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Dr Mario (NES – 1990)

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I’d trust Mario to save the Princess, and maybe trust him as a go-kart buddy, but I would not allow him to operate on me. It’s just me being extremely cautious! Anyway, Dr Mario is an NES game from 1990. Is it any good? Let’s find out!

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Let’s start with the gameplay. Mario must give pills to kill of any germs in the medical bottle. You must drop the correctly coloured pills onto the right virus. It works in a similar manner to Tetris, where you move the top object on top of others by moving it left and right into the correct position. When four or more germs or capsule halves are in a row, they are removed. You must get rid of all germs in the medical bottle to win. It’s quite a fun idea, but it is quite difficult to play it with an NES controller. That’s the only downside.

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The graphics look quite good for an NES game. Although they are not as good as the graphics from the re-releases. Sure, that may just be a nitpick, but it still needs to be mentioned.

The melodies are quite memorable, but the tracks lack polish. Most retro gamers will be able to tell you what the song Fever sounds like, and some can remember Chill. Though, the same nitpick is in the music as it was in the graphics. The tunes are catchy, but they are still lacking compared to re-releases, and even compared to the original Super Mario Bros. They lack that punch that make the songs stand out.

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So, should you get this game? That really depends. Just because it is good for the NES, doesn’t mean it is good. Unless you are collecting games for the NES, or want it as show-off piece, don’t get this game. …

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Power Base Converter Review

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29th October 1988; the 16-bit wars have officially started. The Megadrive is released in Japan, and people are upgrading from their old Master Systems to the new revolutionary system. Then, you realize something; you’ve spent a lot of money on last gen, and now you can’t play any of the games on the new system. Time passes, and you just have to plug in both systems.

Then, Sega answers your calls and releases the Sega Master System Converter. This peripheral (which is affectionately known as the Power Base Converter) allows you to play your old games without having to own the old system! But, was this converter any good? Let’s find out!

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Look at this beauty! (sarcasm)

 

First, let’s discuss what the extension did. The Master System’s main CPU was a Zilog Z80, which is an 8 -bit processor. The Megadrive, on the other hand, has the Zilog Z80 as a sub-processor, and a Motorola 68000 as the main processor. Unlike common belief, the Power Base Converter does not contain a murdered Master System. It does, however, contain a few chips. Basically, it is a glorified pin adapter. You could probably make your own home-made version of this device, if you really wanted to.

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The Powerbase Converter: Like a brain slug!

 

But, the main thing you came here to hear is whether it is any good. And, it works really well! The games run at full speed, and the audio sounds just like the original system. Since controllers use the same port, you can use your old accessories with the Megadrive. The downside is the adapter looks like it is leaching life off of the MegaDrive. Another downside is the price. It is quite expensive, especially when you can get a Master System at the same price, boxed.…

Ballz 3D: Battle of the Balls Review

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At least once in your life, you sit down and have a think about what you will do next. You ponder the age-old questions such as, “What am I going to do with the rest of my life?” and the more important question: “What video game will I play next?” You then come to the conclusion that the only thing you have left to do is play Ballz 3D: The Battle of the Balls. Now, was it a good choice to play the last game on your list? Well, let’s find out!

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Ballz 3D is a 3D fighting game for the Megadrive, SNES and the 3DO. It was developed by PF Magic, a company that I didn’t recognize, but apparently created some games that I played earlier in my childhood. The game was then published by Accolade, the same people who brought us such “classics” as Bubsy 3D. Enough of this history lesson, though! Let’s get onto the actual game!

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Let’s start with the gameplay: it is clunky and feels bad to play. Bad controls are a big no-no for games, especially fighting games, where instantaneous feedback is required. The controls are strange, and the developer didn’t bother to utilize the 6 button controller layout. Many times when playing, I couldn’t get the advanced moves to work, even when following the instructions.

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The graphics are not very good. I like the idea behind it, but the Megadrive let’s it down by delivering less-than-useful hardware that won’t deliver on this idea. I feel like if the graphics were more streamlined (or at least toon-shaded), it would have been better. But, they went for pre-rendered graphics instead, which was a bad move. Though I do really like how in the instant-replay, you can move the camera. That’s …

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Sonic Dash Review (iOS, Android and Windows 8)

I promise this’ll be the last Sonic article for a while! But, Sonic Dash…. what? Some mobile game? Let’s see what this is!

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I may have played this game for a little over a few hours…

There is no story. You most likely expected that, but if Sonic Runners can have one, there is no excuse for this game not to. A bit disappointing.

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The graphics are pretty good. It looks better than Sonic Boom, so that is a start. Some of the UI looks pixelated, but that is a problem with the Unity engine rather than the game itself (I would know, I’ve had this same problem before).

