As a child of the ’90s, I grew up on the “Disney Afternoon” cartoon lineup. All the shows received the video game treatment for either 8‑bit, 16-bit systems or for both consoles at the time. I had a Sega Genesis and wondered when Disney would license a game based on a DA show for Genesis. Little did I know, Sega had license deals with Disney directly, and like Disney games made by Capcom, Sega made a game that wasn’t another “DuckTales,” but was set in the series’ universe and had its regular characters. His name is Donald Duck, and he made his debut in platform gaming in “QuackShot Starring Donald Duck.” In QuackShot, Donald sets out on a treasure hunt stretching across nine stages. One day in Duckburg, Donald visits his Uncle Scrooge and while checking out his library, Donald stumbles upon a message from King Grazuia, an old ruler of the Great Duck Kingdom who has hidden his legendary treasure across the world. Enclosed with the message is a map that Donald believes leads to treasure that would make him richer than Uncle Scrooge. However, Big Bad Pete and his gang also find out about the treasure and set off after Donald, turning the treasure hunt into a race to see who gets it first. Control of our daring adventurer is simple with the d‑pad and, combined with abundant options, ensures that you can set up movement, weapon use and dashing to specific buyouts. Donald may have odds against him, but he has some advantages with his plunger gun utilizing yellow plungers to stop Pete’s henchmen and other foes temporarily with an unlimited supply, and a reloadable popcorn gun that shoots five kernels at once. Donald also has some of the “DuckTales” crew helping him: Nephews Huey, Dewey, and Louie provide transportation to each destination, and Gyro Gearloose provides Donald with bubblegum ammo that can break down obstacles. The MVP weapon in the game is the “quack attack,” which Donald can use to knock down any enemies instantly. I give credit to Sega for using Disney’s knowledge of Donald’s temper. The graphics and music were excellent, lively, and bright for an appropriately spry game. The downsides to “QuackShot” are few but are similarly found in most platform games. You must ensure perfect timing for Donald when he either crosses dangerous obstacles or performs his dash move. Also, mildly infuriating is small voice sample usage for the characters as this was not only a debut game for Donald, but also it is set in the DuckTales universe. There was so much untapped potential for rich, established history. Finally, you can only start the game in Duckburg, Mexico, or Transylvania. To pass later stages, you need a particular item, so there is a lot of backtracking unnecessarily. “QuackShot Starring Donald Duck” was one of the games that I started off with as a Genesis owner. A solid platformer, it showed that Sega had talent of developing consoles and legendary games using original and licensed characters. Most importantly, I got to see another Disney classic character get his limelight in his first video game with a starring role. Carry on Donald, carry on.
Strider Hiryu. Best known for his appearances in the Marvel vs. Capcom series, he has been considered a top-tier character by players and is consistently popular. Strider also appeared in a standalone game in 2014 for various consoles at the time. However, Strider was already established, starting in 1989 with his original arcade release that was ported to the NES and to the Genesis in 1990 via Sega. It was titled, yep, you guessed it, “Strider.” In the year 1998, after a series of disasters fell upon Earth, people across the globe realized their situation and began to work together to rebuild. Four years later, in an Eastern European nation called Kazafu several red dots appeared as the advance guard of the evil space being Meio. They caused immediate destruction of Kafazu, Europe, and North and South America, resulting in 80 percent of Earth’s population being wiped out. However, on a small South Seas Island called Moralos, a secret organization known as “Striders” began to move to stop Meio’s reign of terror. They sent their best agent, Hiryu, forward with the task of stopping Meio and his plans for world domination. Control of Hiryu is simple, allowing him to attack in either direction, duck when fighting, and climb to reach higher areas. Hiryu also has use of his plasma sword, Falchion, to assist in removing enemies from any direction on the screen. I also found that Hiryu has two reliable techniques that are game-changers: a sliding move that gets him in tight areas, and a cartwheel move that allows you to glide from surface to surface while in a spinning wheel, making Hiryu unpredictable when he lands. Hiryu also can perform a vertical jump, hanging and squatting attacks with Falchion. Hiryu will also get some mission support from three battle robots: Dipodal Saucer, which fires lighting bolts wherever Hiryu swings Falchion; RoboPanther, which covers Hiryu from frontal attacks; and, Robot Hawk, which assists Hiryu by severely attacking airborne enemies. Apart from the usual powerups in hack-and-slash games, there’s also a powerup that increases Falchion’s power. The music is acceptable for each stage, matching its theme with a few standout tracks for the levels. As much as I love Strider, there are a few flaws. The challenge is on full display from the moment you hit start. In the options screen, you can add up to five lives for Hiryu, but you must frustratingly hunt down extra lives and score points to acquire the rest. You also have an obnoxious time limit for each stage; if you don’t clear a level in time, you’ll lose a life. I also found it frustrating that Hiryu can gain up to five life bars, but if he has a support partner, that can be taken away if he suffers too much damage. That makes his mission much more difficult unnecessarily at times. Strider is perfect for anyone who wants to act out their post-dystopian hero fantasies without fear of possible legal retribution. It’s an enduring classic that has transcended the hack-and-slash genre and made a name for itself in the fighting game community via the MvC series. If there was ever a time that I wish that Strider Hiryu was real and ready to kick a certain villainous country’s ass, that time is now. Hail, Hiryu-sama.
