Monday, 9 February 2015


Hello everyone, just a quick announcement.

From now on, all my new posts will be on my own website, instead of here. Thanks for reading over the years and I hope this new site will be even better!

Friday, 30 January 2015

My Top Ten Handheld Platformer Games!

As promised last month in my "Top Ten Console Platformers" post, this is a list of my personal favourite Platformer games from Handhelds such as the Gameboy, Gamegear and NeoGeo Pocket to name a few! Again in no particular order. Thanks for reading.

10: Castlevania Dawn of Sorrow / Circle Of The Moon / Portrait Of Ruin (DS/GBA)

I used to have a kind of running theme with all the Castlevania games for the GBA and DS. I would always buy one to play while travelling, either on holiday or on a trip. So the majority of my memories of this game are either in a car, caravan or tent! I've played and finished nearly all of the hand held entries in the series, but I've narrowed it down to just three that are clear winners in my eyes.

 Firstly, the amazing Dawn of Sorrow for the DS (... see what they did there...). Dawn of Sorrow was the first game for the DS, and is a direct sequel to Aria of Sorrow for the GBA, another impressive entry into the series. DS was a huge game which benefited greatly from being on the DS with a permanent map on the second screen, something the GBA games sorely needed!

Portrait of Ruin is  the second game in the DS trilogy and introduced the ability to enter new areas by jumping through portals in paintings around the castle, (much like Mario 64) Meaning there was much more variety in the graphics and environments. The game is a bit more linear however and the overall areas aren't as big to explore as Dawn of Sorrow. Order of Eclessia is also worth playing but is more similar to the NES games being a mostly linear experience with more emphasis on its mission based progression system and new abilities to access new locations.

The last game I chose is the first GBA entry, Circle of the Moon. Although Harmony of Dissonance and Aria of sorrow may look better, its Circle of the moon that really captivated me from start to finish. I'm not sure why but this is a game I could play for hours on end and never get bored.

These days the series has been completely ruined by the need to have 3D graphics and constant action. The newer titles seem to be more based on something like God Of War, than Castlevania. Such a shame because its extremely rare to see these kinds of exploration platformers any more...
9: Metroid Fusion / Zero Mission (GBA)

Not quite up to the incredible hights of Super Metroid, Fusion and Zero mission were none the less fantastic entries into the stellar (interstellar?) series! Fusion really shines as an example of how to turn a huge console game into a handheld masterpiece, breaking down the exploration of Super Metroid into smaller chunks by using different themed environments of a spaceship was a fantastic idea, making the game much more diverse while still containing the whole story in one place and making it more manageable to play in short bursts. Story was a much more important aspect in Fusion than ever before, for the first time we see some of Samus's past and experience her struggle with being infected by a deadly parasite! Of course, all the classic Metroid tropes remain, from having to find all your weapons and items, to scouring every last pixel of the world in search of an elusive energy tank! It's all here and better than ever! It was also a great companion to its bigger brother, Metroid Prime for the GameCube.

Zero mission on the other hand was a remake of the very first Metroid game for the NES, and what an amazing remake it was! forget all these new "HD Remasters"... THIS is how you bring an old game back into the limelight! It is completely revamped and uses many of the newer elements in the metroid series such as a very useful map and fantastic graphics that really are among the best on the GBA. The game is a million times more playable than its NES counterpart and even includes a new section at the end of the game which was the first playable appearance of the fan favourite, Zero Suit Samus, who went on to star in the much loved Smash Bros series (and subsequently some dodgy parts of Deviant Art... >.< )

8: Metal Slug 1st Mission / Gunstar Future Heroes (NGP / GBA)

This game was a complete surprise to me! I wasn't expecting much from an 8-Bit hand-held but I was blown away by how responsive and fun this game is! It has really bright and colourful graphics which really keep the style of its arcade big brothers, and the analogue stick/D-Pad.. Thing on the Neo Geo Pocket is absolutely perfect for controlling the action! A perfect run and gun shooting game and easily the best of that genre I have played, not just on the overlooked NEO GEO, but on ANY hand-held console. A must play!

I haven't played Metal Slug Advance so I can't comment on how that holds up compared to this one. I also haven't played 2nd Mission for the Pocket either, but I expect its just as good, if not better! Time to make a visit to eBay I think...

The other game I added on this spot is Gunstar Future Heroes. Originally I wasn't going to include this, but I think this incredible GBA game deserves a mention, even if it is more of a straight up action game than a platformer. It's pretty similar to metal slug, with many crazy weapons and some insane boss fights, as you'd expect from the developer Treasure!

