Super Mario Odyssey (Switch)

Publisher and Developer: Nintendo | October 27, 2017
Publisher & Developer: Nintendo | October 27, 2017

2017 was a hell of a first year for the Nintendo Switch. Launching in early March of 2017, it arrived alongside The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. The Switch was off to a hot start as many were dazzled by the ingenuity and freedom of Breath of the Wild. Some 7 months later, Nintendo released Super Mario Odyssey. It was considered by many as yet another home run smash. And since today is March 10, or MAR10 Day, I can’t think of a better time to look back on what made Super Mario Odyssey such a terrific entry in the longstanding Mario series.

A GAMING GENERATION DEFINED

PlayMario

For many kids back in the 1980s, Super Mario Bros. left a lasting imprint on those lucky enough to have grown up with it. Super Mario Bros. 3 is considered one of the best NES video games of all time. When the Super Nintendo launched in North America in the late summer of 1991, Super Mario World carried on the tradition, living up to the lofty standards set by Shigeru Miyamoto and friends. Super Mario 64 brought Mario and company into the 3D realm. Mario 64 is a nostalgic and highly memorable adventure for many who played it back in the summer of 1996 when it first came out. There have been many more Mario entries since but none of them have captured our attention and gaming hearts quite like Super Mario Odyssey.

Poor Mario
Poor Mario

THE ODYSSEY BEGINS

I'm a sucker for an atmospheric moon shot
I’m a sucker for an atmospheric moon shot
And boy are there a lot of moons in this game...
And boy are there a lot of moons in this game…

SupMarO3

Bowser has captured Princess Peach once again, and intends to marry her against her own will. Mario meets his newest ally, Cappy, and the two are off to all sorts of Kingdoms to procure enough moons to power their airship.

I love gawking at the luscious waterfalls
I love gawking at the luscious waterfalls

Whether you play it docked or in handheld mode, Super Mario Odyssey is a beautiful looking game. With plenty of diverse locales, each Kingdom is unique and a world of its own. Cascade Kingdom lives up to its name — you can almost feel the raw power of the water!

Yay, my first Power Moon (of many to come). 6/19/18
My first Power Moon of many to come. 6/19/18
A holy shit worthy moment indeed
Holy shit O_O

Who could forget seeing this for the first time? It was an incredible moment that blended the real world with Mario’s world. Even better? Taking temporary control of the T-Rex by firing Cappy at it, which is the brilliant gimmick of Super Mario Odyssey.

SupMarO8

Speaking of blending, there are special old school 2D sections spread throughout the Kingdoms. They’re bite-sized but incredibly fun, evoking warm fuzzy nostalgic memories of yesteryear.

Cappy gives you his 2 cents now and again
Cappy gives you his 2 cents now and again
Takes me back to the '80s :)
Takes me back to the ’80s :)
1985 meets 2017... and it's a marriage made in Heaven
1985 meets 2017… and it’s a marriage made in Heaven
Such a nice nod to the first game
Such a nice nod to the first game
More warp pipe 2D fun
More warp pipe 2D fun
Where your prize is yet another Power Moon
Where your prize is yet another Power Moon

SupMarO15

The Sand Kingdom is such a fun little place to explore. It has been said that the director of Super Mario Odyssey, Kenta Motokura, was inspired by his trip to Mexico and his fondness for that country. Traces of that culture can be seen throughout the Sand Kingdom.

Mini games like this can be surprisingly fun
Mini games like this can be surprisingly fun
Never gets old when Mario goes OLD SCHOOL!
Never gets old when Mario goes OLD SCHOOL!
So much nostalgic fun mixed in with the new
So much nostalgic fun mixed in with the new
Metal Mario Storm?!
Metal Mario Storm?!
Behold... the Inverted Pyramid!
Behold… the mysterious Inverted Pyramid!

SupMarO21

The majority of the bosses in Super Mario Odyssey consist of the Broodals — vicious anthropomorphic rabbits who also serve as Bowser’s wedding planners. One of the nice things about the Sand Kingdom is that you get to battle bosses of both varieties: Broodal and non-Broodal.

Mario runs into the screen Crash Bandicoot style
Mario runs into the screen Crash Bandicoot style :D
Somewhere Uncle Scrooge is green with envy
Love the sound effect it makes when you collect ‘em!
Cloud Kingdom sees our first tangle with Bowser
Cloud Kingdom sees our first tangle with Bowser
Metro Kingdom and New Donk City are mind-blowing
Metro Kingdom and New Donk City are mind-blowing
Mixing in real people was as bold as it was brilliant
Mixing in real people was as bold as it was brilliant

It blew my mind the first time I saw New Donk City. That’s mainly thanks to the shocking appearance of real human beings. It was only further proof that Super Mario Odyssey wasn’t afraid to think outside the box.

100 Power Moons in the book!
100 Power Moons in the book!
Love the Bowser emoji
Love the Bowser emoji
The city has been littered with Bowser's propaganda
The city has been littered with Bowser’s propaganda

New Donk City was so fun to explore, whether at night or in the daytime. It was unlike any other Mario level or world I had previously explored.

Only that one time back in 1996...
Well, there was that one time back in 1996…
Batman would be proud
Batman would be proud
Holy moly
Holy moly
Try using Cappy on the tanks there...
You can use Cappy to become Tank Mario!
You're going down, Scourge of the Skyscraper!
You’re going down, Scourge of the Skyscraper!
Eradicate the Scourge and the city is liberated
Eradicate the Scourge and the city is liberated
There's a definite Princess Peach vibe to Mayor Pauline
There’s a definite Princess Peach vibe to Pauline
The city views are gorgeous
The city views are gorgeous
One of the most memorable moments :)
One of the most memorable moments :)

SupMarO39

I gotta give props to Nintendo. I was so pleasantly shocked to see this T-Rex cameo. I thought Cascade Kingdom was it as far as T-Rex appearances go. Glad to have been proven wrong!

Moons are available at the oddest places...
Moons are available at the oddest places…
This was such a fun space to navigate Mario through
This was such a fun space to navigate Mario through
Busting a move!
Busting a move!
I never knew Mario was like only 4 feet tall
I never knew Mario was like only 4 feet tall
"Man, screw this Black Friday bull shit!"
“Man, screw this Black Friday bullshit!”
GTA vibes... nice!
GTA vibes… nice!
This is so damn satisfying
This is so damn satisfying
Oh God I hope not! I gotta play Super Mario Odyssey
Oh God I hope not! I gotta play Super Mario Odyssey
You mean, 4th of July? :P
You mean, 4th of July? :P
Fun Fact: Dixie Theater is a nod to Dixie Kong
Fun Fact: Dixie Theater is a nod to Dixie Kong
Mario is known to be quite the party animal
Mario is known to be quite the party animal
Aw, Mario is all alone. Gotta save Princess Peach pronto!
Aw, he’s all alone. Gotta save Princess Peach pronto!
Whoa, a nod to 1981 Donkey Kong!
Whoa, a nod to 1981 Donkey Kong!
It's the best of old and new school
It is New DONK City after all
It is New DONK City after all
How incredibly nostalgic in the best of ways
Some things never change :P
Some things never change :)
We're gonna have a good time tonight. Let's celebrate, it's all right! Celebration time come on!
Mario’s getting wasted tonight :P
Brrr! Snow Kingdom will freeze your balls off
Brrr! Snow Kingdom will freeze your balls off
Take a brief swim to collect the rings. Fun stuff!
Take a brief swim to collect the rings. Fun stuff!
Always a high when you just meet the bare minimum
Always a high when you barely meet the minimum
Mario and the Beanstalk!
Mario and the Beanstalk!
Seaside Kingdom offers some wacky views!
Seaside Kingdom offers some wacky views!
Love the shiny watery effect
Love the shiny watery effect
Even the coins have that distorted water look to 'em!
Even the coins have that distorted watery look!
These throwback sections are simply the best
These throwback sections are simply the best

SupMarO65

Seaside Kingdom might just be my favorite Kingdom of the bunch. I tend to not be the biggest fan of water-based levels, but this one totally and completely does it for me. Maybe it’s because a good half of it takes place on the beach, offering some variety and varied nuances in gameplay that make it much more interesting to play than if it were completely underwater. For example, being able to bounce off two walls in an effort to collect coins and reach new heights is remarkably satisfying.

Not a very subtle clue...
Not a very subtle clue…
Too close for cigar
Too close for cigar
Hmm, Mario or Master Higgins?
Hmm, Mario or Master Higgins?
Yer going down, Squidward!
Yer going down, Squidward!
Earn 3 Moon Shards for your troubles
Earn 3 for your troubles
Luncheon Kingdom earns points for creativity
Luncheon Kingdom earns points for creativity
Not exactly the best place for a dieting plumber
It’s so hot that poor Mario can hardly stand it
Ruined Kingdom features a menacing dragon boss
Ruined Kingdom features a menacing dragon boss
Shades of King Ghidorah
Damn
You got him!
You got him!
Scratch that...
Spoke too soon…
Love it when the screen moves over like that
Love it when the screen moves over like that
Good stuff
Good stuff
Bowser's Kingdom is a beautiful but deadly fortress
Bowser’s Kingdom is a beautiful but deadly fortress
Old school 2D Mario on a Shoji panel screen? Brilliant!
Old school Mario on a Shoji panel screen? Brilliant!
That Bowser is such a tease
That Bowser is such a tease
Broodal fireworks is a nice touch
Broodal fireworks is a nice touch
At last we arrive at the Moon Kingdom
At last we arrive at the Moon Kingdom
After beating him, use Cappy to take control of Bowser
After beating him, use Cappy to control Bowser!
Nintendo was too smart to pass on this opportunity
It’s a dream come true
Breathe fire at those bricks!
Destroy bricks by blowing fire
WHOAAAAAA!!
WHOAAAAAA!!…
What a freaking game
What a freaking game
But wait, it's not over yet...
But wait, it’s not over yet…
It's the Mushroom Kingdom!
It’s the Mushroom Kingdom!
What a lovely nod to Super Mario 64!
What a lovely nod to Super Mario 64 :)

CLOSING THOUGHTS

SupMarO6

Super Mario Odyssey is everything I wanted in a 3D Mario game and then some. The addition of Cappy added a ton of layers to the gameplay. Whether you were flinging Cappy and then jumping off it as a makeshift platform or using it to take control of the various enemies, this mechanic breathed much needed new life into the Mario formula. I’ll never forget the first time I spotted that T-Rex napping on the hill of Cascade Kingdom. Even more memorable was the first time I became Mario T-Rex, complete with a ridiculously oversized mustache to boot!

SupMarO92

All the throwback 2D Mario sections were a blast to navigate. It took me right back to 1987, playing Super Mario Bros. with my uncle, brother and our friends late into the night. These bits always somehow felt organic rather than forced. It was just the right amount of nostalgia rush blended with the newfangled 3D Mario gameplay that is so smooth and easy to pick up, but hard to put down.

SupMarO91

Along with The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Super Mario Odyssey helped to make Switch’s first year, 2017, a roaring and smashing success. I can’t wait for a sequel to both games. These two games alone are reason enough to invest in a Nintendo Switch, not to mention the dozens and dozens of great 3rd party titles and Indie hits. I had an absolute blast playing through Super Mario Odyssey, and I feel Nintendo was able to completely capture the magic of what made all those Mario games from so long ago so very damn special indeed. Not only that but they were able to add to the legacy, adding in enough new elements to make this entry stand on its own two feet. Bravo, Nintendo. Bravo! I eagerly await Mario’s next adventure on the Switch. Until then, I think I’ll head back to Mushroom Kingdom yet again for one more romp.

OVERALL: 10

Goombas!
Goombas! Truly, the package is now complete

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (Switch)

Pub & Dev: Nintendo | March 3, 2017
Publisher & Developer: Nintendo | March 3, 2017

Today marks the 2 year anniversary of the Nintendo Switch. Of course, that also means it’s the 2 year anniversary for The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Released on launch day alongside the brand new Nintendo Switch, players were thrust once more in the shoes of Link and embarked on an incredible and breathtaking journey. This also marks the first Switch game review on RVGFanatic, and I can’t think of a better time than the 2 year anniversary or a better game to kick things off with than Breath of the Wild. Stunning in sheer scope and majestic in motion, there’s a reason why this game has made such a lasting impression and is considered by many to be one of the finest Switch games made so far, if not THE best.

SWITCHED: HOW NINTENDO WON ME BACK

SwitStor14

The Switch marked my first system purchase in nearly 12 years. Prior to that, I’d been perfectly content rocking it out with the SNES. But the trailer for Breath of the Wild dropped in January 2017 and for the first time in eons I found myself drooling over a new video game. However, the Switch’s launch came and went in March 2017 and I just couldn’t pull the trigger. Maybe I don’t need it after all…

Fate stepped in when my brother bought a copy over Black Friday for just $29 on Walmart’s website due to a system error. Walmart quickly realized its mistake but had to honor the lucky folks who jumped over the deal before it could be fixed. My brother didn’t own a Switch but he figured it was too good a deal to pass up on and that he could always mail it to our cousin, who is a huge video gamer.

Oops. Thanks Walmart!
Oops. Thanks Walmart!

As luck would have it, my cousin — being a huge Zelda fan — already had it. With my brother willing to gift me Breath of the Wild as an early Christmas present, I rushed out to Target on Saturday, December 2, 2017. I walked out with the last Switch system, cradling it close to my chest as though it were the last piece of meat on earth. It was the first system purchase I made in nearly 12 years. Later that night I fired up Breath of the Wild and fell in love with the land of Hyrule all over again. The following is a visual documentation and stroll down memory lane of that epic adventure that ran me over 200 hours over the course of 6 blissful months.

Hyrule is the kind of place that just sticks with you
Hyrule is the kind of place that just sticks with you

WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE

LoZBotW

Link awakens after a long slumber in this weird chamber of sorts. Navigate your way around and then venture forth in the opening there to the great unknown. Much like previous Zelda classics, a palpable sense of ADVENTURE permeates throughout Breath of the Wild.

So freaking majestic
So freaking majestic
Nintendo magic at its best
Nintendo magic at its best
I love how it shifts from day to night
I love how it shifts from day to night
Shooting stars and all!
Shooting stars and all!

LoZBotW3

It’s hard to describe the first few hours of this game and do it justice. It’s a discovery of autonomy and endless options. You just know you’re embarking on this grand scale adventure and that you’re barely scraping the surface. Night falls and it feels like you’re right there with Link lurking in the wooded areas. Best of all, thanks to the Switch’s versatility, you can play this on your giant screen HD TV or play it in portable mode in the comfort of your own bed.

LoZBotW4

It’s fun just playing around with the camera and admiring the sights that surround you. This shot here reminds me of all the long summer evenings of my childhood sprawled out in my backyard looking up at the starry sky while listening to my uncle weave spooky stories of the macabre.

Watch the shadows...
One second Link is out of the shadows…
Its the small stuff that makes me smile
And the next he’s engulfed by them

LoZBotW7

Up ahead looms a quaint cabin. You wonder if the owner is home… hell, is the owner even a friendly fella? It’s awfully cold out though, and a little shelter does sound nice right about now… maybe we’ll take our chances…

To cross the chasm you must chop away
To cross the chasm you must chop away
Nice!
Those Bokoblins are gonna pay now!
Breath of Fire flashbacks in Breath of the Wild :)
Breath of Fire flashbacks in Breath of the Wild :)
Hmm, who is that old man...
Hmm, who is that old man…
Gather the items you wish to cook
Gather the items you wish to cook
Heat it up and ta-da!
Heat it up and ta-da! Try experimenting…

LoZBotW13

A seamless and free flowing sandbox world means you can easily get lost in a number of side tasks for as long (or little) as you wish. On my way to discover the next shrine, I often found myself distracted by random things such as unearthing Korok seeds, interacting with locals or destroying the latest nest of Bokoblins to unlock treasure chests. Spotting a new shrine in the not too far distance always made me cheer silently in my seat (or, as it was in most cases, laying down in bed).

LoZBotW14

Upgrading your inventory is not only rewarding, it’s necessary. Since weapons break with usage, you’re in a constant scramble to restock. Going from wooden shields and weak weapons to fancy metal ones and spears is a tangible surge in both ability and confidence. Also, reaching new areas of Hyrule never failed to satisfy as you survey the gorgeous sights that lay before you.

Under siege is Hyrule...
Under siege is Hyrule…
Kakariko Village never looked better
Kakariko Village never looked better
It's a reunion with Impa!
It’s a reunion with Impa!
This becomes the crux of the game
This becomes the crux of the game
The Hinox is a hideous monstrosity
The Hinox is a hideous hulking menace
And a battle that could take all night long!
And a battle that could take all night long!
Some locals are less inviting than others
Some of the locals are less inviting than others
Humor abounds here and there. Love the breath effect
Humor abounds here and there. Love the breath effect

LoZBotW23

A crackling fire nearby keeps Link warm as he gazes at the volcano that looms ominously over the horizon. He knows deep down that at some point in his quest he must cross that waterfall and confront the vicious volcano head on.

