Archive for August 2014

Pilotwings – Super Nintendo   1 comment

SNESPilotwingsPilotwings was a groundbreaking game for consoles that was a launch title for the North American release of the Super Nintendo in 1991.  The thing that was groundbreaking was the simulated 3D graphics made possible by the Super Nintendo graphic chip’s special ability called “Mode 7.”  Mode 7 allowed developers to rotate and scale graphics.  The graphics were all flat, but when used properly Mode 7 was able to display some very impressive 3D visuals for it’s day.  Pilotwings was built around showing off this Mode 7 mode extensively, and it did a particularly great job of it.  I remember being very impressed by it in 1991 when I rented it.  I figured that 23 years of technological advances would not be kind to Pilotwings, but I was surprisingly wrong.

Pilotwings is basically a collection of mini-games that show off the Super Nintendo’s Mode 7 graphics.  It’s kind of like how Wii Sports was designed to show off the Wii’s new capabilities.  The games in Pilotwings all involve flying in some way.  You get to skydive, fly an airplane, fly a hang glider, use a jet pack, and even do some helicopter rescue missions.  Each mission is judged on numerous variables such as accuracy of your landing, time taken, targets hit, and so on.  If you accumulate enough points on one set of missions then you’ll move on to the next set of missions.  After four missions you do the helicopter rescue mission.  The missions are very simple.  When skydiving you try to fall through target rings, and land closest to the target landing spot.  In the plane missions you fly through rings, and try to land your plane.  With the jetpack you again try to maneuver through rings, and then land.  The hang glider has you hitting air thermals, and then landing.  The helicopter missions have you shooting targets, and the landing to rescue the hostages.  Although the missions are extremely simple sounding, one wrong move and you’re toast.  Trying to beat your own personal scores is very addicting, and you’ll even when you crash land you’ll still be having fun.

Any of today’s games that involve flying will use analog controls, but despite not having analog controls, Pilotwings controls exceptionally well.  I’ve never done any of this stuff for real, but everything controls the way I *think* it would in real life.  It takes a delicate touch to control each game, and it’s just a lot of fun trying to get everything to go perfectly.  Speaking of perfect, the sound is perfect.  The rush of the air going by as your skydiving is awesome, and it changes pitch depending on how fast you’re falling.  The sounds of the airplane engine, and tire squeal when you land could be mistaken for real life.  The music is very relaxing, and suits the relaxed atmosphere of the game perfectly.  The graphics are very smooth, and that is the most important thing when playing games like this.  Things obviously look pixelated, but that’s mainly when things are up close while you’re landing.  You’ll be so into this game that you won’t even notice that.  Pilotwings may be a bit on the short side, but you’ll have lots of fun trying get a perfect 100 on everything.  Recommended for everyone.

Rating – 8 / 10

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Posted August 31, 2014 by thebandit2006 in Super NES

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Home Alone – Super Nintendo   Leave a comment

SNESHomeAloneHome Alone for the Super Nintendo has all of the ingredients for a disaster.  It’s based on a movie, and it was published by THQ who were infamous for releasing really bad games back then.  When you go into a game with such low expectations then there is a chance you’ll be pleasantly surprised, and I was kind of pleasantly surprised by this game.  It’s not great mind you, but it’s not too bad, and surely not as terrible as I was expecting.

Home Alone of course was the surprise hit 1990 comedy starring Macaulay Culkin.  The game was released for the Super Nintendo shortly after it’s launch in 1991.  I’ve read that each version of the game is completely different for each console, and the Super Nintendo version is a side scrolling platformer/scavenger hunt.  You play as Kevin McAllister, and it’s your job to collect all of the family’s valuables while avoiding the robbers.  The valuables are found in dresser drawers, cupboards, and other places throughout the house.  Once you fill your backpack with six items, you drop them down a chute to the basement.  Your defenses against the robbers include such weapons as your default squirt gun, and weapon pickups such as baseball, and slingshots.  You can lure the robbers pre-set traps such as thumbtacks on the floor, or you can trigger large objects to fall on their heads.  The movie had loads of inventive traps for the robbers, and I feel that this game missed a huge opportunity by having so few traps, and also not being able to place the traps yourself.  Spy vs Spy for the NES allowed players to place their own traps, so there’s no reason Home Alone couldn’t have done the same.  Once you’ve dropped enough valuables in the basement, you’ll retrieve a key to the basement where you’ll make your way through bats and rats on your way to the vault, so you can lock up the family’s treasures.  After this you’ll go to another wing of the house where the valuables are replaced with Kevin’s toys.  These are the only stages in the game.

