Gun Frontier is a Taito shooter from 1990, which is mostly known to the shooter community as the basis for numerous Shinobu Yagawa games, like Battle Garegga, Battle Bakraid and Armed Police Batrider (for Raizing), and Ibara, Pink Sweets and Muchi Muchi Pork (for Cave). Of course, it also predates the days of bullet hell shooters, so its pacing is much slower, and anyone who wants to find a game just like Yagawa's more modern titles may be disappointed. I still like it though, and with a bit of research, I dug up the explanation as for why Metal Black, a game that otherwise seems totally unrelated, is called "Project Gun Frontier 2".
Other articles this update include: Genjuu Ryodan, a download-only Super Famicom strategy RPG similar to Advance Wars and Military Madness, designed by the folks behind Metal Max; OFF, a cult favoriteRPG Maker game that originated in French but has been translated into English, with some incredible strange outwork and a trippy soundtrack; Ali Baba and the 40 Thieves, an early arcade effort distributed by Sega, is a maze-type game similar to Pac-Man; Spatter, a fun cutesy Sega game featuring a weird little kid on a tricycle (who seems to be the inspiration from the Chaos from Sonic Adventure, though I can't find any solid evidence), which was also developed by the same guy as Flicky and Fantasy Zone; and Chrono Soldier, another early run-and-gun from Sega, not to be confused with ADK's Time Warriors, which was vaguely popularized on the Master System.
In our forum thread for last update's Mickey Mania article, we spent a bit of time discussing how 8/16-bit European developed platformers had elements which very clearly gave away their origins, and, on a broad level, just weren't as good as many Japanese developed ones. To counter that, Derboo wrote up an article on Lionheart, a forgotten Amiga classic that has the virtue of that gorgeous bright European style while still being an excellent game in its own right.
In general, we have a fascination with American or European games that get ported to Japanese platforms to see how they handle it. Law of the West originated on the Commodore 64 and Apple II, but also ended up on the Famicom and PC88, with some minor changes in the former's case to accomodate the console audience. The game itself is interesting because it might very well be the first instance of dialogue trees, even though it's not explicitly an adventure game or an RPG, but rather, more of a broad "sheriff simulator". I also posted the article for Murder on the Mississippi, which again originated on the Commodore 64 and Apple II platforms, but was ported to the Famicom and MSX2 courtesy of Jaleco, probably to capitalize on the murder mystery crazy due to the success of Yuji Horii's Portopia Renzoku Satsujin Jiken. In both of these cases, the Nintendo versions were not re-released out of Japan, making them weird little exclusives. I'd like to run a feature on more of these, someday!
We're rounding out these with an article on Trog, a single screen action game from Midway that uses claymation, and is generally like a more violent version of Pac-Man. It's probably most remembered for being featured prominently in the arcade scene in Terminator 2. The Secret Files article has also been updated to include a review of the third game in the popular German adventure game series, though unfortunately it seems to be pretty terrible.
The iOS Shooter article has been updated with more arena shooters, most of them taking after Asteroids in some way. The most interesting (or bizarre) of these is Facetroids, which makes enemies out of pictures from your Facebook account. And episode 23 of Game Club 199X discusses Sweet Home, Capcom's ur-survival horror game for the Famicom, which was also based on a movie from around the same time.
Finally, the HG101 Guide to Classic Graphic Adventures is featured as part of the Video Game StoryBundle, which includes eight quality video game related books and zines packed together for a low price. You can pay $3 or more to get our book plus Dreamcast Worlds by Zoya Street, Kill Screen Issues 1 and 7, Blue Wizard Is About To Die by Seth Barkan (a lovably goofy poetry book) and Vaporware by Richard Dansky. Pay $10 or more and get Rise of the Videogame Zinesters by Anna Anthropy, A Slow Year
by Ian Bogost, and Replay: The History of Video Games by Tristan Donovan. It's a great selection of stuff for a low price, so please do check it out!