Even the kids have a little bite to them!
SHADDAP, ASS-TER!  [Real mature -Ed.]
Sketchy AF
Sketchy AF
O_o
O_o

LoZBotW27

LoZBotW28

LoZBotW29

Impa with the save
Impa with the save
What an amusing exchange :)
What an amusing exchange that all was :)
BEEDLEMANIA! This guy needs a prequel spin-off
BEEDLEMANIA!  This guy needs a prequel spin-off
Well said, Sags
Well said, Sags
Finding this bevy of swords early on was a godsend
Finding this bevy of swords early on was a godsend
Collect and tame horses for faster travel
Collect and tame horses for faster travel
Some travelers aren't always as they seem...
Some travelers aren’t always as they seem…
Nothing like hang gliding while it's raining :D
Nothing like paragliding while it’s raining :D
Collect 4 orbs to add a heart or stamina upgrade
Collect 4 orbs to add a heart or stamina upgrade
Some wild sights indeed!
Some wild sights indeed!
What a downpour
What a downpour
Oh shit! Watch it, Link
Oh shit! Watch it, Link. Put away the metal…
Roscoe > Wilson
Roscoe > Wilson
Can you unearth all 900 (!) Korok seeds?
Can you unearth all 900 (!) Korok seeds?
Awe-inspiring
Awe-inspiring
Great Fairy Fountains can upgrade your goods
Visit Great Fairy Fountains to upgrade your goods
Gaining access to remote bombs is a game changer
Gaining access to remote bombs is a game changer
Sometimes it's not fair :P
Sometimes it’s just not fair :P
Have fun with your new toy
Have fun with your new toy
Link the Peeping Tom creeper
Link the Peeping Tom creeper
Speaking of creepers... I kid, I kid [Sure you are -Ed.]
Speaking of creepers… I kid, I kid [Sure you are -Ed.]
Solving the puzzle to unlock the exit is a great feeling
Solving the puzzle to unlock the exit is a great feeling

Shrines were a point of contention among some players. Traditional Zelda games featured dungeons with plenty of monsters and a few puzzles thrown in for good measure. Breath of the Wild, however, has few dungeons. Instead we got shrines, designated areas consisting mainly of puzzles with scant enemies. Thanks to his Sheikah Slate, Link can call upon one of several Rune skills. For instance, Magnesis allows Link to lift and carry metallic objects using magnetic energy.

Simply gorgeous
Nothing like a moonlit night on a sandy beach
Better not land on him and disrupt his slumber!
Better not land on him and disrupt his slumber!
Arrow play felt so satisfying. Check the rainbow
Arrow play felt so satisfying. Check the rainbow!
Some poignant messages abound
Some poignant messages abound
Profound. I like adjusting the camera for fun angles
Profound. I like adjusting the camera for fun angles
You damn right
You damn right
Element based enemies can prove to be tricky
Element based enemies can prove to be tricky
Such a badass Link is. Looks like a summer blockbuster
Link doesn’t even bother looking back. Badass
Experiment with the Runes to see which one you need
Experiment with the Runes to see which one you need
In the distance you spot a Tower that needs unlocking
In the distance you spot a Tower that needs unlocking
Done!
Done! Now you can fast teleport to this new location
Arrows come in 5 forms: these, bomb, fire, ice, shock
Arrows come in 5 forms: these, bomb, fire, ice, shock
WATCH YO MOUTH!
WATCH YO MOUTH!
Oh Beedle...
Oh Beedle…
Stamina > Heart
Stamina > Heart
Adding to your Stamina Wheel is key in exploring
Adding to your Stamina Wheel is key in exploring
Crystallized rocks contain goodies
Crystallized rocks contain goodies. Ooh, shrine!
Magnesis rocks
Eat your heart out, Magneto
Some dungeons automatically give you an Orb
Some shrines automatically bless you with an orb

These are always nice. Some shrines are harder to find than others. For certain ones, just finding them is considered good enough for an automatic orb. No puzzles inside. Hey, I’ll take it!

Unlock Link's memories...
Unlock Link’s memories by visiting certain sites
I hesitate to look at what he's looking at...
I hesitate to look at what he’s looking at…

LoZBotW74

Eerie and dramatic, the Blood Moon is an occasional event that occurs in the world of Hyrule. By the red glow of the Blood Moon, slain enemies respawn. I’ll never forget the first time I heard that creepy music as a crimson red consumed the screen and ashes rose into the blood soaked sky.

Some shrines are hidden below the surface
Some shrines are hidden below the surface
It's just too bad they didn't have more enemies inside
It’s just too bad they didn’t have more enemies inside
Increase your Stamina Wheel to reach new heights
Increase your Stamina Wheel to reach new heights
Your Sheikah Slate beeps louder the closer you get
Your Sheikah Slate beeps louder the closer you get
Nothing like finally coming face to face with a shrine
Nothing like finally coming face to face with a shrine
Whoa!
Whoa!
My bad, yo. Been so busy that I forgot to feed him
My bad, yo. Been so busy that I forgot to feed him
Where's Godzilla when you need him eh?
Where’s Godzilla when you need him eh?
Blowing up a nest of enemies is simply the best
Blowing up a nest of enemies is simply the best
Link's no stranger to that!
Link’s no stranger to that!
Nor is he a stranger to this [Wait what?! -Link]
Nor is he a stranger to this [Wait what?! -Link]
Dress up like a lady to sneak past the guards
Dress up like a lady to sneak past the guards
This was... a very memorable main quest
This was… a very memorable main quest
I see they haven't upgraded to a white board yet, tsk tsk
I see they haven’t upgraded to a white board yet, tsk tsk
Eavesdrop on the locals and don't blow your cover
Eavesdrop on the locals and don’t blow your cover
Enough BS. Time to pull out the Master Sword
Need at least 13 hearts to yank out the Master Sword
As always, what a grand moment
OH SHIT
YOU GOT THE TOUCH -- YOU GOT THE POWER -- YEAH!
YOU GOT THE TOUCH — YOU GOT THE POWER — YEAH!
So majestic
Good to see you again, dear old friend
Good to see you again, dear old friend
Just the weapon needed to end the Calamity
These creepy eyes can be taken out with arrow shots
These creepy eyes can be taken out with arrow shots
Always a welcomed sight
Always a welcomed sight
Blood Moon strikes again
Blood Moon strikes again
Hey pal...
Hey pal…
WAKEY WAKEY!
WAKEY WAKEY!
Such a gorgeous sunrise
Such a gorgeous sunrise
Lens flare effect and all
Lens flare effect and all
Yeah, I wouldn't pet that...
Yeah, I wouldn’t pet that…
Looks like Robbie wants to go to WrestleMania!
Looks like Robbie wants to go to WrestleMania!
Just like "Rowdy" Ronda Rousey
Just like “Rowdy” Ronda Rousey
Even Link is dressed like a wrestler
Even Link is dressed like a wrestler
*Pointing intensifies*
*Pointing intensifies*
Sure am glad he's a friend and not a foe!
Sure am glad he’s a friend and not a foe!
Cool headgear, but what's in that huge weird building?
Cool headgear, but what’s in that huge weird building?
Yes, you can ride bears. Nuff said
Yes, you can ride bears. Nuff said
When you realize you forgot to close your garage door
When you realize you forgot to close your garage door
Take drastic measures to reach certain shrines
Some shrines require some thinking to reach
No trolls here but you might find some treasure
No trolls here but you might find some treasure
On your last heart -- yikes!
On your last heart — yikes!
Love gaining new goodies at the end of a shrine
Love gaining new goodies at the end of a shrine
Follow that fallen shooting star before it fades out
Follow that fallen shooting star before it fades out
Spooky
Spooky
Gotta play this one in the dark
Gotta play this one in the dark
Seth Rollins would be proud: BURN IT DOWN!
Seth Rollins would be proud: BURN IT DOWN!
How philosophical
How philosophical
I know the feeling...
I know the feeling…
What a babe
What a babe
When you realize your GF's pill didn't do its job
When you realize your girlfriend’s pill didn’t work
The bosses, admittedly, left something to be desired
The bosses, admittedly, left something to be desired
They felt a bit generic to me unlike past Zelda games
They felt a bit generic to me unlike past Zelda games
It's a small gripe though. Lovely explosions
But it’s a small gripe. Lovely death scenes though
"For he's a jolly good fellow..."
“FOR HE’S A JOLLY GOOD FELLOW…”
The white ones are the toughest and a bitch to kill
The white ones are the toughest and a bitch to kill
Another shady traveler...
Another shady traveler…
Time to put the focus on Link's heart containers
Time to put the focus on Link’s heart containers
Sweet 16
Sweet 16
Where's Kevin Bacon ah screw it, we got Link!
Where’s Kevin Bacon ah screw it, we got Link!
Taming bears never got old for me
Taming bears never got old for me
Most hated enemy. Line that sucker up!
Most hated enemy. Line that sucker up!
No lie, I actually trembled a bit when I first saw this
No lie, I actually trembled a bit when I first saw this
A sight for sore eyes
A sight for sore eyes
Don't get fried!
Don’t get fried!
It maxes out at 30 hearts
Link maxes out at 30 hearts

LoZBotW135

Like frying an egg on the sidewalk on a scorching hot day, in Breath of the Wild you can drop meat on a frosty surface and it will become “Icy Gourmet Meat.” The amount of possibilities this game offers the player is mind-blowing. Many times I thought to myself, “This might work” and sure enough, it did. Ingenuity is off the charts here, rewarding creativity and experimentation.

Like a scene out of an epic summer blockbuster
Like a scene out of an epic summer blockbuster
Shit got real
Shit got real
I like how they call all the Divine bosses the Scourge
I like how they call all the Divine bosses the Scourge
I just wish their base designs offered more variety
I just wish their base designs offered more variety
Free the final Divine Beast and it's game on!
Free the final Divine Beast and it’s game on!
Special gear is required to traverse the hotter sections
Special gear is required to traverse the hotter sections
Epic!
Blowing up a nest in mid-flight is badass!
Just big enough of a crack ;)
Just big enough of a crack ;)
The primal evil who has endured over the ages
The primal evil who has endured over the ages
You can feel the weight of Hyrule on your shoulders
You can feel the weight of Hyrule on your shoulders
You'll need everyone's help to win
You’ll need everyone’s help to win
Now we'll see what you're made of, Ganon!
Now we’ll see what you’re made of, Ganon!
Time to kick the bucket, bitch
Time to say night night
Oh fuck!
Oh fuck!
The Bow of Light will combat the Darkness
The Bow of Light will combat the Darkness
Almost there!
Almost there!
BOO-YAH!!!!
BOO-YAH!!!!

LoZBotW153

LoZBotW154

The Evil is gone... for now
The Evil is gone… for now
Link and Zelda reside over a peaceful Hyrule... for now
Link and Zelda reside over a peaceful Hyrule… for now

INTO THE WILD

LoZBotW157

I’ve been playing video games for over 30 years now. I can honestly say that The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is the longest single player campaign of my life. It provided me with over 210 hours of blissful entertainment. It was an insane 6 month experience… one I’ll never forget and forever cherish as one of the finest playthroughs of my gaming career.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

ZelBotW4

What can I add that hasn’t already been said a thousand times over in the last 2 years since Breath of the Wild came out? It stands out as one of the most immersive and engaging single player adventures I’ve ever played. Part of me wishes I could wipe out my memories of this game so I can experience it for the first time again. The sheer scope and scale of Link’s open world quest empowers you to forge your own path. Multiple routes and multiple possibilities lay before you, truly giving the player full autonomy and power. There are so many memorable moments, such as the first time you run into the Hinox monster.

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Or the first time you pierce one of the explosive barrels to blow up a nest of Bokoblins… running away and seeing the fiery explosion go off behind you in summer blockbuster fashion. Hyrule is a living and breathing world full of fascinating creatures, vicious monsters and helpful (as well as odd) locals to interact with. While not everyone appreciates this open world approach, I sure did. Of course I harbor fond memories of The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past but I applaud Nintendo for taking Breath of the Wild in a radically different direction that reflects the ever growing evolution of video gaming as we know it today. Besides, if you don’t like it, you can always return to the classics. But for the most part, there’s a reason why so many have fallen in love with Breath of the Wild. It’s a Zelda game like never before.

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2 years have passed since the Switch and Breath of the Wild came out and thrilled gaming audiences around the globe. While the game has a few areas I could nitpick, such as the lack of “proper” dungeons and the 4 Divine Beast bosses looking too similar and somewhat generic, Breath of the Wild is an incredible adventure worth taking on. It’s an instant classic that will go down in the annals of gaming lore as one of the best adventures of all time. Lovingly crafted and fine tuned, Breath of the Wild is Nintendo’s signature stamp on the Switch that has set the bar for all others to come. I look forward to seeing if any game can match or surpass it. What a time to be alive :)

OVERALL: 10

Tina Turner sang it best:  You're simply the best! Better than ALLLLL the rest. Better than anyone I've ever met
Tina Turner sang it best: YOU’RE SIMPLY THE BEST!
Even better than Super Mario Odyssey? Well...
Even better than Super Mario Odyssey? Well…

Blaster Master (NES)

Pub: Sunsoft | Dev: Tokai Engineering | November 1988
Pub: Sunsoft | Dev: Tokai Engineering | November 1988

Blaster Master celebrates 30 years this month. Released in November of 1988, Blaster Master is one of those beloved 8-bit classics that most kids from the NES era fondly remembers. Although my gaming crew never held it quite in the same light as Contra or Mega Man 2, it was always right up there with the best of the rest. There was something about it. Something different and memorable. The ability to man a powered up tank was unique enough on its own, but throw in the ability to hop out of said tank to patrol around on foot made the blasting experience double cool. Switching from side-scrolling action to a top-down shooter differentiated Blaster Master from the masses, making it stand out in an era where most games featured very little variety. As a fun bonus, the title of the game encompassed the late ’80s. BLASTER MASTER. It was cool, yet cheesy. Charming, yet campy. It fit in perfectly with the times we were growing up in. Happy 30th Anniversary, Blaster Master!

The good old days when   back of boxes were so cool
The good old days when back of boxes were so cool

THE STORY GOES…

And who said Jason and Freddy can't be friends??
And who said Jason and Freddy can’t be friends?

The game features a timeless plot. You know it by heart. But just for the record…

Boy loves frog.

Frog escapes.

Frog licks radioactive tin.

Boy follows frog underground.

Boy finds tank.

Boy saves world.

Riveting stuff, really.

"Would you like flies with that?" [SMH -Ed.]
“Would you like flies with that?”  [Oh dear -Ed.]
No lid eh? Way to go, Einstein...
No lid eh? Way to go, Einstein…
Where the HELL is this kid living anyhow... AREA 51?!
Where the HELL is this kid living anyhow… AREA 51?!
Have we not learned anything from Godzilla?
Remember Godzilla, anyone?
Mmm, giant frog legs
Mmm, giant frog legs
You gotta appreciate the nonsensical wacky plot
You gotta appreciate the nonsensical wacky plot

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BlastMast8

[You mean HELMET. Hmm, why did I hire you again? Remember kids, STAY IN SCHOOL!-Ed]
[You mean HELMET. Why did I hire you again?
Remember kids, ALWAYS STAY IN SCHOOL!-Ed]
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THE ADVENTURE BEGINS

Hard to fathom it's been 30 years
Hard to fathom it’s been 30 years

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Navigating Sophia around the landscape is satisfying in and of itself. Managing the momentum of the tank as it moves about is all part of the fun. Add to that a healthy dosage of blasting bad guys and it’s a grand old time.

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You can leap out of the tank and patrol around on foot as Jason himself. He has his own health bar and there are certain locations that only Jason has access to.

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The tank is inoperable underwater, so Jason hops out for a quick swim. Thankfully, you don’t need to worry about finding water bubbles as a respite. Sonic the Hedgehog Jason ain’t!

Zap the jellyfish or swim around
Zap the jellyfish or swim around

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You’ll find a ladder at the end here that will take you to the first overhead section, where you’ll play exclusively as Jason.

He becomes a much easier target to hit
Reminiscent of NES Rygar, no?

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Life Force is another NES classic
Life Force is another NES classic
"Don't open til Doomsday!"
“Do not open until Doomsday!”

You’ll receive an upgrade for your tank after defeating the boss. Backtrack because now you can destroy the wall guardian with your new power-up. Nice!

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It definitely does, what with its backtracking and various upgrades that allow you to access previously inaccessible areas.

It's got that classic NES vibe
It’s got that classic NES vibe to it
Overpower these cronies
Overpower these cronies
Yup, you know what this means!
Yup you know what this means
Shades of Legend of Zelda
Shades of Legend of Zelda

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New power-ups allow you to expand the game as well as fortify your tank.

Stage variety is always nice
Stage variety is always nice
Blast their asses into tomorrow
Blast their asses into tomorrow
Oh no, could it be Fred?!
Oh no, could it be Fred?!
Obligatory swimming sections
Obligatory swimming sections
You can see the Metroid influences
You can see the Metroid influence
Looks like crab for dinner
Looks like crab for dinner
Color schemes range from
Blast bricks to reveal new areas
Obligatory slippery ice level
Ice affects your tank’s traction
A true game changer, this
A true game changer, this
Love the colors here
Love the colors here. Classic NES!
It captured my imagination
The action get crazier and crazier
In the words of Van Halen: jump!
In the words of Van Halen: JUMP!
The end (of the world) is near
The end (of the world) nears
The box cover star rears its ugly head
The box cover star finally appears
Can you vanquish the evil Overlord?
Can you slay the evil Overlord?

CLOSING THOUGHTS

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Often heralded as an NES classic, the real question is does Blaster Master stand the test of time? It was definitely a memorable title 30 years ago, but how well has it aged exactly? Obviously your mileage may vary, but from where I sit Blaster Master is a bit of an uneven playing experience. I found myself looking forward most to the side scrolling tank blasting action while the overhead sections patrolling around as Jason, not so much. Controlling the tank S.O.P.H.I.A. (which stands for Subatomic Omni-directional Probative Hyper-responsive Indomitable Abdicator) with its various power-ups is quite the good time. But the overhead bits feel a little clunky and cumbersome. They did so even back in 1988. 30 years later and it’s even more apparent. Throw into the equation some moderate backtracking and no save or password system and you have a game that hasn’t aged all that well.

