Short, simple, and utterly charming. ActRaiser was unique for its time, and surprisingly, still is. An excellent example of a game that's more than the sum of its parts. That said, it is somewhat half-baked and the concepts are not fully realized, it seems. If you're churning through the 16-bit era though, it's worth a visit.

OutRun is undoubtably one of the greats, and this is the definitive port. At 60 fps, with optional (stunning) stereoscopic 3D, and additional music tracks, it doesn't get better than this (save for maybe the deluxe cabinet). Will you enjoy it? I'd hope. But if you can't enjoy cruising in a Ferrari Testarossa Spider, with a Yamaha YM2151 blasting out some chill as hell city pop, as a 16-bit sunset descends into the horizon, I can't help you.

Certainly a classic. It looks great, sounds great, and plays very well for a Game Boy game (especially when you consider how uniquely Kirby controlled for the time). Ultimately, its short length and breezy difficulty makes it easy to visit this cute and charming romp--it's well worth it.

Imagine inserting this disc into your PS1 and being immediately greeted with CD quality voice audio and 3D CG, in 1996. This, at a time when the SNES was still going strong. The tech was Vandal Heart's strongest feature, but all these decades later, it doesn't quite hold up. The gameplay is fine, sure, and the story is serviceable, but it all amounts to a pretty barebones and dated TRPG. In 1996, there wasn't much like it, but now, you're likely better off playing something else.

It's no wonder the developers of Mega Man 9 were aiming to make their game the true sequel to Mega Man 2, because 3 does not quite hit the mark. Though better in some ways, it doesn't quite live up to its predecessor--especially since 2 was such a leap from the first. Still, it's more Mega Man, and that's not necessarily a bad thing. The slowdown and sprite flickering makes it somewhat hard to go back to, but if you're hankering for more Mega Man, this does the trick.

While the gameplay is somewhat shallow and contrived, the star here is the BGM Mode and Music Maker, which--overall--contribute to a fun little package. This amounts to Otocky playing more like a toy than game, which I'm glad Toshio Iwai embraced as a concept in the culmination of Elektroplankton. A historical oddity, for sure, and worth checking out.

It's good. Everything about it is expertly executed. But it makes for a weird value proposition. The core game is fun, but the DLC takes it to another level; whether it's worth paying full price for the full package is debatable. Regardless of how much you want to invest into it though, if you like strategy games, you'll have fun with this version of Civ.

While later Picross games have improved the presentation, the core gameplay here is as perfect and enduring as puzzle games can get. Utterly satisfying and addictive. If you like puzzle games, play Picross.

These Dragon Quest games are, ultimately, "cozy" games. It's true that these are basically takes on Wizardry and Ultima, but between Toriyama's cute visuals, Sugiyama's charming compositions, and Horii's simple (or "pure", as he's called it) design, we end up with perfect "bedtime" games to play on a handheld. Some may find it boring, but this is as chill and satisfying as adventure roleplaying gets. It's no wonder these games spawned a videogame dynasty.

There's certainly a lot of charm to Esper Dream--largely due to the legendary Kinuyo Yamashita's bopping tunes--but aside from some quirk and charm, there's not much else to enjoy. A solid concept, but it falters in its technical and design choices. It's interesting to see the team at Konami play around with early JRPG concepts less than one year after the first Dragon Quest, but it doesn't really culminate into anything very fun or exciting. At least, it paved the way to a much better sequel.

This game is 90% vibes, 6% scanning things, and 4% gameplay. The gameplay is basically fine, and while not in itself captivating, it's really there to facilitate the navigating of the incredible--and atmospheric--world that Retro Studios has crafted. One of the highest rated games of all time for good reason. But for those who REALLY want the nail-biting action of a fast-paced shooter, and don't care much about aesthetics... sure, maybe this one is not for you.
For what it's worth though, as beautifully as this was adapted to the Switch, playing this on high quality CRT monitor in the original 480i or 480p does really add to its atmosphere and aesthetic.

There's a certain confidence to Ys Chronicles; it knows what it wants to do and what it wants to be. And it's no wonder, this a longstanding series, that's gone though many iterations, and you can tell that this version was made with a certain amount of reverence. Ys Chronicles looks good and sounds great, and its deliberate pacing plays well. Overall, this is a true classic that holds up amazingly well--especially on a portable device.

Zelda II stands out from the mainline series for emphasizing difficult combat-platforming, with little exploration; no other 2D Zelda is quite like it. And the puzzles or quests are often oblique. For that reason, Zelda II is often considered inferior or less of a Zelda game. However, removed from that context, Zelda II still manages to be a very fun and charming retro game that ended up being hugely influential in its era. It's tough, and you may need a guide, but it's worth the playthrough.

The cover art for Yokai Yashiki seems to promise a spooky supernatural romp, and on that end, it delivers. The premise is also sound: a platform shooter where you have to navigate a maze-like environment, collecting hidden talisman before you can unlock the level's boss. Like a Metroidvania-lite. But like many short games of this era (5 levels), the developers have extended gameplay by gating progress with oblique and unintuitive "secrets" that make navigating aimless, boring, and frustrating.

Kid Icarus seems like any other straightforward action platformer, and in 1986 why would you expect anything else? But Nintendo R&D1 really did make something innovative and cool for the time: an interesting blend of action and adventure gaming. Underneath the challenging platforming there's an experience point system, leveling up, currency and gear, and multiple endings to achieve; all along to the music of Hip Tanaka! It's a shame that it's all obfuscated in typical 1980s videogame design.