1471 reviews liked by DJSCheddar

You know what I haven’t done in a hot minute or so? Make fun of ADK, so let’s do that again! I mean, why not, it should be a fun thing to do, and besides, not doing so has been eating at my soul. I have been too nice to them recently, with me actually somehow liking World Heroes 2 Jet, so it only feels right to go to one of their older products, to examine how bland and uninspired it is, and then point out all of the other ridiculous elements present in said product along the way. But what other ground have they covered? They’ve done fighting games, they’ve done platformers, they’ve done run ‘n guns, so what else can they screw up at… looking at list... a beat-’em-up? Oh, that’s perfect! So now, for most of you at home, let’s go ahead and talk about a game that you all have never heard of in your life, Ninja Combat.

Like you, I had no clue that this game existed until I decided to look it up for myself, and based on what I did see about it, it looked extremely underwhelming. It was a launch title for the Neo Geo systems back in the day, so that is to be expected, but that doesn’t automatically spell out the quality of a game. I mean, Super Mario World was a launch title, and we still love that game, so who’s to say that this game wouldn’t be any better or worse? Well, unfortunately though, it isn’t quite on the same level as Super Mario World, and it wasn’t bad enough to where I could have fun ripping it to shreds, so the most I can say is that it is just… there. It does it’s job, and I bet you could have a good time with it with the right person to join you, but if you aren’t immediately on board with what the game gives you from the minute you press the start button, then you are gonna be in for a very mediocre time.

The story is just as generic as the game itself, where the evil Shadow Family starts to take over New York with the help of their Ninja Tower and all the baddies that dwell within it, so it is up to the brothers Joe and Hayabusa, along with a few other faces they run into along the way, to storm the tower and take the family down, which can only be an exciting plot if you have never played any other game in your life, which, let’s be honest, the chances of this being someone’s first game are VERY slim. The graphics are ok, looking on the same level as all of ADK’s other games I have played so far, meaning that it looks on par with other Neo Geo titles, but somehow feels cheap and artificial when you play it, the music is fine, having decent tracks for the levels and boss fights, but they are gonna leave your mind just as quickly as the game itself when you are done with it, and the gameplay/control is very generic and simple for the genre, but somehow it feels more soulless and generic then most of the other beat-’em-up games I have ever played… but it somehow isn’t as bad as Rushing Beat, so it gets a gold star!

The game is your typical hack and slash beat-’em-up, where you take control of Joe, Hayabusa, or any of the other characters you meet along the way, take on seven different stages through several different generic environments on your way to take on whatever lies in the Ninja Tower, slice down plenty of enemies using plenty of different attacks, including a special attack that you can pull off if you have enough health, gather plenty of weapons to help you out along the way, as well as scrolls that can grant you increased strength and speed, along with extra lives at points, and take on plenty of bosses that do look threatening enough, but is about as challenging as breathing air… or at least, if you have infinite credits like I do. You see it, you know it, you love it, you know what you are getting into with the game, but as I have mentioned several times already, aside from one or two admirable aspects of the game, there isn’t really anything here to make this anything more than a generic time waster for a half hour before you never touch it again.

I will say, despite how generic and soulless the game is as a whole, I did like some aspects about it, such as how it handles additional characters and power-ups. Like I mentioned before, there are those scrolls that upgrade your character as you keep going, which is pretty sweet to get and hang onto, and for the first couple of stages, whenever you beat them, you end up unlocking a new character that you can switch to in-between stages, and they can be fun to mess around with, especially Musashi, who became my go-to character for the remainder of the game. However, that’s really where all of my compliments end, as when you play the game for yourself, you can feel all the care and love that the developers DIDN’T put into this, especially when it comes to your main attack, which is so broken that you can pretty much just spam it and take care of whatever comes your way. Yeah, bosses require a bit more strategy, but most of the other enemies aren’t a threat whatsoever, and you can defeat them all with one hand while checking your phone, which I’m pretty sure I did at one point.

In addition to that, there are also the typical roadblocks that I ran into when it came to what I don’t enjoy in these kinds of games, such as arcade syndrome, where the game throws many enemies at you at once and expects you to deal with them all before they get the chance to take you down, and there are repeating bosses, which aren’t too bad most of the time, but there was at least one instance where a boss was repeated TWICE, because I guess the devs just loved fighting him so much, they wanted us to feel that same love as well. With all that said and done, again, I will say that the game as a whole isn’t really all that bad. It accomplishes what it sets out to do, and again, if you need some way to kill 30 minutes, it is a good way to do so, but with nothing here to not only stand out, but also make it seem like the devs had any kind of idea how to make an engaging product, why would you choose to play it over anything else?

