Category Archives: Series

Sega Ages Phantasy Star – Classic Dungeon Crawling, Modern Conveniences

Although at the time of writing a lot of people are super-excited for the impending PC release of Phantasy Star Online 2, the series as a whole isn’t anywhere near as well-known as the heavy-hitting classics of the RPG genre.

Indeed, Phantasy Star as a whole has always been something of a niche interest series — perhaps in part due to the majority of its “golden age” being released on platforms that were not typically renowned for their role-playing games.

The first game in particular is very interesting to return to, especially when you consider its original release date as a contemporary of the first Final Fantasy and the second Dragon Quest. And the Sega Ages version for Nintendo Switch is the definitive way to experience it — so let’s explore that now!

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Streets of Rage 3: The Most Notorious Localisation

Ah, Streets of Rage 3. Probably the most notorious entry in the franchise due to how heavily it was altered between its original Japanese release as Bare Knuckle III and its Western incarnation.

Thankfully, modern compilations such as the Sega Mega Drive Classics collection make it very easy to access the Japanese version — though it’s worth taking a look at the Western release too for an extreme example of what unnecessary localisation due to external pressure looks like.

Let’s hit the streets once again!

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short;Play: G-LOC Air Battle

Following on from my article about it, I felt compelled to show the wonder that is G-LOC to all of you.

If you’ve never encountered this game, it’s one of the later Super Scaler games from Sega in the arcades, and until the recent Sega Ages release for Nintendo Switch, it has never had a particularly good conversion to home consoles.

Now though… whoo. You have to tear me away from this damn game. Enjoy the video below, and subscribe on YouTube for more.

Streets of Rage 2: Everyone’s Favourite

Speak to pretty much anyone familiar with the Streets of Rage series, and chances are their favourite installment is probably the second.

While the first game may have set the template for the series to follow by being a beat ’em up designed for the home rather than the arcade, the second is where it well and truly hit its stride. Streets of Rage 2 demonstrates what the humble Mega Drive is truly capable of in the hands of real masters of their craft.

And it’s a game that is still relevant, enormously playable and impressive to look at, even to this day. So let’s take a closer look.

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Streets of Rage: Dawn of a Phenomenon

The Streets of Rage series is an all-time great in gaming, and you could practically hear the collective sigh of relief from the entire community when the brand new fourth installment, released at the tail end of April 2020, turned out to be good.

How do the older installments hold up today, though? Having not played them for a few years, I figured “while I wait for my Limited Run copy of Streets of Rage 4 to arrive” would be the perfect time to revisit them all. So that’s exactly what I’m doing.

We begin, of course, with the first game in the series, which first hit the streets in 1991 with releases for the Mega Drive, Master System and Game Gear. We’ll be concentrating on the 16-bit Mega Drive release for today, since that’s still the most readily available version for modern audiences. Let’s dive in.

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Ninja Commando: Tiger and Dragon (And Eagle)

ADK’s Ninja Combat is, as we’ve previously established, a game that is fun in principle but somewhat lacking in execution due to its extremely questionable difficulty balancing.

Two years after Ninja Combat helped to launch the Neo Geo, ADK returned to all things ninja with a spiritual successor. Enter Ninja Commando, which brought with it a shift in perspective from side-on to top-down, and a much more reasonable challenge for your average player — albeit one that still gets pretty tough in its latter levels!

Ninja Commando has been rereleased a few times over the years, and also forms part of the ADK Damashii collection for PlayStation 2, which is the version we’re primarily concerned with today. Let’s take a closer look!

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Sega Ages G-LOC Air Battle: Wish Fulfilment

Sega’s G-LOC Air Battle is my favourite arcade game of all time — not that I had that many opportunities to play it as a child, sadly.

We don’t really “do” arcades here in the UK anywhere other than the seaside, you see, and thus, growing up in a small village that was a considerable distance from the nearest seaside resort, I only ever got to play a lot of arcade games when we went on holiday. This, naturally, led to me judging a lot of domestic holiday destinations based on what arcade machines were readily accessible.

G-LOC is a game that immediately caught my attention on a family trip to Newquay in Cornwall. I dropped a quid in it for three credits, sat down and prepared for action. And from that moment on, I was in love.

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Ninja Combat: From a Distance

One cool thing that we’ve started to see in the last couple of console generations is publishers bringing formerly Japan-only releases to the West — not necessarily fully translated, but simply providing us access to games that were previously difficult or impractical to get hold of.

One such example is ADK Damashiia compilation of Neo Geo games that was released for PlayStation 2 back in 2008. It was ported to PlayStation 4 in 2015 for Japanese players — then, two years later, it got a surprise Western release via digital download, followed by a limited packaged release courtesy of Limited Run Games at the tail end of 2019.

ADK Damashii features five games to enjoy, all developed by former SNK partner Alpha Denshi Kabushiki Gaisha, also known as Alpha Denshi Corporation or, you guessed it, ADK. Let’s begin with a look at the rather literally titled Ninja Combat.

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Gunbarich: It’s Flippin’ Psikyonoid

2001’s Gunbarich was one of Psikyo’s last games before they merged with X-Nauts in 2002 — and the last title in the Psikyo Shooting Stars Bravo collection for Nintendo Switch.

It wasn’t one of their last shoot ’em ups, however, because despite technically being part of the Gunbird series in the loosest possible sense (it has the word “Gun” in the title and also features a cutesified version of recurring Gunbird mascot character Marion the witch) it’s not actually a shoot ’em up at all.

Nope; Gunbarich represents Psikyo turning its hand to that most venerable of genres: the ol’ bat and ball. Let’s take a closer look!

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Gunbird 2: Peak Psikyo

Speak to anyone familiar with Psikyo’s work, and doubtless Gunbird 2 will come up sooner rather than later.

It’s probably one of the most fondly regarded entries in the company’s back catalogue, and for various reasons. Not only is it a solid shoot ’em up in its own right, but it also had an excellent Dreamcast release in collaboration with Capcom, featuring Morrigan from Darkstalkers as a guest character.

The Nintendo Switch version that comes as part of the Psikyo Shooting Stars Bravo collection sadly lacks this latter aspect — presumably due to licensing issues — but otherwise allows a whole new audience to enjoy this classic blaster. Let’s take a look!

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