Tag Archives: platform games

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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SNK Essentials: Athena

Sometimes there are games that aren’t the most fun to play today, but remain significant from a historical perspective nonetheless. SNK’s 1986 title Athena, in both its arcade and NES incarnations, definitely falls into that category.

Acting as a spiritual predecessor to Psycho Soldier but having pretty much nothing to do with it — the “Athena” in this game is supposedly a distant ancestor of the “Athena” in Psycho Soldier, so it’s not even the same character — Athena is a monstrously challenging platform action game that does a lot of interesting things… and a lot of frustrating things!

Let’s take a closer look.

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Delving into Kirby and the Rainbow Paintbrush – #2

Okay. Let’s talk about how this game looks, because it’s a real highlight of the experience.

One of the things I really like about the Nintendo of the Wii U and Switch generations in particular is the fact that they’ve demonstrated themselves to not be afraid of experimenting with aesthetics and overall style — though there’s a certain amount of internal consistency there, too.

Specifically, it’s all about Nintendo’s desire to make interactive experiences that are as much “toys” as they are “games”. And Kirby and the Rainbow Paintbrush is a great example of this at work.

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The MoeGamer Awards 2018: Best Common Architecture

The MoeGamer Awards are a series of “alternative” awards that I’ve devised in collaboration with the community as an excuse to celebrate the games, experiences and fanbases that have left a particular impression on me in 2018. Find out more and leave a suggestion here!

This award was suggested by spaktukal.

Environmental design in gaming is a funny old beast; you only tend to really actively notice it if it’s really good or really bad — most of the rest of the time, it’s just sort of there, indicating that it’s doing its job. That job being, of course, to immerse the player in the game world and give that game world a bit of “character” of its own.

There were a number of games that had particularly striking world design this year, but today we’re focusing specifically on the idea of “common architecture” — the way just regular ol’ normal buildings look, rather than palaces, temples and ruins of an ancient civilisation.

And the winner is…

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Atari ST A to Z: James Pond

Back in the ’90s, there was a bit of a rivalry between people who played games on home computers and those who played games on consoles.

What am I talking about, “back in the ’90s”, this is still a thing! Well, the difference is that back then, the home computer players were secretly envious of the console players, since during that period, consoles were the more powerful, specialised games machines.

As such, we saw a fair few computer games that attempted to emulate the success of “mascot games” on consoles. One such example that saw some success — and a couple of sequels — was James Pond, a rather British underwater agent with a penchant for environmental do-gooding…

Follow Atari A to Z on its own dedicated site here!

Sonic the Hedgehog: Introduction

“Sonic hasn’t been good for a long time.” “Sonic has never been good.” How many times have we seen articles about Sega’s incredibly popular mascot start this way?

The fact is, despite enduring a consistently more mixed (at times outright cynical and negative) critical reception than longstanding rival Mario from Nintendo, Sonic the Hedgehog still has legions of dedicated fans, and has done since he first appeared on our screens in 1991.

This month, we’re going to be taking a look at a wide variety of Sonic the Hedgehog games from across time, ranging from his first 2D platformer forays up until his more recent 3D adventures… and, of course, his extremely well-received return to 2D in the form of Sonic Mania, the physical Plus release of which was the catalyst for this whole set of features.

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SNES Essentials: Super Mario World

One of the biggest sources of playground arguments in my youth was whether Super Mario World or Sonic the Hedgehog was “better”.

I owned a SNES, so I should have been firmly in the Team Mario camp, but at the same time my brother was working on games magazines and regularly brought consoles home with him for us to try out — including a Mega Drive with Sonic the Hedgehog. And as such I learned to appreciate both on their own merits.

While less outright “impressive” in terms of spectacle than Sega’s classic — a fact that Team Sonic liked to rely on in aforementioned arguments — Super Mario World was certainly a game that kept me coming back for more. And for my money it remains one of the best Mario games — perhaps one of the best platformers — of all time.

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