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It’s time for an old school RPG. This one has definitely been around for a while but I just hadn’t had time to give it a shot before. Well, after playing it I can confirm that the game has aged well. The gameplay style is nice and retro with the story being rather solid. You don’t really see a lot of games like this one nowadays, at least not among the AAA companies.
The game starts with everyone in the village being murdered as per usual with just a few survivors making it out. Ryu’s sister decides she will go out to stop the Dark Dragon Clan in their wild quest to destroy the world. A long time passes and she does not return so Ryu is forced to take up the challenge next. He will need to team up with a lot of skilled fighters in order to make a difference but is he really just setting off on an impossible mission?
As you complete each area you get more and more allies to fight by your side until you’ve got a rather solid roster. It’s all done very methodically which works rather well. While the game may not be very original in some ways like the story and all, the fundamentals are just really strong which is what makes this game a lot of fun. For example the gameplay is just really smooth and in some ways it beats out some of the more modern versions. When you don’t want to fight enemies you can actually use up an item that prevents any random encounters for a little while. I thought that was a really handy item and there were no strings attached. Sure, you do have to spend money to get the item but it’s rather cheap and you’ll be swimming in money later on.
You get a map along the way and the ability to fly so going through the map isn’t super crazy. I will say that on occasion the game isn’t very clear on what you need to do next though. Because of how the game lets you mess around with the order of things a bit, sometimes you’ll miss out on an item or event that you need in order to go forward. When that happens it can be a bit annoying. It doesn’t happen often but in those moments it would be nice if there was a way to ship the item to a newer location so you didn’t have to run all the way back. Now that would have been ideal.
So it’s not like it’s all perfect here but at the end of the day it’s a very peaceful game. It’s one that you can just sit down and have a good time with at any point. IN general I feel that way about the retro RPG titles because I like the turn based system quite a bit. Beating up on enemies over and over again is a great way to build up your XP but it can also be very soothing at the same time.
For the graphics, I’d say they’ve aged well. The level designs are on point and I like how the characters look. The soundtrack is also decent although I wouldn’t say that any of the themes are very memorable. It could have used a little more energy to the tracks but either way it’s not something where I would give it a thumbs down for that. There isn’t much replay value after beating the game but the campaign’s fairly long so that won’t be much of an issue here.
As to the story, I thought it really took off once Goda and the group of villains showed up. It starts off a little slow as you beat up a bunch of forgettable villains for a while but then once the big villains show up, the game really raises its level. It also made you feel like the game had a good chunk of content left since for a little while there it felt like you were going to end it before a whole lot happened.
Your allies are a bit forgettable though. None of them really stood out for me. They weren’t bad but if you asked me to tell you their personalities I wouldn’t be able to say much more than the one sentence premise of their characters. It felt like they didn’t get to do a whole lot despite being around. The main character was the most interesting and even then he is fairly standard. The villains are definitely the more interesting characters here and the game has some twists and turns at the end of it.
As with just about any RPG you can expect that the final boss here is rather difficult. Make sure you’ve trained a lot and have the best attacks and equipment ready or you will be in for a rough time. If you lose you can always just go back to train of course but it’s always ideal to train first so you don’t have to backtrack for a long while. Particularly for the final boss where you would have to go trough the dungeon all over again.
Overall, I’m definitely ready to check out Breath of Fire 2. If you like a good RPG then you’ll definitely be a fan of this one. You’ve got all of the classic RPG elements here and they’re executed well. While some areas could have been better, I’d say it shines as a bright example of why the genre is so good. It would absolutely be worthy of being someone’s first RPG too as it would get them used to the mechanics. There really aren’t any downsides to this one so just go in and have fun.
This is one of those games where I can’t say that I knew a whole lot about it but I definitely knew the name. Earthworm Jim is one of those names that just sticks around in your mind from start to finish. You can’t forget it because it’s just way too intense. The game lives up to the hype and is definitely a blast even if the ending starts to get a little on the crazy side. Certainly a very difficult game as well.
