“The eight soldiers get to attack the wicked terrorists!!”
So ran the promotional blurb on the arcade flyer for SNK’s Shock Troopers, a well-regarded installment in the Neo Geo library developed by Saurus and originally released in 1997 to both home- and arcade-based Neo Geo systems.
This is not by any means a unique setup for a video game, particularly an arcade title from the era, but what makes Shock Troopers truly special is its execution. And its presentation. And, well, everything.
Continue reading Neo Geo Essentials: Shock Troopers
Almost exactly a year after its previous installment, Ridge Racer got another mainline entry — a title which marked the franchise’s return to Sony platforms after its temporary dalliance with Microsoft.
Ridge Racer 7 was an exclusive title for Sony’s new PlayStation 3 platform — and in keeping with series tradition, it was a launch title, too — but it represented a less radical reinvention of the series than some of the previous games. In fact, those who played Ridge Racer 6 might find an awful lot of it quite familiar.
Ridge Racer 7, you see, is largely a reinvention of Ridge Racer 6, similar to how Ridge Racer Revolution was a reinvention of the original game. But that doesn’t make it a game you should pass up. Quite the opposite, in fact.
Continue reading Ridge Racer 7: The New “Revolution”
There have been a number of attempts to dethrone Nintendo’s Mario Kart over the years, but none of them have been successful, at least in the multiplayer sphere.
There is one aspect of Mario Kart that has pretty consistently sucked over the years, though, and that’s the single-player offering. Offering little more than predefined Grand Prix championships, one-off races or time trials even in the most recent installments, Mario Kart has always struggled to provide anything of real substance for the solo player. Which is fine, as the series has always been known for being best experienced with at least one friend, right from its inception in the 16-bit era.
This has, however, left a decent-sized gap in the market for other developers to come along and offer more robust solo experiences in kart racing titles. And one game that succeeds admirably in this regard is the cumbersomely titled Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed from Sega.
Continue reading Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed: Driving Into Dreams
Sega’s Yakuza series is perhaps one of the most misunderstood franchises out there to people who haven’t played it.
Prior to its original release, it was assumed that the game would be a Japanese clone of Grand Theft Auto. Then people saw its real-time combat and started assuming it was a brawler.
It is neither of these things. It is, in fact, one of the most well-disguised JRPG series you’ll ever play.
This article was originally published on Games Are Evil in 2013 as part of the site’s regular Swords and Zippers column on JRPGs. It has been edited and republished here due to Games Are Evil no longer existing in its original form.
Continue reading From the Archives: Yakuza’s Modern-Day Questing Makes a Fine JRPG
Any self-respecting gamer knows that if you really want to impress someone with your dexterity and prowess, you don’t fire up a Souls game, you fire up a bullet hell shmup.
Notorious for their screen-filling bullet patterns that seemingly demand superhuman reflexes to navigate, bullet hell (or, to give them their more “proper” name, danmaku) shoot ’em ups are a frightening prospect to get involved with. But you might be surprised at quite how approachable some of them are.
One such example of a danmaku shmup that is both accepting to genre newcomers and monstrously challenging to veterans is Gundemonium Recollection from Japanese doujin circle Platine Dispositif, originally localised for PS3 and PC by Rockin’ Android. It’s a game that isn’t afraid to slap you about a bit, but also a good place to familiarise yourself with some conventions of the genre.
And, well, it’s just a really good game to boot, too.
Continue reading Shmup Essentials: Gundemonium Recollection
The Raiden series is a venerable one in the world of video games, albeit one that is not quite as prolific as some series of similar age.
Originally appearing in arcades in 1990, the original Raiden followed the mould of vertically scrolling shoot ’em ups that had been established some eight years previously by Namco’s Xevious and later expanded on by other classics such as Capcom’s 1942 (1984), Nichibutsu’s Terra Cresta (1985) and Konami’s Twinbee (1985).
Raiden didn’t reinvent the wheel, in other words, and it could be argued that its subsequent installments haven’t, either — but the series remains nonetheless a distinctive, noteworthy entry in gaming history, with second-to-latest installment Raiden IV: Overkill being one of the best, most satisfying yet.
Continue reading Shmup Essentials: Raiden IV: Overkill
Nier: Automata is a fascinating game in its own right, but it becomes even more of an interesting story when you take it in context of everything that led to its creation.
In order to understand Nier: Automata and its predecessors, it is particularly important to understand creator Taro Yoko, one of the most distinctive “auteurs” in all of video game making — albeit one who, until the release of Automata, had largely flown under the radar in stark contrast to his contemporaries such as Hideo Kojima.
Yoko is a creator who, it’s fair to say, has consistently pushed back against the boundaries of what is “accepted practice” in video game development — both in terms of subject matter and mechanical considerations. And the results of his resistance to conventions and norms are some of the most distinctive and interesting — albeit sometimes flawed — creations in all of gaming.
Continue reading Nier Automata: Introduction and History