Tag Archives: 3DS

Boulder Dash XL 3D Review

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Way back in 1984 came an excellent platform puzzle game called Boulder Dash. It was a big hit on home computers of the time. The Atari 400/800 version came first, but the game made its way to the Commodore 64, ZX Spectrum, and some of the consoles like the Colecovision. There was even an NES port. Over the years it has seen newer versions. Some by First Star Software, the company who created it. Others by different developers who were licensed to do so.

PROS: A really great take on Boulder Dash with some refinements.

CONS: Some of the tweaks aren’t intuitive.

ROBOTS: Your quasi-human miners have been replaced by automatons.

In 2012, a small outfit called Catnip made a new version for the Xbox Live service, and computers called Boulder Dash XL. It replaced the main characters with robot interpretations, but it retained the spirit of the original game fairly well. It also added a few new spins on the game which I’ll get to in a bit. Boulder Dash XL 3D is a port of that game to the 3DS. This port was done by the folks at Ludosity who went on to make the well received Princess Remedy games on Steam.

For the uninitiated, Boulder Dash is a series where you collect diamonds while mining. You’re given a few minutes to get a certain number of diamonds, and then make your way to the exit. You do this, by moving around the stages, digging dirt, and picking them up. The challenge of course is trying to get these without getting crushed. Much like the rocks in Dig Dug, digging out the dirt from beneath the boulders will cause them to fall. You can also be crushed by the very diamonds you collect.

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But where Dig Dug focused more on defeating all of the bad guys in the stage to advance, Boulder Dash does a lot more with the boulders (hence the name.). Boulders, and diamonds will shift to the left or the right as they fall on top of one another.  When you first start out, the earliest levels are pretty easy to figure out. You’ll find you can get the required number of diamonds, and get to the exit. There’s a bit of risk/reward too in that you can also try to get all of the diamonds for bonus points rather than just the required number to exit. Of course, getting all of the diamonds requires nearly flawless puzzle solving skills. Often times making a mistake will not only keep you from getting that last diamond, but may get you trapped between boulders, forcing you to restart.

But its a very engrossing formula, and this version adds a host of new mechanics to an already fun game. There are transporters, there are boxes that turn boulders into diamonds, and vice versa. They even added a few power ups on some levels that are used in a number of puzzles. That’s in addition to some of the newer takes on enemy types featured here. There is a large wealth of content here too. There are around 100 stages or more for you to play through. This edition also has several modes in it.

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The primary mode is the Arcade mode, where the game puts you through the 100 stages in a row. This mode works with the traditional Boulder Dash rules. You’re given a time limit, and you have to get the qualifying number of diamonds to make the exit appear so you can escape as quickly as possible for the most time points. Again, getting every diamond is worth a huge bonus, but you risk running out of time, or trapping yourself if you don’t get them just right.

Next up is Puzzle mode, which gives you a 25 stage gauntlet. Every stage you complete can be replayed at any time, but you’ll have to beat them all in a row in order to see them all. This mode eschews the time limit, giving you more time to experiment, and figure out exactly how the level designers wanted you to find your way out of the mazes.

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Zen mode is essentially the Arcade mode but without the time limit. So in a way it feels like a giant practice mode where you can try to fine tune your techniques on each of the stages to minimize the amount of time it takes you to clear them. It’s pretty neat from that particular perspective, but most will likely prefer the Arcade mode over it since it’s a lot more high stakes, which feels more rewarding when you succeed.

 

Score mode features four stages where you can either try to go for the time bonus or you can try to get every last diamond possible. To get the best scores, you’ll likely have to skip a number of diamonds as it’s a balance of knowing how many diamonds, and how many seconds left on the clock will get you in terms of points. It’s an interesting concept some players may enjoy. To me it isn’t as interesting as the Puzzle mode, or as fun as the Arcade mode. But still fun to check out.

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Retro mode is one of the coolest inclusions in this game. It’s a combination of stages from the original game, as well as all new stages specific to this iteration. The interesting thing it does is replace all of the textures with the original 8-bit tile sprites from the Commodore 64 version of the first Boulder Dash. There are 25 stages in this set, and for older people like me who pick this up, the nostalgia it conjures up is great. But for people who never played the original, the newer stages are still a nice challenge. So even if you pick this up having never played the original, this mode gives you more content to enjoy.

