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Reviews

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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Super Baseball 2020 Review Rewind

The Big Leagues

With the year 2020 and the MLB World Series well underway, there’s no better time than now to talk about Super Baseball 2020. In 1991, SNK- the famed developer of such blockbusters as Metal Slug and Aero Fighters- released their spin on America’s favorite pastime in the arcades. Two years later, it was ported to the Sega Genesis with NuFX and Electronic Arts handling the programming and publishing. With its futuristic setting and easy controls, the game offered a level of enjoyment missing from baseball’s more realistic interpretations on the home console platform.

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Alex Kidd in Miracle World Review Rewind

Sega's Little Miracle

Let's take a minute to go back in time to 1986. Nintendo was basking in the success of their NES console with hits like Super Mario Bros., Excitebike, and The Legend of Zelda. Meanwhile, Sega wanted to prove that the Master System was the better entertainment medium of choice. Attempting to go toe to toe with Mario, they created Alex Kidd in Miracle World. For Master System fans, the release of this game was a day to remember. According to them, it was the dawn of a new era. According to some, Mario had met his match, and Nintendo would soon crumble under Sega's mighty fist. But reality had other plans.

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Kung Fu Review Rewind

Kick, punch, it’s all in the mind.

On October 18, 1985, the Nintendo Entertainment System was launched in the US. Among the 18 games released alongside it was Kung Fu. A rather unassuming title, Kung Fu has an intriguing history behind it. It started as an arcade game from Irem called Kung-Fu Master and was intended to be based on the movie Game of Death- Bruce Lee’s final film before he died. Later in the course of development, the story and characters were changed to become a tie-in to the Jackie Chan film Spartan X (aka Wheels on Meals). Most noteworthy about the game was its genre-defining gameplay elements that are considered by many to be the first example of what would come to be known as a beat ‘em up.

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