Guest blog post by Ben Rai @BenRai
Sometimes you just need an adventure in life. Sometimes this urge for adventure can be fulfilled with a good video game. Graphics are becoming increasingly more life like and the worlds are open and seemingly never ending. The problem is not all of these modern games appeal, and we don't always have the time to explore these gigantic worlds due to the realities of life. This is where retro games come in handy. They provide an escape and can often be experienced in full within anything between 30 minutes to a couple of hours.
Though as much as I do love retro games, sometimes I feel as if I am living in the past, completing the same retro games I am comfortable with over and over. This is a feeling you can easily experience with your personal life too. I wanted to look forward and escape my zone of comfort while simultaneously taking solace in something somewhat nostalgic. The truth is this 'adventure' that I had planned was something more than just simply wanting to play a game I had never played.
Ultimately playing a game is for fun, but the competitive side of me wanted to dedicate time to learning, mastering and conquering something within a month. I wasn't content just playing a game for fun I required a test of fortitude. I pondered what this could be for a short time.
Flicking on my brother's SNES mini while visiting his house I scrolled the games on offer. Contra 3. Finished it on hard mode. Super Mario World. Finished it 100% more times than I could ever count. Super Castlevania IV? Already played it this year. Super Ghouls 'N' Ghosts...never dared to play it. So that is what I decided to do, without any real thought. I wasn't really looking for it, but I had found it. I had a very limited experience with this game. I was just aware that it was notoriously hard and I had witnessed my brother die an unrelenting amount of times on it back in the 90s. A fire in my stomach erupted - I am going to do this.
I opened the options menu to see what the deal was — an otherwise simple black option menu with an obscurely over elaborate and majestic blue winding vine design with red gems adorning the screen's edges. Strangely beautiful for a game which is so willing to chew you up and spit you out even on it's "Normal" difficulty setting. Almost like an alluring treasure which once taken would trigger a hellish trap. The default difficulty setting alone is what gives a majority of people grief.
So to my surprise there was a hard and professional difficulty too. What maniac would ever try that? Isn't the punishing normal difficulty enough? Apparently it wouldn't be for me, and so the journey begins — on normal difficulty anyway.
The game (infamous for sending you right back to the beginning in order to complete it for a second time to get the true ending) begins in the classic Ghouls N Ghosts graveyard stage. You know — the stage 90% of people attempting to play this game give up on.
Despite it being one of the earliest games by Capcom on the SNES the pixel art looks fantastic and the music is absolutely haunting. In fact, it was composed by a female composer called Mari Yamaguchi, she also did the soundtrack for Mickey Mouse's Magical Quest. Strangely, as different as the games may be they share a very distinct sound and I came to the conclusion long ago that the same composer must have been involved. Mari has a way of painting the haunting landscapes of the frozen forests and stormy seas with sweeping mysterious melodies, while conjuring up a sense of dark menacing evil and urgency in the third stage's fire dungeon full of flames and bloodied spikes. There is always a sense of something foreboding or mystical.The soundtrack is one that did not hit me as immediately as other games. However the soundtrack began to really become highlighted during the trials and tribulations of completing the game. Remember, we were going to die a lot of playing this game — so we needed music that would be cast upon our minds in a residual way, as opposed to be a quick fast jingle which could become increasingly annoying with each restart.
To cut a long story shorter — I completed both loops of Ghouls N Ghosts. That means that I finished each of the 7 stages twice back-to-back and killed the final enemy with the coveted "Princess bracelet". The bracelet is an absolute requirement for finishing the game in its truest sense and the main reason you are sent back to the start in order for the weapon to spawn. It will not appear in playthrough one.
I had finally finished this tough game which I previously knew not a lot about. The problem is I had cheated. I had used multiple save states. From start to finish. The vaguest sign of danger I pressed that save state button. I felt not an ounce of accomplishment and had essentially learned nothing about the
inner workings of the game. I needed to go back and this time do it "for real", and do so with a mind of knowledge towards the game.
