RPGs are like Marmite. You either love ’em or you hate ’em. What tends to put gamers off is the investment needed to play through the game and many argue that the need to fight endless battles against minor minions to increase stats are a cheap way to ensure the longevity of a game. However, this is also what attracts many gamers. They fully immerse themselves in their chosen character and enter a world of pure escapism where they can be a barbarian, dwarf, mage, elf or countless other humanoid species.
Earthbound (Mother 2 in Japan) is a single-player RPG developed by Ape Inc. and HAL Laboratory, and published by Nintendo. It is the second game in the Mother series, and was released in Japan in 1994 and North America in 1995 for the SNES and Game Boy Advance. In 2013, it was released on the Wii U Virtual Console. For this review, I played the version found on the SNES Mini.
A decade after the events of Mother, the alien force that is Giygas has enveloped and consumed the world with hatred, turning animals, plants and humans into monsters. With his three companions: Paula, Jeff and Poo, Ness must travel the world collecting melodies from the eight sanctuaries in order to stop the invasion.
Ness – Just a normal kid who defeats his enemies with the use of a baseball bat
Paula – Ness’ friend who possesses psychic powers
Jeff – A young scientific genius
Poo – A mysterious Eastern prince
The game is viewed in 2D with the overworld view being an iosmetric design Interestingly, unlike other RPGs, there is no difference between the overworld and town/dungeon scenes, meaning the game moves seamlessly between the two.
Although the game looks to be aimed towards a younger audience with whacky and childish jokes, I thought that it was quite fun to play. The story is well thought out, if a little bizarre, and there are plenty of collectables to keep you interested. Although cartoon like, I thought the graphics were good (but not great), bright and colourful, with lots of variations amongst the sprites.
Battle scenarios consist of standrd RPG practice in that it is a turn based affair. You can choose to attack, use an object, defend yourself, use PSI, flee etc. Once an enemy is defeated, you gain experience and money.
What makes Earthbound different form other RPGs, is that it isn’t based on random encounter scenarios. In this game, you can actually see your enemies and can give them a wide berth if you do not wish to fight. Also, once your team reach a certain level, many of the lesser enemies are automatically defeated, meaning you don’t have to waste your time faffing around with pointless battles that give you little in the way of experience points. Additionally, you can gain a tactical advantage by approaching an enemy from behind. This allows you to strike first everytime. I thought that these were great features to have. I have always disliked the random encounter aspect of RPGs. I understand that they may be important for the game to ensure your characters build their stats but I’d rather have the option to fight when I wanted to because I feel random encounters just slow the game down too much.
There are a few other interesting aspects to this game. Firstly, your father regularly deposits money into your account so that you are never short of cash to buy new weapons and other items. Secondly, because you can only carry a certain amount of items, you can drop off items or have them delivered to you when you find a telephone. Thirdly, your character becomes homesick at times, which I believe affects him during battles. To remedy this, you simply need to call your mother who gives you a pep talk…very cute!
Did I complete the game?
Yes, with minimal help from a walkthrough
What the critics said:
Gamefan: “If you love RPGs, you really must buy earthbound. At first glance the game may not seem like much, but a rich and involving adventure hides just beneath this game’s 8-bit veneer. While not as mind blowing as, say, FFIII, EB is just as fun to play simply because it’s so wacky, original and amusing. Overall 89%”.
Super Play:“An RPG that’s very much more than the sum of its parts. If you’ve got the patience to suffer its crude elements then prepare to be boggled: there’s simply nothing like it on the SNES. Overall 88%”.
Nintendo Power: “A great story, fun graphics, good sound effects. Frequent, sometimes tedious battles. Poorly designed inventory system limits how many items you can carry. Overall 4/5”.
Game Players:“The game’s biggest strength is its humour, but while there’s something here for everyone, most of the quips and strangeness are geared for the younger set – it ain’t exactly Final Fantasy or Illusion of Gaia. Overall 69%”.
“I really wanted to give this game five stars, but I feel that the graphics let this game down a bit. When compared to the likes of Final Fantasy III and Secret of Mana, the graphics are not what one expects from a SNES. However, don’t be put off by first impressions. This game has much to offer and endears itself to you the longer your play it. Say ‘Fuzzy Pickles'”
What are your memories of Earthbound? I would love to hear your thoughts, and don’t for get to follow and subscribe so that you don’t miss my latest reviews! You can also find me on Instagram: @Nicklovestogame.
Side-scrolling beat ‘em ups were huge in arcades in the 80s. However, home consoles of the 80s struggled to replicate the arcade versions, which were far superior. Although the NES and Master System produced some good quality beat ‘em ups, it wouldn’t be until the late 80s that “arcade quality” beat ‘em ups could be found on home consoles like the Sega Mega Drive.
Mighty Final Fight is a side-scrolling beat ‘em up developed and published by Capcom in 1993 for the NES. It is a spin-off of the 1989 arcade classic Final Fight. It was later released on the Game Boy Advance (2006) and Wii Virtual Console (2014). I chose to review the NES version.
The Mad Gear Gang, the most notorious crime gang in Metro City, have kidnapped Jessica, the daughter of Haggar, mayor of the city. Along with Cody, Jessica’s boyfriend, and Cody’s training partner, Guy, they attempt to rescue her from the gang.
