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Monday, February 21, 2011

Sonic the Fighters (Sonic Championship)

Sonic the Fighters(sonic Championship in the North American arcade release) was an arcade fighting game that saw very limited release in America. SEGA of America thought that the games portrayal of the characters was too violent(although Sonic Battle was released a few years alter on the Gameboy Advance). A Saturn port was planned, but canceled. the game finally saw a home console release via Sonic Gems Collection on the Gamecube, alongside some other lesser known Sonic titles. The game runs on the same engine as Fighting Vipers, and as such, plays almost exactly the same. In fact, the game came into being because Masahiro Sugiyama put Sonic and Tails in a beta version of Fighting Vipers. Yu Suzuki thought it was interesting, and so proposed the idea to Yuji Naka, who loved it.

The story is somewhat simple, and honestly, a bit laughable. Dr.Robotnic (misspelled Dr.Robotonic in this game) has launched the Death Egg II. Tails creates a rocket ship to counter this, but there is a problem - only one person can fit inside. As such, the characters hold a fighting tournament, and the winner gets to take out Metal Sonic and Dr.Robotnic. I told you it was ridiculous.

Visually, the game has definitely not aged well, but it certainly looks good for its time. Characetrs are very polygonal, and a bit rough. The game does have nice looking stages and the cartoonish effects fit the game to a tee. Fists grow when swung, heads flatten when bashed, and characters "bleed" rings when damaged, just like Sonic does in his main games. This comes complete with the ring sound effect, and I couldn't help but smile when I first saw it.

StF has a very catchy sound track. Each stages music fits almost perfectly, and a few of them may get stuck in your head. the sound track is completely original, however, and none of the songs from other sonic games appear. As cool as it would be to have a smash Bros. like sound track, compiled from the series history, I have to say it was a bold move to create entirely new songs for the game.

The character roster is far from disappointing. Sonic, Tails, Knuckles, and Amy (Rosy the Rascal) all made the cut, of course. Some of the more obscure characters such a Espio the Chameleon and Fang the Sniper made it in as well, and this is the only game that the characters Bean the Dynamite and Bark the Polar Bear has ever appeared in. There was originally a third original character slated to appear named Honey the Cat, but she was scrapped, though her character model still exists in the game's coding. Metal Sonic and Dr.Robotnic also make appearances as the game's boss characters. There are not playable, however. while it would have been neat to see some other obscure characters like Vector, it's easy to understand that due to limited technology, they had to be quite selective.

The controls are simple, and easy to understand. There is a punch button, a kick button, a guard button, and a guard break button. The joystick in combination with the attack buttons create combos and specials. The guard and guard break buttons should be self explanatory. You only have five shields, so if all five are broken, you can no longer block. Some characters use weapons, such as Bean's bombs, Amy's hammer and even Espio's tongue! If you are fighting one of these characters, a certain button combo will allow you to steal their weapon, and use it against them momentarily. On the Gamecube version, a skill list is available. I am unsure if this was available in arcades, but I highly doubt it.

Sonic the Fighters, or Sonic Championship if you prefer, is a simple yet fun fighter. It can provide hours of fun if you have people to play with, but playing alone it has limited appeal. The only way to own this game outside of owning an arcade cabinet is to buy Sonic Gems Collection. If you like Sonic, fighting games, or both of those things, you should at least try it. It is interesting to note that many of Sonic's attacks from Super Smash Bros. Brawl came from this game. It has aged rather poorly, so if you need everything to be new and shiny and perfect, then you should just stay away. It has developed a cult fanbase, and many have clamored for a sequel. It appears that isn't going to happen, but ti would be a welcome addition if it ever decides to show up.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011


Stacking is a down-loadable adventure game made by Double Fine Studios It is coming to Xbox Liva Arcade and Playstation Network of February 9th, and will retail for $15.

In stacking, you play as Charlie Blackmore, the worlds tiniest Russian stacking doll.In fact, everyone in this game is a Russian stacking doll, and the game has a very unique and stylized look.

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Each doll has a different ability, and Charlie can stack with them to use said abilities and overcome challenges.

This image has been resized.Click to view original image

SG64's Contact Information

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Juggle Chainsaws

I met the owner of this site on a forum, and agreed to share it. Juggle Chainsaws is a great website about retro games. I don't have much else to say about it, but it is most definitely worth a look.

Snow Levels: A Tribute to Winter

Winter. The last season of the year, and also the first. Among the things you may attribute to wintertime, be it the barren trees, the chill in the air, or a winter holiday like Christmas, snow is most likely on everyone's list. Most games have at least one snow level. It's become somewhat of a staple, from first person shooters, to RPGs and even racing games. Let's take a look at some of gaming's many memorable snow levels, and look back on our fond memories of them.
Super Mario 64 - Snowman's Land

Snowman's Land is the 4th course available in Super Mario 64. It's main feature? A large snowman guarding a mountain! Mario's only line of defense is a very big penguin! This bulky bird blocks the snowman's icy breath from blowing Mario off the mountain!

