Missing my Nemesis

Everyone needs a nemesis. Superman has Lex Luthor, He-Man has Skeletor, and Peter Popoff has James Randi.

When two polar opposites eventually throw down, it’s going to be something special. More than just another fight, this is a clash of irreconcilable ideals that will reverberate throughout the universe. TMW takes a look at the best clashes of good and evil throughout the ages.

Darth Vader Vs Obi Wan/Luke Skywalker

Speaking objectively, the first Star Wars film is great, even if behind the scenes George Lucas was going bald from stress and Alec Guinness was renegotiating his contract every five minutes. It introduced us to classic characters and ideas that will forever be embedded in our hearts and the hearts of our grandchildren.

"Daddy! Why won't you hug me!?"

“Daddy! Why won’t you hug me!?”

Obi Wan Kenobi’s fight with Darth Vader is remembered as one of cinema’s great moments. Or should that be misremembered? Watching it today, in Space Year 2015, the whole thing seems a bit of an anticlimax.

The lightsaber battle is dull – I’ve seen slicker moves when my grandma sweeps the kitchen floor. And the old wizard decides that while he could use his Jedi magic to drop a spaceship on Vader’s shiny black noggin, he’ll just stand there and die. Although the concept of death in the Star Wars universe doesn’t seem to be clearly defined.

What’s the disadvantage of death, exactly, if you can come back as a sparkly ghost and perv on Leia taking a shower? You know you would, don’t lie. Lies lead to the dark side.

"Strike me down and I will see more boobs than you can ever imagine"

“Strike me down and I will see more boobs than you can ever imagine”

The later battle in Return of the Jedi between all growed-up Luke and Vader is pretty hardcore by comparison, even if he does spend twenty minutes being called chicken-shit by Mumm-Ra The Emperor.

It all gets pretty heavy when poor old Papa Vader kicks the bucket, but it’s a happy ending after all when Han Solo, two robots and the semi-incestuous Jedi twins have a dance with the teddy bears.

Optimus Prime Vs Megatron

This is when most of us learned that heroes sometimes fail. You probably learned this with tears streaming down your face, your tiny little hands balled into fists in a display of smoldering, primal rage.

"Oh, and Santa Claus ISN'T REAL. Mwhahaha!"

Back in the 80s, film characters stayed dead, kids.

This was the battle of the decade – after all those years of threats and posturing, Prime finally gave Megs the fight he asked for. And boy, did he give him a whupping. Optimus takes Megatron apart – it’s like watching Muhammad Ali take on that Mr. Glass guy from Unbreakable.

For all of us watching, it was intensely satisfying. Prime saves the day, and he has Megatron at his mercy. It was all going to be okay…

In 25 years, people will see how much of a pussy Megatron is in HD!

In 25 years, people will see how much of a pussy Megatron is in HD!

So mere human words cannot describe the horror of seeing the cowardly Megs take a hostage and blast Prime in the face with a concealed handgun.

Prime dies in an awfully protracted deathbed scene that mentally scarred 50% of the pre-adolescent population in 1986. For many of us, it was the day our childhoods died. For the rest, that probably happened some time in the mid nineties when they got their first modem.

The Shredder Vs Splinter

There was always a bit of “will they won’t they” with Splinter and the Shredder. Mortal enemies, their paths rarely crossed. So when they eventually did meet, you knew some serious shit was about to go down.

"No! It's step, jump, THEN sashay!"

“No! It’s step, jump, THEN sashay!”

Shredder always seemed to have an unfair advantage over Splinter. He was about four feet taller and covered in blades, for a start. But Splinter is like Yoda. Small, wrinkly, but still able to kick an ass or two.

Their first proper battle in the Technodrome sent our pulses racing, even if it was a proper rip-off of Star Wars. Shredder even seems to pull a sword from nowhere (he’s never again seen using one), furthering the obvious parallels.

"Your powers are weak, old man!"

“Your powers are weak, old man!”

Still, we didn’t care. The Shredder was one of the great cartoon villains – just hammy enough that you could laugh at him when the Turtles threw custard pies at his metal-plated face, but just scary enough that you took him seriously.

Of course, in the Turtlesverse good always triumphs over evil, and any adventure usually ends with high-fiving and delicious pizza. Except in the 2003 cartoon, where Leonardo cuts Shredders fricking head off. But that’s a story for another time.

