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. 

Screen Shot 2018-07-21 at 3.52.45 PM
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.

Continue reading “Top 100 SNES Game: #52 – Gradius III (1991)”

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. 

Screen Shot 2018-07-06 at 7.25.51 PM
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?

Continue reading “Top 100 SNES Review: #12 – Secret of Mana (1993)”

Top 100 SNES Review: #60 – Super Double Dragons (1992)

The Knife!

An electric-blue, phallic symbol of power is all that matters in this beat-em up adventure.

Screen Shot 2018-07-28 at 1.31.24 PM
A cyclone of samurai swords is nothing in comparison to the throwing knife.

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

The Lee brothers are at it again. The last time I got familiar with Billy and Jimmy, they taught me that life is not fair. In this reincarnation, they really don’t teach me much of anything: there is no plot, no story, no instructions. You are just dropped off in a world of baddies, smashing your way without a care in the world…

JUST WATCH OUT FOR THAT KNIFE. 

Continue reading “Top 100 SNES Review: #60 – Super Double Dragons (1992)”

Top 100 SNES Review: #25 – Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IV: Turtles In Time (1992)

Time Travel Made Easy

Ignoring difficult to explain paradoxes, four turtles get thrown into a beat-em-up style adventure that spans 250,000,000 years but only takes an hour or so to complete: I guess time is relative!

Screen Shot 2018-05-07 at 7.50.54 PM
Donatello’s David – a landmark in Western sculpture.

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

Before we had to concentrate on an eight-hour day of physical therapy lectures, I plugged my computer into the big screen and had a romp through NYC at 3am with someone who had never played video games in her life.

She giggled as I was electrocuted. She bubbled over when a wrecking ball flattened me. She rejoiced when we defeated the boss at the end of the level.

Games have just gotten too damn complicated today. There is something fully hedonistic of the classic beat-em up, and TMNT 4: Turtles and Time does it better than anyone else. Not only is it fun, but educational: history, evolution and art history all combined in one.

Continue reading “Top 100 SNES Review: #25 – Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IV: Turtles In Time (1992)”

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. 

Screen Shot 2018-05-08 at 7.12.43 PM
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.

Continue reading “Top 100 SNES Review: #17 – Star Fox (1993)”

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.

Screen Shot 2018-06-26 at 8.37.18 PM
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.

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

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

A Platformer That Gives Reason to Replay

Screen Shot 2018-02-08 at 6.51.38 PM

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.

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