Home Alone doesn’t have the graphic polish of other Super Nintendo games.  Part of this is being a first generation Super Nintendo game, but most of is low budget vibe you get from the entire game.  It doesn’t look much better than NES games.  The music is kind of cool though with upbeat tempos, and some classical tunes as well.  The controls are nice and responsive, and that goes a long way into making the game fun to play.  Sadly the fun is short lived though due to the game’s very short length, and shallow game play.  I surely wouldn’t go out of my way to get Home Alone, but it’s at least playable, and you can do a lot worse on the Super Nintendo.

Rating – 5 / 10

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Posted August 29, 2014 by thebandit2006 in Super NES

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U.N. Squadron – Super Nintendo   Leave a comment

SNESUNSquadronThings sure have changed in the past 20-25 years as far as video games go.  Back in the early 1990’s, game companies would make games for home consoles artificially hard in order to increase their replayability.  In other words, the games were short, and they didn’t want you to beat it on a rental.  U.N. Squadron from Capcom for the Super Nintendo in 1991 is one tough game.  It can be so much fun at times, but frustrating design choices hurt it.

U.N. Squadron is a side scrolling shoot-em-up where you pilot one of three planes in an effort to destroy the enemy.  I don’t have the manual, so I don’t know the story, and the story isn’t given throughout the game.  That’s fine for a shooter, because they’re just meant to be played for fun, and not for the story.  The enemies are modern military types such as other planes, helicopters, tanks, and anti-aircraft units.  Your default weapon is just a weak machine gun type of thing, but at least it fires automatically for a few seconds after you press the button.  This way you won’t have to hammer on the fire button over and over.  Instead of enemies dropping new weapons for you to use, you can acquire more powerful weapons RPG-style.  You can level-up your default machine gun by defeating formations of red enemies, and collecting the blue thing that they leave behind.  Defeating enemies, and clearing a level will net you cash which you can spend on acquiring special weapons, and new aircraft.  The special weapons are in limited supply, and include such things as bombs, and weapons that wipe out all enemies on screen, or within a particular radius around your plane.  The bombs are especially important, because you’ll need to tend with a lot of ground enemies.  Also in RPG-style is that the stages aren’t played in a sequential order, but instead you choose your stage from a map.  Enemies can also approach your plane from this map, and you’ll be forced into a mini-stage.

The controls in U.N. Squadron are very responsive, and the game play is overall pretty good.  Your plane has a health meter which will deplete to near zero if you get hit, but it’ll partially regenerate if you manage to not get hit again for a few seconds.  From a technical standpoint U.N. Squadron can be fun, and that quality carries over to the decent, but a bit too cartoony looking graphics.  The music is pretty decent too, but just like the graphics, it’s oddly cheery.  What makes the game extremely frustrating at times are ridiculously hard end bosses.  I’ve played this game for a while, but I’ve never been able to defeat any end bosses beyond the first stage, and the bosses in the mini-stages.  If you die from the end boss, you’ll have to replay the entire stage over again.  Also of major annoyance is that there are way too many enemies who attack you from behind, but yet I was never given any means of defense from these enemies except dodging them, and hoping they fly in front of my plane.  Even if you manage to make it past the second set of stages, you’ll only have a limited amount of continues available to you.  I’ve been playing this game on the “easy” setting, but there are “normal”, and “hard” settings to choose from as well.  I doubt anyone normal could finish this game on “normal.”  I just play the game to get a high score, but damn it to hell the game doesn’t display your high score at the end of the game!  This is all a shame, because U.N. Squadron is a quality title that just needed a tweak in it’s brutal difficulty in order to become a must have game.  If you are good at these shooters, then give U.N. Squadron a try.  For the rest of us, it’s not a bad pickup, but don’t overspend for it.

Rating – 6 / 10

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Posted August 28, 2014 by thebandit2006 in Super NES

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Road Riot 4WD – Super Nintendo   Leave a comment

SNESRoadRiotI’m not sure how many people remember Road Riot 4WD in the arcades, but it was a terrifically fun 1991 arcade game from Atari.  It is a racing game where you drive a dune buggy type of vehicle.  My local arcade had a version that had two sit down cockpits connected side by side.  One neat thing that I liked is that when you got shot by an opponent, there was a loud bang, and a rumble could be felt from the seat.  It was great fun.  When I recently found this Super Nintendo version, I was pretty excited to play this game again.  I know the Super Nintendo couldn’t emulate the whole steering wheel, cockpit, and rumble thing, but the Super Nintendo was really great at duplicating the graphics, and sounds the the arcade games at the time.  What a disappointment it is to find out that the Super Nintendo version released by THQ in 1992 is among the worst arcade to home conversions that I have ever seen in my whole life.

