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Reviews

Final Fantasy VII Review Rewind

The 25th anniversary of a victory fanfare for the PlayStation.

And now, the most anticipated epic adventure of the year will never come to a theater near you. Final Fantasy VII.” And so began my interest in RPGs. That commercial blew my 12-year-old mind back in 1997. Besides the impressive animations shown (which we would later learn were only cut-scenes), I was intrigued at seeing that we somehow jumped from Final Fantasy III on the Super NES to now VII on the PlayStation. “What manner of sorcery is this?”, I wondered.

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Mega Man 3 Review Rewind

A Robot Boy and his Dog

For years, there has been a heated debate among fans of the Mega Man series regarding which one is the best of the original hexalogy. After the facts have been laid out and philosophical life lessons thoroughly dissected, the debate usually boils down to Mega Man 2 vs. Mega Man 3. Which is the greater of the two? Well, no matter which side you’re on, we can all agree on the thing- the cover art for Mega Man 3 finally got it right! No more awkward stances or that pistol-for-an-arm-cannon nonsense. Of course, he didn’t look as good as on the Famicom cover, but that’s another argument.

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Final Fantasy VI Review Rewind

Heroes of Might and Magicite

As a late bloomer to RPGs, I was mostly ignorant of the Final Fantasy series until 1997, when that commercial for Final Fantasy VII caught my attention in all its epic CG glory. But it would be another two years before I finally saw a demo of the game in action, which sparked my love for RPGs. The point is that I missed out on Final Fantasy VI (originally titled Final Fantasy III in the US) when it was released in 1994. Fortunately, the Super NES Classic Edition's release several years back allowed the opportunity to play Square’s magnum opus of the 16-bit series. And boy, was it worth the wait.

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Thunder Spirits Review Rewind

A thunder redux on the Super Nintendo.

Technosoft’s Thunder Force series is rich with 2D shoot-'em-up goodness. After starting with the fifth game in the series on the PlayStation and then working my way back to Thunder Force II on the Genesis some years later, I have become obsessed with everything related to the Thunder Force series since then. One fateful day at a local game store, I stumbled upon Thunder Spirits on the Super NES. "Nah, no way it's related to the Thunder Force series. Probably just a coincidence of naming", I thought to myself. But after doing some additional research, I soon returned to that store and purchased the game. For, you see, this was no coinkydink.

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My Hero Review Rewind

The Hapless Hero

In 1986, Sega introduced the Sega Card for their Master System home console in the US. It represented the Master System’s ability to play games on small cartridges about the size of a credit card via the card expansion slot on the original system models. Sega wasted no time creating a lineup of games that would be best suited for bite-sized play sessions. My Hero was one of those games. Being released in the arcade about a year before its home console release, the game is a scrolling brawler that had the honor (or disgrace) of being one of the first guinea pigs for Sega’s gamble.

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Final Fantasy V Review Rewind

Hold on to your Butz.

There are several similarities between Final Fantasy V and its younger sibling, Final Fantasy III. Chiefly of which, both games stayed exclusively in Japan well after the series moved on to the PlayStation in the mid-90s. For a time, Square Enix (formally SquareSoft) was uncertain if western audiences would grasp the deeper gameplay mechanics that drove character growth. But after the global success of Final Fantasy VII, they decided it was time to start bridging the gap in sequels in the US lineup. As a result, Final Fantasy V was the first to be released as part of the Final Fantasy Anthology compilation on the PlayStation in 1999.

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Super Hang-On Review Rewind

A Winning Run

When I was a wee lad in the arcades, motorcycle racers were not often a priority for me to spend my quarters. I was too busy playing After Burner, Galaga, or Ms. Pac-Man. But one day, I saw something that stood out from the usual bunch- Sega’s Super Hang-On, initially released in 1987. As I hopped on the mechanical bike and blasted around that first corner, I knew it was worth every quarter spent. I was one with the road- until I crashed seconds later. While I never won the race or played it in the arcade again, I always remembered how much fun it was. Thankfully, most of the traits that made the coin-op version fun translated well on the Sega Genesis.

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Double Dribble Review Rewind

A slam dunk on the NES.

With the 2022 NBA Finals set to conclude this week (possibly tonight), now is as good a time as any to look back at Double Dribble- Konami’s take on professional basketball initially released in 1986. Like many of their arcade hits arcades, the game was forever immortalized when it was ported to the NES a year later. With its accessible gameplay mechanics and realistic presentation, Double Dribble quickly became known as one of the best sports experiences on the home console.

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Final Fantasy III Review Rewind

Final Fantasy gets a job.

When Final Fantasy VII appeared in the late 90s, my initial reaction was that of shock at the significant gulf in sequels for the US. It was a harsh reality to learn that, of the three mainline Final Fantasy releases we received, Japan had double that number by the start of the PlayStation era. As time marched on, Square (now Square Enix) eventually released the sequels we had missed. Meanwhile, I’ve been playing a nearly 30-year-long game of catch-up since 1997. A particular blind spot for me was Final Fantasy III- the last one to be developed for the Famicom. However, after finally getting around to playing it, I now have a new appreciation for this long-running series.

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The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past Review Rewind

Link’s 16-bit debut still sticks the landing 30 years later.

If there’s ever a time I dread writing a review, it’s when my subject is a highly favored game that has received so much praise over the years that it’s a bit hard not to sound like I’ve just hopped aboard the nostalgic hype train at this point. Check any top 10 list of the best Super Nintendo games, and you’ll be hard-pressed not to find The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past floating somewhere within the top five, if not the number one spot. It’s a testament to its staying power in the minds of the gaming community at large. When I sat down to play this game for myself, I only had one question- is the game really that good? Yes. Yes, it is.

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