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Reviews

Final Fantasy IV Review Rewind

The “Golden Age” started here.

Today marks the 30th anniversary of Final Fantasy IV. Originally released on July 19, 1991, it was a momentous event due in no small part to the fact that this was the first in the series to debut on the Super Famicom. It was released to critical acclaim, and once again several months later when it came to the US on the Super Nintendo as Final Fantasy II (since we missed the first two sequels on the NES). Unfortunately, I didn’t get to play it until a decade later, when it was re-released as part of Final Fantasy Chronicles. And although I was late experiencing my first 16-bit RPG, it was undoubtedly worth the wait.

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Out of this World Review Rewind

The Great Escape

Out of this World (aka Another World) was initially developed and released for the Amiga and Atari ST personal computers by French game designer Eric Chahi in 1991. The game was later ported to the Super Nintendo, among other home consoles. Out of this World garnered much praise for its intriguing visual style and storytelling ability. In most games from this era, text or dialogue was usually the vehicle used to drive the story forward. But this one did it differently. Instead, the ever-changing situations, dangers, and victories all worked together to tell the story without a word.

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Donkey Kong Review Rewind

More fun than a barrel of monkeys.

It all began on this day 40 years ago, in 1981. Nintendo- a then-obscure arcade machine manufacturer- had a problem with their latest game, Radar Scope. The machines weren’t selling as well as hoped, so the company decided to refit the unsold units with a brand new game. Young staff artist Shigeru Miyamoto was tasked with creating an arcade game that would capture the attention of the American audience. The finished product starred a stressed-out gorilla with an infinite supply of barrels who wasn't afraid to use them. It's the stubborn monkey himself, Donkey Kong.

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Life Force Review Rewind

Journey to the belly of the beast.

If you ever want to know how Konami became so successful, just look at their arcade history of the 1980s. Not only were the games entertaining, but there was also a good chance that their best hits would appear on NES and a wealth of other home consoles. Life Force was no exception. Released initially as Salamander in Japan 35 years ago today, the game came to America as Life Force and received an NES port two years later.

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Sonic the Hedgehog Review Rewind

30 years ago today, Sega's blue blur made his debut.

By 1990, Sega was enjoying newfound success with their new 16-bit Genesis system. It quickly became a competent competitor to the NES with popular titles like Golden Axe, Phantasy Star II, and Revenge of Shinobi. But despite the rising success of the Genesis, the platform didn’t have a brand character that could rival Super Mario. Tasked with creating such a mascot, character designer Naoto Oshima came up with Sonic- a blue anthropomorphic hedgehog. Sonic the Hedgehog was released on June 23, 1991- two full months ahead of the Super Nintendo’s debut in America. It was a big summer for Sega, and today marks the 30th anniversary of the moment that made them an icon in the home console gaming space.

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Galaxian Review Rewind

In space, it's always cicada season.

If you live anywhere in the northeastern United States like me, your space is likely being invaded by the periodical cicada brood this time of year. After experiencing the terror of having one smack me in the eye the other day, I realized that these critters share some interesting commonalities with the insects in the arcade classic Galaxian. They’re red-eyed, noisy in groups, and will eagerly dive-bomb you as if “Ride of the Valkyries” were blasting in the background. If you told me cicadas were the inspiration behind this game, I’d totally believe you.

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Super Mario Bros. 3 Review Rewind

Platforming perfection

On October 23, 1988, Mario series creator Shigeru Miyamoto and his crack team of Nintendo EAD ninjas released Super Mario Bros. 3 in Japan. To coincide with its US launch 16 months later, Nintendo produced a commercial featuring kids clamoring for the game like it was the second coming of Christ. The hype was intense, and it worked exceedingly well. The game went on to exceed the first one in sales, fandom, and legendary status. Mario and the crew had undeniably hit their stride.

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Mega Man 2 Review Rewind

The “Blue Bomber” hits his stride.

Mega Man 2 started as a side project that Capcom allowed artist Keiji Inafune’s team to work on during their downtime between higher priority projects. Much of the game's design included leftover ideas that didn’t make it into the inaugural entry. However, a few gameplay refinements and an incredible soundtrack combined to bring forth a classic that still attracts new fans despite being released over 30 years ago. Not bad for a side project.

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Snoopy's Magic Show Review Rewind

There never was any magic, was there?

There is nary a soul out there who hasn’t seen or heard of Snoopy- that lovable beagle in the Peanuts comic dating back to the 1950s. Having existed across various forms of media, it was only a matter of time before Snoopy and friends would end up on a Nintendo system or two. Such was the case in 1990 when Kemco released Snoopy’s Magic Show on the Game Boy. A few years later, one of my sister’s school friends let my brother borrow this game, which I eventually played and completed. Returning to this game as an adult, I have no idea how kid me finished it without a broken spirit.

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Hang-On & Astro Warrior Review Rewind

Motorcycles and space battles- together for the first time.

There are certain games that I’ve played combo cartridges that leave me wondering why they were sold as standalone releases in the first place. I found myself asking that question after playing the Hang-On/Astro Warrior compilation. I mean, don’t get me wrong- it’s nice to have both games on a cartridge. But neither one held much weight when all was said and done. Even so, I was still able to come away with some goodwill toward it. Unfortunately, I can’t say the same for Astro Warrior, but I’ll touch on that shortly. So, without further ado, let’s get to it.

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