One thing that has carried over from the arcade is that you get a choice of 11 tracks.  Before you race you get to select from the 11 tracks that are set in different geographical locations such as Africa, Australia, Mexico, The Middle East, and Akron, Ohio (why?)  Each track has a “host” driver who stereotypes that particular region.  The music to go along with each region is really well done.  Sadly the track selection screen with it’s politically incorrect humor, and cool music is the highlight of this game.  The game play itself takes place on a split screen similar to Super Mario Kart.  Unlike Super Mario Kart however, you can barely see what’s coming up in front of you.  The framerate is also in the single digits.  You would think that maybe the framerate is low, because the graphics look nice, but the graphics are horrible.  The controls are also way too touchy.  Even the lightest of touches on the control pad will send your vehicle off the road, and into a roadside obstacle, or have you flipping end over end.  All vehicles can shoot other vehicles, but everything looks so horrible that I can’t even tell if getting hit even matters.

It’s pretty obvious that you should avoid this game.  It’s a very lazy effort by THQ.  It’s hard to believe that Road Riot 4WD was released one month after the much more superior Super Mario Kart.  Pick up that game, or one of the Top Gear titles instead.  Road Riot 4WD is very worth of receiving the worst score that I’ve ever given to a game to this date.

Rating – 2 / 10

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Posted August 27, 2014 by thebandit2006 in Super NES

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Tetris 2 – Super Nintendo   Leave a comment

SNESTetris2Here’s a game that you may not have heard of.  It’s 1994’s Tetris 2 from Nintendo for their SNES.  The original Tetris is a classic, and it inspired many many many clones, ripoffs, and sequels.  Tetris 2 has some elements of the original Tetris, but I find it plays more like Sega’s Columns games.  Tetris 2 is really a mixed bag, and your enjoyment of it depends on if you can get anyone to play multiplayer with you.

Like the original Tetris, block descend from the top of the screen, and it’s your job to position, and rotate them in order to clear other blocks.  Some of the descending blocks have the same shapes as the original Tetris, and some are a bit different.  The segments of each block can contain multiple colours, and there is a reason for this.  Unlike the original Tetris where you had to make a row of blocks, in Tetris 2 you have to eliminate “bomb” blocks.  You do this by making a horizontal, or vertical line of three colours including the bomb block.  When you do this these blocks will disappear, and other blocks on top may fall as they do in numerous other Tetris games.  You can speed up the process by eliminating the blinking bomb block.  When you do this all other bombs of the same colour will disappear.  If you eliminate all of the bomb blocks, then you move on to the next stage where there are slightly more blocks to clear, and it’s slightly faster.

In the normal single player mode you try to aim for a high score. I found this mode to be incredibly boring after a while.  Part of the reason is that the difficulty does not increase fast enough.  Another part of the reason has to due with the game itself.  You see when you make a mistake in Tetris 2, and bury one of the bombs you were trying to clear, you can sometimes put yourself into a nearly hopeless situation.  You know you’ve screwed up, but yet you try your best to get to that bomb.  My efforts were futile when this happened, and I would spend 10 minutes with the playfield slowly building up.  It’s just agonizing.  In the game’s defense you can choose which stage you want to start on, and you can choose the speed of the game.  My suggestion is to always choose the fastest speed, or else you’ll be really bored.

In the puzzle single player mode you are given only an extremely limited amount of blocks to work with, usually between 1 and 5, and you have to use these blocks to clear all of the bombs.  The stages are set up in a way that the piece you are given will set off a chain reaction if positioned correctly.  There are 100 stages in all, and I found this mode to be better than the normal mode.  People who like games like this will like this mode.  I found it amusing for a little while, but like the rest of the game, it can get repetitive.

What saves Tetris 2 is it’s very fun multiplayer mode.  In this mode you compete side by side with another player, or the CPU.  Whoever clears their bombs first is declared the winner.  You can make life difficult for your opponent by eliminating the blinking bombs, or by creating a chain reaction.  Doing this will send a piece onto your opponents board that will drop very quickly, giving them a lot less time to figure out where to put it.  Each player’s playfield is actually a fish aquarium, and you can also drain some water from their aquarium which makes the pieces drop faster.  If you win a game, you get a fish in your aquarium, and I found that kinda neat.

So there you have it.  Tetris 2 is actually a compilation of a mediocre game, an average game, and a pretty fun game.  Graphics and sound aren’t important in a game like this, but for the record the graphics get the job done, and some of the music tracks can be catchy.  Overall it’s a very hard to judge, but I had such a good time with the multiplayer mode that I’m going to have to recommend it anyone who can find someone to play against.  If you’re just interested in a single player game, well you can do better.

Rating – 8 / 10

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Posted August 26, 2014 by thebandit2006 in Super NES

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Guilty Gear X2 – PlayStation 2   Leave a comment

PS2GuiltyGearX2Guilty Gear X2 is an awesome one-on-one 2D fighting game, and bottom line is that you should get it immediately.  That should be the review right there, but I’ve got some space to fill, so let me tell you why I like it so much.  This is a beautiful looking 2D fighter released in 2002 by Sammy Studios, and developed by Arc System Works.  It’s part of the Guilty Gear series which started out on the original PlayStation in 1998.  For whatever reason I can’t remember it on the PlayStation at all.

