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Puzzle platformers are in their Game Boy; all's right with the world. Yes, this episode brings us not one but two—two!—puzzle action games for Game Boy. As if we'd have it any other way. As often happens, one of these is far more fun and playable than the other in hindsight, reflecting poorly on the lesser of the two. For once, the better game rece…
 
Game Boy turns its focus to the far east this episode, with an action game based on Chinese martial arts and an RPG centered on battling (and being) Japanese yōkai. Neither one is particularly world-shaking, though Kung' Fu Master does have a direct line to the early days of the NES, and ONI kicks off the Game Boy's most prolific exclusive game fra…
 
By request of Peter LaPrade, this week brings us another look at a Famicom Disk System exclusive that ended up being stranded in Japan until fairly recently: Nintendo's own Nazo no Murasame-jou. A brisk, challenge action title with a structure loosely patterned after The Legend of Zelda, Nazo no Murasame-jou seems like the kind of thing that probab…
 
By request of Joseph Adams, I've attempted this episode to explore the history of (and explain the concept of) devices powered by NES-on-a-chip tech. I'll admit up front that this is by no means a definitive or comprehensive history, as a considerable portion of this topic falls into poorly documented spaces: Unauthorized clone consoles, piracy-foc…
 
By patron request, this week's video shifts up the temporal alignment of the NES Works Gaiden series to leap forward from the end of 1984 for Famicom to the end of 1992?! Yes, that's right, we spring forward in time here to look at the Japanese equivalent of the Aladdin Deck Enhancer, except one reliant on an even bigger gimmick than simply packing…
 
Well, I survived. I made it all the way through the Othello Multivision's library. If you thought the first four games were unimpressive, that's only because you had no idea what Tsukuda Original had up its sleeve for 1984: Yet another mahjong game, a glacial Xevious clone, and Video Works' very first (of many...) horse race-betting sim. But at lea…
 
While Segaiden has covered every SG-1000 release through the end of 1984 at this point, there's technically still a set of games for the system that need to be touched on. Eight (or technically nine) unique releases for SG-1000 appeared in 1983 and ’84, under a non-Sega publisher, branded for release on a different console. Nevertheless, they're a …
 
The other two mid-’88 releases for Atari 7800 consist of yet another computer port and—wow!—the console's first original creation. Although this original creation ended up being ported to several other Atari systems, which rather undermines its exclusive appeal. Still, it's good to see a game on 7800 that hadn't already shown up in arcades and on c…
 
Before we continue with the Sega and Nintendo stuff, Atari deserves a brief stopover to see what the 7800 was up to for the first half of 1988. As it turns out, the answer is "not a whole heck of a lot." Happily, the one game to ship during this period—Lucasfilm Games' Ballblazer—has more than enough history and content behind it to support most of…
 
I haven't forgotten my other child. Metroidvania Works has reached a weird place in its chronology, where it's kind of entangled and overlapping with NES Works—as you can see from the fact that this episode's back-up feature covers the next title that will appear on that series. Of course, the main event here is a game that never reached the U.S., …
 
1984 comes to an end for the Famicom with a trio of releases that American fans will recognize from the Black Box launch era of the NES. Arriving singly in 1984 rather than en masse a year or two later amidst dozens of other games with a similar visual vibe, benighted NES releases Urban Champion and Clu Clu Land stand up a bit better here. (Exciteb…
 
Two Nintendo games and two Namco (Namcot??) titles this week to bring Famicom's 1984 lineup streaking toward its finale. I'm not sure any of these games will set anyone's heart on fire here in 2021, due to (1) the kinda mundane nature of Nintendo's releases and (2) overexposure to Namco's games. But pretend you are a small child in 1984! In that co…
 
Another step along the Road to NES Works this week as we look again at the next round of software releases for Nintendo Famicom. Unlike last time, only one of these games made its way to the U.S. on NES, the other two (Galaxian and Devil World) seemingly being skipped over due to datedness and, uh, satanism? What was this, 2021?…
 
A couple of follow-ups to 1983 releases this week, as well as a couple of games that appear to have been held over from 1983. Yes, SG-1000 begins 1984 with a hangover. Pachinko II is the affordable and expanded follow-up to Pachinko. Golgo 13 is not a sequel, despite the number in the title. It's a tie-in with a long-running manga and anime series,…
 
Now that we've seen both Nintendo and Sega's offerings for 1983, we move along to 1984 and the first wave of Famicom releases. All but one of these titles have already put in an appearance on NES Works proper as entries in the 1985 and ’86 Black Box NES launch rollout catalog, so the first half of this episode is simple a recap and reminder to give…
 
This week we hit on the two most expensive games for the SG-1000. Every console's gotta have at least one of them, right? The ultra-rare collector's chase piece that hits the brakes on any reasonable dream of ever owning a complete set? In this case, those disasterpieces are Space Slalom, a mere slip of an almost-racing game, and Pachinko, the pach…
 
