Top 100 PS1 Review: #92 – Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back (1997)

The Playstation’s Super Mario.

Crash Bandicoot 2 Title ScreenApe’s Ranking: #92/100
My Rating: StarStarStar

Every system from the 90s required a mascot with side-scrolling adventure. Early Mario and Sonic games are not that different to play. Both involve making articulate jumps as you perilously move from L to R.

Crash Bandicoot isn’t any different either. Even though it came out in the mid 90s and is 3D, the game sends you down train tracks and tunnels. There isn’t anything to explore; it’s a decorated hallway with tons of traps.

Somehow, it still gives you that visceral gut check. I cringed with every “almost made it” slip up and rang out in glee when entering the exit tunnel. What I was most interested in was the extra challenge of breaking all the boxes. The game boasts 45 hidden gems along with the mandatory 25 crystals. I thought i’d been spending a good part of my Winter pulling off amazing feats of daring acrobatics to close out this game with a 100%.

But, it really wasn’t worth it.

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Top 100 Xbox 360 Review: #94 – Diablo III (2012)

Junk Food.

This game is like playing slot machines except you are not wasting money, you are wasting your life. 

https___blogs-images.forbes.com_insertcoin_files_2015_08_diablo-3-new1.jpgGame FAQs Ranking:  #98/100
My Rating: StarStar

Some games try and reach a higher plane of existence. Using powerful narratives, nostalgic music, and stylized imagery, some games really come across as high art and should be adored.

Diablo III is more like Candy Crush.

The backdrop is the typical fantasy trope, but what really sets Diablo apart is what happens in the foreground: button smashing. Each piece of movable plastic on the controller is mapped to a different ability with different recharge times and effects. Battle is the effort to smash each button in the most efficient manner possible by timing your reflexes to be in line when an attack refreshes.

Battles are nothing more than reaction tests without consequences. Endless battle against hordes of enemies don’t matter as you skillfully press X-B-Y-R1-X-X-B-Y-L1-X-X-B-Y-X-B-Y-R1-X-X-B-Y-L1-X-X-B-Y-X-B-Y-R1-X-X-B-Y-L1-X-X-B-Y.

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Top 100 PS1 Review: #60 – Suikoden (1996)

Simple and Perfect.

Perfectly charming — no frills required.

Suikoden psone title screenApe’s Ranking: #60/100
My Rating: StarStarStarStar

How pure!

Suikoden harkens back to a time when characters and charm were more important than a silly sandbox game with a thousand permutations. An early scene puts the main characters around the dinner table with an impactful guitar solo that sets the mood for the rest of the game:

While the story might be pretty standard fair, the game boasts 108 characters for you to recruit for your rebellion army. Each one is unique in their own way and mostly avoids the pitfall of Chrono Cross where no one matters. Home base isn’t a static structure but rather a thriving community. This game builds a sense of connection with the world; you can’t wait to return home to see what your friends are up to.  Continue reading “Top 100 PS1 Review: #60 – Suikoden (1996)”

Top 100 N64 Review: #47 – Duke Nukem: Zero Hour (1999)

Toxic Masculinity Was Never So Much Fun.

You get to play as Johnny Bravo while objectify woman and aliens. 

Duke Nukem Zero Hour Title ScreenLesLites’ Ranking#47/100
My Rating: StarStarStarStar

Duke Nukem is an anachronistic, hyper-masculine protagonist released from the imagination of pre-teen boys. He’s charmingly foul-mouthed, can perform any feat due to machismo, and ladies find him irresistible. Who else could the FBI rely on to travel through time and save Earth from an alien invasion?

The game is a blast since it realizes its front man is ridiculous. Instead of apologizing for Duke, they decide to turn the dial up to 100.  Sexual innuendos are abound and there are plenty of laugh-out-loud quips. The enemies are varied with distinct gun types that lead to a fair amount of strategy. While the shooting is old school, at least the mapping to the N64 controller is serviceable.

Let’s go save some babes, shall we?

Continue reading “Top 100 N64 Review: #47 – Duke Nukem: Zero Hour (1999)”

Top 100 SNES Review: #73 – Super Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back (1993)

Best Movie, Worst Video Game.

This is the weakest of the SNES Trilogy.

Title ScreenSydlexia’s Ranking: #73/100
My Rating: Star

Woah. This was a rough one for me.

I want to know how I was able to achieve so much more at 9 than 31. The snow covered hills of Hoth and cloudy city of Bespin were impenetrable. What made it worse was how tedious it all was. Instead of reliving the best moments of the movie, you get to explore…caves. Then, you are rewarded with…more caves.

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Top 100 SNES Review: #14 – Contra III: The Alien Wars (1992)

Friends Forever.

Nothing cements life-long relationships like repeated death in the face of an alien invasion. 
Contra III The Alien Wars Title Screen
Sydlexia’s Ranking: #14/100
My Rating: cropped-smooth-star-e1545863035586cropped-smooth-star-e1545863035586cropped-smooth-star-e1545863035586cropped-smooth-star-e1545863035586cropped-smooth-star-e1545863035586

Over the past year, I’ve played Contra III multiple times with different people. It’s inclusion on the SNES Classic has made it easy to get into a two-player bug tussle for the fate of humanity. The game is best with multi-player; I can’t imagine it being as fun if you decide to go at it alone.

That’s because this game can be brutal. What would otherwise be a frustrating solo endeavor leading to a probable temper-tantrum becomes a shared experienced: you are both in this ridiculous plight together, and with some judicious tactics and occasional reckless abandon, you can make this happen…

…as long as you get past stage three.

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Top 100 N64 Review: # 16 – Donkey Kong 64 (1999)

A Junk Drawer of a Game.

Collecting Bananas, Golden Bananas, Medals, Coins, Boss Keys, Melons, Oranges, Headphones, Crystals, Blueprints, Crowns, Ammo, Barrels…JUST MAKE IT STOP!

Donke Kong N64 Title ScreenLesLites’ Ranking#16/100
My Rating: Star

I have a great memory.

For instance, I remember being at Circuit City (a now defunct electronics store) looking at the cover of Final Fantasy X. I just got a PS2 for Christmas, and with some holiday cash, I was bringing home one of the best RPGs of all time. I remember heading down stairs to the basement, putting the fan on high, and thinking — Final Fantasy isn’t going to be around forever — I need to enjoy tis (heavy thoughts for an 8th grader). I got to Besaid Island and immediately hit pause. I sat there and let that song soak into my bones, a memory I can recall to this day.

I can’t recall ANYTHING about DK64 even though I owned and beat it. I do recall a conversation I had with a cousin. She lamented not having the game and was excited at the proposition that one day she, too, would play DK64. Well let me tell you something cousin: I clearly suffered post-traumatic amnesia due to this game. This game’s awful.

DK64 boasts gigantic worlds but with nothing in them — EXCEPT THINGS TO COLLECT. A dimension of abandoned polygons, items spill out over the landscape like the junk drawer in your kitchen. To make matters worse, items are color-coded to match one of the five kongs you control. Not only do you have bananas, you have red bananas, purple bananas, yellow bananas, blue bananas, and green bananas. Not only do you have coins, you have red coins, purple coins, yellow coins….

This permutation continues, creating a situation where you constantly switch between the Kongs through backtracking barren worlds to collect the appropriately colored item. DK64 is not so much about puzzles but errands. The most important skill to succeed is not your intellect or problem solving but your memory to recall the location of discrete bands of color-coded objects.

Continue reading “Top 100 N64 Review: # 16 – Donkey Kong 64 (1999)”