 

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Visually, the main game on display here is pretty nice. The blocks, boulders, and diamonds all look pretty good, and the monsters all have pretty interesting takes on their original designs. There’s also a pretty good use of lighting considering the obviously smaller budget when compared to a lot of the big hits on the 3DS. Be that as it may, the change from the humanoid miners to robots is a bit weird. It by no means hampers the game. It isn’t going to make any old timers scream “Sacrilege!” to the heavens. It’s just a small change that doesn’t make any sense. As for the 3D, I couldn’t really test that out, as I own a 2DS which doesn’t have the 3D functionality. But honestly this isn’t the kind of game that requires 3D to enjoy. In terms of performance, I didn’t run into any major issues, though there was some minor slowdown when I caused a slew of boulders to fall at once. Still, it didn’t get in the way of the actual game play.

There isn’t much in the way of good audio here though. The soundtrack doesn’t have the up tempo, frazzled chip tune theme of the original. It has a mostly forgettable set list, with one or two songs that can even annoy a bit. Some of you may disagree, but honestly I think you’ll enjoy it more without the music playing. The sound effects themselves are fine. You can hear the falling boulders, and explosions perfectly well, and they fit the game as intended.

 

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Boulder Dash is one classic game that is perfectly suited to a portable platform. It’s the kind of game you can attempt to clear a map or two in during a lunch break, or commute. But you can also spend a weekend away, putting in a few hours into going for a high score, or solving puzzles. It’s also just a great game in its own right. This version on the 3DS is a pretty fun, and convenient iteration of the game. It’s probably not going to live up to the lofty heights of the original versions for those who grew up with them. But be that as it may this is (as Metal Jesus Rocks might say) a hidden gem in the 3DS library. It’s addictive. It’s fun. It’s Boulder Dash.

Final Score: 8 out of 10

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Senran Kagura 2: Deep Crimson Review

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As a game collector, I occasionally stumble into titles. Games I have no prior knowledge of. Or very little knowledge of. Like some of you this will begin online, and end in a storefront. Earlier this year, Mark Bussler over at Classic Game Room did an episode on Senran Kagura: Estival Versus for the PlayStation 4. A very bizarre, over the top hack n’ slash action game with an emphasis on endowed characters. I like to think I know a bit about esoteric games. But I had no idea that this was actually a series.

Imagine my surprise one day when I saw this sequel for the 3DS sitting on a store shelf. “They put a sequel out, on Nintendo’s handheld?” I thought. Well yes. Except this ISN’T the sequel to the PlayStation 4 game. After some research I discovered that the series oddly enough, started on the 3DS in Japan. So this game is the sequel to THAT game, and the one Mark reviewed on his show is actually a spin-off.

PROS: Great graphics, responsive controls, a simple combo system that isn’t mundane.

CONS: Some of the content isn’t for everybody. Can get a bit lowbrow.

COLLECTIBLE: Apparently the print run for this game wasn’t very high in the USA.

Senran Kagura 2: Deep Crimson is an arcade style hack n’ slash game. You’ll go through a variety of stages fighting hordes, and hordes of enemies. There are also, of course, bosses. As you play through the campaign you’ll be introduced to a wide variety of characters. Many of whom you will be able to take control of throughout the game.

The controversial gimmick in this series is where some folks may have some reservations about picking one of these games up. When you’re fighting enemies, you’ll find your attacks will rip their clothes to shreds. When they’re just about dead, they’ll be down to their undergarments. Your characters are subject to these rules as well. Take enough damage from opponents, and your clothes will be ripped to pieces. When you’re completely out of health you’ll be down to your underwear as well.

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The game plays the gimmick more for laughs, and less for eroticism. Even if the camera angles during transformations are peculiar. But like an R Rated B movie comedy on Cinemax in 1995, it can come off as kind of crass. Of course humor is subjective. Some are going to laugh at how over the top it is. Others are going to be totally confused. While some may even feel a little offended. The game is absolutely unabashed in its presentation. So again, this game is most certainly not for everyone.

Fortunately, there are enough good things about Senran Kagura 2 that action game fans may want to check it out. The fighting system isn’t the most technical, it’s actually fairly simple. But not so simple that things feel mundane. It feels a bit like the Rocksteady Batman Arkham games. You mix up attacks with a weak, and strong button which result in some really awesome combos. They aren’t deep, but the animations are brisk, and smooth. There’s also a nice variety of moves during these sequences as well.

