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Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Much Needed Re-Releases Part 3

With digital media continuing to make a big splash, the market for retro gaming is ever expanding. And yet there are still numerous titles that have yet to surface for purchase on our digital gaming stores. This is part of 3 of Much Needed Re-Releases where I feature four games I think should get another chance to shine.

U.N. Squadron (SNES, ARC)

Based off of the manga series Area 88, this is one of the licensed games from the 1990s that was actually good. Developed by Capcom for arcades and the ported to the SNES, U.N. Squadron is a solid SHMUP on both platforms in spite of the differences each version has from the other. Each of the three selectable ships has their strengths and weakness and you can always beef up your aircraft with the money you score from missions, although some of that extra artillery can get quite steep. The SNES version gives you some options on a few levels rather than flying from one level to the next as the arcade version has you do. Two things the SNES version doesn't have is co-op play and infinite continues. Since U.N. Squadron is an arcade game and a shooter, well, do the math. The stand up version is tough but the unlimited continues makes seeing that ending a easier pill to swallow. At home, only the most skilled of players could make it through to see the game's finale. Since this is a licensed game, odds of it surfacing as a digital release seem pretty slim.

Chip 'N Dale Rescue Rangers (NES)

Another licensed game and by Capcom, no less. They pretty almost always hit the nail on the head with licensed properties back in the day. DuckTales on the NES is usually the most remebered and talked about game of Capcom's 8-bit Disney outings, but Chip 'N Dale is no slouch. While it is a short romp, it has more levels than Scrooge's glob trotting adventure and supports two player co-op. Playing as either member of the chipmunk duo of your choice, you guide the heroes through trees, factories, casinos and the like but from their point of view. Instead of jumping on enemies, Chip and Dale uses boxes, which seem to be littered throughout every stage. These nifty squares can either be chucked at foes or they can wait for enemies to approach by hiding inside and when they collide with the box, they instantly get knocked off the screen. It's a charming mechanic that never gets old. Capcom has done much to earn them gamer's spite over the years, but the 2013 DuckTales Remastered was unquestionably one of their better moves and WayForward did a fantastic job making that game. Just imagine what they could do with this game.

Castlevania: Bloodlines (GEN)

The first three Castlevania games on the NES and Super Castlevania IV always seem to get so much digital love on Nintendo Platforms. Even Symphony of the Night and Castlevania Chronicles have been re-released for old and new fans to enjoy on the PlayStation Network. Where is the love for Bloodlines, one of the very few SEGA platform made Castlevania titles? The game is a audio, visual treat for the Genesis, pulling off some amazing scrolling and visuals effects. Bloodlines was also the very first Castlevania game that famed series composer Michiru Yamane scored music for and after hearing it, one can see why she was brought in for so many games after. You can play as whip wielding John Morris or spear touting Eric Lucard but unlike Castlevania III, once you're in it for the long haul with whom you choose here. Bloodlines unfortunately uses the same stiff controls from the first three Castlevania games so gone are the mid air controls, which means more precised, planned movement is key. You've got some diversity in the way John and Eric play from one another, which gives the game some replay value. But since this is a Castlevania game, one made before the series went all Metrovania on us, it does use that fiendish difficulty level. The only thing worse than stiff controls and knock back is limited continues to go with the aforementioned. Yes, for whatever reason, Konami thought limiting our chances for success in a tough game was a good call to make. Since Konami seems to be giving the middle finger to console gaming, your only chance to experience this is by finding a cart.

Contra Hard Corps (GEN)

Contra games are by nature, games designed to shatter the sanity of all living beings that posses thumbs. The first game was crazy difficult and Super C somehow managed to crank up the difficulty even further. And then there's Contra Hard Corps. Look at the second word in that title. They may as well have not even bothered adding the "Corps." You get five characters to choose from, including the diminutive robot Brownie, who's small size is a huge asset because everything that isn't you or your buddy wants you dead in this game. You're constantly under fire from mooks, mid bosses are everywhere and the bosses themselves do not go down easy. In Japan, the game actually let you take up to three hits before you died. The American and European versions stay truer to the classic Contra one-hit-and-you're-dead rule and considering how fast you'll die in this game, that was a stupid decision on Konami's part when localizing the game. Like Bloodlines, Hard Corps was hit with the limited continues stick, making a soul crushing game, near unforgivable. Still, the game is loved by fans and it certainly is an interesting entry in the Contra series.

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