7: Sonic Advance 2 (GBA) / Sonic Rush (DS) / Sonic Pocket Adventure (NGP)

Sonic advance 2 took everything that made the first Sonic Advance so great and ran with it! literally. SA2 is my favourite of all the hand-held sonic games, it's really fast and fun, theres loads to collect and the music is fantastic! Theres several different character to play as including the new character Cream the Rabbit, who uses a Chao creature as an attack, sending it to fight enemies in her place. I feel sega kind of missed the mark with Sonic Advance 3 by making it too complicated with huge levels and controlling multiple characters at once. SA2 is simple and fun and just the way a sonic game should be!

There's one more that I'd like to quickly mention, that is Sonic Pocket Adventure for the NGP. Kind of a remake of Sonic 2, or it takes inspiration from it. This was the first proper entry in the sonic series that wasn't on a Sega console... (Sonic Blast on Game.Com doesn't count!) Once again it goes to show just how capable the Neo Geo pocket was! it's a fantastic entry in the series with very colourful graphics and great controls. It's a bit easy but that doesnt stop you from enjoying it.

Theres clearly no shortage of Sonic fun to be had on handhelds, as Sega also had their own GameGear back in the early 90's there was a plethora of Sonic games released for the system, many of them were ports of the Master System titles that came out at the time, as well as a few exclusives. The best of the bunch for me, is also the first. Although its extremely basic, It was a great alternative to the MegaDrive / Genesis version, and sometimes, I actually prefer it. It has fantastic music and levels and is fast and fun, and much bettere than the 2nd one for Gamegear...

6: Megaman Maveric Hunter X (PSP) / Megaman IV (Gameboy)

Maveric Hunter is a remake of the SNES game Megaman X, and what a remake it is! This boasts some pretty impressive visuals for the PSP and a rocking remixed soundtrack! The game plays almost identically to the SNES counterpart, save for some extra features like the ability to play the whole game again as Vile, and watch an animated movie! This is one of the best MegaMan games ever released and it's a huge shame they didn't continue the remakes for the PSP as they originally planned to do. There was also a planned 3D entry in the Maveric Hunter series by some of the original members of the Metroid Prime team! This too unfortunately got cancelled... Along with Megaman Universe and Legends 3... Capcom. I Hate You.

The other Megaman game I have chosen to mention is the Gameboy version of Megaman 4, or IV as the Gameboy calls it. This was a huge step up from the previous games in the Gameboy series, and actually contains a mix of robot masters from both megaman 4 and 5. The game plays just as well as the NES counterparts and is even more precise thanks to some grat controls and tight level designs! I actually did an entire let's play of it a few years ago! you can watch it all here (actually its a let's play of Megaman III not IV, but they are very similar...)

5: LocoRoco / LocoRoco 2 (PSP)

Easily the most colourful game on the list, LocoRoco is a very strange game where you have to press the L and R buttons of the PSP to rotate the screen and send a singing blob around many maze like stages, sometimes made of jelly. I'm not really sure if it counts as a platformer or not... but I'm including it anyway! It's such a unique game and never looses focus with some very cool level designs and innovative mechanics. The game is simply a joy to play, the same can be said for the sequel.  This game kept me glued to my PSP for hours on end, and trust me, once you've stopped playing, you won't be able to get the music out of your head!

The idea of the game is to roll around and collect berries that make your Locoroco blob bigger, and therefor able to get to more places and ultimately grow big enough to split into many smaller blobs, which each begin to sing and add to the already intoxicating cute atmosphere! You can use all these smaller Locoroco's to solve puzzles and wake up a giant tree at the end of each stage.

4: Super Mario Land / Super Mario Land 2 / Wario Land (Gameboy/GBA)

Its no secret that Super Mario Land 1 is one of my all time favourite Super Mario games. I even wrote a whole post just on how much I love the game... So It's probably easier to point you to that rather than repeat myself here! This is another game which I did a let's play for many years ago!

As for Super Mario Land 2, it is a much bigger game, and many people would say its also a much better game too. I still prefer the first one though. This one had loads of cool new powerups that haven't been seen since, including bunny ears which let you hover, a space suit for a few moon based levels and even a bubble which lets you float above the level for a short time! This is definitely a very unique game in the Mario series, as, like the first game, this is not set in the mushroon kingdom and has such strange areas as a Lego land, a land set inside a bees nest, a Halloween themed area and the inside of a turtle to name a few! It also introduces Wario for the first time, who would soon go onto star in his own game, Super Mario Land 3: Wario Land.

3: Klonoa Empire Of Dreams / Moonlight Museum (GBA / Wonderswan)

Any of you that read my "Top Ten Console Platformers" will already know of my love for the Klonoa series! This continues with the hand held entries, I've only played two out of four of the handheld games, but I love the ones I have had a chance to play. They are far more puzzle focused than the main game, separating each level into one big area in which you have to manipulate enemies and boxes to find keys which open certain doors. Theres loads of collectibles scattered about and plenty to unlock along the way. It's a joy to play, and the boss fights and mini games make a welcome change of pace every so often!

