Book Review: GameCube Anthology

Geeks Line Publishing’s Anthology book series have so far been nothing short of brilliant. Their new GameCube Anthology is no exception, with excellent content and overall quality that will draw you in.

The GameCube Anthology, just like its predecessors, comprehensively details everything that is to know about Nintendo console. Chronicling it’s early days, this tome pulls no punches when it comes to detailing the stiff competition from Sony and its foundation for its successor, the Nintendo Wii.

Accompanying the great written content is the equally impressive photography – the breadth of photos cover the full gamut, from detailed hardware shots to exhaustive photos of GameCube games.

As mentioned, the depth of information and facts covered does true justice to Nintendo’s excellent GameCube system. This book is truly hard to fault. One of our fave sections in the book is the coverage of unreleased titles – which rounds off what is a must have book for any GameCube fan or gaming historians.

This book is an easy recommendation – go and get it right now!

Title: GameCube Anthology
Publisher: Geeks Line Publishing
Available from: Amazon

Disclosure: GameCube Anthology (Classic Edition) was kindly provided by Geeks Line Publishing for this review.

 

GRIS – Nintendo Switch Review

GRIS is the first game from the relatively new Nomada Studio. To describe it as a puzzle platformer is to do it a disservice, GRIS is an experience. Mixing a stunning watercolour dreamscape with hauntingly beautiful and immersive audio, GRIS must be played to be truly appreciated.

Having seen GRIS being presented from afar at PAX Australia, I was looking forward to what looked like a solid puzzle platformer. What I saw was nothing, compared to actually getting my hands on the game! From the first few moments of play you can tell that GRIS is really something special. One of the hardest parts about describing a game like GRIS is to not spoil the experience for others. It is a game of self-exploration in struggling with loss in a very unique way. Not as heavy handed in its themes like some games, it addresses such issues with a very elegant and poignant approach. After finishing the game I can safely say that GRIS has shot to the top of my list of games that demonstrate gaming as an art form.

GRIS conveys emotion quite strongly through artwork and use of colour. The game starts with you progressing through a white wasteland that evokes a real sense of melancholy and separation. The colours are slowly restored to the world one by one, revealing more depth and emotion with every step. Each area in GRIS has its own unique feel, as colours range from bleeding water colours to stark contrasts representing various emotions. While looking stunning in both handheld and docked modes, I do highly recommend going in with a good set of headphones. I found it is best to fully immerse yourself in the world that is GRIS. Although the game looks beautiful overall, it is the little details that really set it apart. These details help to flesh out the world, adding to the atmosphere and often leading to clues about progression or hidden secrets. Never before had I been so thankful for the screenshot button on the switch than while playing GRIS.

While the game certainly looks amazing the gameplay also feels top notch. Your character wears a dress that, as you progress and restore more colours to the world, allows you to use various skills. You combine these skills and develop techniques to overcome the hurdles presented to you as you make your way through the world. Controls are tight and snappy but forgiving enough to not get frustrating. This keeps the game flowing nicely and allows you to not only appreciate the visuals but also the wonderful level design. Gameplay and story blend seamlessly together feeling very organic, making every bit of progression more rewarding than the last. Optional challenges are present for those looking to prove their skill but are in no way necessary to enjoying or finishing the game. These can range from collectables to little tasks that leave you with a nice sense of satisfaction.

Story, visuals and mechanics all intertwine together making this a game you will not want to put down. GRIS is a game full of heart and powerful emotion, a wondrous journey in growth and healing. Delve into the world that is GRIS today!

Game: GRIS
Developer: Nomada Studio
Publisher: Devolver Digital
Available: Nintendo Switch eShop
Price: AU$23.95

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Mat Panek
Retromancer – Collector, repairer & fan of retro games & tech. Atari to Amiga, Nintendo to Sega! LD, Zip, Beta and a proud dad! One half of the TiredParents on Twitch.

Follow Mat on Twitter and Twitch

 

 

Disclosure: GRIS [Nintendo Switch] was kindly provided by POWERUP PR for this review.

 

Nintendo Switch Review: SEGA Mega Drive Classics

Woohoo, the iconic retro collection Sega Mega Drive Classics has landed on the Nintendo Switch™ and boy, it is a ripper! We thought the PS4 version was awesome (which it is!), but you can’t take your PS4 on the train with you to play these classic Mega Drive games.