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But judged on its own merits 30 years ago, it was an easy 8.5-9.0 of a game for many of us. It’s not as fun to play today but it’s still a decent time. However, I highly recommend playing Blaster Master Zero instead. I beat that one on the Nintendo Switch and it’s AWESOME. Makes it really hard going back to NES Blaster Master! Regardless of which game you choose to play, here’s a toast to 30 years of BLASTER MASTER. Thanks for the memories, SOPHIA!

Blaster Master Zero is the shit
Blaster Master Zero is the bee’s knees

Streets of Rage (Genesis)

Pub: Sega | Dev: Sega AM7 | August 1991
Pub: Sega | Dev: Sega AM7 | August 1991

Although I started RVGFanatic nearly 12 years ago with the main goal of reviewing SNES games, I’ve always wanted to highlight a select handful of Genesis games that have resonated with me over the years. I finally reviewed my first Genesis game last month, Sonic the Hedgehog (appropriately so). It only took me over 11 and a half years but hey, this now makes two! Streets of Rage is a dear personal favorite of mine, especially when it comes to beat ‘em ups and Genesis games. Released in Japan on August 2, 1991, this month marks the 27th anniversary of Streets of Rage. And with the Streets of Rage 4 announcement made just a few days ago, I can’t think of a better time to pay homage to this game than right now.

The stuff legends are made of
The stuff legends are made of

By the way, there’s just something magical about those early Sega Genesis boxes. Many of them are incredibly nostalgic to me. Every little detail, from the white grid adorning the black background on the clamshell box to the cheesy but charming early ’90s art style, all add up to some wonderful memories of a special time in our young lives when video games were video games. By that I mean when games came fully packaged. Don’t get me wrong, there are some great benefits to the digital medium, but nothing will ever beat out physical copies complete with badass art and good old instruction manuals. All those vintage memories of sitting in the backseat of your dad’s car, eagerly scanning every tiny screenshot a hundred times over and devouring the manual front to back on the ride home… those times will never be replicated.

IT CAME FROM JAPAN…

Its known as Bare Knuckle over in Japan
It’s known as Bare Knuckle over in Japan
Ah, nothing like admiring those import covers
Ah, nothing like admiring those import covers

In a rare case, both the Japanese and North American names for this game absolutely rock. Bare Knuckle sounds cool as hell, but then so does Streets of Rage. In fact, I’ll give the slight edge to Streets of Rage. Not just for familiarity and nostalgia but how can you beat the name STREETS OF RAGE? I mean, that’s badassery personified.

Whether you refer to it as this...
Whether you refer to it as this…
... or this, the game flat out rocks
… or this, the game flat out rocks

MEET THE CREW

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SoRGen3

THE STORY GOES…

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ROUND ONE: CITY STREET

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Although graphically it may not seem like much today, I can’t emphasize how much the visuals blew me away some 27 years ago. The first level sets the perfect tone, with the Pine Pot diner being a memorable standout. Although this first stage is full of bright lights and color, it’s also full of danger. There’s a certain grit to it and it has an impeccable late ’80s vibe. It almost feels like a Michael Jackson music video could break out at any moment!

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Nothing like a good ol’ leaping knee to the mush.

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Remember how those mini garage doors would open dramatically, revealing a bad guy inside? A classic trope of the genre that never gets old, no matter how many iterations appear.

Blaze with the vicious throw
Blaze with the vicious throw
And a German Suplex to make Brock Lesnar jealous
“SUPLEX CITY, BITCH!”
Tell em, Blaze Brock!
Tell ‘em, Blaze Brock!
Ah, who could ever forget this?
Ah, who could ever forget this?

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Perhaps the coolest and most memorable “ass saving special” in beat ‘em up history. I don’t know of many cooler than calling on your cop buddy who comes barreling in only to launch an all-out fiery assault. It’s things like this that makes video games so damn fun.

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The sprites in this game are smaller than I would like, but the bosses are usually significantly bigger. Just look at Boomer, f’rinstance. He was an intimidating sight back in the day, for sure, with his oversized boomerang and towering physique.

ROUND TWO: INNER CITY

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I’m tellin’ ya, it’s a Michael Jackson music video just waiting to happen.

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I remember this clown being the first regular enemy that gave me some trouble.

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Wolverine’s claws but Sabretooth’s body. Lucky you, eh?

Credit Jey2K for this beautiful artwork
Credit Jey2K for this beautiful artwork

ROUND THREE: BEACHFRONT

A nice beach stroll this wont be
A nice beach stroll this won’t be
Talk about memories...
Talk about memories…

When my best friend Nelson and I first saw this, we both had to pick up our jaws off the floor. Sure, it’s not as memorable as the rain in Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, but this was definitely a cool moment. And one that sticks out in my mind even 27 years later.

"ITS THE ULLLLL-TIMATE WARRIOR!!!!"
“IT’S THE ULLLLL-TIMATE WARRIOR!!!!”
Blatantly so, but hey, it was good shit
Blatantly so, but hey, it was good shit ;)

ROUND FOUR: BRIDGE

SoRGen18

What’s a beat ‘em up without a level where there’s some kind of opening to throw bad guys into?

Looks like an interesting night...
Looks like an interesting night…
Where have I seen that enemy before?
Where have I seen that enemy before?
Hmmm
Hmmm. Naaaaah…

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Big Ben is yet another classic genre trope. It’s the fat bald guy who ironically likes to run.

ROUND FIVE: “SHIP HAPPENS!”

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One of the cool things about Streets of Rage is how crowded the screen can get. Most SNES beat ‘em ups, for comparison sake, would often max out at three bad guys onscreen. Not the case here!

Even more enemies here!
Even more enemies here!

I love the SNES (you might have noticed that…) but there’s definitely nothing like THAT on the Super Nintendo.

Double trouble!
Double trouble!
Chun-Lis long lost twin sisters
Chun-Li’s long lost twin sisters

ROUND SIX: FACTORY

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If you’re not careful on this level, your brains will get crushed. But it’s fair game, so lure the enemies in if you can. No bonuses, but it’s just plain irresistible!

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Another classic genre trope: previous bosses becoming “regular” enemies. The actual boss for this stage admittedly reeks of laziness: it’s just the stage two boss, only this time there’s two of him to contend with.

Not these assholes again...
Not these assholes again…

ROUND SEVEN: FREIGHT ELEVATOR

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No boss is featured here, it’s just a straight shot up to the final stage. My best friend Nelson and I always got a kick out of using our special attack here. There was something ridiculously amusing about watching our cop buddy send a blast high and deep into the night sky from ground level.

FINAL ROUND: SYNDICATE HEADQUARTERS

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By far the hardest stage of the game. This is due to a couple reasons. Namely, being indoors, your special attack is rendered useless. The second thing is you’ll face enemies (and former bosses) galore! In fact, the ever lovable (or not) beat ‘em up trope of a “boss rush” or “boss gauntlet” is in full (annoying) effect here.

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When you finally make your way to the top, Mr. X will offer you the chance to be his top crony. If you select yes, you’ll be sent back to level six and forced to play through to the end of the game. This also applies to when both players say yes. However, if one of you says yes and the other says no, you’ll be pitted in a duel to the death. Only by selecting no (both players have to select no in the 2-player mode) do you immediately fight Mr. X. This was pretty cool, especially back then when things were very cut and dry. This at least gave you the option to rebel and presents a bit of a moral dilemma. It’s nothing crazy but for 1991, it was a nice subtle touch.

There was even a bad ending
There was even a bad ending

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My brother and I always held this final boss fight in high regard. That’s because Mr. X was the spitting image of my brother’s best friend’s dad. Yep, Kerwyn’s dad was Mr. X in the flesh. So whenever we went to Kerwyn’s house and saw his dad, we couldn’t help but stupidly grin at each other behind his dad’s back. Ah, to be kids, eh?

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Mr. X’s lethal gun is no joke though, that’s for damn sure.

Shades of Belger's building...
Shades of Belger’s building…
Hmmm
Hmmm
"Sorry I couldn't help y'all in there..."
“Sorry I couldn’t help y’all in there…”
"All good. I get all the credit at least..."
“Eh. You won’t be back for the sequel!”
Classic
Classic stuff

TEAM WORK MAKES THE DREAM WORK

SoRGen33

One of the many neat things about Streets of Rage is the ability to work with your friend and perform some sweet tag team attacks.

Always so damn satisfying
Always so damn satisfying
But careful -- you can also hurt your partner!
Careful — you can also hurt your pal!

STREETS OF RAGE 2

SoRGenSeq2

Released just mere days before Christmas of 1992, Streets of Rage 2 is often considered the best beat ‘em up not only on the Sega Genesis but of all time.

SoRGenSeq3

I definitely dig it too but I don’t know. Call me an overly nostalgic fool but I honestly tend to prefer the original game.

SoRGenSeq

In terms of gameplay, Streets of Rage 2 is objectively the more polished product. But similar to Donkey Kong Country and Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy’s Kong Quest, despite being the slightly inferior game, I actually prefer the first one. I know I’m in the minority but oh well. You like what you like!

STREETS OF RAGE 4

It's finally happening
It’s finally happening

For years decades, gamers have been clamoring for a Streets of Rage 4. There were rumors nearly 20 years ago that such a sequel might appear on the Dreamcast but that dream was shattered in short order. However, just a few days ago on August 27, 2018, the announcement was made official… Streets of Rage 4 is finally happening after all these years! A teaser trailer was released and fan reaction is a mixed bag. Personally, I’m not a fan of the art style but I’m going to keep an open mind and wait to play it until I cast judgment. One thing is for sure, it’s just nice to see Streets of Rage 4 happening at long last. Here’s hoping it does the franchise proud like Sonic Mania did for Sonic the Hedgehog!

WHAT THE CRITICS SAID

SoRGenCov

Streets of Rage was well received for its time. It was seen by many as not only a very competent Final Fight clone, but some even viewed it as superior, especially when you compare the Genesis game to the SNES port of Final Fight (which was butchered without question). However, some gamers feel Streets of Rage doesn’t hold up quite as well today as it did in 1991. I can see this perspective but I still get a kick out of this game whenever I play it.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

SoRTwoZam

One of my favorite Genesis games back in the day was Streets of Rage, and I still have a soft spot for it 27 years later. Playing it back in 1991 transported my best friend Nelson and I, two young regular 8 year old boys, into the baddest ass kicking warriors this side of town. In fact, one of my fondest memories that Christmas season was playing Streets of Rage at Nelson’s house while his family was hosting a party. I remember Nelson’s uncles were there; I used to look up to them because I thought they were so cool. That night we fired up Streets of Rage on the ol’ Genny and I remember all the uncles in the living room stopped what they were doing to watch us play. They too were entranced by the simple beauty that was Streets of Rage.

SoRGenBG

And I still remember to this day feeling so high and alive. Feeling that Nelson and I, along with Streets of Rage, became the smash hit of the party. It was the coolest feeling an 8 year old kid could experience at that point in his young life. It’s a feeling I wish I could bottle up because Nelson and I were floating on cloud 9 that night kicking ass and taking names, all as Nelly’s uncles watched on. There was something special about playing beat ‘em ups with your best pal growing up. And there was something extra special about playing a beat ‘em up the caliber of Streets of Rage with your best friend back in 1991. It was a moment in time that you just had to be there in order to grasp the full effect. The gritty visuals, the epic electronic dance music and just the overall feel of the game… Streets of Rage was and forever will be a special Genesis game.

Award4Overall: 9.0
Gold Award

Thanks for the memories!
Thanks for the memories!

Sonic the Hedgehog (Genesis)

Pub: Sega | Dev: Sonic Team | June 1991
Pub: Sega | Dev: Sonic Team | June 1991

It took 11 ½ years but it’s finally here: my very first Sega Genesis review on RVGFanatic. Now as readers know, I love the Super Nintendo and my site is mostly dedicated to the almighty SNES. But I also love(d) the Genesis. I grew up with one and it gave me many fond memories. I’ve been meaning to reminisce about certain Genesis games ever since the inception of RVGFanatic back in 2007, but it just never happened for one reason or another. Until now. Inspiration struck when earlier today my pre-ordered copy of Sonic Mania Plus arrived in the mail. It brought back a wave of nostalgia. I can’t think of a better time to look back on Sonic the Hedgehog than right here, right now.

27 years later and the blue hedgehog is still going strong
27 years later and the blue hedgehog is still going strong
So freakin' GLORIOUS
So freakin’ GLORIOUS

SONIC MANIA

SonicParade

Sega’s lovable mascot made a huge splash when it landed in the summer of 1991 and made the Sega Genesis system an absolute MUST BUY. Sonic was Sega’s answer to Nintendo’s Mario and kickstarted the whole “mascot with a ‘tude” era of the early-mid 1990s. Sonic would become a pop culture icon and his various games over the years have left an indelible mark in the minds and hearts of many. I still vividly remember my uncle buying a Genesis along with Sonic the Hedgehog for me and my brother in the summer of ’91. Our friends were proud Genesis owners in 1989 and 1990 so we got to play the system plenty, but it wasn’t until we saw Sonic the Hedgehog that we knew it was time to make the jump. You can ask any gamer from that generation and they too would have a Sonic the Hedgehog story to tell you. It’s one of those rare special games that everyone sort of remembers where they were the first time they saw it.

A STROLL DOWN MEMORY LANE

SonicTH2

Who could ever forget the classic first stage of the first game? Green Hill Zone was the perfect introductory stage with its lush greenery and ridiculously catchy music. The theme conveys a sense of adventure, energy and heroism all at once. The music in this game is amazing and just hearing a second of it instantly transports me back to the summer of 1991 playing Sonic the Hedgehog in my living room with my brother and our friends.

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BLAST PROCESSING, BABY! Sega’s infamous pitch to sell the game might have been hyperbole, but Sonic was certainly quite the speedster. The rings serve as your health. Whenever Sonic is hit, his rings go flying. When he’s hit with 0 rings, it’s Game Over. I remember thinking it was a pretty cool and clever idea!

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Bopping off one baddie and hitting another before you landed not only looked and felt great, but it multiplied your points too.

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Power-ups such as temporary invincibility and the shield are part of Sonic lore. The sound effect of the shield enveloping Sonic is embedded in my mind still to this day. BONG!

SonicTH5b

Make sure to hit that lollipop marker (as us kids liked to call it once upon a time). And watch out for those rotating thorns!

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Ah, the classic loop the loop. I can’t think of Sonic without thinking about them. The two go hand in hand like Godzilla and Japan!

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Mario has Bowser. The aforementioned Godzilla has King Ghidorah. Sonic has Dr. Robotnik. Always fun beating his fat ass :P

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True story: when I was a kid I thought Marble Zone was sort of a homage to the first stage of Altered Beast (the game that launched with the Genesis back in the late ’80s). Ah, the innocence of being 8 years old!

"WISE FROM YOUR GRAVE!"
“WISE FROM YOUR GRAVE!”

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Love the way the fire trails you and love the sound it makes. Just classic stuff from Sega.

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Remember bypassing each one of these one at a time and waiting patiently for those Zordon glass containers to lift? You know you do.

Goddamn it, it really does look like it, no?
Goddamn it, it really does look like it, no?

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I love the sound the chain makes when it ascends.

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Marble Zone Act 2 brings the lava action. The visual of the rising lava is SEARED in my brain, pardon the pun.

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Spring Yard Zone is another memorable level. Who could ever forget bouncing Sonic off the bumper balls like a pinball?

Love the city at night in the backdrop
Love the city at night in the backdrop
BLAST PROCESSING!
BLAST PROCESSING!
WHOA! Speed kills, indeed
WHOA! Speed kills, indeed
Plenty of hidden areas to be found
Plenty of hidden areas to be found
Ah lollipop marker... my old friend
Ah, lollipop marker… my old friend

SonicTH11g

Battle Dr. Robotnik at the end of each world, with his gimmick shifting for each fight. I remember thinking as a kid how dope that was. It gave me a sense that I was really beating him at every turn rather than what most platformers do instead (i.e. the big bad sending his cronies to deal with you in the levels prior to the final showdown). Obviously Sonic the Hedgehog drew some influences from the Mario games but it’s also obvious that Sega threw their own spin on it (pun intended, not intended) and made it their own.

SonicTH12

Alright, raise your hand if Labyrinth Zone terrorized you as a kid. Looking back, it’s really not that hard a stage but I guess at the time it was my youthful inexperience and anxiety that got the worst of me. It’s because of this and the water dam level from NES Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles that made me weary of playing any stages featuring water.

No Donnie! Its NOT OK!
NO DONNIE!  IT’S NOT OK!

SonicTH12c

Wait for the big bubble to give Sonic a respite. This used to induce mini panic attacks on me when I was 8! Especially when that damn frenetic music would kick in with the 5 second countdown to alert you that poor Sonic is on the verge of drowning!

It’s OK, buddy. There’s a Groupon on group therapy we can redeem.

Ah. away from water at last
Ah, away from water at last
Kicking and screaming back in the water
Kicking and screaming back in the water

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On my very short list of disappointments with this game, Star Light Zone is definitely one of them. Based on the name of the stage, my 8 year old self imagined a grandiose world littered by hundreds of multi-colored and different sized stars (including exaggeratedly enormous ones). Sadly the actual stars are just normal, rendering the overall effect forgettable. The world is not a fraction as colorful as I expected a “Star Light Zone” to be. Although Star Light Zone features some pretty cool ideas such as the fans and teeter totters, it felt like Sonic Team dropped the proverbial ball as it relates to appearance and atmosphere.