Banjo Kazooie - Freezeezy Peak

The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past - Ice Palace

The Ice Palace was the very first ice themed dungeon in the Zelda series. It is the 5th dungeon in ALttP. I can't remember much about the dungeon itself, but it leads to a boss battle Kholdstare, a mysterious one eyes creature that is at first suspended in ice.

The Legend of Zelda - Zora's Domain and Ice Cavern

When Link first arrives at the Zora's Domain, it has been frozen over by Ganon's magic, sealing off doors and trapping many inhabitants. Even after Link succeeds in rescuing the Zora's, there remains a cavern just outside their domain that is still frozen - The Ice Cavern. While technically a dungeon, albeit a small one, some do not count it as such. It only has one floor, which Link must explore in order to attain the heavy boots.

The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask - Northern Mountains

The Northern mountains consist of three areas - The Mountain village, a small area in the middle of the mountains; Snowhead, a gorge where the Goron race resides; and North Termina Field, the snowy entrance to he mountain. The blacksmith in the village can provide Link with the gilded sword, the most powerful sword in the game next to the fairy sword. In Snowhead, Link conquers Snowhead Temple for the second mask, and lulls the ghost of a giant Goron to sleep. This is also where Link attains his Goron mask.

The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess - Snowpeak Ruins

Snowpeak Ruins is quite simply beautiful. At first glance, it doesn't even look like a dungeon. That's because it is indeed a mansion, and the inhabitants are there the entire time Link is exploring. They're just chilling on the couch when Link asks about the mirror he is after. They just tell him it's upstairs, and he can have if he get's the key. they even offer you soup! The boss of this temple is a real surprise...

Paper Mario - Shiver City and Crystal Palace

Mario and his partners arrive in Shiver City through the sewers, and go looking for a penguin named Heringway. When they enter the mayor's home, they find him murdered! and Heringway is a suspect! After solving this mystery, they move on the Crystal Palace - a frozen castle. After solving the many riddles of the palace, it's time to show the Crystal King who's boss!

Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door - Fahr Outpost

Fahr Outpost is the isolated home of many bob-ombs. It's quite literally in the middle of nowhere. Mario travels here in search of a canon that will shoot him to the moon! General White is missing, however, and his permission is needed. This sends Mario out on a wild goose chase searching for the general.

Mario Kart Series: Sherbet Land

This map has appeared in multiple Mario Kart Titles. It made its debut in Mario Kart 64, and has reincarnation in Double Dash, as well as Mario Kart Wii. Penguins, shyguys and Freezies are out to freeze your kart in its tracks on this snow map!

Mario Kart Series - Frappe Snowland

This is another famous snow track that also debuted in Mario Kart 64. it also has an incarnation in Mario Kart DS. This mountain trails has many snowmen that will freeze you if you hit them, as well as many beautiful snowy replicas of many Mario characters!

Ice Climber - Icicle Mountain

In the NES game Ice Climber, Nana and Popo scale Icicle Mountain, trying to reach it's many peaks. Once they reach a peak, avoiding toppies and polar bears, that leap from the cliff and grab hold of a condor's talons to be whisked away! This mountain i also a stage in Super Smash Bros. Brawl, serving as the home stage of the ice climbers, Nana and Popo, as well as being an area in the Subspace Emissary. Oddly, the stage has Balloon Fight crossovers. This mountain was also an upward scrolling stage in super Smash Bros. Melee called Infinite Glacier.

Pikmin 2 - Valley of Repose

The Valley of Repose is the first area explored in Pikmin 2. Olimar and Louie became seperated after a crash landing, and utilizing their 2 teams of Pikmin, they must reunite before continuing. it has been argued that this is actually the first area from the original Pikmin, The Forest of Hope, in the winter season. There are a couple of snowman within this area, which is actually very strange what with the game taking place after human extinction. Who built them, I wonder? Perhaps this area has no seasons, and is always snowy. If the fan theory is correct however, the snowmen really leave some questions to ponder...

Animal Crossing - Winter Season

Animal Crossing is the game that's always playing, even when you're not! In the game, your town, which you name, mirrors reality via the Gamecube's internal clock. If it is four o'clock p.m. on a Friday afternoon in August, it is the same for your town in Animal Crossing. This of course means that seasons are mirrored as well, from the rotting of foliage in the fall, to the frequent April showers of Spring, to the snowfall of winter. In winter, your town becomes blanketed with snow on a random date a couple weeks into December. winter perhaps brings more changes than any other season. Snow replaces rain, and has the same effect as rain on fish, so Animal Crossing fishermen like myself can still catch their coelecanths! On Christmas, a reindeer named Jingle in a Santa suit leaves gifts in mailboxes! Starting in January, snowmen can be built if you can find snowballs to roll around, and your townsfolk may occasionally build an igloo, in which you can get some very rare items. Winter is without a doubt the most magical season in this already magical game.