Sega has always been an arcade powerhouse—even now, they run arcades in Japan. They've become fan destinations for more than just playing games; I bought taiyaki in the shape of the Sega logo at their Akihabara location a year ago. And this episode showcases just how heavily Sega plowed the arcade-to-home conversion furrow from the very start, with…
 
Only two games feature in this week's episode, because both are interesting enough (and contain a rich enough history) to merit a more in-depth discussion. First, Sindbad Mystery brings the maze chase genre to SG-1000 by adopting a number of elements seen in early games from the genre—ranging from Heiankyo Alien to Crush Roller—but approaching thes…
 
A few more Sega arcade conversions this week, featuring—unbelievably enough!—shooters and sports games. You sense a theme taking shape here, maybe? Yamato covers a lot of the same ground (so to speak) as SG-1000's earlier ocean warfare shooter, N-Sub, though it mixes things up slightly by focusing on surface warfare. Meanwhile, Star Jacker is a scr…
 
Beyond the initial trio of Compile-developed shooting games for SG-1000, we have the next four titles in the platform's library, all released on some indeterminate date in 1983. While they do help diversify the system's lineup to include something beyond shooting and combat, none of these releases manage to be particularly inspiring nearly four dec…
 
Our first dive into the SG-1000 catalog covers the three games that the internet seems convinced comprised the console's day-one releases. It's difficult to say when SG-1000 titles actually debuted, as Sega hasn't been especially granular with its published historic information. But these three carts are the first three items in the SG-1000 catalog…
 
35 years ago this week, Nintendo launched the Disk System expansion for Family Computer—one of the most important (and one of the few successful) console add-ons ever. Boosting the power, capabilities, and storage capacity of the Famicom, the Disk System helped usher in a new generation of console games... and then, console games caught up with the…
 
The road to NES Works begins here! It's difficult to know what the year 2021 has in store for us, but you can at least look forward to one constant (fingers crossed): This comprehensive deep dive into the Sega 8-bit catalog. Beginning this week, most of my effort for much of 2021 will be focused on exploring the history of the Sega SG-1000 before r…
 
In the year 198X, an elite American ex-soldier traveled into the jungle for a stealth mission that ended in a showdown with a Soviet HIND-D helicopter. Sound familiar? No, this isn't Metal Gear (that's next episode), but instead a game based on a film that very clearly has served as a primary text for Hideo Kojima through the years: Rambo, aka Firs…
 
Echoing last week's episode, this week we see a decidedly dated-looking game (City Connection) that nevertheless manages to be entertaining enough to transcend its relative age and sit comfortably in the 1988 NES lineup. On the other hand, Freedom Force is anything but dated, with some of the most stylish visuals seen to this point on NES. I'd rath…
 
A pair of old-school sports games this week—one whose quality and playability transcends its visuals, and ones whose quality and playability... do not. Nintendo's Ice Hockey, developed in collaboration with NES Volleyball creators Pax Softnica, distills the essence of the sport into a take whose simplistic style makes possible some truly accessible…
 
This week demonstrates the danger inherent in covering two games per episode as fate lands a one-two punch of mediocrity from two of the console's most dire creative combos: TOSE and Bandai, and Micronics and SNK. The results are about what you'd expect. That is to say, not so great. Dragon Power, of course, is another halfhearted attempt by Bandai…
 
By patron request of Jon, here's a follow-up to the Mega Man Legends episode from several months back: Its wonderful prequel, the Misadventures of Tron Bonne. No, it's not actually a Game Boy game. It's fine. You'll be fine. Misadventures is a weird little game, a shoestring-budget spinoff of a spinoff of a series whose sales figures were already b…
 
This episode brings the Game Gear launch window, as it were, to a finish by wrapping up the final few Japanese releases of 1990. There are a few old favorites ("favorites") here, a compromised arcade port, and a first-of-its-kind release that admittedly hasn't aged especially well. An interesting combination of titles, though, and a pretty good con…
 
Wishing you a Meli Kalikimaka this week, despite my rage over a bad game about wood and water. Thankfully, we have Rare to infuse a little holiday gratitude into the season with a very good, very fun, and very inventive take on racing: R.C. Pro-Am. It doesn't erase the nothing of a game that is T&C Surf Designs: Wood & Water Rage from existence, bu…
 
The second entry in the Final Fantasy Legend series—or SaGa, if you prefer—amped up the features, narrative, mechanics, and overall design sensibilities of the groundbreaking first game. With new races, an elaborate cosmology, inventive dungeon design, an unconventional death mechanic, and all kinds of poorly explained gameplay systems to grapple w…
 
Konami knocks it out of the park yet again with one of the greatest arcade conversions ever to hit the NES: Cooperative platform shooter Contra. It's a rare example of a coin-op title being ported faithfully to NES and somehow improving on the source material. With its tight level design, inventive bosses, impressive weapons, and slightly combative…
 
Moving beyond the three launch-day Japanese releases for Sega's Game Gear, we venture into November 1990 with three more titles that continue checking off the obligatory boxes for a new game platform: Strategy, mahjong, and platformer. Two of these games never made it to the U.S., continuing the precedent set by Pengo: Ultimately, a sizable percent…
 
