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Review Archives (Staff Reviews)

You are currently looking through staff reviews for games that are available on every platform the site currently covers. Below, you will find reviews written by all eligible authors and sorted according to date of submission, with the newest content displaying first. As many as 20 results will display per page. If you would like to try a search with different parameters, specify them below and submit a new search.

Available Reviews
Soul Blazer (SNES)

Soul Blazer review (SNES)

Reviewed on January 13, 2004

There was a time when you’d play a game like The Legend of Zelda, and feel that strong emotional attachment grow with every swing of your sword. Today, you play games like Final Fantasy 8, and feel a similar (but not quite the same) sort of emotion while the CD loads, and your controller rests relatively untouched in your hands, little different than that DVD remote. Enter Soulblazer.
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R-Type III: The Third Lightning (SNES)

R-Type III: The Third Lightning review (SNES)

Reviewed on January 13, 2004

The knock on R-Type III is that it is insanely difficult, and it's not of the frustrating 'this game cheats!' ilk either. The control is absolutely flawless, so that when you die, it's your fault, and you'll know it. You'll respect the ingenuity that went into making the game corner you and force your hand. Because it is a pattern shooter, you cannot rely on extraordinary reflexes alone to blast through it from beginning to end. Positioning and knowledge of the enemy's weak points and using the right weapon for the right situation, as well as knowing where to position your Device are the keys to victory here.
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Phalanx (SNES)

Phalanx review (SNES)

Reviewed on January 13, 2004

The generic shooter elements are all here; changing ship speed on the fly, the unimportant story, four weapons that can each be powered up several times over, and the necessary ‘weapon twist’, which is what separates one shooter from any other. R-Type has it’s Force Device, Gradius has its selectable avenues of powering up—Phalanx has a sort of ‘limit break’ where you can use your current weapon on a pumped up level, only to lose it after the laser fire subsides.
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Out of This World (SNES)

Out of This World review (SNES)

Reviewed on January 13, 2004

The game looks like something manifested from the pages of a H.P. Lovecraft novella. Nightmarish scenery wraps itself around Lester, from the rocky terrain beneath his feet, to the jagged mountain range in the distance, to the strange moons that look down on his plight. But the gameplay itself closely resembles the infuriating old school Jordan Mechner creation.
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Lagoon (SNES)

Lagoon review (SNES)

Reviewed on January 13, 2004

And my goodness, how Lagoon PLAYS. The 'sword' that you wield is little more than a potato peeler. Its range is excruciatingly limited, and that coupled with inane collision detection makes for horrible battles. The fact that EXCESSIVE level building is necessary to advance pass the difficult bosses, simply exacerbates an already frustrating fighting experience.
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Imperium (SNES)

Imperium review (SNES)

Reviewed on January 13, 2004

Imperium's power up system takes a bit of practice to master, and Vic Tokai only offer us three continues. As such, the game will seem challenging on even the Easy and Normal modes at first for most players. But after a day or so, most shoot-em-up veterans will start finishing the game with little trouble. The Hard mode offers a more balanced mission for these players, and the limited chances should keep them from the ending screen for awhile longer.
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Gradius III (SNES)

Gradius III review (SNES)

Reviewed on January 13, 2004

Gradius III, being one of the first shooters to grace the then fledgling Super NES console, is plagued with more than its fair share of slowdown. It’s not so noticeable in the manageable confines of the Easy game, but crank the hard meter up even one notch, and the increase in enemy and projectile activity will create a crawling chaos onscreen.
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Final Fight (SNES)

Final Fight review (SNES)

Reviewed on January 13, 2004

Wielding pipes and swords in addition to being able to toss about knives helps keep the gameplay fresh, as your actual hand-to-hand repertoire is limited to pounding one button continuously to unleash a series of kicks and punches before a knockdown is scored. You can also jump kick foes to effect an immediate knockdown of lesser damage. Pressing both buttons simultaneously will have your character execute a spin move that is unique to him. Haggar performs a lariat, and Cody does a spinning kick. Sadly, Guy's spinning kick is M.I.A. along with him, so that the coolest character and the coolest move are lost in one go.
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Final Fantasy: Mystic Quest (SNES)

Final Fantasy: Mystic Quest review (SNES)

Reviewed on January 13, 2004

The reason for Mystic Quest's being is an interesting one (and a humourous one, depending on how serious you are about the genre and what side of the Pacific you're on). It seems that Squaresoft wanted to present a dumbed down taste of Japan's favourite genre to uncultured, slow-of-mind North Americans so that we could adjust to the inherent complexity of the RPG, and allow our brain cells time to grow in anticipation of the oncoming deluge of ever more mind-blasting RPG perplexity. Needless to say, the intended market found the move to be insulting and quite unnecessary. However, as I have already let on, if Mystic Quest failed to nail down a beginner RPG player niche, it accomplished something else just as meaningful.
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Earth Defense Force (SNES)

Earth Defense Force review (SNES)

Reviewed on January 13, 2004

The only thing that we likely have forever branded on our crumpled shmupper’s ego is the painful memory of that relentless, recalcitrant, snapping turtle head. Flashbacks of his refusal to let you win, to let the immemorially inevitable story of the hero beating back the wicked and saving earth take its course, will haunt you until the world ends. Did you used to cheer for Cobra during G.I. Joe reruns? Score one for the bad guys!
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Darius Twin (SNES)