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In fact, my mind often switches Spring Yard Zone and Star Light Zone, as a sign of my inner desire for Star Light Zone to be brighter and bigger than what it is.

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The oddly titled (and looking) Scrap Brain Zone doesn’t mess around. Industrial in its look and design, it features the game’s trickiest platforming and even includes some underwater sections to navigate through.

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Personally, I didn’t care too much for the aesthetics of Scrap Brain Zone. It’s not one of those memorable final worlds that spring to mind when I think of such things. It’s rather mechanical (in spirit), which granted makes a ton of sense because it is Dr. Robotnik’s lair, but still. It feels a little too lifeless and definitely ranks toward the bottom of my least favorite zones in this game, along with the aforementioned disappointing Star Light Zone.

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Thankfully, the final fight with Dr. Robotnik is highly memorable and something that has stuck with me throughout the ages. It’s simply classic and fun to play. After a small speed bump, Sonic the Hedgehog definitely ends on a high note.

BONUS ROUND

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If you beat a stage with 50 or more rings and manage to jump into the big golden ring at level’s end, then you’ll be transported here. It’s a crazy dream-like psychedelic experience. Do your best to avoid the red dots of death and make your way to the middle to claim your Chaos Emerald. This bonus round blew our minds back in 1991. It was at once soothing and chaotic — the perfect balance.

SONIC MEMORIES

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Back in the day my family was friends with four other families. Our parents were best friends with the other parents and the kids, ranging from birth dates of 1978-1986, were much the same. Together, we were a force to be reckoned with. Our epic sleepovers during the late ’80s to mid ’90s is the stuff legends are made of, filled with countless coming-of-age adventures and of course, video games galore. I remember many of those happy Saturday nights fondly, but there was one innocent Saturday night in the summer of ’91 that stood out in particular. We booted up Sonic the Hedgehog and Tommy had the controller. Randomly, he pressed Up, Down, Left, Right, A + START at the title menu. Next thing we knew, a level select cheat menu popped up!

We all jumped up and down in utter disbelief
We all lost our minds the second this happened

You have to understand something. This was 1991. Way before the internet, way before YouTube, way before GameFAQs. You couldn’t just go online to Google cheat codes, oh no. You either found out by reading the cheat section in a gaming magazine or discovering it yourself through sheer dumb luck. For Tommy, it was the latter. Or at least, that’s what he told us. At any rate, cracking the code back then was bigger than big. Unlocking a video game secret is a moment that instantly becomes etched in the annals of time. Tommy from that point on forever adopted a near mythical aura within our gaming group. It’s one of my favorite game memories because it encapsulates the innocence of the early ’90s and also what made our Gaming Crew so damn special and magical.

Uncle Jimmy: the man, the myth, the legend
Uncle Jimmy: the man, the myth, the legend

My other favorite Sonic the Hedgehog memory involves my Uncle Jimmy. He lived with us as we were growing up. My brother and I absolutely adored him. Whether he was weaving spooky ghost stories on a warm summer night, or whether he was playing Contra and other NES classics with us, Uncle Jimmy was an important part of my childhood. He was also the one who bought us a Sega Genesis in 1991 along with Sonic the Hedgehog.

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Sadly, by ’91 Uncle Jimmy by and large lost interest in playing video games. However, I’ll never forget coming home from school one day and upon opening my door hearing that classic Sonic the Hedgehog music. I had just started 3rd grade so it was probably September. My brother wasn’t home yet and my mom sure as hell wasn’t playing Sonic… so who was? I turned the corner after taking off my shoes and sure enough, there he was sitting on the couch grinning like a boy who had just seen Santa. I’ll never forget that image. He was on the lava stage, Sonic was teetering on the block and Uncle Jimmy was swaying along with Sonic before he caught me watching him. He gave me a thumbs up and it became a moment frozen in time. It was also the last time I can recall Uncle Jimmy playing a video game. It was Uncle Jimmy’s last hurrah.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

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Sonic the Hedgehog may not be the best game in the series but it introduced the world to an iconic character who transcended video gaming itself. It laid the foundation for what was to come. It also spawned countless similar platformers starring animals with attitude. Some examples include Awesome Possum, Bubsy and Rocky Rodent. It was a sign of the times, for sure. But no one ever did it better than Sonic. Sorry, Crash! Sonic the Hedgehog is a personal favorite of mine. Some of the sequels may well be better, but similar to Donkey Kong Country, the original will forever hold a special place in my gaming heart. With today seeing the release of Sonic Mania Plus, and with a movie set to launch on November 15, 2019 (with Jim Carrey playing Dr. Robotnik), Sonic is alive and well. He has stood the test of time whereas many other attempted mascots have miserably failed. It’s nice to pause and look back on where it all started. Sonic the Hedgehog, I salute thee. Thanks for all the memories.

Award4Overall: 9.0
Gold Award

Die Hard Arcade (Saturn)

Pub: Sega | Dev: AM1 | March 1997
Pub: Sega | Dev: Sega AM1 | March 1997

With the boom of the 3D era in 1996, some of our old favorite genres took a backseat to this changing of the guard. Or in some cases, they became an endangered species. One of those was the beat ‘em up genre. From the glorious late ’80s to early-mid ’90s, beat ‘em ups ruled the arcade (and home console) scene. From classics such as Final Fight, Double Dragon, Golden Axe and Streets of Rage just to name a few, they were a staple of many childhoods. But they went by the wayside when 3D gaming ushered in the next generation. Enter Sega’s Die Hard Arcade. It was a 3D interpretation of the classic beat ‘em ups of yore. A Saturn port was released a year later in March of 1997. It’s not the best game in the world but damn if it isn’t wacky fun.

Yippe-Ki-Yay indeed
YIPPEE-KI-YAY indeed

30 YEARS OF KICKING TERRORIST ASS

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Today (July 15, 2018) marks the 30 year anniversary of Die Hard. Released in theaters on July 15, 1988, Die Hard carved its way into our hearts and memories. The film followed the exploits of one, John McClane. A one man wrecking crew, he attempts to save his separated wife and countless hostages from the vile clutches of some East German terrorists. Taking place over the course of one wild night (Christmas Eve) and one highly memorable location (the fictionally named Nakatomi Plaza), Die Hard was an action movie for the ages. It launched Bruce Willis into superstardom and had one critic call it “a perfect action movie in every detail, the kind of movie that makes your summer memorable.”

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The film worked on so many levels. One of its biggest reasons was the pinpoint portrayal of villainous mastermind, Hans Gruber (arguably one of the best movie villains of all time, right up there with the likes of Darth Vader himself). Played by Alan Rickman, Hans Gruber was masterfully memorable for his accent and wicked ways.

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Die Hard was filmed at Fox Plaza in Los Angeles. Completed in 1987, Fox Plaza is 35 stories tall (493 feet) and served as the film’s memorable backdrop. Made on a budget of 28 million, Die Hard went on to gross that number five times over for a whopping 128.1 million. There are currently five Die Hard films with a sixth one on the way. Willis will reprise the role of McClane but a younger version is being cast for the earlier portions of the film which will depict McClane as a rookie cop in the ’70s. Happy 30 years, Die Hard!

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Hmm....
A combination of The Towering Inferno and Die Hard

My girlfriend and I caught Skyscraper in theaters last night. I’m a big Rock fan but this one just didn’t do it for me. Maybe I was subconsciously comparing it too much to Die Hard, but it had none of the charm and memorable characters.

Give me Die Hard instead any day of the week
Give me Die Hard instead any day of the week

ARCADE ORIGINS

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Die Hard Arcade was conceived by AM1’s Makoto Uchida. Uchida worked on numerous well known Sega titles such as Altered Beast and Golden Axe. A big fan of the original Die Hard film, Uchida had the idea of creating a 3D beat ‘em up with Die Hard as his main inspiration.

And thus ,Die Hard Arcade was born
And thus, Die Hard Arcade was born
Ad for the arcade
Ad for the arcade
Ad for the Saturn
Ad for the Saturn

THE STORY GOES…

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Wolf Hongo and his cronies have invaded a skyscraper in Los Angeles. They want the vast riches in the vault and have also kidnapped the president’s daughter. It’s up to you (and your partner) to stop Wolf.

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Die Hard Arcade doesn’t take itself seriously as seen here. The president’s daughter manages to elude the bad guys at some point and they cannot find her despite her being right under their nose.

DEEP SCAN CAMEO

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Deep Scan is a 1979 arcade game from Sega. Play it to earn extra continues.

The extra continues help
The extra continues help

“WELCOME TO THE PARTY, PAL!”

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The action starts out hot and heavy on this little rooftop ledge.

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Many weapons are in play, including brooms!

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There’s also the ever reliable handgun.

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The blocky graphics add to the charm of the game. It’s a little rough around the edges, literally, but that’s just all part of the charm.

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Quick time events, if handled right, allow you to recover some lost health. If you fail however, you’ll need to clear that area of any bad guys that linger. You have to pay attention to which button they ask you to press, like a Simon Says. It’s pretty neat and was later used in Shenmue on the Dreamcast.

YOU TELL EM, JOHN!
YOU TELL ‘EM, JOHN!

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Next, make your way to this elevator lobby where you can beat up the bad guys with everything from a missile launcher to a grandfather clock! This game is ridiculous and I can’t help but love how insane it is.

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The bum in the green hat actually falls into the blue dumpster during a cutscene prior to McClane arriving on the scene. As stated earlier, Die Hard Arcade doesn’t take itself seriously and has a ton of black humor.

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Watch out for the water spray, which can juggle you for damage. It can also hurt the enemies. Pick up the fire axe and hack away. There are also exploding barrels that you can heave their way.

WHAT THE -- !
WHAT THE — !

The next scene is unforgettable. One of the bad guys is relieving himself as you approach ready to maim. Stuff like this is what makes video games so great.

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Yes, John McClane is suplexing a naked man in a diaper. Some descriptions defy logic.

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Anti-tank rifles, clubs, guns and more can be used here. Or just kick their ass the good old fashioned way. Toilet paper rolls roll around. This section is by far my favorite part of the game and I wish it were longer.

So damn satisfying
So damn satisfying
What a cinematic scene
What a cinematic scene

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Use robot arms lying around to send these bastards back to the trash heap.

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“Come on, hand over the club. We all know how this ends.”

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This big, beefy, masked mauler is one tough son of a gun. It’s a good thing you can shoot his ass and throw chairs at him, then. I love the whale swimming in the aquarium tank in the background.

McClane goes barefoot, just like in the movie
McClane goes barefoot, just like in the movie
"Come out to the coast, have a few laughs..."
“Come out to the coast, have a few laughs…”

THE SEQUEL: DYNAMITE COP

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A sequel, Dynamite Deka 2 or Dynamite Cop in North America, came out in 1999. It was released in the arcade and on the Sega Dreamcast. It takes place on a boat and similar to the first game, has something of a cult following behind it.

Choose from these three
Choose from these three
Good ol Wolf Hongo is back
Good ol’ Wolf Hongo is back
Its just as crazy as Die Hard Arcade
It’s just as crazy as Die Hard Arcade
Actually, its a lot crazier
Actually, it’s a lot crazier
The stuff nightmares are made of...
The stuff nightmares are made of…
Hard to say if its Dynamite Cop or John Wick 2
Hard to tell if it’s Dynamite Cop or John Wick 2
Casinos can ruin your life. This one can kill it
Casinos can ruin your life. This one can kill it
Looks like an online meetup gone horribly wrong
Looks like an online meetup gone horribly wrong
My butt a few hours after eating Taco Bell
My butt a few hours after eating Taco Bell
Definitely a fun and worthy sequel to Die Hard Arcade
Definitely a fun and worthy sequel to Die Hard Arcade

DYNAMITE DEKA EX: ASIAN DYNAMITE

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8 years later, a revised version of the second game was released in arcades in Japan only. It was an odd release to say the least. By then the beat ‘em up genre was even more obscure than it had been in the early 2000s. The game was never ported to home consoles nor did it ever officially leave Japan.

Um... yeah...
Um… yeah…

RE-RELEASE ON THE PLAYSTATION 2

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In 2006, Dynamite Deka was re-released in Japan for the PlayStation 2 under the Sega Ages 2500 budget line. It featured revamped graphics.

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BURNING 2020

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Die Hard Arcade was even made into a manga by the name of Burning 2020.

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It’s pretty incredible how Japan latches on to random entities and makes a “thing” out of them.

GAMETZ MEMORIES

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GameTZ (or Game Trading Zone) was a website where gamers can share their wanted and available list of games. You can browse other users’ listings and message them to strike up trades. I joined on March 21, 2001 — I was still a few months away from graduating high school. It was a crazy fun time… it was like the Wild West of the internet back in those days. People were more willing to trade before the site became a shell of itself in the years to come. My third deal there was trading my copy of Resident Evil (PlayStation 1) and $6 for Virtua Cop 2 and Die Hard Arcade (Saturn). At that time, I had just gotten back into all things Sega Saturn and I vividly remember the day Virtua Cop 2 and Die Hard Arcade arrived in the mail. Later that night, my brother and I binged on both games and it was the best arcade experience at home I had had in the longest time. It sent me on a tailspin of endless Saturn love as I would explore the system’s library further in-depth and uncover the most obscure of obscure games. Great memories!

My bro and I had so much fun that night
My bro and I had so much fun that night
The trade a smash SUCCESS ;)
The trade a smash SUCCESS ;)

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There were truly some funky deals I made on GameTZ. Maybe a story for another day. But I can’t resist sharing a few right now. I once got Street Fighter Collection in exchange for Golden Axe: The Duel and an obscure Wolfgang Krauser collectible that I got in the mail circa 1994 via TAKARA. But perhaps my funniest trade was getting High Velocity (an obscure racing game for the Saturn) for my Predator 2 VHS copy. Ah, GameTZ, how I loved thee once upon a moon.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

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Die Hard Arcade is a blast. It never takes itself too seriously, it’s violent as hell and it’s stupid fun with a friend by your side. My brother and I loved playing this game and although it’s short at around 20 minutes or so, we kept coming back to it over the years. It’s a true testament to how fun and over the top the game is. We didn’t care that the graphics were a little blocky or that the story wasn’t anything we hadn’t seen a thousand times before: a good beat ‘em up should be fun and Die Hard Arcade most certainly is.

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There’s actually something charming about the blocky visuals. It was in the early days of 3D where polygons were mostly blocky. Developers were still finding their way with the new style of graphics; it was a sign of the times. But the best thing about this game is teaming up with a buddy to kick terrorist ass in the most amusing of ways. Whether you’re chucking a grandfather clock at the bad guys or beating them upside the head with a broom, Die Hard Arcade is a memorable foray into the realm of the 3D beat ‘em up. It’s campy, over the top and balls to the walls nutty. It’s not a perfect game, but for what it is, it’s perfect (if that makes sense). Now excuse me while I find my copy of this game and dust off the ol’ Saturn one more time…

AwardsOverall: 8.0
Silver Award

 

John McClane would approve
John McClane would approve
The Japanese Saturn version nailed the art cover
The Japanese Saturn version nailed the art cover

Resident Evil (Saturn)

Publisher & Developer: Capcom | August 1997
Pub: Capcom | Dev: NexTech | August 1997

When Resident Evil first hit the PlayStation in the spring of 1996, it caused quite the uproar. Gamers and critics alike raved about its tense atmosphere, its amazing cinematic feel and its edge-of-your-seat survival horror gameplay. Sure, games like Alone in the Dark came before but it was Resident Evil that really caused the boom of the survival horror genre from where I sit. There were really only two games I was genuinely scared of before I first played Resident Evil back in the summer of ’96. Those two being NES Godzilla with its creepy music (hey, I was five years old) and Doom, the first person shooter that saw imps and demons stalking you through the tight corridors and haunted halls of Hell. Then along came Resident Evil. It reminded me of what it felt like to actually have a sense of dread as I navigated my way through the game. With this being October and all, it’s a great time to look back on this epic horror game and remember what made it such a classic. Capcom is no stranger to the survival horror genre. They released Sweet Home exclusively to the Famicom (Japanese Nintendo) in 1989. Resident Evil, in fact, was heavily inspired by the firm’s previous survival horror effort seven years prior. It’s safe to say time and technology allowed Capcom to take the genre to the next level. Let’s take a stroll down memory lane…

IT ALL STARTED WHEN…

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Remember where you were the first time you played Resident Evil? I bet you do. Whether it was a stormy night in Sacramento or a darkening late afternoon in Detroit, everyone remembers the very first time they played and laid eyes on this. It’s just one of those games. Back in the day I was lucky enough to have a tight-knit gaming group. Those guys were a big part of my childhood. Sure, I had my best buddy Nelson, but there’s something special about 18 kids coming together and having legendary sleepovers where we would stay up til 2 in the morning gaming the night away. And it was these damn bastards that introduced me to the EVIL. It was the summer of 1996. By then I had largely slipped out of the gaming scene. At least in the sense that I was no longer reading game magazines and following up on it like I had in the earlier part of the ’90s. So it was on a faithful hot summer evening that my friends, knowing what a horror freak I was, took me upstairs to show me this new “badass” game. I watched the B-Movie-like intro and was sold immediately. I had never seen or heard of this game before. I had no idea what to expect, except I knew this was a moment not only in my gaming fandom but my childhood that would come to stand the test of time.