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You can also jump, and do air attacks using the jump button with the attack buttons. There’s also a dash you can use. Finally, there’s a transformation sequence you can perform once you earn enough scrolls while playing. These are reminiscent of the transformation scenes from the old Sailor Moon anime. The off-putting difference being where the characters place their scrolls during these sequences. Once transformed you can then perform a super when you have enough of a meter filled. You use these by pressing the L button along with other buttons which do a variety of crazy animations. These are normally the kinds of things you can see in fighting games like Street Fighter V or Marvel Vs. Capcom 3.  There are even tag team combos you can do in some levels where you’re forced to toggle between multiple characters.

Senran Kagura 2 also has a couple of camera options when playing. By default the camera will stay fixed, and you can target enemies with the D-pad if you feel more comfortable locking on to them. If you’re playing on a 3DS (Sorry 2DS or 3DS XL owners) you can also use the optional Circle Pad Pro. This lets you run the camera freeform like a mouse, or a second thumb stick. The newest 3DS can also do this with its built-in Circle Pad Pro replacement. As I own the 2DS I really couldn’t test this option out, but I was able to play fine with the fixed camera.

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All of this makes for a hack n’ slash beat ’em up game that feels really good. Again, everything flows smoothly, and quickly. You quickly find yourself going from enemy to enemy seamlessly, and racking up crazy combos. Whether you come from classics like Double Dragon, Streets Of Rage, and Final Fight or modern games like God Of War, Devil May Cry, or Dynasty Warriors you’ll likely enjoy the fighting system here. Tamsoft were also the developers behind Onechanbara. But where that series can sometimes feel mundane, and repetitive this game doesn’t.

I think a major reason it doesn’t is because there is a wide variety of enemies on display, each with a different set of strategies needed to defeat them. There are various monsters, ninjas, soldiers, other students, and storyline characters to go up against. The vast number of playable characters also helps. Each character plays completely different from the rest of the cast. Some characters are faster, with attacks that do minimal damage, but also stun enemies so you can get in more hits. Others are slower with far more powerful attacks. Then you have others that fall somewhere in between. It can again, feel like a fighting game in that regard. You can try using the entire cast, or you can settle on one character you feel most comfortable with. Of course the campaign will make you play with each character as there are scenes that require particular characters for the storyline.

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The game has a fairly extensive campaign where you’ll follow the adventures of several stables. These are good, and evil students of Shinobi who rival one another. But as the story goes on you’ll discover that they also have common enemies. I don’t really want to give anything away, but it’s a halfway decent romp. It isn’t the most original story, and there are a lot of events you’ve seen dozens of times in other games. But I will give it credit for at least attempting to give each of the characters some personality beyond being simple eye candy. There are actual motivations, cares, fears, and some moments of genuinely funny dialogue. It has its share of common archetypes mind you. There’s the super serious personality, the hyperactive personality, the one that second guesses themselves constantly, the brash personality. But there are some original takes on them here.

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Don’t get me wrong, you’re not going to hold up the storytelling in Senran Kagura 2 alongside revered tales told in Portal, Half-Life, Deus EX, or System Shock 2. This is still a very silly, over the top game. But it does at least try to be more than a soft core button masher. That said, some of the extras don’t, like the  game’s costume decorator where you can pick the two outfits for any given character. You get to unlock new ones as you play the game. Some of them are actually pretty cool looking, while others are right out of Bikini Car Wash Company. Rounding out the extra features is the AR photo mode. This mode lets you take any of the player models, and super impose them over a photo you take with the 3DS camera.

Senran Kagura 2 also has a Co-Op mode, where you, and a friend can sync up your 3DS systems, and play the campaign together, or replay individual missions together. Back on the single-player  front, you can go back, and play any previous stage with any character to level them up. At the end of every stage you’re also given a rating. The better you do, the higher your score, and the more unlocks you’ll receive. Senran Kagura 2’s difficulty does start to really ramp up around halfway through the game. So going back, and replaying earlier levels with some of the newer characters you unlock isn’t the worst idea.

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In between levels you can also go back to a hub level, which changes between chapters. There are 5 chapters, each with several missions. Senran Kagura 2 is a pretty long game all things considered. The hub level lets you communicate with the characters for some back story dialogue. You can also choose to enter one room to go on missions, one for each of the various modes, as well as the options menu. Here you can change audio, and visual settings. You can also turn off the clothes tearing sequences if you want. You can also use the sub-menu on the touch screen to jump to any of these rather than walk around the hub.

