenshots jog your memory:

Happy New Years! — Best Virtual Console Downloads for December
1 January 2009 4:39 pm

The flow of Virtual Console games has definitely slowed, but that's understandable, considering that WiiWare games are competing for the same download slots. As long as every region gets a few top VC titles each month, I'm happy, and December doesn't disappoint. Phantasy Star IV is one of the greatest 16-bit RPGs, and Metal Slug 2 is an excellent run ‘n gun reason to own a Neo Geo.  Salamander (a.k.a. Life Force) is the best Gradius-style shoot ‘em up for the NES, and The Last Ninja 3 represents one of the most amazing Ninja games of its time.  Super Nobunaga no Yabou: Zengoku Han (Nobunaga’s Ambition) is an excellent strategy game that takes place in medieval Japan.  Don’t be fooled by the title Sonic the Hedgehog 2 for the Sega Master System; it’s actually an excellent original title, not a mere port of the Genesis game.  Last but certainly not least, we have Secret of Mana, one of the greatest action RPGs of the era.

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January 2009 Archives