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Namco Museum Encore

Namco Museum EncoreThe Game: All aboard! Now departing the Namco Museum aboard the spaceship Game Space Milaiya. Namco’s retrospective series literally takes off for its final ride on the Playstation with a collection of seven games, from the earliest days of Namco’s video game empire to more recent arcade titles. (Namco, 1997 – for Playstation)

Memories: For the final PS1 outing of the Namco Museum series, Namco turned out what easily could have been the user-friendliest volume yet, dispensing with the tedious “Doom minus the action” museum settings and otherwise simplifying things dramatically. In short: doing away with the extraneous trappings to make way for more games. Continue reading

Builder’s Block

Builder's BlockBuy this gameThe Game: Eat my dust, SimCity. Builder’s Block doesn’t ask you to build a city that conforms to any notions of political or environmental correctness. It just asks you to build it fast – damn fast. Match up color-coded blocks to expand the size of your buildings, use other special blocks to eliminate blocks whose colors won’t allow them to integrate them into buildings, and use the “clear level” block to collect your bonus and move to the next level before more blocks pile up than you can do anything with. It’s sort of like Tetris meets SimTower. The game includes puzzle, battle and arcade modes; the latter is the most graphically dazzling, betraying the game’s roots in the mid-1990s Taito arcade game Landmaker. (Taito, 2000)

Memories: Originally released a few years ago, Builder’s Block is now reappearing in bargain game bins once again, so it seemed like a good time to revisit it. I’d never heard of this game before, and it’s surprisingly addictive with a strong old-school puzzle game vibe. If you dig Tetris, you’ll like this one. Continue reading

Qix Adventure

Qix AdventureThe Game: A boy named Speedy ventures through a mystical land, taunted by cute animals. Somehow this quest is expressed through a series of challenges in which the player tries to claim as much of the playing field as possible by enclosing areas of it. If the ever-shifting Qix touches Speedy’s marker or an uncompleted boundary, a life is lost and the boundary must be built again. Sparx, which travel only along the edges of the playing field and along the boundaries of already-enclosed areas of the screen, can also cost Speedy a life. (Taito, 2000)

Memories: In 2000, two trends collided within this one game. Trend #1 was the fading glow of a few years’ worth of retro video gaming nostalgia, a trend that brought of lots of arcade compilations and lots of “remakes” of classic arcade games, especially on the then-ubiquitous Playstation. Trend #2 was simple and obvious: jumping on the Pokemon bandwagon. Continue reading

3-In-1 Arcade Classics

3-In-1 Arcade ClassicsBuy this gameThe Game: Three classic Taito coin-ops are dragged into the modern day: the almost-text-based Crazy Balloon, the oft-copied Space Chaser (very similar to such games as Exidy’s Targ), and the abstract early ’80s classic Qix. Each game is presented with its original graphics, as well as new updated versions which – for once – just jazz up the existing 2-D graphics rather than dragging the whole mess into unnecessary 3-D. (Success Systems, 2002, for Playstation)

Memories: Between this and the already-reviewed Space Invaders See the videoCollection, the Namco Museum series, Irem Arcade Classics and the glorious Nichibutsu Arcade Classics, you may have gotten the impression that I really, really like how the Japanese put together retro arcade compilations. And you’d be absolutely correct in that assumption. There are two big reasons for this. Continue reading

Tron 2.0

Tron 2.0The Game: By passing up a lucrative programming job within ENCOM, Alan “Jet” Bradley Jr. has earned the disdain of his father, the creator of the Tron security program. But when Jet’s father disappears under mysterious circumstances, Jet See the videogoes to the lab and discovers that his father’s most trusted program, Ma3a, has instructions to digitize Jet into ENCOM’s mainframe – a process not unlike the one Kevin Flynn endured 20 years before. Once inside the computer world, Jet trains for a mission to free the system from the spreading corruption of Thorne, another digitized user whose botched entry into the computer world left him twisted and evil – and along the way, Jet hopes to discover how he can help free his father as well. (Buena Vista Interactive, 2003)

Memories: For anyone who’s ever dreamed of being zapped into the computer by the MCP, this is as close as you’re going to get. I don’t have a problem with that, though: Tron 2.0 is a gorgeous game, capturing the feel of the pioneering 1982 computer-animated movie better than I would’ve thought possible. The look and the sounds of the game go a long way toward immersing you in that world. Normally I’m not big on first-person explore-and-fight games, but this one I’ll make an exception for. Continue reading

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