Retroreflection #1: Legend of the Mystical Ninja

Otherwise known as Goeman, Legend of the Mystical Ninja was actually the 2nd Goeman game in the Konami series, but the first released in the west. Considered by many a SNES classic, Mystical Ninja follows Kid Ying and Dr. Yang as they travel across native land to free an abducted princess. Now almost 25 years on, does it hold up today?

So what is it?

Legend of the Mystical Ninja is an action platformer with RPG elements, using a combination of semi top-down and left-right-left platform action, depending on the progress within each stage, of which there are 9 to get through. It’s great to pick up and play – simple jump and attack commands as well as evasion will get you through the most of it, with the addition of rotating weapons you can purchase from the various stalls and shops dotted around. Said stalls also sell health, armour and sandals that increase your speed. Currency is almost limitless due to the nature of constantly re-spawning baddies that hand out cash as they are disposed of. The top-down sections are maze-like, each one more complex than the last, as you find your way to the left-right boss areas. Once there, the game transforms into a more standard action platformer – more like the Megaman series – until you reach the end of level boss.

The Good

Legend of the Mystical Ninja is an instantly accessible title, with a simple control scheme that feels natural in your hand. Being close quarters with the enemies is vital to progression and even backtracking an inch will reveal baddies have re-spawned, keeping you on your toes as they come thick and fast. The real fun in LotMN is the various stalls, shops and – Yes! – Arcades. Along your journey you can pop into many doors/curtains, each holding something different. The shops, although a novelty in appearance are essential; if you don’t stock up on armour and food, there is no replenishment once you reach the boss areas. It’s an initially steep learning curve but you certainly benefit from its lack of subtlety. Mystical Ninja does get progressively difficult at each stage and the bosses step that up even further with a couple of real tough ones along the way.

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It’s the various games and arcades that provide a great quest distraction and are great fun. From a standard lottery, a matching pairs game, a quiz show, even greyhound betting, there is hours of fun to be had, let alone the game itself! There is even a Konami arcade, which provides a level of Gradius to tackle. With money not being an issue, you can easily find yourself immersed in these mini-games that you only leave to keep the currency coming.

LotMN provides a lush, cartoonish view of Japan, with the aforementioned shops appearing as Chashitsus, enemies such as samurai, ninja, and kimono-clad geisha’s among others. The standout element has to be the soundtrack; catchy yet traditional, you’ll find yourself humming along most tunes after just a few seconds.

The Bad

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As indicated earlier, it is essential to stock up where possible before heading into the boss areas, otherwise you’ll likely be in for a world of pain and frustration. Health depletes by merely touching an enemy, whereas with armour it will merely remove a piece when hit. So without armour only a near perfect run will keep you going, which can become really tough then facing the various end of level bosses. Not a fault of the game as such, but once you pass the checkpoint there is no going back so prepare to lose your health, lives and continues swiftly, which of course can lead to frustration.

The only other minor criticism is the length of the main quest itself. The 9 levels, provided you don’t spend hours in the arcades/games, move pretty swiftly, especially if you’re equipped for the boss areas. It can also be quite repetitive in the pre-boss zones, although necessary for currency.

Overall – ****

Legend of the Mystical Ninja holds a lot of nostalgia value for me. The amusement park level alone provides hours of entertainment in itself, and is certainly a world worth exploring for its charm. It’s a simple yet enjoyable game that still holds a lot of that charm many years on. Still recommended.

Video Game Inception: Top 5 Games within Video Games

We all love video games, whether your tastes are for platformers, shooters, RPG’s or even sports. They are a wonderful form of escapism, but what about escapism within escapism? I’m talking about the fishing in Zelda games, the end of level bonus sections of Yoshi’s Island, getting drunk at the bar in GTA IV; games within games. If a lengthy quest/mission is getting you down, what better way to take a breather than partake in a game or 2, right? Here are the pick of the bunch.

