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!

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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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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PS2 Essentials: Sky Odyssey

The PS2 was a delightful period of experimentation for a lot of developers. And the fact that the only option for distribution was on physical media helped these titles get both noticed at the time, and fondly remembered long after the fact.

2000’s Sky Odyssey isn’t a game I ever played back in the day, but having familiarised myself with it for the first time recently, I have discovered it to be one of those titles for which a simple, offhand mention tends to trigger a gushing torrent of effusive praise from anyone who was there first time around. This is a game that people loved back in the day — and yet it’s mostly unheard of today. The very definition of a hidden gem; a forgotten classic.

The advantage of its underappreciated status, of course, is that it means you can pick up a copy for 50p down your local CEX, enjoy a fine, fine addition to your PS2 collection and still have change for an overpriced cup of shopping centre coffee. Let’s take a closer look. At the game, not the coffee.

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PS2 Essentials: Fitness Fun

Ah, what could possibly be better than the charming jank of the Simple 2000 series on PlayStation 2? Why, the Simple 2000 Ultimate series, of course!

Yes, indeed, not content with 123 volumes of low-budget, experimental and weird titles, D3 Publisher decided to put out another range of 34 games under the “Ultimate” branding. Exactly what makes these particular 34 games “Ultimate” isn’t terribly clear, although they are prime examples of what the Simple Series has always been about.

And, just like the main Simple 2000 series, we got a random selection of Simple 2000 Ultimate games in Europe, once again mostly published by 505 GameStreet. Here’s a particularly fine specimen: Fitness Fun, also known as Love★Aerobi or Love★Aerobics in Japan.

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SNK Essentials: Alpha Mission

SNK is primarily known for its fighting games these days, but in its earlier years it was known for a number of solid (and influential) shoot ’em ups.

While Alpha Mission (also known as ASO: Armored Scrum Object in Japan) isn’t the company’s first shoot ’em up by any means, it is an important one and forms the first in a loose “trilogy” of titles that we’ll explore over the course of the next few articles.

Drawing inspiration from Western RPGs, of all things, this is a fun but challenging vertically scrolling shoot ’em up that any fan of the genre owes it to themselves to become intimately acquainted with.

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