While I really liked the Streets of Rage series, I never actually played any of them on my own Mega Drive. I only bought games that would last me longer. And my most favourite of them all was a historical gem by Koei called Uncharted Waters: New Horizons. It was a seafaring RPG set in the 16th century, and you could pick among 6 characters, each with his/her own story to follow – practically, the game stayed fresh for at least 6 playthroughs! New Horizons was something amazing for its time with its elaborate world map representing our world extremely well, and the deep, but easy enough to understand mechanics covering plenty of aspects like sea battles, one-on-one duels, port economy, trading, country alliances, wars, piracy… The list goes on.
New Horizons was a game I invested a good several hundreds of hours into, and that speaks enough of its quality. It’s a simulation and RPG into one – you don’t NEED to follow your character’s story, you can just roam the seas and sink enemy ships or explore the entire world at your leisure. I know how much fun I had making a badass pirate out of the Italian adventurer Pietro Conti who has the lowest Courage stat among the 6 you can choose from. And speaking of Pietro, it’s his theme that I chose to share with you this week. Enjoy!
Composer: Yoko Kanno
Game: Uncharted Waters: New Horizons
Song: Theme of Pietro
P. S. Yes, the composer is THE Yoko Kanno, who would later become quite famous for her work on anime series like Macross, Cowboy Bebop, Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, etc.
Metro 2033 had always been a title that fascinated me in general, as the post-apocalyptic setting and the Russian feel of the game are just not something you’ll find regularly in games. And recently, user Jinxtah from the Between Life and Games’ forum sang praises for the game, further convincing me to give it a shot soon. Finally, my Easter break (Orthodox Easter was in early May this year) allowed me some free time in my hometown and away from my PS3. I’d already got Metro 2033 from the Humble THQ Bundle a while ago, so it was a matter of downloading and installing it on my computer. Not long after, I was into the world of the Moscow Metro…
Game: Metro 2033
Developer: 4A Games
Platforms: PC, Xbox 360
Original release: 2010
Metro 2033 is based on the novel by Russian author Dmitry Glukhovsky, which, interestingly, was first published on the internet in 2002, chapter by chapter by the author. Only in 2005, after becoming really popular online, was it published as an actual paper book. The game is a first-person shooter, a genre I’m not a particularly huge fan of. But the atmosphere makes it truly one of a kind – the dark, endless tunnels of the Metro are humanity’s last hope, while the surface is a desolate land, where endless nuclear winter and mutants reign, and the air is not breathable. But the hellish post-war creatures do not just stay on the surface, they try to take over the tunnels and destroy the humans. And even in the face of such adversity, humans are not united, there are warring factions and struggle for power among the mere 40,000 survivors living in the Metro. Our hero and his brothers in arms are the only ones who preserve the glimmering hope of our species.
Screenshots in the review have been taken by me during my playthrough. And one important note before I continue – play the game with the Russian voices – I cannot recommend this enough. You can still use English subtitles if you don’t understand the language. The English voices with the thick Russian accent are charming, but… just not the same.
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As I said last time, Streets of Rage 3 is the best game in the (canon) series, and the same goes for its soundtrack. Back in the day, before I could save up enough for my own Mega Drive, I’d go to these video game clubs where you could pay to play for a certain amount of time. One day, me and my brother were playing Bare Knuckle III (the Japanese version of this game), and were on the last boss just before our prepaid time was up, when some kid just went and shut down our console… I was so angry, I grabbed him and tossed him onto the ground, as we had to wait a while until our next chance to beat this game.
But, of course, we eventually did. And the awesome twist with the multiple endings, the Japanese version-only “bonuses,” and the depth of the story solidified number 3 as my favourite in the series. For this week, I’ve chosen its boss theme to share with you.
