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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Review: The SNES Omnibus: The Super Nintendo and Its Games, Vol. 1 (A–M)

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Get it from Amazon, or get it from the author himself with a some cool freebies (US buyers only on those), but just get it period if you’re an SNES fan.

Once again, I have the pleasure to plunge into another hefty, well-written tome by Brett Weiss and once again, it’s a must buy. Published by Schiffer Books, The SNES Omnibus: The Super Nintendo and Its Games, Vol. 1 (A-M)  is a solid 416 pages packed with Weiss’ personable personal reminiscences, recollections and remembrances (okay, they’re kind of the same thing, but I’m feeling a bit florid in my hyperbole today) on over 350 games for Nintendo’s stellar 16-bit console that, along with the Sega Genesis and other competitors, battled back and forth during the 1990’s for those hard-earned gamer dollars. Despite strong competition, until the Sony PlayStation’s dominance of the console space starting in 1994-95, the SNES ended up with a seven-year lifespan (the last officially licensed game was Frogger in 1998) and more than enough stellar titles to write a book about. Well, Weiss has written two SNES books (the second volume will be out at some point and I can’t wait to pore through that).

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There are also brief reviews from Weiss on the games he’s played along with other reviews and impressions ranging from short to lengthy and comedic to tragic from dozens of contributors that add interesting and sometimes multiple takes on certain key to not-so-key titles in the library.  I did a very short gargle-blab on one of my favorite games on the console, ALIEN³ that should have been longer in retrospect, but I think I wrote that close to the time (unbeknownst to me, surprise!)  I was about to be hospitalized for about a month, so I was a bit off my game.

A fine foreword by Bill Loguidice kicks off the book and there’s a nice page on the “console wars” that’s a miniature crash course in some of the frenzy of the era with game companies going all out to try and outdo each other with varying results. An interesting piece on emulation closes the volume with writer Alex McCumbers making the case for it in a clear and concise manner. But you’re buying this because you want to check out some titles you never knew existed, knew about but never saw (Hagane WAS available at retail – I got my copy at an Electronics Boutique thanks to the kid holding onto it putting it back and getting a cheaper used game instead) or just want to check out the assorted impressions Weiss rolls out in his amiable style. Recommended.

 

-GW

Got $25K Lying Around? You Can Own EVERY Super Nintendo Game Ever Released in North America.

SNES WOWHoly cats. This is one of those things that makes me wish I had a ton of money to toss around like a rapper making it rain in a strip club. Ebay user kaisetsuna has put up an amazing auction that features all 721 Super Nintendo games ever released in the US, Mexico and Canada. 500 pounds of games in assorted conditions, all with boxes (save for the handful of pack-in games that didn’t have them), most with manuals. Even crazier is how the lot was assembled and why he’s getting rid of such an impressive stash. He cobbled together the bulk of the games through multiple purchases, replacing battered boxes and when possible, manuals with better condition ones, cleaning up carts and more all for archiving the games for reference purposes and future emulation…

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Nintendo Power Shuts Down: The End of an Era, Despite Me Ignoring It (Mostly)…

Amusingly enough, I didn’t much care for Nintendo Power back when it launched in 1988. I wasn’t a big NES fanboy and I knew the mag was a house organ designed to pretend anything Nintendo was the best thing since sliced bread. Being system agnostic, I’ve always disliked this sort of thing when it’s that biased against other platforms, so it was quite easy to stick to my guns.  Sure, Nintendo was the company that pulled the game industry out from the grave back with the successful launch of the NES in 1985, then created the dedicated portable gaming market with the original Game Boy in 1989, but that didn’t mean they (or any other game company) could always ignore other platforms that had games of equal or better quality.

Despite Nintendo’s instant deity status among millions, initially, I wasn’t too impressed with the NES because I’d played Mario Bros., Super Mario Bros., Donkey Kong, Popeye, and a bunch of the other classic arcade ports to death (in actual arcades) and didn’t see the need to do so all over again, no matter how good the games were. Stubborn (and stupid), wasn’t I?  OK, maybe I was a tiny bit biased as well, as I somehow had little to no trouble playing some Sega Master System and later, Sega Genesis arcade ports. Ah well, nobody’s perfect, right? I  did come around to the joys of the NES and later, SNES once I got my paws on Final Fantasy, Dragon Warrior, Wizardry, The Bard’s Tale and a bunch of other RPGs I wasn’t seeing on any Sega platform, but that took a few years longer than it should have…

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