The Ninja Warriors

Reviews
The NInja Warriors - Title Screen
Arcade
02/1988 (Japan), 1988 (US, EU)
ニンジャウォーリアーズ
Just a year prior, Nekketsu Kouha Kunio kun and Double Dragon began to change the beat-em-up landscape by taking things off of a single plane, allowing characters to move up and down on the screen. However these sorts of trends usually take time to catch on, and games take time to develop. So The Ninja Warriors follows in the footsteps of the genre's grandfather Spartan X, and remains on "the belt". And if not for the the previously mentioned titles, the advancements that The Ninja Warriors introduced may well have made it as significant to the genre. Continue Reading

Spartan X

Reviews
Spartan X Arcade - Title Screen
Arcade
12/1984 (Japan), 1984 (US)
スパルタンX
Kung-Fu Master
Spartan X was an Irem developed arcade game in 1984, released overseas by Data East as "Kung-Fu Master". It served as one of the earliest example of a side-scrolling "beat-em-up" game (or "belt scrolling action" in Japan), a genre that would absolutely blow up in popularity in both arcades and on consoles over the next several years. It's safe to say that none of the many titles in the genre to follow couldn't have existed without this one. Continue Reading

Nier (Gestalt and Replicant)

Reviews
Nier Gestalt - Title Screen
PlayStation 3, XBox 360
04/22/2010 (Japan), 04/27/2010 (US), 04/23/2010 (PAL)
ニーア ゲシュタルト/ニーア レプリカント
Nier
Back in 2003, Drag-On Dragoon/Drakengard was a divisive release: It had a very layered and intriguing story, but badly implemented Dynasty Warriors-esque gameplay that just couldn't support it. It had many different endings that that were unlocked by fulfilling various requirements, the last one (ending E) being particularly odd. But it was the events of that odd ending that would lead into 2010's Nier. Though it doesn't take place in what you might think of as the Drakengard universe, the situation in the world of Nier is a direct result of Drakengard's E ending. In-game story details to support this wouldn't really come about until the DLC, but the pieces are there from the start. The Japanese slogan was "一人のために、全てを滅ぼせ" or "Destroy everything, all for the sake of a single person". Continue Reading

Gradius

Reviews
Gradius (Arcade) - Title Screen
Arcade
05/29/1985 (Japan), 1985 (US), 09/1985 (PAL)
グラディウス
Nemesis
Gradius (originally titled "Choujikuu Fighter Gradius") wasn't the first shoot 'em up to grace arcades with its presence, in fact many big names came before it. Space Invaders, Xevious, Galaxian, Ozma Wars, and even western titles like Asteroids and Defender all came first. So why was Gradius significant? Not only did it introduce several "characters" that would reoccur throughout the Konami universe (The very ship that you control called the Vic Viper, Moai heads, etc), but because it fleshed out the details of exactly what the average horizontal shoot 'em up would become: A game about strict power-up management, and pattern observation/memorization, and reaction. This may sound negative, but shoot 'em up fans (myself included) have long since embraced what the genre is, and they really have Gradius to thank for making it that way. Continue Reading

Makai Mura

Reviews
Makai Mura (Arcade) - Title Screen
Arcade
09/1985 (Japan and US)
魔界村
Demon World Village
Ghosts 'n Goblins
"Youkoso irasshai..." (Or "Welcome, come in...") was the slogan for Makai Mura, a fairly early arcade title by (at the time) young development company Capcom that positively dripped with atmosphere for its time. It drew players in with its dark atmosphere full of monsters and demons, and dirge-y but attractive synthesized organ and keyboard sounds. But these things were all hiding what would become known as one of the most difficult games of that time. Continue Reading