Darius Twin review (SNES)

Reviewed on January 13, 2004

If you’ve played a Darius game before—and most shooter fans have—the boss encounters won't floor you. The familiar siren sounds along with a dramatic written warning that both names, and describes, the oncoming sea-dwelling behemoth. But the actual names in Twin are priceless. As over-the-top dramatic as they are, (e.g.: a tortoise named Full Metalshell) they are quite in keeping with the wailing, alarming tracks that enthuse in the background. A boss encounter in Twin is like a episode-ending Voltron battle: all hype.
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Super Nova (SNES)

Super Nova review (SNES)

Reviewed on January 13, 2004

Darius has always been about some evil force known as ''Belser'' that threatens life as we know it and so they’ve got hell to pay, and your role is to ensure proper remittance. Shamefully, Super Nova recycles this old shooter story cliché in the most cliché way possible; they give us a short history of some nondescript previous battle in the Darius annals, and then they tell us in all their wisdom of history’s tendency to repeat itself. DON'T YOU SEE?! IT'S HAPPENING AGAIN.
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BlaZeon: The Bio-Cyborg Challenge (SNES)

BlaZeon: The Bio-Cyborg Challenge review (SNES)

Reviewed on January 13, 2004

There are few redeeming factors to be found in this strange game, where the first level is the most exciting. Truly, it is all downhill from there. To be fair, the boss music is great, that fourth level boss encounter is nice, and most of the characters don’t look too bad. Unfortunately, that’s not nearly enough to make even an average shooter out of Blazeon. Far too much of the game feels like a typical shooter ending. Slow-scrolling screens prompt you to put down your controller and watch the poorly drawn graphics fill the panorama. Often the only indication that it’s not just a bad cinematic sequence is that you can still shoot.
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Axelay (SNES)

Axelay review (SNES)

Reviewed on January 13, 2004

Listen to that. It’s the sound of crescendoing drums and bass line as you begin the game, and excitably contemplate the weapon select screen. It will only get better. From the Robotech inspired level two track, to the haunting, otherworldly undersea imaginings of level four, your ears are met with constant, engaging quality.
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Zillion II: The Tri-Formation (Sega Master System)

Zillion II: The Tri-Formation review (SMS)

Reviewed on January 12, 2004

No. This game is nothing at all like Zillion in terms of gameplay. Where Zillion was Sega's Metroid, Zillion II is a cross between the simplest shooter (think Cloud Master) and the simplest jump and shoot platformer (think Cyber Shinobi). But there is a charming, agreeable quality to The Tri-Formation that cannot be denied.
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Wonder Boy  in Monster Land (Sega Master System)

Wonder Boy in Monster Land review (SMS)

Reviewed on January 12, 2004

Follow me through Monster Land. Undertake a battle of wits (or memory) with the Sphinx. Vanquish the Grim Reaper with your shortest sword, his damage meter worn plainly and usefully (however silly it may look to super-realism spoiled gamers) on his chest. All the end-of-level foes wear this medallion of sorts, and it says a lot about the way the game strikes me as a whole. Colourful, unpretentious, unequivocal.
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Wonder Boy (Sega Master System)

Wonder Boy review (SMS)

Reviewed on January 12, 2004

You've probably heard about this game's big brothers, subtitled Monster Land and The Dragon's Trap, respectively. But this early Master System release has your character lacking a sword, armour, or any animal morphing ability. Instead, a primitive axe, grass skirt, and skateboard will all have to suffice. Even Wonderboy had to start somewhere.
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Slap Shot (Sega Master System)

Slap Shot review (SMS)

Reviewed on January 12, 2004

Slap Shot is based on hockey like one of those Hollywood movies is 'based on a true story'. Loosely. Very loosely. Sega's knowledge of hockey back in 1990 must have been extremely limited and certainly Slap Shot is evidence of this. I am amazed that they knew to make it a five-on-five contest, with 20-minute periods (not real time). Also remarkable is the fact that they made three pools in this international contest, and knew to make Canada and the USSR two of the strongest teams. Considering other aspects of the game, I wouldn't have been surprised to see Afghanistan as the top hockey nation in Slap Shot.
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Shinobi (Sega Master System)

Shinobi review (SMS)

Reviewed on January 12, 2004

The conversion in terms of overall gameplay mechanics are excellent. Certainly the game is as good as you might imagine it being, making that precarious trip from arcade to 8-bit; that’s not an easy road. Even the bonus rounds, (you throw shuriken and green clothed ninjas from a first person perspective to earn ninja magic) are included.
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Scramble Spirits (Sega Master System)

Scramble Spirits review (SMS)

Reviewed on January 12, 2004

This game was a much-needed addition to the Sega Master System's meager library of 2-D shooters. It's generally thought of as a bottom feeder, even on this system, and I won't try to convince you otherwise. Even with only a handful of titles in the genre, SS falls firmly behind exciting excursions like Compile's Power Strike 1 and 2, and the venerable R-Type. It's not even as entertaining as the decidedly mediocre Cloud Master.
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