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Posts By Jamie Alston

Xevious Review Rewind

A Game Changer

Every time I play Xevious on one of Namco’s "museum" compilations, I can’t help but reminisce about the time when I first discovered the game in 1992 on the Atari 7800 (a system which also familiarized me with other Namco classics outside of Pac-Man). Back then, our family couldn’t afford the Super NES or Sega Genesis. So, in a move of what I think was out of pity, a friend of ours gave us her 7800 with a huge bag full of games. While rummaging through the cartridges, I came across the little oddity known as Xevious. It was probably the first game I had heard of that started with an “X”, and the name intrigued me. I quickly fell in love with the unique enemy designs and mysterious land structures peppered throughout the game.

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Dragon Quest V: Hand of the Heavenly Bride Review Rewind

Family Matters

August of this year will mark the 20th anniversary since Dragon Quest was introduced in the US. With 10 core sequels and many spin-offs since then, you’d think an RPG fan such as myself would be well-versed in the series by now. But in reality, my Dragon Quest knowledge over the years has only been cursory at best. I got started about eight years ago when I completed Dragon Warrior (the series’ name in the US until 2005), and I’m currently nearly halfway through the massive adventure that is Dragon Quest XI. My depth of familiarity with the series pretty much ends there. Or at least it did until I recently finished Dragon Quest V: Hand of the Heavenly Bride- a Nintendo DS remake of the beloved Super Famicom original.

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Dragon Warrior Review Rewind

This RPG is a real grind. No dragon your feet here.

If there’s one thing I absolutely adore about Dragon Warrior (aka Dragon Quest), it’s how much its subtle charms have influenced each sequel to come after it. There’s just something special about playing the latest game in the series (currently Dragon Quest XI) and still hearing the familiar sound cues of attacking an enemy, taking a hit, or the brief but satisfying victory chime and level-up fanfare. Additionally, the character designs by Akira Toriyama (Dragon Ball creator and illustrator) give a visual continuity throughout each game. Without question, the Dragon Quest series has laid down some deep roots that all started here. But although it's a beloved first entry for nostalgic fans of the series, newcomers might not warm up to certain gameplay elements that weren't refined until much later.

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Metroid II: Return of Samus Review Rewind

Back for the first time

Nintendo is no stranger to making risky decisions that could have resulted in utter failure. After all, they released the Famicom\NES during a time when the consumer market shunned video games. Then there was that time in 2004 when most of us thought they were crazy when they announced the dual screen handheld DS. And many were skeptical when motion controls were introduced on the Wii console. Nonetheless, their decisions proved to be a significant success. Such was the case with the early Metroid series.

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Super Mario Bros. 2 Review Rewind

Ninception

If you told me when I was a kid that Super Mario Bros. 2 was merely a localized version of a pre-existing game from Japan, I wouldn’t have believed you. But in fact, that’s precisely what Nintendo did for the US release of the next chapter in the Mario series. This was mostly due to the fact the original Japanese sequel was nearly identical to Super Mario Bros., only with slightly improved graphics. There was also concern that the game’s high difficulty would be off-putting for American audiences. The solution? Take Doki Doki Panic, swap out the main characters, slap a “Super Mario Bros. 2” label on that bad boy, and you’ve got yourself Nintendo’s best-selling game of 1988.

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Airwolf Review Rewind

Get to da choppa!

Airwolf is one my favorite ‘80s TV shows. Originally airing in 1984 to 1987, the premise centered around a high-tech military helicopter capable of reaching supersonic speeds. In addition to the entertaining action sequences and interesting plot, Airwolf is perhaps best known for having one the most distinctive theme songs of the ‘80s (intro clip included below). Naturally, it was only a matter of time before we would see a video game conversion. There was an arcade version by a company called Kyugo in 1987, but the home console release was only for the Famicom. The NES finally saw its own version of Airwolf when Beam Software developed it with  Acclaim as the publisher in 1989- 2 years after the show’s final season. Needless to say, this version had a lot to live up to.

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Snake's Revenge Review Rewind

Revenge never tasted so bland

Hideo Kojima’s Metal Gear series enjoys the distinction of being an icon that still resonates with the majority of the gaming community. Even if you've never played any of them, chances are you've at least heard of it by now. With all of the positive attention that the relatively recent Metal Gear Solid 5 has received, it’s easy to forget about the game that that could have potentially killed the series. And no-- it’s not MGS 2 (although I’ll never forgive it for those protracted conversations between Raiden and his nagging girlfriend). Nope, I'm referring to something much, much worse-- Snake's Revenge.

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Ridge Racer Revolution Review Rewind

Over the Highway

I’ve always enjoyed the early Ridge Racer series. I fondly remember playing the original game over a friend’s house, wishing that I had a PlayStation of my own to play it on. It was very accessible and didn’t take a tremendous effort to make it past the learning curve. And not much has changed here in Ridge Racer Revolution. On the surface, it plays much like its predecessor. It even starts off with a Galaga ‘88 mini-game similar to the Galaxian one in previous game. Some regard Revolution as “Ridge Racer 1.5” due its similarities to the original, which is somewhat understandable since this game went for full price upon its initial release. Even so, Ridge Racer Revolution received a few nice tweaks that made it a decent step up from its predecessor.

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Track & Field Review Rewind

Let the games begin.

Well, it's that time again-- the time that comes around every 4 years when hundreds of athletes from around the world compete in some of the most physically demanding competitions ever. Each athlete is highly skilled in their discipline of sport; but only the best get the gold. Of course, I'm talking about the 2016 Summer Olympics taking place in Rio de Janeiro today. With this exciting occasion just hours away, now is as good a time as any to take a look at Track & Field from Konami.

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Silpheed Review Rewind

Feel the need for Silpheed.

When Game Arts released Silpheed on the Sega CD in 1993, the game was frequently compared to Star Fox; the latter usually winning over critics more than the former. Being released within 6 months of Star Fox and featuring a similar visual theme of polygon graphics, Silpheed was sometimes written off as a mere knock-off of Nintendo’s successful three-dimensional shooter. A somewhat misguided conclusion considering that Silpheed was originally released on the PC platform in 1986, pre-dating Star Fox by seven years.  It was also criticized for being too simplistic with its 2D shooter mechanics against the pseudo 3D background. But a deeper look into the gameplay of Silpheed (and some honest hindsight) reveals a game that stands on its own and delivers a fairly unique experience rarely had in home console gaming at that time.

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