"A Few Words About..." A Series by JPublic

Young Al Capone

Part of the problem
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#42
You seem to be more into RPGs and strategy, at least so far.

That is what I am enjoying about this, I do not have the patience or attention span to play these games typically but I still enjoy them. Especially RPGs! Strategy I am terrible at and as a result don't have much interest.
 

evilgoodwin

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#43
Well, we're talking about the Genesis here. ;)
Don't forget about Sonic 3D Blast!

...actually, DO forget about it.

Yes.

Remember guys, you're talking to a guy who has NEVER been a real fan of platformers.


As an aside, one of the things that mystifies me most in the Streamer community is why practically everyone does a Sonic 2006 Stream at some point.
Because it's bad. They do it because it's really bad.
 

Dav Slinker

Oh, and hey, by the way
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#45
Yes.

Remember guys, you're talking to a guy who has NEVER been a real fan of platformers.


As an aside, one of the things that mystifies me most in the Streamer community is why practically everyone does a Sonic 2006 Stream at some point.
I know the answer to this! It was a high profile game that was very very bad, and both streamers and their fans are very very unoriginal in their content.
 

jpublic

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#47
And now, the first game of my Super Nintendo Collection. I remember being in grade 11 or 12. I wanted a SNES for Christmas, and I got it. Even after I ended up picking up a few games, I particularly remember the SNES for what my mother used to call my 'Daily Pilgrimages' where I'd visit various rental stores - Blockbuster, Family Video, Rogers Video, Microplay, a couple others - to see what was new and interesting to rent. I probably put 100s of kilometers on my parents cars that way. I was very much a creature of habit even back then.

But, if we're going to talk about the SNES, we have to talk about the game everyone got with a launch console.

Super Mario World (SNES)

A short one, this time.

Interestingly, aside from playing Super Mario Brothers in the arcade, I had never been really into the Mario game scene. Heck, I never played SMB2 or 3 until All-Stars came out.

For a game in a genre I'm not a huge fan of, SMW was a surprisingly addictive game for me. I enjoyed the map-based level design, I enjoyed how the game had multiple exits and solutions to some levels, and I *really* enjoyed how the game made it blatantly clear when there were alternate routes to be found.

The gameplay was fun, the music was impressive (it blew the Turbographx I'd been rocking out of the water, and honestly, better than the Genesis could do), and I never got frustrated enough with the game that I'd rage quit. No Mario since has ever kept me entertained or interested enough to bother to play extensively.
 

jpublic

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#48
I think I'm going to cover games by year. Probably in order of ownership.

Super Castlevania IV

In retrospect, I guess it makes a lot of sense why I finished SMW. The other game I purchased right off are all hard as hell. I may be unique in thinking that about Castlevania IV, but I found it remarkably frustrating game to play as a late teen. Interestingly, I loaded it up just the other day and did remarkably well considering I hadn't played it in about 20 years.

Castlevania IV was a very noteworthy experience in a lot of ways. Remember, I had come from the Genesis, then the Turbographx (curse you, young JPublic), and then various PC games. I was used to bleeps, bloops, and the like, with highlights being the incredibly synth FM-generated music of the Genesis and whatever the arcades provided.

Going from that to the ADPCM-generated music of the SNES was a very important experience to me, which is funny because I'm not an audiophile at all - I don't really dig surround sound, and usually just use my TV speakers or simple headphones. But we'll really get into this later on a very specific title coming up, for now I encourage you to go listen to these kickin' tunes:


My main issue with Castlevania IV is the controls/movement. Everything seems very cumbersome and awkward in the game, leading to a lot of deaths or damage due to the fact that I simply couldn't react fast enough, or rather, I could react fast enough, but Simon's responses took to long to occur. A great example is an enemy flying at you from offscreen quickly - if you get the whip attach off immediately, you can kill it, but even a short delay will get you hit. This isn't even a latency issue caused by my Retron->Receiver->TV setup, because I've had the same problem on my Retron as on my original SNES connected to a CRT (yup, I still have one). The movement just lacks the fluidity and ease of the later games, and even in some ways the earlier ones.

I like Castevania IV, though. It's fun, it's hard, but I think in the end it's fair - if you get enough experience I suspect a no-continue run (the game uses a horrible password system) would be possible. Hell, I managed it when I owned the game, and I'm bad at platformers. I even forgive it for being a remake of Castlevania I (sort of, it's convoluted).

You can even get it as part of a SNES Classic!