Overall, despite the fun-at-times combat and some gameplay features that I did end up liking, this is one of the most “nothing” beat-’em-ups that I have ever played, doing the bare minimum and showing off what the Neo Geo is capable of, but not giving any reason for players to return to it, or even choose it over the many better games in the genre that came out before and since. I would recommend it for those who are obsessed with the genre, as well as those who want an idea of one of the earliest points in the Neo Geo’s lifespan, but aside from that, I would just stick to other titles if you want some great beat-’em-up action with your friends. But, I will say, there is one thing very appealing about this game that only this company and SNK can manage to pull off to make me want to check out every one of their games from this era: the voice acting. Like most of these games, it is so terrible, that if you don’t have any interest in playing this yourself, at least give a listen to the “cutscenes” in the game. You won’t regret it.

Game #557

You have chosen to read my Princess Peach: Showtime! review. This is on you, now.

I think it's worth reflecting on how Peach wasn't really even a character in the original Super Mario Bros. She was a destination. The MacGuffin you needed to reach in order to rightfully claim you'd won the game. The idea to expand beyond that in any way was largely an act of convience, as Fuji TV's Yume Kojo: Doki Doki Panic was rebranded as the second Super Mario game. They needed a roster of four heroes, and there had only been four sentient things in the Mushroom Kingdom that weren't enemies. They took the spritesheet for Lina and drew "The Princess" on top.

I don't point this out to demean or belittle Princess Peach. Far from it. The act of repurposing and rebranding is at the very core of what videogames are. Mario, himself, was the result of seeing what could be done with an unwanted Radar Scope arcade board, and missing out on the opportunity to use Paramount's Popeye characters. OXO, Tennis for Two and Spacewar! were all experiments to see if large-scale supercomputers designed for complex business calculations and global warfare could be used for the purpose of fun. Peach has quite rightly earned the title of Princess of Videogames. A direct descendant of the cathode-ray tube amusement device.

From her first playable appearance in Super Mario Bros 2, she was treasured by little sisters, cartoon studios, and boys who valued the float-jump more than the societal pressures of homophobia and gender stereotypes. By Mario 64, her significance to the Mushroom Kingdom was fully fleshed-out, positioning the entire game within her castle, and illustrating her unwavering benevolence, ethereal presence, and also, her sense of fun with the introduction of her personally-commissioned Secret Slide. She was a true representative of videogames, and a welcoming presence for audiences who may have felt uninvited to the games gang.

In 2024, I feel Nintendo are more aware of the weight of their history. Back when they last tried this, with 2005's Super Princess Peach, there was an air of carelessness. It was a throwaway game, fobbed off to Chubby Cherub/Shrek: Reekin' Havoc devs, Tose, and launched to a market whose respect for Nintendo had already taken a beaten from the likes of DK: King of Swing, Super Mario Ball and Classic NES Series: Ice Climber. Now, Nintendo treat Peach with due reverence, having her host Universal Studios meet-and-greets in her own personal bandstand, as the highlight of millions of holidays. People are thrilled to meet her, regardless of how much spaghetti she's made for them.

Right now, we're in a very odd period for the Mario brand, overall. Nintendo have embraced the idea that there's no unified vision of what Mario is. In the last year, we've had a mainline 2D entry closely modelled on the art direction of Masanobu Sato, a major Hollywood movie that denied post-1994 backstories and reinstated the NES-era US canon, a remake of a very of-its-time mid-nineties Mario RPG, and the announcement of the remake of a very distinctly eccentric fan-favourite GameCube RPG. Mario has become Mr. Video again, appearing in all sorts of different projects, merely as a comforting presence. He's a doctor and an artist and a kart racer and an umpire and we're not supposed to take any of it very seriously.

The dynamic sits awkwardly in relationship to why New Super Mario Bros took its iconography so seriously in the first place. Back then, it was a relief to see the series discard all the bullshit and get back on target, reinstating what was Real Mario Shit. Goombas were Goombas again, and if there were any weird offshot baddies, fans would need to adopt such convoluted nomenclature as "Mega Para-Biddybuddies". It felt like the programmers had taken more control, with the world defined by hard parameter references. There's a stiffness to that approach that I have a lot of affection for, and it was the lifeblood of the Wii U era (particularly in Europe and Japan). It brought us closer to the logic of the software, subconsciously making us better equipped to appreciate and understand it. It was fiercely objective. It's easy to see why this approach wouldn't resonate with the wider public, though. If Nintendo wanted to catch on to mainstream appeal, they'd need to foresake the concrete utility of their playing pieces and expand their surface-level appeal. During the promotion of the New Super Mario Bros sequels, developers explained that Peach hadn't been made playable in the game because of how her float-jump would affect the balance of the level design. In Showtime, she doesn't even have the float-jump.

