Star Fox 64

Overall, Star Fox 64 is nothing short of spectacular. It is the full realization of the concept of bringing arcade space shooters to a home console, and it reaches that status not just by perfectly translating the genre’s excitement and high-scoring thrill to television screens, but by finding ways to naturally expand the otherwise brief experience into a meaningful length. Be it by flying an Arwing, piloting a Landmaster, or diving in the Blue-Marine, players are bound to have an excellent time when blasting through Andross’ large army, and they will do so accompanied by likable characters, plenty of voice-acted dialogues, and stages that always succeed in surprising, testing gamers’ capacity to react quickly and shoot fast, and inviting them back for one more try. It is a source of joy that keeps on delivering for quite some time, and it is no wonder the absurd quality of the action it presents has been so hard to replicate.

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Star Fox

The conclusion is that, like many Super Nintendo classics, there is fun to be had in the original Star Fox. However, differently from other remarkable titles of the era, the first quest of Fox, Falco, Peppy, and Slippy has had a big portion of its glory eroded by the passing of time. Although it inaugurated a gameplay style that has served the franchise relatively well for a big amount of years and translated with grace the excitement of sidescrolling space shooters to the 3-D perspective, the fact it was one of gaming’s first huge endeavors into the world of polygonal graphics has caused its visuals and some of its gameplay components to lose luster. Going through its stages remains a thrill, shooting up as many enemies as humanly possible is still an appealing challenge, and trying hard to beat one’s best score in each of the game’s three routes is certainly alluring. Sadly, the reaching of those awards has to go through being able to look past very aged visuals and a few frustrating gameplay quirks that stem from technological limitations and clumsy implementation.

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A Boy And His Blob

Although it certainly has issues, it is impossible not to recommend A Boy and His Blob to absolutely everyone. More importantly than being artistically adorable, it is a game that carries a ton of heart, for the lovely innocent friendship that lies at its core is the fuel not only for much of its visual splendor but also for its clever gameplay mechanics. And these, in particular, are so flexible and unique they safely carry the game through more than eighty levels of varying degrees of difficulty. A Boy and His Blob does not just rescue a long-forgotten and irregular property born during the NES days from total obscurity; it fleshes out its central concept, dresses it up in charming hand-drawn animation, and puts it in the hands of a generation of younger gamers that may – in a few years – remember this child and this likable alien as one of the very first contacts they had with the medium. As for more experienced gamers, even if the adventure may at points be too easy, A Boy and His Blob is a chance to play a well-designed sidescrolling puzzle platformer. One that, overshadowed by other bigger releases of the genre that happened during its renaissance in the arms of the Nintendo Wii, is sometimes forgotten.

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Star Wars Rogue Squadron III: Rebel Strike

It is impossible to walk away from Rebel Strike without the feeling the game could have been far more than what it actually is. In a fair attempt to expand on what was offered by its astounding predecessor, it ends up stumbling in its clumsy inclusion of on-foot segments that not only fail to satisfy but that also move the focus away from the area in which the game fires on all cylinders: its aerial battles. While inside a spaceship, it is by all means as good as Rogue Leader; when it descends to the ground, it is terribly lackluster. Therefore, if one is able to ignore the issues of its land segments, which are sadly frequent, the overall experience will certainly be positive, especially because – in total, and thanks to an impressive multiplayer mode – it carries far more content than Rogue Leader did. Nonetheless, the fact remains that had all resources that went into producing the juggernaut that is Rebel Strike been used to fuel its flying prowesses, the result would have been truly stunning.

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Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong’s Double Trouble

That wish to be bigger and to stand out is certainly the hidden theme of Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong’s Double Trouble. It is easy to understand why, back in 1996, the game was seen as a drop following two titles that left big marks in the minds of gamers all around the world. Hindsight, however, reveals an adventure that although not as excellent as that of Donkey Kong Country 2, for it boasts a lesser – yet excellent – soundtrack and fails to reach the same level-design excellence, shines pretty brightly in the hall of the best platformers of its generation. By understanding that its prequel did not leave much room for improvement, it spends a big amount of its running time trying to find ways to excel, and it comes out of it with an impressive overworld, a fantastic challenge, and a stunning collection of inventive stages that use all tools the franchise had established in magnificent and original ways. As a result, even if the timing of its release may have harmed it, the years that have passed ever since have allowed Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong’s Double Trouble to emerge as a giant of the platforming genre.

