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Reviews

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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Castlevania II: Simon's Quest Review Rewind

Dracula’s Revenge

It was common practice for game developers to make radical design changes for the first sequel of a popular game in the early NES days. It was no different with Castlevania II: Simon's Quest. Released in North America in 1988, Konami decided that a few changes were in order. The previous game primarily focused on platforming, defeating the boss of the current stage, and moving on to the next location in linear order. Conversely, Simon’s Quest took the series in a new direction with an open, Metroid-esque style of exploration and a few RPG elements to boot. Castlevania had entered a new frontier.

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To the Earth Review Rewind

An exercise in futility.

After playing Duck Hunt as a child in 1987, I became an instant fan of Nintendo's Zapper peripheral. There was something magical about pointing the orange & grey gun at the screen and seeing the game respond to my attempts at shooting the waterfowl flying about. As the years passed, I played other enjoyable Zapper games like Hogan's Alley, Wild Gunman, and Barker Bill's Trick Shooting. After such great experiences, I was convinced that all Nintendo-developed light gun games were as good as the previous ones I played. "They can do no wrong!" I said—famous last words of a naive fool.

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Top Gear Review Rewind

The Super Nintendo shifts into gear

Ever since Namco’s Pole Position made its debut in the arcades in 1982, the racing genre has been considered an essential medium in the gaming world. The increase of video game consoles making their way into homes throughout the mid-to-late ’80s further solidified the popularity of racing games. Players looking for deeper mechanics than what was available from the current offerings of the day could rejoice when Kemco published Top Gear in 1992- one of the first driving games for the Super NES.

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Intelligent Qube Review Rewind

Sinister Geometry

The original PlayStation console opened new doors of innovation in game development. Its hardware capabilities gave designers greater freedom to present fresh experiences from well-established genres. And in some cases, it would attract outsiders that previously had no background in game development at all. Such was the case with Masahiko Sato- known for his brilliant TV commercials produced in Japan (and a bevy of other talents). Though not a game designer by trade, he created Intelligent Qube- a new type of block puzzle game to challenge curious minds.

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Super Mario Land Review Rewind

As Told by Gunpei

The Game Boy- created by the late Gunpei Yokoi- was Nintendo's first handheld system to mix the portability of the Game & Watch with the seemingly infinite possibilities of interchangeable cartridges.  Although Tetris was the pack-in game with every unit, Nintendo still wanted to have at least one title in the 1989 launch lineup that their consumer base would instantly recognize.

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Super Meat Boy Forever Review

You can’t beat this meat.

Ten years ago, we were given a gift in the form of Super Meat Boy on Xbox Live Arcade. At the time, we’d never really seen anything like it. Smaller indie downloadable games were really just starting to enter the mainstream consciousness of gaming and Super Meat Boy effectively kicked the door in and made clear that these smaller titles had something special to offer and were here to stay. And since that statement, myriad other developers have taken lessons from Super Meat Boy and its DNA can be seen in so many games that would follow. However, this creates an interesting predicament that Team Meat needed to solve - how do you offer a sequel that manages to bring something new to the table, while still feeling as simple and approachable (and difficult) as the original did?

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