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The music is great. The tracks are modern remixes of classic themes. An example is Seaside Hill; that has a modern remix in this game. I think there are new tracks as well, but I can’t really tell. Overall, great music!

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The gameplay is literally Temple Run. Collect rings, try not to get hit, destroy enemies, et cetera. Not really an original idea. There are powerups, but they get boring and repetitive after a while. The bosses also suck. Move left and right to avoid bombs/stars. They are really bad, and every time I play the game, I try and skip the boss. Yet I can’t as they are mandatory.

The game controls well, it just doesn’t feel like a Sonic game. Which is a problem. As, well, you know… IT IS A SONIC GAME! But, moaning about it not being conventional is just nitpicking. Other than that, it’s fine.

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One last point I want to make is this game not only markets Sonic, it markets other things as well. Why are Angry Birds in this? Why are you trying to sell me other games?

Should you get this free to …

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Sonic the Hedgehog (MasterSystem) Review

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As you probably know, I am a huge Sonic fan. I enjoy most of the Megadrive games (except 3D Flickies Island and Spinball), but, what about the Master System games? In this article, I will talk about the first Sonic SMS game; Sonic the Hedgehog!

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Let’s start with the graphics; they are really nice. Whether it is Jungle Zone with it’s vibrant levels, or the dark and moody Sky Base, the graphics always look good. It’s even better when you compare it to other 8 bit games.

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The music is pretty good. While it is not as memorable as the 16 bit games, it’s not bad. Some of the music tracks are from Sonic 1 Megadrive, but most of the soundtrack is new. I especially like Bridge Zones track.

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The levels consist of Green Hill Zone, Bridge Zone, Jungle Zone, Labyrinth Zone, Scrap Brain Zone and Sky Base Zone. There are also Bonus Stages (but these don’t contain chaos emeralds). The levels sound uninspired, and that’s because most of them are.

The one original level is Sky Base. I say that as Bridge Zone and Jungle Zone are recoloured Green Hill Zones. Not too bad, as the levels have boring themes, but still more variety than Super Mario Bros on the NES.

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The gameplay is very similar to the 16 bit games. The spin-dash isn’t in this game as this was released before Sonic 2. But you can still run fast, roll and collect rings. The only problem is the controls aren’t as tight as the 16 bit games. So, it’s more slippery.

To get the chaos emeralds, you must find them in the levels. You have to do – ACTUAL EXPLORATION! So, it’s quite interesting, especially as you can explore the …

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Mega Man 3 Review

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Megaman III: I can now hear you screaming in excitement. I really like this game, along with everyone else (it helps me forget that I spent all of yesterday trying to finish Bubsy 1) . But what makes it so good? Let’s find out!

Note: I will be playing the “Wily Wars” version for the Megadrive and Genesis, though I will be reviewing both games in one. The game is exactly the same on NES, just with 8 bit graphics and music. The game controls the same, and the music tunes are the same.

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Let’s start with the music. As I am typing this, I am listening to the music. This music is awesome, but a better word to describe it is outstanding. The NES music is really nice, and the Genesis soundchip (for the most part) makes it even better. Search the music on YouTube, you will not regret it.

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The NES graphics are on par with Megaman 2, so no complaints. The Megadrive version has better graphics, so there is no need to moan. I’d say the graphics on both games are on par, the NES and Genesis have distinct graphic styles, so there is no comparison.

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The story takes place in 200X (an unspecified year). Dr Wily becomes “friends” with Dr Light again (after failing to get world domination twice), and they start building a robot named Gamma. However, the Robot Masters in charge of the mining worlds go berserk and run off with Gamma’s 8 power crystals. Rock (Megaman) is then sent off with Rush (his robot dog), to retrieve the crystals.

The story is very good, especially for an NES/Megadrive game. It’s a cool story, I just wish it was not the overused *Spoilers* bad guy pretends

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Theme Hospital (DOS) Review

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I first played Theme Hospital many years ago, and it has been my favorite DOS game to date. Now, since I like the game, let’s rip it apart!

Theme Hospital is made by Bullfrog. This is another classic game, along with Theme Park and Dungeon Keeper (both made by the same developer). However, Bullfrog was bought out by EA, and now the whole division has been murdered.

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Here is a random fact: the game saves. So, you won’t have to start over every time you play (take notes Super Mario Bros)! There is a multiplayer option, but only in newer revisions of the game (notably the GOG version, but I think there was a disk version with multiplayer).

You start with the hospital closed, you then have time to build it up so you can start murdering innocent lives by giving them the wrong medicine!

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One problem I’ve noticed is that the biggest challenge is not the one they intended. The challenge is running out of room, not curing patients. There is no challenge with creating the rooms, however, as it gives you the rooms as you need them (or you can research all of the rooms when necessary). There are many rooms, cosmetic items and other extras to create.