You can choose to be either:
Haggar – City Mayor and former professional wrestler
Cody – A street fighter who has developed his own unique fighting style by fusing boxing and karate
Guy – A master of Ninjutsu
Each with their own strengths and fighting styles. As the game progresses, you gain experience points which increase the strength of your character and unlock more fighting moves. Weapons can be found throughout the levels but they are dependant on the character your are playing as (Cody – knife, Guy – shuriken, Haggar – oversized mallet).
The game has been redesigned in the Chibi art style which gives the characters and overall game a more childlike look. The graphics and backgrounds are a great improvement on previous games such as Double Dragon and Renegade, even if Haggar does look like he has a huge double chin. However, by 1993, the SNES and Mega Drive were already producing far superior titles such as Streets of Rage, Golden Axe and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IV: Turtles in Time. There is also a limited number of sprites allowed on the screen at any one time, and there is a fair bit of flicker when fighting. This game is clearly pushing the NES to its limits.
The gameplay is pretty good. The controls are responsive, and the hit detection is spot on. The introduction of new moves keeps the fighting interesting too.
What really let’s this game down is that it is a single-player game and there is only one difficulty setting. This is a real shame, as side-scrolling fighters are always better in two-player mode. Without a two-player mode and the chance to increase the game’s difficulty, this game will never become a staple for late night gaming with buddies. However, it is slightly redeemed by having three distinct characters does add to the replay value of the game a little.
Did I complete the game?
Yes, my go to character is Cody. My older brother’s choice was always Guy.
What the critics said:
At present, I have been unable to locate a contemporary review.
“A fun little beat ‘em up which looks great, for a NES game, and plays very well. Good differentiation between the characters but a lack of two-player mode severely limits its replay value.”
What are your memories of Mighty Final Fight? I would love to hear your thoughts, and don’t for get to follow and subscribe so that you don’t miss my latest reviews! You can also find me on Instagram: @Nicklovestogame.
Chip ‘n’ Dale Rescue Rangers is a platform game developed and published by Capcom and released for the NES in 1990. It would later be released in the 2017 The Disney Compilation Collection for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. I chose to review the NES version.
The evil Fat Cat has stolen Mandy’s kitten. The Rescue Rangers pledge to rescue the kitten. Through streets, over and through buildings, and forests; Chip and Dale must evade foes such as mechanical bulldogs, robotic rats, and gansgter lizard-type things known as warts. You can choose to dodge these dangerous foes or throw various items such as crates and apples at them. After each level, Gadget offers some advice about how to defeat the trickier aspects of the next level.
The game can be played in on or two-player mode. In one-player mode, you can choose to be either Chip or Dale. Each player can only be hit three times before they die.
The levels are brightly coloured, well designed and detailed, and pose a nice challenge for the average gamer. The sprites are well animated and the controls are sharp and responsive. It is easy to distinguish between the two protangonists as Chip wears a hat and a dark jacket.
The game has many trickier parts but it is enjoyable to play. I wasn’t expecting to like this game but I really enjoyed it. Although the game has minimal replay value, it’s a lot of fun and a great game to be played with a younger sibling or child.
Did I complete the game?
What the critics said:
Electronic Gaming Monthly:“Every part of this game from the graphics, to the sounds to the gameplay are well done indeed. Rescue Rangers only falls flat in terms of challenge and difficulty. Overall 7.75/10”.
“This game looks great…but don’t be fooled by its cutsie look. There are some challenging parts to it, but nothing a seasoned gamer can’t handle. Excellent gameplay too. I enjoyed it more than I thought I would.”
What are your memories of Chip & Dale Rescue Rangers? I would love to hear your thoughts, and don’t for get to follow and subscribe so that you don’t miss my latest reviews! You can also find me on Instagram: @Nicklovestogame.
Occasionally, even though the first game in a series may be panned by critics, creators will get a second bite of the cherry. When this occurs, one would hope that the creators learn where they went wrong in the first instalment and remedy these mistakes to help ensure the success of the sequel. Alternatively, they could just ignore all feedback because, let’s face it, it has a trademarked brand name in the title and will therefore sell anyway.
Star Wars: Rebel Assault 2 – The Hidden Empire is an action rail-shooter developed by Lucasart (Factor 5 for the PlayStation), and published by Lucasart. It was released 1995 for DOS/Windows, PlayStation and Mac OS. I chose to review the PC version.
Set after the destruction of the Death Star, you play as Rebel pilot Rookie One. After a series of mysterious disappearances, you are sent out on patrol near the planet Dreighton to investigate. Your party soon receive a distress call from a ship whose pilot explains that he has valuable information regarding a secret project that the Galactic Empire are hatching in order to destroy the Rebel Alliance once and for all. Sadly, the pilot carrying the information is killed before you can reach him and your party is then attacked by Tie Fighters.
The gameplay is almost identical to Star Wars: Rebel Assault, in that there are three gameplay types. The first is a rail-shooter where, for the most part, the computer pilots your ship whilst you take control of the crosshair and try to shoot at the enemy. Occasionally, you will be called upon to steer when a flashing arrow appears, indicating that you need to press that direction on your joystick/control pad etc. The second sees you shoot at stormtroopers, killing a certain number before you can progress to the next screen. The third sees you take control of a ship/speeder, and you must fly through a course, again, with occasional flashing arrows showing the safest way through.
The intro to this game is awesome. It’s great to have the original music from the movies, and text giving a brief backstory to the game. The opening scene really pulls you in and gets you straight into the action. Sadly, James Earl Jones didn’t reprise his role as Darth Vader. The graphics and sound are good, just what you’d expect from any Star Wars game.
