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Showing posts from March, 2022

Contra III: The Alien Wars: 30th anniversary

Thirty years ago Konami published Contra III for the SNES, a sequel to the wildly popular Contra and Super C on the NES. Unlike those games, Contra III is not based on an arcade game but was made specially for the Super NES. The Contra series is considered the pinnacle of the run-and-gun genre. Especially because of the high volume of alien enemies, the games are best enjoyed with two players. Interestingly, Contra III lets you choose between full-screen and split-screen, the latter letting the players separate. As with almost every SNES sequel, Contra III basically recreates the original NES game with 16-bit technology, audio, and visuals. Not having played it before, I was surprised to discover that it contains only six levels, two less than the NES games! That's disappointing. In all the classic Contra games, the first player controls Bill and the second Lance, who seek vengeance for a devastating attack in the year 2636 by an alien enemy called the Red Falcon. Actually, there

The Legend of the Mystical Ninja: A whimsical adventure in Japan

Growing up, I played The Legend of the Mystical Ninja at my best friend's house (though I was bad at it), and I had been looking forward to trying it again. It's an unusual, fun adventure game. I recently learned that in Japan Legend of the Mystical Ninja was preceded by three Famicom games and followed by three more Super Famicom games, none of which were localized for the West! The Japanese name of the series is Go for It, Goemon! It's based on a 1980 Japanese arcade game called Mr. Goemon. The emulation community put out fan translations of the Famicom games between 2009 and 2017. Surprisingly, no translations of the Super Famicom games existed until 2020, all three created by the same people . The series takes place in early-modern Japan. It has a light-hearted anime aesthetic. The titular character is a spiky-haired kid named Goemon. If a second player joins the simultaneous action (highly recommended), Goemon is assisted by an older, overweight ninja named Ebisumaru.

Solomon's Key: Wisdom and reflexes are needed here

Solomon's Key is an NES port of the arcade game of the same name made by Tecmo in 1986. It's an action-puzzler (similar to The Adventures of Lolo ), in which you navigate the wizard Dana through a series of single-screen labyrinths. Also, it's very hard. In Solomon's Key, not only do you need to use your wits to devise a plan for acquiring the key and then getting to the door, you also need fast reflexes to dodge various creatures. These are your typical Gargoyles, Dragons, Goblins, Demons, and so forth. In some cases, you can trap the enemies with blocks, but since most can destroy blocks, Dana must move quickly. You need to learn their patterns. For instance, Sparks (as in several NES games) travel along an edge without changing direction. In general, all other monsters move in a direction until they encounter a block, which they break, then go back the way they came. Dana can use his trusty magic wand (press A) to create a block in front of him, or, if one is already

Ranking the NES and SNES Dragon Warrior and Final Fantasy games

12. Final Fantasy II  (Famicom) The black sheep of the series, FF2 is underappreciated. This is the only Final Fantasy game to eschew classes and XP, with skills leveling up as you use individual spells and weapon types. Unfortunately, this system is broken, especially for magic spells, which level up too slowly, but it works better than people usually give it credit for. It's only in retrospect that it seems so flawed. Infamously, you can attack your own party members to gain HP, but this is neither necessary nor fun. This is also the first Final Fantasy to have characters (some of whom come and go) instead of blank slates. The plot is not about Crystals, but rather a generic struggle between empire and rebellion. The game also uses a unique keyword system, in which you memorize certain terms and then repeat them to certain characters to advance the story. A fully-translated English prototype was made, but it went unreleased due to the SNES already being out. A fan translation bro

Joe & Mac: Teenage ninja cavemen

Joe & Mac is a Super Nintendo port of the Data East arcade platformer Caveman Ninja. There's nothing "ninja" about the game, but the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles craze in the early 90's made the word ninja  very popular, so marketing people just slapped it on anything. Joe & Mac is the poster child of a "rental game," meaning a game you should rent rather than buy. The titular Joe and Mac aren't ninjas, but a couple wild and crazy cave-guys. They boast green and blue hair, respectively, yet unexpectedly for cavemen are clean-shaven. You can play solo or two-player. There are three difficulty settings. And let's not forget that you can choose between stereo and monaural sound! Joe and Mac have several moves at their disposal. Besides the usual jumping, they can do a higher rolling jump if you hold ↑ when you press X or Y. They can also somersault through enemies by double tapping → or ←. They can catch a ride atop pterodactyls and other enemie