There's quite a large variety articles for this update as we make our way through the posting back log. Grand Master is a Famicom action-RPG that takes some inspiration from the Zelda series, though it has plenty of neat gimmicks of its own, like branching story paths depending on which order you complete the levels. Mickey Mania is a conceptual prototype of the Epic Mickey games for the 16-bit/32-bit days, as it's a side-scrolling platformer whose levels take inspiration from classic Disney cartoons. It's not QUITE up to the level of Sega's Illusion series or Capcom's Magical Castle series, sadly, but it sure does look nice.
Other articles include Shark Attack, one of the first arcade games to feature voice acting (though like the Journey arcade game, it was played by a cassette in the cabinet, rather than through digitization); Special Force 2: Tale of the Truthful Pledge, a first person shooter bankrolled by the Hezbollah, the Islamist political party that opposes Israel and is filled with militant propaganda; Calorie-Kun vs. Moguranian, an early Sega arcade game developed by Vic Tokai, which is a maze game that looks similar to Dig Dug and Mr. Do; Robo Wres 2001, a robotic wrestling game from Sega/Sanritsu; and Palette, (also known as Forget Me Not: Palette), which was born from the same RPG Maker mold as Yume Nikki and Corpse Party, and is a largely monochromatic trip through a young girl's disturbed psyche.
As far as regular columns, Episode 22 of Game Club 199X discusses Bit Blot's 2007 masterpiece, Aquaria, and indie games in general. iOS Shooters: Arena Shooters Pt. 4 covers Warp Fighter, Air Combat, Aero Masters, AstroPhobia! and Coloroids. And 500 Word Indies covers Parameters, a greatly reductive simulation that satirically exposes the tedium of classic JRPGs.
Finally, please make sure to check out the Kickstarter for Wrestling With Pixels: The World Tour Of Wrestling Games, a project to document wrestling video games, including numerous interviews with developers. This project is being run by Audun Sorlie, who wrote the Aki Wrestling article, as well as Tecmo World Wrestling piece. He definitely knows his stuff, especially as far as classic era games are concerned, so do check it out!
Double finally, also check out a cool project going on at Sega Masters, a blog that, like Chrontendo and Chronsega, seeks to go through the entire Sega Master System library in chronological order of release. Right now they're up to Ghost House (a title I'm rather fond of, so there's still quite a bit left to go, but it's a good start!
Ordyne is game I should love. It's essentially a Gradius clone from Namco, with a cartoony makeover. But it's not QUITE as cartoony as Parodius, so it's not quite as funny, and the power-up system, which is stolen from Fantasy Zone, just doesn't work well enough. It's still okay though, and the music is very good. Guerrilla War is an offshoot of the Ikari Warriors series (kind of), a Commando-type run and gun from SNK. It's mostly infamous for its Japanese release, entitled Guevara, where the player controlled Che Guevara and Fidel Castro. Seeing as how US-Cuba relations have never been the best, this scenario and title was changed for the overseas release, though nothing else was altered. Aselia the Eternal: At the End of This Earth is one of the few non-ero games from JAST USA, a combination of a visual novel and a strategy RPG.
Völgarr the Viking is one of the more recent retro-style indie games for the PC. After a successful Kickstarter campaign last year, this 16-bit arcade-inspired game was released on PCs last month. It's incredibly difficult, in no small part to the sparse checkpoints, but it's very deliberately and fairly designed. And Blast Wind is one of the last shooters from Technosoft, and like Hyper Duel and Shinrei Jusatsushi Taroumaru, this is another Saturn rarity. It also has some unique history - it appears to be a retooled version of an unreleased arcade game called Inazuma Saber.
The latest 500 Word Indies covers Cogs, an interesting puzzle game where you build awesome machines that mostly consist of cogwheels. iOS Shooters: Arena Shooters Pt. 2 & 3 covers ten games: A.C.E.: Air Combat Elite, Asteroid Dust, Retro Dust, AstroZapper, Aerolite, Cataica, roids79, SpaceFight, AstroRaider, and Realms. And the Best of PC Engine / Mega CD Music: Pt. 5 features music from Ys III, Galaxy Fraulein Yuna and Stellar Fire / Stellar 7: Draxon's Revenge.