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All in all, Senran Kagura 2 is actually a pretty fun, and challenging game if you can get past the exploitation B movie vibe of everything. There’s no full frontal nudity or intercourse on display so this doesn’t get into anything overtly pornographic. But it isn’t embarrassed about its suggestive camera angles, or dirty jokes either. Which is why  it still isn’t something for everyone. If, however you can look past the risqué elements you’ll find a pretty good action game, and R rated comedy underneath it all.

Final Score: 8 out of 10

Shovel Knight Review

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I know, I’m late to the party again. I can’t always help it. Once, again you probably don’t need me to tell you to play Shovel Knight either. It’s gotten all sorts of critical acclaim, and has done so well that the folks at Yacht Club Games have a physical disc version out for consoles. Not to mention the amiibo figure for fans of the Nintendo Wii U version.

PROS: Old school action platforming inspired by Mega Man & Duck tales!

CONS: High difficulty will scare away some. Anticlimactic end boss.

WHAT?: There’s a super secret mode for those who can beat the game.

So what can I say about Shovel Knight you might not know about? Probably not very much, but I’m certainly compelled to attempt it. Shovel Knight is a 2D action platformer with art, and music inspired by games that came out on the Nintendo Entertainment System. Most notably, the first six Mega Man games, and Duck tales.

The game also borrows ideas from Super Mario Bros. 3, and Zelda 2. Basically, if you were a big fan of Capcom or Nintendo, in 1987, there is a lot of fan service here for you. The game starts you out with some entertaining cinema screens to set up the action. You play a knight who goes into a depression after losing his comrade on a mission. He retires, and in his absence a sorcerer takes over the land. Fearing for their lives, many powerful knights align themselves with her, and plunder the surrounding kingdoms, each one taking a kingdom over.

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From here your knight picks up his trusty shovel (hence the name), and proceeds to go on a quest to take back the land. After an introductory mission, that helps get you acclimated to the controls, you’ll be placed on a map much like the one in Super Mario Bros. 3. There are mission stages, wandering enemies, villages, and bonus stages. Each segment allows you to play three missions in whichever order you choose.

Villages work the same way games like Zelda 2, the Ys series, and other action RPGs do. You can go into shops, get items to use in missions, level up your life capacity, weapons, and even interact with characters. Shovel Knight even adds a number of hidden secrets in the villages, as well as throughout the game. Some of them are almost necessary to find if you want to be victorious.

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As in the classic Mega Man series, you will face a boss at the end of each mission. The boss will have a pattern you need to analyze, and learn in order to defeat them. On your way to the boss, the stages are full of the tricky jumping, and challenging enemies you would expect. Much like Scrooge McDuck, and his cane, Shovel Knight has a pogo move with his shovel. He can also swing the shovel at bad guys, and use the money he finds in the stages to level it up. Also like Duck tales, there are hidden rooms throughout the stages that give you access to treasure, sheet music that you can bring to a minstrel, and hidden shops.

Finding these hidden shop items can be a Godsend. Some of them make getting through some areas much easier. In the case of some of the game’s bonus levels, they’re actually required. They can also deal higher damage on bosses than your shovel, or magic items you find in the towns. But the standard magic items are important too, giving you the secondary weapons that work better on certain grunts, or even bosses. Again, it certainly feels like Mega Man, except that the bosses aren’t the ones leaving you the weapons.

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Clearing the mission levels will break the barriers on the map (similar to Super Mario Bros 3’s locks), and open up newer areas. Again, revealing three more missions, and other spaces. The wandering enemies on the board are also worth going to. Most of them are mini boss affairs, but defeating them will give you a lot of cash, and a bit of background lore.

Speaking of cash, it is also important to collect as much as possible. It’s also important that you fail as little as possible. Shovel Knight doesn’t give you a traditional lives system the games that inspired it do. There isn’t a game over screen upon losing a certain number of lives. Instead the game takes away a big chunk of your money every time you die. It leaves some of that money hovering above your resting place for you to take back on your next attempt.  But each failure costs, more, and more until you have nothing left.

 

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The game also has a woman in one of the towns who keeps tabs on the gold you’ve collected, number of times you’ve died, among other statistics. It also gives you a final tally at the end of the credits if, and when you do manage to complete the game. Beating the game also gives you the chance to replay the entire game in the role of one of the bosses.