Sega Mega Drive Classics on the Nintendo Switch is the largest collection of retro classic games in one pack. There are 50+ classic Sega 16-bit games to satisfy almost every genre under the sun, from arcade action, adventure, pinball (sort of), shooters, beat ‘em ups, fighters, puzzlers, hack’n slashers, tactical RPGs to everyone’s favourite, platformers – and there are lots of platformers (which isn’t a bad thing)!

These old favourites aren’t just dumped from their cartridges and thrown in this package, no sirree, they have had a raft of cool modern features injected into them including mirror mode, rewind (for when you slip up), controller customisation, online multiplayer and achievements, optional emulation enhancement filters like pixel scaling and save states to save your game at any time, meaning players – both old and new, should find revisiting these retro games an absolute blast.


source: Five Star Games

Once we loaded Sega Mega Drive Classics we were totally impressed by the opening title sequence, which we will leave as a surprise (Ed: Unless you have already experienced it on the PS4/XBone), but we can tell you this much, it’s pretty darn awesome – either that or we are too easy to please. Anyway, once you stop drooling from the title sequence you are greeted by the menu system where you can access the 50+ Sega Mega Drive games and various other options. The menu resembles the bedroom of an early nineties Sega fan, which is a great throwback, with dynamic time-of-day conditions, retro SEGA paraphernalia, a shelf full of the aforementioned 50+ Mega Drive games, and of course, a CRT TV with the sexy Mega Drive console underneath it.

When selecting a game to play, its corresponding cart is removed from its case and then inserted into the Mega Drive console – pure nostalgia overload. On top of the already mentioned modern conveniences and features jammed into this package, the most important thing we can tell you is that the emulation of the games is spot-on. The word ’emulation’ may trigger negative connotations, but we are here to tell ya that this is as close as you will get to playing Mega Drive games without forking out for the console on eBay and then fishing around for the game cartridges.

A lot of you may already know this, but for the peeps that don’t know, we aren’t much of adventure or RPG fans, so we stuck to Sega’s arcade conversions, platformers, beat’me ups and puzzle games in this collection. After playing a lot of Sonic, Ristar, Golden Axe, Streets of Rage, Columns, Comix Zone and the Shinobi games, we can say that we definitely felt like we were back in the early 90s – good times!

Before we go on, here is the full list of games included in this package:

  • Alex Kidd in the Enchanted Castle
  • Alien Soldier
  • Alien Storm
  • Altered Beast
  • Beyond Oasis
  • Bio-Hazard Battle
  • Bonanza Bros.
  • Columns
  • Columns III: Revenge of Columns
  • Comix Zone
  • Crack Down
  • Decap Attack
  • Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine
  • Dynamite Headdy
  • ESWAT: City Under Siege
  • Fatal Labyrinth
  • Flicky
  • Gain Ground
  • Galaxy Force II
  • Golden Axe
  • Golden Axe II
  • Golden Axe III
  • Gunstar Heroes
  • Kid Chameleon
  • Landstalker
  • Light Crusader
  • Phantasy Star II
  • Phantasy Star III: Generations of Doom
  • Phantasy Star IV: The End of the Millennium
  • Ristar
  • Shadow Dancer: The Secret of Shinobi
  • Shining Force
  • Shining Force II
  • Shining in the Darkness
  • Shinobi III: Return of the Ninja Master
  • Sonic 3D Blast
  • Sonic Spinball
  • Sonic the Hedgehog
  • Sonic the Hedgehog 2
  • Space Harrier II
  • Streets of Rage
  • Streets of Rage 2
  • Streets of Rage 3
  • Super Thunder Blade
  • Sword of Vermilion
  • The Revenge of Shinobi
  • ToeJam & Earl in Panic on Funkotron
  • ToeJam & Earl
  • Vectorman
  • Vectorman 2
  • Virtua Fighter 2

The problem with a pack like this is that players will concentrate on all the games there were left out. Granted, they probably could put the entire Mega Drive catalogue on the cute little Switch cards and flog it for $90.00+, but then we would find something else to complain about. The games that are included are solid, bar a few questionable titles, however, just because we don’t like adventure and RPG titles, it doesn’t mean they should be excluded. Same goes the other way, if you loathe platformers, beat’em ups and puzzlers, it doesn’t mean these genres should be thrown out for more RPGs. Actually, if there was a driving game like Super Monaco GP or a motorcycle-racing-bashing one like Road Rash, then we could say that most, if not all, genres are well represented. Come to think of it, a few more shoot’em ups, like Truxton and Thunder Force would have rounded out this already pretty awesome package. Ah, we can speculate all we want, but we have to give it to Sega, they have tried to cater for the majority and we reckon they have done an admirable job.