At this point I no longer had access to the SNES mini, so I had to download an emulator for my laptop which is far from a gaming laptop.In fact I had never played single game on it before. I had to borrow a faulty Xbox 360 controller from a friend in order to be able to play, as there was no chance I'd attempt this using keyboard controls. I was dedicated to this gaming experience and the game was on. My first step was to watch a couple of speed runs of the game to hear any potential commentary tips to provide assistance in understanding how this game actually worked mechanics wise. Nail the mechanics and you will nail the game. I studied how to get various treasure chests to spawn. Some chests require the player, the grey armour clad knight Arthur, to jump into some precarious locations in order to make them appear. A concept I had no idea about.
The chests are vital to your success and there is a specific cycle of which weapons, armour and traps spawn from them. I found this to be a large part of the battle and once you had this concept under wraps the game became a lot more manageable. Arthur can acquire two armour power ups. The first being the bronze green armour which will upgrade your current weapons firepower. The second is the golden armour which allow you to hold the button in order to charge your weapon, unleashing a unique special
ability per weapon. With that said here is a tip for you all, the dagger with the golden armour is the absolute best weapon in the game and the speed runners imperative choice.
Charging it up will unleash a flying dragon of pure blue fire which will scour the screen. Lining up the screen so that the enemy is on the right will mean that they are in line of the dragon's path, killing them quickly. You also gain valuable invincibility frames briefly during casting the spell, so exploiting this charge up feature is fantastic for survival.
The second weapon of use is the crossbow upgraded to at least the green armour, which is ideal for any casual player just wanting to achieve victory. When in gold armour the charge up function for this weapon will make any hidden treasure chests on the screen appear. The rest of the weapons are essentially garbage.
The jumping in this game is also a mechanic that needs some practice. Once you commit to a jump your character is locked going in that direction for the duration of it. Thankfully, Arthur has access to a double jump. Pressing another direction as you perform this will allow you to manoeuvre elsewhere, though you will also be committed to this jump too. Here is a secret for you. If you press the attack button at the peak of your double jump you will actually fire out a slightly stronger projectile. Useful for boss killing. So lots of quick double jumps and dagger/crossbow spamming is ideal
Now that the table is set on how the game mechanics work, I dived back in on normal mode and decided I would complete the game but only allow myself to save state at the start of each level. I completed both loops of the game using this method as a practice. Still, no sense of achievement, but a wave of confidence had been born. I no longer felt the need to save between each stage. I was finally prepared to play this the real way. With my newfound knowledge of the treasure chest spawns and confidence it was time to complete the game on normal mode with no save states. So off I went again, collecting as many money bags as I could along the way, as they provide you with a extra continue should you collect enough. Oh yes. Continues are limited!
The giant flying beaked monster of the first stage went down without a fight. I endured the 4-minute side scrolling perils of the second stage's stormy haunted ship graveyard as my raft wavered over the thundering rotten seas. I hesitantly made my way through the callous and menacing jumps across lava pits on to spindly platforms only to be greeted by the Mongolian Death Worm's 3rd cousin at the end of stage 3. I survived the slime covered convulsing, winding and rotating mode-7 guts of a giant beast in stage 4.
Then I hiked a majestic avalanche filled frozen forest full of pulsating purple fruits. All that, before arriving at the final castle and entering its most inner sanctum. Then of course I had to do it all over again to reach the ultimate final boss. After having conquered this final boss, I had finally completed the game as it was intended, with no save stating along the way. It was a challenge and there was indeed a learning curve. However with all this acquired skill, I felt at a loss yet again. "Isn't there a professional mode?", I reminded myself. I had a passion with this new ability to complete the game the real way, and now I wanted to test myself to the maximum.
As a side note, despite the whole game being quite taxing, I would like to shine a special spotlight on to stage 4, "The Ghoul's Stomach". Standing on a sidescrolling platform as obnoxious geysers of ghoul stomach gases try to knock you off to your death down a bottomless pit can be brutal. In fact I'd say this is the most daunting stage. The 3rd stage 'The Crucible of Flame',which begins in the fire dungeon is a close runner up. The frozen forest, stage 5, while not without its trials, is almost like a lovely treat and a walk in the park compared to the stage 4. The game can be finished by a skilled casual player within a hour or two. Speedrunners can finish both playthroughs within 45 minutes.