Sorry for the delay, I was out of the country on vacation, but hopefully we'll be back to weekly(ish) updates after this one!
Scramble Spirits is a fairly typical overhead shooter from Sega, mostly designed to show off the high resolution of the Sega System 24 board, which also ran Gain Ground and Bonanza Bros.. Pig Newton is another early Sega title from their cooperation with Gremlin, which has a rather clever name. Most of us know Namco's Time Crisis series as one of the most popular light gun shooter games ever made, but before that they put out Steel Gunner, using entirely 2D sprites, and looking rather impressive for the early 90s. And moving away from arcade games, Primordia is the most recent publication from Wadjet Eye Games, an indie point-and-click with incredible lore and atmosphere.
We've updated two older articles - first off, Samurai Shodown has been revamped. Since we initially published the article six years ago, there's been some progress with Hyper Neo Geo 64 emulation, though it's still not perfect, so at least we could grab some nicer (albeit glitchy) screenshots from those two games, which to this day remain sadly unported. We also included a review of the most recent game, Samurai Shodown Sen, which was ported to the Xbox 360, and is generally regarded to not be very good, though the review gives a more positive look at the title. There are also some new screenshots of the Nakoruru Dreamcast game, amongst other improvements. The Amnesia article, covering the creepy underground first person horror games, has also been updated to include a review of the latest entry, A Machine for Pigs.
And finally, in celebration of Columbus Day, please remember to check out our own adventure game work-in-progress Christopher Columbus is an Idiot, to see if you can figure out how to scam Queen Isabella of Spain, round up the three famous ships, and escape to the New World!
This update, we have a look at Taito's confusingly named Ray~ series of shooters. The first game has FOUR different names: RayForce (Japanese arcade release), Gunlock (European, I think, arcade release), Galactic Attack (American Saturn release) and Layer Section (Japanese Saturn release). The assorted "ray" titles don't make them easier to keep track of either - the second one is RayStorm and the third is RayCrisis. The first one, whichever name you want to call it, is fantastic. It's definitely one of the star shooters on the system, and is pretty cheap too, compared to all of the other pricey ones on the system.
Next up: Denjin Makai and its sequel Guardians, two supremely excellent beat-em-ups. I think most people look at either the Capcom beat-em-ups like Alien vs. Predator or Streets of Rage as being the best examples of the genre, and they're definitely high class, but I think Guardians here might actually be the best, on sheer content alone. Eight characters, branching routes, an astonishing amount of detail which compares to the likes of Konami and Capcom, an outstanding combo system and tight mechanics, all produced by an obscure studio named Winky Soft.
And finally, we have Mr. Mosquito, a weird little PS2 game series where you play as a mosquito, pestering a family. The first one was released worldwide under Eidos' short lived Fresh Games label, which sought to publish niche titles, though sadly inflicted with ugly yellow covers. Sadly, the second game stayed only in Japan.
Cowboy Kid is one of those late-generation NES games that barely got any distribution, and as such, is a little pricey to get a hold of on the secondary market. Seriously, I never saw any reviews at the time, and even after years upon years of retro game prowling, never happened upon it once. Anyway, conspiracy theory time - I have no proof of this, but this game almost feels like Konami was trying to make an Americanized version of Ganbare Goemon 2, but was cancelled, and covertly shipped off to another publisher. It just rips it off so closely, and it's such an odd game to make a clone of.
For oddball Sega stuff for this update: In the comic book scene, there's continual growsing that all kinds of superheroes have gotten movies, yet Wonder Woman has been continually neglected. The same thing happened in the realm of video games...with the (kind of) exception of Flashgal. We say "kind of" because it's not an officially licensed Wonder Woman game, but the protagonist is so closely modeled after her that she may as well be. Additionally, a few months back we covered an arcade game called Bullet, a three player run-and-gun that was suspicious similar to Capcom's Mercs, despite predating it by some time. A few years later, they put out a game called Desert Breaker, which patterns itself after Mercs so closely it's almost uncomfortable. Still, if you're going to steal, might as well steal from the best, and it's actually a fairly decent game.