After waffling on about this Sega Mega Drive Classics package on the Switch, the ultimate decision to buy or not buy is yours, but we’ll leave you with this little nugget – if you want to get your Sega 16-Bit gaming fix on your modern console and also play it on the go, then you can’t go too wrong with Sega Mega Drive Classics.

Review System: Nintendo Switch
Release Date:
December 6 2018
Format: Nintendo Switch, Xbox One & PS4
Price: $48.99 on Nintendo Switch (via OzGameShop)

Disclosure: Sega Mega Drive Classics [Nintendo Switch] download code was kindly provided by Five Star Games for this review.

 

Review: Atari Retro Handheld

Let’s get one thing straight, this Atari Retro Handheld is not a Flashback portable console by ATGames! There, hopefully we have clarified this point for you all.

This cool Atari Retro Handheld is by powered by Blaze. With its iconic Atari faux wood veneer and Vader lines along its front, this portable system design screams late 70s kitsch. It is like having an Atari VCS woody in your pocket – almost! We say almost, cause you can’t really grab your old Atari 2600 carts and slam them in this handheld, but you can play one of 50 classic titles, including Asteroids, Adventure, Breakout, Centipede, Crystal Castles, Millipede, Sword Quest, Yar’s Revenge  and our absolute fave Atari 2600 game of all time, Missile Command – check out the full list of games below.

  1. 3D Tic-Tac-Toe (31 in 1)
  2. Adventure
  3. Air-Sea Battle
  4. Asteroids ®
  5. Black Jack
  6. Bowling
  7. Breakout ®
  8. Canyon Bomber ®
  9. Casino
  10. Centipede ®
  11. Circus Atari ®
  12. Crystal Castles ®
  13. Demons to Diamonds ™
  14. Desert Falcon ®
  15. Dodge ’em
  16. Double Dunk
  17. Fun With Numbers
  18. Golf
  19. Gravitar ®
  20. Haunted House ®
  21. Home Run
  22. Human Cannonball ™
  23. Maze Craze
  24. Millipede ®
  25. Miniature Golf ®
  26. Missile Command ®
  27. Night Driver ™
  28. Off the Wall
  29. Pong – Video Olympics
  30. Quadrun ™
  31. Radar Lock ™
  32. Realsports Football ®
  33. Realsports Tennis ®
  34. Realsports Volleyball ®
  35. Sprintmaster
  36. Steeplechase
  37. Stellar Track ™
  38. Street Racer
  39. Submarine Commander
  40. Super Baseball
  41. Super Breakout ®
  42. Super Football
  43. Swordquest: Earthworld ™
  44. Swordquest: Fireworld ™
  45. Swordquest: Waterworld ™
  46. Tempest ®
  47. Video Checkers
  48. Video Chess
  49. Video Pinball
  50. Yar’s Revenge ®

The Retro Handheld sports a 2.4″ screen, which surprisingly suits most of the games, however, there were a few that felt cramped on the tiny screen. The unit does come with a composite A/V out interface, so you can plug it into a TV (preferably a CRT) for some big screen action. Emulation was pretty much spot on, with the games playing like their cart counterparts. To round out its retro-ness, batteries, yes, batteries the AAA kind, are required to power this little Atari – relax, this isn’t like the original Atari Lynx, you’ll definitely get a considerable amount of playing hours out of 3 x AAA Duracell batteries.

We were a bit iffy when we first saw the controls, especially the funny looking d-pad nub. Once we started playing, the d-pad and the buttons felt good under the thumbs and were responsive. However, there was one game that was totally unplayable using the nub – not looking at you Pong! Apart from that little niggle, gamers will feel right at home with the controls. Oh yeah, one nifty feature is when changing games, you simply hit the Start and Select buttons at the same time and viola, you exit the current game and go back to the menu to select a new one – this was cool, as we didn’t want to turn off the unit every time we wanted to play a new game.

There will be some that will scoff at this little handheld and others that will absolutely love it for what it is – a portable little Atari that looks like your old Atari 2600 woody and plays your favourite games. We definitely love playing on it (bar the unplayable Pong!), even though we are not big fans of the current Atari SA company. If you can get past this, then this is a little winner.

