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.

Sega Ages: Virtua Racing – Arcade Perfect Plus

The Nintendo Switch has seen a real renaissance for classic-era Sega.

The launch of the Sega Ages collection on the platform has brought a host of the company’s most beloved titles to a whole new audience. Even better, these releases have brought these titles up to date with modern conveniences without sacrificing what made the originals great in the first place; a true example of “enhanced retro” at work.

The latest title from Sega’s golden age to get this treatment is Virtua Racing, so let’s take a look at where this influential title came from… and how the Nintendo Switch incarnation honours its legacy.

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Namco Essentials: Libble Rabble

At the time of writing, people are getting seriously excited for PlatinumGames’ next release, Astral Chain — and with good reason!

As the release approaches, we’re starting to learn more and more about the game: what we can expect from it, what sort of experience it will be and what its main inspirations are.

In the latter case, an interview by Polygon reveals that a particularly strong influence on director Takahisa Taura was an obscure 1983 release from Namco, developed by the creator of Pac-Man. I give you Libble Rabble.

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NES Essentials: City Connection

City Connection by Jaleco is by no means a classic of the NES age; it tends to be either forgotten or greeted with a resounding “meh”, if it ever comes up at all.

The game’s recent addition to the Nintendo Switch Online NES app reminded me that I’ve always been rather fond of it, though, and there’s a few interesting things about it, too!

Strap in and let’s take a look, then.

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Puzzler Essentials: Money Puzzle Exchanger

If there’s one thing the Neo Geo is good at, it’s… well, it’s fighting games, but if there’s more than one thing the Neo Geo is good at, puzzle games are definitely in the mix too.

Money Puzzle Exchanger is a 1997 release from Japanese developer Face that began its life on the Neo Geo MVS system before later being ported to Game Boy and PlayStation. These days, it’s pretty easy to get hold of in its initial incarnation thanks to it being part of Hamster’s Arcade Archives series, whose various releases have found their way to numerous platforms over the last few years.

And that’s fortunate, because Money Puzzle Exchanger is a great game that is well worth your time and… well, money.

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NES Essentials: Mario Bros.

I’ve always had a soft spot for Mario Bros. ever since I first encountered it — not on a Nintendo platform, as you might expect, but on the Atari 8-bit range of computers.

This 1983 arcade game from Nintendo isn’t the most fondly remembered installment in the portly plumber’s long-running adventures — but revisiting it today reveals it to still be a lot of fun and eminently worth playing.

Plus, if you have a Nintendo Switch Online membership, it is, at the time of writing, one of the many NES games you get included as part of your subscription.

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Team Sonic Racing: Always Better Together

One of the most interesting success stories of the last couple of console generations is the series of Sonic-themed racing games.

While the blue blur’s mainline adventures have had a somewhat mixed reception over the years, Sumo Digital’s Sonic Racing series (to date consisting of Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing, Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed and Team Sonic Racing) has been very positively received by press and public alike.

So how is the latest installment? Let’s take a look!

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NES Essentials: Donkey Kong Jr.

If there’s one thing Nintendo has absolutely always been good at, it’s sequels.

How do you follow up a big hit like Donkey Kong? More of the same? Some lesser companies might think that is a good way of doing things, but not Nintendo — even back in the ’80s. Instead, they chose to take a very interesting approach: they’d take the formula of Donkey Kong and flip it on its head, placing the previous game’s hero in the role of the villain, and tasking you with rescuing the titular big ape.

Donkey Kong Jr. was born, and Nintendo’s rapidly establishing reputation for creating simple to understand, difficult to master and highly addictive games was further cemented.

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