2: Henry Hatsworth in the Puzzling Adventure (DS)

It's hard to believe this very odd platformer/puzzle combo came out of EA of all places! The game is half something like Kirby, and half Bejeweled. Its a strange combination but works surprisingly well! As you play through the main adventure as Mr Hatsworth, you can also manipulate the puzzle blocks on the lower screen at the same time, making links to send powerups to the platformer game on the top screen! It's a really interesting mechanic and works far better than you could ever imagine! It also has really nice visuals and great gameplay to go with it! Definitely an underrated DS gem!

1: Kirby's Dream Land / Dreamland 2 / Nightmare In Dreamland / Super Star Ultra / Mouse Attack / Triple Deluxe (Gameboy / GBA / DS / 3DS)

Every main kirby game is pretty much the same... so why not include all of them!

Starting on the original gameboy, the very first Kirby game ever, Dream Land, did not include a whole lot of anything... You could fly and... well thats about it. There were no abilities to be gained from the enemies, instead you could just suck them up and spit them out. The game was incredibly short, clocking in at under 20mins for a full playthrough! Despite all these shortcomings though, it was a fantastic game, loved by many for its simple gameplay and very cute style.

The second game in the dreamland series greatly improved on every single aspect of the first game, giving you a range of enemies to eat and transform into, as well as taking a leaf out of Kirby's Adventure's book and giving the game a proper hub world. This made for a much larger and better game.

Next in the hand-held line of kirby games was a GBA game, a remake of the NES and Famicom game, Kirby's adventure. This was a brilliant update with fantastic graphics and remixed music! You could even play the whole game through as Metaknighgt once you completed it! Unfortunately I've lost this one and the price of the cart is getting excedingly expensive each time I look... I'll skip over the next GBA entry as it's one of the only Kirby games I don't enjoy. It was called Kirby and the Amazing Mirror.

The next proper hand held kirby game came on the DS in the form of Kirby's Mouse Attack, (or Squeak Squad if you're from America) This game was more of the same, with a few new enemies to eat. The main difference in this game was the inclusion of a band of naughty mice, called the Squeak Squad! They run around stealing treasure and it's up to kirby to chase them down and get it back! The only reason Kirby's interested in chasing down these mice is because they ran off with his strawberry shortcake! Clearly Kirby has no interest in the millions of kirby dollars he could get from all that treasure!

After this came another Re-Make in the form of Kirby Super Star Ultra. I wrote a post on this a while ago, so here you go!

The latest new game in the series is on the 3DS, called Kirby Triple Deluxe. It makes great use of the 3D effect as the game plays out on two planes at once, so you can move into the background and foreground. Theres also a really fun game hiding behind this cool mechanic, and it's one of the best and most replayable kirby games to date! With loads to find and collect in each stage and amazing unlockable keychains! I wish they were real! :(

Once again that ended up being much more than 10 games! Never mind.

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, 22 January 2015

F-Zero Retrospective

Join me as we take a lighting quick look at the fastest racing series ever! Seriously, it leaves Wipeout and Extreme G in the dust! YOU GOT BOOST POWER!


Back in 1990, this game blew peoples minds with its incredibly smooth and fast MODE 7 graphics! Not only were the graphics outstanding for the time, it was also a very fun game to play... If you had the skills needed to survive flying through futuristic cities at over 1000MPH! I really wish I was around back then to experience peoples reactions to it. As it stands today, the game is still a blast to play and is avaliable on the Wii and WiiU Virtual console for everyone to enjoy.

Compared to the rest of the games in the series, it is extremely basic, with only fifteen courses, split over several Grand Prix modes. There are only four cars to choose from. It may not seem like much, but due to the games fast pace and tight controls its endlessly replayable even today!

This is also where the famous Captain Falcon got his first appeance, these days though all he seems to do is punch people...

BS F-Zero Grand Prix

People in Japan were lucky enough to get an expansion for the game if they owned the Satellaview adaptor for the Super Famicom. Allowing players to effectively download new content for games over a sattel;ite connection. These expansions, called BS F-Zero Grand Prix and BS F-Zero Grand Prix 2 introduced new cars and tracks.

To play the game you had to hook up this lovely looking piece of kit and link it up to a sattelite connection which would then download the game onto the cart! Downloading games and DLC way before consoles had a proper internet connection!

Some online companies have released the game as a repro, which makes the ROM avaliale to buy as an actual cart that can be played on the SNES!
Avaliable at:

F-Zero X 

The jump to the 64Bit era made the snes F-Zero look like a sunday driver simulator in comparison! This entry in the series is still regarded as the best by many. A huge jump in graphics was coupled with an enoumous character roster, with 26 different vehicles to choose from, each with adjustable stats to improve speed or acceleration.

