Game of the Year 2014 – Best Beat-‘Em-Up

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When it comes to the beat-’em-up genre there’s rarely a video game I can’t get through. From the old school belt scrollers like Super Double Dragon to the more combo heavy games like Bayonetta, I love them all. Well most of them at any rate.

P.O.W.: Prisoners of War, the winner of my Best Retro Game category, was a surprisingly more fun game than I expected, but not the best.

Konami’s arcade game Metamorphic Force is another one of their 4-player machines like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and The Simpsons. It has the fluid combat of other hits of their’s like X-Men. The only real problem is the Crime Fighters style of health meter. It constantly and slowly drains over time.

I went back to Sega’s Yakuza series with Yakuza 3 and while fantastic as always, it spent a little too much time on mundane tasks and chores surrounding the children in Kazuma’s care. Less of that and more busting faces in would’ve been a better beat-’em-up meal.

Finally we come to the winner of the award for my 2014 Best Beat-‘Em-Up. This selection probably shocks me more than anybody else. A game for the original PlayStation released only in Japan in 1997. Thanks to Usagi704 I was able to play co-op with him in Panzer Bandit. The quick and simple way to explain how this game plays is that it’s essentially a clone of Guardian Heroes of the Saturn. It’s a very fun chain combo experience that I’d love to play again!

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Game of the Year 2014 – Best Retro Game

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Welcome back to my 2014 Games of the Year awards!

This time I’ll be choosing my favorite of the retro games I played this year. This is mainly from the month of March where I went back to my gaming roots with several titles spanning across the Super Nintendo, original NES, Game Boy, and Genesis gaming consoles. These games consist of those I’ve played or haven’t played in the past, but the common trait among them is that I never seriously tried to finish them before. However, in 2014 I did beat most of them.

I quite liked my time with Natsume’s Wild Guns and Jaleco’s Operation Logic Bomb, both on SNES, but, I don’t see myself going back much to them. Capcom’s NES Rolling Thunder clone called Code Name: Viper was excellent. I’d even consider it better than the game which inspired them. Once I got the hang of how to approach enemies in Super Double Dragon, it became a favorite of mine within the Technos beat-’em-up series.

The one that really brought me back many times, however, was P.O.W.: Prisoners of War. This SNK brawler wasn’t that great in the arcades, but once it came home it was best on NES. Once I watched a speed run of the game with commentary, it gave me the tips I needed to beat the game for the first time. And a second time…and a third time. I enjoyed it much more than I thought I would given I didn’t remember liking it all that much back in the early ’90s when my family rented it. I’ll admit that the 21 life code didn’t hurt the experience either.

Do you have a classic game you love going back to that you recently discovered within the previous year? Let me know in the comments section below. Also don’t forget to like and share this blog post if you enjoyed it.

Games Finished In 2014

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The list below shows every game that I finished in 2014. The total number comes to 46. That’s up 10 from 2013.

March proved to be the best month for beating games with 16 in total thanks to getting back to my gaming roots. The monthly average throughout the year was 3.8.

1. Bayonetta (PS3) – 1/14
2. Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons (PSN) – 1/27
3. The Saboteur (PS3) – 2/4
4. Batman: Arkham Asylum (PS3) – 2/12
5. Mortal Kombat Trilogy (PS) – 2/14
6. Street Fighter II: Champion Edition (VC) – 2/15
7. Robocop (ARC) – 2/21
8. Muramasa: The Demon Blade (WII) – 2/26
9. Soldner-X 2: Final Prototype (PSN) – 3/3
10. Streets of Rage 3 via Sonic’s Ultimate Genesis Collection (PS3) – 3/10
11. Jackal (NES) – 3/11
12. Tetris Plus 2 (ARC) – 3/13
13. Metamorphic Force (ARC) – 3/13
14. Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers (NES) – 3/14
15. P.O.W.: Prisoners of War (NES) – 3/16
16. Vice: Project Doom (NES) – 3/18
17. Fortified Zone (GB) – 3/19
18. Sunset Riders (SNES) – 3/21
19. Castlevania: Bloodlines (GEN) – 3/23
20. Super Double Dragon (SNES) – 3/24
21. Contra (NES) – 3/25
22. Sparkster (SNES) – 3/25
23. Code Name: Viper (NES) – 3/29
24. Operation Logic Bomb (SNES) – 3/31
25. Wild Guns (SNES) – 4/5
26. Return of Double Dragon (SFC) – 4/8
27. Ninja Warriors (SNES) – 4/8
28. Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood (PS3) – 5/3
29. Assassin’s Creed: Revelations (PS3) – 6/30
30. Klonoa: Empire of Dreams (GBA) – 7/7
31. Castlevania: Symphony of the Night (PS) – 8/20
32. Syndicate (PS3) – 9/3
33. Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode II (PC) – 9/10
34. Hotline Miami (PC) – 9/14
35. Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia (DS) – 10/15
36. Castlevania: Dracula X (SNES) – 10/21
37. Splatterhouse (TG-16) – 10/27
38. Ratchet: Deadlocked (PS2) – 11/6
39. Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools of Destruction (PS3) – 11/16
40. Batman (ARC) – 11/20
41. Crime Fighters (ARC) – 11/20
42. Ratchet & Clank Future: Quest for Booty (PSN) – 11/20
43. Yakuza 3 (PS3) – 12/21
44. RayCrisis: Series Termination (PS) – 12/28
45. Panzer Bandit (PS) – 12/29
46. Strider 2 (PS) – 12/31