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The classic newspaper headline added perfectly to the B-Movie feel. I remember thinking “Who killed the people?” My friend then passed the controller to me. I looked at him bewildered, as if I had just seen a ghost. They told me they already played it and that it was my turn. And so, it began…

"You, the master of unlocking..."
“You, the master of unlocking…”

After the cheesy yet tense intro, you find your three characters escaping into the safety of a secluded mansion, or so they think. A bit of corny dialogue ensues as they decide to sweep the mansion for their missing team members.

First time a console video game ever made me jump
One of the most iconic moments in gaming history

This was the first time a console video game ever made me jump out of my chair. Needless to say, my friends enjoyed a hearty laugh at my expense. I’m pretty sure it all happened to them the first time too, but of course, they denied such a thing happening. What a bunch of great friends, huh? :P

And then the dramatic, cinematic zombie scene...
And then the dramatic, cinematic zombie scene…
You realize the true horror behind the murders...
As you realize the true horror behind the murders…
... the abominable creature turns his attention to you!
… the abominable creature turns his attention to you
You knew for sure then you were in for one hell of a ride!
You knew for sure you were in for one hell of a ride!
It's a dark mansion. Never know what's behind ya...
It’s a dark mansion. Never know what’s behind ya…
YIKES! Where's Jeff Daniels when ya need him?!
YIKES! Where’s Jeff Daniels when ya need him?!

THE CAST

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Chris Redfield’s old friend and partner, Barry is a former SWAT team member. He maintains and supplies weapons for all S.T.A.R.S. members. With over 16 years of experience, Barry has led many successful projects. Barry is a trusted ally but has had some trouble with his wife and two daughters as of late. He may look or sound depressing at times due to his current issues at home.

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Previous member of S.T.A.R.S. Bravo Team and already stationed in Raccoon City, Joseph was recently promoted to serve as vehicle specialist for Alpha Team. Many Bravo Team members are jealous of his promotion but he was anointed by Wesker himself. Joseph is young, enthusiastic and has an inquisitive nature.

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After being kicked out of the Air Force, Chris became a drifter until he met Barry Burton. Barry recruited him for the newly formed S.T.A.R.S. squad. Now Chris has been reassigned to a smaller unit at Raccoon City headquarters in order to prove himself.

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An intelligent soldier that has rescued many S.T.A.R.S. members from danger in the past, Jill has been reassigned to Raccoon City just like Chris. She is excellent with mechanical devices such as lock-picks. Jill has strong moral convictions and fights for what she believes in.

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Brad is a computer expert and is great at gathering information. His fear of dying draws much heat from his fellow soldiers. His lack of enthusiasm for rushing into danger has earned him the nickname “Chickenheart.”

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Wesker has risen quickly inside the S.T.A.R.S. organization and currently leads the Alpha Team. Wesker was recruited by a headhunter for his sharp insight and eventually founded the S.T.A.R.S. unit in Raccoon City.

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A very important member of the unit, he is the communication expert for Bravo Team. The only link back to headquarters for teams out in the field, Richard pulls double duty as radioman for both units since Alpha Team really has no trained operator except for Jill (who has a knack for technology).

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The youngest member of the group, Rebecca was recruited for her knowledge of field medicine and First Aid. She is nervous around other team members due to her age and her lack of experience. Rebecca is eager to please.

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Bravo Team’s leader and Wesker’s second in command for the S.T.A.R.S. unit, Enrico feels threatened by the arrival of the Alpha Team. He has an inkling that Chris or Barry may end up replacing him as Wesker’s right hand man. Nonetheless, Enrico is a dedicated S.T.A.R.S. operative and is always proud to lead the unit whenever Wesker gives him the nod.

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Forest is a great sniper as well as Bravo’s vehicle specialist. He is a consummate professional and his work earns him great respect from his colleagues. He shares a very natural connection with Chris Redfield.

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A quiet but very talented field scouting officer, Kenneth also has spent time as a chemist. His chemical knowledge will come in handy for Raccoon City’s zombie siege…

THE WEAPONS

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There’s also a flamethrower and rocket launcher to be found within the hallowed halls…

SEGA SATURN MAGAZINE SPECIAL

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Sega Saturn Magazine (the best gaming publication EVER for my money) championed Resident Evil to the moon. They sold the game so wonderfully well that I’m including excerpts of their various Resident Evil previews, showcases and review below. Enjoy!

RESIDENT EVIL CONFIRMED!

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Those who haven’t seen Resident Evil will no doubt be wondering what all the fuss is about. It caused a huge stir last year when it was released on the PlayStation and was a massive commercial success. This survival horror video game follows the exploits of Jill Valentine and Chris Redfield who are both members of the S.T.A.R.S. (Special Tactics And Rescue Service) Alpha team. They have been called to investigate a series of grisly murders at a place known as Raccoon City.

EVIL HAS A NEW ADDRESS

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Resident Evil is an incredible and terrifying gaming experience. For Capcom’s first foray into the realms of 3D, Resident Evil is an awesome achievement which upon the time of its release received rave reviews and critical acclaim. The game uses a mixture of horror and puzzle elements to dramatic effect, creating an atmosphere unparalleled in any other video game ever. As a result it proved to be immensely successful, surpassing SEGA Rally Championship as the fastest selling CD game of all time.

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Capcom of Japan are renowned for being perfectionists with a meticulous attention to every conceivable detail as is evident from their 2D beat ‘em up classics. So despite the high praise heaped upon Capcom, they weren’t entirely satisfied with the finished PlayStation version of Resident Evil. Several ideas that the programmers had in mind for the game failed to come to fruition, so upon completion of the original game the programmers set to work on an enhanced version. The new version would allow the programmers the opportunity to iron out the gameplay irritations of the original and incorporate those various elements that were absent. The new Resident Evil Dash as it became known was intended for release on the PlayStation some time ago, but failed to arise as it was canned not long into its development cycle. Luckily for Saturn owners, this is the version they’re getting.

THE PLOT THICKENS

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Like every B-movie horror flick, Resident Evil Dash has a terrifying plot which unfolds and develops as you play. The horror story centers around two main characters Jill Valentine and Chris Redfield, two members of the S.T.A.R.S. (Special Tactics And Rescue Service) Alpha team. They are called to a remote town, Raccoon City, to investigate the grisly murders and the disappearance of the S.T.A.R.S. Bravo Team, with whom all communication has been lost. After a brief encounter in the woods with a pack of savage canines, Alpha Team seek refuge in a secluded mansion which, unknown to them, is full of frights.

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Further investigation leads to the recovery of reconnaissance notes which reveal sketchy details of a company known as Umbrella. They have been conducting genetic mutation research commissioned by the government. The aim of this research is shrouded in secrecy, with a cover-up under way to prevent details of horrific events leaking out. Alpha Team’s mission is to explore the mansion and eliminate everything within, locate the whereabouts of Bravo Team and find out exactly what the hell is going on…

THE EVIL WITHIN

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Put simply, RED (Resident Evil Dash) is a disturbing and harrowing experience players are proud to say they have endured and survived. Guide Chris or Jill around the dingy, claustrophobic and blood-splattered rooms of the mansion uncovering clues to the plot which remains shrouded in secrecy until the very end. All the while players are stalked by a bizarre series of genetic mutations, evidence if ever it were needed of a scientific experiment gone horribly wrong. From the flesh-eating zombies to the giant tarantulas, ravenous Dobermans and lizard creatures, danger is lurking around every corner and behind every door.

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It quickly becomes clear that our brave investigators are ill-equipped to deal with the situation at hand, so survival becomes the primary goal. This makes locating the secret ammo stashes even more essential, whilst getting acquainted with the capabilities of different weapons.

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But that’s all by the by, the main interest of RED is clearly the gratuitous violence. To my mind there’s no other video game as blatantly gruesome, gory and stomach-churning as RED. Frantically reaching for a shotgun and blowing the head clean off a zombie as a fountain of blood erupts from between its shoulders is one of the most satisfying moments in video game history.

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However, there’s so much more to RED than the infamous blood-spilling sequences. There’s a strong puzzle element to the game requiring much lateral thinking and forward planning. Some of the puzzles are self-explanatory switches or locating certain items. But as players gain access to more areas of the grounds and the plot steadily unfolds, the puzzles become more complex requiring a much greater deal of head-scratching. But that’s not to say that RED is a rock hard mammoth gaming chore reminiscent of Core’s Tomb Raider. Capcom appears to have set the difficulty level just right, allowing novices to progress through the game with competence as Jill, whereas more seasoned players are able to take their gaming skills to the limits as Chris (who carries less items than Jill).

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Graphically, RED is in a class of its own with the pre-rendered backgrounds looking absolutely stunning and exhibiting more detail than even the original PlayStation version. From the blood-stained corridors to the dark laboratories, the level of detail and depth to each of the scenarios is incredible. The real stars of the show however are the hideous monsters which are superbly animated and chillingly realistic.

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But what makes RED so undoubtedly great is the tense atmosphere upon which it thrives, keeping players engrossed in a masochistic kind of way. The feeling of your imminent demise is intense throughout the game, heightened by the chilling Hitchcock-style tunes, not to mention the accompanying moans and groans from the undead. Add to this the dramatic fixed camera positions (reminiscent of Alone in the Dark) which lends the game a cinematic feel. Factor all these aspects and the scene is set for one of the most horrific games of all time.

HEAR NO EVIL SPEAK NO EVIL

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Capcom’s Saturn development is arguably the best of any third party developer. Over the last couple years Capcom have supplied Saturn owners with a wealth of arcade beat ‘em ups, such as the awesome Street Fighter Alpha 2 and X-Men: Children of the Atom, a trend which appears set to continue. Why, just flick through the glossy pages of this esteemed magazine and you’ll discover the very latest earth-shattering pictures of Saturn Marvel Super Heroes and Street Fighter Collection. However, Capcom’s latest and possibly greatest Saturn development is not another 2D arcade beat ‘em up but rather the multi-genre gore-fest of Resident Evil.

BE AFRAID… BE VERY AFRAID

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Playing Resident Evil is like nothing gamers will have experienced before. Though comparisons will undoubtedly be drawn with Core Design’s Tomb Raider, essentially the two games play very differently. For the most part, the gameplay of Resident Evil is of the killed or be killed variety with players being stalked throughout the mansion and its grounds by hordes of bizarre genetic mutations. The range of monsters is astonishing, from the giant spiders to the huge Tyrant boss, all thirsting for the taste of your blood. Survival soon becomes the main priority as operatives struggle to escape the confines of the mansion. To make matters worse, ammo is scarce, so it’s not simply a case of running around in a mad blasting frenzy. Some monsters are best avoided altogether as they’re either too tough or too difficult to hit. Conserving ammo is the key to success as players soon learn how to side step the hordes of genetic mutations in order to amass enough ammo to destroy the final boss.

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All the while players struggle to overcome a wealth of diverse puzzles featured throughout. Most require you to locate a certain object before using it to unlock a door mechanism, or finding a hidden switch somewhere. But later on the puzzles become more complex, with chemical formulas being mixed and even a piano to play! On the whole, the difficulty level of the puzzles appear to be pitched just right, presenting a deep challenge to even experienced gamers.

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However, what really sets Resident Evil apart from Tomb Raider is the tense atmosphere. Terror lurks around every corner with some genuine shocks in store for first time players. Savage dogs leaping through windows, seemingly dead zombies chomping at your ankles and giant snakes bursting through walls are just a taste of the shocks in store. Add to this the macabre music, eerie silences and accompanying moans from the horde of the undead, and Resident Evil works better than a strong laxative.

SHOOTING S.T.A.R.S.

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The problem that has beset so many other adventure games in the past is that their linear structure means that once the game has been completed there’s little to entice players back. Therefore it’s to Capcom’s credit that such pitfalls have been avoided with Resident Evil. The gameplay is surprisingly nonlinear, with players being required to make decisions at several key points during the game. Depending on which choices have been made greatly affects the unfolding plot and eventually the game’s ending. However, the main source of variety in Resident Evil stems from which of the two S.T.A.R.S.’ operatives that players select at the beginning. Choosing either Chris or Jill affects which weapons players are able to discover, the amount of monsters and ultimately the outcome of the plot (just to name a few key differences).

CHRIS REDFIELD

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Though Chris handles himself considerably well when separated from his fellow S.T.A.R.S. crew members, players choosing to take on his mantle are essentially opting to travel the most difficult route through the game. That said, players who wish to explore every nook and cranny of the mansion and solve every last puzzle in order to appreciate the full splendor of Resident Evil are best off choosing Chris. To begin with our hero is ill-prepared for the horrors which await him, being devoid of all firearms and armed only with his trusty combat knife. Obviously this causes a few problems when encountering flesh-eating zombies hell-bent on sinking their teeth into your flesh and draining it of blood. So Chris’ first priority is to seek out a more powerful weapon. Once the Beretta has been located, Chris’ superior shooting skills become evident, as he is able to fire with greater accuracy than Jill, requiring less bullets to take down the mutated monsters. It’s a good thing too, as the plentiful ammo supply enjoyed by Jill is not available to Chris, with extra ammo being scarce throughout his campaign. By way of compensation, Chris’ bulky frame is better able to take more damage than Jill before death comes knocking.

To make things more difficult, Chris left his backpack at the drop zone and his action slacks are only able to carry up to six items at a time. This means playing as Chris requires a great deal of forward planning and effective resource management. Much of the time players find themselves legging it back and forth between storage rooms and depositing unwanted objects in favor of more useful items.

Despite his shortcomings, Chris Redfield is a skilled member of the S.T.A.R.S. Alpha Team whose superior shooting skills, strength and resilience make him a worthy (if challenging) character to play as.

JILL VALENTINE

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Jill Valentine is a relatively new member of the S.T.A.R.S. Alpha Team whose mission is considerably simpler and shorter than that of her colleague for a number of reasons. Firstly, Jill begins her adventure armed with a Beretta pistol, having a clear advantage over Chris who spends much of the early part of the game foraging for weapons and ammo. In addition, Jill is given a lock-pick early on by fellow S.T.A.R.S. teammate Barry Burton, enabling Jill to enter certain rooms and storage areas not accessible to Chris without the corresponding key. Jill is also able to carry up to eight items in her navy blue action slacks. Her larger inventory means that managing resources is a tad simpler than playing as Chris. Jill’s game is also considerably easier in that fewer monsters patrol the corridors of the mansion, so players needn’t worry too much about being overrun by hordes of the undead. Besides, even if Jill were to find herself in a spot of bother, secret admirer Barry Burton is on hand to make sure she comes to no harm.

However, in some respects Jill is worse off than Chris. Being of a slight build, her body is less resilient to enemy attack, taking less chomps from a marauding zombie to kill her. In addition, Jill’s aim isn’t up to the same standard as that of her teammate, requiring her to take more time when aiming and with less accuracy than sharpshooter Chris. Despite her shortcomings, Jill’s superior intelligence and lock-picking abilities make her mission a more straight-forward affair and rather less challenging.

THE EVIL HAS LANDED

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As we exclusively revealed in last month’s SEGA SATURN MAGAZINE, the long-awaited Saturn version of Resident Evil will be quite different to its PlayStation brethren.

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Possibly the most exciting addition to the Saturn rendition is the planned inclusion of an Arena Battle/Survival Mode. This is a special mini-game which becomes available once the regular game has been completed. Controlling either Chris or Jill, players progress through 15 stages fending off a continuous onslaught of 11 different types of genetically mutated monsters which advance with relentless speed. Only one weapon of choice is available to begin with, though more are collected as players use all their skills to battle through the stages. Players are then ranked upon completion or demise according to items used, the time taken and lives remaining.

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At long last Capcom have also confirmed Saturn Resident Evil will DEFINITELY feature new monsters… and we’ve seen ‘em! The new (as yet unnamed) monster in the 80% version we have is a redesigned version of a Hunter and lurks in the sewers beneath the mansion. It acts similarly but looks quite different. In addition, survivors of the PlayStation version may recall the huge Tyrant boss at the end of the game. A genetically engineered super-creature, the Tyrant was very agile and extremely difficult to kill. Well, depending on your point of view and game playing skills, the good or bad news is that for the Saturn version of Resident Evil there are now two Tyrants to destroy!

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And now, let’s meet the monsters…

ZOMBIES

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A lethal experimental virus was accidentally released among the Laboratory technicians. After the initial itchy sores had subsided, the laboratory technicians began to lose their minds and their bodies slowly began decaying. Their stinking rotting corpses now stagger around the mansion, arms outstretched in the hopes of snaring their prey and feasting on its blood. Their lack of agility and intelligence makes them easy to run around. Also be weary of downed zombies as they tend to play dead, pardon the pun, awakening only to chomp at your ankles.

HUNTERS

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Genetically engineered to be devastating fighting machines, the Hunters are extremely difficult to avoid and even more difficult to kill. When attacking their enemy, the Hunters leap about into the air, making targeting at times a virtual impossibility. Their sharp claws prove deadly and are often used for severing heads from shoulders.

CERBEROS

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After being infected with the same lethal strain of virus which drove the lab technicians insane, the one-time guard dogs of the mansion are similarly affected. The hungry Dobermans retain their in-bred instinct to protect the mansion and its grounds from intruders, and that means you!

CHIMERAS

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A lethal and deadly opponent, the Chimeras not only patrol the floors of the tight corridors but also the ceilings, occasionally swinging down to attack their prey with their vicious claws. Naturally this makes targeting the genetically mutated monsters very difficult indeed, which invariably leads to heavy ammo loss. So you’re best advised to avoid them with some nifty foot work.

