Star Wars Episode I: Jedi Power Battles

Star Wars Episode I: Jedi Power BattlesOrder this gameThe Game: As one of five Jedi Knights (or two, if you have a second player for cooperative mode), you take on the entire Trade Federation battle droid army in an attempt to reach Naboo, save Jar Jar and the Queen (and yes, you do have to save Jar Jar), and safeguard these two and a certain young potential Jedi from battle droids, Darth Maul and other menaces. And these aren’t your wimpy battle droids who short circuit if you tell ’em you’re taking the queen to Coruscant, either – these are kick-ass droids with slick martial arts moves who can inflict some serious damage. But then again…so can you. (LucasArts, 2000)

Star Wars Episode I: Jedi Power BattlesMemories: The second entry in LucasArts’ effort to mine Star Wars: Episode I for new Playstation games is a vast improvement over the previous, generically titled Phantom Menace game. And, at long last, Jedi Power Battles offers something that has been missing from the Star Wars video gaming genre for a long time: a chance to fight some battles with the lightsaber as your chief weapon. Continue reading

Star Wars: Demolition

Star Wars: DemolitionOrder this gameThe Game: Jabba the Hutt has convened a host of hotshot pilots and a fleet of modern (i.e. original trilogy) and outdated (i.e. prequel-era) vehicles to engage in winner-take-all vehicular warfare. Contestants and opponents include Boba Fett, super-armed Snowspeeders, Trade Federation tanks, bounty hunter Aurra Sing on her swoop bike, Battle Droids astride their STAPS, and others. Obstacles include slow-moving Jawa sandcrawlers, unpredictable Banthas, and a little thing we call the Sarlacc – and that’s just on the Tattooine track. Other tracks include Cloud City, Hoth, Naboo, and – how did Jabba get permission to race there? – the Death Star. (LucasArts [developed by Activision], 2000)

Memories: Star Wars: Demolition is right up there with the upcoming PS2 game Super Bombad Racing. Demolition is a decent game, but for the fans who demand something that cleaves tightly to the continuity of the Star Wars universe, you’d best look elsewhere. If you have any doubt, check the bullet point on the game’s packaging: Interactive environment – blow it all up! ‘Nuff said. Continue reading

Star Trek: Invasion

Star Trek: InvasionOrder this gameThe Game: Starfleet’s long-range probes detect a massive Borg invasion fleet headed for Sector 001 – an incursion that couldn’t happen at a worse time, since Starfleet is still licking its wounds after the costly Dominion War. Worf, now Klingon Ambassador to the Federation, dons his Starfleet uniform once more to head up the training and deployment of the Academy’s ace Red Squad pilots in a new class of solo fighter vessel, the Valkyries. In the course of training, unwelcome surprises come from all corners – the Romulans, the last remnants of the Cardassian Empire, a Starfleet Captain who inexplicably goes renegade, and a new threat as well… (Activision, 2000)

Memories: This long-awaited Star Trek game for the Playstation demonstrates that Sony’s nearly-ubiquitous little grey console still has a few tricks up its sleeve before the PS2 grabs the spotlight. Continue reading

Tatsunoko Fight

Tatsunoko FightThe Game: If there can be a collective of Super Friends, why not a cabal of supervillains? The forces of evil from the various anime series created by Tatsunoko Studios have merged their powers, so the heroes of those same universes must join forces to save us all. This saving takes the form of a lot of unarmed combat – you can probably figure out what to do from here. You must do battle with the great villains of those various shows – or even other heroes, in Vs. mode. Series whoses characters are included are Gatchaman (better known as Battle Of The Planets in the U.S.), Tekkaman, Casshan, and Polymer The Ha-Ri-Ken Fighter. A new character in the classic Tatsunoko Studios mold, Volter The Lightning, is introduced here for the first time. (Takara Toys, 2000)

Memories: When you think of Tatsunoko Productions, what’s the first thing that springs to mind? For me, it’s visions of armor-and-spandex-clad superheroes wearing helmets with transparent visors! No, seriously – virtually every Tatsunoko superhero has a helmet with a transparent visor. Check the screen shots below, see if I’m lying to you. I swear, they all do. Continue reading

Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?

Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?Order this gameThe Game: You know the routine! You and one other player (in this age of the Playstation multi-tap, why not a bunch of players?) compete to see who can give Regis the fastest finger (he’s a New Yorker, I’m sure he’s well accustomed to it by now). Whoever comes out on top earns the right to blast through sixteen increasingly frustrating trivia questions, aided only by two helpful lifelines and one marginally useless one. As the game progresses, gravity begins to fail with alarming regularity in the studio, as demonstrated by your repeatedly flying out of your own chair into the floor, ceiling, and all points in between. (Sony Computer Entertainment, 2000)

Memories: I admit, my summary of the long-awaited Playstation version of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? may be a little sarcastic, but I actually expected more – and less – from this game. Continue reading

Crazy Climber 2000

Crazy Climber 2000The Game: You control a daredevil stunt climber on his trip up the side of the Nichubutsu building, using no ropes, no nets, and nothing but his hands and his feet. Obstacles such as a large stork with (apparently flaming) droppings and a large gorilla can cause you to plunge to your death several stories below, and even minor things such as annoyed building tenants dropping potted plants at you from above can have the same disastrous effect. When you reach the top – if you reach the top, that is – a helicopter lifts you away to your next challenge. (Nichibutsu, 2000)

Memories: Go for it in 3-D, baby! It’s a crime that this excessively cool update of Crazy Climber has never been released in the U.S., for it is possibly the best update of a classic game ever. Crazy Climber 2000 is Nichibutsu’s second swipe at dragging Crazy Climber into the modern age of video games, and it is by far the more successful. Continue reading

Mario Kart Super Circuit

Mario Kart: Super CircuitThe Game: It’s a big day at the races, with a field of drivers selected from the Mushroom Kingdom: Mario, Luigi, Princess Peach, Toad, Bowser, and even Donkey Kong Jr. are among the racers vying for the top spot. From the grassy Mushroom course to the punishingly muddy Star course to the oceanside Flower course, there are challenges, hairpin turns and obstacles. Whoever can learn to navigate each course the fastest without ending up out of bounds struggling to get back on the course will be the winner. (Nintendo, 2001)

Memories: A better-than-merely-passable handheld version of Super Mario Kart, this game may actually exceed its inspiration by offering new environments, new drivers and other neat twists. For the most part, it’s a genuine improvement. Continue reading

One Piece Mansion

One Piece MansionOrder this gameThe Game: You control Polpo, the fleet-footed landlord of a bustling apartment building. Tenants come and tenants go, and as new ones move in you have to make sure they’re not getting on the nerves of their neighbors and potentially chasing away other paying tenants. You must also be wary of mischief-makers employed by a rival apartment complex, intruding on your property to drive your renters away. Successful management will lead to expansion of your apartment building, but losing track of what’s going on can leave you with an empty building, no matter how big it is. (Capcom, 2001)

Memories: In this era, where it seems like most new games fall into one of just a handful of popular genres (fighting, driving, first-person shooter, combat sim, etc.), it’s so refreshing to get a completely off-the-wall gem like this Japanese creation, which caught me completely off guard by (A) being translated to the U.S. market in the first place, and (B) being hilariously fun. The One Piece characters have a major cult following all their own in Japan, so this is just one of a series of games in that country. Over here, it’s a one-off oddity, but its simple, strategic, addictive style warrants repeat play. Continue reading

Star Wars: Rogue Leader – Rogue Squadron II

Star Wars: Rogue Leader - Rogue Squadron IIOrder this gameThe Game: A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, the Rebel Alliance calls on the hotshot pilots of Rogue Squadron for the toughest assignments – and that means you. You and your wingmen take on the defenses of the Death Star, buy time for a Rebel retreat from Hoth, beat Imperial forces away from Cloud City, and take on other high-risk assignments. A variety of ships is at your disposal, though initially you start out with a choice of the trusty X-Wing and the robust Y-Wing; if you advance to later missions, A-Wings and B-Wings become available too, along with a few others. (LucasArts, 2001)