After a brief break the urge to complete professional mode became too much. Arthur once again pulled his armour on over his boxer shorts, giving me those 2 vital hit points on my health bar, and so the quest began again. I went directly to professional mode, thus skipping "hard" mode. The bosses take more damage and some of the enemies walk a bit faster...and honestly.that was about it. With either the crossbow or dagger in hand I conquered the first loop on pro mode. It honestly was not bad at all. I think the truest challenge exists on pro mode at the end of the 7th stage on the second loop/playthrough. You must get through the stage and reach the final boss, of which there are 2, with the gold armour and goddess bracelet. Though powerful, the bracelet is only of use if you are in possession of it while suited up in gold as it maximizes its range. This one aspect, range, is what is going to decide if you will get through the final 2 boss fights before being given access to the final true boss -demon emperor Sardius.
During loop 2, if you lose the gold armour at any point during stage 7 before the two bosses are killed you may as well sacrifice yourself and begin the stage again. The game consumed an uncountable amount of lives from me, as well as sapped my continues slowly. Though through dedication and patience I finally thwarted the enemies while adorned in the gold armour. I felt great, and let out a huge sigh of relief.Probably punched the air too. Even though I still had one final boss on stage 8 to defeat, I had no fear. The final boss is excruciatingly easy even on pro, possibly a reward for all the sweat and blood it takes to get there. As Arthur and the princess
trotted off on the horse together during the end credits, my quest to master this game also came to a close.
I had finished a game that so many other people give up on, even if they feel fondness towards it. It had been a great month of putting myself through something "new", and now I could say that Super Ghouls N Ghosts was one of my favourite SNES games, as opposed to just being "That hard SNES game that's good but I've never really played". Now this game is up there for me along with Castlevania IV and Contra 3.
To me this was more than just finishing a game, it was an additional little exercise in perseverance and motivation. The thrill of slowly but surely progressing and applying what I had learned from studying of the game's mechanics and then putting the brain power to physical dexterity with my hands was something I thoroughly enjoyed. The sense of accomplishment was amazing. I genuinely believe that overall this game is not as hard as people claim, they just need to spend more time with it and face the fear of it. I am highly convinced I could coach a moderate gamer through this game at least on default difficulty at this point. Something I could certainly offer no information or advice about at the start of the year.
There is actually a Gameboy Advance port of this game with 4 additional stages added. I have not played this, but the extra stages which I saw via Youtube videos actually fit the atmosphere of this game pretty well, and the visuals look vibrant and glorious. I might try playing this in future, but for now I am content with completing this version. It is time to move forward and look for something new.
You can try Super Ghouls 'N' Ghosts yourself on Nintendo Switch's subscription service. I highly encourage you to finally sit down, concentrate and stop letting the ghouls and ghosts scaring you away. My advice to anyone interesting in taking this game on, in brief.
Set your lives to 7 in the options menu. Use the dagger or the crossbow. Learn the chest locations/use the crossbow with gold armour to discover their locations..Collect the money bags to gain continues, but don't go for risky ones. Play through the game first time using save states as you progress. Reload sections to learn them.Once you are better at the game then play the game from start to finish without save states. if you do not have time to sit and do 2 playthroughs back to back for the real ending then save state at the start of loop 2. I consider this only being like pausing the game and returning to it later. This way it just saves on the electricity bill. Or perhaps you are just content completing one cycle - well, the same advice applies.
In addition, I wanted to get a tattoo for a long time but I could never decide what of. As a result of this little journey I decided to get a Super Ghouls 'n' Ghosts inspired tattoo. If you'd have told me in 2019 I'd cast aside modern games for a good portion of the year and focus on this game and complete it on the hardest mode AND get a tattoo about this game I'd not have believed you. It just goes to sometimes show things can just pop up when you least expect it and entertain you. From this experience I unearthed something old and crafted something new. While I was sitting getting the tattoo done, the artist actually said that it looked like something from a retro game. "It is, from Ghouls and Ghosts" I replied. "I used to play that!" he said.
Some Retro Games suck! That's right, there are some video games that completely missed the mark when it came to impressing gamers. This is not a good thing clearly. I want to be fully immersed in a game if I pop a cartridge in my Super Nintendo. I don't want to be struggling to get to even ten minutes of gameplay. Sometimes we have to admit defeat: some retro games suck. Here are five retro games that I feel are not worth your hard earned cash or valuable play time.
