Titus, it’s fair to say, is not one of the most fondly regarded names in classic gaming — though a fair amount of their work was at least memorable for one reason or another.
That doesn’t mean it was a company completely incapable of putting out a good game, however. And in fact, when Titus was on top form, they actually made some really good titles that still hold up very well today.
I’d not heard of Aicom’s Vice: Project Doom (aka Gun-Dec in Japan) prior to Nintendo adding it to the Switch’s NES app. And neither, it seems, had a lot of Switch owners, since its addition to the lineup attracted even more complaining than you usually find underneath a Nintendo social media post.
I looked into it, though, and I was both intrigued by the prospect of the game… and unsurprised that no-one seems to have heard of it, despite it having had a Nintendo Power cover feature in May of 1991. It did, after all, come out at the very tail-end of the NES’ mainstream lifespan — and after the Super NES had helped bring console gaming into the 16-bit era.
It’s a shame that no-one’s heard of it, though, because it’s really frickin’ good. Let’s take a closer look.
Remakes and remixes of existing video games have been around for some time now, with some dating right back to the early days of home computer gaming.
One interesting example is 1990’s Yolanda from Millennium, a game that reimagines the well-regarded but atrociously presented 1984 Commodore 64 title Hercules for a slightly more modern audience. Well, in fact, it outright recreates Hercules with better graphics and sound, and puts a hot girl in the lead role instead of a badly drawn approximation of one of Greek mythology’s most famous figures.
Dubbed “the fastest and most difficult platform game ever” in advertising from the time, it’s… well, it’s quite something, for all the wrong reasons. Take a look.
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.
An interesting aspect of the Shantae series is how its presentation and execution has evolved over time.
While the first game, being released in the twilight years of the 8-bit Game Boy Color, represented the diminutive handheld being pushed to its absolute limits, the two subsequent installments in particular made a specific effort to be “modern retro” titles — games that emulated experiences from systems of the past while providing modern-day conveniences.
Risky’s Revenge, which we’re concerned with today, very much has its sights set on the 16-bit era. And it explores this concept with a clear knowledge and understanding of not only the classic 16-bit consoles, but also the earlier 16-bit home computers.