The game runs at a constant 60fps making for a very smooth experience, and although some people complain about the lack of graphical detail, I don't really see it as a problem considering most of the time you're going too fast to notice anyway!

As well as the obvious GP and Time Trial modes, the game also introduces a new mode, Death Race in which you have to try and destroy as many other opponets as you can using new attacks which are performed by using the Z or R buttons.

The soundtrack was equally amazing with some tunes that are still thought of today as some of the best in the industry. Just listen to some of these...

F-Zero X Expansion Kit

Much like the SNES game before it, F-Zero X also had a Japan only expansion released. This expansion came on the underappreciated 64DD System. It allowed players to design their own tracks and gave them access to even more new levels as well. This is extremely hard to find and expensive these days and a very sough after collectors item! I was lucky enough to catch a glimpse of it in Japan last year... but I think thats as close as i'll get to owning it for a long time...

F-Zero Maximum Velocity

 The first handheld game in the series took a lot of inspiration from the SNES game, with simmilar graphics and gameplay. The simmilarities end there though, this game was kind of strange in the fact that none of the original cars were included, instead, gamers were introduced to a whole new range of vehicles which have never been seen since...

As one of the first GBA games I owned, it got a LOT of playtime and I was able to learn all the nuances of the controls, including the underlooked technique of tapping the accelerator as you go round a corner to improve the handeling. This is a really important technique to master if you don't want to be sliding round the stage like a lunatic!

It's a pretty simple game compared to X with fewer courses and cars, but it has more connent than the original. It also has some great music and track designs including a course in the sky and track obstacles such as sliding sand and wind which pushes the car around the track, making it even harder to stay in control! Once again boost is awarded after each lap, unlike X however, you only get one single boost per lap, making for much more precide racing lines in time trial mode!

F-Zero GX/AX

Co-Developed by SEGA and Namco, this three way colaboration created one of the best games for the Gamecube, and a superb entry in the series. This game boasts incredible graphics that still hold up well today and gameplay that was as fast and precise as ever. Maybe even more so with the GameCubes analogue L and R buttons providing much more control over the use of the air breaks which help with making sharp corners.

As well as all the modes from the previous games, this one introduces the biggest update so far, a Story Mode. This mode was a challenge mode of sorts with each challenge proving more difficult than the last. They are all very memorable and probably caused many controllers to be thrown at walls by frustrated playes at the time! (Me included...)

F-Zero AX

As well as the GameCube release, thwere was also an arcade version with completely different tracks, called F-Zero AX. This was the first of what was planned to be many arcade games using the new Triforce system. The system allowed players to take their gamecube memory cards and use them in the arcade to upload and download data such as custom cars and high scores. Sadly, these machines are extremely hard to find these days. I was lucky enough to find one on holiday one year and it was a fantastic experience to play F-Zero in an arcade machine like that!

F-Zero GP Legend

GP Legend was for many what Maximum Velocity should have been, with the retun of fan favourite characters and new versions of classic courses like Mute City and Big Blue aswell as new versions of their iconic themes! This game also incuded a story mode, which was even more in depth than GX, made to tye inwith the new Anime that was airing at the time. As with GX, the story mode is split up into smaller races and challenges. Overall, this game was a great addition to the series and a huge improvement over the first GBA game! It was also the last F-Zero game that would ever get a release outside of Japan...

 F-Zero Climax

 The last F-Zero game was a Japan exclsive for the first time since the add on for F-Zero X. It was a direct sequel to GP Legend and seems to be more of the same. I have not played this one so I can't really commenton how good it is. From what I've seen it also includes a story mode and something a lot of fans had hoped would make a return, a track editor! It's a shame this never got an international release. Maybe Nintendo will be kind enough to put it on the Virtual Console one day? Probably not but one can dream!

Gone but not forgotten...

Although there hasn't been a new F-Zero game in over 10 years, Nintendo keeps reminding us about its existance, through some subtle and not so subtle inclusions in other games. From Captain Falcon's contunual appearences in the Smash Bros. Series. To a model of the Blue falcon in Animal Crossing.

The most promising signs of a comeback come from the WiiU though. Not only does Nintendo Land feature an F-Zero area. Mario Kart 8's newest DLC features an enture course based on the series, as well as the inclusion of the Blue Falcon as a new vehicle! 

Most of the games are available to play now on the WiiU thanks to the virtual console, so if you're interested in playing some, go check them out! 

Thanks for reading! 

Monday, 19 January 2015

Why I'm excited for Rodea the Sky Soldier!

Announced way back in 2010, Rodea the Sky Soldier disappeared off the radar for a number of years. Recently it was announced that it will be surfacing once again, this time as a WiiU and 3DS title! The lucky gamers in Japan will also get a special edition which incudes the original Wii release, exactly as it was all those years ago!