Composer: Motohiro Kawashima
Game: Streets of Rage 3
The first Street of Rage was followed by another one before too long, with the third game being the culmination of the series – an opinion a lot of people disagree with… Probably because they didn’t play the DEFINITIVE Streets of Rage 3 version, the Japanese one. Anyway, for this week, we’re still on the second game, and I’ve picked a song from it called “Alien Power”. Its soundtrack was also quite rad, but I would say the third game got it beat in this department, too! But, for my pick from SoR 3, you’ll have to wait until next week.
Composer: Yuzo Koshiro
Game: Streets of Rage 2
Song: Alien Power
Okay, so, if you made it this far, then you’ll know that this is a review for the fan-made Pokemon game, Pokemon Quartz. This was developed by a guy who goes by the handle of Baro and features 386 new Pokemon. That’s right, you heard me, new fan-made Pokemon sprites. Which is pretty much the only reason I agreed to play this game, otherwise I’d be off playing the actual Nintendo games which, I’ll admit, would whittle away at my productivity just as quickly as this one probably will.
I have my bottle of vanilla coke, some biscuits and the certainty of adult onset diabetes, so keep reading as I enter the world of Pokemon Quartz! Stay right there!
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Third-party support for the Mega Drive/Genesis was amazing, but SEGA’s own first-party titles were also a big factor in the console’s success and its ability to beat its amazing competitor for a long time worldwide. Beat-’em-ups were all the rage (get it?) in the 90s, and SEGA made sure to ride this wave, creating a series that would become legendary and retain its dedicated following for over a couple of decades now. The first Streets of Rage game wasn’t exactly the most polished brawler, although it did have its strong points, such as the unique super attack. But it featured some really rad music, and for this week, I’ve picked the Boss Theme from that game.
Composer: Yuzo Koshiro
Game: Streets of Rage
Song: Boss Theme
Another awesome game by EA from the 16-bit era was Skitchin’, which seemed to use Road Rash’s engine. Except you weren’t a biker this time, you were instead on roller blades. An important step towards winning (and where the game’s name was derived from) was grabbing onto the back of a car going your way and holding onto it for as long as you could, allowing you to preserve energy and generally stay out of harm’s way. Skitchin’ had an awesome 16-bit metal soundtrack, and the song I’ve chosen for this week is called “Cheese Grater”.
Composer: Jeff van Dyck
Song: Cheese Grater
The Mega Drive was a really amazing console, and Castlevania wasn’t the only third-party game that rocked. The much smaller then Electronic Arts released a series of three awesome games on the system, called Road Rash. The theme was simple – motorcycle racing, you had to win those races, make cash and buy better bikes with it – so that you can win that harder races that come later. You could steal weapons from the other bikers and use them to make their lives hell. Races were, of course, illegal, and you could get smashed by a car, or get arrested by the patrolling police officers. The three were among the most fun 16-bit games… And every next iteration was better.
The music was quite rad, too. This week, I’ll share with you one of the best themes from the third game, which played during the race taking place in Brazil. Enjoy!
Composers: Michael Bartlow, Ron Hubbard
Game: Road Rash 3
Song: Brazil Stage
“2D Minecraft” is a very short description of Terraria that I’ve heard somewhere… I disliked Minecraft quite a bit when I tried it, it’s one of the recent crazes I just couldn’t understand. But I thought I’d give Terraria a chance. After all, it’s 2D, pixely, it should have some charm, right? Wrong! I downloaded the PSN demo this weekend, and gave it a couple of tries… I was disappointed. The picture you see below has way more charm than the demo itself.
Platforms: PC; PlayStation Network (playable on both PS3 and PS Vita), Xbox Live Arcade
Original release: 2011
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Birds of Prey is a flight simulation game released in 1991 for the Commodore Amiga and PC. It was developed by Argonaut Software and published by Electronic Arts. It is my favourite Commodore Amiga flight-sim, and one of the few original games I actually owned.
When you load up the first disk you are treated to what was (back in 1991) one of the best intro movies on the Amiga. I showed this to my friends many times to try and impress them. The intro shows a dogfight between 4 modern fighters and used to remind me of Top Gun.
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