Now Playing: March 2014

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After trying to play Onimusha: Dawn of Dreams and getting super frustrated with the game, I started to wonder if I was lacking interest in gaming. I ultimately decided I simply needed a large dose of old school games and went back to my gaming roots. How refreshing it was to do so. I found out what was best on the NES as compared to those same arcade titles and overall just had a great time!

I had previously played a bunch of these games, but I didn’t finish any of them. I rectified that with the first game I chose, Streets of Rage 3. There’s a reason why the second game in this trilogy is the best. While SoR3 does a lot of what made the previous game fantastic. It unfortunately adds a few things which don’t work as well. I didn’t think the music and sound were all that good in this outing. Double tapping forward and the attack button isn’t nearly as reliable as it had been.

The next game I played was Jackal. It was the first of four NES games. An action game from the arcades, Jackal is a superb showcase of the greatness Konami was at the time. It wasn’t until near the end of the final stage when a pair of ground homing missile launchers got me at a standstill. Eventually I got past them and the crazy huge tank at the end!

Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers was up next. Everybody seems to have played this game and remember it fondly. I hadn’t at the time. Overall things were rather simple until I had to deal with some pelicans. I had to read an FAQ about these Zone I troublemakers to find out about throwing a box at their feet was the only way to defeat them. The other problem I had was the final zone’s finely dressed weasels. It was a crapshoot as to whether they’d take one or two hits to go down. At least Fat Cat was easy enough.

Here’s a game I could never get to level 3 on back in the day. It’s SNK’s P.O.W.: Prisoners of War. The button mashing that goes on in beat-’em-ups doesn’t exactly work here. Slowing down your button presses and doing them in a very methodical way is the best way to start a winning strategy. Another thing to understand is that you’re invincible when performing the jump kick. Using it to your advantage against incoming projectiles is a must to survive. This speed run helped my understanding of this quirky game. Also a 21 lives code didn’t hurt either. It took 27 lives when I first finished it. The following playthrough was much better at 5 lives total used.

The final NES game played was Vice: Project Doom. It does a similar mixing of different genres for separate levels like a few other NES titles did. A majority of the game is of an action platformer, but two levels are top-down driving and another two are light gun. The way the enemies feel like they were just thrown in wherever made me think Vice was developed by a European company. They tended to do that in those days making for some unfairly tough sequences. Surprisingly it was a Japanese developer by the name of Aicom. Usually the enemy placement is thoughtfully planned out by Eastern game makers. Regardless, there’s a bit of fun to be had here. The name of the hero was Hart.

Jaleco makes an appearance with their Game Boy title Fortified Zone. The role you take is that of Masato Kanzaki and Mizuki Makimura. They take down a slew of enemies and sub-bosses in their way to five main bosses in four stages. From a top-down perspective you can switch between the two characters as you solve the key-to-door puzzles. The later two stages are much longer and ascend to completely new floors. It’s all more fun than it may sound at first. Sadly the one thing I didn’t care for was the fixed password system. It doesn’t allow you to continue with any health upgrades you might have picked up along the way. I used a Game Genie to help with that deficiency. Also that Stage 3 music! Amazing!

Finally there’s the wild west themed side-scrolling shooter Sunset Riders. The Genesis version is a bit different in level layout. I played the Super Nintendo version. I was quite amazed at how short the levels themselves were. The longest was probably level two and it’s likely because of it being an auto-scroller. The two bosses that gave me the most trouble was Chief Wigwam (stage 6) and Sir Richard Rose (stage 8 and the game’s final boss). Another speed run helped me in figuring out how to defeat them. Of course my execution of said plan was far less sexy and made of much more failure.

In total I now have 18 finished games for this year. Three of them I’ve yet to talk about are arcade games which I will talk about soon. Thanks for reading!