Memories: It was hard to decide whether this game should be classified as a Retro Revival Review because in so many ways, the early stages of this game are the 1983 Atari Star Wars arcade game, resurrected with the benefit of 18 years’ worth of graphical advancement. Continue reading

Gatchaman: The Shooting

Gatchaman: The ShootingOrder this gameThe Game: The five who act as one – well, minus one character who doesn’t appear in the game – get their marching order from Dr. Nambu – get out there, infiltrate enemy bases, defeat enemy mecha, and kick as much ass as is deemed necessary. In practice, the game is exceedingly simple – advance upward through enemy territory, take out as many of Berg Katse’s masked men as possible, and live to face a huge mechanical boss. Four missions of increasing difficulty are included. (Bandai, 2002)

Memories: A nicely dressed-up scrolling shooter – think along the line of Taito’s 1980s coin-up Front Line – is at the heart of Gatchaman: The Shooting, one of an almost infinite number of similarly budget priced licensed-character shooters churned out by developers D3 Publishers for the Japanese market in recent years. Aside from the game’s simple but nicely-drawn and animated 2-D characters, the only real Gatchaman-specific content is a gallery of character artwork and some non-animated intro screens which appear between levels. Continue reading

Godzilla: Domination

Godzilla: Domination!Order this gameThe Game: As the lone monster not affected by the mysterious magnetic waves being released from Magnetic Meteor X, it’s up to you to fight your way through a series of crazed monsters and defeat the ultimate villain, Mecha-King Ghidorah. (Infogrames/Atari, 2002)

Memories: There’s a fine line between adding to a genre and simply copying it, a line that Godzilla: Domination is never quite able to cross. The makings of a fun game are all here: giant monsters battling throughout multiple interactive playfields, but unfortunately the formula has been done before, better. Continue reading

Battlestar Galactica

Battlestar GalacticaOrder this gameThe Game: Help Ensign Adama and the rest of the remaining humans defeat the Cylons and save humanity in Battlestar Galactica, the space-shooting prequel set 40 years before the popular televsion show. (Vivendi Universal, 2003)

Memories: Like millions of kids, my life changed forever back in 1977 when my parents took me to go see Star Wars for the first time. I loved Star Wars, I lived Star Wars. I had Star Wars toys, Star Wars cereal, and Star Wars Underoos. And for the first time on television, the following year we got… Battlestar Galactica. Ok, so it wasn’t Star Wars, but if you squinted your eyes just right Vipers looked like X-Wing Fighters and Cylons resembled shiny Stormtroopers. Between that and the fact that my parents told me that Starbuck was Luke Skywalker’s cousin, Battlestar Galactica became my “bargain bin” version of Star Wars. Continue reading

Intellivision 25 TV Game

Intellivision 25 TV GameThe Game: 25 choice cuts of Intellivision goodness are crammed into something about the size of a modern-day console controller. Games include Astrosmash, Body Slam Super Pro Wrestling, Buzz Bombers, Chip Shot Super Pro Buy this gameGolf, Hockey, Hover Force, Motocross, Night Stalker, Pinball, Shark! Shark!, Skiing, Slam Dunk Super Pro Basketball, Snafu, Space Armada, Space Battle, Space Hawk, Star Strike, Sub Hunt, Super Pro Football, Super Pro Volleyball, Thin Ice, Thunder Castle, Tower Of Doom, Vectron, and World Championship Baseball. (Techno Source, 2003)

Memories: And it sounded like such a neat idea when it was first announced. Really, it is still a good idea. Pack 25 games into a $25 standalone game that plugs into your TV or VCR’s auxiliary audio/video ports, and make them as true to the Intellivision as possible. The real problem here is that they only get so close. Continue reading

Capcom Classics Collection

Capcom Classics CollectionBuy this gameThe Game: Relive the golden years of arcades through the latest retro compilation disc, Capcom Classics Collection. CCC contains 22 classic arcade games along with tons of unlockable artwork, music and more. (Capcom, 2005, for Sony Playstation 2)