Fable the Lost Chapters: Chicken Kicking Competition

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A special addition to the Fable re-release ‘Fable: The Lost Chapters’, and hardly the most animal friendly game, but nevertheless both entertaining and amusing. Yes, you literally kick these poultry projectiles through the air, with angles, strength and stamina all playing a part in getting the chickens into a scoring area grid for points. Yes, chickens equals points. How is that not appealing?

Shenmue: Space Harrier/Hang-On (Dreamcast):-

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In a world as real (and expensive) as Yu Suzuki’s Shenmue, it comes as no surprise that a town (Dobuita) has an arcade. Amusingly titled the YOU Arcade, it includes 2 FULL versions of Yu’s own arcade classics: Space Harrier and Hang-On. Now I know Ryo wants to avenge his father’s death, look for sailors or whatever, but even he feels the need to beat Space Harrier level 5. It’s only natural.

Super Smash Bros Melee/Brawl/Wii U: Home-Run Contest (Gamecube/Wii/Wii U):-

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The premise is simple: Do as much damage to the sandbag stood on the platform as possible, then launch it with a baseball bat as far as you can. Easy right? Wrong.  Many a minute is never wasted trying to inflict any extra % of damage to the bag to make it travel just 1 more meter. However, plenty a minute is wasted in the failed attempts to beat your own records. Just. One. More. Go.

Final Fantasy VII: Gold Saucer (PS1/PSN):-

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Despite the quite frankly annoying but devastatingly catchy theme music, the Gold Saucer can deliver hours of quest-distracting entertainment. The various areas provide different types of games from an arcade to replay the motorcycle chase, snowboarding, basketball hoop-shooting, betting on Chocobo races, to a battle gauntlet area where you can hone your battle skills without fear of death, for some great prizes to aid the main quest. In a game that eats through the hours as you seek to find the triumphant end, there are certainly more hours to be eaten up here alone.

Legend of the Mystical Ninja: Amusement Park Level (SNES/VC):-

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The entire exploration area is filled with mini-game goodness, with an endless supply of re-spawning enemies to replenish the much needed cash to play them. Highlights include a modified first level of Konami classic Gradius, Tear Down the Wall (think Breakout/Alleyway), Air Hockey, and that’s just the Konami Arcade tent. Add to that bets on Horse Racing, a matching-cards memory game, even a lottery, plus many more, and it’s quite possible you’ll forget why you arrived in what is only the 3rd level of the game.

Do you have a favourite video game mini game?

Transformers Devastation: Bringing Back Saturday Morning Cartoons

devastation-transIn late 2015, Activision released Transformers Devastation, a brand new Transformers video game. Developed by Platinum Games (Bayonetta, Vanquish), Transformers Devastation did something bold. No, not just creating a decent Transformers game (it is in fact fantastic), but it wasn’t based on any Michael Bay rubbish; instead they went back to the beginning of the franchise: Generation One.

For those not familiar, Generation One was the original Hasbro toy-driven cartoon and comic series that started in 1984. Although it only lasted 3 years, it was a worldwide success that spawned an animated movie that has a huge cult following, and countless now-collectible toys. Although that series ended almost 30 years ago, there have been multiple reimagining’s over the years, and it’s fair to say that the afore-mentioned Michael Bay monstrosities have indeed rekindled the memories of the original (and indeed best) series.

Despite the quite frankly surprising news of a Generation One based video game in the works, I was initially met with mostly scepticism. Transformers videos games largely have a terrible record, as do many series/movie tie-ins, unless Lego appears in the title. The news of Platinum Games as the developers certainly helped alleviate those initial fears; Bayonetta and its sequel are 2 of the best video games to ever grace a television screen, so I became swiftly confident they could deliver. The result is more than meets the eye…..

tf_devastation_teaserPlatinum’s somewhat traditional third-person ‘hack n slash’ formula is adopted well here; incorporating both physical attack combos and artillery-based projectile attacks. There are 5 classic Autobots to choose from, and once you get over the cool factor of being the original Optimus Prime, with his original Peter Cullen voice once again, you soon discover the other characters (Grimlock, Bumblebee, Sideswipe, Wheeljack) have enough variety between them to offer different experiences. Grimlock in particular, in his Dinosaur form, unlike everyone else’s vehicle forms, offers different combos and attacks.

