After I published the Top 10 Hidden NES Gems list, several readers (especially people from GameFAQs) immediately suggested other hidden NES gems that I had missed. I hadn’t had the chance to play most of those, and I quickly found and added them to my PSP. Many 5-minute trials later, I had chosen the next NES game to play, and it was Vice: Project Doom, a game that would have surely made that list had I played it earlier. It managed to grab me from the very beginning, and that’s not an easy task for an NES game, with many of the best ones starting slow or just being notoriously difficult from the get-go (I’m looking at you, Bionic Commando).
Vice: Project Doom had no such problems. After a couple of cool cutscenes (the one played if you wait a while on the title screen being quite intriguing), I found out that it was a cool car game a la Spy Hunter where you could shoot at your enemies from your car. A couple minutes later, I found out that it was just one of the several playstyles the game offered (later I’d find out there were three in total). The most stages in the game are side-scroller ones, with the aforementioned driving and also first-person shooting via moving a target across the screen taking place in a few of them. The game is just great fun, it offers a good challenge, but keeps it reasonable (there are infinite continues, making it possible for a first-time player with a little patience to beat it without abusing save states).
Game: Vice: Project Doom
Original release: 1991
Territories: Japan (released under the name Gun-Dec), North America
This is another review where I am providing my own screenshots, captured, like Wonder Boy’s, on the PSP.
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Metal Gear is still the theme of the series, this week I’ve chosen an amazing song from the incredibly emotional Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater – my personal favourite Metal Gear game and the first one where the player got the privilege to control the legendary soldier, Big Boss. It’s Starsailor’s “Way to Fall.”
Game: Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater
Song: Way to Fall
In a world full of run-of-the-mill shooters, sequels, and even indie games that try so hard to be different, they end up looking the same, Scarygirl is a game that really stands out. While the game in itself is not that different from your typical 2D platformer, the art style is incredible, and it was the first thing that impressed me and prompted me to play all three Scarygirl games available.
Platforms: Xbox Live Arcade, PlayStation Network, PC
Original release: 2012
The Scarygirl I’m reviewing here, the PSN/XBLA/PC version, is the most polished of the three, but I have to also highly recommend the browser version, which is the best browser game I’ve ever played (and you can pass on the PlayStation Minis version, which is a watered-down version of the browser one – but it’s still the one that got me into the Scarygirl franchise because it was free with PS Plus during the period when PS Plus was free due to the PSN hacking fiasco ).
Scarygirl is a 2.5D platformer (the game takes place in 3D environments, but movement is in one 2D plane at a time) with a nice combat system which has combos and blocking. It supports couch co-op for 2 players (a feature many game developers seem to have forgotten about) and is a good deal of fun with a partner. The gameplay is quite varied, featuring, aside from the normal platforming, also swimming and wall-climbing segments. Jumping is a bit floaty and not precise enough, but you can fly a small distance forward through the air by holding the jump button. The bizarre art style is truly the highlight, it gives the game a unique feel and a lot of charm.
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Recently, Square Enix registered the FinalFantasyVIIPC.com domain, so we knew they were up to something. Today, thanks to Google’s cache, we have found out what. The PC version of the RPG classic is coming to Steam!
The Steam version will apparently sport:
- 36 achievements
- Cloud saving (get it? )
- “Character booster” option – allowing you to increase HP, MP and Gil values with the click of a button (kind of like the fan-made cheat utilities that modified your save file in the original PC version)
The price is set at €9.99/?7.99.
No release date yet, but we should hear about that soon enough!
The page is password-protected now, but just click “Cancel” a few times and the text on the page will load. While nothing about Steam is explicitly mentioned, the fact that there are achievements and cloud saving, coupled with Square Enix already using Steam when selling downloadable PC game copies on its site, leaves little room for doubt.
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Metal Gear is a really special series for many gamers. What I often like to point out that it was already amazing even before it went 3D with Metal Gear Solid in 1998… Already in 1990, with Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake, Kojima had laid out the foundation for what would become one of the most thrilling sagas in gaming. It is an amazing game even today, and it’s mind-blowing how ahead of its time it was. Hidden for many years from non-Japanese gamers, the MSX gem resurfaced with Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsistence, where the original two games were included (if with some alterations to the character names and faces). Subsistence was quite rare, but with the MGS3 HD version, part of the Metal Gear Solid HD Collection, you can now easily play it (although it’s always best to see the MSX version with Snake looking a lot like Mel Gibson).