Sadly, that’s about as many positives as I can give this game. The issues that plagued the first game were not fixed for the sequel. The controls are still just as jittery and frustrating to use. Whenever you release control of the cross hair, it immediately centres, which is incredibly annoying when you are trying accurately shoot moving targets with a joystick/control pad. I even tried to turn the sensitivity of my control pad down to 0, which helped aiming a bit. Annoyingly, you cannot change the axis for the joypad during the game. It is easier to have the controls as up is up and down is down for the shooting scenes, but have down is up and up is down for the flying levels. I don’t know why, it just feels more intuitive that way.
I can’t understand why they didn’t learn from the first game. If you’re going to have a rail-shooter then a light gun or allowing the user to use a mouse makes more sense. Using a joytick etc. to aim is just too annoying and inaccurate. The issue with the flying levels is that it is difficult to distinguish depth perception. For the levels where you need to shoot and occasionally direct your ship, ensuring you don’t collide with asteroids or the side of the space stations, is the pits and doesn’t compare at all to Star Wars: Tie Fighter.
Did I complete the game?
No, I rage quit after Mission 3 – The Mining Tunnels as I was so fucked off with the jerky, shitty flying controls!
What the critics said:
GameSpot: “There’s also a serious gameplay problem in the vehicular levels. The controls are too loose and jittery, meaning that you have to constantly fidget with the directional pad just to fly in a straight line. This also makes it almost impossible to dodge obstacles in your path. An even larger flaw is that, even with that awful control, the game is still much too easy to vanquish – any average player should be able to rip through it in two or three hours. Overall 4.9/10”.
GameSpot:“Rebel Assault II’s fine musical score, well-written script, and decent acting will be enough to satisfy those seeking a worthwhile multimedia “experience,” but the limited gameplay will most likely send hard-core gamers running back to Tie Fighter. Overall 7.5/10”.
Next Generation: “…you aren’t playing a game. You’re watching a movie that requires you to move a stick around and press a button at certain points until you get to see more of the movie. Overall 2/5”.
“Star Wars: Rebel Assault 2 – The Hidden Empire seems to be unsure just what type of game it is. It has no redeeming features that would make a gamer choose this game over say, Tie Fighter or Dark Forces, as they are superior in every way. Jittery controls and poor targeting just make for a frustrating game that is no fun. What makes this game worse than Star Wars: Rebel Assault , is that they clearly didn’t learn from their mistakes.“
What are your memories of Star Wars: Rebel Assault 2 – The Hidden Empire? I would love to hear your thoughts, and don’t for get to follow and subscribe so that you don’t miss my latest reviews! You can also find me on Instagram: @nicklovestogame.
There are some games that will always remain close to my heart. Streets of Rage is one such game. For almost 30 years, I have regularly returned to this game time and time again, and am instantly transported to my youth. I decided to revisit it once more with my “reviewers” hat on and wondered if it would hold up to scrutiny. Read on to find out my verdict!
Streets of Rage (Bare Knuckle in Japan) is a side-scrolling beat ‘em up developed and published by Sega. It was released for the Arcade and Sega Mega Drive in 1991. It was later ported to the Game Gear (1992), Master System (1993), Wii (2007), iOS (2009), Microsoft Windows (2011) and Nintendo 3DS (2013). For this review, I chose to play the Mega Drive version.
A once peaceful city has been the victim of a crime wave. A secret criminal syndicate has taken over the local government and the local police force. Frustrated by the police force’s corruption, three young police officers take it upon themselves to clean up the streets and stop the crime syndicate.
Streets of Rage can be played in either one or two-player modes. You can choose one of three characters:
Adam Hunter – an accomplished boxer
Axel Stone – a skilled martial artist
Blaze Fielding – a judo expert
The gameplay is fabulous. Each character has an impressive number of moves, with plenty of differentiation between the characters. Blaze is quick and can jump high and far but not as powerful as the other two. Adam is the slowest but is powerful and can jump high and far, and Axel, my personal favourite, is quicker than adam and just as powerful but doesn’t jump as high or as far. There are even a few moves with which you can use to double team the enemy. If things get too heavy, each character can use their special attack which involves calling for back-up in the form of a police car. A police offer, leaning out of the window proceeds to fire napalm or rain down fire upon the enemy in the form of a gatling gun rocket launcher hybrid.
Throughout the eight levels, there are also a number of weapons such as bottles, knives and baseball bats that you can pick up and use against the enemies.
Along the way, you gain points for killing the enemies but you also gain extra points for picking up cash and gold bars. To gain health, you will need to find apples and beef joints. Occasionally, you may come across a 1-up icon too.
Firstly, this game looks beautiful. The character sprites are clearly defined, colourful and very detailed! The level designs are also some of the best I’ve seen for 16-bit games released around this time.
The controls are tight, and each character has plenty of moves to prevent this from becoming a monotonous button mashing affair. The controls are nice and responsive and the hit detection is spot on. There is also an element of strategy when fighting some of the bosses so that you can work together in a team.
The game has four difficulty settings ‘easy’, ‘normal, ‘hard’ and ‘hardest’, but even if you stick to the easiest setting, I found that I returned to this game again and again, especially when playing in two-player mode with my brothers and sister.
I have so many fond memories of this game, and it’s probably why I rank it as as only of my favourite games of all time. Even after almost 30 years, I still return to it yearly with my little brother and we play through it.
Did I complete the game?
Yes, I have completed this game many times over the years on the ‘easy’ and ‘normal’ settings.