"Hmm"

“Sounds like a pain in the neck”

We all know that Master Splinter is the real hero of the series, anyway. He taught us all that it’s not what’s on the outside that counts, but what is in your heart… As long as you have serious kung-fu skills. If you don’t, then you’re just a HIDEOUS FREAK.

He-Man Vs Skeletor

He-Man fought his nemesis all the time. It was like they had a playdate or something. They’d meet outside Castle Grayskull every Wednesday, exchange puns – occasionally waving a sword or staff menacingly in the others’ direction – and then go home.

"Take THIS!"

Spare a thought for the poor bastard on the tower in the background

Let’s not kid ourselves. No-one in the He-Man universe ever hurt or wounded anyone else. He-Man’s Sword of Power could have been used to slice and dice the entire evil horde, but instead he just used it to deflect lasers or cut conveniently-placed ropes.

Not that he even needed his sword at all; He-Man could rip Skeletor or any one of his minions in half like a Jelly Baby and feed them to Cringer. But he doesn’t. Because he’s a goodie, and with great power comes great… Uh… wimpiness?

Anyway, was Skelly really all that bad? In the He-Man Christmas Special, Skeletor kidnapped some children (admittedly a little bit evil) but then made lovely winter coats for them so they wouldn’t freeze to death (not at all evil). He even takes the time to cuddle the green robot puppy.

"Nyaa!"

“Nyaa!”

However, in the 2002 series, Skeletor was plenty evil, and made sure to keep his place on Evil Monthly’s Top 20 Maniacs list by throwing the reigning monarch off a cliff, throwing the crown prince off a cliff (the guy likes cliffs), and beating up He-Man’s pet cat.

Naturally, He-Man goes ape shit over that last one [Ape-Shit? I don’t remember him – Luke] and single-handedly takes down Skeletor’s entire army in an act of vicious but censor-pleasingly nonviolent retribution.

Sonic Vs. Super Sonic

Fleetway’s Sonic the Comic was awesome. We’re dead serious. Given the loose premise of Sonic the Hedgehog – in that there wasn’t one – the creators were free to do as they wished, and they crafted an unimaginably deep and dark universe for the Fastest Thing Alive.

Shit!

Not even Superman can make a 90 degree turn in mid-air!

It’s not too surprising that Sonic ended up with an evil alter ego – the concept is everywhere in the world of comics and cartoons – we have Judge Death, Bizarro, Captain Pollution, and Faker to name but a few.

Where Sonic is a cool, easygoing character, his opposite persona Super Sonic is enough to turn your blood to ice, despite having a slightly redonkulous name.

Super Sonic lived inside regular Sonic (or Sonic: Original, take your pick) and would come to the surface whenever he got stressed or angry. Sonic was basically a ticking time bomb, like Bill Bixby but without the flares.

Uhh, Bob Holness?

Uhh, Bob Holness?

Unstoppable, insane, and with an appetite for carnage and destruction, Super Sonic gave plenty of readers nightmares and caused all sorts of problems for Sonic and his chums. Things hit a high point when the ‘Super’ was split from Sonic and given form all his own, creating a menacing villain who was present 100% of the time, and hit a low point when Super Sonic lost his memory and went on lovely adventures with a magic cat lady and her friend Pajamas.

For real.

Depth Charge Vs Rampage

This one had us on the edge of our seats.

Beast Wars was high on character development, low on toy advertising. It’s the Star Trek of Transformers franchises, and despite the lack of ‘red shirts’, the creators of the show weren’t scared to blow a brother away.

The evil robot Rampage is introduced early in the second season, and he lives up to his name. Apparently indestructible, he’s a sadist who loves killing, maiming and listening to One Direction. He turns into a big crab which is a lot less stupid in practice than it sounds on paper. He has a long-term rivalry with goodie Depthcharge, and they clash several times throughout the series.

Crabs are like Super Spiders.

“Which one of you dickheads ordered the crab!?”

Eventually, the two meet for their final confrontation, and it’s a shocker. After a long battle, the warriors end up locked in a deadly embrace. In stalemate, Rampage gives up, calling our hero’s bluff. So what does Depthcharge do….?