What excited me most about this mysterious game is the fact that it is being developed by none other than Yuji Naka himself! For those of you that don't know, Yuji Naka was head of Sonic Team for a long while, working on such prolific games as the original Sonic The Hedgehog, Phantasy Star and NiGHTS Into Dreams to name just a few of his greatest achievements. In 2006 he left Sonic Team in order to persue his own career and start up a new company, Prope. 

Prope was created due to a new scheme within Sega that promoted the development of independent creators and companies. The first game Prope created was a simplistic, but fun game for the Wii simply called Let's Tap. The game had you place a Wii Remote on a box and literally tap the box in order to play the games. It's really fun and unique and definitely an interesting game worthy of a place in any wii gamers collection!

Their next proper game (not counting IOS and WiiWare titles, of which there were many) was another interesting experimental game called Ivy the Kiwi? Released for the Wii and DS in 2010.The Game involves you drawing a line of ivy using the Wii Remote or touch screen in order to guide a small bird to the exit of continually more challenging levels. The game was met by plenty of praise for its fun mechanics and excellent hand drawn graphics! Another sadly overlooked title in the Wii's library!

Apart from a few minor releases, not much was heard from Prope until the announcement of a game called Rodea the Sky Soldier in 2010. There was a short video shown off but since that announcement, it seemed like the game was set to disappear as news articles began to report that Prope was having a lot of trouble finding a publisher for the game. Actual developemnt was reportedly finished by 2012, but contact with the chosen publisher, Kadokawa games, was proving to be difficult.

Naka himself said in an interview, “We have finished developing the Wii version and we have already submitted it. That was around a year ago. But it seems like they are still considering the [details of] the 3DS version. It might be close to being finished, but we havent spoken to Kadokawa in a while, so I’m not sure. Kadokawa never said they’re not going to sell it, so I would guess they’ll release it sometime in 2013 or so. That has to get cleared up. Because of that, I’m not sure what’s going to happen to the game.”

Now, five years after the original announcement, it seems the game is finally about to be released, albiet for an all new platform, the WiiU. I have high hopes for the game and I'm sure many other share my excitement. All I can do now is hope it actually gets a release in the UK!

There was recently a big launch event in Akihabara with talks from developers so have a Google if you want to find out more! 

Below are some videos! The original trailer and the new WiiU trailer! Enjoy.
Also seems like the game will have some fantastic music too! 

Thanks for reading!

Friday, 16 January 2015

My Top Ten Console Platformer Games!

I love 2D platformers! In no particular order (because it was too hard to decide) these are my Top Ten 2D Platformers for consoles! Handheld Platformers will have their own post soon!

10: Mischief Makers
Something of a hidden gem for the N64, I had read about it many times in Nintendo magazines but it wasn't until I borrowed a friends copy at Uni that I finally played it for myself! It's a very unique platformer with a strange gameplay mechanic, you pick things up and shake them and different things happen when you do that. The game has some very clever level design that plays to this mechanics strengths. Also hidden away in each level is a yellow gem, collecting these actually increased the length of the ending. It's a lot of fun to explore the levels and find them! The boss fights are fun and creative with each one being killed in a different way, the music and graphics are equally strange and brilliant. A true N64 classic! Shame I didn't play it sooner!

9: MegaMan classic series
As you all already know if you read these posts, i'm a huge megaman fan so it should come as no surprise that i'm including the games here, it was too hard to pick just one game from the series, so i'm including the whole 8-bit series, including 9 & 10. they all are pretty much the same game with minor changes between then so play all of them and think of them as new levels expansions and you'll have just as much fun no matter which one you decide to play! 4 is my personal favourite but that's probably because that's the one I grew up with. The megaman X games are also (mostly) amazing and definitely worth a play! Especially 1, 2 and 4.

8: Donkey Kong Country Series.
Especially DKC2! All the DKC games, including the newer ones on the Wii/WiiU are all really good platformers, with tight controls and varied gameplay which includes using the abilities of other characters, such as Dixie Kong and her propeller hair which lets you hover for a short time, you can even play as Cranky Kong in the latest game using his walking stick as a Pogo stick which makes for some really cool speedruns! The music in all the games is excellent, with tracks ranging from traditional jungle music, to ambient music, rock music, and everything in between, they are all really fun to listen to! The gameplay is really smooth and the levels are very challenging, but not impossible. Its a game of skill and rewards players who take time to explore thanks to many hidden items and secrets! It's also well known for being one of the first games to use digitized 3D graphics! The gameboy and GBA versions are also worth a look, especially the Donkey Kong Land series for the original Gameboy, which are entirely new games based on the first three DKC games!

