Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge is not without possible points of improvement, as extra work could have been done to make its characters feel more distinctive and for its difficulty settings to be more balanced. But ultimately, what the title provides is an experience seldom seen in the contemporary gaming landscape: a genuine arcade beat ‘em up. And better yet, it is a package that succeeds in being true to genre’s traditions, accessible to anyone who is willing to try it, and thematically irresistible on account of the excellent use of a charming property that had already given birth to a few classics of the format. With these qualities in place, the game is easy to recommend, and whether one chooses to tackle it alone, alongside friends, or by joining unknown players in online sessions, having fun is pretty much inevitable.

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River City Ransom

The highlight of River City Ransom is undoubtedly how the game grabs the well-established beat ‘em up formula that was prevalent in consoles and arcades of the time and manages to transform it quite boldly. The replacement of guided linear progression with a simple but effective open world is a radical departure that yields an adventure where punching and kicking are accompanied by exploration and even some backtracking. Meanwhile, its RPG elements turn the repeated beating of enemies into a far more engaging activity, since fighting leads to the upgrade of stats that are much needed for the heroes to be strong enough to rescue the damsel in distress. Therefore, while the fun fighting mechanics of River City Ransom guarantee its position among the best beat ‘em ups of the NES, the game’s successful experiments put it in a level of its own inside the genre when it comes to uniqueness and innovation.

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Super Punch-Out

Ultimately, one’s appreciation for Super Punch-Out comes down to how they will look at its traits. If someone happens to see its difficulty, simplicity, and brief content as flaws, then that means the game is not for them; and that is fine, arcade gameplay is always divisive when brought to consoles. However, if one evaluates those characteristics as being features, then it is impossible to go wrong with this Super Nintendo classic. Super Punch-Out does not revolutionize the formula because that element clicks so well and works within such a tight scope that it is hard to apply any sort of huge change to it. What the game does, instead, is give it a stunningly polished coat of paint, decorate it with a dozen new boxers with unique personalities, and dare players to climb the stairway that leads to the top of the boxing world. It sure is not easy and many will not make it, but as it always happens in great arcade games, the journey is addictive and thrilling.

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StarTropics

As a hybrid between the adventure and RPG genres, StarTropics was a pretty unique concept for the time, and the fact it uses a greater focus on story and more advanced dungeon design concepts to expand upon a few areas of The Legend of Zelda formula makes it easy to see why some fans often point to it as a franchise that was undeservingly left behind by Nintendo on the NES days. Contrarily, its punctual annoying design quirks, its irregular controls, its big gameplay overlap with a more popular property, and its birth towards the end of the system’s lifespan as a somewhat dated product might explain the reason why it was abandoned. Yet, when it is all said and done, there is some quality and fun to be found in the package, and although those may not come in large enough doses to make one desperately wish Nintendo had kept the property rolling, they should be sufficient to allow players to appreciate StarTropics for what it is: a charming quest with some nice ideas that still has its place as a legacy title.

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Golden Sun: Dark Dawn

There is no doubt Golden Sun: Dark Dawn could have been better. Its Game Boy Advance predecessors were landmarks for the system and for Nintendo on account of their impressive quality and of the fact they gave the company a traditional RPG franchise to call its own. And better yet, the saga uniquely tackled the conventional role-playing gameplay by introducing degrees of puzzle solving and exploration that at times made it interestingly flirt with the adventure genre. Golden Sun: Dark Dawn certainly carries those characteristics, meaning it is a good game. However, playing it is bound to be slightly bitter thanks to how, rather than pushing the franchise forward, the title shockingly tones down on puzzles and exploration while making a few notable mistakes that were not present in the prequels. For that reason, the third installment of the Golden Sun franchise is only truly recommended to fans, since everyone else is better off going for the superior Game Boy Advance epics.