The game starts off with Jim on another adventure to save the princess or at least I think she’s a princess. Along the way he has to fight with a lot of different creatures. Get ready for some big plot twists by the end too. This is not a game that spells everything out for you. At times you will really have to connect the dots on your own and also decide how real the ending is. Personally I like to think the whole ending is completely real and just how it appears to be. It’s an ambitious way to end the game and I can definitely approve of that.
As for the gameplay, it’s Fairley standard for a shooter. You blast away at your enemies and keep on moving. Your ammo may not always be great but you slowly recover some if you’re ever totally out. I recommend not wasting your ammo though as it is extremely useful for every part of the game. You don’t want to be running low against a boss or you’re really in trouble. You have different kinds of guns around here too so try and learn how each one looks and feels. The best one is the machine gun style but all of the guns are useful for something or another. Mainly you also just can’t to be good at jumping and dodging so you don’t just eat every attack. Do that and then you’ll really be in a jam.
One level that gave me a lot of trouble is the final level so here’s something to keep in mind about that. You have to stay ahead of your opponent at all times here or you lose. If you make it to the end of the level but he was first then the level just ends with you being stuck until you run out of health. So you have to move really quickly here and it cost me a ton of tries to get that far. Trust me, it definitely was not easy at all especially because you’re never given any indication that the rules around this level were different than the rest. Seriously it just comes out of nowhere which makes the whole thing a bit surprising.
Aside from the gameplay, the soundtrack and graphics are all solid. This is what I would call the complete package because it looks and sounds good while also being a very satisfying play. It’s hard to go wrong here. It’s aged incredibly well for the SNES, you could probably get away with thinking this could even look like an N64 title. Throw in the fact that it had more of a real story than the others and it really seemed to be ahead of its time.
I’m a little surprised there weren’t more 2D platformer shooters back in the day. I suppose Mega Man cornered the market there but they always tend to be a lot of fun and satisfying. This one just proves that even more. It’s probably the last Switch Online game for a bit but I was definitely thrilled to get a chance to play this one. Hopefully the console keeps on updating with more and more solid games. Who knows what other gems are hiding out there just waiting to be played!
Overall, Earthworm Jim 2 is definitely a solid game. I had a lot of fun with it at least and the title really embraced how crazy the whole thing was. It was definitely not trying to be your average shooter game. I’d really be down with a remake of this game at some point. There’s a whole lot you can do here for the future. Some of the gameplay mechanics should be explained better so you aren’t walking around in circles or anything like that but those are easy fixes to make. (Finding out how to open up the flowers to throw around took me forever!) Pull that off and you’re in a good spot!
Dig Dug II is a pretty fun game. I wouldn’t say it quite holds up to the first one but it’s hard to say how much of that is just pure levels of quality and how much is nostalgia. If I were put to the ultimate test though I would still say the first just wins on merit. The underground levels worked perfectly for the series and same with how the gameplay was set up. There’s a reason why it became an all time classic after all. The sequel is still good though and it was certainly good enough where I kept going until I beat all 75 levels.
There isn’t really a story here though so just go in and start blasting all of the enemies. Your objectives will be clear from there. Now there is a tip I found out while going through the levels that will help you out. So you know from that start that you just press A to start plugging the enemies full of air so they pop right? Well, you may feel like pressing A as fast as you can is the way to go but that’s not quite right. It’s actually more effective to be pressing A while moving forward. For some reason that speeds everything up really quickly so you can potentially take out several enemies before they get to you.
The reason why this is huge is because in the latter levels you need every second. You have numerous enemies rushing at you and a single touch will mean that you lose a life. So every enemy you can knock out is one less that you will have to worry about later on. To clear a level you have to beat all enemies so it stands to reason that destroying them all as fast as you can is the way to go right? Beyond that you can also use your drill to make little barriers that the enemies will have to navigate around or try to dig under. Both options still buy you some more time as well.