A quirky platformer for the SNES. It may not be the most well known of games on this list, but it does have a dedicated fan base, especially now that the the creator has been releasing a new PLOK comic strip. The game has you playing as PLOK on a quest to find his missing flag. He travels all round the (quite large) map in search of it. Encountering many strange creatures and lots of fleas along the way. At one point you also get to play as PLOK's grandfather in a black and white flashback. You throw your arms and legs at the enemies to defeat them as well as getting many optional weapons and power ups from hidden presents within the levels. There power ups can range from  weapons such as a shotgun or a fireman's hose, to vehicles such as helicopters and motorbikes! The game also has loads of secrets and awesome boss fights!

6: Rocket Knight Adventures/ Sparkster
Definitely my all time favorite Sega Megadrive game! Rocket Knight Adventures was a complete surprise for me and exceeded all my expectations of it. I got it from a bootsale one day along with about ten other Megadrive games. I didn't think much of them but as soon as I put in RKA (to try out for a few minutes) I was hooked and spent the rest of the day playing it non stop, all the way to completion! This sparked (pun intended) my obsession with the series and thus, I eventually tracked down the other two games in the series Sparkster and... Sparkster. They are both very different games, one is a direct sequel for the Megadrive and the other is a different game for the SNES. Both are excellent but neither live up to the magic of the original. There was also a reboot on XBLA and PSN a few years ago, but I was very disappointed with it. So stick to the originals! I can't recommend them highly enough! Go play them! :D

5: Kirby's Fun Pak (AKA Kirby Super Star)
8 Games in one! Well that might be a bit of a lie. It's more like 4 games and some mini-games, but even so, this collection is packed full of fun! A game I remember fondly from my childhood, each game in the collection is equally memorable, from discovering secret paths in Dynablade, to scouring the caves of Great Cave Offensive for treasures and travelling through space in the slightly surreal Milky Way Wishes. This game is still just as much fun today as it ever was and easily the best Kirby game you can get! Also worth checking out is the DS remake, called Kirby Super Star Ultra. It can also be played on the Wii and WiiU virtual console.

4: Super Mario All Stars / World
This special cartridge came bundled with every main Mario game at that point, each game was completely remade with amazing colourful 16-bit graphics and enhanced music. This is by far the best way to play Super Mario 1, 2, 3 and Lost Levels. The inclusion of Super Mario World is just an added bonus and not included on the original release or on the Wii re-release which was seen as a pretty lazy celebration for Mario 20th anniversary. Either way, this collection is the definitive Mario collection and has endless replay value.

3: Castlevania 1/3/4/Rondo Of Blood
I simply couldn't decide between these four which one was my favourite... Castlavania always has a special place in my game library. The controls may seem slightly clunky and maybe even seem archaic to some, I personally believe that the restrictive ocntrols actually improve the experience making it much more a skill based game than some other, more forgiving platformers. The levels are perfectly designed to compensate for the stiff controls, and memorisation is key to progressing through the games deadly castles and surroundings. Add to this precise gameplay a wealth of different power ups and some superb music and you have a classic game series. Just avoid Castlevania 2 at all costs!

2: Sonic 2
My favoirite of the side scrolling sonic games. This game improves massively on sonic 1 and keeps the originals straightforward level design. With countless improvements including Spin Dash, Tails, (although its disputable if tails could be considered an improvement or not...) Much improved bonus levels and generally faster gameplay. The game is a blast to play through and doesn't let up from the moment you start playing! The music is fast and catchy and the levels themselves are all bright and colourful! I chose this over the more popular Sonic 3 & Knuckles because I feel that game got too big for its self and lost some of the simplicity which makes sonic 2 such a joy. Even so, both games are definitely worth a play and have aged wonderfully!

1: Klonoa 1/2
Almost the complete opposite to Sonic, Klonoa is a much slower, more carefully designed game. With an emphasis on puzzle solving and using enemies to your advantage (e.g using them to help you get to hidden areas). The main gimmick to these games is the ability to use a ring to pick enemies and objects up, throw them, or use them to make an extra jump. As well as this interesting mechanic, you can also hover for a short time using Klonoas ears to give you a little extra reach with your jumps.

The games are both really fun and colourful. Although they may look 3D, they play out strictly on a 2D plane, making use of a moving camera to give the game added depth. There's also a ton of fun mini games throughout the levels. The first game was also re-released on the Wii and is a fantastic upgrade to the PS1 original! The GBA and Wonderswan games are also worth checking out if you enjoy these, they are even more puzzle focused though so don't go in expecting much action and you'll have a good time!

OK so that was actually 38 games... Never mind!


Thursday, 11 December 2014

Amiibo Game Ideas!

Amiibo's are proving very popular with Nintendo fans! However, the only game to fully utilise them at the moment is Smash Bros. I know they can be used in basic ways in other games such as Mario Kart 8 and Hyrule Warriors but they don't really take advantage of them. So I've been thinking of some other cool ways that Amiibo's could be used in other games to make them even more fun!!