Back To My Gaming Roots

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In my attempt to get to the bottom of why I lacked interest in gaming recently, I think it’s time to spend some quality time with my 8-bit and 16-bit systems. If I was madtyger I’d probably have names for them outside of the official ones. :D

As much as I’d like to think I give equal time to all of the game systems I own, past and present, I really know that this is simply not the case. One look at the complete list of games I actually finished last year proves that I rarely play much of the retro library I own.

To rectify this I’ve selected 14 games from an assortment of systems to play. I probably won’t bother with getting to them all, but these titles listed below are the ones which look to be good fun for the time being. If you’d like to suggest one of the games below, I’ll happily make it a priority to get to first (or next).

SNES
Sparkster
Super Double Dragon
Operation Logic Bomb
Sunset Riders
Total Carnage

NES
P.O.W.: Prisoners of War
Code Name: Viper
Vice: Project Doom
Duck Tales
Jackal

GAME BOY
Fortified Zone

GENESIS
Streets of Rage 3 (via Sonic’s Ultimate Genesis Collection)
Rocket Knight Adventures
Castlevania: Bloodlines

New Releases 2009: Sept. 20-Oct. 3

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Another set of new releases for another two week shot and the outlook is pretty varied.

With that said I know that to a majority of gamers the new Halo game is the only thing on their radar. The rest of the games are non-existent to them. I guess that makes sense to a degree with only Zombie Apocalypse being the other game coming out on the Xbox system.

On the other hand, all PlayStation platforms are seeing no less than 12 games in the next fortnight.

My pick would have to be MotorStorm: Arctic Edge. I don’t know if I’ll be getting it for the PSP or PS2. Regardless, I’m very interested to see how it comes out on the less powerful systems.

NEW GAMES FOR THE WEEK OF 9/20
Fallout 3: Broken Steel (PSN)
Halo 3: ODST (X360)
Katamari Forever (PS3)
Shin Megami Tensei: Persona (PSP)
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Smash-Up (WII)
Zombie Apocalypse (PSN, XBL)

NEW GAMES FOR THE WEEK OF 9/27
Dead Space Extraction (WII)
Fallout 3: Operation Anchorage (PSN)
Fallout 3: The Pitt (PSN)
Gran Turismo (PSP)
Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days (DS)
MotorStorm: Arctic Edge (PSP)
Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 (PS3)
Obscure: The Aftermath (PSP)
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Smash-Up (PS2)
Undead Knights (PSP)

I’ll leave you with a few interesting recent items from my twitter account.

* Tricky bastards with their renaming of the Genesis version of Gauntlet to Gauntlet IV.
* For some reason when I read Joystiq’s “What’s In A Name” post title I keep saying it in the same way as the “What is a man” line from SotN.
* Fav. obscure NES games. Metal Storm, P.O.W., Power Blade, Shadow of the Ninja, Super Spike V’Ball, Code Name: Viper, Heavy Barrel, Shatterhand, Star Force, Vice: Project Doom.
* Terrible box art: The Orange Box.
* Favorite Game Music: Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers – Downtown (SNES).
* ESPN eXtreme Games: It’s more extreme than spilling your morning coffee on your car!
* Played some of Usagi704’s newly acquired copy of Street Fighter Alpha for the GBC. Also beat it first time playing it. Final score with Sagat: 1.03 million! 37th game beat this year.
* Favorite video game music: Crystal Castle theme from Konami’s Castlevania II: Belmont’s Revenge.

No Adventure On This Island

It’s About Games comes through again by having a great selection of retro games. Here’s what I picked up.

Mortal Kombat II (GEN) – game only; good
Tetris 2 (SNES) – game only; fair
The Combatribes (SNES) – game only; fair
P.O.W. (NES) – game only; excellent
NARC (NES) – game only; great

Two games took the place of one when Adventure Island (NES) didn’t work. The game didn’t even display a messed up looking title screen. It was just totally blank. So the replacements were Tiger-Heli (NES – game only; great) and Marble Madness (GEN – complete; excellent). I asked Usagi704 to choose one because I was sure that he wouldn’t make a bad pick. He decided on the former NES game. It ended up being a perfect choice since it looked and played great!

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Details: Marble Madness | NARC, P.O.W., & Tiger-Heli | Mortal Kombat II, The Combatribes, & Tetris 2

Condition scale: Excellent, Great, Good, Fair, Bad, Poor

On a mostly unrelated note, I figured you’d enjoy seeing another Mortal Kombat Trilogy match between Usagi704 and myself. It’s a beefy 3-on-3 match where it’s his Scorpion, Sektor, & Kano vs. my Reptile, Sub-Zero, & Jade.