Category Archives: Essentials

A collection of articles highlighting noteworthy or interesting games from the libraries of lesser-appreciated, rarer or retro systems, and in specific genres.

Capcom Beat ‘Em Up Bundle: It’s The Belt For You, Lad

Those of you who read my coverage on Senran Kagura: Estival Versus will know how much I enjoy the beat ’em up genre… and how much I appreciate its history.

With that in mind, Capcom’s announcement that it would be releasing a new product simply called Capcom Beat ‘Em Up Bundle made me kiss £15.99 goodbye even before the package was released. Doubly so because it was also coming to Switch… and who doesn’t want to bust some heads on the go?

Today we’ll take a high-level look at the package as a whole, then over the course of a series of Capcom Essentials articles in the coming weeks, we’ll explore the individual games in the collection in more detail. Suffice to say for now that £15.99 is a very fair price for this bundle, and I highly recommend it to all fans of the genre.

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Wii Essentials: Wii Music

Wii Music is one of those releases that a lot of people didn’t pick up back in the day, primarily due to its mediocre critical response.

At least part of this was down to the (not entirely unreasonable) assumption that it would be a traditional “game” of some description — or at the very least a collection of minigames, as with the other titles in the Wii [x] series from Nintendo. But it’s actually something rather different.

And take the time to engage with it on its own terms and you’ll find something both entertaining and educational. Let’s take a closer look.

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Game Boy Essentials: Donkey Kong

You know Donkey Kong, right? Classic Nintendo arcade game, origin of Mario? Sure you do.

Donkey Kong is a classic with good reason: it’s solid arcade fare. Its mechanics are simple and straightforward to understand, it’s friendly to quick play sessions, it’s enormously addictive and it consistently challenges its players with just minor, progressively more difficult variations on the same four levels.

The 1994 Game Boy version surely can’t be anything particularly special, right? Or could it? Well, it came out thirteen years after the arcade original, so either someone at Nintendo was really confident in the staying power of its early arcade games — actually not all that unreasonable an assumption — or something interesting was going on.

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PS2 Essentials: TimeSplitters

It’s funny how the advancing years can affect how you perceive a particular game.

TimeSplitters is a great example. Developed by a team of ex-Rare staffers who had previously worked on N64 classics GoldenEye 007 and Perfect Dark, this PlayStation 2 launch title was positively received on its original release — but also drew some criticism for, in some respects, seeming like a step backwards from its spiritual predecessors, particularly in terms of narrative and storytelling.

Returning to it some 18 years after its original release, however, paints a somewhat different picture… and makes it an absolute delight to play.

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NES Essentials: Arkista’s Ring

The game I’d like to talk about today is a prime example of why emulation and game preservation is important.

I’d never heard of it prior to my first encounter with it yesterday, when I was attracted by the box art I saw in my Launchbox library. No-one I’ve spoken to about it today has ever heard of it. I’ve found very little information about or discussion of it online, save for a few YouTube commenters on gameplay videos reminiscing about how much they enjoyed playing this game back in the day. And I’ve never seen it come up in articles about retro collections or “hidden gems of the NES library”.

The game I’m talking about is Arkista’s Ring, developed by Nihon Micom Kaihatsu (aka NMK), published by the American arm of Sammy Corporation (without crediting NMK) and released exclusively in North America in 1990.

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Wii Essentials: Gradius ReBirth

Regrettably no longer available for purchase due to Nintendo’s closing of the original Wii Shop Channel’s payment processing, Konami’s ReBirth series consists of several wonderful “modern retro” takes on classic Konami properties, including Castlevania, Contra and Gradius.

It’s the latter we’re concerned with today, as it really is an absolutely fantastic shoot ’em up, and an absolute crying shame that it can no longer be legitimately acquired via normal means.

Still, if you want to know what you missed out on — or perhaps spend some of those Wii Points you’ve been hoarding before the Shop Channel closes down completely — then read on.

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Wii Essentials: Eledees

Despite selling extremely well, Nintendo’s Wii — or, more accurately, its software library — is not something that gets talked about a whole bunch these days.

This is largely down to the fact that its motion and pointer controls were seen by many as “gimmicky” despite how accessible they made gaming to people who had historically never picked up a controller. But, as anyone who has taken the time to get to know the Wii and its substantial library of games will know, games where you point a remote at the screen aren’t automatically “bad”… or even “casual”.

Sometimes they’re really good. Like Eledees by Konami, also known as Elebits outside of PAL regions. But I’m from a PAL region, so it’s called Eledees so far as we’re concerned!

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