For everyone's that missed the Weekly Kusoge column, we bring you a thrashing of Pyongyang Racer, the browser-based racing "game" that's meant to, somehow, promote tourism to the North Korean capital. And we reach deep back into the realm of the mid-90s shareware scene to dig out Thor's Hammer Trilogy, a very early first person shooter with a fantasy theme. It's...well, it's not Hexen, which is putting it lightly. And the iOS shooter column now covers arena based shooters, including MiniSquadron, Space Miner Blast, Space Junk and XPilot.
As sort of a follow-up to the Leisure Suit Larry update from last week, we've revamped the Shadowrun article to include a new review of the Kickstartered sequel, Shadowrun Returns, which draws heavily from the SNES cult classic rendition of role playing game. It also includes a review of the 2007 first person shooter, which was a fairly decent game, just one that no one in particular wanted.
Gotcha Force is one of the handful of Gamecube exclusive titles by Capcom. It's essentially a kiddie version of Virtual On, a 3D one-on-one robot fighting game, and one that's a lot of fun, in spite of its seemingly juvenile demeanor. Altered Destiny is another Accolade adventure game, essentially the more serious companion game to the Les Manley series posted in last update. It's a huge ripoff of Sierra games, and it's incredibly frustrating in parts, but I've a certain weakness for the sort of low-color, low-resolution artwork that late 80s/early 90s computer games used.
Hourai Gakuen no Bouken! (Adventures of Hourai High School) is a Super Famicom RPG that was fan-translated awhile back. Though an average game in its own right, with glitchy gameplay and a near total lack of balance, it has an incredibly goofy sense of humor that makes it worth checking out. Radix: Beyond the Void hails from the era of Doom clones, though in this first person shooter, you take control of a jet fighter rather than a human. It seems to be mistaken for Descent, but it's a much faster paced, more action-y take on the formula. Totally Rad is a 8-bit NES platformer which capitalized on early 90s jargon, and still manages to be a decent Mega Man-type game.
The latest 500 Word Indies covers Droidscape: Basilica, an innovative iOS action-puzzle game where you trace routes through mazes and control a stop motion animated bipedal robot through a series of traps. Game Club 199X Episode 21 discusses Master of Orion, Microprose's PC outer space strategy sim. And the Best of PC Engine / Mega CD Music column features Annet Futatabi, The Terminator, and Ai Choaniki.
We're heading this update with a revamp of the Leisure Suit Larry article. Why? First off, we've added a review of the recent remake, Leisure Suit Larry Reloaded. Second, one of our readers, Starscream, discovered that Softporn Adventure, the text adventure that has inspired the Larry games, was actually ported to Japanese computers, renamed Las Vegas, and given completely new graphics. This article has several comparison shots between these four version: Las Vegas, the EGA Larry 1, the VGA Larry 1, and the HD Larry Reloaded. Additionally, since we dug out Leisure Suit Larry, I decided to post the review for the two Les Manley games, which were fairly shameless Larry ripoffs from Accolade.
Spot, the 7up mascot, was a star of a number of games back in the 90s. While he was first tacked onto a puzzle game, he later game into his own with the fairly decent platformer Cool Spot, which was followed up by the isometric scroller Spot Goes to Hollywood. Yatagarasu is a doujin 3D fighting game developed by some SNK vets, which was recently revealed to be ported to the Vita at some time in the future. X-Multiply is a freaky shooter from Irem, where you fly a miniaturized ship into an infested human body, and has close ties to the R-Type series. Spinmaster and Dashin Desperadoes are a pair of platformers developed by Data East starring two cowboys; the former is a decent action game for the Neo Geo, while the later is a unique split-screen on-foot racing game for the Genesis. And the latest iOS Shooter article covers Astro Bang, Occurro!, geoFighter: Light Wars, Arodius (one of the few such shooters that takes a note out of Otomedius and stacks it with scantily clad women), and Shape Shooter.