He plunges the sword straight into his enemy’s beating heart. The resulting explosion kills D.C and presumably doubly-kills Rampage.

Funny Fact: Beast Wars was called “Beasties” in Canada because they thought the title was too violent. Makes you wonder what they made of this episode.

“Face your tiny”

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X-Rated

Retro Gaming Spotlight

Ranger X

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Ranger X – Generic title, great game.

Many people probably picked it up based on the cover illustration alone, not knowing just how varied the gameplay was. It’s certainly not your typical shoot ’em up.

The presentation is superb – you’re never in any doubt of what’s happening or where to go, as the beginning of each level is preceded by a wireframe 3D video (!!) explaining your objective. There are little cinematic cutscenes here and there, too.

The controls may take a little getting used to, but once you have the knack they’re intuitive and precise. Ranger X himself can float around with the aid of his jet-pack, or walk forwards and backwards along the ground. Pressing either A or C will make him spin 180 degrees to face the left or right. It sounds odd at first, but the game is halfway between shooter and platformer, the traditional controls of either would have been frustrating to use.

I love to ride my BI cycle

I – love – to – ride – my – BI – cy – cle….!

You are followed by a little motorbike called “Ex-Up Indra”, and it scoots loyally around your heels like a robotic puppy. It goes where you go, and shoots when you shoot. If you so choose, you can take manual control or have its movements dictated by a second player for some co-op action. You can also combine with it, Transformer-fashion, to burn rubber through the levels or navigate small tunnels. Later in the game, it’s replaced by Ex-Up Eos, a sort of gunship. Not half as cool, as you can’t control this one.

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Ranger X flies over the apple orchards of New Tokyo

Ranger X has a large array of weapons at his disposal, although most have to be found in later levels. From the off, you’re equipped with a standard laser rifle. It’s ammo is unlimited, and the rate of fire high. Naturally, it doesn’t do much damage to most enemies, meaning that you have to bob and weave your way through the hordes, strategically deploying your stronger weapons.

These are:

Flamethrower: Does what it says on the tin. Strong, but rubbish.
Seeker Mine: These explode on the ground and leave a trail of hot blue fire. Good for heralding your approach and taking out ground-based enemies. Can also be thrust down the gullet of anything in your way, blowing them up from the inside.
Seeker Charge: Most players will default to this weapon. It sends out rapid-fire twin lightning bolts. Tapping the button will launch them dead ahead, holding it down will cause the lightning beams to rotate 360 degrees until they lock onto a target. Useful for covering your back.
Seeker Falcon: A robotic falcon that perches on your shoulder. One of the most powerful weapons in the game. Fly, my pretty! Fly!!
Plasma Blast: A weapon that fires crescents of burning plasma. Rather reminiscent of Alex Kidd’s power bracelet, but without the cool sound effect.
Photon Storm: This is the mandatory BFG. A one-shot wonder that destroys all in its path. Feels good. Your mum will come in just to check you haven’t blown up the TV.

Kineval mode!

Kinevel mode!

The weapons are powered by sunlight (very environmentally-friendly) and using them will deplete the charge. As long as you’re above ground the weaker weapons can be used liberally, but the more powerful ones will, of course, use more power. When empty, you must retreat to a sunny spot to recharge. If you’re underground or inside a building you will have to improvise.

Weapon power can also be sacrificed to refill your life meter by standing in one of the ‘recharge chambers’ hidden throughout the levels. Inexplicably, Ranger X can also shoot apples off trees and eat them for a little life boost.

dfg

Never mind the burning city, the real battle’s HERE.

The maneuverability Ranger X’s jet-pack offers is incredible, but you must take care not to over-heat the engine. Use it too much and it will cut out, causing you to (harmlessly) plummet to the ground. It adds a flair of strategy to an already complex shoot ’em up. A later level will see you scaling a gigantic skyscraper, leaping from window ledge to window ledge, with the ground perilously far below. Misjudging your flight will often mean starting the whole ascent again.

The levels run the gamut from traditional scorched desert, to technological fortresses, to lush forests. Each one is guarded by an intimidating boss character such as the giant crawler robot from level one, or the squid monster on level three. Some will require cunning and patience to defeat, others just a good old ass-kicking.

xgf

That’s not his arm, by the way.