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Castlevania: Order Of Ecclesia

Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia is an absolutely incredible entry in the franchise. Part homage to its classic action adventure origins and part labyrinthine exploration of a massive castle, the game wisely abandons the format of its five portable predecessors to unearth a framework that feels wonderfully refreshing. In doing so, it establishes itself as the peak of the line of Castlevania games that graced both the Game Boy Advance and the Nintendo DS. Understanding it could not topple the landmark that was Symphony of the Night by simply emulating its constitution and knowing the handheld titles that had come before it had already exhausted the formula, it sets out to discover its own niche and finds it. Order of Ecclesia is one of a kind; more important than that, though, is how its uniqueness is not vapid. It is there for a purpose, and in combining linear levels taking place in varied scenarios with the often visited Dracula’s Castle, it feels grand, it is stunningly fun, and it becomes a mandatory stopping point for both fans of the franchise and all gamers who value the power of originality.

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Kirby And The Forgotten Land

Unlike other games that marked the tridimensional debut of major Nintendo franchises, Kirby and the Forgotten Land is not revolutionary; in fact, it does not even attempt to push the series’ basic formula forward in any significant way, emerging – therefore – like a 3-D take on the gameplay exhibited by the pink puffball’s most traditional outings. To anyone who expected the title to represent some sort of major break for the property, that evaluation may be disappointing, but the bottom line is that Kirby and the Forgotten Land is as great as a straightforward Kirby game can be, and it qualifies as one of the franchise’s best moments for a myriad of great reasons. As such, even if it does not use its leap to shake the franchise to its core, it deserves a boatload of praise for being a joyful, amusing, and well-designed platformer. And when it comes to Kirby, it is hard to ask for anything different or better.

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Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney − Trials And Tribulations

Trials And Tribulations is a worthy conclusion to what is not just one of the Nintendo DS’ most beloved properties, but also one of the best franchises to ever hit a portable system. In Trials And Tribulations, players ought to find all elements that make the Ace Attorney saga so special: the cartoonish goofiness, the gripping mysteries, the tense courtroom events, the revealing investigation moments, the wacky characters, the brutal personal dramas, the moving human stories, the hilarious dialogues, the expressive animations, the picking apart of testimonies filled with contradictions, and the constant unfolding of cases that are impossible webs of crazy twists. Given its position as the last chapter of the trilogy, though, Trials And Tribulations covers all of those elements with an extra touch of grandeur; one that allows it to feel like a rather special event in spite of looking and playing a whole lot like the two titles that preceded it.

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Triangle Strategy

Triangle Strategy is an amazing gift to fans of the strategy genre. It is a take on the format that smartly brings, to plot development, the role-playing that is usually exclusively present in the battlefield. By doing so, it paves the way to a journey that can unfold in multiple ways according to how players interact with its morality framework. Throw into the mix a great battle system where position and strategy rule the day, a quest that is highly replayable thanks to its various branches and multiple outcomes, a fantastic plot filled with moral grayness and tough choices, as well as spectacular production values, and the result is a classic that will be loved by anyone who does not mind wordy games. Part interactive visual novel and part strategic delight, Triangle Strategy is Square Enix firing on all cylinders; and tactical RPGs should henceforth look at it as an example of the genre working at its best.

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OlliOlli World

OlliOlli World is a rare treasure. On one hand, it feels like an excellent large scale project due to its extremely high production values and its staggering amount of content. On the other, it is a game that boasts clear indie sensibilities in terms of simplicity and creativity. Its mixture of sidecrolling platforming with skating is unique, and the game smartly grounds it on the good-old addictive chase for high scores that has always accompanied efforts of the kind. The focus on that aspect could have been detrimental to a crowd of youngsters and even older beginners who are likely to be drawn by the game’s colorfully charming art style, but OlliOlli World circumvents that pitfall with mastery, offering a joyful adventure that can be cleared by anyone whilst reserving plenty of challenge and competition to extreme thrill-seekers. With so much success on such distinct fronts, it is not absurd to claim the gaming industry has not produced many scoring-based games that are this deep, accessible, and fun.

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