Shovel Knight does have a few minor differences between its versions. If you play it on Xbox One, it includes a showdown with the Battletoads. PlayStation 4 owners get a similar showdown, but with Kratos. Wii U players get a cooperative mode, while 3DS users get a list of challenges. If you play the game on your computer, you’ll have  a couple of performance options over the console versions. Console owners can also buy the game physically for a bit more than the price of the digital download.

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Any way you choose to go though, is going to give you a good time. I know I’ve mentioned similarities to some great classic games. That isn’t really a complaint though. Shovel Knight takes the best aspects of those old games. But it also does a lot of new things with them, including some well made puzzles built around them. I also didn’t talk much about the style of the game. If you haven’t played it, and are only looking at screenshots here, you might want to sigh at first. True, a lot of small businesses making platformers these days have gone for the look of an old system.

But Shovel Knight has some of the best sprite work around. It really does emulate the look of an NES very well. Better than many of its contemporaries. It also does a lot of clever visual tricks, and uses these tricks in the actual game design. For example near the end of the game, there is a section where a storm comes into view. During which, all you can see are silhouettes of characters, and objects. In this section many of the platforms are hollow, and you’ll fall through. It is only by looking for one specific detail that you can tell where you need to go.

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It does something similar in one of the boss encounters. Even when it doesn’t effect game play, it just nails the look of an NES game.  The palettes, the parallax scrolling, all make Shovel Knight feel like it could have been made by Capcom back in 1988. The music isn’t too shabby either. Yacht Club made sure that every song sounded like it is playing on an NES. Five channels, with the bending frequency noises, and orchestrated in some of the catchiest chip tunes in recent memory.

Again, all feeling like a late 80’s NES game made by Capcom. If you were a big fan of Mega Man, or Duck tales back in the day this is certainly a game that will be up your alley. It’s also going to be a great game for anybody who appreciates a great challenge. There are some very difficult parts in this game. But in all of the right ways. It’s the kind of challenge that will be infuriating at times. But also addictive enough that you will keep chiseling away at it until you’re victorious.

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If I have any complaints with Shovel Knight, it’s mainly that sometimes you’re going to feel a little bit off. You’ll feel like you should have been on a surface, but the game will disagree with you. It is mainly on one or two very rare occasions, that involve a very specific object that I don’t want to spoil for you here. Granted, I know the game has been out awhile, but there are still plenty of you who didn’t get around to checking this out yet.

But you should, because aside from that one grievance it’s a really good action platformer. One that is still being supported heavily by its creators over a year later. So much so that there are even free expansions yet to come for it.  If you missed out on it before, or are the sort who has to have a tangible copy of every game you own on a shelf, pick it up. The physical disc version came out recently, and doesn’t cost too much more than the downloadable version. If you choose to play the PC version however, I highly recommend a game pad. You can use a keyboard if so inclined, but things will feel a bit more natural for most players.

Final Score: 9 out of 10

 

Mighty Final Fight Review

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Toward the end of the original Nintendo Entertainment System’s run there were a number of great (and not so great) titles that came out as the Super NES was coming into its own. Capcom put out a number of these games as the console began to fall by the wayside in the last few years. Mega Man 6, Rescue Rangers 2, Duck Tales 2, and of course Mighty Final Fight.

PROS: All of the protagonists are here. Action translates well.

CONS: Short. A sharp difficulty spike near the end.

LEVEL UP: There is an NES Double Dragon style EXP system.

Mighty Final Fight came out at a time when the Super NES was seeing a number of arcade beat ’em up, and tournament fighter ports. Capcom had already ported the Final Fight arcade game to the console albeit with a number of things removed to be able to fit onto the cartridge.

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Knowing that the NES couldn’t handle the game, Capcom made this an entirely new game set in the same universe. Even though it is technically far less capable as the cut down Super NES port of Final Fight, in many ways it is a much better game.

Mighty Final Fight has an almost identical storyline. Mayor Mike Haggar’s daughter Jessica is kidnapped by the Mad Gear street gang. So he decides to take matters into his own hands, beating the crap out of every last criminal he sees. Until he gets to the boss of the entire Mad Gear operation. Joining him again is Jessica’s boyfriend Cody, and Cody’s friend Guy who was absent in the initial Super NES arcade port.

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So the NES game already has one leg up on its younger brother here. Game play is also pretty close to the Super NES. Characters can be grappled by approaching them diagonally, then they can be dispatched by any number of moves. All of the throws, pile drivers, and special moves are back.

