Enter If You Dare – Nintendo 64 – Castlevania – 1999

TitleCastlevania
Nintendo 64
Konami/KCEK
Genre: Action Adventure
1999

Since the earlier days of console gaming, Castlevania has been a standout series alongside esteemed first-party brethren like Super Mario Bros. and The Legend of Zelda. Over the course of the 8 and 16-bit days, the series managed to produce just under 10 or so unique games for itself, and the popularity it gained after the night-untouchable Symphony of the Night released on Playstation made it a force to be reckoned with. While keeping true to its core mechanics, for the most part, Castlevania rode the waves of evolution over generations in a way that many series with they could have, whether by quantity or quality.

Inevitably, this would mean that when the jump to 3D gaming started to rise with Super Mario 64 and The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Castlevania would surely take the leap with them. With a strongly established mythos and plenty of recognizable elements, the series brought a dark tone to the otherwise colorful and fantastical offerings plenty of other powerhouses had been for years to the Nintendo world.

Looking back now, there are some horrors aside from the creatures of the night the Belmont Clan had been used to that many games entering the 3D arena had to compete with. Notoriously, Castlevania 64 tripped into some of these pitfalls, but so did plenty of the heavy hitters during that time. Why, then, have we seen so much love for Super Mario 64 and Ocarina of Time but not for Konami’s attempt at making a more immersive trip to the Count’s castle abode? Continue reading

With Honey Comes the Sting – Sega Dreamcast – Blue Stinger – 1999

screenshot_215Blue Stinger
Sega Dreamcast
Climax Graphics/Activision
Genre: Action Adventure
1999

During its launch in the US, Sega’s new Dreamcast console released with 18 games in tow. While that’s not a paltry number for the time, there were only a handful of recognizable titles in the mix like Sonic Adventure and Mortal Kombat Gold. Titles like Soulcalibur and House of the Dead 2 weren’t exactly household titles yet but were familiar to the arcade going crowd. Then, there was a host of games to file under the “unknown” label; intellectual properties that were getting the chance to grow and become new franchises on a sparkly new system.

Blue Stinger is the system’s sole attempt at a straight-up action adventure game from their launch. With the newly formed Climax Graphics at the helm and heavyweight publisher Activision helping the game, it looked to be a formidable attempt at starting a new series in the vein of Dino Crisis and other success stories from the time. I still remember seeing a hefty amount of advertising pushing the game in magazines, and my best friend at the time had grabbed a copy almost immediately because it looked so good.

Unfortunately, I didn’t remember much about playing it aside from the opening scenes when I dove into it recently. As a huge fan of the Dreamcast and its unique library, Blue Stinger is a game I’ve been meaning to take a trip through given its strange existence in the gaming community today- plenty of folks seem not to remember the game exists and those who do have polarizing views on it.

Having dug my heels in to finish it recently, I have my own thoughts on it to share on both how it holds up and regarding its place in gaming at the time. Continue reading

Stranded, Steadfast, and Surviving – Nintendo Entertainment System – Startropics – 1990

Startropics 1

Startropics
Nintendo Entertainment System
Nintendo
1990
Genre: Action Adventure

Over the years, certain properties of companies like Nintendo have fallen to the wayside. Some of them also have a cult following, fond memories of yesteryear making for occasionally fulfilled wishes of revisiting once promising stories and characters. One title in particular, Startropics, is a title that I remember from growing up but never really playing it, despite stories about how much fun it was. It fell off my radar growing up, though. Thanks to some manner of circumstance, Startropics came back into my periphery. I decided to seize that lost opportunity from years ago and take the game for a whirl.

Startropics has a couple of flags that pop up, so far as some of my research has come up with. Word has it that this is a Zelda clone. Given that the game came up mere years after the original Zelda, that wasn’t the most promising thing I could hear, but it’s certainly not a strike against the game from the outset. There has to be some reason that the game didn’t spawn more than one sequel, though, right? If it has so many people who have such fond memories of it, it has to have done things right.

Could it be that the game was just a victim of being forgotten? Maybe it’s just the haze of nostalgia that’s left a mark on gamers who played during a simpler time?

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I’m Seeing Stars – MS-Dos – Star Control & Star Control 2 – 1990/1992

Star Control title

Star Control 2 box

Star Control & Star Control 2
MS-Dos
Accolade
© 1990/1992
Genre: Sci-fi Action Adventure & Shoot ’em Up

You may have noticed I’m doing an original and sequel once again. While I would normally spread these out across a couple of weeks, the second entry in this series is a direct continuation of the first in gameplay and story.  Star Control is almost like a prequel to the real game, Star Control 2 in storyline.  Really, the two games are an update and continuation on a much older franchise that can trace itself back to the origins of videogaming: a noble and successful take on Spacewar.

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