No links today, I'm in a rush.
 

jpublic

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#49
And now, for the second game in the 'Apparently Younger JPublic was Masocistic' series.

Super Ghouls 'n Ghosts (SNES)

This is the third game in the Ghosts 'n Goblins series. Like the previous games, it's got the fire-and-forget jumping, the armor that gets knocked off in one hit, the requirement to finish the game twice (with a special weapon) to see the 'good' ending, and is generally frustrating and difficult.

Changes gameplay wise mostly focus on Arthur. He's now got 3 levels or armor: the standard steel; the bronze upgrade that upgrades his weapon to the magic versions; and finally the gold armor that adds the super magic attack and a shield that blocks a single shot. There's also arguably a 4th level, with a better shield that clan block up to 3 shots and makes your magic faster. I think this was also the version that introduced the double jump, which allowed you to change direction in between the first and second jump, which was marginally handy.

There's some regional differences too, apparently in all non-Japanese versions, the boss was renamed from Samael to Sardius, and crosses were changed to ankhs. The Europeans had even more changes, with various obstacles and enemies removed to reduce difficulty and slowdown.

And my word does this game have slowdown. It's really not well programmed, with a lot of flash in, pretty low-fi music and sound effects that were well beneath what other early SNES games could do, and some odd text issues.

I...really don't like this game much. I loaded it up as well to refresh my memory, and unlike Castlevania IV where I had a lot of fun and was left with a changed opinion, I was mostly frustated and felt confirmed in my disdain.

I have finished this (mostly) honestly. I think I gave myself extra lives or something, but other than that I won it fine back in the day. I'm probably never going to bother with it again.

It's part of the SNES Classic collection, if you feel like punishing yourself.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Super_Ghouls_'n_Ghosts
 

jpublic

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#50
A lot of games today claim to be 'Hard but Fair'. The idea being that if you can gather the skills and the knowledge, there's really no way you can lose. Today's game is rather more 'Hard and Vindictive'.

Drakkhen (SNES)

If you look up comments on this game, be it the SNES or the original Amiga versions, you'll invariably come upon the following lament/warning/complaint:

"Even the SKY tries to kill you!"

Drakkhen is hard. It's mean. You'll die numerous times to bullshit traps or impossibly tough enemies. Hell, you'll die to regular enemies. You'll die so much you'll go crying back to Dark Souls. Young JPublic was chewed up and spat out by this game, until I found a walkthrough much later. Even with one, you're in for a rough time.

The SNES version of Drakkhen is very different from the original (French) Amiga/ST game. In that game, you were given a background story that says humanity was dying due to a plague/curse, caused by some asshat killing the last ancient dragon. A ship full of people trying to escape and find a new home crash landed on a mysterious island, where they were immediately set upon by the inhabitants, some kind of degenerate descendants of those ancient dragons called the Drakkhen. A group of four survivors band together to attempt to take back the island for humanity and break the curse by summoning the dragon god. They find some assistance (and hindrance) from the 8 dragon princes (and princesses) of the realm, some of whom believe they don't really belong on the world. So you get this cool balance of philosophies.

The SNES version, being an English translation of a Japanese rewrite of the original is a lot weirder. The player characters are members of a clan called the Drakkonians that were basically judged unworthy of existence by the 5th dragon god Drakkhen. The player characters set out to prove their people worthy by recovering Drakkhen's 8 Tears from the sons and daughters of the other 4 dragon gods, who have been using them to cruelly rule the Drakkonians. Some of those children help the party, realizing that what they've been doing is wrong.

Other differences in the SNES version include a somewhat clunkier (if easier, in some ways) control system, an integrated map and compass, a ludicrously easy way to flee from combat, less NPCs, and a complete lack of the short stories (by Gygax!) and other materials the base game gave you to introduce you to the world. The SNES version does have a nice soundtrack though, so yay that.

No matter which version you play, though, it's brutal, even from the very start. You create your team, and SAVE, because random enemies can attack almost right away. Then you equip your gear, and SAVE, because you have to walk to the castle in front of you, and can get killed along the way. When you get to the castle, SAVE, because you can die just trying to get in, because you have to time crossing the drawbridge so the shark doesn't get you. Once you're inside, SA- wait, you can't do that. Crap. Okay, you've got a puzzle - you have to hit one of 4 icons to bring down the magic barriers backing your way. Hit the wrong one and you're attacked, luckily it's usually a low-level critter you can handle. You then have to explore the castle, fighting enemies along the way and watching out for stuff to loot - interestingly, you can take swords and shields off the wall - and hoping you don't take the wrong turn into an instant death trap (which at this point means a reload) to get to the Earth Prince. He'll give you a quest to go see his sister.

