Category Archives: Reviews

Castlevania 2: Simon’s Quest Vinyl soundtrack review.

Mondo’s first attempt at releasing music from the Castlevania series on the vinyl format was met with negative feedback from listeners on their pressing of the very first Castlevania game. Many complained that the release was far too loud and contained a distorted low end bass to all the tracks. These reoccurring comments, along with others made me a bit weary of picking up Mondo’s second release of Castlevania 2: Simon’s Quest; but nostalgia won out and I had to pick this up. Simon’s Quest was the first Castlevania game I played and the second video game my father rented for our brand new Nintendo Entertainment System that I received for my birthday. We had just returned from a shopping trip with my mother, uncle and grandmother and upon opening the door to our apartment, I was hit with the amazing melodies of “Bloody Tears” as my older sister tried the game out. I loved hanging outside of towns and hearing the tune as I grinded for hearts in the game and dreaded hearing the game’s night time theme “Monster Dance” when the game shifted to nightfall. Obviously, I have a lot of love for the game’s music, so when I popped this record onto my turntable, I expected the worst. Thankfully, that was not the case. Watch below to get my full thoughts and to hear the audio for yourself!

Street Fighter V Review

This past Tuesday, my copy of Street Fighter V was dropped off at the house and I looked forward to diving into it whenever I had the opportunity to play it this week. Unfortunately, two hours after opening up my copy and popping it into my PlayStation 4; I walked away completely disappointed and disgusted.

header

I have a pretty long background with the Street Fighter series: I played the first edition of Street Fighter 2 when it launched in 1991 at my local arcade and played every subsequent sequel and upgrade of the series from that point onward. I still have all my original SNES carts of Street Fighter 2 and own full sized arcade cabinets that has had every arcade release of the series played on them. Street Fighter IV re-ignited the series on the last console generation and while I enjoyed it, it still didn’t take the crown as the most definitive version of the series for me.

Street Fighter V was announced in 2014 and with it came the stipulation that this would be exclusive to the PlayStation brand and the only Microsoft related item it would perform on would be on the Windows operating system. This was a huge opportunity for Sony to have one of the best fighting game series on the planet as it could potentially bring those other Street Fighting fans on other consoles over to the PlayStation side. Unfortunately, Sony should have either babysat Capcom more closely on the development of the game or pumped the breaks on releasing a game missing half its content. Now I have to admit, I picked up Street Fighter V without doing any research on it. I bought it on the basis that after 25 years, Capcom would be sure to include the basic elements that they implemented in the series for some time. When I fired up the game though, I thought that I somehow started a beta copy of the game because it was lacking things like a standard arcade mode.

 

No arcade mode?! My only options for playing this game myself is to play its half-baked story mode that you can finish on a per character basis in 5 minutes or playing a survival mode that doesn’t quite match the feeling of a typical arcade mode. Capcom has mentioned that they will be releasing a better story mode for free, but we won’t see that until June. That’s 4 months away for a game I paid 50 bucks for NOW. To me, an arcade mode would have been more sufficient over such a lackluster taste test of a story mode.

So currently, the only way to get a real Street Fighter V experience is to play the online multi player version of the game; but the feedback on the performance of the online portion has been pretty mixed. Capcom had the same issue with Street Fighter IV initially; but they fixed it. You would think with such a heavy focus on the multiplayer of this game over its traditional features that it would be very stable. I guess that’s not the case. I can’t comment on the multiplayer portion of the game myself because I was suddenly reminded that I didn’t have an active PS+ account anymore and since the launch of PlayStation 4 you need that PS+ account to play multi-player games.

I have two options: I can drop another 50 bucks for PS+ bringing my grand total of wanting to play this game to $100.00 dollars or I can wait till Capcom finishes what it should have finished in the first place and play this game again in June. It looks like I’ll be taking the second option as dropping another 50 bucks for this game doesn’t even guarantee me a smooth performance on its online portions right now. I would have been better off buying the PC version. In all honestly though, I would have been better off just not buying it at all. That’s a sad state of affairs for one of my favorite fighting franchises. On a positive note though, it was nice to see that Sony/Capcom offers legacy support for fighting sticks from the PS3, but they missed the boat on everything else.

