Marvel Land is a game I had as a kid, but never completed. A while after the original release, it appeared outside of Japan as “Talmit’s Adventure” or something, but I always preferred the Japanese original. So the Japanese one is what I played through here.
It’s a happy fun blue skies platformer with slightly slippy physics. You know the sort – where floors don’t have quite enough friction when you land. It certainly took some time to get used to. Marvel Land’s “thing” is the bizarre attack you can perform by flinging copies of yourself around yourself. You need a power-up to give you a “chain” of clones, and then by pressing up or down you spin them around you, collecting items and attacking baddies. It’s very odd.
Sometimes, you can use these clones to grab a node, which lets you swing around and cross gaps or jump high. The more clones you have (attacking with them depletes them) the higher or further you go.
The other “thing” with Marvel Land is all the warp doors. As is common in many platformers, there are hidden (literally) or hard to reach doors that warp you to other parts of the level or even other levels. Nothing out of the ordinary there. Only in this game, some of the warps take you back to the start of the level. Or back a whole level, or several levels. There’s one particularly evil one in the penultimate level. It takes you right back to the very start of the game. I’ll not deny I reverted to a save state for that one.
Boss battles are a bit strange and thoroughly Japanese. One involves playing Janken, another is a bit Whack-a-Mole. Only the final boss actually involves a fight of any sort!
Marvel Land is a fun, happy, difficult, nonsensical platformer. It reminds me a lot of Magical Flying Hat Turbo Adventure, and that’s a good thing.
I have never played a Ys game before. I don’t even know how to pronounce it. “Wise”? “Ees”? “Why Ess”? Who knows. Something else I also didn’t know: Ys III is a Castlevania game.
Not an actual Castlevania game from that series of course. No, Ys III just plays a lot like one. There’s a castle, a clocktower, and even a boss that is very much like Dracula. It has the same mechanic for walking up and down stairs. Grinding to level up, just like the Metroidvania CV games, is also a thing here. Even the music sounds like it has comes from a Castlevania game, with a couple of the tracks sounding almost identical to music from that series. It’s also hard as nails. Castlevania, see?
Before I started playing it, I was expecting a party based RPG. Imagine my surprise then, when it was a side scrolling hack and slash game. And that was before I realised the Castlevania parallels. There’s some Zelda II in there too. Unlike those games, however, Ys III is pretty short. There are only four levels, one of which you do twice, and each is impossible until you’ve levelled up enough. The bosses ranged from laughably simple to nigh-on impossible (I really struggled with the fire lion thing), and in Castlevania II tradition poor translation meant I was clueless how to progress at least twice while playing.
Graphically, the sprites are not exactly the Mega Drive’s best, but the parallax backgrounds – especially the sunset – are incredible. Sound effects are nothing special, in contrast to the epic soundtrack. I found the controls a little unresponsive when it came to jumping. This made climbing up out of a cave more difficult that it really should have been.
On the whole though, Ys III is really rather good. If nothing like what I was expecting. There’s a remake available on the PSP and on Steam, the latter of which it seems I own somehow, so I might give that a go.
It required all of the credits, which, if I’d not been playing it on RetroPie would have meant re-mortgaging the house, but I completed it. Boy are some of those final few levels hard.
Pang is always a go-to game in the arcades for me. That, Pac-Land, Rampage, TMNT, Street Fighter II, Mappy, Out Run. I never got very far on a single credit in the past. Perhaps level 10 if I was very lucky.
But now, I’ve done it. Life goals, and all that eh?
I’ll be honest: I wasn’t expecting much from this Level Pack. It seemed a little contrived and almost like Warner Bros was scraping around their big ol’ IP library for something a little different and came out with this. They haven’t even got a “known” character as the main figure in the set – he’s just “Gamer Kid”.
However, it turned out to be awesome.
The level itself, for the most part, is quite small and doesn’t have a great deal to do in it, but the hook is that you unlock a load of actual real emulated arcade machines as you play. Gauntlet, Gauntlet II, Joust, Super Sprint (which, bizarrely, suffers from horrible slowdown), Defender, Spy Hunter and Robotron 2084 to name a few. There’s also a Lego representation of Paperboy, in which the flying monkeys from The Wizard of Oz have stolen the newspapers. It’s fun.
The dimension hub is fantastic too, with references to Rampage, Toobin’, Vindicators, Badlands, 720, Gauntlet and all sorts.
You know something? That Sonic Triple Trouble wasn’t so bad after all. You know what was bad? Sonic Blast on the Game Gear.
No, not Sonic 3D Blast – that’s a wholly different game, being in isometric and with Flickys to save and stuff. This is a standard Sonic platformer, or should I say, sub-standard. On paper it sounds great – platforming, Sonic, no Tails, 3D rendered graphics. However, the platforming is dire and the 3D rendered graphics are so low resolution they look terrible. Sonic has a giant head, appears to be permanently tilted out of the screen, and only two frames of animation.