Chances are, if you’re thinking about buying this retro package of Final Fantasy, you’ve already played at least one of the two games included. So, why buy this? Because the packaging is the draw, and it’s a must-own if you like the Final Fantasy series. Let’s start with the obvious: Final Fantasy Anthology does not have a lot of Final Fantasy games included. Two classics with interesting and storied backgrounds are here: Final Fantasy V and Final Fantasy VI. Until this release, Final Fantasy V had never been translated and released in the U.S because it was deemed too hard for the market. Final Fantasy VI was released in the U.S. as Final Fantasy III. It was a critical darling in both markets and is widely regarded as one of the best retro-era Final Fantasy games and role-playing games ever. So, Square Enix putting these two games together in a package would kill two birds with one stone: Good sales — nearly a million copies sold — and introduction of a “lost” game to the barely tapped market. Square Enix succeeded on both fronts. Released in the U.S. and PAL regions, FF Anthology features FFV and FFVI in full with new CG introduction movies for both games. Although we have reviewed FFV previously (see 2Q2010 issue), we have never reviewed FFVI. Just know, however, that both games are fantastic, with FFV as our choice to play in the package. Both games have a deep story with memorable characters that you come to know and love by the end of your adventure, and beautiful graphics and stunning soundtracks. It’s a testament to the strong storytelling found in the retro FF era, and the package is better for including these two games particularly. Rounding out the package is the other highlight: The included bonus soundtrack CD. The soundtrack features 22 of the best tracks from both games, with our favorites coming from the FFV portion. FFVI does have some bangers, also, so the soundtrack is great addition all around. What you should care about — and why you should buy this package — is the fact that you’re getting the best of the 2D Final Fantasy games. Add in that soundtrack CD, which is like a gateway to FF music, and you have a good deal with in-depth gameplay to boot. This is Square Enix at its best before it embraced the 3D era for its flagship role-playing series.
It’s one thing to trade off of nostalgia. And we all know Nintendo does that often and well. What we don’t often get to see is Nintendo using its history to change the way its games are played. Until now. That’s where Ultimate NES Remix comes in. The question is, do you want to play these remixed games again and at what price?
Remix takes a few of your favorites NES titles and adds different conditions to them in an attempt to spice things up a bit. In Super Mario Bros., for instance, you have to reach the goal in a certain amount of time or defeat a certain number of enemies within a time limit. That’s the mundane stuff in the beginning. Later edicts get harder the further down a game’s list you go so as to provide more of a challenge. Whether or not you enjoy these challenges depends sharply on whether or not you enjoy playing games you probably already have played and want to see something different within them.
While the challenges may be different, there isn’t much else different about the games. The music and graphics from the 8‑bit era remain intact and about the only thing that’s changed is the slick modern packaging of the Ultimate Remix itself and the addition of leaderboards and championship mode. So, don’t come into this expecting depth or some magical upgrade to modern day standards of graphics.
If you enjoy the days of yesteryear and can and will pay $30 for a compilation challenge package, by all means shell out for Ultimate NES Remix. The challenges are amusing for the most part, and there are a few extras that make playing through the multitude of games offered (16 in all) a real treat. But take it with a large grain of salt and look at it for what it is: A chance to drag the original NES games out that you loved as a kid, more than likely, to get a piece of your now-adult wallet. Ultimately, this could have been a lot more.