Category Archives: Reviews

Darius

Reviews
Darius (Arcade) Title Screen
Arcade
1986 (Japan)
ダライアス
The Darius arcade cabinet Darius certainly wasn't the first horizontally scrolling shooter, or probably even the first that comes to mind for most people. It wasn't even the first shooter from developer/publisher Taito. But it was one of the most innovative, and that's mostly because of the arcade hardware involved. Much like Taito's own The Ninja Warriors one year later, Darius was housed in a sprawling setup: Three either 19 or 15 inch monitors (later the 15 inch version would be the only one still in production), a "body-sonic" seat with speakers beneath it to make the player really feel the music, and even a headphone jack (not a common feature on arcade games at this point). Even with modern arcade hardware, it's very rare for a cabinet to be so focused on presenting both a superior audio and visual experience. Continue Reading

Dragon Ninja

Reviews
Bad Dudes vs. Dragon Ninja - Title Screen
Arcade
04/1988 (Japan, US)
ドラゴンニンジャ
Bad Dudes vs. Dragon Ninja
Hitting the arcades almost one year after the genre-changing Double Dragon and three years after grandfather Spartan X, Bad Dudes vs. Dragon Ninja was Data East's first beat-em-up. Like the recently released The Ninja Warriors, Bad Dudes leans into action movies featuring ninjas for aesthetics, since they were extremely popular at the time. Instead of controlling a ninja (well, a robot one anyway) against an army with the goal of assassinating the President though, this time you control a street brawling tough guy (or two, if you're playing multi-player) attempting to rescue the President from a group of ninjas known as Dragon Ninja. Continue Reading

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
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