Rice Digital's Reviews
Sure, that learning process might take a little while if you are coming into this expecting “Squaresoft does Zelda” — but once you truly understand what makes Secret of Mana an RPG rather than an action adventure, there’s a consistently satisfying and enjoyable experience to be had. And it’s one I’m glad I finally made the time to explore to the fullest — even if I am a tad late to the party!
Final Fight has aged extraordinarily well for the most part. It’s still one of the most beautifully presented games in Capcom’s back catalogue, with detailed backdrops and enormous, wonderfully animated sprites. The basic gameplay is straightforward but solid — though fans of later beat ’em ups may find themselves missing slightly later conventions such as the ability to run — and the sound effects are satisfying. My personal weak point of the game is the music, which is unremarkable at best and a nightmarish cacophony at worst.
Of course, there are still similar experiences being put out today, with probably the most notable high-profile one being the Forza Horizon series — though the feel of open-world racers like that will always be notably different from the more structured gameplay of classics like Blur. Likewise, the indie sphere has also been exploring the arcade racer genre for a while now — though most tend to focus a little more on its “vanishing point” heyday in the 16-bit era rather than provide experiences similar to Blur. In other words, there really is nothing quite like Blur out there in 2022.
But, aside from the lack of in-game explanation, this isn’t necessarily a failing of the game itself; it simply requires a bit of an adjustment in attitude from many other shoot ’em ups. Specifically, Metal Black is a game where you cannot be too proud to use your special weapons; the beam is absolutely integral to success. And once you get your head around that, the game is a lot of fun. Still absolutely bastard hard at times, yes — particularly once you get beyond the first couple of stages — but a worthwhile journey to make, and a piece of Taito history that shouldn’t be forgotten.
Super Woden GP feels like the sort of racing game you’d play when you got home from school and stay glued to it until dinnertime, at which point your Mum would yell at you for not doing your homework. It rewards persistence and commitment — and both of those can sometimes feel like they’re in short supply these days.
While it’s not my favourite Capcom game to date, Hyper Dyne Side Arms is a historically significant one for the sheer number of times it’s been referenced in other titles from the company. And with that in mind, it’s worth giving a go at least once or twice — even if the difficulty spike ends up driving you away in frustration!
That little nitpick aside, Ringlorn Saga is an excellent game that I can recommend unreservedly to anyone who enjoys retro-style games. It strikes an excellent balance between paying homage to the classics of yore and bringing things up to date with modern sensibilities and conveniences, and it’s a prime example of why the indie sphere continues to be one of the most exciting sectors in all of gaming.
Can you imagine a company like Nintendo being so open and honest as we see the participants in this project being? I somehow doubt it, as fascinating as a Nintendo equivalent of Atari 50 would surely be. So for now we’ll have to enjoy Atari 50 as a standout, exemplary title that shows everyone else how interactive video game history and preservation should be done. Perhaps one day some other big players in the space will be open to letting us into their archives in the same way.
That said, for the solo player, there’s definitely fun to be had in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Tournament Fighters for SNES — and a fair bit of it, too, what with all the different playable characters, gameplay modes and difficulty levels to challenge. It’s a game worth playing, even if you are, like me, not typically a fighting game sort of person. Who knows? This might even end up being the game that actually gets you into the genre properly!
It may look like a far cry from the graphical spectacle that the Final Fantasy series became known for in its later years — but it’s definitely still well worth a play today. And Collection of Mana is a convenient, accessible means of doing so — so what are you waiting for?
Alwa’s Awakening is a truly excellent game. While it’s true that we’re not exactly short on open-structure exploratory platform games these days, there’s enough that is distinctive about Alwa’s Awakening to make it stand out from the crowd. So what are you waiting for?
Finally, even its ending is as unnecessary as it is lazy. It’s the post-game cutscene from the original game, and it makes even less sense being inserted at the same moment after everything that transpired before it within the new scenario. I can’t fathom how anyone could possibly argue that this DLC is not one of the weakest additional content packages out there and the cheekiest in terms of its asking price. Do yourself a favour and wait for a sale if you absolutely must play it. Please. Lady Dimitrescu is not going anywhere.
I’ve been hard on Rule No. 1 because it really is a good idea. The addition of a radar display for situational awareness, a better sense of impact for the weapons, an in-game score display and a large piece of duct tape to put over the mouth of the main character would make it an infinitely better game. As it stands, this is just a mediocre shooter that largely misses the point of the things it’s trying to pay homage to.
If you’re looking for a horror game to play, Yomawari: Lost in the Dark is a solid example of atmospheric storytelling and tackling daunting subjects without hammering the point home too much. It plays great on the Switch and benefits from the console’s portability. Playing with headphones in and in a dark room really adds to the tension. You can also grab it on Steam and PlayStation consoles.
My own house party days are long behind me, but Boo Party definitely brought back some fond memories and, for the four hours or so it took to beat the game, made me almost feel young again. And for this old fart, that’s more than reason enough to wholeheartedly recommend the experience.
For those looking at the Cowabunga Collection as a complete package, though, I suspect The Hyperstone Heist may well end up as a bit more of a fun novelty than one of the main games you spend your time with in the compilation.
It’s a shame we’ve never been able to see how the story continues in English with the subsequent two games, but as noted above, perhaps with the release of Prinny Presents NIS Classics vol. 3, Nippon Ichi and their western partners will consider some brand new localisations for modern audiences. There’s always a market for good RPGs, after all — and there’s something wonderfully distinct about RPGs from this late ’90s/early ’00s period, with Rhapsody being a fantastic demonstration of that.
Pitstop in Purgatory is macabre yet soothing. It’s a wholesome and, at times, wickedly cruel jab to your heart and senses that still manages to feel like a virtual comforter due to its sheer optimism about death — or rather, the celebration of life after death. With lovingly caring and considerate messages, memorable characters you’ll fondly appreciate and care about, and two key mysteries that will keep you interested and committed to solving from beginning to end, Pitstop in Purgatory is a must-play.