The soundtrack was one of the reasons why Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake was so awesome. “Frequency 140.85″ is the song from it that I’ve chosen for this week.
Composers: KONAMI KuKeiHa CLUB
Game: Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake
Song: Frequency 140.85
The second review of a game on the original PlayStation I will do is of a game that came out relatively late in the console’s lifespan. Like Xenogears, Vagrant Story is one of the less known Squaresoft gems. It is a single-person dungeon-crawler action RPG with a really unique concept and design choices. It’s also not a very long game – it took me under 30 hours of playtime to beat. Playing through it was a very interesting experience, and I will elaborate why.
Game: Vagrant Story
Platforms: PlayStation; PlayStation 3, PlayStation Portable, PlayStation Vita (PSOne Classics)
Original release: 2000
Vagrant Story is set in Ivalice, the world of Final Fantasy Tactics, however, it takes place many years in the future and the two games are practically unrelated. The setting is medieval, with dukes, knights, swords, all that jazz. There is, of course, also magic, and already in the intro you see some very strange things happen that make you wonder just what kind of world is this game throwing you into.
You take the role of a single protagonist named Ashley Riot, and that sets Vagrant Story apart from most other RPGs – you have to watch over your character carefully because, if he dies, it’s an immediate game over. You do not have party members to revive you. Nevertheless, once you get used to that, you can immerse in the really rich gameplay and start looking for the best ways to use the particular mechanics for your purposes. An interesting thing to note is that Vagrant Story features a bunch of fascinating cube puzzles. You encounter them occasionally, and solving them is necessary to progress further in the game. But I’ll get to the specifics in a bit.
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This week’s game music is rather special – it’s my favourite song from my favourite video game soundtrack… Castlevania: Symphony of the Night was a single-disc game and, if you put the CD in your computer, you would notice that about 3/4 of the data on it was the music! The sound quality was absolutely stunning, as well as the quality of the songs themselves. There were classical compositions, there were more modern sounding ones – they varied, but all were top-notch. There was even the neat bonus of an extra track if you put the game disc in your CD player.
The Tragic Prince plays in one of the best stages of the game, the Clock Tower. A fitting theme for the badass protagonist, Alucard, to show off his abilities and destroy his enemies.
Composer: Michiru Yamane
Game: Castlevania: Symphony of the Night
Song: The Tragic Prince
This year’s E3 was spectacularly mediocre, what with many people expecting PS4/Xbox 720 to be unveiled, and they weren’t. Not even Nintendo managed to hype its upcoming Wii U console that well. Nevertheless, a lot of stuff still happened, many new games were shown, and a lot of new information regarding already announced games was revealed. Even if it didn’t meet our expectations, it was still E3… If you’re a gamer, it’s bound to excite you at least a little bit.
Here’s a summary of the happenings at the five major conferences (Microsoft, EA, Ubisoft, Sony, Nintendo), along with my comments. The items in bold are the biggest announcements each company made in the respective conference.
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Continuing the “vocals in video game songs” theme, this week’s game music of the week is Lucia’s Theme from Lunar: Eternal Blue – the English, SEGA/Mega CD version. It’s a really nice, touching song, fitting nicely with the game’s theme. I prefer this one to the PlayStation Eternal Blue Complete version – Kelly’s voice is just nicer to listen to than Jennifer Stigle’s.
If you haven’t played the two main Lunar games and you like RPGs, give them a shot! While the stories themselves aren’t THAT special, the casts are awesome (Ghaleon being one of my favourite game characters), and Working Designs’ localisation work is top-notch, making the English versions retain the hilarity of the Japanese ones.
Composer: Noriyuki Iwadare
Singer: Kelly Weaver
Game: Lunar: Eternal Blue (SEGA/Mega CD)
Song: Lucia’s Theme
NES is not my first game system, that was an Atari 2600 Jr., but I’ve got really fond memories of the NES, as it was a vital part of my early years as a gamer, especially in middle school. And let’s face it – there were just so many great games on it. Some people, usually having started in the 16-bit era or later, just love to reduce the NES’s significance, as far as games are concerned, to “Mario 1 and 3, the original Zelda and Mega Man”… But, having much more experience with the system than them, I know they are wrong. And this list is already good enough proof. Don’t expect to find any famous games here. These are the Top 10 hidden NES gems.
See the list