Just play as fast and hard as possible. Your instincts will quickly catch up and then from there you will know what to do without an issue. The game is very intuitive after all. While I didn’t think the levels or gameplay style beat the original, it’s still a fairly high quality game here. There was a lot of dedication put into the title so you know from the start that this one’s a keeper. It is easy to just plug in and play plus it has a lot of replay value in trying to beat your high score. It may be a little more slow paced than some other arcade games so it can take a while to get to your turn if you’re sharing at an arcade but if you’re just trying to beat yourself then it’s perfect.
As for the graphics, they hold up pretty well. The game is nice and colorful with good minion sprites as well. You always know what is happening nd I wouldn’t say anything is blurry. It’s just a solid experience. The soundtrack is less memorable though. While you’re playing you probably won’t notice a thing because you’re just concentrating so hard. Not necessarily a bad thing though, just means that you’re really invested into the game the whole time.
If there’s something I would have liked to have seen in this game, it would be boss fights. I think a solid boss fight would have been really fun and if you spread them out to once every 10 levels or something, it would be a nice way for you to feel like you’re really making progress. I’m not exactly sure how you’d program the boss fights but feel like there is a lot of potential with how the gameplay is. That may have been the thing to help this one beat the original.
Overall, Dig Dug II is a fun game. There isn’t a whole lot to say about it because of how straight forward the game is. You either get it or you don’t but it’s not like there is a lot to learn or describe. It’s really just the same move that you used over and over again to get to the end of the level or to block off the enemies. Once you’ve learned the ropes then it all comes down to your reaction times and planning. I want to say you’ll get pretty far even without using the access points but defeating all 75 levels without restarting or rewinding once would be extremely difficult. Definitely not a challenge for the faint of heart.
Mappy-Land is a fun game and one that manages to have a fairly unique gimmick to it. Instead of jumping on all of the enemies or heading to the goal, each stage is a mini collectathon. You have to grab all of the parts in each level to proceed. Some levels even have a second set of collectibles to grab as well so you’re always on the move here. At times the level’s goal can be a bit too vague for my liking but on the whole this is definitely a fun game that you should enjoy. It’ll be over in a breeze but the level designs are all solid and I have to imagine that if this was before the Switch Online version it would have been extremely difficult to complete. I would have died so many times if not for being able to alter my fate.
There’s not much of a story here but what we do have is told through little cutscenes like Pac-Man. It even follows some of the same story beats as we meet the wife and kid. Definitely an emotional kind of moment right there but it’s safe to say that you’ll really be here for the actual gameplay either way. So with that as the main hook you should have a good time. My advice would be to learn the attack items right away since those help when you’re in a pinch. Also, you can actually jump over the minions which is extremely handy.
At first I would just run away from them whenever they showed up so being able to keep going where you wanted was a game changer. Naturally the risk is a lot greater since if your timing is up even by an instant you will lose a whole life there. You definitely gotta be careful about that but otherwise you’re all set. When you’re on the balloon for the aerial levels, just try not to get too close to the enemies. You can blast them from afar and then move forward. Your weapon has a lot of range.
This tricked me a bit at first so once you get the usual collectables you need to go inside of the Church. That’s where you will find the key item that will let you go further. Without it you will end up being essentially stuck in place so you definitely want to keep that in mind. I remember wasting a bunch of time on the train in one level because I wasn’t sure what to do next.
When you wait too long, an unbeatable enemy will appear. It’s like a floating plate that keeps going after you and any contact means defeat. Of course, that is true of any enemy in this game since Mappy has 0 durability but this thing is extremely fast and can fly so jumping won’t cut it. If you see this enemy in a level it’s fair to say that it may already be over for you. Dodging it or staying our of the way are both incredibly difficult and nearly impossible to actually pull off.
Meanwhile the graphics are pretty fun here. I thought they were nice and colorful and the art style really holds up even to the modern day which I find impressive. It’s not easy for a game to hold up over decades but it is absolutely possible if you play your cards right. The soundtrack is more on the forgettable side though. Not bad…just good luck actually remembering any of the tunes. It’s not as iconic as Pac Man or as energetic as Mario which leaves it in a bad spot. It just doesn’t excel the way that it could have.