Looks like I’m sticking with Street Fighter 2 till June.

Double Dragon II: The Revenge – PC Engine CD Review

When it comes to co-op brawler games, nothing satisfied my younger brother and myself like the fantastic Double Dragon 2 on the Nintendo Entertainment System. It’s a game I often come back to along with River City Ransom on the same system. I was quite surprised to find out a number of years ago that the NES version received a CD-ROM port on the PC Engine and featured enhanced graphics, CD quality sound and cut scenes. Unfortunately, the game itself has a pretty high asking price for one in the brawler genre; so I’ve avoided picking it up until just recently.

20151122145659.00_00_26_19.Still001

Popping this game into my Turbo Duo, I honestly have to say I was expecting a little more for a “CD” version of Double Dragon 2. The most “cringe worthy” part of the first level is easily its soundtrack featuring a song with a sample that has a woman giving out a blood curdling scream every 30 seconds or so. The song also sounds poorly mastered and extremely distorted in portions. Those hoping to get a catchy Streets of Rage type soundtrack will not get it, though there are a couple of decent tunes later on in the game.

20151122145659.00_01_42_18.Still002

The NES version of Double Dragon 2 featured a diverse palette of colors, giving levels a unique look; but this version of the game lacks those characteristics comparatively. It almost seems like the developers were trying to go towards more of an arcade look with an NES level design. Unfortunately, it just ends up looking flat compared to its Nintendo counterpart.  By no means is the game poorly animated, it’s just missing some kind of special spark.

20151122145659.00_02_56_18.Still004

The cut scenes in this game are also nothing really to write home about either.  This game was released in 93, meaning it came 3 years after the excellent cut scenes featured in YS: Book 1 and 2 on the same system. While the scenes get the point across, they seem like the whole design process for them was rushed and later scenes often don’t fit into the in-game sequences you will experience in the next level. Billy also looks extremely different when comparing his cut scene character with his in game graphics. I’m sure that sounds picky, but it bugged me.

20151122145659.00_02_30_23.Still003

Operating the game is easy enough and if you are familiar with playing almost any brawler you’ll be able to jump right into this game pretty quickly, though I still feel as though it lacks the tightness that the NES version had.

In conclusion, this version of Double Dragon 2 is a neat, alternative look at what a “spiced up” NES Double Dragon 2 would play like; but it just doesn’t live up to the quality of the original.

Deliberating “Defenders of Dynatron City”

Defenders of Dynatron City is definitely one of the lesser known titles on the NES. Featuring a team of unique super heroes, the players goal was to protect the entire City of Dynatron with each hero’s wacky super power.  It appealed to me back in 1992 when I first saw it in a game magazine because it was by Lucasfilm Games and Gary Winnick. Winnick was the co-designer of Maniac Mansion and having really enjoyed that game, I figured I would enjoy Dynatron just as much. Sadly, the game didn’t seem to have a large print run and never popped up at my local video store to check out. Getting a SNES in 1993 didn’t help either as any money I acquired would be going to my new 16-bit system and so my desire to get the game was swept away.

Defenders of Dynatron City (USA)-22

Unique heroes? Most definitely.

Upon my discovery of NES emulation in the mid 90s, I did check the game out; but I only played for a very brief moment. Either the game wasn’t any good or maybe I was too blown away by the fact I could play any NES game I missed in moments, but I definitely didn’t give it a fair shake. So I was interested in checking it out again and decided to track down a cartridge of it.

Defenders of Dynatron City

These are your defenders. Choose wisely.

