All posts by John

Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga [Game Boy Advance] – Review

Mario & Luigi Superstar Saga - Game Boy Advance - North American Cover

Considering Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga + Bowser’s Minions released on the Nintendo 3DS just two weeks ago, this review is coming at a pretty opportune time. Granted, I played through the original Game Boy Advance version and not the remake… but what I have to say should remain applicable. And, for the record, I purchased my copy before the 3DS remake was announced, like a week or two before actually. Needless to say the remake announcement surprised me and my uncle who works at Nintendo…  Anyways, developed by AlphaDream and published by Nintendo, Superstar Saga was released for the Game Boy Advance in November 2003. A spiritual successor of sorts to Super Mario RPG and Paper Mario, it similarly blended humor, platforming, and role-playing gameplay with great execution. Continue reading Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga [Game Boy Advance] – Review

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Project Octopath Traveler [Switch] – Demo Impressions

Project Octopath Traveler

As a fan of Japanese RPGs, Project Octopath Traveler was one of the most intriguing games shown during Nintendo’s Switch reveal in January. Even though it was a brief trailer, we learned that Square Enix was supporting the platform with a previously unannounced RPG, a gorgeous looking one at that. Details have been scant since that January event but after last week’s Nintendo Direct, a demo was released. Now that I’ve had hands-on time with the game, I’m more confident it’s right up my alley. Continue reading Project Octopath Traveler [Switch] – Demo Impressions

Hang-On [Sega Master System] – Review and Let’s Play

Hang-On - Sega Master System

Even though I passed a never-ending supply of racers playing Hang-On, my true race was against the clock. I had little room for error, maybe one or two mistakes if I hoped to complete each stage before time ran out. Skillfully managing the throttle and brake, especially when cornering, was the key. Before long I was weaving in between racers and passing them in corners, making good time. Stages lasted about a minute and segued immediately into the next until the five-stage course was complete. In one sitting, it’s about a forty-minute game and not too challenging on the default difficulty. I made plenty of mistakes, often cornering too quickly or misjudging a racer’s proximity, but usually finished with ample time on the clock. When I was in a groove and listening to the hum of the motorcycle, the sounds of passing racers and squealing tires, it became a Zenlike, albeit monotonous, experience. Although my playthrough lacked much excitement, I’m glad to have finally spent material time with Hang-On. It’s an enjoyable racing game that tests one moderation, and patience.

Astro Warrior [Sega Master System] – Review and Let’s Play

Astro Warrior - Sega Master System

Astro Warrior is, ostensibly, a ten minute game. After devoting multiple hours to it these last couple of days, I finally completed it last night. Understandably, I was over the moon. Developed and published by Sega in 1986, it’s a shoot ‘em up where success was predicated on quick reflexes and memorization. With each session I hoped to reach deeper into space, witness another wave of enemies and figure out how to overcome them, eventually doing well enough to complete the game. While the game was only three stages long the impressive enemy variety kept me on my toes. Inevitably, as failures mounted, I grew frustrated. Power-ups were generated by shooting tiles and I had my preferred arrangement. So, when I prematurely lost a life and reverted back to basics, I angrily hit the reset button. My experiences ultimately resulted in a magical final playthrough and an adrenaline rush that postponed my bedtime considerably. So much for a ten minute game.

Parlour Games [Sega Master System] – Review and Let’s Play

Parlour Games - Sega Master System

My expectations for Parlour Games were low but I’ve come away pleasantly surprised. Developed by Compile and published by Sega in 1988, it’s a collection of various forms of billiards, darts, and bingo. While each game supports four players (impressive!), I played each versus the computer. In both billiards and darts I found the level of challenge fair; I won some, the computer won some. Although I lacked a manual (and didn’t bother reading it online) billiards was easy to understand. On the other hand, in darts I remained perplexed on how to accurately throw the dart. Nonetheless, I enjoyed both and appreciated the multiple game types. Bingo was… bingo. Inherently designed around luck, bingo was a total bore without human opponents. Granted I won, but I don’t even know how considering I never completed a full line! This is a robust compilation of party games with billiards and darts both offering respectable variety and enjoyment. I can’t say it’d be at the top of my party game list, but if we’re playing retro games, it’d be in consideration.

Rocky [Sega Master System] – Review and Let’s Play

Rocky - Sega Master System

Like Shanghai, there’s not much to discuss when it comes to Rocky. Based off the popular film franchise, this 1987 Master System game was developed and published by Sega. Assuming the eponymous star, I needed to outclass three rival boxers to succeed. Rocky moved automatically, although I had a modicum of influence. The same is true for the type of punches I threw. Although I didn’t play much I found it quite confusing. A different training minigame took place before each bout and granted a helpful buff if I overqualified. Simple at first blush, I was able to button-mash my way through the first fight and two minigames. This tactic failed me in the second match and that’s ultimately where I tapped out. For such a simple game, the manual implied a convoluted level of control, something I didn’t grasp and didn’t care to. If I did, I would only have to outwit one more boxer to reach the end. It’s a tough, short, and good looking game that I didn’t find enjoyable enough to keep on fighting.

Shanghai [Sega Master System] – Review and Let’s Play

Shanghai - Sega Master System - American Cover

There’s not much to say about Shanghai. It is solitaire mahjong and I’ve found it relaxing and enjoyable. Developed by Brodie Lockard, it was originally published by Activision on nearly every home computer in the mid/late 1980s. This version was ported by Sega and released in 1988. My sole objective was clearing all mahjong tiles from a randomly assembled pyramid by matching up “free” pairs. A tile was “free” if it had no tile on top and a free space to its left or right. For the most part, it was a game of hide and seek embellished by the quantity of tile designs and somewhat indistinguishable assemblage. Thanks to a helpful pair-finding option, I never grew frustrated when my search for a match persisted. Even after continuous losses, I was eager to dive back in and start fresh. It was oddly satisfying to locate pairs and watch the pyramid disappear. Plus, the soundtrack was quite invigorating! Easy to learn and endlessly replayable, Shanghai is worth checking out.