Shaq Fu (1994)
Imagine a famous basketball player becoming a character in Street Fighter 2. Now imagine that game game being absolutely awful in every way. Back in 1994 Shaquille O'Neal appeared in his very own 2D fighting game on the Sega Mega Drive and Super Nintendo. If this wasn't torture enough Shaq Fu also found its way on the Sega Game Gear, Amiga and Nintendo Game Boy in 1995.
What makes Shaq Fu such a terrible game? Not only is the idea of Shaquille O'Neal becoming a legendary fighter a terrible one the gameplay is simply awful. The moves were very difficult to execute making gameplay feel more like a button mashing contest than a game based on skill. Not only that the punch and kick sound effects were incredibly dull. Multiply the button mashing with the dull, out of context sounds of kicks and punches and you pretty much have Shaq Fu. The music is also very painful and does nothing to heighten the experience of this wannabe fighting game. Luckily Shaq Fu does not grace my very own retro game collection, it would only serve to taint it.
Star Fox or rather Starwing in Europe made a huge impact on Super Nintendo players back on release in 1993. Personally I remember being flawed by the 3D rotation combined with fast paced gameplay, ultra kick ass sounds and with incredible 3D visuals; Star Fox was like no other game from that time. Do you remember the first time you saw the 4 ships blitz down the tunnel to the sound of the overarching alarm? Then the camera switched to the outside of the tunnel on to Corneria and we were off doing barrel rolls like never before.
At the time the graphics looked incredible thanks to the Super-FX Chip; technology that was designed by Jez San’s Team; Argonaut. The Super- FX chip allowed 3D rotation and stretching of sprites and polygons. It was hailed a success by Nintendo so much so that a handful of Super Nintendo Games went on to utilise the technology such as Stunt Race FX and Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island (Yoshi’s Island used a slightly more advanced version of the Super FX chip). Only a total of eight Snes Games used the chip. Arguably that is not a lot considering the size of the Super Nintendo Game library.
I often wonder if Star Fox would have been as great of a game if the Super FX chip was not included. Would it have been possible at all? I don’t believe it would. The graphics in Starfox perform well thanks to the Super FX chip even by 2018 standards. Starfox has not aged that badly. With the fast paced gameplay, explosions, rockets and enemies the frame rate seems reasonably consistent.
Right at the start of the game, Star Fox is frantic! Back in the day I remember having trouble trying to keep an eye on my team’s Starships when they got in to trouble. More often than not I’d be navigating through various flying objects, falling pillars and rockets in order to rescue Falco, Slippy and Peppy from peril! At times when I revisit Star Fox I realise that I had never quite mastered the art of saving my team as they always incurred damage.
Star Fox alternates between first and third person view. Right in the to second level we clamber inside to the cockpit view. A whole new challenge ensues with this. The physics seem a lot more sensitive when in first person mode compared to third. Personally I felt Star Fox opened up a lot more in the second level. Blasting through asteroids (amongst a ton of enemies) really made me feel engrossed in first person mode.
No matter which route you take on the map in Star Fox; there are four levels to beat in order to each reach the final stage: Venom. Once at Venom we face Andross. Back tracking slightly, the four previous levels contain sturdy boss battles of their own. As a kid I could never beat the third level. Sad times ultimately but looking back I realise at just how tricky Star Fox was. Having gotten my hands on a SNES Mini and played the legit release of Star Fox 2 I firmly believe Star Fox 2 to be a much less challenging experience.
There’s no doubt that Star Fox is a fast paced game. At times it may seem like a little too fast. For me this adds to the challenge at being able to navigate through and around the enemies whilst trying to stay alive.
Guest Blog by Carl B @ Carl's Blog
In the late 1980s, Nintendo was under pressure. Its 8-bit Famicom (Nintendo Entertainment System in the West) had been upstaged by Sega’s Genesis. Their black beauty was cooler, faster, better looking and had a wide library of games including hits such as Altered Beast, Alex Kidd in the Enchanted Castle and Golden Axe.
Despite the critical and commercial success of Super Mario Bros. 3, at the turn of the decade the world waited to see what Nintendo would come up with in response to Sega’s growing dominance.