You’ll burn through the whole game pretty quickly, but unlike contemporaries Thunder Force or R-Type it remains a varied and interesting experience that never repeats itself and constantly throws new things at you. You won’t regret adding this one to your Mega Drive collection.

Transformers: Devastation UK Review

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The Transformers have been with us for thirty years now, and in that time they’ve graced every form of media you can imagine. We’ve had cartoons, comics, movies, music and books. But so rarely have there been Transformers video games, you could count them on the fingers of one hand. If you only counted the good ones, you’d end up making a very rude gesture indeed.

Transformers games of the past have included the dire Commodore 64 game; the infamous Famicom Mystery of Convoy; and the PS2 bore-fest from (*snigger*) Winkysoft. So where does Devastation stand?

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First of all, the graphics are lovely, even if you’re playing on your old Xbox 360. The game moves along at a silky-smooth framerate that never slows even when things get busy on screen. Coming from the studio that brought us Viewtiful Joe and Okami, it’s no surprise that everything has a painted, cel-shaded look that manages to emulate the old 80s cartoon yet provide a crisp, metallic sheen to the characters.

It looks like the old Transformers cartoon come to vivid life, and it’s brilliant. The Transformers themselves are reminiscent of the old cartoon designs but are more intricately detailed. The animation is top-notch and the characters leap around like gymnasts, tumbling and somersaulting around the levels. At any time you can transform into vehicle mode, and it’s intensely satisfying – you’ll no doubt spend a little while just transforming back and forth.

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If you had asked a kid back in the eighties to describe the perfect Transformer computer game (and, well, a computer to play it on) he would not in his wildest dreams have thought up anything half as good as this. That said, we do wonder if the kids of today will be put off by the cartoonish stylings. Not for nothing have the modern Transformer movies made four billion dollars – it may be too much to ask for people to make the leap back to the old cartoony style.

The game is primarily an “action combat game”, or hack ‘n’ slasher as they’re more commonly known. It seems a strange and risky choice for a Transformers title, given the relatively small audience for the genre. Indeed, we were a bit apprehensive about it, but you couldn’t have surgically removed the smile from Adam’s face as he tore around the first level as Sideswipe in Lamborghini mode and sped towards a Decepticon, before transforming back to robot mode at 100mph and uppercutting him square beneath the jaw. Kabosh!

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The freedom of movement is fantastic. The superb animation combined with slick motion and camera controls means that you’ll spend a few minutes running around each new environment just for the fun of it. There’s nothing quite like leaping around the city as Optimus Prime – the real Optimus Prime, not Michael Bay’s movie monster – then with a press of a button transforming to truck mode to drive through underground tunnels while your headlights illuminate the path ahead.

The playable characters – Prime, Sideswipe, Bumblebee, Wheejack and Grimlock – can either use their traditional weaponry that they’re famous for (Optimus’ axe, Sideswipe’s shoulder cannon, etc) or swap them out for a huge variety of blasters, flamethrowers, swords and hammers to take on the legions of Decepticon goons and – far more frequently than you might expect – big hitters like Megatron, Soundwave or the mighty Devastator!

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You can upgrade your character and weapons, but frankly it makes our heads spin. There are way too many statistics and XP points and whatnot – it’s very daunting. However, the game is first and foremost a hack ‘n’ slasher so these things are to be expected. Many players will enjoy improving their weapons or leveling-up their characters, no doubt.
Upgrades and power-ups can be found scattered around the environments or can be created in Wheeljack’s lab in a fun little mini-game found on the character-select screen.

There are little cameos and appearances from Transformers characters and lore long forgotten. Some are pretty obvious, like the little Kremzeek that hides in the dark alleyways, and others more subtle, like the image of Prowl’s stern face staring back at you from a computer monitor.

Transformers-Devastation-1

There are quite a few unlockables to be found, including artwork from the game and the wider Transformers universe, as well as weapons and downloadable skins for your characters. Bumblebee and Sideswipe become Goldbug and Red Alert at the touch of a button. It won’t add much replayability to the game, but it’s nice for fans of the latter two characters and bodes well for future DLC content.