Once you leave, be careful, and SAVE. Save often. If it's night, looking at the wrong constellation will summon it down (it's usually a serpent/worm thing that reminds me of the first boss of Space Harrier) and it'll probably kill you. If you bump into a grave at a crossroads, a giant demon dog head will appear, and probably kill you. If you're really unlucky and wander into the wrong area, a shadowman will show up and probably kill you. Are you sensing a theme?

For all its faults, I like Drakkhen. There's something satisfying to making your way through the game, even if the SNES's text is incomprehensibly absurd at times. It's not too expensive on Ebay too.

But you can also get it on Steam and GoG, which might be the better path. The DOS VGA versions are pretty.


As an additional note, the game did spawn a Japanese-sourced sequel called Dragon View (Super Drakkhen 2 in Japan). It's LUDICROUSLY rare and expensive, with even bare carts going for more than $100. That game shares the overworld map, but turns into a pretty lackluster side-scrolling JRPG inside areas.



Wikipedia Page

GoG Store
 

Young Al Capone

Part of the problem
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#51
This game has a special place in my heart. It was very likely my first RPG ever, and it became one of those long lost games to me for a long time. I rented it several times and then couldn't find it anymore. I could remember the name and most everything about the very little I played, I never made much progress, but no one ever knew what I was talking about until internet forums many years later. I mostly remembered it being super weird and mysterious and just wanting to explore and see more of this bizarre game that was like nothing I had played before.

Great write up for a great game, makes me nostalgic for it.
 

jpublic

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#52
I think everyone's played this one in some form or another, so no apologies for spoilers.

Final Fantasy II/IV (SNES)
xxx
So, remember back when I was talking about the music in Super Castlevania IV, and how much better it was than the Genesis? Well, I want you to imagine this. Young JPublic at a friend's house where he's showing him this new RPG he got. Now remember, I was never a NES kid, so this was my first ever introduction to the series. And lo, I get this:

(thanks FantasyAnime)

I know it's 27 years back, and perhaps some of you may not have been alive then, but for 16-year old JPublic, I think my initial reaction was "Holy shit!" I'm pretty sure that night I went home and *begged* my parents to get me a copy. I dimly recall having to work my arse off to earn the extra allowance to buy it, because a month or two later my friend was irritated with me when he discovered I got my own.

The story in FF4 (I'm not going to call it 2) was also incredible, miles beyond anything I had scene before - all Phantasy Star II and III provided was a couple lines here and there, and the TG16 stuff was even less than that. Hell, the only thing I had played comparable was the D&D Gold Box titles.

I mean, just consider it all. You start as a reluctant BAD GUY and do a heel-face turn as part of the game. There's the betrayals from the aptly-named Kain, the revelations about Cecil's past, the sacrifices from your teammates. There's the fact that your party is not filled with almost character-less ciphers or monoliths you've created yourself, but actual characters, with characterization.

If Phantasy Star started my addiction to Computer and Console RPGs, it was Final Fantasy IV that solidified it.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Final_Fantasy_IV
 

Gorvi

You're not my supervisor!
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#53
FF4 was wonderful. Simple, but still so much fun for what it was. Sure, it threw plot twists at you like it didn't know where it was going, but for the time it was excellent. Great music too.
 

Gorvi

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#58
They're...not good, IMO.
Oh, I've heard of their reputation, I'm just curious to experience them for myself considering how big of a fan of the series I've been over the years. Of course, I still actually have to play through 2 and 3 first before I move back to extra content for a game I've already played.
 

jpublic

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#59
F-Zero (SNES)

I have an odd relationship with racing games. Most of the time, I'm not really a fan of them. I don't really have the reactions to do well at them, and this really comes to the fore in F-Zero, which at it's core is a game that requires a lot of practice, memorization, split second timing, and exacting control to do well.

With that in mind, most of the time I simply pass this game over when looking through my SNES collection. If I want to be frustrated, I have other games that give me a better sense of accomplishment/reward than F-Zero.

Nonetheless, even I have to give this game a lot of kudos for what it did. There's a reason it's considered in the top 3 racing games of its era, and is often listed on lists of the greatest games of all time. It was one of the first games to really use the Mode 7 graphics of the SNES extensively as a central game mechanic. In fact, aside from Mario Kart and possibly Pilotwings, I have a hard time thinking of another game that did it as well.