But by far the most amazing factor of Transformers Devastation is the fan service, the nostalgia factor. It is by no means a perfect video game; it doesn’t have the combat depth of Bayonetta, or the consistently flawless backdrops of Vanquish, nor does it try to reinvent the wheel in any other way. But don’t be mistaken into thinking it is a poor game with just great fan service, like many other anime titles.

91BPBIsaxyL._SL1500_The characters and combat style is interspersed with the storyline and boss-ridden levels delightfully, and of course the bosses themselves are recognisable favourites such as Starscream, Soundwave, and of course Megatron. Each and every character even has their own heavy metal theme from the excellent accompanying soundtrack, which surely has to get a release. Believe me, I’ve asked, but it’s a ‘no’ for now.

The perfectly nostalgic cast and characters come together with a plot that easily fits in canon with the series, and plays out much like any typical episode would. It’s the perfect Saturday morning video game derived what was once everyone’s favourite Saturday morning cartoon series. Everything about this package is any Transformers fans’ dream. The beauty of the game is its appeal; it knows why you’re playing it before you’ve even booted the game up: you love the 80’s Transformers, so you are going to love this.

5 Excuses People Use to Avoid Video Games

Sometimes, people snub video games as an entertainment medium, often judging them without even trying them first. A lot of effort goes into making video games, the goal being not only financial success, but making a quality product that as many people as possible can enjoy. Nonetheless, there are still those with somewhat foolish and unfair views about video games that may block many from seeing the hours of fun they potentially could have, or just don’t realise what they’re missing. Here are 5 reasons why people won’t give video games a try.

1. “The games are so expensive”

They can be, but like anything else, shop around and you can easily save a few pounds. Better still, do what I do – wait a couple of weeks and the prices start to drop, or picking up older titles can save you 75% of the cost in some cases. The issue here is the new titles, but for those whomust have it, most will be willing to pay £40+ easily. The prices of the latest video game releases, unlike DVD/Blu-Ray, have not steadily reduced over the years so it’s something to be mindful of. Be patient and do not just buy from the first retailer you see. Also, online retailers are nearly always cheaper than the high street. In short, quit whining and make those pennies count!

2. “The games will cause fights”

Ok, I’ve been here myself when I was a youngster, and more applies to the younger generation anyway. But to be fair, you could give both your kids the same meal for dinner and they will find a reason to bicker over it. That’s life. Should a video game indeed cause further sibling rivalry or grief between friends, then this is where parent points come in. It will only cause fights if you let it do so. Like any activity, create clear boundaries and timescales if required to ensure nothing gets out of hand. If you’re adults and fighting over video games, there’s probably alcohol involved. You’re on your own.

3. “In the end, you’ve accomplished nothing”

Yes, I have genuinely heard this one. You could argue this for any form of entertainment, but how does playing a video game accomplish any less than vegetating in front of a cracking TV show or movie? You’re telling me watching 10 hours of soaps a week is more productive? Video games are interactive entertainment and, although not to everyone’s taste, most people have played a video game and enjoyed it at some point in their lives, whether they are proud of it or not. Video games can fit into life just like anything else, and any game could leave with you with a sense of joy/sadness, like any great movie/TV show.

4. “Playing too many video games may be bad for you”

I can’t deny this one. But everything in life should be explored in moderation. Drinking too much beer is bad for you. Eating too much fast food is bad for you. Doing nothing but watching TV is bad for you. Anything can become unhealthy for anyone, when abused. When it comes to children, it’s important to limit their video game time reasonably to ensure home, work and social values are not forgotten.