Once, again pressing the attack, and jump buttons at the same time will execute a special move. Using these moves also takes away some of your life bar just like it does in other versions of Final Fight. But here is where the game begins to veer off into spin off territory. Mighty Final Fight takes a page from the NES port of Technos’ Double Dragon. You will see a meter on the lower right section of your HUD. Next to that is an experience counter.

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As you pummel bad guys you will raise the number of experience points. When you get to the maximum number, the bar will fill up further. Each bar within the bar you fill increases your health meter, your damage output, and decreases the amount of punishment you take upon being hit. Using grapple moves will give you more points. So playing as Haggar means you’ll want to be using pile drivers. Using Cody or Guy you’ll probably be doing a lot of throws. Interestingly enough, choosing Haggar starts you out with three full bars of experience, while choosing either Cody or Guy will start you out with one.

Leveling up to a certain point will also unlock an additional move for you to use. Unlike the arcade version of Final Fight or its ports, the weapons you can find in oil drums are character specific. Haggar will always have a hammer. Cody will always have a knife, and Guy will always have shurikens.

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Of course Mighty Final Fight also differs in the actual stage layouts. They keep the general theme of the arcade machine’s stages. The game even has a map similar to the arcade game’s in between levels. But you’re getting an entirely different run of levels. In the first stage you’re fighting through the streets, then a rooftop. Stage two you’re fighting your way to an area that resembles the next to last stage in the arcade version. Stage three is a section called Old Town which has some minor similarities to the arcade’s West Side stage.

At least in terms of style. Here there are sections with giant pits in the road, and the action leads to wrestling arena like the arcade machine’s second stage finale. Stage four feels entirely like an alien experience. It is supposed to be the factory district, but instead has a warehouse area. You also end up on an elevator leading to a bar. This brought me back to The Simpsons Arcade game moment near the end of that game’s graveyard level. The final stage is called the Bay Area but has little to do with the arcade game’s. Instead, it’s a hodgepodge of the arcade’s Uptown, and other parts of the game.

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Mighty Final Fight also rearranges the order of the bosses, and even replaces a couple of them. You’ll still fight Damnd at the end of the first stage. But after that you’ll see Abigail, then Sodom, then a palette swap of Sodom who is supposed to be his relative. You’ll still fight the same final boss in Belger, except this time he is a cyborg. Mighty Final Fight also makes you rematch two of the bosses on the way.

The game has a super deformed look, and goes for a bit more humor. Don’t get me wrong, this is one of the nicest looking games Capcom put out on the NES. But it might throw you off coming into it from any of the other Final Fight games. Everything looks like it was inspired from the Technos Double Dragon NES ports. Big heads with detailed, yet tiny bodies rule the character designs, and stages are incredibly short, yet filled with challenges. Many key enemies return for this installment, though not all of them. You’ll see Poison (who was edited in the Super NES port of Final Fight), Andore, J, among others. As I said before, the game play is almost identical, though you’ll only ever see two enemies at a time. That doesn’t make them any less cheap though. They’ll still try to sandwich you, and force you to memorize exactly when to throw an attack at them.

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The music in the game is pretty good. None of the arcade game songs show up, but the original songs here fit the action very well. Unfortunately they aren’t very memorable or iconic the way the mainline game’s soundtrack is. Sound effects are about what you would expect. Similar smacks, and smashes you’d hear in River City Ransom, Double Dragon, or Bayou Billy are here, and sound great.

There isn’t too much to complain about with Mighty Final Fight. Some might feel it could be a little bit longer.  It is also fairly challenging if you don’t remember exactly how to read enemy patterns in the series. Enemy attacks tend to hurt you a lot, and they’ll even use the environments to their advantage, kicking you into pits, or off of ledges. They’ll also sandwich you, forcing you to use your desperation moves.

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But over time you can become acclimated to these patterns, and once you start decimating them with enough of your grapple moves the game becomes a lot easier. Still, some may balk at the initial difficulty. The other thing to keep in mind is the cost if you’re a purist. In most cases an NES Game Pak will cost you at least $150. That’s just the cartridge. Expect to pay several hundred dollars if you find it with a box, and manual.

Fortunately there are other legitimate ways to play this. The Capcom Classics Mini Mix compilation on Game Boy Advance included it. This can be had for around $7. Or if you have the 3DS or the Wii U, the ROM is on the eshop as a download for a mere  $5.

