One of the things I find kind of interesting about how gaming culture in general has developed over time is how people feel about “arcade games”.
Back in the 8- and 16-bit eras of computers and consoles that I grew up with, the seemingly unattainable dream was to have “the arcade experience at home” — or, well, more accurately, an authentic arcade experience at home. This was kind of strange when you think about it, because a lot of home computer and console games already offered experiences of greater complexity, depth and duration than your average quarter-muncher, but still the dream persisted.
Once we got to a stage where our home gaming hardware was more than up to the job of providing an “arcade-perfect” experience, however, many people had become so accustomed to those longer, deeper experiences that the dream of “arcade games” kind of fell by the wayside for a significant proportion of the gaming audience. And consequently, I suspect a fair few people missed out on highly enjoyable cheese like Sega’s Ghost Squad.
Continue reading Wii Essentials: Ghost Squad
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.
Continue reading PS2 Essentials: TimeSplitters 2
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.
Continue reading PS2 Essentials: Ace Combat: Squadron Leader
First released in 1989, Capcom’s Final Fight was originally conceived as a sequel to Street Fighter.
The success of Technos and Taito’s Double Dragon in 1987 (and again with its sequel in 1988) convinced Capcom to reimagine the game as a belt-scrolling beat ’em up rather than a one-on-one fighter, however, and that proved to be a solid decision. Street Fighter, meanwhile, would go on to get its true sequel in 1991… and create its own phenomenon in the process.
Final Fight, while perhaps not as well known or fondly regarded as its one-on-one stablemates today, remains a highly enjoyable game — with more depth than you might expect at first glance.
Continue reading Capcom Essentials: Final Fight
It’s a double feature today, as the two games in question were bundled together as Sega Ages 2500 Vol. 6 on PlayStation 2 in Japan, and indeed remain as a single “unit” in the Sega Classics Collection we got here in the West.
Bonanza Bros is a staple inclusion in most people’s Mega Drive libraries — indeed, it’s tended to find its way into most of the Mega Drive compilations for subsequent consoles over the years, too — but Tant-R may well be new to you, since prior to the Sega Classics Collection release it was Japan-exclusive.
The Sega Ages versions of both games don’t radically reinvent anything to the same degree as Tamsoft’s take on Monaco GP, but they remain solid games in their own right. So let’s take a closer look.
Continue reading Sega Ages: Tant-R and Bonanza Bros
You know sometimes you just see a game and think “I’m going to enjoy this?” That was very much me and Riddled Corpses EX.
There was something about the game’s excellent use of convincing 16-bit style pixel art and the suggestion that it would incorporate two of my favourite shmup subgenres — bullet hell and twin-stick — that made me pretty sure I was going to have a good time with it. And I most certainly did.
If you’re yet to check out this enjoyable blastathon, either in its original PC incarnation on Steam or its all-new “EX” version on PlayStation 4/Vita cross-buy and Xbox One, then grab yourself a sturdy controller, strap yourself in and get ready to perforate some cadavers.
Continue reading Shmup Essentials: Riddled Corpses EX
A lot of games that really stand the test of time are based on a very simple idea.
This is particularly apparent in the puzzle game genre, which typically involves little more than matching shapes and colours in one form or another. And indeed said genre is home to some absolutely timeless classics that are still getting rereleases and reimaginings today.
One puzzler from the early days of gaming that often seems to get forgotten, however, is Sega’s Columns — and that’s a bit of a shame, because it’s an interesting twist on the usual falling block puzzle format.
Continue reading Puzzler Essentials: Columns