March 2009 Archives
Wii Virtual Console March Wrap-Up — Hudson Saves the Month
31 March 2009 10:35 pm
It's been a harrowing month for the VC, even for a guy who is totally cool with sacrificing quantity for quality. Had it not been for Hudson Soft's import releases, there'd be barely enough info here to justify a blog entry! Anyway, interestingly enough it's actually Sega's release that is the highlight of the month, in my humble opinion. The Super Shinobi (aka The Revenge of Shinobi) is one of the best ninja games ever made, and one of the best early demonstrations of the hardware capabilities of the Genesis.

Super Punch-Out!! is more like the arcade original Punch-Out!! than the like-named NES "port." While it entails better graphics and sound, I'm not a fan of the more action-oriented quarter-munching gameplay at the expense of the very rounds for which boxing is known. It's still a great game, but I recommend that you check out the NES version first.

That leaves us with the two TG-16 imports. THANK YOU HUDSON FOR RETURNING TO THIS CONTINENT. Bombarman '94 is one of the best Bombermans ever made. And for you you party game fans out there, don't be mislead: Forget normal full-price Wii games; this bomberman remains one of the best party games available on the Wii, period. Then there's Detana!! TwinBee. Haha, you may say. Another shoot 'em up for the Wii? You've got to be kidding me! Well, yes, admittedly this is a kazillionth shoot 'em up. But like the Bomberman before it, this TwinBee is one of the best in the entire franchise. Two player simultaneous action and shooting bells the precise number of times to create the desired power-up, tempered by the need to blast the hell out of the waves of enemies that bombard you, make for a unique and challenging experience.

North America
North America
North America & PAL Region
Buy Two Get One Free — Awesome Deal on Wii Games at Target
30 March 2009 10:15 pm
I'm not usually one to plug store specials, but this one is abnormally sweet. My brother and I just picked up the following three titles for the price of two. Sure, Madworld will probably decline in price shortly, since it hasn't made quite the splash that Sega had hoped, but those damn core Nintendo titles never budge in price. Even Zelda: Twlight Princess and Mario Galaxy are still $50 a pop! The special runs until 4 April, and keep in mind that it's the cheapest game of the bunch for free, so keeping a steady $40 or $50 throughout your trio is a good strategy to reap the greatest savings. That's all for now, I gotta try all these out and then attempt to wake up tomorrow morning for work.
A Definitive Treasure for the DS — Best Deal I've Gotten Yet for a DS Game!
26 March 2009 8:31 pm
When people talk about the greatest shoot 'em ups, Bangai-O Spirits usually makes the list. Originally released for the Dreamcast and Nintendo 64 as simply Bangai-O, I picked up a new copy of the DS Sequel at Gamestop last week for $14.99.

Have you ever been able to buy any Treasure game new for a price like that? I thought not. And rest assured, the sequel is awesome, very likely the best shoot 'em up you can find on the DS (I'm going to call Contra 4 a run 'n gun for the sake of this argument). There's good reason why IGN nominated Bangai-O Spirits for best shooting game and use of sound on the DS in 2008.

I'd also like to point out that for once you don't need to fear localization. Treasure, itself, handled this delicate task, adding features that you won't find in the Japanese version. I'm not interested in making deals of the week a feature, but—come on!—when was the last time you landed a treasure like this for 15 bones?
The Best Current-Gen 1980s Games — Retro Game Challenge for the DS
19 March 2009 9:30 pm
Turns out that there are some emulation issues with Sonic's Ultimate Genesis Collection for the Xbox 360 and PS3. Therfore, I can no longer give this game an ultimate score. When emulation has been around this long, there's really no excuse. Therefore, I've lowered the score for this collection from 9 to 8.5.
But What I really want to talk about here is Retro Game Challenge for the DS. Getting to play repackaged retro games is pretty sweet, but playing newly-developer ones is even better!

What we have here is the product of the popularity of Japan's awesome television programming (Gamecenter CX: Arino's Challenge), a developer (Bandai-Namco) creating a fantastic license-based title, and the audacity of a certain publisher (XSEED Games) to bring a very Japanese game to North America. In short: a miracle.

