Tag Archives: Nintendo

Okay, Cruel World, the retro/throwback 2D games trend is officially old now

As an old person that played early side-scrolling classics like Pitfall and Jungle Hunt on his neighbors’ Atari VCS (aka 2600) consoles, I have an affinity for the genre and have played many of the recent remakes/updates/etc. Initially, I was excited by the trend but as I recently played through about half of Donkey Kong Country Returns, I realized I’m more or less over it.

My post is focused on recent releases that look to some old game(s) for all of their inspiration. I’m not including games like Sonic Colors or Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia.  Althose these games are among the latest 2D entries in long-running series, they’re not “retro” in their focus and, really, 2D games in these series never went away.

Also, I will be focusing on games for DS, PSP, Wii, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360.  Now, let’s do this.

CATEGORY 1: GAMES THAT COULD HAVE COME OUT IN 1992

This category seems the most pointless of all.  These games are made to look, sound, and play like games originally released for NES, SNES, or Genesis hardware.

Mega Man 9 (2008, Inti Creates/Capcom: Wii, X360, PS3)

Capcom released SIX Mega Man games for the NES and FIVE for the Game Boy, all of which basically look the same (although the graphics did improve incrementally).  In perhaps the most cynical retro move Capcom decided, “Hey, let’s do it again,” even though Mega Man 7, Mega Man 8, and Mega Man & Bass had been released for later systems with improved graphics.  Mega Man 9 is a very solid game and probably more innovative than a couple of the original NES releases but in some ways it takes steps backwards, removing abilities like the slide.

My credentials: beat it.

Mega Man 10 (2010, Inti Creates/Capcom: Wii, X360, PS3)

In true Capcom fashion, they decided to do it all over AGAIN.

My credentials: in true me fashion, I downloaded and still haven’t played it.

Castlevania: The Adventure Rebirth (2009, M2/Konami: Wii)

Supposedly, this is a remake of the 1989 Game Boy release, Castlevania: The Adventure.  However, I have played that game and there are very few similarities between them outside of “story”.  Anyway, this is a very serviceable release but seems especially pointless, since there were already many classic 16-bit releases in the series, including Super Castlevania IV, Castlevania Bloodlines, Castlevania (X68000), Castlevania: Rondo of Blood, and Castlevania: Dracula X.

My credentials: beat it.

Contra Rebirth (2009, M2/Konami: Wii)

Again, a serviceable release, but doesn’t really improve or expand on the classic Contra releases.  The only noticeable change for me is that the graphics are almost a bit more cartoony, which takes things ever so slightly closer to Metal Slug territory.

My credentials: beat it (the only Contra game I know of with unlimited continues).

Yoshi’s Island DS (2006, Artoon/Nintendo: DS)

Way back before I was jaded regarding the whole retro 2D trend, I was really excited for this release.  Overall, it’s easily the best game in this portion of the article but it is sickeningly loyal to the original Yoshi’s Island.  This is a problem, as its shortcomings become more apparent.  The added feature of various baby characters available to ride on Yoshi’s back feels like inconvenient fan service.  The original Yoshi’s Island sticks out in part due to its visual innovation, so it’s ironic and shameful that this game just aped its predecessor.

My credentials: beat it.

Contra 4 (2007, WayForward/Konami: DS)

Supposedly, WayForward were inspired by New Super Mario Bros. but they seem to have forgotten that that game actually had modern visual and introduced many new elements.  Contra 4 tries really hard to include every Contra convention introduced in Contra, Super Contra, and Contra III.  It doesn’t add much outside of the strictly vertical grappling hook.  It’s fun, it’s tight, but what’s old is old.

My credentials: completed only on easy setting.

PART 2: REMAKES and MIGHT-AS-WELL-BE-REMAKES

Bionic Commando (2008, Grin/Capcom: Xbox 360, PS3)

For the most part, this is pretty much a remake of the 1988 NES original.  However, the boss encounters are new, the visuals are great, there is a humorously dark attitude, and there are challenge rooms all over.  I think it’s definitely preferable to make a game like this that is basically a remake with some new elements rather than to make a “new” game that really has nothing new to offer.

My credentials: beat it.