Memories: It is impossible to deny the impact retrogaming has had on the gaming industry. Those of us who spent our youth hanging out in smoke-filled arcades are now the prime videogame demographic. Many of us have spent hundreds if not thousands of dollars on games, and the companies from our childhood have figured out a way to tap into that cash flow – through retro compilation discs. It’s taken a while for companies to get the formula right; too few games or to high of a price, and consumers complain (or simply avoid) your package. Developers (particularly Sega) have experimented with “updated” versions of classic games, which have been met with mixed reviews. In 2005, manufacturers seem to have dialed in to what consumers want – arcade ports of 20 or more games for $20. Bonus features are a plus. Continue reading

Doctor Who: Attack Of The Graske

Doctor Who: Attack Of The GraskeThe Game: Somewhere in London, an alien menace is in the early stages of hatching a plan for world domination, and since he’s dropped Rose off to take part in an important historical event (namely, the 1979 Abba concert at Wembley Stadium), the Doctor asks you to help him find it. After the Doctor ties into your remote control with his sonic screwdriver, your first task is to monitor a seemingly normal family at Christmastime for any hints of alien incursion. The Doctor suspects the alien is a Graske, who invades worlds by replacing people, one at a time, with duplicates that he controls. Once spotted, the Graske leads the TARDIS on a wild goose chase through the time vortex, and the Doctor relies on you to help him operate his timeship’s controls in rapid succession. The chase leads back to Earth, but in an earlier era, where the Graske decides to try launching his invasion at a more vulnerable point in Earth’s history. It’s up to you to spot the Graske and then to accompany the Doctor to the Graske’s home planet, where you have to crack the codes to break into the creature’s inner sanctum and then put an end to his invasion plans. (BBC Interactive, 2005)

Memories: Available to viewers of the BBC’s Freeview and digital satellite services, Attack Of The Graske admittedly doesn’t have tremendous replay value. It’s the TV equivalent of a choose-your-own-adventure book, with only one right answer for each multiple-choice decision point. (I suppose that also makes it a latter-day descendant of Dragon’s Lair.) Continue reading

The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction

The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate DestructionOrder this gameThe Game: Hulk Smash. Okay, he runs, jumps, punches and throws stuff too in this action-packed game, but mostly he just smashes. Instantly theraputic for anyone who’s ever wanted to hit anything, The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction allows players to use the Hulk (and just about any item he comes across) to destroy his enemies and the environment around him. (Vivendi Universal, 2005)

Memories: Within five minutes of launching this game for the first time, I had destroyed a dozen tanks with my bare fists, knocked two helicopters out of the sky by throwing boulders at them, and killed an enemy soldier by beating him to death with a cow. If that’s not a recipe for fun, I don’t know what is. Continue reading

Taito Legends

Taito LegendsBuy this gameThe Game: Taito, the developer behind classics games such as Space Invaders and Bubble Bobble, is the latest videogame developer to release a retro arcade compilation. Taito Legends brings 29 classic videogames direct from the arcade to your Xbox, PS2 and PC. (Taito, 2005, for Xbox, Playstation 2 and PC)

Memories: While skimming the list of games included in Taito Legends, I realized that I have memories associated with almost half of them. I remember playing Rastan at the local bowling alley, Operation Wolf at the skating rink (while wearing roller skates, no less), Bubble Bobble at the corner convenience store and Space Invaders at Photon, our local laser tag arena back in the 80’s. There’s no denying that Taito has been a driving force in the arcade industry since its inception. Throughout the 1950s and 60s Taito produced pinball machines, arcade cranes, and jukeboxes, but it wasn’t until the release of Space Invaders in 1978 (released in the US by Midway) that the company became a blip on America’s radar. Continue reading

Tecmo Classic Arcade

Tecmo Classic ArcadeBuy this gameThe Game: Turn your Xbox into a virtual 80’s arcade with Tecmo Classic Arcade, the newest retro compilation disc to hit home consoles. (Tecmo, 2005, for Xbox)

See the videoMemories: Someone has definitely not been saving the best for last. Tecmo Classic Arcade follows a long line of classic arcade compilations which have been released this summer, including Capcom Classics Collection, Namco Museum: 50th Anniversary, Taito Legends and Midway’s Arcade Treasures 3. Unfortunately, no matter how you slice it, Tecmo’s game collection simply doesn’t stand up against the competition. Continue reading

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