At its heart, Retro Game Challenge is a video game compilation. You progress through and unlock the games sequentially after beating four challenges dictated to you by Arino. Here's the progression:

Cosmic Gate (Galaga-style fixed shoot 'em up)
Robot Ninja Haggle Man (platformer)
Rally King (overhead racing)
Star Prince (shoot 'em up in the spirit of Hudson's Star series)
Robot Ninja Haggle Man 2 (more expansive, harder sequel)
Rally King SP (slighly tweaked sequel)
Guadia Quest (RPG in the style of Dragon Quest)
Robot Ninja Haggle Man 3 (radically revamped sequel with combat like Ninja Gaiden but a much greater emphasis on exploration)

Namco-Bandia's ability to balance staying true to the style of 1980s games, yet improve upon them at the same time is nothing short of phenomenal. There's still the irritating need to bring up a menu screen before talking to NPCs in Guadia Quest, but you can scroll through the text of random battle encounters at lightning speed. Cosmic Gate has a ridiculously long 64 levels, but you can learn a cheat to warp from the first level to the last one.

The main complaints I've heard are that the Rally King game is much weaker than the other ones, cut scene's are annoying, and unlocking each game is too linear and cumbersome. These are all fair criticisms, but in the grand scheme of things, I found them all to be very minor issues. While shallow in gameplay, Rally King is also one of the easiest and fastest games to play through. On the plus side, it does features one of the most original and wild mechanics, drifting to boost speed.

I admit that I played compulsively in order to unlock Guadia Quest, but the journey was thoroughly enjoyable. I doubt Arino's challenges will every stump you for a very long; it's not hard to rapidly unlock new titles. As for the cut scenes, some of them were actually pretty funny, and they're all quite short. The balance of originality, tempered by skillful homage, and wonderful variety make this a top DS game.

Overall: 9/10
Three of the Most Memorable NES Music Scores
15 March 2009 4:59 pm
Sometimes, the music for a game just nails it, right from the very first stage. Here are three of the finest examples for early NES games. The first two choices are no-brainers, but the third one may surprise you.

Super Mario Brothers - Stage 1-1
The Legend of Zelda - Overworld
Contra - Stage 1

The Virtual Console serves up Mario and Zelda quite nicely, but where the hell is the original Contra? Super C (the inferior sequel) has been out for a while...
Nintendo Lovers Update — Remember How Great Square Soft Used to Be?
14 March 2009 2:22 pm
I'm contantly discovering new retro games and revising the top game lists for each console. After much game playing—it's tough to take a pause and actually update the site—I'm finally playing catch-up with some new additions. Double Dragon is long overdue. A definitive member of the beat 'em up genre, Technos as the developer, and it's already on the top 10 beat 'em up list. About time!

Jackie Chan's Action Kung Fu would later appear in superior 16-bit style on the TurboGrafx-16, but the NES version still serves the martial artist remarkably well. The two versions clearly draw on the same overall level concepts, but there are enough differences (enemy sprites, level design variations) to make them both worth a play-through. Anyway, this title is one of the best punch-infused platformers for the NES.

Metal Storm didn't originally wow me as its first impression. Then I watched a Happy Video Game Nerd episode devoted to the game, decided to try it again, and realized what an unknown gem this IREM classic is. The graphics, cheating to produce parallax scrolling, and tight gameplay control, featuring a very well-executed inverted jumping mechanic, result in a unique title that would be a masterpiece were it not for the merely above average sound.

Wrapping up on a very strong note, we have the mighty Square Soft and another three amazing contributions to the Super Famicom. What a year 1996 was for Japan's Super Famicom owners! How Bahamut Lagoon hasn't been on the top list until now, I'm at a loss to explain. Oversight, I guess. I started playing it last year, and it's been on my short list of best tactical RPGs ever since. Front Mission: Gun Hazard is a marvelous spin-off of the original Front Mission, radically switching the core gameplay from the turn-based tactical sort to side-scrolling platform action. Finally, there's Treasure G, which masquerades as an RPG, but the unusual battle system actually turns it into a Tactical RPG. With all three games, you have proven genres that get an unusually deep (and welcome) dose of RPG mechanics, wonderful musical scores, and—overall—the extremely high quality that Square epitomized throughout the 16-bit era.
Surviving Technical Difficulties — And One of the Best Flash Games Ever
12 March 2009 6:44 pm
First off, as you can see the site is back up after a whopping 10 days of downtime. I'm tempted to blame Chett, but in fact the annoying bureacracy that surrounds web hosting and registration is the true source of evil. It didn't help that everything went to hell immediately after I departed for a week's vacation, snowboarding at Whistler/Blackcomb. More updates will follow this weekend, but in the meantime I leave you with a brilliant flash game I recently discovered:

Don't Look Back

Wicked platform action, atari-style graphics that provide brilliant atmosphere with their blockiness and limited color palette, a great soundtrack well beyond atari capabilities, and it's all free — You can even download an offline version! Thank you, Terry Cavanagh!
March 2009 Archives