Mario Maker:
Maybe this idea would be more suited to a more general game maker from Nintendo, but the idea of placing the chosen character anywhere in the level, either as an enemy, an npc or a player character could be a lot of fun! Imagine for example, you want to play as MegaMan in the game, so first you'd place the start icon then hold megaman up to the gamepad, and voila, megaman is now your playable character! Say he was supposed to fight Dark Pit at the end, you'd take the dark pit figure and scan it in as a Boss and there you have it! Players could finally make the proper Mario & Sonic game they have always dreamed of!

This could make for some really unique settings and a game reminiscent of the mash up of characters that was the Subspace Emissary in Brawl! But one that was entirely user created!

Each Amiibo character could also come with their own set of objects and items for the level editor, based on their own series. Or provide alternate themes such as a Donkey Kong Country inspired one or Metroid themed one for Samus!

They should just rename it Nintendo Maker! It would be amazing!! :D

Mario Kart 8:
I know this would take a lot of work on Nintendo's part, but as they already have many non-Mario characters, I think it would be great if, instead of just giving your mii a new outfit, you could actually play as whatever Amiibo character you wanted and get them added to the proper character roster! Imagine playing as Sonic in Mario Kart! I thought Link was strange enough!

Does kirby need a new ability? Scan in the Amiibo character you want to turn into and Kirby will eat it and gain their ability! This shouldn't be too hard as he can already eat everyone in Smash Bros anyway! Could be used to solve puzzles too, need a fire ability? Scan in Samus! Need to go extra fast to get somewhere? Scan in Sonic!

Need some backup, call in an Amiibo to fly alongside you and help you shoot down Andross's army! Each Arwing could be designed based on the character you scanned in. Imagine Link flying round in an Epona styled Arwing (They already did it with a motorbike in Mario Kart!)! Or Donkey Kong flying past in a barrel, shooting banana skins out into space!

Nintendo Sports Games:
I'm not so much a fan of sports games in general, but I do enjoy some Mario Golf or Tennis occasionally, I even enjoyed Mario Strikers although i'm not a fan of football at all! Instead of "Mario" Golf etc, they could make a general "Nintendo" sports series and allow you to play as your favourite characters!

Animal Crossing:
Want your favourite Nintendo character to move into your town and kick out that annoying Sheep for good? Talk to Tom Nook and ask him to kick out a villager and replace them with an Amiibo! Have you always wanted to live next to Gannondorf? Of course not, but now you can anyway! You could save their house layouts onto the Amiibo and bring them round to a friends house so they too can share a neighborhood with the Dark Lord!

Let me know what you guys think! And if you have any game ideas you want to share, feel free. I'd love to hear them!
My Amiibo's so far!

Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Game Freak's 25th Anniversary! A look at their Non-Pokemon games!

Most of you probably know Game Freak as the creators of the Pokemon franchise, with over 200 million games sold, it's one of the most successful gaming franchises of all time. What most people probably don't know is the other games that Game Freak have made not related to Pokemon. Let's have a look at some of those now! I'll also take a look at some of the people who made this all possible! I'll try to provide links to articles about the games!

Founded on April 26th 1989 (I actually begun writing this back in April...) , Game Freak's first game was a game for the Famicom called Quinty. But the story of Game Freak goes back even further than that...

The first idea of "Game Freak" came from a video game magazine created in the early 80's by the founder, Satoshi Tajiri. He was a huge fan of Space Invaders and decided to make his own game magazine, as there wasn't any other publications around at the time. The magazine was made by hand and distributed among friends. Over time it went from being a hand written magazine made with a photocopier, to one with proper printing and graphics, it ended up being quite popular and one issue even sold over 10,000 copies! From this magazine he got into making games through the help of some of his contributors, they decided to create a company simply for the reason that a lot of the games back then weren't very good!

Satoshi Tajiri has said openly that some of his creativity and obsessive nature in designing his games comes from his aspergers syndrome. In an interview with Time magazine back in 1999 he stated that he sleeps for 12 hours then stays awake for 24 because he feels he can be more creative working those hours!

Ken Sugimori, another name you might recognise as the Pokemon Artist, joined the company and worked as an artist on most of the games. Apparently, he joined the magazine after finding it in a Doujin (Fan books) shop!

So, the first game that Satoshi and his friends made in their new "Game Freak" company was a NES game called Quinty, or Mendels Palace in the US. It was an action puzzle game. I have not had the chance to play it but from what I've read online it seems like a fun little game. The main idea is to push the opponents off a board by running across tiles or cards on the floor.

