Top 100 NES Review: #60 – Double Dragon II: The Revenge (1989)

LIFE ISN’T FAIR

And other life lessons learned from Billy and Jimmy Lee in this erudite, side-scrolling, beat-em-up adventure.

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Billy Lee pondering his place within the technicolor dreamcoat of his existence.

Sydlexia’s Rating: #60/100
Developer: Technos Japan
My Rating: smooth-starsmooth-starsmooth-star

The beat-em-up genre defined an entire generation. Its repetitive-button smashing released personalized-serotonin hits allowing us to feel good while eschewing any actual personal development. I don’t know of any other category of video game that so easily mixes repeated motions with such a sense of accomplishment – complete entertainment with little effort.

Except when the Double Dragons are involved. 

What we have here is a compact set of nine levels, beautifully architected for the pithy purpose of teaching us that life’s lottery doesn’t always come up triple 7s. A perfect compliment to my summer of mismanaged love and unfortunate living arrangements, Double Dragons II helped me cope with the idea that this isn’t all my fault.

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Top 100 NES Review: #28: Duck Tales (1989)

Anthropomorphic Capitalism

If you value hoarding world treasures to enrich one’s net/self-worth, it’s time to start living out your dreams in this side-scrolling adventure!

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Globe Trotter: Scrooge McDuck risking his life in the Himalayas facing an Amazonian spider.

Sydlexia’s Ranking: #28/100
Developer:  Capcom
My Rating:smooth-starsmooth-starsmooth-star

There once was a cartoon called Ducktales that had a very catchy intro, and I guess it was so popular, it needed to be formatted into a video game — Uncle Scrooge wasn’t the only one trying to cash in, obviously.

This game is a rather unsettling experience: be prepared to have your idea of reality challenged. This game is a perfect blend of authenticity and phantasmagorical adventure, sometimes leaving me wondering how I am supposed to check the consistency of my conscious perceptions after having the veil pulled back by the McDuck family.

For a game consisting of only a few maneuvers (pogo-cane-jump and cane slap), the thrill of reaching new financial heights will keep you more than entertained as you travel in a world eerily similar to our own finding lucrative treasure such as the lost crown of Ghengis Khan, Scepter of the Incan King, and the Green Cheese of Longevity.

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Top 100 SNES Review: #5 – Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars (1996)

The Original Franchise Mashup

Featuring the Mario cast in an RPG format, this game is a throwback to when Nintendo and Square were on good terms and more so when Square was THE company for anything Role playing. 

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Mario, Peach and a new character Geno in classic turn-style RPG fight with HUD showing hit point information to boot.

Sydlexia’s Ranking: #5/100
My Rating: smooth-starsmooth-starsmooth-star

Mario was once just pixels on a screen — he moved from side-to-side and displayed a powerful red and blue sartorial combo, but you couldn’t really say you knew anything beyond that. The early Mario games were point A to B side-scrollers, and like how chess pieces have unique moves but no personality, you simply were scooting your square of pixelated art across the screen.

The Final Fantasy franchise made a killing on the Super Nintendo by turning those mundane patches of color into meaning. Final Fantasy 3/6 was the pinnacle point of characterization for the SNES (and maybe video games in general): there were 14 playable characters, each with their own motivations, fears and personalities. At the end of those games, you almost felt like you were saying goodbye to your friends since they had done such a good job at fleshing out those characters.

So who else would Nintendo trust when they wanted to turn their silent movie star into something more?

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Top 100 SNES Review: #19 – Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy Kong’s Quest (1995)

The Original Inspiration for Xbox Achievements.

This game gives reason for replay. 

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Sydlexia’s Ranking: #19/100
Developer: Rare
My Rating: smooth-starsmooth-starsmooth-starsmooth-starsmooth-star

This has always been a down low favorite game of mine, and it has a lot to do with all the secrets that are so enticing to find. Diddy Kong’s Quest offered the original Xbox Achievements as each level is scattered with hidden DK coins and tokens. I feel like this was the first time that someone considered replay value beyond a stale rerun through the same levels.

DK2 has the usual quirkiness that the game traditionally brings: a little bit of culture, bizarre animal enemies, and adult Kongs that have their own unique angles. Cranky Kong is probably a favorite as he chastises the player for having it so much easier than earlier gamers (arcade and NES era) and breaks the fourth wall a little bit. This always gave the game a boost of flare and made it more rememberable.

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Top 100 NES Review: #80 – The Adventures of Lolo (1989)

A Thinking Man’s Game

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Sydlexia’s Ranking: #80/100
Developer: Hal Laboratory
Rating: smooth-starsmooth-starsmooth-starsmooth-star

I have a soft spot for the puzzle genre in video games. I think it’s video gaming at its best: no story nor plot, just some basic mechanics that completely twist your brain.  I admire people who can turn a few simple rules into extremely engrossing mind riddles while inducing an effort headache as you try and solve them.

