Ridge Racer V was an important game for Namco.
Not only was it to be a follow-up to the incredibly well-received and popular Ridge Racer Type 4, it would also be the first installment of the series on a new generation of consoles — and a launch title for that system, the PlayStation 2, to boot.
Expectations were high for the new game to be both an impressive showcase for the new format and another solid installment in what was, by now, a well-loved and much-respected arcade racing franchise. The reality didn’t quite match up to these expectations… but it was certainly a damn good effort.
Continue reading Ridge Racer V: Back to Basics
I’ve always had a soft spot for block-breakers, ever since Arkanoid on the Atari 8-bit, and Puchi Carat makes me happy in all the right ways.
Combining elements of traditional classic block-breakers with mechanics from puzzle games such as the Puzzle Bobble/Bust-a-Move series, it’s an enormously addictive, highly unusual game that is simultaneously unique and absolutely representative of the time in which it came out.
In short, if you like adorable late ’90s anime style characters, coloured things going “pop” and gameplay that is as much about skill as it is about intelligence, Puchi Carat is definitely a game that you should check out.
Continue reading Puzzler Essentials: Puchi Carat
Better known by its other name Ace Combat 04: Shattered Skies, the fourth installment of Namco’s series of fighter jet games was released under a different name in Europe.
Ace Combat: Distant Thunder, as we shall refer to it from hereon because I am European so deal with it, is a game that, despite its age — and the fact it was the series’ first outing on PlayStation 2 — remains eminently worth playing today.
It’s also a relic of a different time, when flight simulators in general were a much more common sight on both computers and consoles than they are today… which in some ways makes it all the more noteworthy from a modern perspective.
Continue reading PS2 Essentials: Ace Combat: Distant Thunder
Elevator Action is an established classic of the ’80s arcade scene, and saw a wide variety of ports to most of the popular computer and console systems of the period.
While the original game is still relatively well-known today, many people remain unaware that Taito followed it up with an official sequel in 1994, some eleven years after the original game’s release.
These people are, of course, also unaware that Elevator Action Returns is an absolutely awesome game, even from a modern perspective.
Continue reading Taito Essentials: Elevator Action Returns
Cleopatra Fortune is an arcade game from 1997, developed as a collaborative effort between Taito and Natsume.
It’s a falling block puzzle of the type that was fashionable throughout the 16- and 32-bit eras in the mid-to-late ’90s. But despite having a touch of Tetris about some of its mechanics, it’s an altogether unique experience. And, moreover, unlike some of the more well-known names in the puzzle genre, particularly in recent years, it’s not one that’s been endlessly cloned, reskinned and recycled.
It is, however, brilliant.
Continue reading Puzzler Essentials: Cleopatra Fortune
The first game I ever played on the PlayStation 2 was Konami’s Shadow of Memories, also known as Shadow of Destiny in the States.
I’d wanted a PS2 for a while, but even back then, I felt like I didn’t want to pick up a game that I felt I already knew all about from reading about it in magazines. So I deliberately chose a game I knew absolutely nothing about as my first PS2 game, then sat down to play it and found myself utterly entranced by something quite unlike anything I’d ever played before.
Combining elements of traditional adventure games, visual novels and even open-world exploration, Shadow of Memories remains a highly noteworthy title in the PS2’s library, and well worth exploring even today.
Continue reading PS2 Essentials: Shadow of Memories
You’ve almost certainly played Zoo Keeper at one point or another over the years.
Originally developed as a Web-based game by Tokyo-based animation studio Robot Communications, Zoo Keeper was subsequently ported by developer-publisher Success to a variety of platforms over the years, including Nintendo DS, 3DS, Game Boy Advance, iOS, Android and PlayStation 2.
The latter of these, inexplicably rebranded to the even more generic-sounding Zoo Puzzle (or, more accurately, the questionably punctuated Zoo “Puzzle”) in Europe by publisher 505 GameStreet, is the one we’re primarily concerned with today.
Continue reading Puzzler Essentials: Zoo Puzzle