SEGA AGES Phantasy Star: Pretty Much, Perfection

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And quite well, in this case (Ha and ha-ha).

As soon as I heard that Phantasy Star was making a return as a digital exclusive on the Nintendo eShop, there went that not needing to ask for a review code stuff. Yeah, I  immediately bought it outright (it’s a mere $7.99) because back on the Sega Master System, it was the first JRPG I played and it’s been a game I’ve gone back to a few times, the last being om the Game Boy Advance where we got three of the first four games squeezed onto a single cart (to mixed results). Yes, I still have that one in the library, but I’m not even going to bother comparing it to what’s here (just yet) because once you fall down the Phantasy Star rabbit hole (Rappy hole?), you’re not coming up for air anytime soon.

 

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More Mega Cat News Means More Cool Games To Paw At

Well, this is a nice surprise on a mundane yet maddening Monday – MORE Mega Cat  Studios games are popping up on the company online shop just in time for your holiday buying needs, as as it’s Cyber Monday (whee!), you’ll get a nice bonus in the form of a

FREE GAME WITH ORDERS OVER $100 

use code CYBER18 during check out!
Mega Cat and his elves have been sweating it out in the workshop to get this deal ready for you!
Cyber Monday ONLY – get a free Retroid handheld game
with any purchase of $100 or more

 

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Hey, who doesn’t love free stuff? Even if you don’t have a GB to play this on, I bet you know someone who does who’d love this as a gift (like, er…. me!)

Even better, spend $175 or more and your order ships FREE (in the U.S. of A, at least). I won’t tell you what to buy, as everything looks great and heck, if you’re a collector, you’re likely throwing your wallet at whatever screen you’re reading this news on.

-GW

 

 

Capsule Reviews: Mega Cats, MagiCats, and Other Critters of Note

Yes, we’re playing a bit of mega-catch up here, but it’s a weird and wild season on a few fronts and staying in an entertaining mood is quite tricky when the walls and floors are moving constantly. Anyway, here’s a few quick takes and hearty Holiday Gift Guide recommendations, kinda retro games division. Buy them all if you’re into what they bring to the table:

little-medusa-sega-box Little Medusa (Sega Genesis/NES/SNES): Mega Cat Studios has been pumping out some truly excellent retro content for those who still own either original hardware or the means to play cart games on those newer retro consoles. Little Medusa is a tough little number that will have fans of the classic puzzler Kickle Cubicle grinning and grimacing in equal measure as they play through this colorful, challenging update to the Irem arcade and later, NES hit.

As Artemiza, a young goddess transformed into a Gorgon by the escaped Titans, you’ll need to turn enemies into stone using her steely (stony?) gaze and quickly push them into place in order to clear five tricky levels of increasing difficulty. This one works best if you’ve a trusty, well-used controller or a new one that’s super responsive. Like plenty of classics from the 8 and 16-bit era, expert players can whip through this in a lazy weekend, but the thrill of a good game is always having it handy no matter how many times you’ve beaten it, so all hail Mega Cat for getting this out in physical form at a few price points so that collector side is satisfied.

Score: B+ (85%)

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Fist of the North Star: Paradise Lost Launch Trailer: Sega, On a Roll With Everything

 

Fist_of_the_North_Star_Lost_Paradise_coverI don’t know about you, but I think Sega has been having a few really awesome years packed with mostly high-quality releases, HD upgrades (Bayonetta and Vanquish on PC are superb must-buys) and yep, even Sonic the Hedgehog blazing and bouncing back to his former 90’s glory. The latest big deal game, Fist of the North Star: Lost Paradise,  is from the studio that makes the stellar Yakuza series and uses that game’s versatile engine to great effect.

I finally got around to playing the demo and yes, am currently downloading the full game as we speak. I’m still plowing through the enormously entertaining and borderline brilliant Valkyria Chronicles 4 (I should have a review up by Friday or Saturday) and I still haven’t gotten to the Sega Ages stuff on the Switch yet.  Yeah, that will get sorted soon enough, but today, I’m going to be making some people dance for a bit (well, not quite like this, though):

 

 

 

Back in a bit.