Sonic the Hedgehog 4 (2010, Dimps/Sonic Team/SEGA: Wii, X360, PS3)

I was pretty disappointed with this one, not because I love the Genesis Sonic games (I don’t) but because I generally love the Dimps-developed Sonic games.  SEGA decided to make a game true to the spirit of the early 90s Sonic games but they went too far, and basically just remade Sonic and Sonic 2.  From what I’ve played of the game, Sonic 3 and Sonic & Knuckles featured more innovation than Sonic 4.

My credentials: played about half, got bored.

Mega Man Powered Up (2006, Capcom: PSP)

A remake of the very original Mega Man, this release adds 2 brand new levels and, consequently, 2 brand new robot masters.  The updated visuals are cute but probably a bit too blocky.  The game allows you to play through the whole game as robot masters that you’ve defeated.  That may not seem all that great on the surface, but it allows you to use a specific robot master weapon as much as you want without worrying about it being depleted.  Capcom probably should have included the levels from multiple Mega Man games, which probably would have raised the quality through the roof.

My credentials: beat it.

Mega Man: Maverick Hunter X (2006, Capcom: PSP)

An updated remake of the original Mega Man X.

My credentials: I have not played it!

PART 3: NEW BUT NOT REALLY

New Super Mario Bros. (2006, Nintendo: DS)

As a true homer, I really, really looked forward to this game.  A new side-scrolling Mario game!  The first since Super Mario Land 2!  I’m very conflicted on this release and it’s probably impossible for me to be objective but I can see for a certainty that it was way too easy.  It took me a scant 4 hours to beat the game the first time and I never, ever saw a “Game Over” screen as the game is painfully generous with power-ups and one-ups in some strange effort to make Mario’s quest as easy as can be.  I needed just 4 more hours to find all the big coins and secret paths and all that and then I was done.  And PS – I’m not even that great of a gamer.

Beyond that, New Super Mario Bros. is well-constructed but pretty uninspired.  There are new power-ups and other gimmicks but everything is so backward-focused.  There is no real innovation.  The structure feels like the developers looked at SMB3 and SMWorld and decided to ape them but with a few twists.  That isn’t much of a stretch considering the game was created by the same team that developed the Super Mario Advance re-release series on Game Boy Advance.  The old Super Mario Bros. games were largely special because of their crazy, surprising innovations.  They looked in front, not behind!

My credentials: beat it.


New Super Mario Bros. Wii (2009, Nintendo: Wii)

Well, it’s a lot longer than its predecessor.  Four players can play simultaneously, which is fun.  Too bad 2 of the players have to play as generic Toad characters.  Nintendo claimed they couldn’t use Peach because it would look strange when someone held her above their head with her dress on.  Ugh.  She regularly wears more practical clothing in the sports games, why not here?  Or why not use Wario and Waluigi?  Or, Jesus forbid, a new character.  Some of the power-ups are cool but the focus on the past continues with the reintroduction of the Koopalings.

My credentials: beat it.

Ultimate Ghosts ‘n Goblins (2006, Capcom: PSP)

Not much more forward-thinking than the New SMB games but it can be forgiven to some extent, as this game treats you like a man, not a kindergartener.  Additionally, some fundamental changes have been made, like a killed character continuing from the spot from which they perished, a warping system, an inventory (!), and non-linear gameplay.  A very worthy, well-thought-out update.

My credentials: got to the final boss door, didn’t have enough rings/keys/whatever to get in, quit, have fantasized for four years about coming back to it.

Donkey Kong Country Returns (2010, Retro Studios/Nintendo: Wii)

Retro previously developed the great Metroid Prime trilogy so I expected a lot.  And boy! I was disappointed!  This is probably not a bad game but I did not have fun playing it.  It misses the point more so than the New SMB games, as it fails to capture what really stood out about the original DKC games.  You might ask why I hold the game to the old standards; it’s because the game seems to be committed to them.  For one thing, at least in the first half of the game, I did not encounter any water levels.  I only came across Rambi once.  Also, the graphics, while of a very high quality, are not groundbreaking.  The original trilogy was known for its groundbreaking visuals and audio.  Before even considering a new DKC game, the developers should have thought of a way to make the game really stand out.

Additionally, the villains are totally lame and forgettable.  Strange, I used to think the same about the Kremlings but now I see their relative worth.  I just don’t get it.  I would have thought that Retro Studios would want to do something more original, ambitious, and rewarding after the Metroid games.  Guess not!