If you are keen on one of these Atari Retro Handhelds, grab one from FunstockRetro right now! They will even throw in a limited edition Atari Centipede Gold Coin for free – but you better hurry, as this sale ends soon!

Disclosure: The Atari Retro Handheld was kindly supplied by FunstockRetro for this review.

 

Storm Boy: The Game – Nintendo Switch Review

Storm Boy: The Game, is a charming and touching adaptation of the classic Colin Thiele story. Being developed for the 55th edition of the book and prior to the upcoming movie’s release, it envelopes the childhood joy and wonder of simple activities set against the backdrop of the pristine south Australian coastline.

Storm Boy is a story that many growing up in the 80s and 90s will remember. This beautiful story of Australiana certainly deserves more attention than it normally receives. I know that personally after playing Storm Boy: The Game, I have felt the need to look for the original source material. The game manages to capture that sense of halcyon days, swimming and running along the sand while also showing the nature of people both cruel and kind. The friendship of Storm Boy and Mr.Percival is set up wonderfully and you can really see a connection between them.

The game has a very beautiful and simplistic story book feel to it, a hand painted quality that I really enjoyed. Moving Storm Boy across the screen is very fluid and almost feels like turning pages, allowing the story to progress. Combining visuals and soundscape, the game becomes an atmospheric experience that I found very relaxing. The simplicity of the gameplay in both main story sections and mini games means anyone can appreciate the narrative being told. I did encounter one or two minor bugs during my time but nothing that detracted from the enjoyment of the game.

image source: Storm Boy: The Game

Storm Boy: The Game, is picturesque and charming.  The Story may feel a bit shortened down but certainly packs a punch and doesn’t disappoint. Don’t feel bad if you shed a tear here and there on your journey. If you are after a touching tale of friendship don’t go past this little gem.

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Mat Panek
Retromancer – Collector, repairer & fan of retro games & tech. Atari to Amiga, Nintendo to Sega! LD, Zip, Beta and a proud dad! One half of the TiredParents on Twitch.

Follow Mat on Twitter and Twitch

 

 

Disclosure: Storm Boy: The Game [Nintendo Switch] was kindly provided by Stride PR for this review.

 

Disgaea 1 Complete: Nintendo Switch Review

15 years after its original PS2 release, Disgaea 1 Complete hits the Switch, giving fans and newcomers a chance to reclaim the throne to the underworld. This charming yet tough as nails package feels completely at home on the Switch.

I have admired the Disgaea series from afar but they have always felt too daunting in the past. Disgaea 1 Complete for the Switch has finally given me a chance to really dive into the game that started it all. With its cutesy anime aesthetics it may seem off putting to some but don’t let that fool you, this is an iceberg of a game that is hiding some amazing depth. Best described as a Tactical RPG and while it is certainly not the first of its kind, I can safely say that it remains one of the heavy hitters in this category for a good reason. Being on the Switch only helps to further its addictive nature and suits Disgaea perfectly. Battles can be short and snappy or long, drawn out tactical affairs that require you to really think out your strategy before taking the plunge, as one wrong move can lead to a timely “Game Over”.

The game has also certainly been given some polish in the visual department with updated art assets that look fantastic, especially compared to the original and previous portable ports of this title. There is a notable difference in every factor of the game, from character models, level tile sets, cut scene and background artwork. While certainly not too graphically taxing on the Switch’s hardware, Disgaea nails the aesthetic it’s going for. Mixing retro charm with things like its simple walking animations and some very spectacular screen filling special moves.

The story is charming, funny and full of intrigue quick to suck in any anime fans, myself included. Its “Visual novel” style story telling is something fans of other Japanese games will be used to seeing. Playing up the usual sight gags it also adds in some “Battlefield” character actions, reactions and movement to really make the most of the cut scenes. If you aren’t used to other JRPGs or anime, some characters may seem a little saccharine but every story beat and character has purpose bringing this world alive. Whether it is main story dialogue or the disrespectful comments from a random NPC, every bit of dialogue is well written and will have you quoting “Nin-Nin-Nin” or “Prinny Dood!” before you know it.

