Category Archives: Systems

Articles about the best, worst, most interesting, most overlooked and most underappreciated games for specific systems: titles that collectors will want in their library!

PS2 Essentials: TimeSplitters 2

Yes, yes, yes, I know it’s also on Xbox and Gamecube, but I’ve always thought of TimeSplitters as a PlayStation thing, so that’s where it’s getting categorised today.

Ahem. Anyway. TimeSplitters 2 is, unsurprisingly, the follow-up to the excellent TimeSplitters, a game developed by ex-Rare folks who previously worked on GoldenEye 007 and Perfect Dark on the Nintendo 64.

The original TimeSplitters has aged very well. Its sequel is even better. Let’s take a closer look.

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PS2 Essentials: Ace Combat: Squadron Leader

The Ace Combat series is a jewel in Namco’s crown that people sadly seem to forget about quite often — though hopefully the seventh installment due early in 2019 will rectify that to an extent.

The series mostly stretches across the PlayStation and PlayStation 2 eras, with a less well-received (but still enjoyable) spinoff installment in the Xbox 360/PlayStation 3 era. For most, the series’ peak was with its PS2 installments; opinion varies as to which one of these is really “the best”, but they’re all very much worth your time.

At the time of writing, we’ve already talked about fourth installment Distant Thunder (aka Shattered Skies), so today let’s take a look at the fifth game, known as Squadron Leader in Europe, and The Unsung War elsewhere. It’s a good ‘un.

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PS2 Essentials: Auto Modellista

Even today, Capcom’s 2002 racing game Auto Modellista stands out as a bold and striking experiment.

By combining relatively conventional arcade-style racing gameplay with an eye-catching cel-shaded visual style, the game successfully distinguished itself from many of its peers — though sadly, relatively mediocre reviews, mostly focusing on the game’s handling and its attempts to straddle the line between deep simulation and arcade racer, meant that it sold fairly poorly.

That doesn’t mean it’s not worth checking out by any means, however — particularly if you are someone who, like me, enjoys the customisation aspect of deep sims but hates “realistic” handling. Let’s take a closer look — and keep an eye on Sunday Driving for the next few weeks to see the game in action for yourself!

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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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