The advent of the CD-ROM was a time of huge experimentation, with all sorts of crazy ideas coming to life in the form of video games. Naturally, there were a ton of these types of games released for the PlayStation, though most of the more bizarre ones never left Japan. Titus' Incredible Crisis is one of the few that managed to be localized, which is a series of minigames revolving a normal Japanese family and the madcap situations they'd find themselves in. For the $20 retail price, it was certainly worth it for the novelty, at least. Meanwhile, Gaball Screen is an example of many of the games passed over for localization, which in this case definitely makes sense. It was the tie-in product with a Japanese pop music producer, though the game itself, wherein you control a floating shoe through a series of totally random environments, is conceptually closer to the cult classic LSD.
On the Sega classic side of things, we have three more games: Enduro Racer, Yu Suzuki's follow-up to Hang-On, which is essentially a similar game but with dirt bikes; Legend, a weird little side-scroller whose generic name betrays its rather unique concept; and Zunzunkyou no Yabou, which is one of the more bizarre takes on a Space Invaders-type game.
In other articles, Dungeon Hack is a first person SSI dungeon crawler, which combines Eye of the Beholder with elements of Rogue. Fast Freddie is an early arcade title by Kaneko, and is one of the very few titles focused on hang gliding. And Gunman Clive is one of the few side-scrolling action platformers made solely for mobile platformers that actually turned out to be fairly decent, with a cool sketchy graphical style melded with Megaman-style gameplay.
Finally, the Tracing the Influence, one of the most popular features on our site, has been updated with even more comparison pictures of video game artwork ripped off from other sources, thanks larger to the folks in the forums.
Otogi was one of the small handful of Japanese developed Xbox games that turned out to be really, really good. Though published by Sega overseas (who, not coincidentally, also developed some of the best Japanese developed Xbox games), it was actually a product of From Software, those guys with new found popularity thanks to Dark/Demons Souls. They're a duology of action games focused on Japanese mythical beings, and they're quite pretty. Sadly, neither are backwards compatible on the 360, which means you'll need to lug that monstrosity out to your TV to give it a go, though the games themselves can be found quite cheaply.
As for as racing games go, I think everyone really remembers Pole Position as being the first really early arcade game in the genre. Yet Sega's Turbo actually predates it by roughly a year, and is a better game too. Boing! Docomodake is a puzzle platformer for the DS, starring a bunch of mushrooms, which are actually mascots for the Japanese mobile carrier NTT DoCoMo. And Dragon Breed is an outstanding shooter from Irem, which evolves some themes from R-Type with a high fantasy setting. It drives me nuts that there are several home ports for the relatively mediocre Image Fighter, yet the only home conversions Dragon Breed got were a few fairly okay European computer ports.
The latest PC Engine / Mega CD Music column has been updated to include tracks from After Burner III, Flashback, and Android Assault / Bari-Arm. Episode 20 of Game Club 199x discusses Looking Glass' oft-forgotten quasi-mech action game Terra Nova. And the fifth iOS Shooter Twin-Stick entry reviews Super Cyclone, 2079 Tilt!, Star Blitz, Alien Space and Alien Space Retro.
Battle Realms is one of the many real-time strategy games that were released around the early 2000s. While never quite reaching the popularity of Starcraft and Command and Conquer, it nonetheless commanded quite a bit of respect at the time of its release, and has aged quite well. Also included is an interview with the developer, Ed Del Castillo, who talks about his background working on early RTS titles, as well as his upcoming Kickstarter to revive the Battle Realms brand.
Rudra no Hihou is one of those Square RPGs from the Super Famicom era, that, like Bahamut Lagoon, no one ever really talks about it. A fan translation was released a few years back though, which in turn has made it possible for English speakers to decipher its rather unique spellcrafting system. The game was helmed by the infamous Akitoshi Kawazu, so in many ways it's sort of a SaGa spinoff, just for its unique structure and crazy systems.
Lots more older Sega articles are up now, including Running Battle, one of those Japanese-developed SMS games that was only released in PAL territories; Sindbad Mystery, a maze chase game with an Arabian theme; Twin Squash, a competitive brick-breaker game in the vein of Arkanoid; Astro Blaster, another Space Invaders/Galaxian-type game; Appoooh, a wrestling game; Kaos, which is actually kinda similar to Donkey Kong despite predating it a bit; the unpronounceable Zzyzzyxx, which is sort of like Frogger in reverse; and Borench, a puzzle game seemingly inspired by Marble Madness.