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Mighty Final Fight is easily worth a recommendation for any fan of Beat ’em ups. It controls well. It retains the game play of the arcade cabinet it is loosely based off of. It’s one of the nicest looking games in the NES library. It also happens to be as fun, and interesting as later Final Fight games.

Final Score: 8 out of 10

Reposted Review: VVVVVV

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(Originally posted on the defunct Blistered Thumbs community blog.)

Strangely titled, and awesome: VVVVVV

One of the quirkiest, independently made games in recent years, VVVVVV is a love letter to NES, and C-64 gaming. Why should you experience this dedication to the 8-bit era? Read on.

PROS:  Challenging puzzle/platform/adventure gameplay. Awesome soundtrack. Bonus content.

CONS: Some of the endgame stages may prove too difficult for a few players.

WTF?: There’s a giant psychedelic elephant that makes you cry. Really.

Originally part of Indie Humble Bundle #3 Terry Cavanagh’s VVVVVV was met with critical acclaim.

It’s well deserved. VVVVVV offers an awful lot of features, and options for a low price point. There are full priced packaged titles that give less entertainment than this title. The fact the requirements for the Windows, and Macintosh versions are fairly low also widens the number of people who can run it. VVVVVV tells the story of a crew of palette swapped beings who find themselves marooned after a mysterious explosion causes their ship to crash. When it does, Captain Viridian finds himself on a quest to find his missing compatriots, and then escape the strange dimension they’ve been stranded in.

VVVVVV’s campaign makes very good use of it’s gameplay mechanics. The game is built around a gravitational “flip” idea. Instead of jumping over enemies, and environmental hazards like spike pits, instead Captain Viridian flips upside down, and is pulled toward the ceiling. Other times you’ll need to do the opposite. As you get farther into the game, you’ll be introduced to new tweaks on the idea which in turn lead to some really crafty puzzles. The idea has been done before. Capcom experimented with this way, way back in Mega Man 5. One of that game’s Robot Masters was Gravity Man whose entire stage was built on this flip gravity mechanic.

Where as that game only had one stage in which this was successfully tried, VVVVVV takes the ball, and completely runs with it. Not only are there a greater variety of puzzle like traps to solve, but all of these rooms tie together creating a world similar to the way the original Metroid  did but with the sensibilities of Pitfall II: Lost Caverns. Everything ties together nicely. There is plenty of reference humor buried within it’s walls as well. From the visual style which is a clear reference to the Commodore 64′s 16 color graphics, to the music which hints at both the C-64′s SID sound chipset, as well as the memory of NES New Wave styled chiptunes.

Speaking of chiptunes among other things, VVVVVV features 20 gold records hidden throughout the game. If you find them all, you can unlock the songs to be played back on your ship through terminals.

Terminals can also be found throughout the game. Some of them advance the plot with dialogue. Others offer more reference gags (SYNTAX ERROR). As you rescue your friends they will help you out in various areas. Some will give you hints as to where the next crew member is. There are also some capsules in each puzzle room to spawn you to if you die. On the topic of deaths in this game, there are no permanent deaths. (At least until you unlock the no death mode which forces you to beat the entire game on one life)

This really works in the game’s favor as it makes it more accessible for novices who can keep retrying at their leisure. However the game also tracks the number of times you die, as well as the length of time you’ve spent trying to win. This gives the die-hard crowd something to shoot for, giving speed runners something they can sink their teeth into. If a really deep campaign isn’t enough to sate you, VVVVVV also gives players a full-fledged level editor. You’ll have access to all of the tiles, objects, and enemies from the main game to make for your own stages. You can also share them with other players who can import them, and play them.

If there are any gripes about this game they are few. Sometimes controls get a little touchy, leading to unintentionally sliding off of a ledge onto spikes or not registering a flip on time. Faster computer systems will actually speed up the game a bit too, making some of the game’s puzzles more difficult to complete. But after some time playing you’ll grow used to it. The level editor doesn’t have much of a tutorial either, so prepare to be shooting in the dark at first.

Outside of those nitpicks there really isn’t much to whine over.

In short, you need to buy VVVVVV. There are so many good things here it would be a misfire on one’s part to skip it. Plus with the low asking price of $4.99 (Win/Mac) one could buy it by skipping a couple of sodas. Portable gamers may wish to spend a little more on the Nintendo 3DS version which allows you to see the map on the lower screen.

Final Score: 9.5 out of 10 BUY IT NOW!