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 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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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 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 NES Review: #12 – Metroid (1986)

Brutal Exploration

Rating: smooth-starsmooth-star
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The NES is unique in gaming because it was the introduction to so many franchises: Mario, Final Fantasy, Zelda and Metroid. These franchises have now spawned several sequels and spin-offs and have appeared 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 just 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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