Another Capcom creation this week. It's not quite up there with the company's best work, but you can see their collective spirit in action here—Gun.Smoke hits on a lot of popular Capcom beats all at once. It's a vertically scrolling shooter, themed around American pop culture (in this case, Western movies), whose home port contains a number of embe…
 
This episode brings the recent run of NES Works Gaiden episodes to a head by being both massive, sprawling, and focused on a European creation. Whew. The Aladdin Deck Enhancer is one of those NES tidbits that people have probably heard of but most likely only know through second-hand sources, such as The Angry Video Game Nerd. I don't know that I h…
 
By patron request of Jon, it's our first (of likely a fair few) full look at a European exclusive for NES: Imagineer's impressive conversion of British microcomputer classic Elite. I won't even pretend to show off the full depth of the game here; it's a complex and intricate game that requires extensive play to master, whereas I struggle with not d…
 
A pair of games that share more in common than they might appear to at first glance. Power Racer traces its history back more than a decade: It's a portable conversion of an arcade dot-gobbler that predates Pac-Man by a year. That might not seem to have much to do with the Japan-only Painter Momopie, a game about a witch with a paint roller, but ul…
 
At last, the "metroidvania" concept begins to live up to its name. Metroid was on-point from the start, but Castlevania was slower to come around to the exploratory action-RPG concept. After the baby steps of the original Castlevania (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nealF8LlXxs) and Vampire Killer (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UoXEk_vegkc), Cast…
 
Halloween season is here once again, and you know what that means: Time for more Castlevania-themed NES Works videos. It's the Pumpkin Spice of retrogaming YouTube videos. This year, we're looking at the OTHER Castlevanias—that is, the other games that relay the exact same story as the original Castlevania (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nealF8LlX…
 
While this isn't the end of our side excursions into the Atari 7800 chronology, it's the last for the time being. These four releases bring the console's lineup in line with the current state of NES Works (January 1988), and it would be a while before more games followed. Thankfully for the Atari faithful, the console's lineup with fatten up signif…
 
Our second look at the Atari 7800's release chronology takes us through the initial launch lineup and to its first post-launch title. On the whole, though, this set of games shares a lot in common with the previous episodes: Very good renditions of pre-crash arcade classics, dropped upon the world a little after their sell-by date. Don't let the un…
 
Before I dive into NES Works 1988 in earnest, it's time for me to set right a historic wrong of sorts. NES Works/Game Boy Works/et al. have focused primarily on Nintendo's legacy, but that has always been more a function of my personal time and resource limitations than any slight to Nintendo's peers in the console space. Now that I've launched my …
 
This episode is all about the number three: Our third Lynx retrospective, and the second of three for 1990, looking at third-party licensed titles for the year. Of which there were... four. Well, close enough. Perhaps even more so than the first-party Atari conversions from last episode, these four games really show off the strengths of the Lynx as…
 
Coming on the heels of the NES's faithful home conversion of the not-so-faithful arcade localization of Kunio-kun/Renegade, we have Data East's almost-classic Karnov: The tale of a fire-breathing Russian strongman (who is actually dead) out to save the world from a dragon by toting around a ladder. A somewhat strange game in the Ghosts ’N Goblins/W…
 
As 1990 winds down for Game Boy Works, it's only proper to explore the major competitor that entered the Japanese market that fall: Sega's Game Gear. Where Atari's Lynx was too poorly supported and too region-specific to pose a serious threat to Nintendo's handheld dominance, Game Gear arrived just as Sega began its meteoric 16-bit ascent in the we…
 
Ah, Game Boy: The system that ruled the world on the strength of both its portability and its support for multiplayer gaming. Remember Tetris? Remember Pokémon? Remember F-1 Race and its four-player adapter? So naturally, when Taito brought Bubble Bobble—a cooperative arcade game designed to be played (and only fully completed!) with a second playe…
 
Our first of third Lynx overviews for 1990 looks at the system's own home-brewed arcade legacy... well, sort of. Here, arcade titles by Atari Games (the game design company) make their way to a system distributed by Atari Corp. (the home computer company). Does the close connection between the two make for memorable coin-op conversions, or is Atari…
 
I had intended to take a deep dive into the history of Mr. Driller once Mr. Driller 2 showed up in Game Boy Works Advance, but then Bandai Namco had to go and remaster the best game in the series before I got there. So I've jumped the gun a bit for this combination retrospective (of the franchise) and review (of Mr. Driller DrillLand). It's terribl…
 
A second Double Dragon release for 1990 lands on Game Boy... except not really. In Japan, Double Dragon II was presented as an expanded remake of the original Renegade—which is to say, Kunio-kun's first adventure. Acclaim and Technos gave it a facelift for western release a year later, turning into a Double Dragon game in name if not in fact. Still…
 
Game Boy wasn't the most powerful portable on the market back in the early ’90s—that was Atari's Lynx. Just what did Atari have to offer gamers in the place of international hits like Mario and Tetris? With this first Lynx-centric overview, we'll look at Nintendo's contemporary handheld competition and see what the most established name in gaming b…
 
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