My credentials: played through 4 worlds.

PART 4: CONCLUSION

Yes, I have played a lot of these games and I enjoyed or at least pretended to enjoy them as I did so.  But now I am older, wiser, and skeptical-er.  Almost all of the games in this article have been topped by recent 2D releases that were inspired by the classics but have decided to move into the future.  These games include LostWinds, Shadow Complex, and Braid.

Some relatively recent games that I didn’t like

The Warriors (2005)
developer: Rockstar Toronto
publisher: Rockstar
system: PlayStation 2
GameRankings score: 83%

Like Manhunt and Bully, The Warriors uses the PS2-era Grand Theft Auto engine.  However, the gameplay is totally different.  Warriors is basically a linear, story-driven beat-em-up, supplemented with tedious graphitti assignments.  I didn’t hate this game but, like 90% of beat-em-ups, the fighting mechanics are too simple.  The characters are all totally unlikeable and mindless rampaging is actually difficult given the closed nature of this release.

Resident Evil 5 (2009)
developer/publisher: Capcom
system: Xbox 360
GameRankings score: 86%

This was a really big disappointment, especially since the dipshit critics gave it such a relatively strong score.  I swear that there is industry bias for and against certain series and I think Resident Evil is on the better end of that deal.  Going into this game, it appears to be a continuation/extension of the game mechanics introduced in the excellent Resident Evil 4.  Well, looks can be deceiving.  Yes, there’s an over the shoulder view but almost every other element from RE4 has been trashed.  The controls, everything from running to fighting to simply restoring your fucking health has been totally clunked up.  The old Resident Evils were clunky due to design/technology limitations.  In this game the clunkiness seems to be based on stupid, intentional decisions.

You may have heard of the controversy surrounding this game, which involves a great white hero gunning down armies of black zombies in Africa and how Capcom attempted to address this problem by adding a “black” sidekick character.  The sidekick is a complete failure.  She gets in the way, she holds you back, she’s annoying and she appears to be at most half-black, with very caucasian facial features.  This game was a real letdown.

The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess (2006)
developer/publisher: Nintendo
platform: GameCube
GameRankings score: 96%

I don’t hate this game but 5.5 hours in I don’t feel like playing it any more, which in my mind is a pretty big indictment for a Zelda game.  Naturally, the critics loved it but why?  Remember the first Zelda game?  A dude gives you a sword and bam! you’re off on an adventure.  Within an hour you’ve found the first dungeon.  This fucking game spends the first couple of hours on linear fetch quests that take place entirely within some dump of a village.  You can’t enter the main overworld until you’ve found someone’s cat, found someone else’s favorite baby basket, rounded up some goats, ugh.  Everyone sits in their exact spot in the village saying their exact same thing like we’re still in the Super NES days.  Link is saddled with an annoying sidekick elf/monster/whatever thing and he sometimes turns into a wolf.

The game has a great look to it but just seems to come up very short in the category of personality.  Its predecessor, The Wind Waker, had a lot of issues but it was bursting with great personality and it looks great.

Left 4 Dead (2008)
developer: Valve
publisher: EA
system: Xbox 360
GameRankings score: 89%

I bought this game because I really liked Valve’s The Orange Box compilation for Half-Life 2, Half-Life 2: Episode One, Half-Life 2: Episode Two, and Portal.  I did not give a flying fuck about the online-only multiplayer-only Team Fortress 2Left 4 Dead looks a lot like Half-Life but it’s about as deep as Team Fortress 2.  In other words, it’s basically designed for you to go online, turn off your brain, and play through its rather short missions over and over.  I can’t think of any other game with so little content that was given such a high score by the critics.

Prince of Persia (2008)
developer: Ubisoft Montreal
publisher: Ubisoft
system: Xbox 360
GameRankings score: 80%

All of the games on this list have pretty good visuals but this game definitely takes the cake in this regard.  I love the look of this particular PoP game, much more than its PS2/GameCube/Xbox predecessors.  Unfortunately, the gameplay took some really stupid steps backwards.  There are a lot of little changes that mostly feel like they were made for the sake of changing something, anything.  In the Sands of Time trilogy games, the trigger buttons were used to dash along walls in a very reliable and tightly controlled manner.  Now, you kind of jump at a wall and hope the game understands that you want to run along the wall and not jump off of it.  The fighting has been completely retooled, completely for the worse.  The one thing that very obviously improved in each Sands of Time trilogy game was the fighting, but that’s been abandoned for a hilariously stupid, slow-motion, scripted battle mechanic.  It’s too bad the action in this game sucks because the Prince seems pretty likeable, as opposed to the sad cunt found in Warrior Within and The Two Thrones.

