It is the ’90s, and there is time for Klax.
To be fair, there is time for Klax whenever you care to make time for Klax. It is currently 2018, for example, and there is still time for Klax, so I always thought this particular marketing slogan was rather odd. But it was certainly memorable if nothing else, and few would argue that the dude depicted playing Klax on the cover of Tengen and Domark’s Atari ST release of this match-3 puzzler is not a quintessential example of a distinctly ’90s-looking gamer.
Anyway. Klax is one of the earliest puzzle games I recall having a good time with — I actually played it before I played Tetris for the first time, I believe — and it still holds up well today. Though I’m absolutely not as good at it as I used to be. And the Atari Lynx version is better. But this ST version is still worth a look!
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As we’ve discussed on numerous previous occasions, the shoot ’em up genre is a lot more diverse than you might think.
Over the years, we’ve seen this initially straightforward genre blossom into something that encompasses a wide variety of distinct mechanics: the precise navigation of danmaku games, the pattern recognition and twitch reflexes of twin-stick shooters, the emphasis on memorisation and “risk versus reward” of Gradius-style games and plenty more besides.
One of the most interesting ways in which developers have experimented with the genre as a whole is through combining it with other genres. To date we’ve seen attempts to blend it with fighting games (such as the Suguri series), platform games (such as Rabi-Ribi) and even puzzle games. Murasaki, a 2014 release from Japanese doujin circle Katatema, falls into the latter category.
Continue reading Shmup Essentials: Murasaki
It was pretty common in the Atari 8-Bit era for games to offer a bit of a new twist on established formulae. You had to make your games stand out, after all!
In Juice!, a game developed by Arti Haroutunian and published by Tronix, you take on the role of “Edison, the kinetic android” who is essentially a mechanised electrician. It’s up to you to connect all the wires on the board to get things up and running again while avoiding the unwanted attention of various electrical-themed enemies.
If you watch the video, it probably won’t take you long to notice that the game bears an uncanny resemblance to Q*Bert in some ways — but there’s enough different here to keep things interesting, and this remains a great, highly playable game for Atari 8-bit computers.
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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 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.
Continue reading Game Boy Essentials: Donkey Kong
Despite selling extremely well, Nintendo’s Wii — or, more accurately, its software library — is not something that gets talked about a whole bunch these days.
This is largely down to the fact that its motion and pointer controls were seen by many as “gimmicky” despite how accessible they made gaming to people who had historically never picked up a controller. But, as anyone who has taken the time to get to know the Wii and its substantial library of games will know, games where you point a remote at the screen aren’t automatically “bad”… or even “casual”.
Sometimes they’re really good. Like Eledees by Konami, also known as Elebits outside of PAL regions. But I’m from a PAL region, so it’s called Eledees so far as we’re concerned!
Continue reading Wii Essentials: Eledees
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