Top 100 SNES Review: #64 – Pocky and Rocky (1992)

What Just Happened?

P & R is weird and hectic. Come for the colorful, far-east imagination, stay to see the bizarre, then leave as soon as possible.

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Pocky and Rocky transversing the mountainside.

Sydlexia’s Ranking: #64/100
Developer: Natsume
My Rating: cropped-smooth-starcropped-smooth-star

It’s almost been 6 months since I’ve seen a Tanooki (Super Mario Bros. 3 Review).

Over that period of time, I’ve lived in another state for 2 months, wrote 50 blog posts, had someone squat in my subleased apartment using old Virginia common law, taught myself guitar posting videos on instagram, and reengaged with the Viola. Will Pocky and Rocky serve as a guide post for the future, making such an impact as to recall events in between?

Probably not. This game is a bit of mindless fun, but nothing really pulls you in.

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Top 100 SNES Game: #52 – Gradius III (1991)

Anxiety Attack With a Large Coffee.

How much stimulus can the human mind handle? Exactly enough to juggle and dodge 1300 sprites of doom. 

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A Gradius III and Double Dragon cross over?

Sydlexia’s Ranking: #52/100
Developer: Konami
My Rating: cropped-smooth-starcropped-smooth-starcropped-smooth-star

One theory for general anxiety disorder is that it’s due to some lowering of neuron-firing threshold. The entire nervous system is more excitable, and it takes very little stimulus to get widespread action potentials promulgating through your central nervous system.

If you don’t have this problem, Gradius III will surely give it to you: one-hit death, complicated bosses, tricky navigation, a hundred projectiles. While some might view beating the game as an accomplishment, I believe getting through it without increased cortisol levels more of a feat.

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Top 100 NES Review: #31 – Dr. Mario (1990)

The Antibiotic Resistance Crisis.

The rise of drug-resistant staph, pneumonia, and tuberculosis has its roots in this Mario-themed, puzzle game.

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Dr. Mario after completing his residency at Mushroom Kingdom Health Systems.

Sydlexia’s Ranking: #31/100
Developer:  Nintendo
My Rating: smooth-starsmooth-starsmooth-starsmooth-star

There is a healthcare crisis in this country right now and as we look at ways to manage costs, it is important to be self-reflective and address instances of abuse and waste.

Look no further than Dr. Mario. His clinical practice guidelines consist of nothing more than the over prescription of antibiotics. Not only does this not make sense (after all, the diagnosis is a viral infection that won’t respond to this type of treatment), he runs the risk of creating new strains of diseases that will be resistant to the very antibiotics he continues to dispense.

While the ethics of Dr. Mario’s decisions come into question, his puzzle adventure game does test the mind and makes one believe they too can practice medicine.

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Top 100 SNES Review: #12 – Secret of Mana (1993)

Reality of Teamwork.

Like a group project in college where two people do all the work and the rest are worthless, Secret of Mana is a reminder that you can still get things done on your own. 

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Louise, Bear and Diego.

Sydlexia’s Ranking: #12/100
Developer: Square
My Rating: smooth-starsmooth-starsmooth-starsmooth-star

Early games gave you only four letters for the protagonist’s name, and in keeping with the spirit of the role playing genre, I wanted to insert myself into the story as much as possible. Thus began Bear — short for Barrett, but far more intimidating (my Spanish, intimidation name is Oso Peligroso, but I only use that when I’m really in a bind).

Secret of Mana was another chance for me to live out my fantasies of being a youthful adventurer that leaves his small town to end up saving the world, so Bear was naturally the only name that made sense. This time I did not have to go it alone though: I had Diego (played by the really-real human Tanner) and Louise (played by an algorithm of 0s and 1s).  How would the three of us fare?

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Top 100 SNES Review: #17 – Star Fox (1993)

Geometric Joy

No matter your favorite polygonal structure (dodecahedron anyone?), you will enjoy flying through this math-class review of a rail shooter game. 

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Find the perimeter of the acute, isosceles triangle shown above.

Sydlexia’s Ranking: #17/100
Developer: Argonaut Software
My Rating: smooth-starsmooth-starsmooth-starsmooth-star

What a combination: a fox, hawk, toad and hare trapped within recessing parallelograms.

It’s hard for those who weren’t there to understand how interesting the promise of 3D games was. While the SNES was not ready to do it, many developers came up with “tricks’ to make the illusion of depth. Donkey Kong Country used rounded front characters on bubbled backgrounds to create a magic eye of 3D. Doom took advantage of Renaissance-era depth and perspective techniques to make it seem that monsters were moving positions.

Starfox did it through creating actual polygonal shapes, thus an actual precursor to what we would come to know from the psone and n64. While somewhat of an ugly first effort, the charm is still there, and the organic contributions of the four characters softens the hard edges of the environment.

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Top 100 NES Review: #46 – Kirby’s Adventure (1993)

The Archetypal Hero

Kirby shows up fashionable late to the NES party and provides a final jolt to a dying system with this introspective tale of fulfilling the Hero Archetype.

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Kirby destroying the ecology. Mercy, Mercy Me.

Sydlexia’s Ranking: #46/100
Developer: Hal Laboratory
Rating: smooth-starsmooth-starsmooth-star

This game has a lot of Japanese flair — I’m not sure how else to put it. Your character is a pink puffball that sucks in monsters and steals their abilities. Mini-games includes eating as many eggs as possible and an old Western dual. The opening sequence is a how-to-tutorial of how to draw kirby (“First you draw a circle…”). Your journey begins in vegetable valley and ends with a battle flight through the stars. This game leaves no ground uncovered, including the collective consciousness.

Along the way, you may become attached to the trials and desires of the pink enveloper, but by the end you realize that Kirby’s playful facade is just a cover for his performance as a Carl Jung archetype: the hero.

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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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