From experience, it’s incredibly easy even for pre-teens to become bedroom-ridden slobs, and even more testing with a world engulfed with tablets and mobile phones. But on a positive note, it prevents you from being a lazy parent, certainly from my experience, as there is now more to worry about than looking at the clock, waiting for your kids to return home at the time you gave them.

5. “Video games are just for kids”

The worst one of all, for various reasons. Some games, particularly Nintendo’s Mario games, are aimed at ALL ages, and are superb in executing that exact goal. The problem is, the kids don’t want these games. They are playing (and want the video games they SHOULD NOT BE PLAYING. In theory, anyway. Call of Duty, Grand Theft Auto, Saints Row are among many games designed and tailored for the adult audience, and suitably rated as such, yet many parents appear to ignore this. 1, because their kid wants it, and 2, it’s ‘just a video game’.

Being a parent myself, I treat video games like other mediums; should he/she be watching this? Should they even be in the same room if it’s on the screen? It’s harder with video games, but I take the time to study a game, because the ratings aren’t always right. I’ve been there when my kid – who shared the exact same birthday as his friend – was deliberately invited upstairs to be shown how to sleep with a prostitute in a car on GTA. They were NINE years old at the time. I flipped, as that should not be happening, and it certainly won’t again on my watch. Video games are not JUST for kids; it’s a multi-demographic medium, so parent the shit out of your kids with video games as you would anything else.

Bottom line: It is now 2015, and its arguable there are now more games for adults than universal ones. For the adults, there is a truck-load of superb entertainment out there to enjoy, from interactive stories to the more complex, hard-core options. If you don’t like them then fair enough. They’re not always cheap, but don’t judge them till you’ve tried them.

5 Reasons Everyone Must Buy God of War III Re-mastered

From my original listing at The Average Gamer (check out the site!)

God of War III, released for PS3 in 2010, is a thing of beauty. Bloodthirsty, brutal and brilliant beauty. Easily one of the finest games to grace the PS3, and now, thanks to the power of the PS4, it will be re-mastered and re-released, no doubt more beautiful than ever. Following Sony’s announcement, many are sceptical about yet another re-mastered last gen title. So, here are 5 reasons why, whether you have already sampled this pinnacle of persecution or not, it’s time to get your cash out this July.

1. The glorious, satisfying violence

If you haven’t sampled a God of War video game before then, spoiler alert, they are violent. Veryviolent, which is the point of the series given it’s a ohgod_of_war_3_helios so very angry vengeful ex-god (also a spoiler) trying to take down the mighty Zeus, et al. Unlike the Mortal Kombat series, whose disturbingly obscene fatalities mean less and less as the years go by (try Injustice as a better alternative), here it is of significant importance and relevance, given the nature of the mythos the God of War series is based upon. It is brutal but never out of context or character; particular highlights being the death of Helios and my personal favourite, the final QTE segment with Poseidon, the best use of the L3 + R3 buttons if ever there was one.

2. The beauty will be even more beautiful

Although few details have been announced so far, Sony have stated it will output at 1080p HD and the developers are targeting 60 FPS, so fingers crossed the fierce brutality will somehow look even better. The original was a beast of game in terms of graphical detail; Kratos himself was often heralded as the finest looking character in video games. If it has anything close to the graphical detail of the series prequel God of War: Ascension (and we all expect better from the PS4 as a given), then it will look incredible.

3. It was the best game released on PS3. (No really, it was)

Ok, so this is my opinion, and make of that what you will, but God of War III is not just renowned for its violence; the whole series is a fantastic fusion of fluid combat, awe-inspiring visuals and dignified storytelling. The combat is so fluid and accessible that the only comparison to give is the Bayonetta series; for me it’s the only combat mechanism that can claim victory over Sony’s Santa Monica studios achievements here. The pacing of the campaign is delivered to perfection, with the opening and ending acts among the best I’ve ever experienced. Oh, but don’t forget the violence too.