Part of what makes Guilty Gear X2 stand out from other fighting games are the really sharp looking 2D graphics.  Before 2002, 2D fighting games used to look like crap, because developers would continue to recycle graphics from nearly 10 years prior.  Guilty Gear X2 ups the resolution to what was then modern standards, and it looked amazing.  In fact it still looks great today.  Not only are the graphics from a technical standpoint, but the characters and backgrounds are highly imaginative.  Some of the characters include a pipe smoking vampire, a woman with a witch hat who uses a guitar as a weapon, a cross-dressing teenage boy, a sexy chef, a girl who has transforming hair, a little girl who uses a huge anchor as a weapon, a guy who uses a pool stick as a weapon, and a very tall doctor who wears a paper bag over his head.  Just as good as the graphics are, the music might even be better.  If you like hard rock, then this is the music for you.  It’s some of the best music you’ll find in a video game, and it fits the chaotic battles very well.

Speaking of those chaotic battles, these fights are pretty nutty.  They’re not as fast as the fights in the Marvel vs Capcom series, but Guilty Gear X2 is crazy in it’s own way.  There are buttons for punching, kicking, a high “slash”, and a low “slash.”  If you’ve read some of the crazy weapons the fighters have, you’ll understand how insane some of the fights can be.  The doctor is my favourite, and he can literally hit you from anywhere, including through the bottom of the screen.  The fighting system is similar to other fighting games in that the way you throw projectiles, or throw people, and the fact that you have a meter you build up in order to unleash special attacks.  The fighting can be very deep with such things as a psych burst, dead angle attack, dust attack, instant kill, faultless defense, jump cancel, roman cancel, and so on.  The thing is that you don’t have to learn all that stuff in order to have fun.  The difficulty settings in the menu can make the game very forgiving while fighting the CPU.  Even those who don’t know what they’re doing can unleash very cool looking attacks.  This makes the game very easy to pick up and play, and enjoyable for even non-fighting game fans.  Isn’t the whole point of video games is to have fun?  Well this game nails that aspect perfectly.  It’s stylish, looks great, has awesome music, great controls, and it’s just plain fun!  Highly recommended for everyone.

Rating – 9 / 10

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Posted August 21, 2014 by thebandit2006 in PlayStation 2

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Monopoly – Sega Master System   2 comments

SMSMonopolyMonopoly is of course the hugely popular classic business board game from the early 20th century.  Numerous video game adaptations have been developed over the years, and one of the first ones that I can remember is Monopoly for the Sega Master System which was released by Sega in 1988.  I won’t go into how to play Monopoly, because most people probably already know how to play it, but the question is if this Sega Master System version is worth playing.

The first reason to play the Sega Master System game, or any other version for that matter, is that you can play against computer opponents if you can’t convince any nearby humans to play along with you.  There are three difficulty settings you can choose from for each CPU player, but I honestly can’t figure out what the difference is.  It seems that the higher difficulty CPU players have more luck, but I can’t say for certain.  While playing Monopoly on the Master System you get a top down view of the board, and a neat closeup of the board while your piece moves.  You can turn off the closeup view for a quicker game.  Unfortunately the top down view of the board does not display where the houses and hotels are, and that is a huge flaw in this version.  Some more flaws is the lazy pace at which the CPU players play.  You can speed them up a bit by pressing buttons, but you already have to press buttons way too much while playing this game.  Press a button to roll, press a button after you’ve read where you’ve landed, and press a button to skip to the next player.  If you can imagine having to also press those buttons to speed up the CPU’s turn, then you can see what I’m getting at when I say that you have to press buttons way too often.  Also the trading system could have been more robust.  The only trading you can do is one property for one property, or you can sell a property.  In other words you can’t trade two properties for one property and some money.

On the plus side the game plays exactly like Monopoly.  Except you can’t collect money in a pot for the Free Parking space.  The music is also surprisingly well done, but I can imagine a lot of people will turn it off due to it’s repetition.  Also another good feature is the ability to save your game.  Of course this is dependent on you finding a copy with a working battery from 26 years ago.  Despite the neat battery backup system, Sega really could have done a much better job with this game.  More animations and sounds would have been welcome, as well as the aforementioned trading issue.  This is a tough game to review, because even though I like this game, and have fun playing it, it’s probably the weakest Monopoly game that I’ve ever played.  You won’t be disappointed if you pick it up, unless you already have the superior versions on the NES, Genesis, Super Nintendo, or any other newer version of the game.

Rating – 6 / 10

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Posted August 20, 2014 by thebandit2006 in Sega Master System

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