Ah - Here we are.

I don't really like Princess Peach: Showtime very much.

I could come out with excuses, justifications, characterisation discrepancies... I just think it's boring to play. Levels are formulaic and repetitive, there's little dexterity to its gameplay, the rewards system feels like you're playing the game wrong if you're not constantly digging at the scenery to find every hidden item, performance and presentation is way below where it ought to be for a game with this focus, yada yada yada... I don't think it really matters. I just didn't want to play the game very much. The first couple of days I had it, I was telling myself I was too busy to calm down and enjoy it. I spent multiple days away from it before completion, and only went back to it out of obligation. I really wanted to care less, and not bother coming back.

As much fondness as I may have for the character, I'm clearly not the target audience for this. And I don't mean to imply that it's a game strictly for young girls, either. But it probably is for fans of recent Yoshi games. I'm certainly not one of them. As I dodder around, looking at the nice artwork, but wondering what I'm supposed to be getting out of it. It's a bit of a shock to see Mystical Ninja's Etsunobu Ebisu come back to a directing role to make something so devoid of spark or humour. Though the different costumes grant Peach a range of diverse abilities, the structure of each introductory level is largely the same, and the bulk of her more intricate actions are automated. In a move that recalls Metroid: Other M, all core actions have been distributed between two face buttons, and if there's anything particularly acrobatic or impressive, it doesn't often feel like you were very involved in performing them.

Showtime is fun in theory. The level themes are bold and exciting, Peach's costumes and in-character voice clips are cute, there's a lot of great art and punny design. I saw one review compare it to Kirby and the Forgotten Land and became incensed. That's a game that loves being a game. It celebrates the medium, embraces all the tropes that come with being a platformer, and sets up young audiences to embark on a future, exploring many wonderful videogames. Showtime is like Paper Mario with all the jokes, strategy and compelling gameplay stripped out. It's an RPG without story or combat. If you wanted to dedicate a budget to having a team design a bunch of charming adventures for Princess Peach to go on, I can totally get behind that, but why make this game when your passions and energy were better suited to a series of YouTube shorts, or a pop-up book?

There's definitely things I wanted to like. I felt like I should have liked. There's several parts of the concept that feel like they're paying off on things they established with Peach's character years ago. The fact that Odyssey ended with her setting off to explore the world in a bunch of cute outfits feels like it was leading up to an idea like this. They're making a game with Cowgirl Princess Peach, for god's sake. How haven't I come away raving about it? It's just all so tame. Mermaid Peach sings underwater to guide helpful fish, and that sounds like something I should have adored, but they never take the next logical step with one of those trademark Nintendo Switch vocal themes. Why didn't they want this game to be brilliant?

Something that surprised me is how bothered I was by the stageplay concept. The notion that to some level, this was all pretend. That Peach is taking on the role of a character for each level. Her voice sounds different for a bunch of them. I don't really feel like this is a game about Peach. It's about her playing the part of generic characters. I didn't feel any sense of drama until the very end, when she emerges outside of the Sparkle Theatre, as herself. It was the first thing since the intro that the game was trying to convey as authentic. Maybe if I just believed in the game - like there was a real throughline that meant each level was an important new part of a story - I wouldn't have been so bored with it. You really don't have to do a lot to get me with this stuff. I honestly found myself crying when I first heard Odyssey attempt to finally convey Peach's perspective on her relationship with Mario. Is this what a good story has to offer a game? As it is, it felt like I'd bought a colouring-in book, and for some bizarre reason, it was important that I finish every page.

This is very much a 'me problem'. I hope I've established my criticisms as fiercely subjective. I can see some folk getting a lot out of this. I've heard some say that they loved Yoshi's Woolly World. I certainly don't want to convince Nintendo that people don't like Princess Peach games. It's just that I had to play through Sexy Parodius and Third Strike before I'd gotten through this, just to remind myself that I do enjoy playing videogames.

It's the best one, no contest.

First of this series that I've played. The dungeon maps are a little straightforwardly underwhelming and it ends abruptly but overall I enjoyed this quite a bit. Some of the appeal here is in how stupidly overpowered you get and the fact that enemies don't respawn means you get a nice sense of progress cleaning out maps as you go. The number bloat in this game is absolutely comical (positive).