4. It’s a celebration

The release of this re-master is to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the God of War franchise, so it’s only fitting that the best game in the series is the one to be re-packaged. I’m hoping there will be a recap included for newcomers to the series, to widen its appeal, and of course plenty of extras for long-time fans to chew on, of which is usually a certainty.

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And finally… That sex scene

I always find that of the very few sex scenes present in video games, they tend to feel a bit awkward (I’m looking at you Fahrenheit/Heavy Rain), but God of War III’s take on Kratos’ carnal desires is arguably more interactive than either of David Cage’s efforts. I expect a wry smile as you read this (for those that know it well), as it is a moment that is as provocative as it is hilarious. It is a moment that, alongside its famous brutality and chaos, is the embodiment of the series’ character.

As more details surface between now and its expected July release, it’s difficult not to be excited by this. Although the PS4 is probably one more re-master away from emulating Nintendo’s Game Boy Advance, this is my most anticipated re-master so far. As I am yet to even own a PS4, this is seriously making me consider my options. I cannot wait.

God of War III Remastered is coming to PS4 in July 2015.

The Benefits of Kids Playing Video Games

Kids and video games is an often talked about subject in today’s world. My teenage son’s gaming habits are growing just as the industry is becoming more appealing than ever before. On the flipside, I also have a young daughter, being brought up in a world where technology is growing faster than the human race developing it. With so many games and devices to play them on today, I’ve been asked if and how I limit my kids’ playtime, or more specifically their overall ‘screen time’.

I was both surprised and amazed by such questions. Some parents seem to think that if their child spends long periods of time doing just the one activity, then something maybe wrong, as they would not behave that way themselves as an adult. I’m a firm believer that children need to be able to make good choices on how they spend their free time, and that choices are they for them to do just that.

Kids shouldn’t be brought up on ‘do this, don’t do that’ rules, except for those instances where they are instructed to complete a share of chores, or that they must not do things that will hurt themselves or others. Kids should be free to play and explore in the many possible ways they can, and if that results in them only doing so in only the one way, then that just means they are getting something out of it, and are comfortable with it. The last thing we should do is put up a barrier that says: “I don’t think you can control your own life” before they have even had the chance to.

Kids also need to learn to know what is best for them; after all, we are all different with different tastes. Why would anyone want to limit our children’s computer or video game time? Today’s computer technology provides the most important tools in modern society, and children today are born into this culture. This is only good for our children, who are born designed to take in what is around them, in order to decide what is best for them, or what they need to succeed. It’s instinctive.

Five-Nights-at-FreddysCertain media outlets are among that side against video games through fear; they cause depression, attention disorders, even obesity, and more. This has been happening since video games first entered our world and isn’t letting up. But the very same negativity was branded upon mediums that came before: television, music, reading and even writing.

Now I’ve never known a parent admonish their child for spending hours reading a book, and why would they? Furthermore, if you look at research literature and surveys, they not only debunk those very claims, but in fact show that regular games players are less likely to be obese, enjoy outdoor play more, and are more socially engaged and well-adjusted.

Then there is the matter of violent content. I find it hard to believe that pretend murder of characters in video game stories should be likely to provoke real murder; certainly no more than reading Shakespeare’s Hamlet for example, a piece of literature often placed as compulsory for students in our schools. It is my view that video games actually reduce hostility – for me there is nothing better than to forget a stressful day at work by unwinding with a game of FIFA, or maybe something combat oriented which serves as my punch bag of frustration.

My daughter, an avid Thomas & Friends fan, spends some of her time on iPad activity apps, such as Thomas, which haveThomas-and-Friends-App certainly helped her develop speech, recognise colours, and she can easily count to 50, all at the age of 3. I see her playing out her own Thomas adventures with her engines, which comes naturally, but has also been benefitted from YouTubers’ own uploaded adventures, expanding her imagination to the point of playing out her own adventures.