What the critics said:
Sega Power: “Double Dragon-style street fighter with arrange of 40 combat moves! Loads of enemies, frenzied activity and brilliant soundtracks. This sets new standards for urban guerrillas. Overall 5/5”.
Mean Machines: “The greatest and most enjoyable beat ‘em up yet seen on the Megadrive. Overall 90%”.
Games-X:“Okay as beat ‘em ups go, but will only appeal to fans of the genre. Overall 3/5”.
Computer and Video Games: “Beautifully presented, the games smacks of quality from the moment you slap in the cart and prepare to slap heads. The gameplay is totally wicked. Each fighter has his or her own characteristics, but you’ll soon choose a favourite with which to kick ass. Overall 93%“.
Mega Tech: “This is the best beat ‘em up on the Megadrive with tons of moves, action, death and great electro soundtracks. Overall 92%“.
Sega Pro: “Basically this is Final Fight for the Megadrive. Great graphics and some amazing moves. This is the best beat-‘em up game yet for the Megadrive. Overall 96%.“
Wizard: “Fighting game, third generation game. Not bad, still holds up well. Lots of action. Overall B”.
“I can’t praise this game enough. It looks fantastic, it plays fantastic and the sound track is awesome. It truly is one the greatest video games ever made and I can be certain that even when I’m in my senior years, I will still return to relive the Streets of Rage adventure again and again.”
For better or for worse, game creators are always looking to innovate with video games. They strive to make games more realistic, to give gamers a feeling of awe and wonderment when they first see the game. They want the experience to be immersive, drawing the gamer into an imaginary world of escapism. Sometimes, the innovations are ground-breaking and the game in question is revered by creators and gamers alike, going down in history and regularly being referred to as “the game that broke the mould”. Sometimes, however, the game is a dud. Sometimes, creators try too much too soon before the technology has been fully realised, affecting the gameplay, sound and graphics, leading the game to be panned and unappreciated in the annuls of video game history.
Broken Sword 3: The Sleeping Dragon broke the mould of the format of the games that went before in the franchise. The question is: Is the game a dud or is it hailed as a giant leap forward in adventure gaming?
Broken Sword 3: The Sleeping Dragon is a single-player adventure game developed by Revolution Software. It was published by THQ in Europe and The Adventure Company in North America. It was released on Microsoft Windows, Xbox and PlayStation 2 in 2003. It is the third instalment of the Broken Sword series. For this review, I chose to play the PC version.
The story begins a few years after the events of Broken Sword 2: The Smoking Mirror. We find that Nico Collard and George Stobbart have parted ways. George has returned to the US to continue his career as a lawyer and Nico is still that hungry journalist we met during their first outing.
It is a dark, stormy night in Paris. Beneath the city, a clandestine meeting is taking place. We are given little information other than a moment in time of great significance is drawing near. An individual known as the Preceptor sends his minions on an important mission…and failure will result in Armageddon!
Next, we find George on a chartered flight, flying over the jungle in the Congo. His pilot is unable to evade an oncoming storm and the plane crashes.
Back in Paris, a software consultant by the name of Vernon Blier is working at his computer. In the background, the news is reporting occurrences of extreme weather around the globe.
Broken Sword 3: The Sleeping Dragon is the first and only game of the series to break away from the point-and-click style of gameplay. The game itself is more action driven. You can control your character making them walk and run, and creep, and there is an introduction of a new action menu. When you near something or someone that you can interact with, a little animated star-type cursor will appear on that something or someone. At the same time, a symbol will appear in the bottom right screen where there is a template of four buttons in the shape of a diamond. You have the choice to click which action you wish to take. There are also instances in the game where you need to time your actions precisely, else you may die and have to restart the action scene.
Straight away I can tell you that judging by the way the game is designed, it is clearly created with a joypad in mind. When playing on the PC and using a keyboard, the game feels awkward and clumsy. I was unable to get my PC joypad to work with the game but that may simply be down to my technological ineptitude. Eitherway, it shouldnt be that difficult to switch to a more game-friendly way of playing.
One rather annoying aspect of the game is that you cannot seem to skip conversations that you previously have had.
Occasionally, there is a convoluted puzzle like when you need to use an iron bar to break some silver coins out of a laminated book cover. I know, right? Also, there is a lack of inventivness in the puzzle department. On several occasions, the puzzles are simply the same tired moving crates and square boulders around in a logical way to climb over a wall or onto a ledge.
The graphics look great. This is the first instalment of the series where Broken Sword moved into 3D graphics, and thankfully they did a great job. The characters do not look polygonal at all, the backgrounds are detailed and well designed. When the camera gets a bit too close to Nico, it seems she has a bit of a pig nose reminiscent of Christina Ricci in Penelope (I may be exaggerating here).
Even though the game contains voice actors, the subtitles appear in different colours, signifying that a different person is speaking, which is a nice touch. It would still have been nice to have the name of the individual talking or a little portrait box indicating who is speaking.
Did I complete the game?
What the critics said:
Adventure Gamers: “An amazing, brilliant story, at times told with such directorial excellence as to bring out emotions normally reserved for Final Fantasy. Gorgeous, eye-popping cutscenes. Infuriatingly stupid puzzle design at nearly every step of the way. Broken Sword: The Sleeping Dragon is a game of breathtaking (sic) highs and ridiculous lows, and thankfully the highs definitely outnumber the lows (moreso(sic) if you’re better at crate puzzles than me, which apparently shouldn’t be too difficult). The bold attempts to innovate and push the adventure to new places are generally successful and quite welcome. Overall 4/5”.
