To be absolutely blunt, Rock & Roll Racing is like RC Pro-Am with some Heavy Metal & Hard Rock music, plus a psychotic announcer. To be fair, this isn’t totally a bad thing – RC Pro-Am is one of the best racing games of its period, with pretty solid controls, a game-play style that keeps you hooked, and decent racing, though the game had some problems with its learning curve.

Rock & Roll Racing basically fixes those learning curve problems and makes the gameplay a little more combat focused. You get more weapons for your car, and they automatically re-stock every lap. The majority of upgrades you can purchase between races are more ammunition capacity for your weapons, plus additional armor. (more…)

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Goof Troop Box Art

Goof Troop Box ArtCapcom’s 16-bit Disney licensed games are widely regarded as being among the best platformers in the 16-bit console generation. However, of the successful titles, like Mickey Mousecapade, that they released, lurking in their shadow was a little game called Goof Troop, which has remained fairly obscure to this day. The reasons for the title’s obscurity are two-fold.

  1. It was based on a show that was only broadcast on cable (Goof Troop aired only on the Disney Channel).
  2. While all the other Disney licensed games were platformers, Goof Troop was a top-down puzzle game. (more…)

Get Mighty FInal Fight from eBay.com

On multiple occasions, I’ve heard the expression mentioned that restrictions breed creativity. Sometimes that doesn’t hold true. My last Quality Control pick, Raging Fighter, was a great example of this. The game was a fighting game that just didn’t hold up well on what was essentially a 4-bit hand-held system. Such is the opposite with this Quality Control pick, Mighty Final Fight, from Capcom for the NES. Capcom was basically given the task of porting the SNES (and arcade) classic brawler Final Fight to an 8-bit platform. I would say that they succeeded admirably.

Now, to be fair, Final Fight wasn’t a particularly complex brawler – and the brawler genre in general doesn’t have as much complexity to it as fighting games do. That said, Capcom handled the port very well. As the game couldn’t support the same size of sprites that the original game used, characters are instead depicted in a “Super Deformed” style. To tie in with the change in art style, the story has been altered to something more comedic. This in turn really helps to differentiate this version of the game from the original and give it a sense of identity.

Similarly to the original game, Mayor Mike Haggar‘s daughter, Jessica has been kidnapped by the sinister leader of the Mad Gear Gang, who has gone absolutely gaga for her. Haggar, Jessica’s beau, Cody, and Cody’s friend and training partner, Guy (yes, Guy is in this game), must fight through all the members of the Mad Gear Gang before the wedding ceremony. The game only has a single player mode, instead of an alternating two-player mode like in Double Dragon. However, similarly to Double Dragon, only two enemies can be depicted on-screen at any one time, making crowd control a little simpler.

The game also borrows the sort of “leveling” system used by Double Dragon, among other similar games, of gaining experience points by defeating enemies, which in turn, in theory, unlocks additional moves. I say in theory because, really, you can only unlock one move, and that’s at level 4. Each fighter has a special move that can be unlocked, and is performed by hitting the attack button and a direction on the D-Pad. This move gets you a little extra XP if you defeat an enemy with it. However, by this point you really don’t need to level up any further and the move itself does less damage on average than your regular combo, and you gain no other benefits, like life bar increases or anything else). Power-ups are also moderately scarce, as are weapons (there’s one dropped weapon in the whole game, at the obligatory Elevator level).

All in all, this is a decent classic style brawler, and I would say that I like it better than the original Final Fight, blasphemy though that may be. I would recommend picking it up, if you can find a copy, either as the NES cart or in the GBA collection “Capcom Classics Mini-Mix”.

Raging Fighter Box ArtFor this review of Raging Fighter for the Game Boy, I have to admit that I didn’t get into the game as much as I’d like. By “get into the game” I don’t mean get interested in the game, as much as I mean make progress in the game.

For those unfamiliar with the title, and there probably are a lot of you, this game is a fighting game for the Game Boy, published by Konami. In the game you play one of several martial artists, who beat each other up in a martial arts tournament. I can’t really put a premise to this game, because, even though this game has a “Story Mode” on the menu, there’s no story to speak of in the game. The story mode can best be described as a 3-on-3 endurance match. You play as the three good guys, and your opponent has the three bad guys. You fight the bad guys, and as you beat one, your exact health amount you have at the end of that round carries over to the next round, where you fight the next member of their team. Now, if the fighting was good, that wouldn’t be too much of a problem. However, the fighting isn’t good.