Halo 2 - Lockout

Lockout is a medium sized map set in a UNSC base in an arctic area. The outside area's are coated with a thin layer of frost, and a small amount of snowfall is visible. This map was extremely popular, and was re-released in Halo 3 under the name Blackout, though Blackout seems to be missing the frost texture.

Halo 3 - Avalanche

 Avalanche was a download map for Halo 3, and one of two snow levels in the game. Set in a UNSC valley outpost, this map is large and in charge. It consists of 2 bases, 2 open fields connected by a small cave system and a frozen lake. This map is big enough for huge online grudge matches while remaining small and open enough for split screen mayhem.

Metroid Prime - Phendrana Drifts

Phendrana Drifts is quite breathtaking, especially for its time. As soon as Samus enters the area, her visor begins to fog. The long you are in the Drifts, the colder Samus becomes, and the more her visor begins to frost. It was a very nice effect, and immersed you even further in the game. Phendrana drifts is also the first area of the game in which Samus encounters the Metroids on Talon IV.

Metal Gear Solid series - Shadow Moses Island

Shadow Moses Island is where the first Metal Gear Solid takes place. Shadow Moses is in Alaska, and thus it is always very cold. This is where Solid Snake shut down Liquids plan to use Metal Gear Rex as a nuclear weapon. It of course first appeared in Metal Gear Solid for the Playstation, but was remade in the Gamecube remake, The Twin Snakes. Snake also returns here in a very nostalgic chapter of Metal Gear Solid 4 on the Playstation 3. was it any surprise when it was included as snake's home stage when he was announced for Super Smash Bros. Brawl?

There are many, many, many more snow levels. In fact, there will continue to be new snow levels as long as gaming lives on, and it seems to have plenty of life left. There is absolutely no way I could ever pay homage to every snow level, or to every game with a snow level in it. Please, feel free to comment about your own personal favorites or memories of these levels or any I may have left out. I hope you enjoyed this article, and have a great winter, or at least what is left of it.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Donkey Kong Country Returns

I'm sure many of you reading this look back on the Donkey Kong Country series' glory days on the SNES. It's sad to say, I never actually played a Donkey Kong Country game until the recent Wii entry. That being said, keep in mind that this is being reviewed by someone who has absolutely no emotional or sentimental attachment to the series at all. Despite this, Donkey Kong Country Returns still manages to instill a sense of nostalgia in me.

DK's banana horde has once again been stolen, this time by a gang of evil Tikis who are using a hypnotic rhythm to enslave the jungle inhabitants. The Kongs appear to be immune to this enchanting tune, and as such, Donkey and Diddy set off to get back what is rightfully theirs, and save the jungle.

Many games these days are being called out as being too easy, or pushovers. I'm happy to report than DKCR will make you break things. Yes, I said I'm happy to report that. I don't know when I've played such a challenging game! DKCR will push your platforming prowess to the limit, and then keep pushing it some more. Every level is masterfully crafted, and almost perfectly paced.

There are two control types in DKCR; using the Wii remote held on its side like an NES controller, or holding it upright using the Nunchuk. Personally, I prefer the former as it feels more natural. The controls are extremely tight and responsive, which is a must in any platformer.

Gameplay is pure 2D platforming goodness, while the 3D environments are bright, crisp and highly detailed. You progress by completing levels which all take place in worlds. After beating a number of levels, you may challenge that world's boss, and progress to the next world. Any level already completed can be played again anytime via the world map. This map, reminiscent of the world map from the first Crash Bandicoot is where you can access levels, check your progress in each level, and visit Cranky's hut to buy useful items. Each level has puzzle pieces to collect, unlocking artwork for your viewing pleasure, and the classic KONG letters. Collecting all KONG letters in every level of any single world unlocks a special level that is sure to try your patience. Collecting these, and beating these levels is entirely optional, but there is a great sense of accomplishment when you choose to do this.

Borrowed from other Nintendo games such as Super Mario Galaxy 2 and New Super Mario Bros. Wii is the superguide feature. After losing eight lives in a level, you can call on super Kong to show you how to play the level. If you allow super kong to complete the level for you, you may progress in the game, but you will retain no collectibles from the level, and it will not be counted as completed. Unlike the games this feature comes from however, it is actually useful for showing you how to get through some of the tougher parts.

Donkey Kong Country Returns is an amazing platforming experience that should definitely not be missed, especially if you enjoy a challenge. I'm sure it will get compared to New super mario Bros. Wii, as they are both platformers with the intention of bringing back memories while creating new ones. I have to say that DKCR blows NSMBW out of the water in every possible way, and is a superior platformer. Mario has been dethroned this generation, perhaps for the first time in the history of platforming.