Edge Online: “Extravagance was one of the signatures of the graphic adventure: extravagance to bring them in, and a cracking story well told to keep them. Both tenets of the Broken Sword series remain intact here, and that’s all the devoted fans could have wanted. A fairytale (sic) comeback. Overall 9/10”.
GameSpot: “Even if Broken Sword can at times be frustrating to play, it’s a joy to behold. The graphics sure aren’t cutting edge, but the attention to detail, vibrant colors(sic), and smooth animations give the game its own attractive style. (The “idle” animations of Nico repeatedly brushing her shoulder or stretching are odd and distracting, though.) The wonderfully elegant and evocative soundtrack varies from bold fanfares to jaunty comic bits to pensive piano interludes to suit the locales and situations. The voice-overs really bring the game to life, too. By and large, the actors are really acting here instead of just lazily reading their lines like you find in so many games. Unfortunately, the voice-overs highlight the game’s biggest flaw, a major sound bug. Occasionally, dialogue can cut out, a character will make two statements at the same time, or two characters will speak over each other entirely. This bug can ruin the mood or make it hard to know what on earth is going on when you miss vital dialogue.
It’s a shame problems like that mar Broken Sword: The Sleeping Dragon. With its blend of cinematic style, 3D immersion, sharp writing, and likable characters, this is otherwise an adventure game that does the genre proud. Overall 8.1/10“.
IGN: “Cartoonish graphics, incredible voice acting and an engrossing story all make this a game to look at, that is – if you can get past the horrible interface and somewhat repetitive block puzzles. Finishing the game also has a reward associated with it, in addition to the impressive ending. This is something far too few PC games do. The ending left it open enough for the next incarnation of Broken Sword – the adventures of George and Nico. I just would ask one thing of the developers – please improve the interface and skip the block puzzles! Those are the two things preventing this from being the perfect adventure game. Overall 8.4/10”.
Game Chronicles: “Adventure gaming is alive and well thanks to designers like Revolution and publishers like The Adventure Company. Broken Sword: The Sleeping Dragon is a stunning achievement in interactive entertainment. With a solid story, engaging characters, stunning visuals, and delightful dialogue, this is one adventure you simply won’t be able to tear yourself away from. This is a must-own title for anyone looking to relive the golden era of adventure gaming Overall 9.2“.
Eurogamer: “In many senses The Sleeping Dragon is a leap forward for the genre. The actual play mechanics, the interface and the visuals are great, but you’ll be wishing Revolution and THQ had invested as much time and effort polishing the narrative and puzzle element to the same high standards. We’re in no doubt that it tried, but we can’t lie just because we think Charles is a good bloke. We’re caught in two minds, ultimately. One says we’re excited to be talking about a largely uncompromising adventure game that does much to revive a dead genre, the other is that we’re gutted that it’s populated with cast hired from Stereotypes Anonymous that should have been subjected to the firing squad at the concept stage. There’s much potential here, but Cecil and co. have some work to do before they can awaken The Sleeping Genre. Overall 6/10“.
“It’s great to have another Broken Sword game to add to the franchise. The game looks awesome, the music is cool and the story is…ok. However, the controls are awkward when playing on PC, and I didn’t like the move away from the point-and-click style of controls. I also found some of the puzzles montonous and tiresome. I just didn’t enjoy this game as much as I enjoyed the previous instalments in the series.”
What are your memories of Broken Sword 3: The Sleeping Dragon? I would love to hear your thoughts, and don’t for get to follow and subscribe so that you don’t miss my latest reviews! You can also find me on Instagram: @nicklovestogame.
Video games do not have to be complex to be enjoyable and challenging. If they did, early video games such as Space Invaders and Asteroid would never have gained popularity. I feel it is important for modern gamers to go back and play early retro games to help them appreciate just how far video games have developed in such a short space of time.
Bomb Jack is a platform game developed and published by Tehkan. It was released in the arcade in 1984, and later ported to SG100 (1985), Amstrad CPC, Commodore 64, ZX Spectrum and Commodore 16 (1986), Atari ST and Amiga (1988), Game Boy (1992), Java ME (2003) and Atari XL (2008). For this review, I chose to play the ZX Spectrum version.
You play as Bomb Jack. The object of the game is to collect bombs that have been laid on each level, all the while dodging an array of monsters. Collecting the bombs also increases your score. If you collect the special power block with a ‘P’ on it, the enemies will temporarily turn into octagonal blocks with smiley faces on them. Collect these to rid yourself of these enemies and to gain extra points. Other power blocks include: ‘B’ – increases score multiplier by 5x; ‘E’ – extra life; and ‘S’ – awards a free game (I think this was only present in the arcade version).
There are five different screens. Once you have completed the five screens, you simply go around again and again until all your lives are lost. You must try to gain the highest score possible to reach the top of the scoreboard.
The sprite is easy to control. You simply move left or right and jump. To make things a little easier, Bomb Jack can float after jumping, reducing his falling speed.
The backgrounds to the levels are gorgeous! Although the sprites, power-ups and enemies are plain black, it is all you need for this sort of game. There is no need for over the top sprite design or animation.
The game is challenging and strangly addictive, and although the replay value is limited, it’s the sort of game that nowdays keeps people glued to their smart phones on public transport.
Did I complete this game?
I don’t think this is the sort of game you complete. You simply keep going, trying to get the highest score possible.
What the critics said:
Crash: “A great arcade conversion, don’t miss it! Overall 92%”.[
“A simple but somewhat addictive game. Tight controls, easy to learn and fun to play. Beautiful backgrounds too, especially for a ZX Spectrum!”
