October 2009
All Hallows Eve Virtual Console Wrap-up — The Top October Releases
31 October 2009 9:11 pm
Best VC month in quite some time as far as I'm concerned. Let's start with the themed release. Zombies Ate My Neighbors released right before Halloween! Not only an inspired choice for the season, but it's also a great game; after all, it did make the top 10 run 'n gun list. Seeing the original Final Fantasy appear in North America at last finally proves that Square is willing to embrace the VC. While the game is very old-school in the level-grinding and good-luck-figuring-out-where-you-need-to-go-next sense, I'm not sure you can possibly find more classic hours of gameplay anywhere else for a mere 500 Wii points. Kirby Super Star is simply another excellent Nintendo platformer based on one of its most iconic characters.

October also represented a number of solid arcade releases. The PAL region picks up Shinobi, which I guess makes downloading the inferior Master System port—well—an inferior option. Japan picks up two excellent installments of classic run 'n gun and maze franchises in Rolling Thunder 2 and Dig Dug. Interestingly, the former is better than the original while the latter is actually superior to the sequel. Make sense?

That Sonic & Knuckles has arrived on the VC should be no surprise, given that Sonic remains Sega's biggest cash cow. What is noteworthy, though, is that Sega has taken the extra effort to incorporate the lock-on capabilities of the original cartridge. In other words, if you download S&K and you already have Sonic 2 or Sonic 3, you can actually play the S&K enhanced version of those two games on the VC. Thank you Sega! Plugging S&K into any other Genesis cart would give you the No Way! screen, but by pressing A+B+C you could play a Blue Sphere mini-game. I haven't been able to confirm yet whether this is accessible on the VC, but I sure hope so.
North America &
North America
PAL Region
A New Challenger Appears — The Famicom Disk System!
29 October 2009 12:47 am
Following my famicom gameplay bonanza, noting the important difference between Famicom vs. Famicom Disk System releases was a natural evolution, but in order to do this I needed to add an eighth console to the lineup, the FDS itself! There were even some tremendous FDS titles that—surprise, surprise—never saw any release outside of Japan (Vs. Excitebike) is a perfect example. I'm sure this list will expand as I continue to delve into this console, but I'm content that what's posted here at least a solid start.

Why should you care about this esoteric Japan-only NES expansion? Two big reasons really. First, it added additional sound capabilities (primitive FM synthesis) to the original hardware, which helped create some fantastic 8-bit tunes. Second, many enduring franchises were first brought to life on the FDS, and later released in cartridge form to the rest of the world. By enduring, I'm talking Castlevania, Metroid, and The Legend of Zelda! Sadly, without the mighty FDS attached, the NES cartridge equivalents of original FDS games oftend suffered in the sound department. So if you love a NES title that also has a FDS release, it's quite possible that the latter is the superior version.
Flipping out on Famicom-Only Titles
23 October 2009 9:07 pm
At one point in time, I thought that keeping the NES list limited to 100 titles total was reasonable. Yeah-ha! Right! That's not even remotely realistic. Just when I thought that I had the U.S. releases under control, I decided to double-check and make sure that I had adequately covered Japan-only releases. Holy shnikes was my list short-changing the Land of the Rising Sun! I've been checking out Famicom-only games all week and the top NES/Famicom games list is expanding rapidly. Here are three titles that really struck me.
Cocoron feels like Mega Man but has infinitely more replay value thanks to the face that you get to create your own characters, selecting different components (head, arms, legs), leaving you with a tremendous variety in the gameplay department.

The Goonies is loosely based on, well, one of the best movies ever made, but it actually plays out like more of a traditional platformer than Goonies II. You still get the Cindi Lauper theme song—so classic!—and fortunately you don't get bogged down in the bizarre 1st person search/interaction sections found in the sequel.

Moai Kun (i.e. the large human figure rock carvings found on Easter Island) represents a radically different interpretation of the projectile spewing statues prominently features in Gradius. In this game, you control a diminutive Moai and need to use his jumping and bonking skills to successfully navigate the puzzles in each platforming level. And there you have it: three very different genres, each produced by different developers, and all of them never released outside Japan.
Getting by with a Little Help from My Friends
18 October 2009 9:22 pm

As you may have noted—hopefully—this site sythesizes a sh$%-ton of retro gaming information. That doesn't come easily, and I could never handle the burden on my own. In addition to my regular game testing, I depend on myriad established game sites to focus my attention on worthy games and keep me informed in general. Whether from a purely data base perspective (what developer made this game?), to a review perspective (how did this game rate?), to simply chatting about games in lively forums, you can find my favorite web haunts here, linked from the bottom of this page.

P.S. When I'm not playing old school games, one of my weaknesses is the current music games, and Rock Band Beetles is my latest vice.
Top 10 Tactical RPGs — Do These Titles Look Familiar?
14 October 2009 8:54 pm
Exactly! That's because the tactical RPG was a predominantly Japanese phenomenon, and the lion's share of these fantastic titles was never released beyond the land of the rising sun. Thankfully, fan translations have opened our eyes, and it's now clear that the 8/16-bit era represented the golden age of tactical RPGs. Check out the top 10 past the break.
An Exoskeleton at its Finest — Don't Miss This Run 'N Gunner
7 October 2009 6:15 pm
Don't ask me why this title didn't make it into the top games list and the recommended games for the top 10 run 'n gun list until now. With further playing it could even crack the top 10!

On top of being a graphically brilliant entry to the genre, the gameplay is impressively original. Not only do you have a jet thrust pack with its own limited energy, you also have a vehicle ("ex-up") that accompanies you on each level. Climbing into your cyle vehicle provides you with auto aiming and the ability to switch special weapons.

Incidentally, I chose the European box art for obvious reasons.
Homage to Mega Man 2 Music — When 8-Bit Tunes Approach Perfection
3 October 2009 12:12 pm

A few nights ago, I was thinking about how great the music to this game is, and I couldn't get the damn songs out of my head, which made me think about how badly I needed to do a proper tribute to this soundtrack, causing me—of course—to think more and more about Mega Man 2 rather than fall asleep at a reasonable hour.

Last night, fueled by a few craft beers, I tried my hand at sound editing and graphic design to bring the project to life. Like the approach in general to this site, the design is straight-forward—no frills. So what are you waiting for? Check out this feature and start listening!

September Virtual Console Highlights — Arcade Classics Are...Well, Classic
2 October 2009 10:03 pm
Truth be told, there isn't any single VC game released anywhere in the world during September that really gets me pumped. Thought I have an affinity for Golden Axe, I understand the origin of my feelings is very nostalgic and the average gamer today is not blown away by this classic hack-and-slash title. Turns out that this is a good segue way, because were it not for the arcade VC lineup, September's releases would be quite unremarkable, indeed. It's also amusing that Japan is finally receiving the equivalent of an import only title. That's right, Earthworm Jim 2 represents one of those examples in which Japan was left out of the cartridge goodness that North America and Europe enjoyed.
North America
PAL Region
October 2009 Archives