I’m not saying screen time is solely responsible for this by any means, but she often wants to pursue more of these activities, of which today’s technology can provide. It goes without saying of course that any such use and behaviours are supervised; that’s when parenting comes in, as and when required.

For my teenage son, he has a steady social balance; multi-player Minecraft team sessions that benefit from group chat, with the very same friends he will then socialise with at his football team training sessions and other gatherings in between. He isn’t a huge gamer (unlike me) but I believe his participation only to be positive as he moves forward into adulthood.

So should anyone ever ask if I (or should I) restrict my children’s screen time, my answer would be NO. They make their own minds up whether to use the technology that is there, I don’t encourage or discourage either way. I believe they are both better prepared for the world’s social pressures, and only benefits their development, just like any other medium can.

How about you? What are you views on this, do you feel the same? Do you do things differently for your children? Or the parents to-be amongst you, will your approach be the same?

Super Metroid – The Perfect Video Game?

That’s the ultimate goal isn’t it? To create the perfect video game. Very few video games are considered as such, and even then it is of course only opinion. There is no fact in a critic’s verdict, whether it’s print/online. People often forget that, and it is of course the same for you; we’re all critics after all. But there is the matter of consistency to take into account, which is where one of my ‘perfect’ game choices gets a unanimously positive critique/public view: Super Metroid. For those that have played through Yoshio Sakamoto’s action/sci-fi magnum opus, I may be wasting my words on you; but I’m confident you’ll read on to either nod/shake your head at this ‘critic’.

supermetroidSuper Metroid is as perfect as a video game can be. With its super sci-fi intro, a dark atmospheric tone is set from the get-go. This never dissipates but, even more impressively, increases or decreases depending on the location/situation. The elevator ride down to Ridley’s lair is a prime example; I don’t think a 16-bit videogame had ever given me goosebumps before. The crisp, fluent visuals complement the soundtrack perfectly, and of course vice versa, the soundtrack often giving the perfect nod of anticipation for the next section. A great example of this is the descent into Brinstar; it fades in superbly, and sets the tone for the action packed section up ahead.

Then there is the learning curve; which is seamless in its execution. It’s no different to previous games in the series in that you start with a simple blaster, but the aforementioned visuals and power of the SNES not only leaves enough subtle hints, but also develops the mind-set that success is dependent upon. Add to that the perfect pacing, an average play through of roughly 10 hours first time around, which might not sound like much, but like many a Nintendo classic, it’s highly likely you’ll return for at least a second run through. Add icing to the cake in the form of one of the best and most memorable video game endings ever, and you have an instant classic.

Now I’m sure you’ve heard all this before, in some form or another. But I believe Super Metroid is not a perfect video game just for its vision, production and execution, but more than that. Back in 1994 when it was originally released, I was 13 years old. Video Games were already a big part of my life, and had been for 8 years, and games such as Super Metroid only served as a positive aid to my lateral thinking, evaluation, puzzle solving, and general acumen.

Over 20 years on, it not only stands the test of time, but has indeed got better with age. Super Metroid is not just technically brilliant, but still technically brilliant, even to this day. And with the beauty of virtual console, it is already being passed on to further generations. That, for me, is perfection.

Review – JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: All Star Battle (PS3)

Japanese manga’s Western exposure is as prominent as it’s ever been, and not just in written media. Dragonball Z continues to enjoy success across the US and Europe with reprints of its already-concluded series, a live-action movie, and of course several video game releases. JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure however has not shared the same success. It’s had previous video game releases of its own, and is a phenomenon on its own shores. With All Star Battle, the series makes a big case to be noticed, and even give Street Fighter a run for its money.

JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: All Star Battle is a 2D fighter with 3D elements; essentially a mash up of Street Fighter IV and Dragonball Z. All the best aspects in fact, from its depth of fighting styles to its flamboyant visual style. JoJo is wonderfully simple to pick up, with three attack buttons, an accompanying sidestep and a moves list that any Street Fighter aficionado will get to grip with within seconds, and that’s just for starters.

There are five different ‘styles’ that characters use in JoJo, each one more flamboyant and downright mental than the last, from comically-extending limbs to fighting on horseback. Yes, horseback. There is little to the imagination in JoJo world; a world of adventure, fantasy, over the top dramatics, and quite frankly insane characters. Pacing is of a slightly slower nature, a la BlazBlue, and each stage has its own obstacles littered around, such as chandeliers falling from the ceiling, frog rain, all triggered by the actions of the two characters duking it out.

Although not knowing the series myself, I still found it all very enjoyable, in fact the ‘WTF’ factor gives it something unique over any fighter I’ve ever played before. The typical Street Fighter-executed moves, a standard we’ve all come to accept from other non-Street Fighter games fits in perfectly, and the different styles on offer ensure it is far more than just a clone. It does suffer slightly in its uneven pacing; characters’ walking speed is snail pace but one move could take you across the screen in an instant, much like Mortal Kombat and Injustice: Gods Among Us.

Jojos-Bizarre-Adventure-All-Star-Battle-Face-300x168Visually, JoJo has wonderfully drawn sprites that capture the eccentric characters perfectly, in their blatantly-camp glory. The action is fast and fluid, and is often a fantastic feat on the eyes. The stages are much the same – all key locations from the manga, perfectly rendered for any fans’ dreams. Story mode is also there as a fan service; it follows each of the several story arcs of the manga, but as someone who doesn’t know the series, the basic ‘press X through several quotes only fans will know’ just meant nothing to me. A quick video recap, or anything more than just pages with three lines of text would keep it interesting. Even for fans it’s just a skim over at best, and as story mode is necessary to unlock all the hidden characters in the game, it feels a bit empty and at times a chore.

Campaign mode is a somewhat novel on-line feature, pitting you in one-round matches against ‘boss’ opponents, gradually wearing them down with the assistance of items and multipliers gained from previous battles. The AI comes from ghost data stats built from other players, and while your health bar can be bound by restrictions each battle, it regenerates if you can hold back for a while. The whole thing seems rather cheap and may well get the fighting purists riled up on message boards, but it’s actually quite original, very addictive, and perfect for those who love unlocking items to customise characters appearances.

Jojos-Bizarre-Adventure-All-Star-Battle-Yoshikage-vs-Shigekiyo-300x168In fact, Campaign mode offers the most original unlockable content in the game, plus the menu system is narrated through in typical anime fashion, which proves equally as entertaining and enjoyable as it is enthusiastic and eccentric. Add in your standard versus mode for both offline and online combat, and there is plenty to keep fighter and or anime fans busy. A surprising omission is there being no tutorial mode, usually a given for any fighting game, so anyone unfamiliar with fighters could feel lost at first, given the wacky content and the different styles, which aren’t initially explained.

Ultimately, if you strip out all the wacky colours, stages and anime madness, JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: All Star Battle is a fantastic fighting game; easily accessible with plenty to learn. But this is a JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure game, and the subject matter is dressed perfectly atop to create a wonderfully eccentric and enjoyable experience very few games have ever achieved. The lack of a focused narrative for Story Mode looks like a poor assumption that only fans will pick this game up, but the good news for Bandai Namco and CyberConnect2 is that I just became a fan.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles – 4 Games You Must Play

The TNMT franchise has been going through a massive resurgence in the last 12-18 months, coinciding with the purchase of the rights by Nickelodeon. This has led to the production of a great new animated show (I’ve watched season 1 and it’s rather good), toys, merchandise, and a return to grace in its originating comic book medium.