The Genesis had been released in October 1988 in Japan, just a week after Super Mario Bros. 3 had hit the shelves. However, the response from Nintendo wasn’t instant. The company spent more than two years perfecting its next hardware offering, the Super Famicom (Super Nintendo Entertainment System elsewhere) along with its launch titles. One of these was to be Super Mario World, which made its bow on November 21st 1990 in Japan amid fevered anticipation.
When we rejoin Mario and Luigi, we found that they have left the Mushroom Kingdom for a much-needed holiday in Dinosaur land, but their vacation is interrupted by serial kidnapee Princess Toadstool being snatched by Bowser (for some reason or other).
It’s fair to say that SMW doesn’t exactly take the series in a new direction when it comes to its plot, but if that’s why you’re playing it then frankly you’ve got the wrong game. After a couple of introductory moments, the player is quickly into the game, with Mario setting off from Yoshi’s House. What hits you first is how great this game looks. A gorgeous colour palette, vibrant sprites and clean, polished backgrounds are complemented by neat little touches such as the way Mario’s cap wafts up when he descends from a jump, combining to form a feast for the eyes. Then there’s the sound. Koji Kondo once again creates music that fits a given level perfectly, from echoey underground themes to the bouncy, frantic ‘athletic’ music of the forced-movement stages. Aesthetically, the game is timeless.
The overworld map takes the original concept from SMB3 and extends it, allowing its layout to change as our hero progresses and uncovers new zones. The game also allows the player to access already-completed levels, whereas SMB3 didn’t have the capacity for backtracking to previous worlds at will.
The levels scroll vertically and horizontally and include a perfect blend of well-placed obstacles and varied enemies which, in accordance with Nintendo’s famously-perfect learning curve philosophy, get progressively tougher as the adventure goes on.
In many stages, the player is teased by the presence of dotted line blocks which, if solid, provide a mushroom or cape, allow access to out-of-reach areas or help suppress an enemy. These only become ! blocks when the corresponding switch palace is located, encouraging players to backtrack and re-enter levels.
The end of most levels is marked by giant gateposts with a moving finishing line between them. The player is rewarded depending on how high the bar is when crossed, with a maximum of 50 points available. Once the player has amassed 100 points, Mario enters a mini game where up to eight extra lives can be won.
Not that these should be needed, though, as players will earn far more lives than they lose for most parts. As well as collecting 100 coins within a single level, players can nab hidden 1-up mushrooms and exploit a top-secret area which yields infinite lives.
Blog post by Gemma @ Juicy Game Reviews / TheGebs24 (originally written by Gemma and published on Retro Collect)
Something wonderful happened on the Super Nintendo back in the mid-nineties. In fact a lot of amazing moments derived from that 16bit King Console. Long before the days of Grand Theft Auto on the Playstation 1, DMA Designs were hard at work designing a Super Nintendo game that I deem was one of a kind...
Unirally as it is known here in the PAL regions (Uniracers in North America) boasts some of the most eccentric ideas I can recall alongside Earthworm Jim. You take the role of a single Unicycle and your mission is to race your opponent to the finish line. What's eccentric about that? First off, the Unicycle's are completely riderless. It would seem that DMA Designs created each Unicycle with his/her own mind and personality not so much in unicycle's being to ride riderless but in the flamboyant celebrations after winning a race. I specifically recall my yellow Unicycle mimic a form of bow; a form of Chivalry I wouldn't expect to see from a Unicycle?! Nonetheless, this captures the essence of Unirally so well and it would seem that the fun never ended.
Unirally takes place on colour popping 2D tracks (another ingredient to the loud and bashful nature of Unirally) and operates over a split screen when in 2-player mode and single screen when played against AI. With just about every twist, turn and loop you can imagine it's up to us to gain as much momentum as possible to reach the finish line in first place. Executing stunts is a crucial part of the core gameplay mechanics as you're rewarded with a speed bonus. Speed can be both an advantage and disadvantage and herein lays the challenge of Unirally for even the most seasoned of players.
#1: High Speed can kill
It sounds like a TV advert: High speed can kill but in Unirally there has never been a truer point to discuss. As we gain momentum by landing tricks and stunts the speed seems to increase ten-fold. I often got a little too confident at these points by trying to pull off the most elaborate tricks and landing smack on my seat! What does this mean? That's when you lose all of your speed and the other unicycle flies ahead.