-GW

Coffee Talk 1: The Daily Grind, I Guess

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Despite that name, no aliens were harmed in the making of this post.

 

I’m no coffee connoisseur, but I’ve certainly had my share of awful cups over the decades. Granted, I was never a badass brew-meister, but amusingly enough got my first gig making coffee at a law firm I worked at back in the early 80’s as a messenger/light legal clerk (or: a messenger who could pick up and deliver all sort of legal stuff from paperwork to banking related stuff). No one else in the small office could make a good pot of coffee, although there were two secretaries who did the basics with the office’s pricey Bunn automatic.

One day, one of the gals was out sick and the other kind of refused to make the coffee, so I figured “what the hell, it doesn’t look *too* hard”, only to discover one reason the guy running the firm wasn’t happy with the coffee was no one had EVER cleaned the darn machine. Ugh. I ended up hoofing it down to the nearest deli, buying a few cups of coffee there for the lawyer, rushing back and giving the Bunn and area around it a thorough scrubbing. At one point, the lawyer popped out of his office and saw what I was doing and was kind of floored that someone would go to all that trouble. Yes, he reimbursed me for the coffee I’d bought and told me that I was now responsible for getting that brewer brewing up his cuppa Joe. Pressure much?

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Sega Genesis Classics Switch Bound This Winter

Sega Genesis Classics Switch

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Oh, yeah. It’s SO on this Winter on the Switch.

Hot on the heels of the SEGA AGES™ titles announced last week and set to launch during the Tokyo Game Show, SEGA continues a winter of bringing great classics to the portable Switch. Retro fans can now finally play the Genesis Classics collection on their way to school or work, in their lunch break or basically anywhere on the go! SEGA Genesis Classics has over 50 retro favorites to experience across every genre: arcade action, shooters, beat’em ups, puzzlers and hidden gems, with a raft of modern features. Exclusively for the Nintendo Switch players can now compete in same-screen local coop mode and use each Joy-Con individually if desired. Familiar features like online multiplayer, achievements, mirror modes, rewind and save states are all part of the collection for everyone to revisit and enjoy.

The physical edition of SEGA Genesis Classics is now available for pre-order from U.S. retailers. Details of the digital pre-order will soon be announced.

On one hand this was wonderfully inevitable, but on the other, it’s a case where some stubborn Sega or Nintendo-only diehards will need to pipe down and accept what’s going to be a superb deal when all is said and done. Remember, Sega games new and old have popped up on Nintendo’s systems for quite some time after the company got out of the console business.

I’m guessing that “winter” release timeline means before the end of the year, but I’ll err on the side of “sometime between December and next March” just to be on the safe side. Between this and the upcoming Sega Ages collection, it’s certainly going to a great time for Sega and its legion of loyal fans. Yep, I have this set already on other consoles and PC but it’s still a triple or quadruple dip so that nostalgia thing spreads like fresh butter on hot toast.

-GW

Shenmue I & II: It’s Back, and a Must-Buy

 

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“Hey, man… wake up! We’re finally out again on consoles (except the Switch) and PC!”

Speaking of backs: With my poor back giving me some trouble these past few days (ow), updates have been tricky to do, but I’m grinning and grimacing through the pain just to let you all know (well, those who haven’t snapped it up yet on PS4, Xbox One, or PC) that Shenmue I & II is out for $29.99 (physical or digital). Cue the parade sound effects!  I actually only got around to ordering a copy yesterday thanks to thinking it was shipping next week (oops), but it’ll arrive tomorrow, so I’m not too far out of the loop. I’d normally say that I can finally sock away my Dreamcast and original Xbox, but I still use them for other games because I am quite the nostalgic old coot. Anyway, let me get back to trying to give myself a back massage with a bunch of rolling pins (okay, not really, but it may come to that) and let you all go about your day.

Back (ow) in a bit.