Now, it’s video games’ turn. With the recent XBLA release TMNT: Out of the Shadows and a full retail Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles release due in October from Activision, what better time than to recommend 4 of the best TMNT games of all time, each one representing one of the team. Cowabunga dudes!

Michaelangelo = TMNT the Arcade Game

(Arcade, 1989)

TMNTarcadeVideo gaming at its classic best. Back in 1989, this style of arcade was everywhere: Scrolling beat em ups. What was cool was the original cabinets allowed for 4 players on screen at once, for the full team experience. It was challenging.

In typical coin-op style you had little health that soon depleted, having to part with your cash for more credits. That might sound terrible, but such was the appeal of kicking the crap out of Foot Soldiers and the supporting bosses such as Bebop, Rocksteady, even Krang, it is tough to walk away because kicking butt is what the Turtles are all about. Like Michaelangelo, TMNT Arcade is fun in short bursts, but ultimately just simple.

Leonardo = Fall of the Foot Clan

(Game Boy, 1990)

This was the TMNT’s first outing for Nintendo’s flagship handheld, gfs_38754_2_2which was also the first Game Boy game I ever owned, and is a lovely little gem of a title. Fall of the Foot Clan is more of a platform adventure; you take control of any of the teenage heroes through 5 stages (which can be completed in any order) littered with Krang and Shredder’s army of foot soldiers, mousers, ultimately facing the evil odd-couple themselves. Should your turtle lose all health, they are ‘captured’, and it’s time to pick another. Why Leonardo? Fall of the Foot Clan is a fun and intuitive GB title, but like the Turtles’ fearless leader, it gets right to the point and adopts a more serious tone.

Donatello = Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IV: Turtles in Time

(SNES: 1992, Re-Shelled: 2009-2011)

hqdefaultTurtles in Time for the SNES is a conversion of the arcade game of the same name. Developed by Konami, this is surely the Turtles’ finest video game outing. Sticking very closely to the source material (again the 1987 cartoon), TIT (couldn’t resist) is another scrolling beat em up, but with additional elements that made the Streets of Rage series a success; grabbing opponents to slam or even throw them into the screen, low and high dashing attacks, and the ability to run.

The levels look great, each featuring a boss from the cartoon continuity, and make good use of Mode 7, particularly the space board level. Yes, space boards. It is a short game, my last run on hard difficulty clocking in at only 40 minutes, but that doesn’t make it any less fun. It’s a shame Konami no longer have the license to release this version again. Turtles in Time is perfectly matched to Donatello; It has the technology, the correct detail, but at its heart its super fun. Turtles in Time is the definitive TMNT experience.

Raphael = Tournament Fighters

(SNES, 1994)

In Turtles in Time, the gang boldly went ‘where no Turtles have gone before’, 10422but with Tournament Fighters they really did with this incredible effort to rival Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat’s dominance. It had 10 fighters, including the four turtles, Shredder, and a backup roster that surprisingly resembles the Archie comic series more than the TV show. Throwing an array of cartoon characters into a beat ‘em up isn’t easy, in fact it usually be doomed to be a failure. But it isn’t.

Tournament Fighters is very fast, very fluid, and at times very difficult. Adopting the SNK 4-button style, Konami have done a great job at keeping the balance, keeping each character as unique as possible, and keeping it simple to pick up. Like any SNK game, or SF/MK practice makes perfect, with a wealth of moves to learn, super moves to pull off, and devastating combos to master. Raphael might be the only Turtle I’ve yet to mention, but a title which as much attitude as this means he is definitely the perfect suitor. It’s no coincidence that this title is very sought after in its original cartridge format; it’s a great beat em up.

So there you have it; yes these are all titles from some 20 years ago, with subsequent games declining in quality for the most part. Hopefully Activision can restore the attitude and fun that the above titles still offer to this day, whilst remaining faithful to the great new show. I leave you with the below song to close out. Them lyrics. Pizza Power!