What are your memories of Bomb Jack? I would love to hear your thoughts, and don’t for get to follow and subscribe so that you don’t miss my latest reviews! You can also find me on Instagram: @nicklovestogame.
Multiplayer arcade games used to be goldmines in the arcades. There’s not much better as a teenager than spending your pocket money battling alongside your friends in a bid to rescue a (insert person here). Many of these games were ported to home consoles meaning you could do battle without leaving the comfort of your own home. However, not all converted coin-op games were successful. How did Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Arcade Game fair?
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Arcade Game (TMNT II on the NES) is a side-scrolling beat ‘em up, developed and released by Konami for the Arcade in 1989. It was ported to the NES in 1990 with some additional levels and enemies that were different from the arcade version. In 1991, it was released for the ZX Spectrum, Amiga, Amstrad CPC, Atari ST, PC and Commodore 64. For this review, I chose to play the NES version.
Tempted by a large bounty placed on the heads of the Turtles by arch-nemesis Shredder, two intergalactic bounty hunters kidnap April O’Neil and use her as bait to lure the Turtles out into the open. The Turtles give chase and must fight their way through 10 hazardous levels, enemies and boss battles to defeat Shredder and rescue their friend.
Straight away, it is clear to see how much the graphics have been improved when compared to the first TMNT Nes game. The levels and characters look great! They are colourful and vibrant, and the sprites are very well animated. The intro, although short, gets you straight into the action and contains the authentic TMNT theme. The game is faster, slicker, and the upbeat music really gets your blood pumping.
You start with three lives but can gain more every 200 enemies you defeat. You can also regain health by eating pizza slices.
I do, however, have a few gripes with this game. Firstly, these are supposed to be “ninja” Turtles, yet they have maybe three different moves: a flying kick, and two different ways to swing their weapons. WTF? There are no throws, there are no kick or punch combinations, and you cannot pick up extra weapons to throw at the enemies. Earlier games such as Double Dragonhad more of a move set to prevent the fighting from becoming monotonous. Secondly, Donatello is supposed to have a bo, a long wooden stick. Yet, his reach is pitiful. You have to get close to the enemies, within their striking range, to attack. If you don’t wish the game to be too easy, simply slow down his attack or make his bo attacks weaker. These points made the game very frsutrating and dull for me.
Disappointingly, the NES version could only cope with a one- and two-player mode, so it loses some of what made the arcade version an awesome fighting experience.
Did I complete the game?
No, nowhere near.
What the critics said:
GamePro: “The heavy-duty faithful-to-the-arcade style game play (and it’s a long game!) are real crowd pleasers, and the radioactive mutants are as personable as ever. The new scenes blended in with the original arcade scenes are a great addition. The music could have been better but, hey, you can’t have everything.Overall 4.6/5”.
“This game looks fantastic! With the music, it looks and sounds just like a Turtle game should be! However, the gameplay is dull. These guys are supposed to be ninjas. Where are all their moves? The game becomes very boring, very quickly, even in two-player mode. I think this is a game for the younger gamer. It is overrated and only hardcore Turtles fans should bother with this game.”
What are your memories of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Arcade Game? I would love to hear your thoughts, and don’t for get to follow and subscribe so that you don’t miss my latest reviews! You can also find me on Instagram: @Nicklovestogame.
As a married man with a full time job, I find that I have less and less time to devote to videogames. I love modern games like the Uncharted and Assassin’s Creed series and thoroughly enjoy playing and immersing myself into these worlds. Sadly, I don’t have 40 extra hours a week to devote to such in-depth games on a regular basis. It is for this reason that I have embraced the retrogaming world. Games that one can simply pick up, mess around with for 20 minutes and put down again very much have their place in the gaming world. Simpler games should not be sniffed at!
Hudson’s Adventure Island is a side-scrolling platform game adapted from the arcade game Wonder Boy. It was developed and published by Hudson Soft, released in Japan in 1986, North America in 1987, and Europe in 1992 under the title of Adventure Island Classic. Versions can be found on the NES, MSX, Game Boy, Gamate, Game Boy Advance, Game Cube and PlayStation 2. For this review, I played the NES version.
You play as Master Higgins (Master Wigins in the UK and Takahashi Meijin in Japan), who has travelled to an island in the South Pacific to rescue Princess Leilani (sometimes known as Tina) from the Evil Witch Doctor. Along the way you need to eat fruit that appear out of the ether in order to keep your energy levels up. However, if you get touched by an enemy, you instantly die.
Whilst traversing through forests, mountains and caves, you will find eggs that contain bonus items to help you on your way. These items include:
Stone axes – Which can be used to throw at the enemies
Skateboard – Helps you travel faster
A flower – Double the points you get from collecting fruit
Milk – Fills up your energy bar
Honeygirl – Make syou invincible for a limited period of time
However, beware of the:
Eggplant – Takes energy away from you.
There are 32 stages in total spread out over 8 worlds. These are further divided up with checkpoints. Once the fourth stage of an area is completed, you must fight and defeat an end of level boss.
It’s easy to look at these videogames nowadays and compare them to modern games, where they will always be found wanting. It is very unfair to do so. So let us compare it to a game that is still revered and remember fondly today: Super Mario Bros (1985). Intially, I don’t think the background graphics are any better or worse than Super Mario Bros, but I do think it’s the sprite design and colours that separate the two here. From what I have seen so far from Adventure Island, the enemy sprites have little to no animation, a stark contrast to Super Mario Bros. Also, unlike Super Mario Bros., Adventure Island’s music is very forgettable.