You can’t help but to laugh as soon as you fire up the game and it displays the different defenders you have to choose from. Ever wanted to play as a monkey who can throw exploding bananas or a robot with a hammer for a head? You can in this game! When it comes down to originality itself, this game deserves recognition. The city is large, with quite a diverse amount of buildings you can enter and explore; provided you’ve cleared the streets of evil robots. Every chapter has as list of requirements you must meet before you can fight the end level boss and move on. You can switch between heroes at any point in the game, as well as view a in-game map. The music in the game is also quite catchy and feels like something that would have come out of the Maniac Mansion soundtrack.

Defenders of Dynatron City (USA)-21

Radium Dog looks to be looking for another NES game to play.

Unfortunately, the game has a few issues that keeps it from being a must play. Hit detection is a major issue as you will repeatedly attempt to line your hero up with the same horizontal line as the enemy and miss; only to have that same enemy hitting you multiple times seconds later. Patience can help destroy enemies with little damage, but you must constantly be on the move due to a mission timer. If the time goes out? Game over. Finally, while you have a in-game map; the streets just don’t seem to follow it very well. I found myself constantly having to jump out of action and check the map; just to make sure I was heading towards my objective. All of these issues combined can lead to a very frustrating experience that will make the player not want to come back to it.

Defenders of Dynatron City (USA)-12

Even super heroes have comics they need to check out!

So will I ever give the game another chance? Maybe someday, but for now there are many other games out there that take priority for a revisit over Defenders of Dynatron City.

Phantasy Star IV: A Nintendo kid’s visit to a world beyond Final Fantasy.

The original Phantasy Star series is one that I’ve been meaning to get around to playing for years. With my default platform being the SNES back during the console war days, my Phantasy Star options were pretty limited. Sure, we could have borrowed a Genesis console from a friend; but none of my friends that owned a Genesis were into or allowed to play RPG’s at the time, so that option was out the window. Could I have rented the game and console? Yes, but we all know how long these games can take to finish and on such a limited budget; extended rentals could get expensive.

Phantasy Star IV (USA)-0

As the years have gone by, I’ve slowly acquired the majority of the Phantasy Star games on the Genesis and was just waiting for a good opportunity to play one of them. Which one though? Do I start with 2, 3 or 4? Every single person I talked to said that if I had to choose a Phantasy Star game to start with to go with 4. So, during some time off during the holiday season I popped in the 4th game in the series and my dive into a Genesis RPG began.

Phantasy Star IV (USA)-8

The story starts out with a two person team of monster hunters tasked with cleaning up a research facility, but this quickly escalates to a larger plot where many lives are at stake and eventually the entire universe. This is all presented with terrific music, simplistic menu navigation and manga like cut scenes that help the player get more into the universe. As much as I love Final Fantasy 3/6, Phantasy Star IV really fires on all cylinders with developing and presenting its plot. Could you imagine if they would of made this available for the Sega CD with actual animated cut scenes and voice overs? Redbook Audio mixes of the soundtrack?! That would have been quite a presentation.

Phantasy Star IV (USA)-122

The game has plenty to offer in terms of exploration. I never visited a town or dungeon that looked like it was copy and paste job from the last one. Just when you think you’ve seen everything there is to see, you find yourself on another planet with its own set of towns and dungeons. One of my favorite features in the game is the ability to “talk” to your characters in the party. Doing so will not only allow you to see your characters personalities come out, but will explain the current direction you need to take to advance the game. That feature alone is nice for players who may not have an opportunity to play the game through on a regular basis.Phantasy Star IV (USA)-163

After a few very long nights that went into the early AM each time, I managed to finish the game and I can say I fell in love with it as much as I did when I finished Final Fantasy 3/6 on the SNES. The game has certainly moved into one of my favorites on the platform. Now, I’m left with the dilemma on what game in the series I should play next. 2? 3? I will give myself some time before I make the commitment to it, but I’m looking forward to visiting the universe of Phantasy Star again. If only I could go back in time and convince one of my friends to give these games a try back in the day! Just so I could play them of course.