Nekketsu Kouha Kunio kun

Reviews
Nekketsu Kouha Kunio kun Arcade - Title Screen
Arcade
05/1986 (Japan), 12/1986 (US)
熱血硬派くにおくん
Hot Blooded Tough Guy Kunio
Renegade
Delinquent high school students talking tough and beating each other up in school uniforms while sporting distinct hair styles is probably not unfamiliar to those who enjoy Japanese media. This genre, called "tsuppari" (or "yankii"/"yankee" as we got into the 90s), was very prevalent in from the 1970s through the 1990s. Technos Japan's Nekketsu Kouha Kunio kun ("Hot Blooded Tough Guy Kunio") was the video game front runner for this genre, proceeding even one of the most well known representations of tsuppari, a manga series called "Crows". It's unclear how much inspiration was actually taken from other media, but in a 2013 interview director Yoshihisa Kishimoto said that the game reflected his own high school experience. Continue Reading

Choujikuu Yousai Macross

Reviews
Macross (Arcadia) - Title Screen
Arcadia
05/1983 (Japan)
超時空要塞マクロス
Super Dimensional Fortress Macross
The very first Macross home console game appeared on the short-lived Bandai Arcadia, the Japanese variant of Emerson's Arcadia 2001 console that was released in the Japanese market by Bandai. This game is believed to have been released in May 1983 at a retail price of 3800 yen, though no official data seems to exist to support this. This was likely released around the same time as the Arcadia Gundam game, and while Gundam had been popular for a longer period of time (the TV series had begun airing in 1979), this was probably the ideal time for a Macross game since the first TV series was just about to wrap up. And though neither title was a particular impressive one, this Macross title may have come out on top. Continue Reading

Kidou Senshi Gundam

Reviews
Gundam (Arcadia) - Title Screen
Arcadia
05/1983 (Japan)
機動戦士ガンダム
Mobile Suit Gundam
The very first Gundam home console game was released in the height of Gundam-mania: A few years after the original TV series had wrapped up, approximately one year after the third and final compilation movie had hit theaters, but still a few years before Zeta Gundam (the second major TV series in the franchise) had begun. It debuted on a very unconventional piece of hardware for a Japanese game: The Bandai Arcadia. This was the variant of Emerson's Arcadia 2001 console that was manufactured by Bandai for the Japanese market (each country had its own version of the hardware, manufactured by a different company). The release date is believed to have been sometime in May 1983, and the retail price 3800 yen, though no official data seems to exist on either of these points. This was still a pre-Famicom market in Japan, and release dates weren't as carefully tracked. Continue Reading

Monster Hunter Stories

Reviews
Monster Hunter Stories - Title Screen
3DS
10/08/2016 (Japan)
モンスターハンター ストーリーズ
The Monster Hunter franchise was no stranger to spin-off games by 2016. Not counting any of the handful of mobile games available (very few of which were in the style of a traditional Monster Hunter game), there were already three different MonHan Nikki: Poka Poka Airu Mura games (two on the PSP and one on the 3DS) and Airu de Puzzle (PSP). They were all very different experiences from the mainline Monster Hunter games in both visuals and game-play, and were all developed by studios other than Capcom (The Poka Poka Airu Mura games by From Software, and Airu de Puzzle by Natsume). But it was a little surprising that there hadn't yet been an attempt to make a JRPG that took place in the Monster Hunter universe. Capcom clearly took notice of this, and a JRPG is just what we would get from developer Marvelous in Monster Hunter Stories. Continue Reading

Dracula II: Noroi no Fuuin

Reviews
Castlevania II - Title Screen
Famicom Disk System/NES
08/28/1987 (Japan), 12/1988 (US), 04/27/1990 (PAL)
ドラキュラII 呪いの封印
Dracula II: The Cursed Seal
Castlevania II: Simon's Quest
Almost one year after the original Castlevania/Akumajou Dracula game, the same team is back to give us a direct sequel on the Famicom Disk System/NES. The nonsensical Japanese naming convention for the series begins here, since instead of calling this "Akumajou Dracula II", Konami went with just "Dracula II". The same basic Castlevania action is still here though, and it feels pretty much the same in your hands as before. But it's 1987 now and Dragon Quest has been released in Japan, so what kind of action game would this be if it didn't have RPG elements? Japanese ads referred to it as an "RPG Horror Action" game, and the timer and score that were present before are now gone. But even though the flow of the game is significantly different, the story is very much a direct continuation. And just like before, it's only really explained well in the manual. Continue Reading