The twin stick section of the iOS Shooter article has been updated to include Vertex Blaster, sort of similar to Super Stardust HD, taking place on a small globe; Asteroids GUNNER, technically a tie-in with the classic game of the same name though straying far from its roots; Violent Storm and Glow Shooter, two relatively straightforward Geometry Wars clones; and Red Storm Survival, a cutdown version of the online Flash game.
Our spotlight article is on Mother / Earthbound, an article which was only posted a month or two ago, but since Nintendo decided to plop it on the Wii U Virtual Console without warning, we figured it'd be a good idea to highlight the game again.
Finally, I've created an Adventure Game Studio page for Christopher Columbus is an Idiot. If you get the time, please rate or make a comment on it, which will help get more people to give it a shot. Many thanks!!
About a year ago, I revealed that I had been working on an adventure game called Christopher Columbus is an Idiot. Unfortunately I had to put development on hold for a bit to work on assorted other projects (the Sega Arcade Classics book, my house, etc.) But since I had a decent chunk of the game completed, and I found someone to provide some snazzy background music (thanks Edward LaBarbara!), I've decided to release it out to the public for free, where it will surely do more good than sitting on my hard drive. Like most of these sort of games, it's obviously inspired by Monkey Island and other assorted LucasArts and Sierra games, but it's got a sense of humor all its own, and the focus is more on comedy than frustration...at least, I hope. Anyway, this is the first act of the game (of four planned), and I hope to someday put up a Kickstarter to fund the rest (and some proper non-MS Paint graphics), but in the meantime, do enjoy, and please leave some feedback on the forum thread.
We also have two interviews with some classic game music composers - Toshiaki Sakoda, who did the soundtracks to Devil's Crush and MUSHA, two of the most rockin' heavy metal soundtracks of the 16-bit era, and Shinichi Sakamoto, who worked on most of Westone's titles, including Wonder Boy III: The Dragon's Trap.
The Ys article has been revamped with an incredible amount of pictures, including comparison screenshots of the shopkeepers from the first two games, info about some of the more obscure mobile ports, and many other additions, to prepare us for the release of Memories of Celceta, due out in English for the PS Vita this fall.
Other articles this update include Opoona, Koei/ArtePiazza's weird and wacky RPG for the Wii; Action Fighter, Sega's attempt at a Spy Hunter-clone; 4D Warriors, Sega/Coreland's shooter with a uniquely non-linear structure; Thunder Ceptor, an early 3D game from Namco, the type that used sprite scaling, similar to Sega's many classics; Wings of Wor (AKA Gyoung), the vaguely disturbing Genesis shooter that paved the way for the Cho Aniki games; and Bullet, an overhead run-and-gun, and another one of those derivative-but-still-kinda-cool obscure arcade titles from Sega.
Psikyo was known for a number of shooters, but their tentpole series was probably Gunbird, which merged the mechanical designs of the Strikers 1945 series with some cute-em-up aesthetics. Like most titles from the company, neither are particularly spectacular, but they're both decent enough in their own right.
We also have two Sega games which are fairly obvious clones of other arcades games: Sunsoft's Bay Route, which is shockingly close to a Contra game; and Westone's Riot City (also known as Crest of Wolf and Riot Zone for its Turbografx-16 CD ports), which almost practically steals characters and scenarios from Final Fight, much less its gameplay.
We also have a review of the controversial ET: The Extra Terrestrial for the Atari 2600. It's commonly regarded as one of the worst games ever, which is kind of exaggerated due to the title shouldering some of the blame for the console gaming crash of the mid-80s. While it's definitely a rushed, overtly convoluted game, there's still some interesting stuff about it, which this article helps elucidate.
The latest Game Club 199X episode shakes up retro gaming conventions and covers Madden NFL '95. While sports games are often disregarded amongst retro gamers, it's easy to forget that the Madden series on the 16-bit consoles are remarkably solid, and still hold up today, in spite of not being as "realistic" as modern titles. And the second edition of the PC Engine / Sega CD music column features tracks from Monster Lair, Last Armageddon and Cotton. And the 500 Word Indies column covers Crayon Physics Deluxe, a puzzle game with a delightful art style.