So what of gameplay? Adventure’s Island’s controls are very slip/slidey (seemingly even more so than in similar games), meaning lots of sliding off the edges of platforms and it takes a while to get used to. It is also very unforgiving. You only have three lives, with little chance of gaining more and no continues.
Did I complete the game?
No, at present, I can only get to the third level of world one.
What the critics said:
At present, I cannot find any comptemorary reviews.
“I just didn’t enjoy playing this game and had little desire to put too much time and energy into it. The graphics are good and it is diverting if you have a spare 15 minutes on your hands, but it just lacks charm and for me, the game just feels cheap.”
What are your memories of Hudson’s Adventure Island? I would love to hear your thoughts, and don’t for get to follow and subscribe so that you don’t miss my latest reviews! You can also find me on Instagram: @nicklovestogame.
Normally, fighting games aren’t for me. I have neither the patience nor desire to learn all the moves and master them so that I can spend hours on a single play at the arcades, defeating all opponents who dare to approach the arcade machine. There are, however, a few exceptions to this rule. The Street Fighter, Tekken and Soul Blade franchises have always managed to gain my attention. Tekken 3 is now 23 years old. The question is, does it still hold up?
Tekken 3 is a fighting game, and the third instalment in the Tekken franchise. It was developed and published by Namco and was released in the arcade in 1997 before being ported to the PlayStation in 1998. The arcade version was released for the PlayStation 2 in 2005, and re-released on PlayStation Classic Mini in 2018. Although I have previously owned Tekken 3 on the PlayStation, I chose to review the PlayStation Classic Mini version.
15 years after Tekken 2, Heihachi Mishima has established a paramilitary defence force, known as Tekken Force, to protect his company. Upon searching an ancient temple, they unwittingly release an ancient demon known as Ogre. Ogre proceeds to travel the world killing martial artists. In order to lure Ogre into a trap, Heihachi organises a third Iron Fist tournament.
The game contains 21 characters (11 of which need to be unlocked by completing the game with different characters). Each character has their own unique back stories, endings and fighting styles. There were two characters only available on PlayStation: Dr. Boskonovitch and Gon.
The returning characters were:
Anna Williams – Younger sister of Nina Williams, she wa placed in suspended animation after the second Iron Fist Tournament. Before the third tournament she was reanimated. She follows Nina into the third tournament in a bid to help her regain her memory and to stop her from becoming an assassin again.
Heihachi Mishima – Head of Mishima Zaibatsu and grandfather of Jin Kazama, he arranges the third Iron Fist Tournament to lure Ogre into the open.
Lei Wulong – A respected detective, Lei has entered the tournament to investigate the disappearance of the martial artists masters.
Nina Williams – After failing to assassinate Kazuya Mishima in the last tournament, Nina was forced to become a test subject for cryogenic experiments. She has been reawakened by Ogre’s powers and plans to assassinate Jin Kazama.
Paul Phoenix – Frustrated by letting victory in the previous tournament slip from his grasp, he has renewed his training. He is determined not to let vistory escape him this time.
Yoshimitsu – Leader of the Manji Clan, Yoshimitsu and his clan act as a modern day Robin Hood. Upon learning his friend Dr. Bosconovitch needs Ogre’s blood to survive, he has entered the tournament to help the man who once saved him.
Bryan Fury – A cyborg kickboxer who plans to kidnap Dr. Bosconovitch for his creator Dr. Abel.
Dr. Bosconovitch – Elderly genius scientist and friend of Yoshimitsu’s. Currently imprisoned by the Mishima Zaibatsu.
Eddy Gordo – Eddy seeks to avenge his father who was killed by the “Organsiation”, and were also responsible for him being thrown in jail. By winning the Iron Fist Tournament, he hopes to take over the Mishima Financial Empire and use their resources against the “Organisation”.
Forest Law – Son of Marshal Law, he was persuaded to enter the Iron Fist Tournament by Paul Phoenix where he can prove himself to his father.
Gon – An unlockable fighting dinosaur.
Gun Jack – Third in the series of the Jack robots. He has been sent into the tournament to retrieve the memory data of Jack 2.
Hwoarang – Hwoarang has two motives for entering the Iron Fist Tournament. The first is to defeat Ogre who killed his mentor, Baek. The second, is to defeat Jin, who he had previously lost to in a fight.
Jin Kazama – Jin is Jun Kazama’s son. He was trained by his grandfather, Heihachi, and seeks to defeat Ogre in order to avenge the death of his mother.
Julia Chang – Adopted daughter of Michelle Chang. She has entered the tournament to rescue he mother who has been kidnapped by Mishima Zaibatsu.
King II – A protege of the original King, who was killed by Ogre, King II wishes to become a professional wrestler and take over his mentor’s orphanage.
Kuma II – Son of the original Kuma, he is Heihachi’s loyal bodyguard.
Ling Xiaoyu – Ling is a huge fan of amusement parks. She wishes to win the Iron Fist Tournament to raise enough money to build an amusement park in China.
Mokujin – A 2000 year old training dummy who has been brought to life by Ogre’s release.
Panda – Xiaoyu’s pet and bodyguard.
Tiger Jackson – A disco man with an afro. Basically, a palette swap of Eddy Gordo.
Ogre – The God of Fighting, he is a mysterious humanoid who is immortal.
True Ogre – Ogre’s true self.