At times it feels like you're moving in slow motion to try and re-gain that momentum again. Adding insult to injury there's a really neat feature that shows you how many seconds behind your opponent you are. By making one mistake you can easily fall five to ten seconds behind which seems almost impossible to re-gain.
#2: Practice doesn't always mean perfect
The first track on Unirally is incredibly simple to win and win comfortably. It's a straight line which means you can pull off simple jump tricks to gather the all important speed. That's right! There's no need to fear the punishing twists, turns, loops and drops, that litter the proceeding tracks.
It seems no matter how much I play Unirally I never seem to master the tracks. Being able to anticipate the next turn or loop is crucial in planning what tricks to pull out. At times the tracks seem very tight which make plenty of room for error. Have you ever won a race (aside from the first straight track) on the first go? Perhaps you have but I would imagine that it would be a small number of people. DMA Designs must have had a heap of fun designing the levels in Unirally but it's very difficult to dislike.
Perhaps it's one of those games that was created with a deliberate attempt to just be difficult!?
Blog post by Gemma @ Juicy Game Reviews / TheGebs24 (originally written by Gemma and published on Retro Collect)
In the early nineties there was a huge Zombie outbreak. The dead overran streets and dwellings and they were all seeking one thing: me. Well this is what it felt like as I sat for hours on end playing Zombies on my Super Nintendo. Known as Zombies Ate My Neighbours in NTSC regions LucasArts published the game in September of 1993 in North America and January 1994 in PAL regions. Zombies is a 2D run and gun game that takes a top/down perspective over each level. The overall interface (map, weapon select and health bar) are neatly placed in the top left had corner of the screen with the added bonus of being able to turn the map on or off.
Zombies is great fun to play in two player mode but is as equally as entertaining in single player mode. Zeke and Julie are the characters to choose from; neither of which have any perk differences. In fact I’d say Julie and Zeke have more in common aside from their clear gender differences. The common bond they share is mediated through the games wonderful story: rescue the neighbours at all costs. Each level contains residents that are scattered around the map and we must reach them before the flesh eating zombies get their dastardly mits on them.
It sounds simple but Zombies posed numerous challenges along the way. As the levels progressed I found more obstacles to rescuing my fellow neighbours. Thorn bushes, bins, walls and locked doors are additional obstacles to success. Fortunately, Zombies holds a great deal of opportunity to overcoming these. One of my personal favourites was finding a Bazooka and blowing huge gaps in walls to rescue survivors. Other weapons are not so appealing, for example, I never used the soda cans as they had a ridiculous arching loop once thrown. Either that or my aim was off! Ultimately dealing with a Zombie outbreak (and of course I mean in the gaming world) means we have to cautious about the weapons we choose.
Guest Blog by Carl B @ Carl's Blog
When the Super Nintendo Classic Mini was announced back in June 2017, there were notable omissions from the system’s 21-game list. No room for Pilotwings, Super Bomberman and Chrono Trigger, and despite the presence of the original Donkey Kong Country, the most glaring omission was its magnificent 1995 sequel Diddy’s Kong Quest. The Super Nintendo (Snes) is home to some of the best video games of the 16but era. Rare’s Donkey Kong Country 2 - Diddy Kong's Quest is widely regarded as the finest of the three SNES adventures in the series, so let’s strip the game down and explore just why it’s such a satisfying experience. Here are 6 reasons why Donkey Kong Country 2 - Diddy Kong's Quest is a masterpiece.
The game is enriched by the appearance of various colourful allies, all of whom may help the player during their adventure.
Animal buddies include the return of favourites Rambi the rhino, Squawks the parrot and Enguarde the swordfish, with Rattly the rattlesnake and Squitter the spider making their debuts. The player can ride these creatures and even transform into them at certain points in order to overcome obstacles and reach otherwise inaccessible areas.
Four members of the Kong family appear, each of whom help the player in return for banana coins while offering a fun break from the main quest.
Interactions with Monkey Museum curator Cranky Kong deliver a helping of Rare’s famous humour, with the old curmudgeon offering players hints. Cranky refers to the game as an “unnecessary sequel,” a “ridiculous quest” and a “ludicrous adventure,” while warning the player about “the limited fun you’re trying to get out of this shoddy product.”
Ghetto blaster-wielding Funky helps players travel between already-visited levels and areas via his barrel plane, which comes into its own when trying to find those last few DK coins and bonus stages.