One of the quite important games both for the RPG genre and the Might and Magic series in general. This game did a lot of things: moved from complex encounter-based combat to in-world battles. The primary platform became IBM PC with VGA cars, giving a huge step up from the previous base platform (Apple II). Music becomes a major part of the environment, the same as mouse-driven almost fully graphical-driven GUI.

Move to in-world combat where monsters move inside the world map, without any separation of combat-exploration modes, in the style of dungeon crawlers like Dungeon Master, same as the fact that this is a fully hand-made open world without restrictions where all monsters (except spawners) placed manually marked for me most major change in how CRPGs decided to approach their presentation afterward. JRPGs have not moved to this for decades to come.

Because of all of that, this game is much more acceptable than the first two titles for modern players and not the worst point to start exploring the series. Of course, later on, the same engine were built Xeen games, which are, arguably better in all ways - art, music, animation, game design of the world, and content, but MM3 still has its charm and its minor features worth to discover. For example, the game still has some of this MM2 cheese DNA with sometimes brutal monster effects, timed to specific day quests, more funny and goofy presentation of the world.

This game is hard to call perfect or give it a high score, but same time, I want to acknowledge what it is and what it tried to achieve (mostly, successfully). Can't recommend the Amiga port, it is a PC version cramped into ECS machines. SNES port supports a mouse, and, besides some censorship, despite lower graphical specs, very nicely re-drawn by artists who knew how to do their work. The Sega CD version has original portraits re-drawn in anime style and has added an intro inspired by the lore inside the original manual.

I really liked the art of this one and the general outlandishness of the designs. Like you can play as a knife-wielding mummy in trousers or a baby piloting a mech suit. All while moving through colorful environments of escalating wackiness. And it has vehicles which I always like in games like this, even if these are pretty clunky.

I wish there was a super power, though; it’s just attack, grab and jump which while they have nice animations and a few interesting combos, just don’t offer enough variety for my taste. There are weapons, but those all feel pretty overpowered and are balanced around only lasting a few seconds. The core combat just felt simplistic compared to other beat-em-ups I’ve played. It really makes me appreciate the more expressive move sets of the newer ones like Shredder’s Revenge.

Fortunately it’s short, and has infinite continues in the Capcom Beat ‘Em Up bundle, which was enough motivation to see it through to the end in one sitting. Overall not particularly interesting combat-wise but a goofy and eye catching diversion.

The Yu-Gi-Oh of golf games

Fucking bullshit a lot of the time, especially when you're first starting out, and requires a lot of memorization, both by playing the game and having an understanding of the mechanics. But you feel like such a god gamer whenever things go your way that it more than makes up for the pain; the ecstasy of being in the rough on 3rd Shot and then landing the Eagle is insane.

Another quality installment in Digital Eclipse's series and a neat historical look at the UK computer scene of the 80's through Jeff Minter's experiences, especially for me as an American who had little knowledge of it; but man just like with Karateka I just don't like the vast majority of Jeff Minter's games in this collection. A good chunk of them are obnoxious sensory overload that go way too fast and/or are overly complex to a trollish degree. Also didn't change my opinion that Commodore games just sucked. Tempest 2000 is cool though and I definitely can see why it was the only reason to get a Jaguar. Funny thing is I felt Jeff's visualizer programs were more of an interesting topic when it came to his games because even if I wasn't totally into them Jeff had a clear passion for them as well as an ambition that was ahead of his time with them. Just as with Karateka, Llamasoft is a great historical piece but I just wish they could cover games that are mostly fun to play. Regardless I'm completely locked into with this series and definitely will be Day 1 once again for the next installment.

An entertaining yarn that manages to mash up some Lovecraftian lore with the general plot of the original game is the backdrop to a decent survival horror title that leans far more towards puzzle solving and exploration over combat and, in the current gaming climate, that gives it a more unique feel.

I also liked the 'creepy, but not scary' vibe. It's more Are You Afraid Of The Dark than The Exorcist, relying on atmosphere over jump scares and gore for the most part. Again, although not necessarily something I'd want every horror game to do, it makes Alone In The Dark feel quite fresh.

Combat is serviceable at best and definitely the game's weakest suite and the story, although absolutely interesting, gets a little lost in its own sauce towards the end and this stops Alone In The Dark from being absolutely essential but if you're a fan of the original or would like a modern survival horror game that has the sensibilities of those 90s PC/PS1 titles, I think you'll find a fair bit you'll enjoy with this one.

Heartbreaking: two games you vehemently despise for spitting on the creativity of your favorite contentious sequel of all time just got a good port