The creation of Pokemon took six years, during this time, Satoshi also worked on some other games, some for Nintendo such as Mario & Wario and the Yoshi game for NES and GameBoy. As well as some for other companies, such as Pulse Man for the Sega Mega Drive. The next game they made though, was a Super Famicom Game called Jerry Boy. Jerry referring to the name of the main character, it was re-titled in the US as Smart Ball. A sequel was planned but unfortunately never released.

A lot of these early games also have manga adaptations created by Ken Sugimori! As well as one project he worked on called Valkyrie no Bōken Gaiden: Futari no Megami, which is actually an early visual novel type game for windows, made not with Gamefreak, but with Namco... He went on to personally design all of the original 150 pokemon! Theres a cool Ken Sugimori art book avaliable for anyone who's intrested in his work.

Now onto some of the Nintendo titles they produced while working on Pokemon. First is a NES and Gameboy game simply titled, Yoshi. The game is a very basic puzzle game where the aim is to move mario around a small screen to match up enemies and objects that fall from the sky. If you like up an egg (match the bottm half with the top half) a Yoshi will hatch from it. It's a very basic puzzle game and to be honest, it gets dull fast. Even so, this was a big step for Game Freak and Nintendo working together.

Magical Tariruuto-Kun was their first forray into developing for a company outside of Nintendo, this was a traditional platformer for the Sega Megadrive. A game I have had the chance to play, I don't think its an amazing game buts its fun for a while!

After Yoshi, another, much better puzzle game starring Mario was also released, Mario & Wario is a Japan only SFC (Super Famicom) game which used the SNES Mouse to control Mario around a stage. For some reason, Mario has a bucket on his head so you have to use the mouse cursor to remove obstacles and guide Mario on his way through many challenging levels in order ot reach the goal. It's a fun game and makes great use of the mouse peripheral. The game was actually referenced in the original Red and Blue (Green in Japan) Pokemon games, when the player interacts with the TV in his house at the start, it says "A game with MARIO wearing a bucket on his head!" The bucket on Mario's head can also be seen as a treasure in Kirby's Fun Pak / Super Star and as a trophy in Smash Bros Melee!

Their next Non-Nintendo outing was in the form of a futuristic 2D Action Platformer called Pulse Man. It was only available in Japan, however, it had a re-release on the Wii virtual console in all regions so now anyone can play it! There's many references to Pulseman within the Pokemon games, including Pokemon that are based on Pulseman's design such as Pawniard and Bisharp, as well as the move Volt Tackle being a reference to Pulsemans signature move in the game.

After their short time with Sega, they went back to Nintendo and worked on a Puzzle game for the SFC called Nontan no Issho: Kuru Kuru Puzzle. The game looks quite similar to Panel De Pon or Tetris Attack. There was also a Gameboy version in production at the same time.

There were two more games that Gamefreak Developed whilst working on the original Pokemon games, they are BUSHI Seiryūden Futari no Yūsya, an RPG for the Super Famicom. And Bazaar de Gosāru no Game de Gosāru , a platformer for the PC Engine. All I can find out about this game is that it has a monkey in it?? Probably the two least well known of all their games.

After these early games, development coninued on Pokemon Red and Blue (Green) until they were completed. It didn't all go smoothly though, at some point, they were about to go bankrupt and an internal company at Nintendo, Creatures inc. partially bought them out. After the success of Pokemon, Nintendo hired Game Freak to help with their Gameboy Camera project. The Gameboy camera is more than just a digital camera for the gameboy, it also inclused some really fun games, a video editor and a music maker! really advanced for its time despite running on very old and basic hardware! Gamefreak did an amazing job with it!

Strangely, their next game was a PS1 only game, Click Medic, with very little about it online and a Japan only release. It was a medical simulation game kind of like trauma center and actually looks pretty fun with colourful graphics and characters!

After this, Gamefreak became too busy with the success of Pokemon, they contiuned to work on the franchise all the way up until Pokemon Emerald, After this and before Diamond & Pearl, they took some time out to create an experimental game for the GBA. This game was Drill Dozer. A very unique game about drilling. The cart came with a built in rumble feature which made it feel like an actual hand held drill as you were playing. The game is fast and fun and definitely has that classic Gamefreak graphic style, even though it was a huge departure from their normal games.

After that, they went back to coninuing the Pokemon series for DS this time, it wasn't until 2013 that they decided to take another chance at releasing something completely different. This time it was a strange music rhythm game for the 3DS eShop called Harmoknight.

Before they jumped back into Pokemon, there was one more game, released only in Japan, called SolitiBa which is a horse racing game. Yet another interesting departure for the company... This year they also released Solibata on IOS and Android, marking their first step into the mobile market.

This brings us up to date, with Game Freak just having released Pokemon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire, is it time for them to take another break and come up with a new original idea? Or would you prefer them to continue making Pokemon games?

Thanks for reading!

If there's anything I've missed out or got wrong, please let me know and i'll correct it!