Found at Kong Kollege, headmistress Wrinkly offers information on the game’s controls and items, although she’s most handy for allowing you to save your progress.
Game-show host Swanky’s Bonus Bonanza rewards players with extra lives for answering trivia questions about the game itself. However, with in-level bananas and extra life balloons plentiful, not to mention the fact that extra lives reset when the game is turned off, Swanky is the game’s least-useful Kong.
Spider-Man has always been my favourite Marvel Comics character and with Spider-Man Homecoming just getting a release it seemed fitting to talk about 4 Spider-Man video games you must play. It was Marvel UK’s US Spider-Man reprint comics that led to my love of the character 25 years ago. Spider-Man is of course one of Marvel’s most beloved creations. Over the years, Spider-Man has become more of a marketable figure outside of comic lore; the new movie Spider-Man Homecoming will be the 6th in just 15 years. The same can be said for video games, with 30+ releases across almost every platform in the last 35 years. Here I recommend 4 of Peter Parker’s best single player releases; heavy on the mythos, and not a Marvel vs Capcom game in sight.
Spider-Man: Maximum Carnage:-
The early 1990’s gave birth to two major new villains for both Spider-Man and Peter Parker: Venom and Carnage. Venom (aka disgraced journalist Eddie Brock) quickly became a fan favourite. After terrorising Peter and wife Mary-Jane Watson in some of the comic’s most haunting scenes, he was even given his own series for a time. Once the murderous offspring Carnage (aka serial killer Kletus Cassidy) came on the scene, Venom became a good guy of sorts. Determined to stop this symbiotic progeny, a truce was called with Spider-Man in order to stop Carnage. And so began the huge comic book crossover that was Maximum Carnage, and the SNES/Sega Mega Drive title it inspired.
Despite this Final Fight clone not holding up so well more than 20 years on, it’s devotion to its source material is still commendable. Panels from the actual comic are used to tell the story as you progress through simple yet challenging waves of bad guys and bosses. Despite being a Spider-Man comic, Maximum Carnage did feature a strong supporting cast of heroes such as Captain America and Iron Fist. These can be called upon as special moves should you feel overwhelmed in combat.
The stages, scenes and characters all appear as if taken direct from a comic book. This gives Maximum Carnage a sense of authenticity and respect to its continuity, despite its gameplay frustrations.
Imagine your perfect Super Nintendo games. Your ideal lineup of Snes games that you’d happily have sitting on your gaming shelves. What would they be? Super Mario Kart is my favourite video game of all time. A timeless classic of a packed Nintendo lineup of familiar faces like Mario, Luigi, Yoshi, Donkey Kong & more. Though perhaps you would prefer to play the classic Super Probotector (Contra III The Alien Wars in North America). Battling your way through the levels collecting flamethrowers, bombs and other deadly weapons! I could sit here all day and talk about how important the 16bit era was to me as I am sure you can to. The Super Nintendo, for me, is the most pivotal console of all time bit just in terms of game lineup but in terms of cultural influences too.
Back in school there were two groups of geeks: those that had a Sega Mega Drive and those that had a Super Nintendo. I had the Super Mario All-Stars Super Nintendo action set. We’d joke and banter all day long at which console was superior and which had the best games. Sonic Vs. Mario was another angle to approach it from. Luckily today I adore both but the Super Nintendo will always hold a sacred place in my heart.
Here we are in 2017 with the upcoming Snes Classic Mini. Simply a mini build of the Super Nintendo (PAL and NTSC design) packed with 21 of the best Super Nintendo games of all times. Let us pause and hail the fact that Starfox 2 will be among the classic ones games. The unreleased title that was completely finished by never got a release. I was lucky enough to interview Dylan Cuthbert; one of the lead designers behind the original Starwing/Starfox and Super FX Chip. You can catch the video below in which I interviewed him about his work on Starfox 2 but be warned it’s a few years old.