A software recommendation: Burgertime Deluxe


developer/publisher: Data East
platform: Game Boy
year: 1991

The Game Boy, released in 1989, was host to an interesting trend that adhered to the following formula: take an iconic score-attack arcade game from the early 1980s and flesh it out into more of a levels-based game with a beginning and an end.  Examples include Game Boy Donkey Kong (Nintendo), Q*bert for Game Boy (Jaleco), and the Game Boy release of Dig Dug (specifically, the “New Dig Dug” mode).  Data East decided to add BurgerTime to this list in 1991, nine long years after the release of the arcade original.

If you like the original arcade game or any of its high-quality ports (NES, ColecoVision, Intellivision, etc.) there’s no reason why you shouldn’t like BurgerTime Deluxe.  The basic gameplay, look, sound and feel are really all intact from the original.  There are certainly some differences but none that betray the integrity of the original.  Each level now has several doors, through which the bad guys enter the playing field.  For those unfamiliar with the concept, you play as a chef named Peter Pepper, whose job is to use gravity to assemble a bunch of gigantic burgers while avoiding some murderous foodstuffs.

As in the original, Peter has a limited amount of pepper that he can use to stun his enemies.  There are also other power-ups, like a chocolate bar that grants temporary invincibility.  The enemies are largely the same but for a few additions, including a gigantic donut that comes in useful for smashing many enemies at once.  One notable new aspect is the horrific appearance of DEAD ENDS.  Yes, there are now walkways that come to an end – hope you have some pepper or you’re screwed.

The game is divided into six worlds, each containing four levels.  You have three lives to beat a world.  If you run out of lives you continue on the world you died on, rather than going all the way back to the beginning of the game.  As the game progresses, the layouts become more and more devious.  In my playthrough, beating the sixth world required many attempts and in the end involved a fair amount of planning.

If you’re a fan of BurgerTime you should definitely check this out, as it’s the only great sequel available on either home console or handheld.

Grade: B+

A software commentary: The Legend of Zelda Spirit Tracks


developed and published by Nintendo for the DS in 2009

Spirit Tracks uses two of the gimmicks from Zelda games of the last 12 years: a magical, musical instrument and a traveling vehicle. Rather than the boat from Wind Waker and Phantom Hourglass, Link now travels around in a train. This automatically makes the overworld a really restrictive place as your travel is completely confined to available railroad tracks. This never changes throughout the game. Link only moves around freely within towns and dungeons. I don’t think I ever really got over this and the fact that most of the overworld is really linear and pointless only makes it much worse. There seem to be side quests and optional errands but they all seem really pointless. Most of them are worthless and unnecessary for completion of the game. For example, you can apparently upgrade Link’s train but I never bothered and I got along fine. This weak and pointless overworld basically made it feel like half of the game was missing.

In the story, Zelda’s body has been hijacked by some Demon King and her ghost teams up with Link to restore all the railroad tracks and reclaim her body. This sets up an interesting dynamic in the game, Zelda’s ghost-like abilities. In certain dungeons, she can possess the bodies of evil knights and aid Link in the various puzzles. This presents some new and decent situations. Actually, some of the dungeon puzzles are really complex and tricky. Bring your thinking cap toward the end of the game.

However, when you get to the actual end of the game bring your anti-climax cap as, just as in Phantom Hourglass, this goddamn game does not know when to quit. On four different occasions I thought I had killed the final boss, only for someone to say some damn thing and then have the boss assume some new form or attack mode and draw things out more. It’s probably not as bad as the drawn out ending in Phantom Hourglass but it’s bad.