Also, I have to give it a lot of credit for the total experience F-Zero provided. The controls are tight, the tracks are extremely well designed, and if it doesn't drive you to rage quit there's a lot of gameplay there.

Honestly, I think the reason I have it in my collection is for how noteworthy it is, not because I particularly want to play it.
 

Gorvi

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#61
The Mode 7 effects were really cool for the time (Pilotwings was far better...) but I never could actually get into the gameplay of F-Zero, not until the GameCube game.
 

jpublic

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#64
Last one of 1991.

ActRaiser (SNES)

ActRaiser is an odd game. You play as the Master (aka God) battling your enemy Tanzra (aka Satan). Some time ago, you were defeated by Satan and his lieutenants, and retreated to your Sky Palace (aka Heaven) to recuperate, and ended up falling into a sleep. When you awoke much later, the lands had been turned to evil and you were pretty much powerless due to being starved of worship.

The game is split up into several stages, each one representing one of the 'lands' of the game world. You spend most of your time in an overhead view city-builder, where you direct your people's expansion, use miracles to help them overcome difficulties, and fight off monsters using an angle-shooting cherub. The monsters all come from lairs, that can only be closed by guiding your civilization's expansion so the people can destroy them for you. Occasionally you'll come upon specific challenges like plagues or famines that you can overcome using rewards from other regions. Because you can clear the first 5 areas in any order (pretty much), this ends up actually limiting your freedom a bit.

At the start and end of each simulation stage, there's a short action stage, which is a side-scrolling platformer. They're all pretty easy to defeat, as due to the non-linearity of the game you have to be able to beat any of them from the start.

One of the more amusing bits is how you gain levels - it depends on world population. This leads to some shenanigans late game where you go around destroying older buildings (and killing loads of people) so they can be rebuilt as higher tier ones, ending with a net higher population.

I'd be remiss if I didn't talk about the censorship and changes they made for the NA release:
-The name in Japanese was Akutoreisa, which I'm pretty sure isn't supposed to be 'ActRaiser'
-as mentioned above 'God' and 'Satan' were changed (more on this in a bit)
-monster lairs were originally Stars of David, not little skull symbols
-the action sequences were made easier and the sim sequences much harder

In retrospect, it was pretty surprising this game came over, considering how Nintendo acted back then. The game is a fairly blatant allegory for monotheism - Satan's lieutenants (the stage bosses) are directly taken from other religions including Greek Mythology and Hinduism, not to mention that whole monsters appearing from Stars of David thing. There's also an interesting (and harsh) secularist message in the game - at game end, when you check on the people 'some time after' beating Satan, the temples are empty, because they only needed to worship when they needed God's help.

I like ActRaiser. It's quick, it's fun, and I can clear it in a few hours. There is a sequel, but I don't like it very much (it's side-scrolling action only).

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ActRaiser
 

Young Al Capone

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#65
ActRaiser was a game I remember always seeing as a kid but never playing. I always thought it was a shooter and wanted to check it out, so I was really surprised to find out what it actually played like. Weird game.
 

jpublic

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#68
Welcome to 1992. This is going to be a bit of a sparse one. I originally only had 3 games from this year, but I recently picked up 2 more. Anyway our next game was not well received....but I liked it.

Final Fantasy Mystic Quest (SNES)

Oh, this one. At first glance playing it, you would be forgiven for thinking you're looking at a GBC or even an early GBA game, which is fair, considering it's supposed to look like Final Fantasy Legend III. It was designed from the ground up to bring JRPGs into the mainstream in North America, because even though FFIV had been a success, it wasn't the massive sales vehicle Square had hoped for.

It does a lot of odd and interesting things:
  1. You only move along a fixed set of paths from one point to another on the world map, at which point you get into dungeons, towns, or fixed battles. In dungeons, there's a lot of minor adventure game elements, like using an axe to cut down a tree, jumping over gaps, or even somewhat tricky environmental puzzles.
  2. The battle system is very turn-based, with the hero and his ally facing the enemy sprites. You get turns based on your speed/agility stat, and can do the traditional attack/magic/defend/item choices. One of the neat elements is that enemy sprites show their general condition - as the enemy loses HP they show visible distress and deterioration. As a nod to the easier nature of the game, if you die in battle you can just restart the encounter.
  3. You don't have equipment you choose - if you get a better sword it will just replace the one you have. The main character can use a host of weapons, and you choose whichever one you want to use to attack. Magic is treated as an item you find, and they use the 'number of casts for magic type' system instead of spell points. There are far less items - for example, the Heal Potion cures all conditions, and the Cure Potion restores by percentage, so you don't need to look for better versions.
The plot, while trite and unoriginal, is just tongue-in-cheek enough to be fun. The main character (Benjamin)'s home town is destroyed, he goes on a quest to recover/restore/save the four crystals and defeat the bad guy. You're led around by the 'Old Man', and often times you'll see Benjamin face the screen and shrug when something particularly off the wall happens.