You need to hire staff (obviously). Some have special abilities like being a psychiatrist. The level of the person dictates how fast they walk, how good they are at their job, and how much they slack off on the job. There are doctors, nurses, receptionists and handymen you can hire.

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The game includes a few tools to help you with your hospital experience. There is a staff management screen, a map screen, a casebook, research, stats, charts and your hospital policy.

The graphics look really nice. It is pixel art, yet …

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Underrated Systems – Neo Geo Pocket Color

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The Neo Geo Pocket Color, what an amazing underrated system. From a selection of great games, to awesome controls, this system is truly marvelous. But, many people don’t know of it’s existence. You may be wondering, “But, what is a Neo Geo Pocket Color?” Well, let’s open up the systems past, and dissect it!

I thought I’d start with the controls – wow. Just wow. The D-Pad/Analog Stick hybrid is absolutely astonishing. It takes a few minutes to get used to it, but it is one of the best control-sticks I have ever had the pleasure to use. The buttons are also pretty nice to use. The only disappointment for me is the Power and Options buttons, as they aren’t as nice (though they are usable).

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The system has an OS to boot to if there is no cartridge present. It has a calender, world time, horo-scope, settings and alarm applications built-in to this device. This is pretty cool, as many other systems at the time didn’t have anything that could compare to this.

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The screen is non-backlit. This is a major complaint, as you have to sit on the surface of the sun to see it. However, if you are playing in daylight, it isn’t that distracting. It has a resolution of 160×152, and the screen is 2.6 inches. Not the best screen ever featured on a handheld, but certainly better than the original GameBoy Advance.

Now, time for games. The Neo Geo Pocket Color only has 83 games, plus the 10 monochrome games from it’s predecessor. This is certainly disappointing, but it still has many great titles available.

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Games that I know are good are Sonic the Hedgehog Pocket Adventure, a port of Pac-Man and Pocket Tennis Color. I’ve only been able to play these, and they were …

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Tetris: A Look Back (GameBoy)

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Left: English Tetris Cart
Right: Japanese Tetris Cart
My English cart is in pretty bad condition, but I got it off of Amazon. The Japanese cart was actually from a car-boot sale!

Tetris is one of the best games ever. Rather than repeat what many people have already said, I thought I’d actually look back at the design of the game, rather than give a review (a normal review wouldn’t actually explain why the game is good, it would just give opinions on 4 main categories that don’t really apply to Tetris). As you probably know, Tetris is an outstanding game, but why is it? Well, time to find out!

There is no plot. So don’t ask about one!

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The music in this game is amazing. It is really catchy, and you could listen to it on loop for hours and it still wouldn’t get annoying. It is so amazing, there are thousands of remixes on YouTube and other video sharing sites.

The graphics are very simplistic. They don’t make your eyes bleed, and they look good for the GameBoy. The game uses 4 shades of grey (at least there isn’t 50 shades)!

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You have to place falling blocks into rows. When you get a full row, you get points and the blocks disappear. If you destroy 4 rows at once, you get a Tetris, and many more points. It’s a very simplistic puzzle game, and it is really addictive.

So, I bet you are now wondering why this game is amazing, and one of the most revolutionary games of all time. Well, I will now explain why this is a great game.

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Note: many people have different interpretations of the Tetris graph. Some believe it is much steeper, some think it is separated into chunks. The graph shown is a simplified

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Underrated Systems – Game & Watch Series

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Now, I know what you’re thinking: “But most gamers who are familiar with the Game & Watch series like them!” (yes, I can read your mind now). But, that’s the main problem with these systems; most gamers don’t know that these exist, especially as the Game Boy overshadows every handheld system imaginable. But, is the Game & Watch underrated? Let’s find out!

One of the main gimmicks of these systems are that these have both a clock, and an alarm built in. It has a game built in as well (obviously). Another main selling point is it’s design; it’s pretty small, and looks cool.

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This is my Game & Watch system. This plays Balloon Fight.

There are many variations of these systems. They don’t use cartridges; instead, if you want to change the game you are playing, you change the whole system. One system has a different game from another. A bit like the classic Pop Stations (but actually worth money, and released by a proper company).

The system I own is Balloon Fight, but most of the systems have an identical control scheme and look. Most have a D-Pad, one action button, an Alarm button, a Time button and a Start button (usually branded as a “Game” button). Some systems (like the Donkey Kong one) have two screens, and act like the DS (the game plays on both screens, and the player can cross over into the other screen).

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The Donkey Kong Game & Watch System

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But, I will now answer the main questions people have about the system; how is the D-Pad compared to modern systems, and is the screen any good? The D-Pad (on my system, anyway) is pretty good, except it has separate buttons, compared to one piece of plastic on most modern …