Now, I’m a fan of fighting games. I’m not great at them, and I’ll certainly never be able to play them at the tournament level. Still, I enjoy them nonetheless. So, while I’m not necessarily capable of doing high level play, I’m not exactly a button masher, and I can usually figure out some sort of technique, even if I can’t work a character’s special moves. The problem is, even at its easiest difficulty, Raging Fighter isn’t particularly friendly. There are special moves, but it’s not clear how to use them, as there’s no move list in the game (which isn’t surprising), nor is there any sort of move list online, or even, for that matter, in the Nintendo Power article I discussed in the magazine’s last issue.

The character design is fairly generic. Aside from the token woman, and the token fat guy, everyone else pretty much looks like “generic character from Fist of the North Star“. It doesn’t help that the characters all seem to control the same – sluggishly and not very responsively. Except, of course, for the computer, which has no problem pulling off multiple slide kicks in a row or deftly jumping over the one projectile attack I was able to pull off (which, while it used the standard Fireball motion, was also sluggish enough that it shouldn’t have been difficult to jump over – unless, of course, you were the player).

If you see this, you're screwed.

It doesn’t help that there isn’t particularly any sort of concept of “interrupts” in this game. If you’re unfamiliar with fighting game theory, and “Interrupt” in the context of a fighting game it’s when your move interrupts their move animation. For example, in Mortal Kombat 1, the move animation for Raiden’s torpedo move could be interrupted by a carefully timed uppercut. There’s a lot more to this, related to character’s hitboxes and other things, but that’s a matter for a dedicated fighting game forum. The point of the matter is, though, you cannot interrupt opposing characters moves. In Street Fighter, you can break a hurricane kick attack with a dragon punch, a fireball, or even just a well-timed regular attack, if you know what you’re doing. In Raging Fighter, all you can do is turtle.

Other than this, if you find someone else who has this game, and you still have your Game Boy system Link Cable, you could, in theory, get in a two-player match. There’s also a single player tournament mode, and by tournament mode I mean it’s a ladder ala Mortal Kombat. However, I made very little progress there as well, and I really didn’t find it very interesting.

Ultimately, I cannot consider this game as being worth the hype. If you’re looking for a fighting game, there are better fighting games available for current or even earlier gen handheld systems. And, to be absolutely honest, did you seriously think a two-button fighting game could turn out well?

Box art for Tiny Toon Adventures - Buster Busts Loose
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With my last Nintendo Power Recap, I picked Tiny Toon Adventures: Buster Busts Loose for my next Quality Control pick. This was in part because I was a fan of the Tiny Toon Adventures TV series, and partially because I kind of liked the last Looney Tunes game I played, Death Valley Rally.  So, we’ll see how well this game holds up. (more…)

For this game I played through the first level.

The Premise

In the future, Earth is torn by a massive global war over limited natural resources. Jake Brain is a mecha pilot for the United Pacific States Marine Corps, and together with the crew of the Mech Carrier Versis, they do battle with the forces of the evil Axis for the safety of Earth. (more…)

I’m sorry, but I have to admit that I wasn’t able to get past the first level of this one. The game sends a never-ending string of enemies at you in the first level, and I wasn’t particularly able to figure out a pattern for the first boss, so I wasn’t able to get past it – at least not within my self assigned deadline. This is not a game I would have been happy to spend money on. Pass on this game unless you don’t have any problems regularly running into a brick wall.

No, seriously – if you’re looking for a run-and-gun (as that’s all this game really is), hunt down a SNK or Metal Slug collection instead. If you want a Star Wars game, pick up one of the Jedi Knight games, or Republic Commando, or Knights of the Old Republic. There are much better Star Wars games out there.

Box art for Axelay
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When it comes to reviewing the also-rans in Nintendo Power, the reasons for picking that game as a Quality Control title are different from the reasons why I’d pick a game that was featured prominently in the magazine (say, with a guide). With the games that get a guide, I’m looking for a game that’s generally not a classic, and attempting to see if it was worth the consumer’s time. The assumption behind this is that the customer is more likely to buy a game that gets a guide over one that doesn’t. When I’m picking an also-ran, I’m looking for a game that the consumer would likely overlook because of the lack of a guide, but would be worth picking up. A diamond in the rough, if you will. (more…)

Soul Blazer US Box art
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When I was recapping issues of Nintendo Power prior to the release of the SNES, I did a Quality Control review of Willow for the NES, a game which took the action RPG elements of the Legend of Zelda, and combined them with a level & EXP system, like the Y’s games. I thought it was pretty decent. Now that Nintendo Power has brought us to the 16-bit generation, and presented a 16-bit Zelda-alike, I figure it’s time to revisit the genre to see how it’s progressed in this generation. (more…)

Box Art for Casino Kid 2
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Normally, for my Quality Control picks, I don’t like to pick sequels to stuff I haven’t played. For Casino Kid 2, I decided to make an exception, as from a storyline standpoint, I’m not missing anything. Plus, as I’ve been playing a few Texas Hold ‘Em Poker games, recently, so I’d like to see what a NES gambling game is like.

