ICOM Simulations / NEC
Genre: Action Run and Gun
What I can remember as a kid is primarily based in the 1990s. It seemed like everything was X-Treme, dayglo, or in Pog form. It was also the prime time for the major players in gaming like Sega and Nintendo. When my father was helping out at his friend’s video rental place, though, I found a cozy spot behind the counter playing the TurboGraphx-16 they had set aside for display so games like Bonk’s Adventure and Air Zonk were favorites growing up.
One game I vaguely remembered was Yo’ Bro, but the years had washed away a lot of the experience. I remembered a tie to the Beach Boys and something about a bear on a skateboard. I also remembered really enjoying it as a kid, but at the time, I was about seven years old or so. My taste in games hadn’t developed quite as well as it has now, and even now, I’m pretty easy to please.
Since I’ve been diving into the system’s library again, I needed to see how my vague memories stacked up against the reality of what Yo’ Bro had to offer. With a title that screams “straight out of the 90s”, it was entirely possible that it might be a relic of the past better left coated in dust. On the other hand, it was possible I could uncover a hidden gem that had fallen to the wayside against other games vying for the attention of impressionable youngsters.
In the end, there was really only one way to find out. Continue reading
Tiny Toon Adventures
Nintendo Entertainment System
I grew up with the Looney Tunes among other cartoons and television. It might be more apt to say that my parents grew up with the Looney Tunes since most of the shorts I watched with Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, and the rest of the crew were created well before my time. There were still cartoons being produced starring those ink and pen anthropomorphic comedians but while they were teaching me the fundamentals of well-timed jokes, they were clearly having a bit of an issue reaching a younger generation.
Cut to 1990 when Warner Brothers, the company that produced Looney Tunes and the Merrie Melodies cartoons, decided that they wanted to “inject new life” into their animation department by creating a show that featured younger versions of the characters the public had come to know and love. Alongside plenty of other shows that turned classic characters into children and babies at the time, Tiny Toon Adventures, a cartoon about the next generation of Warner Brothers’ stars in training, came to life.
As was the way at the time, once the show had proven to be remotely successful, the market was flooded with merchandise. Stuffed dolls, lunchboxes, coloring books and, of course, video games. The first of these to hit the shelves was for the Nintendo Entertainment System a year after the cartoon had its first episodes on the air. Given the mild phenomenon, the game arrived to mostly great reviews across the board. I had some fond memories of playing this game with my babysitter as a kid, but I know some of my other favorite games growing up have let me down as I’ve gone back to them now.
As usual, I had to figure out if Tiny Toon Adventures was one of those games that would fold under the weight of time.
Phantasy Star III: Generations of Doom
Genre: Sci-Fi Role-Playing
There are elements that a series needs to hold its own after a number of iterations. Looking at franchises like Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest, Breath of Fire– and yes, Phantasy Star- there is always a need for new mechanics, more engaging stories, and overall higher quality content to justify to the fans that they should return to your series. The first entry is an introduction; a work that needs to be pushed through its outward presentation before gamers will give it a whirl. The second entry is a proving ground, where a series shows that it can deliver lightning in the same place again with a few upgrades here and there.
The third entry is the experiment. With Final Fantasy, we got interchangeable classes. With Dragon Quest, the ability to create your own party with their own quirks. With Phantasy Star III: Generations of Doom, there was a solid jumping off point with the improvements that the second game offered over the first, but there were still some mechanics that could use a little work for one reason or another. Given the success of the series thus far and being the first RPG series on the Sega system, it was imperative for the third Phantasy Star to dig in its heels and stake its claim to continue on successfully.
While we know that Phantasy Star IV released, leading one to believe that part three can’t have done too poorly, how exactly does Phantasy Star III stand up to the rest of the series? Given how fondly people usually speak about the second and fourth pieces of the mainline series, it’s interesting to see the evolution into the third and where it hits and misses the targets set up by prior entries.
If you’d like, feel free to check out my prior analysis of Phantasy Star and Phantasy Star II before reading up on this entry!
Final Fantasy Adventure
Genre: Action Role-Playing
The history of the Final Fantasy series in North America is a convoluted one, especially in the early entries. The mainline entries were numbered in difference to their actual positions in the series due to our only receiving half of them before Final Fantasy VII, and there are a variety of games that had the Final Fantasy brand stapled to them upon release here. Due to a number of reissues and adaptations, however, most of these have been ironed out.
Most fans of the series know that Final Fantasy Adventure is not considered a part of the actual series. For a bit of history, the game was released in Japan as Seiken Densetsu (translated as Legend of the Sacred Sword): Final Fantasy Gaiden, indicating that while the game was related to the Final Fantasy series, it was meant to be a side-story. The game’s origins become even more confusing when you factor in that this entry was released as Mystic Quest in Europe. As Mystic Quest in North America was actually Final Fantasy USA in Japan-
Let’s just say that the name Final Fantasy Adventure is a misleading name in the grand design of Square’s catalogue, and while it has also been fixed with the recent remake- the game was released as Adventures of Mana– for a long time, the Final Fantasy name carried a lot of weight in both reputation and quality at the time that this game came out. Does that mean that this game leaves the same impression that the rest of the titles did, though?