Ok, let’s not beat around the bush. This game is awesome! There really is no disputing that statement. I remember when this game came out. I was blown away by the graphics. Although nowadays, it looks a little rough around the edges, I still think it looks great and, graphically, has held up.
The basics of the game are easy to learn. Advance, retreat, left punch, right punch, left kick, right kick, jump etc. However, this is a 3D game, so you are able to side step into the back and foreground. If you’re close enough to the opponent and perform a throw, your chareacter will perform different throws depending on which way your opponent is facing. During the fights, you are able to access the move manual which shows you how to perform a large array of moves, which is handy for beginners.
As well as the standard Arcade/Story Mode and Two Player Vs. Mode, there are several other modes which really add to the replay value of this game:
Team Battle Mode – Each team chooses four players in a winner stays on fight. The first defeat all characters in the other team wins.
Survival Mode – Choose a character to fight with and see how many fights you can win consecutively. You gain back a little bit of energy after each fight, but not much. You cannot change the difficulty setting, time limit or number of rounds. There is no option for Player 2 to join.
Time Attack Mode – Compete against the clock to complete all stages. Again, you cannot change the difficulty setting, time limit or number of rounds. You cannot change characters when continuing and Player 2 cannot join.
Tekken Force Mode – This beat ‘em up style mode sees you fight your way through several levels battling the Tekken Force. Although it was a nice idea, this mode falls a bit flat in practice. It’s a poor man’s side-scrolling beat ‘em up.
Practice Mode – Pretty self-explanatory.
Tekken Ball Mode – This is great fun. It’s beach volleyball, but using fighting moves to hit the ball. The stronger your attack, the more power the ball absorbs until it finally hits someone, dealing them a devastating blow, or until it hits the floor.
Theatre Mode – This mode allows you to re-watch all the FMV sequences that you have unlocked in the game.
You’ll have hours and even weeks of enjoyment out of this one. I’ll say it, this game is amazeballs! My favourite character to play with is Hwoarang. Some of his kick combinations are phenomenal, and I throroughly enjoy kicking my little brother’s butt with him.
Did I complete the game?
Yes, I unlocked all videos, modes and characters
What the critics said:
Allgame: “It’s loads of fun with quick and deep gameplay that’ll keep you, your friends, and most of the gamers in this genre busy for weeks and months on end. Overall 4.5/5“.
Computer and Video Games: “Fantastic! Own the arcade at home, plus a whole bunch of new features and characters. Overall 5/5”.
Edge Magazine:“Edge’s only – slight – reservation is that those who have played Tekken 2 to the point of exhausting all enthusiasm for the game may not find this new version initially appealing. Those prodigal sons should persevere, as even a short sequence of bouts will bring the reward of instant addiction. Make no mistake, the master has returned. Overall 9/10”.
Entertainment Weekly: “Building on its predecessors (both all-time PlayStation best-sellers), the latest version has crisper graphics and speedier martial-arts animation. Watch the characters sidestep, punch, and kick in their beautifully detailed costumes, and you’ll think you’re performing in a ballet choreographed by Jackie Chan. Overall A”.
Game Informer: “Tekken 3 is just plain awesome. Tekken 2 is still one of my favorite(sic) fighters, but 3 just puts it to shame. There are so many unique fighters like Lei, King, Gordo, and Hwoarang that can be played by anyone; but only a select few will be able to master their fighting styles. It is a shame though that the 1-player Arcade mode can still be beaten on Easy set at one round, but the Force Mode does make for some very interesting and entertaining 1-player fighting. Of course, 2-player mode is where Tekken 3 is at. Spend a night unlocking the characters and a lifetime battling it out with your friends. If you only buy one fighting game this year, make it Tekken 3. Overall 9.5/10”.
GamePro: “There’s no arguing that other games will try to topple Tekken 3, but that’s a tall order to fill. Trust us-Tekken 3 is the best fighting game ever. Overall 5/5“. 
Game Revolution: “All in all, Tekken 3 ranks as one of the best console fighting games ever…If you have a PlayStation, and you love fighting games, the decision to buy this game is a no-brainer. If you’re still dropping quarters in the arcade version, forget it, just get the home version. With everything that the arcade version has and more, this is one of the few times that a console game outshines its arcade counterpart. Overall 4.5/5”.
GameSpot:“Not much stands between Tekken 3 and a perfect 10 score. If the PlayStation exclusive characters were better and Force mode a bit more enthralling, it could have come closer to a perfect score. Needless to say, Tekken 3 is the best PlayStation game to come along in a long time, and this one won’t be topped anytime soon. Overall 9.9/10”.
IGN: “Tekken 3 on the PlayStation is the most well-rounded fighting package on the market. Not only does it provide an excellent fighting game, but the extra modes and practice features make it the benchmark for fighters to come. The only gripe that we’d have with it is that Namco’s set the bar so high that we shudder with anticipation and dread over what the designers’ll have to do to top this. Overall 9.3/10”.
Next Generation: “There is no better fighting game, on this system or any other. It’s clearly superior to the previous games in the series and a stunning value for Tekken aficionados. Overall 4.5/5”.
Best Fighting Game – 1998 Best of E3 Game Critics Awards
Fighting Game of the Year – 1998 Gamers’ Choice Awards
Best Fighting Game of the Year – Video Games Awards
“Great graphics (with the exception of a few shaky parts) and great gameplay, full of unique characters and storylines. There is plenty here to keep you coming back for more time and time again. The game has aged very well and still feels fresh.”