I recently complained a bit about The Wind Waker but it’s a very deep and satisfying game compared to this one. The only element of Wind Waker that is topped by Spirit Tracks is the musical instrument, a pan flute that you actually play by blowing into the mic. There are many cool, individual pieces in the Spirit Tracks puzzle but somehow they never all came together for me. Out of the 13 single-player Zelda games released by Nintendo, I would probably rank Spirit Tracks at the bottom of the list (I have yet to play Twilight Princess). That probably sounds pretty bad but the Zelda series is top-notch and even the weakest series is still at least pretty good.

If you’re a Zelda fan in general then you will almost certainly enjoy this game. However, if you have yet to delve into the world of Zelda, there are several other games you might want to check out first.

Zelda clones and offspring

As you may have noticed from a previous post, I recently finished The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask, which means I have beaten 10 Zelda games and have 3 to go (not counting the Four Swords spin-off games or the awful licensed games for CD-i).  Now, finishing 3 Zelda games is no small task and it’ll probably be awhile before I’ve actually done so, but I can’t help looking to the future.  When I’ve beaten all the Zeldas, what will I do when I want a Zelda fix but don’t want to replay a previously finished game?  Well, fortunately, there are many Zelda clones out there.  I’ve assembled this list for myself as much as anything but I’ll share it here for those other forlorn gamers that have rescued Hyrule as many times as possible. Note: I am ONLY including the games that by reputation are considered worthwhile. I’m not including any that are generally considered crap because I don’t want to play them!

Note 1: Before we start, bear in mind that I have not played most of these games. So, if I categorize a game incorrectly, just let me know!

Note 2: With each game I will list 2 ratings. The first rating, from GameFAQs, represents scores from amateur reviewers. The second rating, from GameRankings, represents scores from “professional” reviewers. Okay, let’s go!

Part 1: A rose by any other name . . .

Unapolagetic, Unabashed CLONES! These are the games that make little to no effort to hide their Zelda-ish-ness.

Golden Axe Warrior (Master System, SEGA, 1991)
what a terrible cover illustration
I have to start with this game because, OH, GOD, just look at the screenshots!

Yep, this is a major rip-off but fans seem to like it for what it is. Interestingly, this game came out in 1991, five years after the original Zelda was released in Japan. What made SEGA think that, after all that time, they needed their own Zelda clone? And for the Master System, no less, when the SNES/Genesis war was well underway? And how did the Golden Axe property get mixed up in the whole thing? Another interesting note – SEGA never bothered to release the game in Japan.
GameFAQs: 8.3 (3 reviews) GameRankings: N/A

Neutopia (TurboGrafx-16, Hudson, 1990)

I mainly started with Golden Axe warrior because it was so blatantly derivative. However, Hudson beat SEGA to the punch by one year with a slightly less derivative offering, story and all. See fo’ yo’ self.

GameFAQs: 8.0 (6 reviews) GameRankings: N/A

Neutopia II (TurboGrafx-16, Hudson, 1991)

Hudson didn’t waste any time releasing a follow-up. Both games are supposed to be pretty good in spite of their shamelessness.

GameFAQs: 7.0 (1 review) GameRankings: N/A

Crusader of Centy (Genesis, NexTech/SEGA, 1994)

Unlike the previously-mentioned games, this one supposedly has some original and unique aspects in story and concept, like some sort of animal training and monster philosophy. However, just LOOK at those screenshots.

GameFAQs: 7.6 (7 reviews) GameRankings: 8.0 (1 review)

Part 2: I’m Breathless: Music From and Inspired by the Film Dick Tracy

This section contains games that take the Zelda formula and wrap it up in new clothes. These games have enough of their own feel that they have established their own fan bases, unlike the games in Part 1, whose only legacy is “play this if you want more action in the style of the first Zelda game.” However, all of the games in this section are usually described as, “it’s like Zelda but . . .”

The Battle of Olympus (NES, Infinity/Imagineer, 1988)

“It’s like Zelda but in ancient, mythology-inspired Greece.” More specifically, it’s like the Zelda black sheep, Zelda II: The Adventure of Link. Reputedly, it’s a bit more action-oriented and less RPG-oriented than its inspiration. This game has some pretty rabid supporters, too.

