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.

Star Fox: All Ships Check In!!

“You should see this. It’s just like having an arcade machine connected to your television.”

Those were the words my brother, ten years my senior, said to me one time he came home from his job on a ’90s gaming magazine, pulling a Super Famicom out of his bag.

While the system didn’t quite live up to those lofty expectations in some regards — particularly as it got a bit older — there were certain games that, once I had my own Super NES and some games for it, reminded a younger me very much of those words. And Star Fox was one of them.

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Super Mario Kart: Defining a Genre

“Which Mario Kart is best?” is one of those questions that can start bitter, terrible arguments. Or at the very least, send you into an endless cycle of analysis paralysis as you contemplate which one actually is the “best”.

Do you prefer Mario Kart 8 Deluxe’s “best of everything” approach, blending brand new tracks with classics from yesteryear with a twist? How about Double Dash’s team-based mechanics? 64’s early attempts to move the series into true 3D?

For everyone, the answer is different, and I can’t even give you a definitive answer on my own preferences. But one thing we can hopefully all agree on is that even if Super Mario Kart for Super NES isn’t your favourite Mario Kart, it’s probably the most important.

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Assault Android Cactus: Shooting for the S+

I remember coming across Assault Android Cactus for the first time: it was back in 2013, when I was still working on USgamer, and I was headed for EGX, or the Eurogamer Expo as it used to be known.

My boss Jaz Rignall suggested that I might want to check out this game he’d heard a bit about, and put me in contact with the developer. I wasn’t sure what to expect going into it; if I’m perfectly honest, I was expecting some sort of fairly forgettable indie fare, but I trusted Jaz’s judgement. He’d been around in the games industry even longer than me, after all, so he knew his stuff.

I was right to trust his judgement. Assault Android Cactus ended up being my favourite thing I saw at EGX that year, and it’s remained a consistent favourite of mine ever since.

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Parasol Stars: The Bubble Bobble Everyone Forgets

At the time of writing, the world is gearing up for a fourth official installment in the Bubble Bobble series.

Wait a minute, I hear you ask, fourth? What happened to the third? I don’t judge you too harshly for asking this question; I know some people who weren’t even aware that Rainbow Islands was the second Bubble Bobble game, so for you to be unaware that there had already been a third one is entirely understandable.

It doesn’t stop it being a huge shame, however, because 1991’s Parasol Stars: The Story of Bubble Bobble III is a wonderful game; one of my all-time favourite single-screen “kill ’em all” platformers, in fact, beaten only by Rod-Land. And yet, for various reasons, very few people either know it exists or remember it.

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Stunt Race FX: A Last Hurrah

Stunt Race FX — or Wild Trax, as it was known in Japan — is not a game that gets talked about nearly as much as many of its contemporaries.

There are a number of reasons for this, chief among which was that it released in 1994, when excitement for Sony’s PlayStation — originally intended to be a CD-ROM-based add-on for the Super NES, lest we forget — was reaching a fever pitch; the 32-bit system would release later that very year, wowing everyone with its smooth, texture-mapped polygonal graphics, high-quality audio and impressive arcade ports.

As with many things that got overshadowed at their time of original release, however, Stunt Race FX remains a fascinating piece of Nintendo history that remains worth exploring.

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Taito Essentials: The Electric Yo-Yo

One of the nice things about the two Taito Legends compilations on PS2, Xbox and PC (and the separate PSP release, which acts as a kind of “best of” compilation containing elements of both) is that it includes both well-known games and more obscure affairs.

One such example of the latter is The Electric Yo-Yo, an unusual Taito America game from 1982 that is so obscure that it doesn’t even have its own Wikipedia page (shock!). If Giant Bomb’s rather bare-bones page on the game is to be believed, it seems that it wasn’t all that well-received back in the day — but if there’s one thing I’ve learned in MoeGamer’s lifetime, it’s that it’s always worth considering something on its own merits, devoid of its original context and popular reception.

And y’know what? I kinda like The Electric Yo-Yo. I mean, sure, it’s kind of infuriating and I’ve hurled some deeply offensive language at it during my time with it… but I still kinda like it.

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Wreckfest: This One’s A Right Banger

I’ve been following Wreckfest on and off for what feels like a very long time now.

Originally announced by Finnish developer Bugbear (creators of the vastly underappreciated Ridge Racer Unbounded) as Next Car Game back in 2013, Wreckfest was designed as a spiritual successor to the company’s cult hit FlatOut series, as well as a natural evolution of older titles such as Psygnosis’ Destruction Derby series, popularised in the PS1 era, and the even more venerable home computer title Street Rod from Logical Design Works and California Dreams.

After more than four years of early access on Windows PC and another year of getting the console versions up to snuff, Wreckfest is now available in all its glory for home computers, Xbox One and PlayStation 4. So let’s get our hands dirty!

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