M2 works its magic once more
Close your eyes. Now think about “classic shmups.” What titles immediately spring to mind? Gradius? R-Type? Thunder Force? Ikaruga, perhaps? More than likely, when you start going through this checklist, the shmup franchise you forgot is Taito’s Darius series. It’s hard to say why this is – perhaps an aversion...
Welcome to the Fantasy Zone
Bet you don’t know who Sega’s mascot was for a brief time during the '80s. No, we’re not talking about Alex Kidd – we mean Opa-Opa, the slightly bizarre living spaceship from Sega’s oft-overlooked classic shooter Fantasy Zone. And that game is exactly what we have here, thanks to those gurus at Tokyo-based M2...
Arguably one of the most eagerly-awaited entries in M2’s acclaimed Sega Ages series, Sega’s classic ninja side-scroller Shinobi has pounced from the trees like a sneaky ninja to finally hit the Switch in its glorious arcade form. However, is one of Sega’s most beloved games still as awesome as we remember it? We're about to find...
M2 ShotTriggers' Switch debut is a thing of beauty
Before we begin our review of ESP Ra.De. Psi, M2 ShotTriggers' latest triumph, here's a little history for those who may not be intimately familiar with ESP Ra.De. and its place within the pantheon of shooting games. In 1998, the blossoming shmup developing studio, CAVE, just finished delighting and...
The real dragon quest
We’ll spare you the usual spiel about how the Sega Ages series is offering definitive versions of Sega classics on the Switch: given we’re approaching the 10th release in the series, you probably get the idea by now. Game number 9 is Space Harrier, Sega’s 1985 coin-op that blew arcade-goers away back in the day with its...
The boy is back in town
By this point, anyone familiar with the Sega Ages series should already know what to expect: a flawless port of a single game from Sega’s history, complete with a few tweaks and updates here and there to provide the ultimate version of that game. Wonder Boy: Monster Land is the latest offering from Sega and developer M2,...
It’s hip to be square
The Sega Ages series has quickly established itself as the premium name when it comes to retro gaming on the Switch. While each release is generally more expensive than other old-school offerings on the system, it’s worth it for the pristine emulation, the extreme attention to detail and the way developer M2 improves each...
Can’t Kidd a kidder
In an alternate timeline, Alex Kidd could have remained Sega’s mascot, instead of being unceremoniously dumped by Sega in favour of the much cooler Sonic the Hedgehog and forced into early retirement (a retirement that’s now lasted nearly three decades). Just think: if things had been different and Sonic had never been...
New Age nostalgia
For millions of kids around the world in the late '80s through the '90s, there was no greater debate than SEGA vs Nintendo. Schoolyards were home to impassioned debates about which company's box was the best. Everyone knows who won the war long term, but few know of some of the truly classic titles SEGA fans enjoyed during those...
Hogging the limelight
It's difficult to believe now, but there was a time when Sonic the Hedgehog games were good. Like, really good. Sega's recent efforts have been average at best, tragically bad at their worst (with a few exceptions here and there, mostly on handheld formats). Sonic the Hedgehog 2 falls into the series 'really good' period and so...
Holding out for a hero
Gunstar Heroes charged onto the Sega Mega Drive in 1993, significantly marking the début of quirky developer Treasure - having been formed from ex-Konami staff wanting to go it their own way. Often seen floating near to the top of many 'best game ever' lists, Gunstar Heroes is a bona-fide classic of the 16-bit era that's now...
There was a time when playground arguments didn't revolve around resolutions, framerates or what PewDiePie's favourite toast topping is. In the early '90s it was simple; which is the best: Final Fight or Streets of Rage? Final Fight was, for a time, exclusive to Nintendo and jealous Mega Drive owners glared with envy at their smug...
Get to the chopper!
There was a time in the late '80s when Thunder Blade machines were a fairly common sight in amusement arcades. Yet even with a decent amount of distribution it was never in the same league as its close cousins; the instant visual assault from Sega's flashier and more exciting looking games such as Out Run, After Burner and Space...
Let me be your fantasy
Fantasy Zone II was developed and released for the Sega Master System back in 1987. Unfortunately the limitations of the console (the original Fantasy Zone was built on Sega's more powerful System 16 arcade hardware) crippled the design aspirations; admirable attempts to include new gameplay elements weren't successful and...
The beautiful journey
Nostalgia is a wonderful thing. For people of a certain age Out Run represents days long past, a wonderful era when arcades reigned supreme and home systems paled in comparison. During this time, many valiant attempts were made to produce a home version of Yu Suzuki's 1986 driving masterpiece. However, the 'Super Scaler'...
Blow your mind in a fantasy zone
One of the first 'cute 'em ups' following Konami's Twinbee, Fantasy Zone first launched in Japanese arcades in 1986, but is better known in the west for its decent Master System conversion. Iconic protagonist Opa-Opa also sneaks in cameo appearances in many Sega games, most recently as a playable character in Sonic...
The need for speed
Classic ports always fare better when handled by a team that approaches the source game's legacy with the utmost respect, and without a hint of hyperbole 3D After Burner II is a truly exceptional retread. Developer M2 has worked wonders with this re-release of Sega's 1987 arcade cabinet, presenting a faithful port that captures...
When Nintendo secured the domestic conversion of Capcom's Final Fight for its newly-launched SNES console way back at the dawn of the '90s, it left many Sega fans utterly distraught. Cody, Haggar and Guy's coin-op escapade was the hottest ticket in arcades at a time when the side-scrolling fighter was very much the genre of choice...
A sense of Super Scale
Galaxy Force II has something of a bad reputation with many players, purely because the domestic ports of the game which followed the arcade release way back in 1988 were, by and large, abysmal. Many fans base their opinion of this on-rails space shooter on the Mega Drive / Genesis version, which was downright unplayable...
3DS eShop / GG
On-the-go ninja, go ninja, go.
The Shinobi series has been sneaking about the gaming world for over two decades, and the 1987 original arcade entry remains a classic to this day. The 1991 Game Gear instalment — also called Shinobi — has now infiltrated the 3DS eShop, and we're happy to say that it's aged better than we would have expected. You...
Vampire killing with a nostalgic twist!
We've already seen Konami resurrect two of their most popular gaming franchises with WiiWare’s Gradius and Contra ReBirth, so it comes as no real surprise to see them giving the same treatment to yet another much-loved classic series: Castlevania: The Adventure ReBirth. Despite its title, this actually has...
Still separating the men from the boys.
The Contra series has always been one of gaming's greats: incredibly simple yet fun gameplay, top-notch design, and of course, what the games are most known for, a hard-as-nails difficulty level. After multiple failed attempts to create a good 3D Contra game, the DS recently got a brilliant new 2D entry that,...
Does Konami's old-school Gradius formula still hold up all these years later?
The original Gradius arcade release was one of the first truly great side-scrolling shooters and, along with R-Type, spawned a legion of copycat video games back in the 80s and 90s. The Gradius titles have been copied and cloned more times than can be counted and, much...