GameFAQs: 8.3 (12 reviews) GameRankings: N/A

Willow (NES, Capcom, 1989)

Oh, look! One of the few games on this list that I’ve actually completed! A year after the film of the same name was released, Capcom managed to finish off this beauty. “It’s like Zelda but in the world of Willow,” which isn’t exactly all that different from the world of Zelda. However, this game is far from derivative and very much has its own identity. There is a lot of item acquisition and there are dungeons, but there’s less of an overworld/dungeon/overworld/dungeon process. The setup is a bit more RPG-ish than most Zelda games. I thoroughly enjoyed the music and revisited certain areas just to hear it.

GameFAQs: 8.5 (11 reviews) GameRankings: N/A

Crystalis (NES, SNK, 1989)

“It’s like Zelda but more RPG-ish and with a storyline.” This game does look like Zelda on the surface but its fans, and there are many, claim that it is superior to the original in every way. Maybe so!

GameFAQs: 9.3 (29 reviews) GameRankings: N/A

StarTropics (NES, Nintendo, 1990)

“It’s like Zelda but in a modern setting and with a yo-yo instead of a sword.” This game was developed by Nintendo’s Punch-Out!! team and wasn’t released in good ol’ Japan.

GameFAQs: 8.6 (30 reviews) GameRankings: N/A

Zoda’s Revenge: StarTropics II (NES, Nintendo, 1994)

This little-known sequel was released four years later and only in the USA. Poor guy.

GameFAQs: 8.8 (16 reviews) GameRankings: N/A

Final Fantasy Adventure (Game Boy, SquareSoft, 1991)

Oh! Another game I’ve actually beaten! “It’s like Zelda but in a Final Fantasy world.” This is actually the first game in the Mana (or Seiken Densetsu) series and bore the title, Final Fantasy Gaiden: Seiken Densetsu, in Japan. At first glance it looks a lot like Zelda but the overall feel is pretty different, with that darker Final Fantasy tone. There are many RPG trappings like leveling up and magic points and the items/weapons acquired throughout the game are more destructive than what you’d normally find in Zelda games (like blades and clubs on chains). I understand the SNES Mana games are less Zelda-ish but this one certainly belongs in Part 2 of this article and I would definitely recommend it.

GameFAQs: 8.8 (26 reviews) GameRankings: 8.2 (6 reviews)

LandStalker (Genesis, Climax/SEGA, 1992)

“It’s like Zelda but with an anti-hero, platforming, and an isometric viewpoint.” This one also has pretty rabid supporters.

GameFAQs: 8.7 (15 reviews) GameRankings: 8.7 (2 reviews)

Beyond Oasis (Genesis, Ancient/SEGA, 1994)

“It’s like Zelda but in a middle-Eastern setting and with brawling.” One reviewer described the game as a mash-up of Zelda and the Streets of Rage series. Sounds like a nice change of pace!

GameFAQs: 8.1 (13 reviews) GameRankings: 8.4 (3 reviews)

Legend of Oasis (Saturn, Ancient/SEGA, 1996)

The sequel to Beyond Oasis, but now with “Legend of” in the title to make the Zelda connection clearer. Thank you for that!
Now that's a big kick!
GameFAQs: 7.7 (3 reviews) 7.8 (3 reviews)

Alundra (PlayStation, Matrix/Sony, 1997)

“It’s like Zelda but in 32 bits and with some jumping.” The main character is even elfin in appearance.

GameFAQs: 7.9 (32 reviews) GameRankings: 8.5 (11 reviews)

StarFox Adventures (GameCube, Rare/Nintendo, 2002)
Dinosaur Planet
If you hadn’t already guessed, this game is “like Zelda but with the StarFox cast and conventions.” Here’s how it came about. In the N64 days, Rare had made something of a habit of making high-quality “clones” of Japanese Nintendo games. Super Mario 64 begat Banjo-Kazooie and Donkey Kong 64 and Mario Kart 64 begat Diddy Kong Racing. Eventually, Rare decided to make a Zelda game for the N64, entitled Dinosaur Planet. Shigeru Miyamoto got a look at it, noticed the protagonist was furry, and commanded Rare to convert the game into a StarFox installment for the GameCube. Anyway, the gameplay is Zelda 64 to the core, with the L-button aiming, button mapping and auto-jump. After this release, Rare and Nintendo divorced.

GameFAQs: 7.7 (66 reviews) GameRankings: 8.0 (80 reviews)

Sphinx and the Cursed Mummy (PlayStation 2/Xbox/GameCube, Eurocom/THQ, 2003)

The general consensus is that this game is like Zelda but in ancient, mythology-inspired Egypt. The main innovation is the addition of a jump button.