The Premise:

Casino Kid, the protagonist of the last game, has beaten all the best gamblers in the United States. However, the world remains. Now he must travel the globe, beating some of the best gamblers on Earth at the Roulette wheel, at Blackjack, and at Poker, before facing the King of Gambling at all three games. (more…)

The Title Screen for Arcana on the SNES
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The problem with picking RPGs for Quality Control picks is I often don’t have the time I need to give it the consideration it deserves. Normally, when I’m reviewing a platformer or some other, more traditional game, I’m able to beat the game in an emulator in a day – or at least get far enough in the game that I can get a pretty good feel for the game. Not so with most RPGs – so I basically had to play this game over a weekend (though you can’t tell, because I wrote this in advance). (more…)

The Japanese box art for Xardion
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So, for this week’s Quality Control pick, I chose a mecha action game that had caught my eye earlier in my magazine recaps. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get past the second level, even with the use of save states. This isn’t due to difficulty, precisely, as much as it related to an obstacle in the level that I was supposed to destroy to progress, but the obstacle wouldn’t be destroyed, no matter how much I hit it. So, I really wasn’t able to progress enough in the game to give my opinion of it. Some other people were able to get past this, though, so I know it can be done.

That said, because of my lack of progress, I’m going to withhold judgment on this game for now. What I will do is give my concerns about what I’ve played so far. The game has 3 mechs you can play as. One is a Gundam style humanoid mech, one is more insectoid, and another is shaped like a panther. The panther has machine guns in the shoulders, and the insect has a short-ranged sonic wave attack it can do by whipping its antenna. Of those three types of unit you can pilot, only the humanoid one can attack in a different direction – it can attack straight up. However, the other ones have the advantages that they’re lower to the ground. (more…)

Get Thrilla's Surfari from eBay

There are certain games which lend themselves very well to speed runs, and videos thereof.  For some of them, it’s because the game’s a non-linear game like Metroid, where the player has multiple ways in which they can jump ahead of the path and find various hidden items in the game. For other games, because of their visual style and speed of the game, they just fit in perfectly with this type of video–the classic example being Sonic the Hedgehog. When I saw the maps of Town & Country 2: Thrilla’s Surfari, this seemed like a perfect fit for the latter category, which is why I picked it.

Maybe I should have picked something else. (more…)

Box Art for Star Wrars: The Empire Strikes Back for the NES
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I previously reviewed the JVC Star Wars game that was made for the NES before the SNES came out. It wasn’t a good game. I’ll be honest–it was a very bad game. The shooting controls were bad, and some of the enemies were cheap as hell. However, now we have a game based on the second installment of the trilogy, and now I’m going to see what improvements they’ve made from the prior installment of the series. Now, I wasn’t able to beat the game, but I made it through far enough to get a fair cop about what the game would be like.

The Premise

If you don’t know the premise to The Empire Strikes back, go to your local library, video store, to Netflix, or even to YouTube. I’ll wait.

You’re back? Good. Okay, the game follows that plot, though it focuses entirely on Luke and pads things out a bit, but not by too much.

The Good

We don’t get any enemies which are as on-nigh impossible to beat as the Bounty Hunters were in part 2, at least in the portion I made it through thus far. Additionally, they’ve re-balanced weapon damage some, where most regular enemies go down with one shot from a blaster, a few tougher enemies (like mini-probe droids) take multiple shots, and for bosses they’re essentially a pew-pew gun. However, Light-Sabers can take down the tougher enemies in a couple hits, and they’re more productive for bosses. (more…)