(Thanks, SegaAmerica!)

Review: Sega Genesis Classics (PS4)

Sega Genesis Classics PS4Since you’re in a hurry, here’s the short version: Yes, Sega Genesis Classics is worth the $29.99 just for the JRPGs alone, but you’re getting a whole lot of other okay to really decent to superb games for that price. Here’s something to consider before you more jaded gamers turn up your noses at this latest Sega compilation that yes, has most of the same old games you’ve either played to death in the past or just have little to no interest in. Every day there’s likely someone trying out a retro game of some sort and those who’ve never tried anything on the Genesis are going to be very well served here.

Granted, this collection is missing a few titles found on other collections (notably, the PC version which not only has a few more games, it allows users to mod and add other games as an option), there’s online play that’s not quite flawless and a rewind feature that can make certain titles too easy to beat. That said, as an introduction to a classic console, it’s quite the deal at the end of the day.

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Wait. If you leave the phone off the hook, you can’t call your friends over for some couch co-op action! Oh, you need to make more friends? Okay, then.

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Review: Shining Resonance Refrain (PS4)

SFRR_PS4 coverAs a longtime fan of Sega’s Shining series (the import version of Shining in the Darkness was the first JRPG I completed way back in 1992), it’s been quite interesting (to say the least) watching the series evolve over time. While the first game, the assorted Shining Force entries, Shining Wisdom, Shining the Holy Ark and the portable Shining Soul have been the most engaging, some of the games localized after that point fall into the hit or miss category.  The last three I played, Shining Tears, Shining Force Neo and Shining Force EXA traded in the first person dungeon crawling found in SitD and Shining The Holy Ark and the more strategic play in the Shining Force games with seemingly simpler hack and slash action against some very powerful enemies that made combat quite challenging. While there was some enjoyment to be found in these despite a few flaws, the bloom was definitely not on the Shining rose during the PS2 era.

Shining Resonance Refrain ($49.99) isn’t quite the return to glory the series needs, but this enhanced port of the 2014 PlayStation 3 import manages to be quite enjoyable overall. Developer O-Two took the Media Vision original PS3 game and added an all new “Refrain Mode” that allows players to experience the game with two of its main foes as playable characters along with what seems to be a nice load of included  (on disc or as part of the digital download) DLC content added at no cost across all platforms. Yes, it’s best to explore Refrain Mode after you’ve played the main game, as plenty of spoilers abound. But if that’s your thing, you do you, I say. It’s also the first time a new game in the Shining series has appeared on current-gen consoles and PC and hopefully, it will do well among JRPG fans on those platforms.

 

 

The game hits all the expected notes many JRPGs take these days from lengthy expository scenes, a cast filled with familiar likable to annoying characters, a decent combat system, and more than enough strangeness that might knock the wind out of the sails of those new to these types of games when they see some of the game’s kookier moments. When your party members or enemies break out into song as part of an attack, it’s more than clear you’re not in Kansas anymore. But if you surrender, Dorothy, it’s all in good fun at the end of the day.

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Review: Dragon’s Crown Pro (PS4)

DCP_PS4An instant classic on both artistic and pure gameplay levels, Dragon’s Crown Pro ($49.99) has finally arrived on PS4 with buffed up 4K visuals and cross-platform play/save compatibility with the PS3 and Vita versions. It’s a game that also hopefully going to be one of those true evergreens that new players will want to add to their libraries because it offers enough replay value to keep you dialed in each time you pick up that controller.

The game’s original notoriety to some for its mildly bawdy artwork for some of the female characters (but you get a half naked muscular dwarf as a counter to that) ends up being much ado about nothing. If you’ve a working brain in your skull, you’ll know the difference between gorgeous stylized artwork and solid animation and somehow deeming the game “controversial” because one doesn’t appreciate the very intentionally over-exaggerated art. That and hell, it’s a Vanillaware game, so assorted forms of pulchritude are a necessary non-evil.

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“Waiter, there’s a fly in m… oh, never mind (ogle!)

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