Guest blog post by Todd M @The_Top Loader
Get over here -----> Welcome to the 90's baby because I'm having fun n' games playing Mortal Kombat (released in 1992), but what version? That has been the topic of my childhood. Who had the best version, who could beat their chest the loudest in this primal rage that surprisingly escalated over just a few drops of blood? It came out on everything you could possibly think of, Master System, Gameboy, Game Gear, PC... you get the idea I literally could go on and on (until I run out of consoles to name) but the real test of might came down to just two consoles - the mighty Mega Drive and the Super Nintendo. The simpler time's of the 80's were gone with our Commodore 64's and their, 8's with their ,1's and don't forget to press play on tape as I watch the true fanboys get all fired up like a Scorpion fatality as they enter the console tournament looking for blood (which is truly where the battle begins) and where the movie version of Shang Tsung would famously say - "it has begun" - while Ed Boon's literal voice as the original game announcer now tells us to "Fight!!" The 90's were Excellent if not a little Dan Forden Toasty as I ripped out hearts and gave the kiss of death as my opponent went up in flames in the face of a burning skeleton's defeat as they dropped down to ashes because didn't you know you weak pathetic fools - I've come for your souls ! .. and so forth. That was Mortal Kombat, the gameplay was decent but let's be realistic here it's the gore that people came for. There were violent videos games before Mortal Kombat but they weren't in the mainstream and were never as popular because - lets face it - everybody pays more attention to the cool kids. Its funny being a parent now and thinking I don't think I would want my kid playing Mortal Kombat X .. but back when I was at that wise old age of ten I knew it all. I knew what was right and I knew what was wrong, hey I may have not bought Super Castlevania IV when I had the chance ..but in my defence I didn't now I was wrong at the time. My brother liked Excalibur with capes and crap like that but one thing we both loved was ninja's and the whole Eastern Kung-Fu scene because guess what? We both loved - Mortal Kombat - finally, we agreed on something.
Throw in a coin, select a player, choose your destiny while watching this klassic character line up that includes my personal favourite Sub Zero as he swings back and forth with his cold blue hands to the perfectly selected music beat while waiting patiently to controversially rip off your head right before we "Fight!!" Kano throws knifes and spins on a dime but what do you expect from a guy that lives for a life of crime because he won't hold back when ripping out someone's heart straight from their chest as it would Finish Him!! ..or her. No time to pause for a moment in this game (which can be frustrating) so you will have to use one of the other klassic digitized characters to release more effective green screen effects if you end up on the wrong side of Scorpion's famous harpoon attack, just don't teleport past Sonja Blade and panic while she flexes her reversed matrix style scissor kick as they both can burn you aliveafter they input the the right button combination before the fatality timer finally runs out. Liu Kang still kicks around while throwing projectiles in your face until Wham Bam! Van Damme .. hey he wasn't in the game, well he was supposed to be but he pulled out to do something else so here's Johnny.. Cage ! What a cool name, he's the complete package and this movie star has a secret weapon that's a real ball breaker and not the kind that you would find in his pants which does not work on Sonja Blade because of what's not in her pants - ironic - but with all this flippin' and floppin' all over the place I forgot to mention Raiden the God of Thunder who looks like he just come off the set of Big Trouble in Little China. You may think I'm going off track here but have you ever have wondered where the inspiration for Raiden came from? Watch the Three Storms in this movie because as I played Mortal Kombat for the first time it hit me like a bolt of lightning needed for the 1.21 gigawatts .. what the hell is a Giga.. wait, what? - wrong movie - sheesh now I'm really getting off track here so let's get back in the DeLorean to take me back to where I was before I made this alternate typing time line. Raiden is a parody verified by the words of Ed Boon himself from one of my all time favourite movies, hey.. who else thinks John Carpenter would have been a perfect match to direct and write a MK movie? It's a perfect blend of East meets West with western digitized character sprites and oriental backgrounds that felt like they were lifted straight out of a Kung-Fu scene with Eastern mystical mythologies including a four armed general monster Goro and shape shifting Lo Pan .. I mean Shang Tsung.. as the final bad guy with a story so far left out of Outworld about Elder Gods and Earth realm Sacred tournaments I can hear the words of Jack Burton echoing "I feel like a little bit of an outsider here"...because we are and I don't care because we all know that all he wants to do is go get his truck back.
Retro Game Reviews. Mega Drive, Super Nintendo, Sega Dreamcast and more
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As my Youtube Channel was built around my love for retro gaming I decided that it was time to honour that passion through blogging. Here I review anything from the retro gaming world.
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