The Box Art for Legend of the Mystical Ninja
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The Legend of the Mystical Ninja series is a game series I’ve heard a fair amount about in the past. I’ve heard that it’s a good game series, and I’ve heard it’s got a tongue in cheek atmosphere. Despite all this, I’ve never taken the time to try any of the games in the series. Maybe it’s because many of the more lighthearted 16-bit games I’ve played haven’t been that good. Maybe it’s because of a certain degree of cognitive dissonance – for me the definitive ninja game series is the Ninja Gaiden series, and that definitely takes itself seriously. So, this last issue of Nintendo Power finally got me to knuckle down and try out the first Legend of the Mystical Ninja game. (more…)

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you’ll probably have figured out that I like racing games. They’re one of my favorite genres of video games, alongside RPGs, wrestling games, shumps, and shooters. For those counting – that’s my top 5 right there. So, after having refrained from picking other racing games (including F-Zero) for my Quality Control picks, I decided to pick a racing game. The game in this case is Super Off Road.

The Premise

Drive a race car around a track, be in the top 3 to advance to the next track. In between races you can upgrade your car’s top speed, acceleration, shocks, tires, and top speed, as well as buying Nitro boosts, all using the prize money you earn from winning races (more…)

The Box art for Ninja Gaiden Shadow, courtacy of Wikipedia.Ninja Gaiden is one of those series that hold a special place in my heart. It’s a game series, like Castlevania, that is known for it’s steep learning curve, that I can’t beat without using save states, and that I love anyway. Ninja Gaiden Shadow, isn’t exactly in that series. It was originally released in Japan as a port of the NES game Shadow of the Ninja, but Tecmo liked it so much, they bough the game. Well, now it’s time to find out if it was worth their money, and yours.

The Premise

Ryu Hayabusa is a young man. His father is still alive and is still in possession of the Dragon Sword.  As Ryu trains in New York, he learns of a sinister plot by Emperor Garuda to take over the city for his lord, Jaquio. Ryu goes forth to save the city and the world. (more…)

UN Squadron Box art
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By the time you read this, I will have a copy of Final Fantasy XIII in my hands. So, since I don’t want to do a game for Quality Control that would take time that I could otherwise spend studying or playing Final Fantasy XIII, I’m picking UN Squadron for my Quality Control. Additionally, since this game is based on an anime and manga series (Area 88), I’m also going to do a review of the first OVA series (presumably the one that came out contemporary with the game). That review will, of course, come out later. First, though, we scramble for the review. (See what I did there? Fighter pilot joke). (more…)

When I was a kid, I picked up a used copy of Ghouls & Ghosts for the NES. I picked it up after hearing Adam Sessler, a game critic I respect immensely, gush about the game on Extended Play (which might have still been “GameSpot TV” at the time). I played it, found it frustratingly hard, and turned it in. When I came to the last issue of Nintendo Power which I did a Where I Read for (Issue #29), I decided now, with the aid of emulation, to give the 16-bit version of Ghouls & Ghosts another try. This way I’d actually stand a chance of beating a level and would be able to pass some sort of judgement about the game.

The Premise:

You are Arthur – King of the Britons. Queen Guinevere has been kidnapped by demons, and you must travel across the land trying to rescue her. (more…)

Star Wars Box ArtWell, I tried to beat this game. I couldn’t. This game is very hard. That said, I made it through Tatooine, with the help of the map in Nintendo Power, and I made it through the asteroid sequence through what I guess is dumb luck. However, after arriving on the Death Star, I ran into a brick wall. Well, not literally, but figuratively. I couldn’t find where to go next. That said, I do feel that I experienced most of the pieces of the game experience, at least enough so that I feel comfortable rating the game. So, let’s get started

The Premise:

A long time ago, in a galaxy far away… oh you know the whole plot already. Seriously, the game sticks fairly close to the basic plot points, though it embellishes on them to bring the game to a length that would be acceptable for a commercial release. (more…)

Darkman Box ArtDarkman is, by far, my favorite Sam Raimi film. I like it more than his Spider-Man films. I like it more than Army of Darkness. In my mind it is one of the best masked avenger films, and one of the best superhero films. Everything about it is excellent, from the direction, to Liam Neeson’s performance. It’s just excellent. So, when I found out about this game in Nintendo Power, I wanted to give it a try. Yes, it’s a movie licenced game from Ocean, but it can’t be all bad, can it?

The Premise:

Peyton Westlake is a scientist working on a synthetic skin formula for burn victims. When Robert Durant, crime boss, burns down his lab and leaves him for dead, horrifically burned and scarred, Westlake swears vengeance, and takes his imperfect formula (which only lasts for 99 minutes when exposed to direct sunlight), and uses it to take apart Durant’s gang, piece by piece. (more…)