He doesn’t seem right in the context of the levels. I’ve never been a big fan of the graphical style (and I’ve lamented before about how awful Super Mario Ball and Donkey Kong Country look too) but never before has it looked so ugly and jarring.
It isn’t just the graphics that I hate about the game though. The physics seem off too, and the levels are tiny. You get just one chance at each chaos emerald, and you have to hunt for the entrance to the emerald special stage in Act 2 of each level – it’s very easy to miss them completely. Luckily, the specially stages are incredibly easy despite the dreadful collision detection, due to how slowly Sonic runs. They are much like a cross between the Mega Drive Sonic 2 (into the screen, collect rings) and Sonic 3 (seems to be on a ball) special stages, but not as much fun.
The main levels are dull, and several seem to be watered down levels from Sonic & Knuckles – there’s a Sandopolis level (Yellow Desert Zone) and a Lava Reef Zone (Red Volcano Zone), but they’re sparsely populated and boring. If they were doing that I’d have hoped for a Super Sonic Space Chase like in Sonic 3 & Knuckles if I completed it with all the emeralds, but no – just a weak additional final boss.
In all, it feels like a Sonic game driven by having a new graphic style and written by some people who saw a Sonic game in a shop window once but have been given access to some of the assets. I’m glad I’ve played Sonic Blast, but only so I know not to ever again.
When I started playing this (it was cheap on the eShop, in case you’re wondering), I was convinced I’d never played this before. I mean, why would I? It’s got Tails in.
But then after a while it seemed awfully familiar. Especially the bit with the bouncy apple things. If only I kept a record of all the games I’d played somewhere. OH WAIT I DO. Yeah, nine years ago I played it on my PlayPal Game Gear clone emulation handheld device thing. Blimey. Nine years.
You’ll not be surprised to hear it hasn’t really improved since then. It’s not awful, but the cramped viewport makes the jumps hard and reaching some of the special stage TVs is a pain. On the plus side, unless you choose Tails as your character (and if you do, you need to be taken out and shot), he’s hardly in it.
Anyway, I completed it somewhat easily, with all the emeralds, and now I’m going to play Sonic Blast. Self-loathing as I am, see. Still, at least it isn’t Sonic Unleashed or something.
There’s a party tonight
Everybody was drinking
The house was screaming
And the bass was shaking
While I was in Neo Geo Pocket Colour Mode, I busted out SNK vs Capcom. The NGPC had a lot of fighting games, but perhaps the best was this crossover title featuring characters from both SNK and Capcom series.
I picked Ken, because Ken is Best, and quickly made it through as far as what I thought was the final boss battle – a team-up between M Bison from Street Fighter and Geese Howard from Fatal Fury. It was easy going until then, as I lost just one round (and that was close) before meeting that pair, then it all went wrong.
Several million attempts later, most of which ended before I’d even defeated one of the two fighters – and a few before I even got a single hit in – I finally beat them. Naturally, they were not the final bosses after all – Iori in full on Zombie mode was.
Thankfully, he was a much easier than Bison and Geese, although he still took a fair few attempts, and I’d completed it!
It has been a long time since I played a Neo Geo Pocket game, but having figured out why they hadn’t been working on Retropie (games have to be .ngc files, if you’re interested) I got stuck into Sonic the Hedgehog Pocket Adventure.
I remember being slightly disappointed when I bought it for my Neo Geo Pocket Colour back in the day. There I was expecting a new 2D Sonic platformer, perhaps a 2D version of the excellent Sonic Adventure on the Dreamcast. After all, it shares the same art style as that title, on the menus and box and stuff. Instead, what I got was a rehash of the Mega Drive version of Sonic 2.
As it turned out, that was awesome.
And it still is. Certainly, each level looks like a level from Sonic 2 – there’s your Emerald Hill zone, and your Aquatic Ruin zone, and your Metropolis Zone, but for the most part the levels have different layouts. They also all have new bosses, and Knuckles makes an appearance too.
There are reworked versions of the music from several different Sonic games, not just the second one, and the final stage more like the end of Sonic 3 and Knuckles than Sonic 2. Add to all this the hidden puzzle pieces hidden round the levels which you can collect and complete, and you can see why I loved it so much all them years ago. I think, bar remakes of Sonic 3 and Knuckles, Sonic the Hedgehog Pocket Adventure might be my favourite handheld Sonic title too.
Oh, and yes – I got all the Chaos Emeralds. I totally forgot the final one though, and had to redo the end boss to get it! That unlocked the final, final stage, which I also finished. Phew.
Run out of straplines for Fantasy Zone games, sorry.
More Fantasy Zone! Only this time, Super Fantasy Zone! Yes, it’s more of the same, but that is no bad thing at all. It is most similar to the arcade version of Fantasy Zone II, sharing a handful of baddies and of course a similar level of graphical fanciness.
Oddly, there are no permanent “gun” power-ups, unlike all the other games, and since the temporary ones run out so quickly they’re mostly useless: You’d benefit most from being able to use them on bosses, but of course they expire well before you make it that far.