Undoubtedly the main draw to Disgaea though is the gameplay and that is where the game really shines or starts to feel a bit daunting to the newcomer from my experience. Veterans may need to readjust to the older style of play but it should all feel pretty natural. Combat is very menu heavy but the basics are quite easy to pick up and the tutorials guide you in the right direction. There are a LOT of lesser known or discussed gameplay mechanics that can help improve your odds at surviving and having someone handy that has played the series before is invaluable. Once it gets its hooks in though, you will find yourself playing stages over and over to get a little better and a little stronger. Between story missions and the “Item World” there are plenty of opportunities to get lost in with “just one more battle” – but the difficulty can definitely ramp up if you aren’t prepared correctly.

image source: Disgaea 1 Complete via NIS America

Overall, Disgaea 1 Complete is the perfect package for those on the Switch wanting to dive into this series or for those wanting to relive the story without having to suffer PS2 visuals. This is one game you can easily sink hundreds of hours into and one Switch title I would highly recommend.

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Mat Panek
Retromancer – Collector, repairer & fan of retro games & tech. Atari to Amiga, Nintendo to Sega! LD, Zip, Beta and a proud dad! One half of the TiredParents on Twitch.

Follow Mat on Twitter and Twitch

 

 

Disclosure: Disgaea 1 Complete [Nintendo Switch] was kindly provided by NIS America for this review.

 

Review: SNK 40th Anniversary Collection

We bet that when you think of SNK you think of the NEOGEO, however SNK was developing and publishing pretty decent arcade games well before the NEOGEO.

When the SNK 40th Anniversary Collection was announced earlier this year, we immediately took note, as we got quite excited at the prospect of playing SNK’s library of awesome classic games on our Nintendo Switch.

This collection represents SNK’s golden age of arcade games, a true arcade connoisseurs anthology, which is already proving quite popular in the office – we have to wait our turn on the shared Switch (Ed: perhaps we need to leave a coin on the screen!).

So which SNK games can you play straight away? The current list of titles, which is a mix of arcade and console ports, are a great start for the trip down memory lane:

  • Alpha Mission (Console/Arcade)
  • Athena (Console/Arcade)
  • Crystalis (Console)
  • Ikari Warriors (Console/Arcade)
  • Ikari Warriors II: Victory Road (Console/Arcade)
  • Ikari Warriors III: The Rescue (Console/Arcade)
  • Guerrilla War (Console/Arcade)
  • P.O.W. (Console/Arcade)
  • Prehistoric Isle (Arcade)
  • Psycho Soldier (Arcade)
  • Street Smart (Arcade)
  • TNK III (Console/Arcade)
  • Vanguard (Arcade)

But wait, there is more! On December 11, there will be an additional 11 games added (for free!) to the already packed collection – check out these beauties:

  • Munch Mobile (Arcade)
  • Fantasy (Arcade)
  • Sasuke vs. Commander (Arcade)
  • Chopper I (Arcade)
  • Time Soldiers (Arcade)
  • Bermuda Triangle (Arcade)
  • Paddle Mania (Arcade)
  • Ozma Wars (Arcade)
  • Beast Busters (Arcade)
  • Search and Rescue (Arcade)
  • World Wars (Arcade)

With regular patches being released to enhance gameplay experience (like the Day 1 patch adding ‘Single Stick’ mode amongst a raft of other improvements), this compilation truly gets better and better. The emulation has a few bumps here and there, but nothing that detracts from the overall gameplay experience – If you have never played these games or played them long ago, you would never notice. And as mentioned, patches are being released to tighten up any loose ends.

Speaking of user experience, the overall presentation is simply awesome, with an easy to use menu system that not only provides access to the arcade games with enhanced features (like rewind gameplay, auto-fire and 1080p resolution to name just a few), but also a brilliant museum mode where a lot of painstaking effort was made to catalogue and preserve the legacy of one of Japan’s leading developers, which includes high definition artwork and original promotional assets. We actually spent a lot of time in the museum going through each game and finding out information we could not find anywhere else – those of you that are into history and research will love this mode.

We are really glad that SNK chose to celebrate their extraordinary milestone by giving us, the gamers, a brilliant high quality compilation. The SNK 40th ANNIVERSARY COLLECTION is packed full of retro gaming goodness with top-notch features with a complimentary museum mode which tops off what is an already solid package for those of you craving for nostalgia.

This is an essential collection to add to your Nintendo Switch games library. The only problem you’ll have is making the choice between physical or download – either way, you can’t go wrong!

image source: NIS America

Disclosure: SNK 40th Anniversary Collection [Nintendo Switch – download] was kindly provided by NIS America for this review.