Category Archives: Reviews

Dracula Densetsu

Reviews
Dracula Densetsu - Title Screen
Hardware: Game Boy
10/27/1989 (Japan), 12/15/1989 (US), 09/28/1990 (EU)
ドラキュラ伝説
The Legend of Dracula
Castlevania: The Adventure
Support from Konami of Nintendo's handheld Game Boy console came quickly, and with titles from recognizable franchises early on. Castlevania was the first of such franchises, releasing right around six months after the platform itself.  Being the first real mainstream portable system, the early days of the Game Boy were a bit of a wild west. A lot of the releases tended to not be optimized for portable game play in one way or another. Castlevania: The Adventure/Dracula Densetsu didn't necessarily have that problem so much as it seemed to have been designed by people who didn't really understand what qualities made the previous Castlevania games good. Or at the very least, their appetite for trying something new and different with the series was just a little too great. Continue Reading

Akumajou Dracula

Reviews
Haunted Castle - Title Screen
Hardware: Arcade
02/1988 (Japan), 09/1988 (US), 11/1988 (EU)
悪魔城ドラキュラ
Devil's Castle Dracula
Haunted Castle
The era in which a popular game franchise practically had to have an arcade installment was coming to a close in 1988, but it wasn't over yet. It still was common for a game to establish itself as a hit in the arcade, and then have either a compromised or completely different game appear as the home console port. Castlevania/Akumajou Dracula was one of most notable exceptions that wasn't developed by Nintendo, having already had two successful entries on the NES/Famicom Disk System. That was apparently the magic number to make someone at Konami think that it was about time for an arcade game. Alright, fine...technically the first arcade Castlevania game was VS. Castlevania, which was released in American arcades in 1987. I'm not going to count that though, simply because it was just Konami test marketing NES games (there were other Konami VS. arcade games as well) in arcades before the home versions were released. It was the NES Castlevania game inside of an arcade cabinet, with some adjustments to make the game more difficult so that it could take as much of your money as possible. Continue Reading

Juuouki

Reviews
Altered Beast - Title Screen
Hardware: Arcade
06/1988 (Japan), 08/1988 (US)
獣王記
Chronicle of The Beast King
Altered Beast
While Altered Beast is not Sega's entry in the beat-em-up genre (that honor goes to the Master System/Mark III Hokuto no Ken/Fist of the Northstar game), it is the first entry into the genre for them using an original property. Sega was already known for their high quality arcade games (at least on average) at this point, but they were entering into a genre that had some real heavy hitters in recent years (most notably Nekketsu Kouha Kunio kun/Renegade and Double Dragon, both from Technos Japan). Would Altered Beast innovate in the brawler genre the same way Sega had innovated with some of their other arcade games? Continue Reading

Darius Plus

Reviews
Darius Plus - Title Screen
Hardware: PC Engine
09/21/1990 (Japan)
ダライアスプラス
This second port of arcade shooter Darius was based on the PC Engine CD Super Darius (the first home port ever, released 6 months prior to this one), from the same developer and publisher. Being on a standard HuCard instead of a CD, this was obviously the Darius port for those who couldn't afford or just didn't have a PC Engine CD, so a lot more technical limitations were at play here than for Super Darius. But the results of this port are pleasantly surprising. Continue Reading

Super Darius

Reviews
Super Darius - Title Screen
Hardware: PC Engine CD
03/16/1990 (Japan)
スーパーダライアス
It took four years from the release of the arcade version of Darius before this first port appeared on the PC Engine CD. It took only just about a year for Gradius to make it from the arcade to the Famicom, but there isn't much debating that Darius was much more of a challenge technically to port. Its unique three monitor setup and emphasis on the soundtrack almost guaranteed that a port wouldn't be able to hold up. Naturally that sort of long display setup couldn't be replicated on any home hardware at the time, so the solution was to zoom in the graphics quite a bit, making the sprites bigger but the field of play smaller. The larger sprites definitely look nice, and from a visual perspective the graphics hold up well against the original. The problem is that the game was designed with a wider field of play in mind, so zooming that in and reducing it really has a big impact on how the game plays. Continue Reading
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