One of the permanent “bomb” upgrades effectively makes the entire game a walkover too – the four-shot homing missiles. Constantly firing it invariably wipes out all the stray enemies, leaving you just the bases to destroy. These missiles also work on most of the bosses, allowing you to concentrate on avoiding their attacks while it automatically kills them for you.
So yes, it’s probably the easiest of all the Fantasy Zone games (I didn’t mention, but money is no object in this one either), but it is still a lot of fun. I particularly liked both the nods to Space Harrier in the final boss rush, and lots of bosses from previous games in the background. Easter eggs!
You may be aware that I have completed the very first Sonic the Hedgehog game a number of times in the past, but the 3D version, on the Sega 3D Classics Collection? Nope.
OK, I lie. I have. Sort of. You see, I already own 3D Sonic the Hedgehog – buying it when it appeared on the 3DS eShop as a single title. That was about three years ago though, despite me thinking it was actually earlier this year. I completed it back then, and today I completed it again via the 3D collection.
There’s little more to say. It is still an excellent game. It’s still very easy, and I obtained all the Chaos Emeralds. I did choose the “bulbous CRT” 3D effect to play through with which was pretty cool, if pretty pointless. Um, that’s it.
Now you see, you look at Thunder Blade and see how it’s technically quite clever, but gameplay-wise it’s awful, and then look at Galaxy Force II and see the correct way to use the technology. It’s fast, looks incredible, has very varied levels, and there actually seems to be a point to shooting down the enemy rather than just flying past them.
You’ve an energy reading which constantly counts down, dropping in big chunks if you get hit or fly into a wall or something. You can refill it by destroying enemies, with the total “collected” added to your counter after every section of a level.
Galaxy Force II is a tricky game, too. You have to accelerate through it as much as possible so your counter doesn’t drop before the end of the game, but have to weigh up the danger that causes – especially in enclosed areas. Pelt to the end, or slow down and try to wipe out as many spaceships as you can in order to “refuel”?
The 3D adds a huge amount to the game too. With it off, the game actually looks wrong, as if it was supposed to be 3D all along. Fantastic.
Only a handful of games left to complete on this 3D Classics collection now!
I’d actually started working through the Master System version of Fantasy Zone II, which is also on the Sega 3D Classics Collection, but after pausing the game on one of the final bosses, then saving the game state so I could play it later, I found I was left in an impossible situation and the only way out is to start the game again.
So instead, I started playing the 3D port of the original arcade game! It’s superficially the same, with similar levels, enemies and bosses, but the warping around system is totally different. Whereas in the Master System version the warps exist mainly just to split the level into four or five sections, here the flip between Light and Dark versions of the level. It seems that you can get different endings if you run into the bosses on just Light or just Dark areas of each level, but I pretty much just alternated between the two.
Another difference is that in the Master System Fantasy Zone II, Opa-Opa has an energy bar (which can be extended with power-ups), but in this version one hit and you’re dead. Well, one hit and you might lose your weapon, then with the next hit you’re dead.
I really enjoyed the game. Any blue skies game is always welcoming to play, and having enjoyed the first 3D Fantasy Zone a while back (which surprised me) I was pretty sure I’d like this. Now to tackle the Master System one again, I think!
Despite having played this before, a long time ago (on the Spectrum and Amiga at least, maybe once in the arcade), I was half way through Power Drift before I realised you could, well, drift. Round corners like, you know? The clue is right there in the name of the game but for some reason it never occurred to me to try.
That’s probably why I found the later tracks, on routes C, D and E, easier than the earlier ones, I suppose.
As for how the game plays, it’s incredible. Sure, the graphics look a bit rough now, and the way the road appears to be made out of various coloured logs is a little weird, but it is a lot of fun. The 3D is excellent, the faux-cabinet tilting effects add a surprising amount, and it’s so very, very fast. I think it may even be better than the 3D Out Run remake, although there’s no Magical Sound Shower so perhaps not.
To count as completed, I finished all five stages on all five courses (so 25 in all), plus two Extra Stages (where you race as the Afterburner plane!?) I unlocked. I think the lowest I placed was 2nd.
It was never the best of Sega’s arcade games. Impressive as it was, with the hydraulic cabinet and fancy (at the time) scaling sprites, I never really found it very much fun. I bought the Mega Drive “Super” version, which had neither of those selling points and it was dire. I wasn’t expecting much from the 3D update.
And I was right. It’s pretty poor. The 3D works well, and it has all the nice touches other games in the 3D Classics series have, like tilting display and “cabinet noises”, but it’s short, easy, and boring.
Much easier than Super Thunder Blade was, in fact. Not sure why that might be, but I’m sure that was a lot longer. I certainly never completed it, anyway. I don’t think I’ll be playing this again – the into the screen levels are fun but very short, and the vertically scrolling bits aren’t a patch on other shoot ’em ups.