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Donkey Kong Country

That does not, obviously, mean Donkey Kong Country is a bad game. It is, actually, a major finding; a discovery of a universe of gameplay possibilities that, before it, simply did not exist. It transformed Donkey Kong from a usually mindless villain into a hero of his own vast and rich world, and it constructed an adventure that ranks among the Super Nintendo’s best platformers. The fact it comes out rather bruised from a comparison to all its sequels speaks more about their stunning quality than about Donkey Kong Country itself. Its gameplay has been improved; its visuals have been taken to higher heights; and its soundtrack, of very unique instrumentation and tone, has inspired much better ones. However, its birth paved the way to a historic franchise that is an integral part of the gaming vocabulary, and the resulting adventure is – by all means – still a fantastic and enjoyable gameplay experience, even if other Donkey Kong Country games end up amounting to packages that are more complete, well-balanced, and creative. It is, after all, only natural, because they have all had a pretty spectacular base upon which to build; and it was here that those original pillars were put in place.

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Kirby Super Star

In a chain of games that has spanned some decades, gone through many consoles, and birthed a horde of installments, no effort has captured that jubilant carefree feeling as well as Kirby Super Star, originally released for the Super Nintendo. And it is somewhat easy to see why. While most of the pink puffball’s titles center around one predetermined plot, hence giving them a serious stiff structural form that is similar to that of other platformers, Kirby Super Star is absurdly loose. It feels like a party; a celebration of Kirby’s sheer glory, one that was planned and created as an opportunity for him to display his ridiculously overpowered strength in whatever way he sees fit. Surely, the game is not aimless: it has purpose. There are, actually, quite a few of those and players are bound to be delighted by most, if not all, of them. Yet, amidst saving Dream Land’s produce or trying to punch the ground so hard Planet Popstar – his home – almost cracks in half, the final objective of it all seems to be giving Kirby a chance to show off; and the result is quite beautiful.

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The Legend Of Zelda: Oracle Of Seasons

Similarly to its counterpart, The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons is a considerable step-up for the franchise’s handheld line of games following the impressive Link’s Awakening. And that is because even though it is built over the same framework as that game, which proved without a drop of doubt that the adventures of the hero in green could work in a smaller scale, it is not merely satisfied with achieving greatness through similar means. As such, it chooses to evolve and take risks by bringing puzzle-solving into its overworld via a remarkable mechanic that allows Link to control the seasons; by exploring new items that are smartly used in the creation of refreshing challenges; and by giving its impressively designed dungeons an action-focused touch in filling them up with rooms where killing enemies and avoiding traps work as the main course. And those pieces come together to form a unique and charming quest that still stands as one of the series’ strongest outings.

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The Legend Of Zelda: Oracle Of Ages

Perhaps understanding the stellar quality of the 2-D efforts that came before it, Oracle of Ages is – therefore – not satisfied with being just another The Legend of Zelda game that uses a top-down perspective to give players a glimpse into its world. Given that Link’s Awakening had already solidly proved that adventures as big as those of the hero in green could work on a handheld system, it is clear that Oracle of Ages sets out to expand upon that game’s achievements. And it does so marvelously well not only by utilizing its time-traveling mechanics to bring puzzle-solving out of the dungeons and into the overworld, but also by magnifying the testing nature of its mazes in shifting the focus of individual rooms from combats and switch-pressing to riddles of a more demanding nature. And through marrying this inclination for puzzles with the joy of exploring the colorful world of Labrynna and the pleasure of meeting the many amusing characters that are involved in its time-related conundrums, the greatness of Oracle of Ages is fully realized.

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The Legend Of Zelda: Link’s Awakening

Link’s Awakening has eight dungeons, a great overworld, an amusing tone that fits its simplicity like a glove, a plot that can be mysterious and touching, and a good amount of extra content. Therefore, it is unquestionably a worthy portable reproduction – one that cannot be missed – of The Legend of Zelda experience found on consoles. And it achieves such while sporting visuals and music that, easily ranking among the system’s best, are worthy of the franchise. In fact, Link’s Awakening is so impressive in its handling of the constraints of the system it was made for that the hardware limitations of the Game Boy are hardly felt at all. However, despite the resounding and undeniable conquest of marking the first time ever a Nintendo franchise was effectively and greatly translated to a handheld, Link’s Awakening fails to reach the same stature of the saga’s most remarkable installments for the simple reason that it lacks a truly defining trait.

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