GIANT SNAKE

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The giant snake is encountered twice throughout the game and is the largest genetic mutation roaming the mansion. Those bitten by the snake will find their bloodstream infected with a deadly poison unless treated immediately with an anti-poison vaccine.

CROWS

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Much of the time they remain passive but make a mistake and the aggravated flock will swoop down with great haste to peck their prey to death. Just ask poor Forest…

TYRANT

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The grand finale to Capcom’s awesome horror-fest sees the unleashing of not one but two Tyrants. A genetically engineered killing machine, the Tyrant was created to be the ultimate life force. It’s extremely fast, attacking opponents with a devastating series of claw swipes before finishing things off with an uppercut which skewers the victim. Players are confronted by a Tyrant on a number of occasions and are best advised to run away from this super creature, stopping occasionally to launch an attack. Good luck!

SEGA SATURN MAGAZINE’S REVIEW

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Taking a break from the 2D beat ‘em ups for which they have become synonymous, Capcom’s latest Saturn development is the critically acclaimed RESIDENT EVIL. Originally titled Biohazard for its earlier Japanese release, the game offers a scenario whereby players are called to investigate a series of grisly murders around a secluded mansion at a place known as Raccoon City. As one of its two members of the elite S.T.A.R.S. Alpha Team, it becomes evident that the mansion has played host to a series of bizarre scientific experiments which early reconnaissance notes suggest have gone terribly wrong. Alpha Team’s mission is to explore the mansion and eliminate everything within, find the missing Bravo Team and find out what the hell is going on.

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The game is similar to last year’s massive hit Tomb Raider and the rather dated Alone in the Dark games, but is arguably superior to both. Basically, players find themselves trapped inside a vast mansion crawling with all manner of strange genetic mutations with an unquenchable thirst for blood. Protocol is quickly discarded as players struggle to survive and escape the confines of the mansion. However, blocking the route to safety through the dark and dingy blood-splattered corridors are locked doors, the keys to which are usually hidden at the opposite end of the mansion. Expect plenty of diverse puzzles, too. These usually involve locating certain objects and exchanging them with others, or triggering a hidden switch to reveal a secret passageway. Some of these puzzles are huge, requiring a great deal of lateral thinking and forward planning, considering you’re only able to carry a certain number of items at any given time.

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Of course, this could have the makings of a pretty boring game were it not for the vast amount of action in Resident Evil, something which clearly distinguishes the game from the likes of Tomb Raider. For the most part, the gameplay is of the killed or be killed variety as players are stalked throughout the mansion and its grounds by a continuous onslaught of genetically mutated monsters. So locating the more powerful weapons and replenishing the limited supply of ammunition quickly becomes a priority for operatives wishing to stay alive. This gives way to some of the most gruesome and shocking scenes ever witnessed in a video game, with gallons of bloodshed featured throughout.

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Clearly these elements contribute to a fantastic game, but it’s the intense feeling of terror heightened by the chilling music and eerie silences which sets Resident Evil apart from any other adventure game you may care to mention. The shit-scary feeling of your imminent demise as players are faced with a room full of zombies and rapidly deteriorating health is quite unlike anything players will have experienced before in a video game, being more akin to a Wes Craven horror flick. Indeed the game has a very cinematic quality to it, with the ensuing action being viewed from the dramatic fixed camera positions pioneered by Infogrames’ Alone in the Dark series. Some camera angles can lead to some rather interesting visuals…

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In fact, aside from the terrible voice-overs and over-emphasized hand gesticulations which provide the game with some unintentional light relief, there’s very little to moan about.

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BTW, EGM scored it 6.5, 8.0, 8.5 and 9.0.

SOME OF MY FAVORITE MOMENTS

Snooping around always comes back to bite you...
Snooping around always comes back to bite you…
You see?! What an awesome dramatic moment
You see?! What an awesome dramatic moment
Pop a cap in that ass! Do the 'hip kids' still say that? [They did until now -Ed.]
Pop a cap in that ass! Do the ‘hip kids’ still say that?
[They did until right about now -Ed.]
Glorious gallons of pixellated blood
Glorious gallons of pixelated blood

You get this cool cutscene if you pick Jill. My jaw dropped the first time I saw this. I couldn’t believe the amount of gore or how raw it felt. I remember thinking to myself on that summer night of 1996 that video games have come such a long way from when I first played the 8-bit Nintendo some 10 years prior!

Looks like we're Alone in the Dark... [HA HA HA -Ed.]
Looks like we’re Alone in the Dark[HA HA HA -Ed.]
Flick on the lights. Uh oh, that doesn't look too good...
Flick on the lights. Uh oh, that doesn’t look too good
The Tyrant reminds me of a souped up Freddy Krueger!
Tyrant reminds me of a souped up Freddy Krueger!
"One... two... Freddy's COMING FOR YOU..."
“One… two… Freddy’s COMING FOR YOU…”

CLOSING THOUGHTS

"THAT'S A GOOD BOY NOW... OK, ROLL OVER!"
“THAT’S A GOOD BOY NOW… OK, ROLL OVER!”

I’ll never forget that sweltering summer night back in 1996 when I first faced the horrors within the hallowed halls of Resident Evil. It was like no other console gaming experience I ever had. Players were literally dumped into a horror movie from hell, submerged in a twisted world of monsters and mayhem. The game has an atmosphere like no other. There was always this impending sense of doom in the pit of your stomach as you dashed through the dark corridors of the mutant-infested mansion, searching desperately for an ink ribbon, healing herb or new clue. Ammo was limited so you had to rely on your brains and not so much your brawn. It was a harrowing experience the likes of which I had personally never seen before, and I’ll always fondly remember it for that.

It made us all flinch the first time back in the day :P
This made us all flinch the first time back in the day :P

Those entering the world of the original Resident Evil, be it on PlayStation or Saturn, for the first time today may not quite appreciate it the way we did over 20 years ago back in 1996. I liken it to playing 1993’s DOOM for the first time today. You kind of had to be there when it first came out to get the full impact. Although the controls were a bit clunky; there was no 180° degree turn back then and the graphics had its limits (though I’ll admit to enjoying the jagged less-than-perfect 3D polygons of the 32-bit generation), there’s no denying Resident Evil was a shit-scary experience. It left an indelible mark on an entire generation of gamers, as evident by the swarming legion of fans still to this day. This led to numerous sequels and had other companies scrambling to create their own survival horror game as seen with Konami and Silent Hill. Capcom, like they did five years earlier in 1991 with Street Fighter II, once again struck gold!

"SMILE -- YER ON HIDDEN CAMERA, BITCH!"
“SMILE — YOU’RE ON HIDDEN CAMERA, BITCH!”

Earlier this month I fired up Resident Evil for the 50th time. It’s a true classic and a title I love revisiting every October. The eerie music and creepy silences add tremendous atmosphere to the game. Not to mention around every corner and behind every door there lurks a bloodthirsty zombie or two just waiting to feast on your flesh. The plot is simple and effective, it features a memorable cast of characters and monsters, and it brought home an authentic B-Movie feel in raw 3D. Good times indeed. Another notch on Capcom’s belt, Resident Evil is a classic adventure from the 32-bit era.

Award4Overall: 9.0
Gold Award

 

One of the defining moments in all of gaming
One of the most defining moments in all of gaming!
"MMMMM... tasty... itchy..."
“MMMMM… tasty… itchy…”

Double Dragon Trilogy (NES)

Where it all began... sort of
Where it all began… sort of

Double Dragon. Man, the series brings back a lot of fond memories for me. It originated in the arcades in 1987 and received a Nintendo port in June 1988. The NES game was where many of us were first exposed to the exploits of the Shadow Warriors and the Lee Brothers. It’s hard to believe the NES version is almost 30 years old. Let’s kick off Double Dragon week here on RVGFanatic with the classic (well, mostly, anyhow) NES trilogy.

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Who could forget this intro?

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THE FIENDS!

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Remember the little music here?

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Make them pay for their sins.

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Remember climbing the ladders?
Or stealing Linda’s whip?

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Love the city in the backdrop.

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Abobo is an all-time iconic NES villain.

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They weren’t levels.
They weren’t stages.
They were missions!

DDNES8

Ever been hit by a cardboard box?
They’re more vicious than they look!

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You really felt like you were on a mission.

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Scaling this tower was some epic shit.
Seriously made you feel like Bruce Lee.

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Speaking of Bruce Lee…

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Don’t think these are friendly woods.

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Take his knife and throw it back at him!

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This was so atmospheric :)

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Batting practice, anyone?

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Abobo twins busting out was so epic.

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This part always did me in.

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As did this, if I made it this far.

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Watch those sticks of dynamite…

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The Incredible Abobo.

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That moon is straight up Konami!

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How ominous looking…

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OH BLOODY HELL!

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Come here often?

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I’ve got better things to do tonight than die!

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Ah, the 2-player mode we didn’t want.

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A novelty act that didn’t last long.

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Well, at least you could use Abobo.

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How about 2 players in the real mode?

Ask and you shall receive
Ask and you shall receive

Double Dragon II: The Revenge was everything we wanted in a Double Dragon game and more. Now you could play co-op with a buddy and take out the bad guys together. I have so many fond memories of playing this game with my uncle and brother switching off back in January 1990 when it first came out to North American shores. We played the crap out of this game and it was one of our absolute favorites.

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DAMN RIGHT!

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I remember thinking this was a bit spooky.
Let’s just say Marian is in trouble…

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Look, it’s Williams with a new makeover.
Yup, must have been the ’90s.

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I used to call these guys “Leaf Men” :P

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Never gets old stealing their weapons.

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Remember throwing them off the ledge?

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Reminded me of WWF’s Demolition!

demolition-tag-team

Here comes the Ax.
Here comes the Smasher.
The Demolition — walking disaster.
Pain and destruction is our middle name!

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“GET TO DA CHOPPA!”

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Such an awesome moment.

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Not the best position to be in…

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This was even worse.

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I called these guys “Ninja Scarecrows” :P

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I loved these little cutscenes.

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“Neon-filled night” — beautiful phrase.

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I called these guys “Paintbrush Men” :P

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Watch out for the opening chopper door!
Hell of a mustache on this guy.

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Welcome to Skull Island.

KongSkullIsl

“Is that a monkey?”

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Love that sunset.

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It’s the Arnold mid-boss!

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Shades of Contra, anyone?

ContraDD

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

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Bit tricky this was.

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“This is the way to certain death.”
Another great action movie line.

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Gotta have a forest stage.
Wouldn’t be Double Dragon without one.

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This part claimed so many lives…

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What lies up ahead?
Only one way to find out…

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So fun setting these guys on fire.

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It’s Chin from the first Double Dragon!
Oh man, that early ’90s fashion though.

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We meet again, Arnold.
“I’LL BE BACK!”
Yeah, we’ll see about that.

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“There is evil in the air.”
It’s cheesy but that’s the charm.

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Disappearing platforms, yay…

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“Paint THIS, bitch!”

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Concentrate, young Jedi.

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Send my regards to Mr. Fuji!

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*devious Mr. Fuji crackle*

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Just a cog in the machine…

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Back again? You weren’t lying, Arnold.

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“Damnit, we just wiped this floor clean!”

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Your greatest enemy is yourself…

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This guy kicked my ass hard.

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Remember using the Game Genie on him?
Yeah, you weren’t alone. Game Genie FTW.

The Sacred Disappointment
The Sacred Disappointment

Double Dragon III: The Sacred Stones came out in the US February 1991. To put it simply, my brother and I felt it was a grand disappointment. It didn’t really feel like a Double Dragon game. Certainly there was a lot of potential there but we felt it was never realized. It was hard as hell, too. I don’t mind a difficult game, but when it feels damn near impossible to get past the second level or so, something is not right. I know some people might enjoy this game and that’s fine if you do. I just never did. Nevertheless, let’s take a quick look.

DD3NES

Ah, the infamous Bimmy blunder.
This was a sign of things to come.

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Creepy intro, though.
Points for that.

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I dunno, old lady, you look a bit shady…

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Ah what the hell. Let’s go.

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He nails the homeless man impersonation.

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I never liked the aesthetic.

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Double Dragon II looked way better.

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This is the boss? How disappointing.

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At least they still have a forest stage.

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Nice to see the Great Wall of China, too.

DD3NES15

Chin, you’ve really let yourself go…

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It’s a little depressing :P

DD3NES18

Wait, you can use Chin?!
That’s not jumping the shark at all…

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Beat Ranzou and he becomes an ally.

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Props for branching out, I guess.
But some things don’t need branching out.

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He’s certainly no Abobo.

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Best looking part of the game.
So let’s end it on a high note :P

CLOSING THOUGHTS

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Double Dragon is a classic franchise that I feel has been overlooked and somewhat forgotten over the years. For me growing up with the NES in the late ’80s and early ’90s, the brand of Double Dragon in my mind was right up there with the likes of Mario, Punch-Out!!, Mega Man, Metroid, Castlevania and Contra. It saddens me that it kind of faded away from the spotlight but hey, we’ll always have the memories. On a side note, we did receive Double Dragon IV for PS4 and Steam on January 30, 2017. So the Lee Brothers aren’t officially dead yet.

One of the most iconic moments in NES history
One of the most iconic moments in NES history

The NES trilogy was a mixed bag. The first one was great for its time. The visuals and sound were both excellent. I also kind of liked that you learn more moves as you gain experience. It makes sense being the first game that the Lee Brothers would slowly learn more moves as they go along. The only thing missing a 2-player co-op mode in the regular game mode. The second one is the best. Now you get 2-player co-op and the Lee Brothers know every trick in the book from the very beginning, so there’s no limitations or holding back from jump street. It’s an action-packed game that’s great fun with two. My only complaint? A little bit too much platforming for my liking. I don’t mind a bit of platforming in my beat ‘em ups as long as the control is on point. I can’t say that about Double Dragon II — I’ve lost many a life trying to complete all the damn jumps in that game. As for the third game in the series, I never liked it. It felt outdated and didn’t even feel like Double Dragon, names aside. Guess you can’t win ‘em all. See ya next time for the Lee Brothers’ SNES debut!

Double Dragon: 8.5
Double Dragon II: 9.0
Double Dragon III: 6.0

Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!! (NES)

Everyone has a plan 'til they get punched in the mouth
Everyone has a plan ’til they get punched in the mouth

It’s hard to fathom that come this October, Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!! will turn the big 3-0. Wow, where does the time go? Growing up, my brother and friends adored Mario. Don’t get me wrong — I loved the Italian plumber myself, but when it came to the NES it was always about three games that truly cemented me as a gamer for life. Contra, Mega Man 2 and of course, Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!! I recently reviewed the sequel, Super Punch-Out!!, so it’s only fitting to return to the original and remember why it’s arguably the greatest boxing video game of all time.

LET’S GET READY TO RUMBLE

The Man, The Myth, The Menace
The Man, The Myth, The Menace

We came for Mike Tyson. We stayed for Little Mac.

MTPO1

Co-starring Carl Otis Winslow!

#mychildhood
#mychildhood

MINOR CIRCUIT

MTPO2

Ah, Glass Joe. Nintendo’s greatest jobber.

MTPO3

Joe’s facial expressions are priceless.

MTPO4

Love seeing that spit flying out!

MTPO5

Mario moonlighting as a ref was so cool.

MTPO6

Von Kaiser is a big step up from Joe.

MTPO7

Earn stars for Mac’s Super Uppercut.

MTPO8

23-13? About to go 23-14.

MTPO9

Dodging like a smooth criminal.

MTPO10

Control is crazy on point.

MTPO11

Knock off his mustache!

MTPO12

Piston Honda was serious business.

MTPO13

So intimidating the first time you see him!

MTPO14

Snapping his massive head back felt so sweet.

MTPO15

Piston’s infamous flurry of jabs.

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He polishes it off with a gigantic uppercut.

MTPOEx

Love the way he back peddles before falling.

MTPOEx1

Looks like Paul Bunyan with those huge feet!

MTPO17

Ah, the classic training sequence.

MAJOR CIRCUIT

MTPO18

Don Flamenco has a face you just want to punch.

MTPO19

He gave off such a douche and creep vibe!

MTPO20

Give him that electrocution hair.

MTPO21

One of my childhood friends looked like King Hippo.

MTPO22

King Hippo’s defense is top-notch.

MTPO23

Until it isn’t. Classic moment!

MTPO24

One knock-out and he’s done for.

MTPO25

Great Tiger used to give me fits.

MTPO26

Love how his eyes bug out when you drill him.

MTPO27

His teleportation trick was a bit trippy.

MTPO28

Look for his turban to flash…

MTPO29

One of the all-time great NES villains!

MTPO30

Such an imposing sight the very first time!

MTPO31

Did this feel good or what?

MTPO32

He’s got buggy eye syndrome, too.

MTPO33

The Bull Charge is such an iconic move.

MTPO34

As was the counter for it!

WORLD CIRCUIT

Note: You’ll have rematches with Piston Honda and Don Flamenco in this circuit. However, I’ll skip showing them again even though they are slightly tweaked to be more difficult second time around.

MTPO35

Soda Popinksi. What an all-time great name!

MTPO36

He scared me as a kid…

MTPO37

He always whupped my ass.

MTPO38

“Mr. Sandman, bring me a dream.” He’ll be glad to.

MTPO39

Enjoy this while you can.

MTPO40

He’s a tough bastard!

MTPO41

He’s no Randy Savage, though.

MTPO42

They just keep getting bigger and bigger.

MTPO43

Watch out for his Macho Spin Punch.

MTPO44

Whew!

