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There are some games that just sort of exist in the video gaming world that feel like they've just always sort of been there, and Out Run is one of them! Ultimately, I think that's just a long way for me to go to say, "I've seen a lot of Out Run screenshots and it was seemingly aways on Sega Channel and I never played it for some reason".
I was just thinking on that reason while I was kinda zoning out playing it just now and I don't think it's complicated: I didn't "get" Out Run. It's not hard (I don't think anyway), and I don't think racing enthusiasts (pronounce that "en thoo zee assts" for the extra affect there) would get much out of it in that context. Out Run is a
vibes game, and my little 7 year old self didn't understand those vibes.
I don't entirely get them now, but I can dig it!
Also, you can maybe forget everything I just wrote, because something I didn't learn until I almost just put it away for good this time is that you can shift. Turns out you need to shift. My little 7 year old self didn't get that so she wasn't going to be able to drive for more than 70 seconds anyway. Dummy.
Super Mario World
Anyone who's played this game probably knows how good it is. The level design is probably the best in any 2D Mario game I've played, and honestly one of the best 2D platformers I've ever played as well. The sprites are very charming and still hold up to this day, and the game has a lot of stuff that I can sum up with one word: unique. The levels don't follow the basic themes like desert or ocean or ice land and instead try and do more unique things, like the Forest of Illusion that requires you to find a secret exit in a level to escape. The bosses have different ways of beating them like pushing them into the lava or jumping on them when they appear on the right pipe. The difficulty of the game is just right, some levels feel really hard but not impossible. The only frustrating levels other than some later ones are the Ghost Houses, but those are usually frustrating anyway. Overall, I'd definitely recommend playing this game as it does live up to the hype it gets.
This was a game I had on my actual NES as a kid and for years could never beat. Finally beat it without save states, and it surprised me how actually well thought out and ingenious the design of this game is for the time of release. A lot of levels that were excruciatingly hard actually had solutions built into the item drops and level design that took me a while to figure out, which made it a lot more satisfying to complete. In my opinion, its better than any of the classic NES MegaMan games including MegaMan 2.
This game is fascinating for many reasons. It's not a traditional game, but rather a collection of various musical toys. Yet it's also not like a music creation program as making any semblance of a complete song would be extremely difficult in any of these minigames. This game is really about the curiosity of discovering what sounds can be made in the minigames, and messing about with them. Definitely not something for everyone given the lack of direction/substance, but I was absolutely fascinated by each of the minigames and enjoyed my time.
Final Fantasy VIII
Final Fantasy VIII is a game with a lot of neat ideas, but with slightly poor execution. The Draw and Junction system is super interesting and allows you to pull together really interesting builds, but drawing the actual magic feels needlessly grindy (unless you utilize GF abilities that can get you magic from items). But this is also an open ended system that lets you really break over your knee which I love
Some parts of the story feel underdeveloped, the world feels lacking in its details and the way how everything is told can get confusing at times, the scene in the orphanage was a sticking point in particular. The cast also feels underutilized, but at the same time I really liked Squall and Rinoa and I'm also a sucker for this kind of love story so I ended up loving it in the end
Whether this is your favorite or least favorite game in the series, I can totally see why for both sides. The highs are pretty high, but the lows can sink pretty low too. But I think we can all agree that the soundtrack by Nobuo Uematsu is an all time classic
Devil May Cry
The beginning of such an awesome series of action games, Devil May Cry has a few problems tied to age (largely with the camera), but it's a nevertheless compelling game with a sick gothic aesthetic and smooth combat. I can see some having a bit of trouble adapting to it, but all in all, this is really fun stuff.
MGS1 but over the top as fuck, which is honestly rad as hell. Using MGS1 levels in the MGS2 engine does kinda break the balance as the game is now significantly easier. The visual upgrade from the original do kinda be insane though. Despite what some series purists might want you to believe, this is an absolutely valid way to experience the first metal gear solid game.