The game is reasonably short so you’ll probably beat it in a day or 2 if you’re focused up. Either way there is some replay value. This game keeps going on loop after you beat it so you can still try to work on your high score as you go through. That’s at least something to aspire to right? I don’t see you sticking around for too long on this one as there are just so many other big titles to check out but all in all it’s just a well balanced title.
Overall, Mappyland is definitely a game that I can recommend. It’s just a fun little experience and one of those games that is extremely easy to plug and play at any time. I certainly had fun with it at the very least. A modern remake of this game could be a lot of fun and it’s also a good way to show people how to do a collectathon. A proper one should have the collectibles built into each level so you can’t proceed without them. That way you aren’t suddenly blindsided by having to go back and grab them later. I feel like this series is so forgotten that a remake is unlikely but never say never right?
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Claymates is the next platformer in line and this one always looked like fun. You get to turn into different animals and run through a variety of levels. Who wouldn’t enjoy that for a while right? Well, it’s a good game but one that is limited by some questionable decisions like a whole bunch of puzzles that you have to play through. Cut those out and this would be even better if you ask me. I guess we do have to roll with it in the end though and it’s still not bad. You should be able to have some fun with this one for a few hours.
The game starts with the main character being turned into clay by the villain who kidnaps his father. The lead must now master his abilities before it’s too late. The gameplay here is your classic 2D adventure as you have to run through and take names. You get to the end of the level and then you’re taken to the hub world where you have to clear a puzzle and then start the next level. There are 4-5 worlds to conquer here and each one has a few levels. It’s not a particularly long game but I would say that some of the levels can be a bit longer than what you might be used to. They aren’t always linear too so sometimes you will have to go backwards.
It’s not one of those games where you can hold right and go all the way until you beat it. You will actually have to change directions at times and the game won’t hold your hand so bring your best. Any big mistakes can definitely cost you some time like some teleporters that take you back to the beginning of the level. Now those are really hard to deal with so make sure you dodge them as best you can. The 10 minute timer for each level is generous but you still want to try and minimize how often you have to go back and replay portions of the level right?
Each animal form has a different attack/ability although all of the offensive moves tend to work the same way. One of them has a projectile instead of a close range attack which is good. The others mainly alternate between bites and scratches so you’ll have the same effect. You can also run really fast in these forms. 9 times out of 10 this will cause you to get hit but it’s still fun to just run all out real quickly. It temporarily feels like a Sonic game that way.
So the gameplay is a lot of fun and I don’t really have any issues there. The platforming parts are handled well and with care. The plot is also pretty good and the cutscenes we do get help to show their personalities better than the titles with no cutscenes. It’s not a lot or anything like that but every bit helps. So that’s taken care of but the biggest tricky thing here are the puzzles between levels. Basically you have to help navigate 2 robots over to the end where they can use a bomb or a hammer to get rid of the obstacles. You can’t move the robots directly so you have to move obstacles to guide them there. At first they are fun enough but as this goes on you end up needing more and more complicated ways to move them which can be a bit tedious.
You’ll make it through eventually but once the puzzles start taking longer than the actual levels you feel like it’s gone too far. It just doesn’t make sense since the main gameplay is presumably why you are here in the first place. Also, I seemed to get caught up in a glitch near the end of the game where one of the cars vanished so I couldn’t use it to manipulate the robots. That felt really cheesy especially since I was so close to the end of the game. Sure, there’s probably a way to fix the glitch like going into an old level and completing it again but I didn’t know that for a fact and wasn’t sure I wanted to go back and replay anything.
So instead I figured that would be where I ended things. At least I did save the father so I ended up beating most of the game. Perhaps it wasn’t 100% but it was close enough. Glitches just take the fight right out of you. I want to assume it’s a fairly rare one though so hopefully you shouldn’t be affected by it if you decide to play the game through. Then you can really enjoy it.