This update is headlined by two series we get all mushy over. The first is Mother / Earthbound, Nintendo's famous RPG, which is simultanouesly goofy, heartfelt, adorable, and subversive. I flip through old video game magazines often, and it's interesting to hear how reviews (and the audience) had mostly written off the game due to bad, childish graphics, but fast forward ten years and the internet has done a much better job in letting the game audience know of how great it is. This article examines the life of Shigesato Itoi, the writer of the series, who has something of an interesting career in Japan, as well as in-depth look at the highs and lows of all three games.
Sega's NiGHTS...Into Dreams is one of my favorite video games ever, yet I've found it hard to write about - this article's been kicking around on my hard drive in various forms for at least five years. This is mostly because this game is a hugely emotional experience, something which I'm bad at conveying, especially since writing about video games on a site like this is mostly about mechanics, history, and trivia. But I tried! It's the sort of game I wish I could quit my job for and just sit around play all day, and I'm not even particularly good at it. I hope the article conveys how powerful this game is, because it's also balanced out by its shortcomings...which aren't REALLY shortcomings, so much as the fact that the NiGHTS was the wrong kind of game at the wrong kind of type, an arcadey score attack game when console titles were moving towards long form play. It also barely does any work explaining how to play it, and I've seen even modern reviews of the HD re-release who give it low scores because they don't know what's going on.
Also up is a look at Final Zone, one of those series that started out on Japanese home computers and got their numbering messed up when they were localized. The first never left the country, the second came out for the Turbografx-16 CD, and the third was released for the Genesis in America, though stripped of its numeral, leading people to believe it's the first. They're overhead action games with featured both army warfare and mech fighting, and were developed by Wolfteam, who rarely made fantastic games, but sure made a lot of interesting ones. Finally, we have The First Funky Fighter, a first person hyper violent boxing game, which is probably most famous around the internet for the animated GIF where a guy rips a shark apart with its fists, sending its organs flying all around majestically. It's...uh...also quite interesting.
The two 500 Word Indies reviews this update consist of Tobe's Vertical Adventure, a fun XBLIG platformer that expanded on the PC, and Stay Dead, a modern take on a full motion video fighting game from Italy. The iOS Shooter article features: Nano Fighter! 2.1, which again takes you on a trip into a human body, no less than the body of some dictator ruling the whole world even; AbstractWar 2.0, which delivers on its name with Geometry Wars style action and over 70 bite-sized missions; Infinity Field, which is yet another average GW clone; circuit_strike.one, which is a lot more ambitious overall and at least successful in its design, but in the end fails in the gameplay department; and Darkside, whose action takes place on a small asteroid, allowing you to roam around freely. We've also got a review of Parasite Eve, which while not directly associated with the Square PSOne RPG of the same name, acted as its inspiration. It is quite dire! We've also updated the Punch-Out!! article with better formatting and nice new screens of the Wii version.
I've also started up a new column: The Best of PC Engine / Mega CD music. We've stopped posting MP3s in articles for assorted reasons (one of them being that companies are more often selling their music online and I'd rather not get a cease and desist) but I'm not sure too many folks care about music from old 16-bit systems. Anyway, the music of that era had a very particular feel to it, and each purchase acted as a dual-sided treat, since you were not only getting a game, but also a music CD. This first installment features tracks from Ys Book I & II (the quintessential PCE album), Rayxanber III and Double Dragon II.
Finally, Too Many Games is a video game convention that's being held the weekend of June 14th-16th in Oaks, PA, which is in the Greater Philadelphia area. I've written about the convention in the past, but this year, I've signed up as a vendor to sell stuff. In addition to copies of the Guide to Classic Graphic Adventures and Sega Arcade Classics Vol. 1, I'll also have copies of the Gamespite Journals and Scroll Magazine, as well as an assortment of other rare and off-kilter video game merchandise, which you can read about here. If you're in the area, feel free to stop by my booth and chat!
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