PlayStation 2 version – 8.6 (8 reviews) 7.9 (33 reviews)
Xbox version – 8.0 (2 reviews) 8.1 (21 reviews)
GameCube version – GameFAQs: 8.0 (9 reviews) 7.9 (25 reviews)

Beyond Good & Evil (PlayStation 2/Xbox/GameCube/PC, Ubisoft Montpelier/Ubisoft, 2003)

The protagonist is a photographer of some sort and the setting is kinda sci-fi. I don’t know much else but it’s always described as a Zelda clone. It has developed a really fervent cult following and was respected by the critics. Supposedly, a sequel is on the way.

PlayStation 2 version – GameFAQs: 8.1 (34 reviews) GameRankings: 8.7 (57 reviews)
Xbox version – GameFAQs: 9.1 (27 reviews) GameRankings: 8.8 (52 reviews)
GameCube version – GameFAQs: 8.9 (33 reviews) GameRankings: 8.8 (43 reviews)
PC version – GameFAQs: 8.9 (9 reviews) GameRankings: 8.3 (23 reviews)

Okami (PlayStation 2/Wii, Clover Studio/Capcom, 2006/2007)
doggy
Unlike most of the games on this list, Okami enjoyed a pretty healthy marketing and hype push. Interestingly, it came out in the same year as a high profile Zelda release, Twilight Princess, and the reviews often described it as a “Zelda-killer” or as having “out-Zelda’d Zelda.” Pretty big talk! So, yeah, it’s like Zelda but in an ancient, mythology-inspired Japan, and the protagonist is a divine dog. The game was especially praised for its beautiful, painting-like visuals. This was the last game Clover Studio developed before Capcom dissolved them and the principal members left to form Platinum Games. There’s a sequel on the way for DS.

PlayStation 2 version – GameFAQs: 9.5 (52 reviews) GameRankings: 9.2 (75 reviews)
Wii version – GameFAQs: 8.9 (27 reviews) GameRankings: 9.0 (47 reviews)

Part 3: All in the Family

This section is a quick overview of games that bear superficial similarities to Zelda and are probably influenced by Zelda but are not by any means clones and that break out of the mold in several meaningful ways. Perhaps I will write more about these games at a later date but for now I’m including the following in this category.

Mana series, including Secret of Mana, Seiken Densetsu 3, Sword of Mana, and the bastard stepchild, Secret of Evermore.

SoulBlazer series, including SoulBlazer, Illusion of Gaia, and Terranigma.

Shining series, including I’m not even sure which games el oh el.

Zenonia series, the series that’s dominating on iPhone of late.

END

I’m glad that all these clones exist because there are too many elements that the Zelda games hold onto with unnecessary stubbornness.  Why is the setting always medievel-Europe-looking’?  Why is the star always a little, elfin, blond boy?  Anyway, you have your orders. As for me, I still have to beat three more Zelda games before I can seven dig into the list. If you disagree with my categorization, let me know. If you love one of the above-mentioned games and think I should play it first, let me know. Goodbye.

Mario Family Tree

it looks as if i’m taking over matt’s specialty section of the blog today.

here’s another nerdy video game post:

some amazing person made a mario games family tree.

check out the full tree via geekologie

scott

Nintendo Championships 2009

JJGames.com, based out of denver, just re-created the nintendo world championships and nintendo campus challenge in their “retro games championship”. i guess the owner of this company has the elusive gold cartridges from both competitions, and used them as reference for the competition. (as an aside, these cartridges cost him a total of $31,500) 

duplicate carts were made based on the ROMs, and they set them up on 10 screens for the competition. 5 screens for the world championship, in which players had to get 50 coins in super mario bros., finish a special rad racer track, and get as many points as possible in tetris before the time reached 6:21, and 5 screens for the campus challenge (based off the 1991 competition), where players had to get 25 coins in super mario bros. 3, 100,000 points in pinbot, and highest score in dr. mario also before the 6:21 time limit.

sounds like fun! maybe next year they’ll include re-creations of the star fox: super weekend and nintendo powerfest ’94?

JJGames.com | Retro Game Championship 2009

scott