As for the soundtrack and graphics, those are good enough. The game’s got a good amount of energy going for it and you can tell they put some effort here. Visually the game holds up quite well and the music was catchy enough from what I remember. So in the end this is one I could recommend as long as you have the Switch Online. It’s free that way so you may as well right? While the puzzles take away from the fun, the actual levels are crafted well and the length also isn’t bad for the SNES. The transformation gimmick works well. Between Kirby and Jelly Boy it seems like I’ve been running into that a whole lot lately.
Overall, Claymates is an interesting game with a fun premise. A modern remake with some more dialogue and cutscenes would absolutely be a full win if you ask me. Just keep those puzzles out of this and focus on it being a platformer. Let me speed through the levels like I did here but maybe give some opportunities for me to run without being hit. It’s not like Sonic has the exclusive copyright on going fast so lets get this job done. Bring back the big villains and boss fights to make the whole thing feel authentic. We’ll see if the next SNES game can beat this one but ultimately I would say this was still a good title. It gets the job done, glitch or not.
Jelly Boy is one of those games that very easily could have been a really good one. Instead it made the big mistake of trying to force collectibles onto you instead. Let me tell you, that was not a good move. By the time you finish the first world you’ll need to turn back and nobody wants to do that. It’s a bit sloppier than other platformers but I wouldn’t call it a bad game. You’re just not likely to go back and finish it.
You play as a little Jelly guy and can go around punching your opponents. Along the way you can turn into a variety of items like a hammer which will certainly keep your opponents on guard. This helps to ensure the gameplay is always adapting since you’re never in any one form for too long. Turning and jumping can be a bit more on the annoying side here but you do have some features like the rewind to help with that. It’s not exactly Mario in terms of how smooth the game is, but few titles are right? It’s not exactly a knock against the game because nothing should be expected to go toe to toe with Mario like that.
As mentioned earlier though, the biggest issue here is really the fact that I could not get into world 2. Seemingly this was because I didn’t have the piece of the puzzle from every level but they’re really hidden. I only happened to come across one of them so the rest are probably buried deep into the levels. This really goes against the concept of a platformer in the first place since it’s supposed to be a very calming experience where you have fun with the levels and keep it moving. By giving you something to look for, the game is no longer than leisurely experience you once craved. Quite a few platformers seem to make this mistake.
Now the graphics are good at least. I thought they did a good job with the artwork for each of the characters and the color schemes as a whole. The game looks good even though it’s so old. The soundtrack is also okay. Nothing super memorable but it is catchy enough and so the game flows rather well. On a technical aspect I do think they did their best here and you can tell that some effort was put in.
There’s not a whole lot more to say about this one. It’s always fun to play the more retro games but in some cases like this one, it just reminds you how far we have come. Nowadays a game like this would probably still be a little bit better because either there would be more of a real story or the gameplay would just be smoother. This one hasn’t aged particularly well and that’s probably why you wouldn’t have heard of it before Nintendo announced that it would be in the next online wave. A title like this just would not have stood out for very long at the toy store. Not when you had bigger titles always coming out to overshadow it.
Now if you could remove the collectibles and tighten up the gameplay a bit, then I think this would have really had some potential. The gimmick of turning into objects and other people is one that would work really well. Right now that’s still a big thing like how Odyssey let you control others with the hat and Kirby would transform in the latest game. People like to have different gameplay styles and that’s where Slime Boy would come in. Who knows, maybe one day they will make a sequel or a full remake. The odds seem slight but you never know.
Overall, Jelly Boy is okay at best. You can see some promise in the game as you go through it but it just made too many mistakes and that’s why this one never hit it big. The biggest thing to remember is you never want collectibles to be mandatory. Perhaps there was another reason I couldn’t get into world 2 but if there was then that’s just as bad because there was no indicator of that. All in all, it just means that accessing the rest of the game is more difficult than it should be. You’ll probably want to avoid this one but if you need a new platformer to check out then I suppose this one will do the trick at least for a little while.
Worlds Completed: 1/?
Levels completed 24/?