I think something everyone should take from the game is what it reveals about Japan's view of the Western player. In their mind, computer controlled allies, no random battles, simple storylines, action-adventure elements, and less text were what we wanted. They were wrong.

If there's one place in which FFMQ shines, it's the soundtrack. Holy crap this is a heavy metal masterpiece. Listen to this:


(Sorry about the remix at the start. Skip to 15:35!)

I admit, at the time I bought it, I was fairly disappointed with FFMQ. I mean, I enjoyed it, but it sure as hell wasn't the successor to FFIV I had been looking for. I also felt somewhat ripped off. At the time, SNES games ran as much as $90, and the US price of $40USD translated into almost $70 in Canada.

It's worth playing through once, though, if for the humor and the music.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Final_Fantasy_Mystic_Quest
 

evilgoodwin

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#69
Ah, another one. Mystic Quest.

Great music, and it did mix it up. Chopping trees with the axe, climbing walls with the claw, and... hook-shotting with the other claw. You can actually get through the game without getting everything. And you could totally cheese the final boss with a cure spell. Oversight? I don't think so. I think they knew that if you used a spell that restores life against the Dark King (or whatever he was called), it should do maximum damage. The game seems lazy, but I think it was crafted by the team with a bunch of tongue-in-cheek jokes and strategies. I do love Mystic Quest. Is it easy? The only thing you really need to beat this game is time. And not much of that time.

Still, fond memories of a game that anyone could beat. Music is top notch. I also loved how every town had it's own theme that was thematically based on the problem that the town was going through.

The main character really never took his home being destroyed seriously. Like, he lost everything, but OH WELL. TIME TO FOLLOW GUY ON CLOUD AND SAVE THE WORLD I GUESS. But all in all? A fun distraction.

And the final dungeon is just great. Takes everything you went through the entire game to get through it. I really want at least a small documentary about making this game because it's brilliant in ways that nobody realizes. It's done well. Just not great.
 

jpublic

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#73
Koei (or as they are now, Tecmo Koei) is primarily known for their obsession with the classic historical fiction novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms as well as the Sengoku era of Japan. Looking over their library, a VAST majority of their games center on those areas. It's the exceptions to that which often prove to be the most interesting. This next entry is one of those games.

Gemfire (SNES)

At its core, Gemfire is pretty much a reskin of the engine used in the Romance of the Three Kingdoms games Koei produced for the SNES. It's a strategy war game, in which you take control of a kingdom/family/country and proceed to attempt to take over a country (in this case an island as opposed to China) by force.

In the game's story, the island was previously ruled by Six Wizards who were basically decent guys. A big bad called the Fire Dragon showed up to cause trouble, and they fought back, eventually sealing the dragon into a ruby on the top of a crown. The wizards themselves became 6 jewels around the crown's base. This artifact was known as Gemfire, and was used by the King Eselred to rule like a tyrant over the island. Eventually his daughter Robyn got tired of his evil, and scattered the wizard's gems across the land. Those freed wizards hooked up with powerful families of the kingdom, who then proceed to decide to overthrow the evil Eselred and restore peace...under their rule, of course.

At the start of the game, you choose a scenario which modifies the relative power and territories of the playable families - in fact, in some scenarios only the two most powerful families exist. This leads to a lot of replayability, because trying to win with one of the weakest families is bloody hard. You make most of your strategic decisions on an overland map (like whom to attack, what to build, etc), and then combat is resolved in a tactical turn-based battle screen, in which victory is gained by capturing the enemy base, routing their forces, or starving them out.

One thing I remembered about the game was that it was fairly obtuse. To this day I wasn't 100% sure what some of the stats meant. I did remember that most of the time your 'special forces' (aka monsters, mercenaries, etc) were pretty much useless, with the exception of your family's wizard, which you could only use sparingly. I also remember that not all the families were created equal - some were damn near impossible to succeed with.

Thankfully, today there's individuals like the guy behind This Site, who have dug through the game to explain every aspect of it.