This is the Adventures of Lolo in a nutshell: couple of blocks, couple of buttons and couple of enemies, but put all together an extremely enjoyable game. There is a little bit of a backstory, as you play as Lolo trying to save Lala who has been kidnapped by the evil Eggers (view the above image if you need the emotional coloring). Lolo then has to go through 50 rooms of puzzles to save his princess.

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Top 100 SNES Review: #81 – Tiny Toon Adventures: Buster Breaks Loose (1993)

Fun, But Really Short (Like This Review)

Tiny Toons Title Screen

Sydlexia Ranking for top SNES games: #81/100
Developer: Konami
Rating: smooth-starsmooth-starsmooth-star

I was a Tiny Toon fan when I was a child; every day after school it was on, and not until I reached middle school did I make the jump to Dragon Ball Z on Toonami. My favorite episode is easily where they danced to old-school songs for a whole episode. Tiny Toons was always weird, popcultured, and cerebral, taking advantage of breaking the fourth wall to interact in a way different than other cartoons at the time.

So I guess no different than today, it is important to monetize anything we enjoy and video games seem to be an easy way to do that.

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Top 100 SNES Review: #90 – Super Star Wars: Return of the Jedi

Basic Platformer with Star Wars Stuff

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Sydlexia Ranking of Top SNES Games: #90/100
My Rating: smooth-starsmooth-starsmooth-star

This game might be the foundation for my worst video game memory and source of why I sometimes say “Yipchawww” in social settings.  Let me get the former off my chest, and why I retrospectively still take two stars off the rating.

You didn’t always beat the video game you owned in the 90s. With the lack of save features, it was not unusual to have a stack of games you played, owned, and never beat. This wasn’t always because you got bored with it; some games were just impossible to beat or were variable in their rewards. This meant anytime you go to those ending credits, you did something.

I had just defeated the emperor of the empire, and in my triumphant moment, I had 30 extra lives stockpiled. I couldn’t believe I had gotten to the end of the game with this many extra lives. I was on video game accomplishment high.

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Top 100 NES Review: #12 – Metroid (1986)

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SydLexia’s Ranking: #12/100
Rating: smooth-starsmooth-star

The NES is unique in gaming because it was the introduction to so many franchises: Mario, Final Fantasy, Zelda, Metroid, and more. These franchises have now spawned several sequels or spin-offs that appear on every platform possible. Metroid is one of those seminal events in gaming where a new concept arose and technology was finally good enough to execute it.

My concern was that I had never played this game before, and returning to a game that was made in 1986 (which almost doesn’t seem possible) after playing all of the newer versions might magnify the limitations of the original. I also thought of an article on Cracked : games used to be all about fun, unlike today, but truth is when you return to the them, you realize how frustrating they were.

Simply put, the original Metroid can be BRUTAL.

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The Top 100 SNES Review: #28 – Soul Blazer (1992)

Two Modes, Fun Concept

Soul Blazer title screen
Sydlexia’s Ranking: #28/100
Rating: smooth-starsmooth-starsmooth-star

Soul Blazer was a game that I knew absolutely nothing about, but I had heard much of it being from the heralded trifecta of Quintet, a Japanese video game company that created Act Raiser, Soul Blazer and Illusion of Gaia. Out of those game, Act Raiser was the only one I had played before, which was a cool mash-up of a city simulator and side-scroller fighter.

This game is no different as there are two different “modes” that you alternate between: 1) a dungeon crawler where you defeat enemies to release the souls of a town; 2) the town itself where the now freed residents help you with information/items to so you can get further in the dungeon. These two sections play off each other well as there was something satisfying about returning from a dungeon and seeing all the new things in town. Also, dying in any video game is typically frustrating, but having this mode to return to in-between dungeon bouts was refreshing.

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Top 100 NES Review: #1 – Super Mario Bros. 3 (1990)

Restoring My Faith in Humanity

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This resembles most of my intimate relationships – someone throwing a tantrum and the other person pretending to be a seal.

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This past summer, I had more time that any 29 year old with a life plan should have — an entire Summer off. Our graduate program doesn’t do Summer classes which is an oddity as most other physical therapy programs have you doing a lot in the summer. All this means is instead of taking a manageable amount of credits each summer, our program shoves all of those classes along with your other coursework to see if you snap like a brittle asparagus stalk. Don’t worry though folks – I believe in a bend, don’t break mental state.

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Graduate school: a blanch and shock for the mind.

Anyways, with all this free time, I decided it would be cool to achievement hunt and get to some Xbox 360 games I had purchased but never gotten around to playing. First up was Thief, a remake of a popular franchise that I only played part of it’s original incarnation on a sample PC game disc.  This Yotube review describes it as “loveless sex. You can enjoy it, but something just feels wrong.” I never thought of comparing the basis of Grindr to a video game other than pokemon.

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