Dragon Quest I.II
you know it's a real one when you're suffering the entire time but you look back on it fondly
It shouldn't be possible to sleep on a Sonic game considering that the blue hedgehog and whether or not he was "ever good" feels like the most prominent and endlessly regurgitated topic amongst YouTubers and the internet at large, but I really think the series' Game Gear output is hugely overlooked in both its quality and its creativity. They did an excellent job adapting the 16-bit formula through Sonic 1, 2, Chaos, and Triple Trouble, but even after they nailed that down, they didn't hesitate to get weird with the very concept of Sonic. Sonic Drift 1+2 are pretty bog standard kart racers (I like 'em), but putting Sonic in a kart instead of making him run is inherently kinda weird, isn't it? Sonic R "fixes" that (I unironically love Sonic R), but that's a story for another day. There was Tails' Sky Patrol, an auto scrolling flying game that played nothing like a typical Sonic and only had Tails as a playable character. "What would Sonic be like without Sonic?" is what they were putting down here, and this wasn't the last time they'd interrogate the series' core identity. Sonic Labyrinth, a much maligned game from what I've seen, is more of a puzzle-like game that asks the incredibly bold question of, "what if Sonic was slow?". Seems like a downright heretical thing to ask, but Tails Adventure goes even further by bundling this and the previous question together:
"What if Sonic didn't have Sonic and was also slow?"
It turns out that such a question makes for a really impressive and enjoyable Metroidvania!
The Game Gear was more or less on its way out in 1995, which led to some really impressive games coming out around then and Tails Adventure really makes a statement with its scope. The other Sonic games tended to have runtimes of an hour or less, but this game gives you over 10 areas to explore and find and enough to do within then that you can easily get 4 hours or more out of it if you're thorough! I'm not normally one to give much credence at all to game length, but you really didn't see this kind of thing on the Game Gear much beyond RPGs, so I can't help but be impressed. These areas are pretty huge, too, oftentimes requiring multiple trips to find everything within them. They even brought the submarine back from Triple Trouble and gave it its own batch of items to use and nonlinear areas to traverse. Sometimes you'll find a cave you didn't know existed by exploring a new route with a different weapon and sometimes you'll stumble upon a boss entirely by accident. It's the kind of game that has me constantly going "how did they do this!?" and helps to validate my feelings towards the Game Gear as something that's far better than people often give it credit for nowadays.
You only get two buttons on the Game Gear (not counting start or the d-pad), but Tails Adventure gives you over 20 items and lets you swap between four at a time! Sure, this means you have to pause to swap items and can't bring everything with you, but it makes exploration a joy because you never know what you're going to get, especially since they were clever enough to make every item box look the same and hide the surprise every time. Sometimes, you get a new bomb or weapon that lets you get past things you previously couldn't, but other times, you get something that's just fun to have. The radio is technically "useless", but it lets you change the music in any level to any song from the game's soundtrack, which is pretty neat! Though they aren't in the game, you can get items that let you pull a trick out of Sonic and Knuckles' arsenals. Getting up close in this game isn't usually a good idea, but hey, seeing Tails punch like Knuckles does is pretty cute!
The premise of the game itself also feels like a stride towards wanting to make Sonic into something bigger than it was narratively in the video game space. Later games in the series like Sonic Adventure and Sonic Frontiers have Tails struggle with the idea of remaining in Sonic's shadow and earning the confidence needed to become the hero, but here he was cleaning up messes all by himself back in 1995! Making Tails slow seems like a weird choice, but I love how it gives him an identity that isn't just "Sonic but you can fly". Tails has always been the smart one of the group and the pacing of the game and the tools you use leverage his specialty, which is something that I feel like some of the other games forget about his character. He's an inventor, so instead of brute forcing or speeding past everything, you find new solutions to new problems by finding new things to use. Enemies are threats that you have to approach with the right tool from the right position. You're not barreling through foes, but instead calculating the best angle to throw bombs from. Your little robot friend can even be used to scout ahead and see what threats await you in the distance. Said robot is utilized for a whole bunch of puzzles as well since it can get into areas Tails can't due to its small size. You also have to earn the ability to fly for longer periods of time and take more hits by finding more Chaos Emeralds, which feels like a subtle way of showing the player Tails' increased confidence and skills as the adventure goes on. It's a solitary adventure so Tails doesn't have anyone to bounce ideas off of and it doesn't spell anything out, but because of its quieter and slower nature, the gameplay manages to convey a story of Tails gradually rising up to a challenge that only he can handle. It's nice when Sonic games take themselves seriously and try to grow their characters, you know?
I've always had a soft spot for this one since I had it when I was young, but I'm very pleased to see it's even better than I remembered it being. Aside from some underwhelming final bosses, it's a consistently compelling adventure that grows on you more and more as you keep unraveling its mysteries and discover just how deep it goes. I tend to find myself fatigued with the Metroidvania genre nowadays, but I guess all it takes to bring me back in is an unexpected spin on two formulas combined into one!
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