MTPO45

A NES rite of passage.

MTPO46

Making it this far was impressive alone.

MTPO47

Hey, he’s not so bad…

MTPO48

Yeah, right. Gotta be super fast!

MTPO49

Arguably the most intense NES final boss battle.

MTPO50

You were a legend if you could beat Tyson legit.

MTPO53

My brother’s friend was able to make it to Tyson on a few occasions. Just getting to Iron Mike was an accomplishment in and of itself. Being able to land a few blows was enough to earn you a couple high fives. Tyson is very fast and very hard to hit, let alone knock out. If anyone ever did, they became a gawd damn legend. No one in my group could ever do it, and it wasn’t for a lack of trying. Tyson terrorized many Nintendo kids growing up in the ’80s. He’s the stuff nightmares are made of.

MTPO54

Show him who’s boss, Mac!

TELL ‘IM, DOC LOUIS!

MTPO51

In-between rounds Doc Louis will give you tips.

MTPO52

Gotta love the added damage to the avatars!

CLOSING THOUGHTS

Mike-Tyson-Punch-Out-Cast

Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!! is one of my favorite NES games of all time. I love the 8-bit Nintendo but if I were to be perfectly honest a large portion of its library has not aged well. To be frank, some have aged downright terribly. However, Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!! stands the test of time even nearly 30 years later. From the huge sprites to the different strategies one must adopt from fighter to fighter, there’s no denying this is one of the all-time classics. A truly great game never goes out of style. No matter how much time passes by, it remains as playable and fun as ever. Few games can claim that. This game can. It’s always hard to admit when a childhood favorite fails to live up to standards. In this case, there are thankfully no nostalgia goggles. Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!! is still a TKO even three decades after its initial release. That says it all, really.

OVERALL: 9.5

Whisper sweet nothings into my ear, Doc
Whisper sweet nothings into my ear, Doc
Rock on Rocky, er, Little Mac
Rock on Rocky, er, Little Mac

Corridor 7 (PC)

A dear childhood Doom clone guilty pleasure!
The alien invasion has begun…

Corridor 7 was released by Capstone in March 1994. This month marks 23 years. Wow, if that doesn’t make me feel old. I vividly remember buying this game in the summer of ’94 and loving the crap out of it. It used the same engine as id Software’s Wolfenstein 3D. Unfortunately for Corridor 7, Doom came out just three months prior and blew everyone’s mind. Suddenly, the Wolfenstein engine was looking a bit archaic. Corridor 7 was a day late and a dollar short. But that doesn’t mean it’s a terrible game. I liked it a lot as a kid and it definitely has some charm to it. Let’s take a stroll down memory lane.

On a side note, be sure not to miss the interview I conducted with Corridor 7 programmer, Les Bird, toward the bottom of this review. Thanks, Les!

IT ALL BEGAN IN 1992…

This was quite the sight back in good ol' 1992
This was quite the sight 25 years ago

Often considered the grandfather of the genre, Wolfenstein 3D made a big splash upon its arrival back in May of 1992. Mowing down Nazi soldiers and zombies left and right was a formula for success. Sure, there were other first person shooters that came before, but none put the genre on the map quite like this one.

This provided a rush like no other game in '92
The classics never get old. No siree

Wolfenstein left a lasting impression to say the very least. Few games could match the sheer intensity of gunning down a room full of Nazi guards. It was an adrenaline rush like none other. id Software struck lightning in a bottle, but this proved to be only a stepping stone…

Who could forget the first time seeing Hans Grösse?
Who could forget the first time seeing Hans Grösse?

As great as Wolfenstein 3D was at the time, it was just the beginning…

Doom was nothing short of a revelation
Doom was nothing short of a revelation

Released December 1993, Doom took players on a wild ride through the shores of Hell. It was essentially to the first person shooter genre as Street Fighter II was to the fighting game. And just like Street Fighter II, when a game creates such a stir, rival companies come out of the woodwork to throw their name in the hat eager for their own slice of the pie. The early-mid ’90s was flooded with Street Fighter II and Doom clones. Most were rather uninspired, but a few rose above the pack. Whatever the case may be, one thing was for sure… we had more than our fair share of choices.

Can you imagine a cover like this going over today?
Can you imagine a cover like this going over today?

One day in early 1994 I made my weekly voyage to Software Etc. at the local mall. Typically, I would stare at all the cool SNES games I could never own. But on this particular day a little CD game caught my eye. It was a one level preview of a new Wolfenstein clone called Operation Body Count.

No one ever got more out of one level than I did
No one ever got more out of one level than I did…

But what attracted me to this one level preview was Corridor 7: Alien Invasion. The back of the package featured a small picture of a massive purple alien stalking you in a creepy decaying corridor. It blew my 10 year old mind and looked exactly like the kind of game I would have made myself! I convinced my mom to buy it and the rest is history.

A haunting image that mystified me to no end
A haunting image that mystified me to no end

I played that one level preview of Corridor 7 probably 500 times. I absolutely loved it. My dad eventually bought me a copy of the full game later that summer at this little mom and pop shop of all places. They had it at a discounted price of $20 and my old man bit. I studied the manual the whole 20 minute car ride home, reading about the weapons and monsters until I damn near memorized it. Even back then, I was obsessed with spreading the word on obscure games. Corridor 7 became that under the radar title that I championed as a 10 year old kid. I told all my friends about it. I even called it C7… it was my attempt to sound cool but obviously to little avail.

THE STORY GOES…

"Let's bring this mysterious object back to Earth"
“Let’s bring this mysterious object back to Earth”
"I mean, what's the worst that could happen?"
“I mean, what’s the worst that could happen?”
"OH CRAP"
“OH CRAP”

THE ALIENS

animprobAnimated Probes are very efficient and very fast. Most of the probes respond to sound, but some are set to ambush you when you enter a room or corridor. Luckily, these probes don’t do a lot of damage and do not have a lot of health.

ailoprobThis alien is primarily a sentry, used to alert other aliens to your presence. Ailoprobes move slowly, do little damage, and by themselves are not much of a threat. Ailoprobes usually travel in packs, however, and can bring other aliens swarming in on you.

rodexThese little devils travel in packs and attack quickly. Although Rodexes don’t do a lot of damage, if they surprise you, they can hurt you plenty. Listen for their unique squeal when they enter a room. You can punch holes in them from a distance with the M-343 or the Alien Assault Cannon. More of a nuisance than a threat. The big boys are soon to come…

bandorBandors disguise themselves as common everyday objects such as chairs, barrels, file cabinets, potted plants and so forth. They remain in these forms until they can surprise you, usually from behind. Bandors carry heavy weapons and can inflict a lot of damage. Stay alert and listen for their morphing sound. You can put a few holes in the Bandors before they finish morphing. Bandors are extremely loyal to their own kind. If you kill a Bandor, others in the area generally rush to the scene.

nerrawNerraws roam the alien levels and don’t appear until level 31 in the CD-ROM version. Although he looks harmless enough, he can kill the toughest marine in only a few seconds. Shoot first and make sure the little bastard stays down.

semajSemaj look like puddles of purplish slime, and they probably are. These creatures slink around the alien levels, waiting to grab your legs while you wage war against the other aliens. These aliens do not have any weapons, but they do have nasty sets of teeth that tear through the thickest body armor. Don’t let one slither up to you while you waste his buddies.

eitak

These ugly creatures are the main guards of the alien levels. Eitaks are well armed and can do a bit of damage, especially when you encounter them in numbers. These aliens are well enough armored to shrug off a few rounds, but sustained fire kills them easily. Try not to fight Eitaks in closed areas; they are a good shot and generally pour into the area to help their own.

tenajThese aliens are the main technicians in charge of making the atmosphere alien-compatible. The Tenaj generally work alone but can be found in pairs. They’re smart, quick and likely to ambush an unsuspecting Marine. Although they represent a formidable threat, they are not heavily armored and are likely to turn their backs on you. Use the M-343 or Alien Assault Cannon to blow a few holes in them and pick up any charge packs that they drop.

eniramThese aliens can remain invisible until they fire their weapons. Enirams use this skill to sneak up on their prey and launch an attack. Enirams are not heavily armored. If you suspect that Enirams are in the vicinity, use the infrared mode of your visor to locate and track them. If you lose sight of an Eniram, use the proximity map.

otreborOtrebors are the main technicians that are working to convert Delta Base to an alien-inhabitable environment. These aliens generally travel alone, but they pack quite a punch and can be very deadly. An Otrebor has an evil laugh, but you usually will hear (and feel) its blaster first.

ttocsTtocs are brute force warriors. These aliens are not very bright, however, and they do not move very fast. Ttocs are my personal favorite. Not only do they look intimidating and exactly what I picture a barbaric alien to resemble, but their death animation is simply the best. Their skin melts, leaving a green poo all over their bones. The sound effect is spot on and it’s very satisfying to kill these bastards. Silly note: as a kid I surmised that Ttocs secretly stood for “The Terminators Of Corridor Seven.” Yeah, I was weird… [Was? -Ed.]

mechwarThese heavily armored aliens are used primarily to guard key alien equipment and areas. You can hear a Mechanical Warrior from far away. When you hear the booming footsteps, check your Proximity Map. This alien is best handled from a distance or with a few well placed mines. Be sure to pry the Dual Blaster out of his cold dead grip.

enirambEniram bosses are of the same stock as the standard Enirams but are more solidly built and better armed. These aliens cannot turn invisible. Thank goodness for small favors.

tymokYou can find Tymoks on various levels, supervising other aliens’ work. Tymoks are armed with Plasma Rifles and can burn you into a puddle of goo very quickly. These aliens also are fairly quick and are likely to dodge your fire. Fortunately they work alone. Before taking on a Tymok, eliminate all other threats in the area. You don’t want an Animated Probe chewing up your backside while you concentrate on the Tymok!

tebazilatebazilbThis alien is the last boss that you will face in the game. Tebazile is heavily armored and carries a powerful weapon. To top it off, you have to kill him five times! When you first see Tebazile, he is in his natural form. When he takes enough damage, he morphs into the following aliens: Eniram boss, Tymok, Solrac, and back into himself. He appears only in the CD-ROM version.

solracSolrac is the alien leading the invasion of Earth. You probably will see him several times during the game, however, as his presence invades your thoughts. Solrac carries no weapon but he fires a deadly energy burst from his eyes. Alien weapons do the most damage to Solrac, but your M-343 will do in a pinch.

THE WEAPONS

equip1This weapon emits an electrical charge of lethal force. The taser is self powered, requiring no ammo. I always thought it was pretty cool how your weakest weapon was a “gun” of sorts, as opposed to a knife or your fist.

equip3The M-24 Close Assault Weapon is the standard weapon of today’s Marine Corps. When the trigger is held down, it delivers a lot of firepower in a very short time and is effective against most standard alien foes. For the larger alien threats, however, you better have something with a bit more firepower. Compared to other starting guns within the genre, the M-24 “CAW” is the best of its ilk, thanks to its rapid fire.

equip2This weapon is the latest incarnation of the standard shotgun that has been in service for hundreds of years. Deadly at close range, the weapon loses effectiveness at long range and is slow to deliver multiple shots. The shotgun is available only in the CD-ROM version. It was an attempt to copy Doom‘s popular shotgun, but this one is far less memorable (and useful).

equip4The M-343 can take out most of the lesser aliens in one shot and is effective at long range. Keep the trigger down when you hose down the larger threats; the automatic fire makes mince meat of most aliens in no time at all. This is easily one of my favorite guns in the entire genre. Not only is it powerful, but it’s fast firing and looks totally badass.

equip5One thing I’ve always dug a lot about Corridor 7 is the fact that there are four human guns and four alien guns (complete with its own special alien ammo). It makes the alien guns feel extra powerful, although in practice it’s hard to beat the ever reliable M-343. The Dual Blaster is the main weapon of the alien military. It spews a deadly stream of energy.

equip6You loved the rocket launcher from Doom, eh? Well then, the Alien Plasma Rifle is the weapon of destruction for you. It fires balls of plasma that explodes upon impact. I love the green little scope attached to the rifle; it makes it look really badass!

equip7Find the Dual Blaster to be outclassed by the M-343? Then you might want to check out the Alien Assault Canon. Available only in the CD-ROM edition, it’s basically an enhanced version of the Dual Blaster. It’s faster, stronger and far deadlier.

equip8AKA the DVG (Darth Vader Gun), you know any weapon named the Alien Disintegrator must be pretty damn powerful. This is essentially the BFG of the Corridor 7 universe. Available only on the CD-ROM edition, this weapon of mass destruction can bore a hole through most alien hides.

dropmineMines add an extra layer of depth and strategy to the “mindless shooting.” Once picked up, you can drop a mine anywhere on a stage. It stays there until someone, or something, comes near it. Then KA-BOOM!

ODDS AND ENDS

medpackOne of the cool things about Corridor 7 was how they placed the medic packs throughout the levels. In Wolfenstein 3D and Doom such packs were placed out in the wide open. But in Corridor 7, medic packs are housed in special dispensers. This eliminates the potential of accidentally grabbing one in the heat of the moment.

ammobayWeapon ammo is handled in a similar fashion. They too are housed in futuristic dispensers. I dig the sound it makes whenever you claim the bullets. I can still hear that sound to this day…

bluaccesredaccesLocked doors are a staple in first person shooters. Color keys were all the rage back in the ’90s, but once again Capstone tweaked things a little bit here. Each level contains various computer terminals. Many are false alarms. When you activate one, you’ll either earn access to blue security doors, red ones or get the dreaded false alarm “INTRUDER ALERT!!” These intruder alerts will alert nearby aliens of your location. This was just another cool feature of Corridor 7 that I feel has always flew under the radar. Yes, it’s a blatant Wolfenstein 3D clone in many ways but it wasn’t a completely heartless effort.

teleportTeleporters are found in the 10 final alien levels in the CD-ROM version only. As you would expect, they take you from one teleporter to another. I like the flashing stars. Always thought that added a nice classy little touch to it.

hlthchamBecause this game takes place in the far flung future of 2012, experimental reviving chambers for non-mortal wounds are available for usage. A Health Chamber can restore up to 100% of your health depending on the energy level remaining in the chamber before use. When I was a kid I always loved how the voice over would go “HEALTH CHAMBER ACTIVATED!” as you spin 180 degrees. There was something very cool about that.

isphereThis almighty blue ball grants you temporary invulnerability. But keep in mind — whenever you see one of these bad boys — it usually signals that you’re about to encounter a rather aggressive skirmish with one of the tougher aliens, if not a pack of them. But even worse than that, the screen goes into a mad flicker that just might send you into an epileptic seizure.

MY EYES...
MY EYES! Flicker game is strong. WAY too strong…

CORRIDOR 7 MEMORIES

My body was ready
XOXO? No hugs and kisses here

There weren’t many games I was more excited to play than the CD-ROM version of Corridor 7. I played the one level preview to death in early 1994. My dad bought me the full game later that summer. Right away I noticed some of the walls had windows and see through fences. There’s an inexplicable charm to it. Gave the game sort of this quirky look and feel.

Aliens > Demons?
Aliens > demons for me at least

Although I absolutely ate up Doom, I’ve always preferred aliens over demons. Doom is undoubtedly the superior game (it’s not even close), but I actually like the enemy roster of Corridor 7 more. I love the idea of clearing corridors and hallways of alien scum. It truly felt like you were tasked with wiping out the entire alien race.

My favorite alien: the Ttocs!
My favorite alien: the Ttocs!

There are a lot of cool looking designs in this game, but my favorite was by far the Ttocs. I love their combination of red and purple. And they look like alien trolls on steroids. I loved them so much as a kid that I even came up with an acronym for them: The Terminators Of Corridor Seven. TTOCS. The funny things we did as kids, eh?

Love how their bones flash when you shoot them
Love how their bones flash when you shoot them
Also love how they melt into a pile of goo as they die
Also love how they melt into a pile of goo as they die
You're next, big guy
You’re next, big guy
Best death pose ever
Best death pose ever
The Mechanical Warrior was quite intimidating!
The Mechanical Warrior was quite intimidating!

Indeed he was. You can hear his thunderous footsteps in the distance, which was incredibly ingenious. The first time I heard it I was like “Oh hell no!” Whatever lurked behind that corner was massive and deadly…

Is that a Ttocs hiding inside?
Is that a Ttocs hiding inside?

Interestingly enough, when the Mechanical Warrior dies, you can see what appears to be a variant of the Ttocs inside. As a kid I theorized that the Ttocs battled for supremacy amongst themselves. The ones who won out got to don the scorpion-like suit. The bliss of being a kid, eh?

Speaking of death animations, this is sick
Speaking of death animations, this is sick

Corridor 7 had some sick alien sound effects and death animations. It made killing the aliens a blast, pardon the pun. The game is rather underrated particularly in those areas.

The Tymok is Barney the Dinosaur on steroids
The Tymok is Barney the Dinosaur on steroids

Speaking of favorite enemy designs, the Tymok ranks up there for me. He’s basically Barney on steroids. And unlike the Mechanical Warrior, Tymoks are very strong and worthy of their boss status. I would love to see a Tymok vs. a Baron of Hell battle. Quite frankly, I’d put my money on the Tymok…

It was such a colorful shooter
Colors up the wazoo!

Corridor 7 had a unique color scheme. Sure it has its share of decaying walls, but things like the snazzy blue “energy walls” which animate really caught my eye as a kid. It has a unique colorful look that really appealed to me when I was a kid.