Gemfire is actually a fairly recent reacquisition for me, I only recently picked up a copy after seeing it at a local pawn shop. Last I had played it was ages ago as a rental.

I should also point out that Gemfire was also released on a variety of platforms, one of which (FM Towns) I've never even heard of. The most recent release was in 2003 for Windows.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gemfire
 

jpublic

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#75
I had a hard time deciding between this game and another, but I think I'll save the other one for the final entry of the '92 set.

This is a short entry. Not much to say about this game, I think everyone knows it and has played it.

Super Mario Kart (SNES)

Look, what to say about Mario Kart? It spawned a series of games that ran arguably 10 games long (including remakes). Heck, it spawned the entire kart racing genre. On the SNES, it was basically F-Zero with go-kart-styled machines, slower speed, and in many ways, far more complex and involved gameplay. It featured cute characters (that had special abilties, but only when the computer used them), the ability to do crap to your opponents, multiple game modes (GP and time trial) and split-screen multiplayer.

The graphics in the game relied heavily on Mode 7 for the race tracks, and sprite swaps for the racers. At the time, it was considered amazing, while today it just looks dated and crude.

Honestly, I don't play this much at all, even on the VC re-releases. It was a great game, but in my mind it's a couch multiplayer game, and in that case I'm more likely to pull out MK8 or MKWii.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Super_Mario_Kart
 

Mot Wakorb

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#78
I had a hard time deciding between this game and another, but I think I'll save the other one for the final entry of the '92 set.

This is a short entry. Not much to say about this game, I think everyone knows it and has played it.

Super Mario Kart (SNES)

Look, what to say about Mario Kart? It spawned a series of games that ran arguably 10 games long (including remakes). Heck, it spawned the entire kart racing genre. On the SNES, it was basically F-Zero with go-kart-styled machines, slower speed, and in many ways, far more complex and involved gameplay. It featured cute characters (that had special abilties, but only when the computer used them), the ability to do crap to your opponents, multiple game modes (GP and time trial) and split-screen multiplayer.

The graphics in the game relied heavily on Mode 7 for the race tracks, and sprite swaps for the racers. At the time, it was considered amazing, while today it just looks dated and crude.

Honestly, I don't play this much at all, even on the VC re-releases. It was a great game, but in my mind it's a couch multiplayer game, and in that case I'm more likely to pull out MK8 or MKWii.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Super_Mario_Kart
I think the revivals of racetracks and battle modes over time was a good thing but man is the original basically unplayable now.
 

jpublic

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#80
There's something about the Tarot that fascinates me. Ever since I was a wee lad and read Piers Anthony's Tarot series, there's been something about using them in a game or other creative work that really sparks interest in me.

So seeing a game with a name I associated with Tarot cards was sure to get me intrigued.

Arcana (SNES)

You know, a lot of the SNES-era RPGs are dang hard. Heck, a lot of the earlier ones were too. In today's Cult of Difficulty, that may seem like a good thing, but in most cases it really isn't. Arcana really shows that, in my mind.

At it's most basic, Arcana is a standard grid based, first person perspective dungeon crawler, made in the vein of Wizardry. You have a town you visit to gear up, you enter the dungeon, explore until you die, retreat out, or kill the boss, and then move on to the next one. Controls in combat and while exploring pretty closely follow the Wizardry style.

Arcana's big shtick is that it presents everything as a card, from characters, to enemies, to your items and spells. When a character dies, it shows their card as torn. While interesting at first, I think this ended up being a crutch for the designers, as the graphics are pretty low key and animations are simplistic at best. Sounds are okay - nothing special, but not particularly annoying.

My main issue with the game is the difficulty in the form of a load of design decisions:
  • It's stupidly easy to run into a boss with no warning, which means more often than not (unless you're following a walkthrough) you're unprepared, leading to...
  • If any 'human' character (there are elementals as well) dies, it's an immediate game over.
  • You can only save in town.
  • Inventory is horrible. No stacking, incredibly limited space.
  • It's impossible to go back to a previously completed area and grind, because once you beat a boss, the dungeon is closed. Which, if you're particularly lucky/unlucky, can result in you getting over your head and being unable to progress.
The plot is pretty standard RPG fare - evil wizard takes over the kingdom, main character is the child of one of the knights of the previous order, tries to stop evil plan of wizard.

Even with all my complaints, I do like Arcana. It's a solid game, and if you know what you're getting into it's possible to complete without too much frustration. Can get a bit tedious though.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arcana_(video_game)
 
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