Welcome to Hell
Well that escalated fast

Level 20 sees a major switch. The levels shift over into “alien levels.” This is where the aliens have completely modified their environment to suit their personal needs. I was so creeped out the first time I saw those human bodies hanging upside down. God knows what was have done to them…

Even the doors get a hell-ish makeover
Even the doors get a hellish makeover

I love how the doors in the alien levels were altered as well. The door designs added to the creepy atmosphere and it was cool how the doors opened as though you were entering a living breathing organism.

Level 20 sees the beginning of the alien takeover
As a kid I called this guy the Space Invader alien

Watch out for the Eniram enemies. They’re invisible, only appearing when they fire at you or when you enable your infrared visor. If you’re out of visor batteries, you’re pretty much screwed unless you have the full proximity map.

Nothing like seeing a health chamber in the nick of time
Health chambers restore you to full health. Brilliant!

You’ll need them, trust me.

Shit, I'm outta here
Shit, I’m outta here

LES BIRD INTERVIEW

The programmer of Corridor 7, Les Bird, was kind enough to take some time out of his busy schedule to answer my questions. This Q&A was conducted on March 23, 2017 — just in time for the 23th anniversary of Corridor 7.

Steve: Thank you for your time, Les. First off, were you a gamer growing up? If so, what were some of your favorite video games or gaming memories?

Les: I’ve been a gamer since I was a kid. I spent most of my time in the arcades playing games like Asteroids, Robotron, Gravitar, Defender, Major Havoc, Pac-Man and more. I was so fascinated by these games that I wanted to make my own so I taught myself how to code. It was always my dream to make games for a living and somehow I got lucky.

Major Havoc 1983)
Major Havoc (1983)

Steve: How did you get into the gaming industry?

Les: I was fortunate enough to get a job in the early ’90s working for Capstone in Miami. Before that I was working for Galacticomm in Fort Lauderdale helping them enhance their MajorBBS multiuser software. On the side I wrote a couple EGA vector graphic games for them called Flash Tanks and Flash Spacewar. It was just by chance that I saw an opportunity with Capstone and I took it. That was my first job in the game industry and I’ve been doing it ever since.

Les Birds gaming roots began here
Les Bird’s gaming roots began here

Steve: What inspired you to create Corridor 7?

Les: The inspiration came from playing Wolfenstein 3D. Capstone licensed the Wolfenstein tech from id Software and we needed a cool game to make with the tech. After several brainstorming sessions we came up with the story for Corridor 7. Oddly it was very similar to the story of Doom and later on Half-Life. It seemed all the sci-fi games back then followed a similar story line; a portal opens up and bad guys invade. I actually thought Half-Life was Corridor 7 made with better tech.

Half-Life 1998)
Half-Life (1998)

Steve: Talk a bit about acquiring the Wolfenstein engine license from id Software. How much did it cost? And looking back, I suppose id Software was more than happy to lend you the Wolfenstein engine because they were secretly working on Doom which utilized an improved engine.

Les: I wasn’t part of the engine acquisition but I believe id contacted us. As you said they were developing the Doom engine and the Wolfenstein 3D tech was outdated to them so why not license it out? I think, but not sure, the cost was $50,000 per title. Again I’m not totally sure of the details regarding this.

id Software raked in 50,000. Not bad...
This “stamp of approval” sold me as a kid!

Steve: What were your thoughts when you first played Wolfenstein 3D?

Les: I played Wolfenstein 3D when I was still working at Galacticomm. At the time I was not much of a PC gamer (I had an Amiga) but that game blew my mind. That was the moment I started to commit to the PC as a gaming platform. I remember trying to write my own 3D engine like Wolfenstein 3D. The thing that got me with Wolfenstein was how smooth it ran on a PC. It was one of the first games that could do 3D (or 2.5D I guess they called it) in real time at a smooth frame rate. I remember loading the game up and just turning in a circle and just in awe at how fast it could render the scene. Back then there was nothing like that which is why it was so revolutionary. The other thing that impressed me was how incredibly real the sound was if you had a Sound Blaster audio card. You can imagine how excited I was when we were able to license the Wolfenstein tech to make Corridor 7.

There was no other game like it in 1992
This blew away everyone back in 1992

Steve: How long was Corridor 7 in development for? Do you know how many copies were sold?

Les: Corridor 7 was in development for about 9 months and then another 3 (I think) for the CD-ROM version. I spent the early part exploring some engine mods that could differentiate Corridor 7 from the other games. A few things I wanted to do to make Corridor 7 unique were:

(1) Have transparent walls and windows. We also wanted the levels to be alive so we added color cycling to the engine so the electronic equipment can have blinking and moving lights.

NewCorr7i

(2) All pickups were in the walls (health packs and ammo) instead of scattered about the floor

ExCorr10

(3) Health chambers to restore the player to full health

ExCorr23

(4) Add diminished lighting when you looked down long hallways

NewCorr7l

And then there was the visor. That was an idea I had that just came out of the blue. I thought it would be cool, since you play the role of a military soldier, to be able to turn on night vision and see down dark hallways.

ExCorr1

We also added the infrared mode to the visor and then created a creature and traps specifically for the new mode.

Watch out for deadly traps
Deadly traps can only be seen with the infrared visor

I do not know the exact number of copies sold and if I tried to guess I think I’d be way off. It was included in one of the popular 5ft 10 pack CD bundles and then GameTek also took on publishing the game later on in its life.

Steve: Doom was released December 1993. How far along was Corridor 7 at that developmental point, and how big a factor do you think the new and improved Doom engine hampered the potential success of Corridor 7, which came out March 1994?

Les: Doom blew me away. It definitely hampered sales for our game. All of the game reviews for Corridor 7 were compared to Doom, which wasn’t exactly fair, but Doom was the best game out at the time and set the new standard. One of the multiplayer levels in Corridor 7 was modeled after the first Doom level. Corridor 7 was pretty far along in development when Doom came out. It was too late to turn back and change things so we just had to push forward with what we had. We also added the Alien Disintegrator to the CD version of Corridor 7 which was inspired by Doom’s BFG.

Obligatory Doom shot #1 even if its Doom II
Obligatory Doom shot #1 (even if it’s Doom II)

Steve: What were your thoughts when you first played Doom?

Les: Doom blew my mind when I played it. I could not believe games like that were possible on the PC with EGA/VGA graphics. Doom and later on Quake set the standard for FPS games.

Obligatory Doom shot #2 even if its Doom II again
Obligatory Doom shot #2 (even if it’s Doom II again)

Steve: In the first level of Corridor 7 you see the names of the people who worked on the game. Whose idea was that? I always found it to be endearingly quirky.

Les: That was actually my idea. I even made the sprites for each team member. I stuck them in the back corridor as sort of an Easter egg. There wasn’t much of a problem with management about it. I just thought it’d be cool to show the names of the key members inside the game instead of on a credits screen that may or may not be seen.

No relation to Larry
No relation to Larry

Steve: Speaking of names, some of the enemy names were based upon real names spelled backwards. You had Katie-Eitak, Scott-Ttocs, Carlos-Solrac, James-Semaj and hell, even Marine-Eniram. Who came up with this idea? I always thought it was pretty clever. Reminded me of Dracula-Alucard.

Les: We were trying to come up with names for the aliens but none of them made sense. Someone on the team suggested we just use our names spelled backwards and it stuck. I don’t remember whose idea it was (it wasn’t mine) but we all started calling each other by our alien names. Trying to come up with unique names for aliens is a pretty difficult task.

Steve: The enemies were very underrated I felt. Especially the Bandor, which often disguised itself as everyday furniture. Talk about the designs and where some of your inspirations came from. Was there a particular enemy you’re most fond of? I personally love the Ttocs the most.

Ttocs: The Terminators of Corridor 7
TTOCS: The Terminators Of Corridor Seven

Les: The Bandor was an idea I came up with. I remember playing one of the early levels and there was all this office furniture, file cabinets and chairs, just randomly placed in some of the rooms. I thought, wouldn’t it be cool if aliens could disguise themselves as office furniture and when you entered the room you’d think “nothing here” and then all of a sudden aliens would appear and start shooting you. The team liked the idea and so we made it happen. For a personal favorite, I really liked Solrac. Creepy and spooky with tentacle arms. Ttocs is Scott spelled backwards. Scott was our lead artist who came up with most of the creature designs and did all the pixel art for them.

Bandors are shifty shapeshifting bastards
Bandors are shifty shapeshifting bastards

Steve: The aliens had unique sounding screams. I particularly remember the Rodex’s pig-like squeal. How were the alien sound effects made?

Les: All of our sounds were created by our sound engineer. He was actually pretty good at coming up with unique sounds. He also did the jump scare sound for the boss vision (messiah) that you get randomly when playing the game. We basically explained what we were doing and then a day later he’d come back with some awesome sound effects. I don’t remember his technique for creating the alien sounds but I agree, they were all unique and turned out pretty well.

The Rodex had a classic pig-like squeal
The Rodex squeals like a pig upon sight

Steve: The CD-ROM version had extra goodies (i.e. 10 more levels, new enemies, new weapons, etc.) Talk about working on that.

Les: We had to make some new art for the CD-ROM version for the pulsating alien wall textures. We also had to think up some new weapons to add. Reluctantly I gave in to allowing ammo and health to be scattered on the floor. We couldn’t think of a good logical solution since the military wall textures were now alien wall textures so we couldn’t have ammo and health packs integrated into the walls.

The "alien" levels no longer had ammo in the walls
The alien levels no longer had ammo in the walls

We also added network and modem multiplayer support. I had to learn a lot about IPX networking as it was an area I had not explored before. We also added the movie sequences to the CD-ROM version. We were already at practically max memory limits (640K) so I had to learn how to use EMS/XMS memory to cache the video frames from the movies. I also remember us having a really difficult time mastering the final CD-ROM. Something about the mastering software not working properly because we needed a PC that was fast enough to stream from the hard drive to the CD-ROM burner. Back then this was all new stuff so there was a lot to learn. We went through 10 or so blank CDs before finally making a gold master that worked.

2012? That's so five years ago
2012? That’s so five years ago

Steve: How was Corridor 7 perceived when it came out in 1994? Were you pleased with the end results yourself? What would you have done differently, looking back?

Les: I was actually very happy with the game. I had a ton of freedom to put whatever I wanted to put into the game. These days things are way different. Programmers write code and designers design the games but back then it was mostly just making things up as you went. The invisible Eniram for example was just a spur of the moment thing when we came up with the infrared visor feature and we were trying to think of what else you could use the infrared mode for.

This creature can only be spotted by the infrared visor
This creature can only be spotted by the infrared visor

The proximity mines, again, just came up as we were in the middle of the project. They started out when I was trying to figure out a way you could mark where you were as you explored a level. I made these little flags that you could drop by pressing a key and then you’d know you’ve been to that area before. I showed the team but no one really liked it. I was about to remove the feature but one of my artists came up with the idea of turning the flags into mines. That was an AHA moment. He made the art for the pickup crate and the mines and I made them explode when something approached them.

Lure enemies into mines for major damage
Lure enemies into mines for major damage

hlthchamLooking back I think one thing I would’ve changed was to have more health chambers. I’m not sure what happened there but somewhere along the way it seems like we forgot we had them when we were building out the levels. We split up all the levels between several people and maybe some of them didn’t know how to add the health chambers, not sure.

I've always been a big fan of the snazzy blue there
Like finding a spring of water in the middle of a desert!

Steve: I have to ask about the random Solrac “coming at you out of nowhere” moments — where did that come from? It creeped me out so much as a kid! It was awesome :)

So freaky! Still gets me every single damn time
So freaky! It got me every single damn time…

Les: Oh man, the “messiah” as he was known internally. So this is an interesting story. It started out when one of our programmers said that we should add a random encounter with Elvis as you play through the game. He even created programmer art of an Elvis head that we put in the game. Later on we thought, maybe it should be a religious experience so we made art of Jesus with a crown of thorns and our audio guy made the jump audio for it. Our producer took the game home and played it that night and came in the next morning and called us all into her office. We got a major chewing out about it. She said “Les, tell me I didn’t see Jesus when I was playing the game last night.” We all kind of laughed but she didn’t think it was very funny (and in reality it wasn’t very funny). She immediately ordered it out of the game. We all thought it worked really well as a jump scare so we convinced her to let us keep it if we changed the art to the final boss character. She agreed and that’s how it came to be. I have to say that even when I play the game today I jump every time it appears. I’ve spent so many rounds of ammo shooting into thin air because of it.

Suck it, Solrac!
Suck it, Solrac!

Steve: Talk a little about the Corridor 8 project and how it wasn’t meant to be. Might we see Corridor 7 remade or revitalized in some way one day? Or has that ship sailed for good?

Les: Capstone was struggling to stay alive. At the time they were trying to take the company public and they put every penny they had into making this happen. They needed a game that would save them so we came up with a sequel to Corridor 7. I personally wanted to call it Corridor 7: Alien Invasion II, because Corridor 7 was already a known brand but the designer rejected that idea and wanted to call it Corridor 8. We were using the Build engine, same tech that we made Witchaven, Witchaven II and TekWar with and the same tech that was used to make the original Duke Nukem 3D game.

Duke Nukem 3D 1996
Duke Nukem 3D (1996)

vortexWe were in the very early prototyping stage when Capstone could no longer fund it. We were experimenting with vehicles, alien AI and weapons at the time and had some designs for some of the levels. The team was only 3 people at the time, just me and 2 artists. As for a Corridor 7 remake, I’ve been tossing around this idea for quite some time. I’ve explored some ideas for remaking it but it’s difficult to find the time to do that now. At one point I had it running on an iPad using DosBox for iPad, I think I posted a video on my YouTube channel of this. I’d definitely be interested in revisiting this some day when I have the time.

Steve: Let’s briefly switch gears to another game of yours: Operation Body Count. Talk about your specific role on Operation Body Count, the inspiration for this game, development time, and your general thoughts.

Les: Operation Body Count was our second Wolfenstein 3D engine game. My role on this game was very minimal except to support it because it used the same engine with the same mods as Corridor 7. When production started on this game I was finishing up the CD-ROM version of Corridor 7. I recall being part of the initial design team and we were all trying to think up a name for the game. I don’t remember who came up with the name but everyone agreed that it was the most fitting. I had mixed feelings towards the game. Development time was around 6 to 9 months I believe.

It has some neat ideas but yeah...
So many cool concepts… what a shame

Steve: I had the one level preview for OBC and absolutely loved it. Spraying bullet holes into the walls, shattering glass, bodies twitching for a second after dying, bazookas blowing up toilets, setting enemies on fire which can kill others… I thought it had the potential to be great. But then I bought the full game. I was turned off at how the first 10 or so levels took place in the sewer. Was it just to increase the length of the game? The one level preview was loads of fun. The actual full game, sorry to say, not so much.

Les: I totally agree with you. I think the first 10 sewer levels were put in to increase the length of the game. I always hated games that had sewers where you had to shoot rats and critters. Never could understand the logic behind that and never understood how that made any game more fun. The one level preview showed off all the best parts.

Shame this game didn't live up to its potential
Such a waste of potential…

Steve: Thanks again for your time, Les. And thank you for making Corridor 7. It was one of my childhood favorites. Any projects or anything you’d like to plug? Or any closing remarks?

Les: I actually still think Corridor 7 is one of my best works. I think back about how much fun it was to make and how much freedom I had to just put whatever I thought would be cool into the game. I also really liked how we would all just randomly come up with ideas and then just make it happen. The eye probe for example was an alien that one of our artists made one day and he showed it to me and I said “Man that is awesome! Let’s put it in.”

[EYE SEE WAT YOU DID DERE... -Ed.]
[EYE SEE WAT YOU DID DERE… -Ed.]
It was just a bunch of us making a game that we wanted to play and Capstone paying us to do so. Fun times and nothing like how games are made today, except maybe by some of the awesome indie studios. Thank you Steve for reaching out. I love talking about Corridor 7.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

If only this came out in mid 1993
If only this came out in early 1993…

Corridor 7 has a lot of good things going for it. Some killer alien designs, lots of color, military and alien guns with differentiated ammo for both types, some sweet death animations and sound effects, health chambers, land mines, enough varied guns to keep one pleased and so forth. There’s also a visor system where you can switch to night or infrared. The night vision however is fairly useless as it’s not really implemented much. The infrared will help you spot a certain enemy that is invisible and you can figure out which computer panels contain the security code. However, its March 1994 release really hurt its chances of leaving a truly favorable impression. Doom was already out three months by then and Corridor 7 felt a bit outdated upon its release. It’s a shame, because had Capstone put out this game a year earlier, March 1993, there’s no telling what its legacy today might have been. It’s a perfectly playable and solid Wolfenstein 3D clone set in an alien world. If that appeals to you, you’ll probably enjoy Corridor 7. Just watch out for that creepy Solrac jump scare!

Well hello!
Well hello!

Sure it’s got its flaws. But Corridor 7 will always have a soft spot in my gaming heart. It’s a relic from the good old days of PC gaming. A time in which Wolfenstein and Doom clones were churned out seemingly every other month. There were a lot of bad ones, but there were enough decent ones to sink your teeth into. I’d say Corridor 7 falls into the latter more than it does the former. Although the game is dated, it’s a childhood favorite and a reminder of a simpler time in my life. Playing first person shooters late on Friday nights after a long school week, trying to save the world from Nazis, demons and aliens. It was a good time to be a gamer, and an even better time to be a kid.

And good-bye!
Sayonara!

Nice review of Capstone’s shooters!

SPECIAL THANKS:

Les Bird, programmer of Corridor 7

This old Corridor 7 fanpage for the GIFs