The graphics and presentation are wonderful, but the music is quite generic, despite Vince DiCola’s input. Most of the time you won’t even notice it, but when you do it has that inoffensive ‘rawk’ feel that puts us in mind of Sonic Adventure. The voices are spot-on, though, with several of the original cast returning to reprise their roles. The most obvious – apart from Peter Cullen and Frank Welker – being the unmistakable Michael Bell. The characters will narrate your gameplay and mutter amusing non-sequiturs to themselves, and also talk to each other via a little pop-up in the bottom of the screen, much like your team mates in Star Fox.

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We doubt that many casual players will want to see the game through to the end. It’s really only for die-hard hack ‘n’ slashers. It’s a shame, as the joy of movement, great graphics and slick combat could have made for an unbeatable action-platformer.

As it is, the environments are a little too small for players uninterested in the combat to make a game of exploring, and we worry that the relatively niche genre will put off most players. It also seems strange that you can only play as the Autobots, despite the enemy Decepticons being so well designed that it seems like a cruel tease to have them unplayable.

It’s a more entertaining game than the grisly and grim War for Cybertron, but the light that burns twice as bright burns half as long. A bargain at £25 (if you settle for last gen), it’s great while it lasts – if you love games like Bayonetta, Devil May Cry or Oneechanbara, then add a point to the score. If you also love Transformers, add another point – you’ll be in heaven.

It’s funny, enjoyable, well-presented and a love-letter to G1 fans old and new. But it never quite breaks the chains of the genre.

Rating Strip TFD

True Colours

In this wacky world of ours, hate is always more popular than love. People like to point out flaws and complain about things, to cynically pick apart someone else’s achievement and say why it’s a load of crap. That’s human nature.

As a fan of video games, I still like to read (what’s left of) the gaming press, and I’ve found that when releases dry up, they all tend to fall back on “Top Ten Worst” lists. One game that comes up time and time again is Sonic the Hedgehog (2006), although most people call it “Sonic Oh Six”.

Punch that screen!

He’s so eager, he’s trying to punch his way out of the box. Bless ‘im.

The game gets a bad rap on the internet, too, so for a long time I avoided it and went along with the popular consensus. Eventually, though, I decided that talk is cheap and the only way I’d discover the truth of the matter was to play the game myself. And you know what? It just isn’t that bad. In fact, it quickly became one of my favourite games on the console.

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Tails runs from Cream the Rabbit’s house, and therefore the law. For shame!

For one thing, the game is really quite relaxing. It has a tranquil, easy atmosphere and the music will warp you straight to the Chill Out Zone. I have the soundtrack on my MP3 player, it’s that good. Of course things heat up towards the end and they bust out the heavy metal guitar, but this time the lyrics to the game’s theme song actually make sense – there’s none of the mangled English that was to be found in Sonic Adventure.

Wave_Ocean

“No, Willy! They’ll take you back to Sea World!”

Much like Sonic Adventure, however, the game has “hub” areas that you can explore at your leisure. I really like walking around the pseudo-Italian city of Soleanna just talking to all the different people and listening to their quaint ramblings and non-sequiturs.

Soleanna

These cloud formations are known as “stratocumulus Segalus”

The place isn’t bad to look at, either. It’s blue-sky gaming of the kind only Sega can make. Compared to the bleached-white palettes of Assassin’s Creed (also set in a version of Venice), Sonic ’06 is a visual masterpiece. I’m dead serious. Look at them side-by side – which would you rather play?

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You paid £400 to see games rendered in sepia. Feels good.

In fact, I found that all the complaints leveled at the game are dwarfed when compared to modern releases.

The notorious glitches, for example. I didn’t have a problem with them at all. Some parts lacked a little polish, sure, but the occasional spastic jerk or pop-up is small potatoes when held alongside modern Xbox One and PC games such as Sim City or Batman Arkham Knight that – no word of a lie – don’t work at all.

The infamous loading times, too. They’re unbearable, make no mistake. But the other day I played a game on my mate’s Xbox One and assumed that it had crashed. But no, it literally takes six or seven minutes to load the title screen. And then another five minutes to load the first level. That’s if you’ve got all the latest updates, of course.

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Run! It’s the bestiality patrol! These guys don’t mess around!

The game also gained notoriety for its introduction of Silver the Hedgehog. In truth, he isn’t so bad. I’ve always loved Sega’s characters, be they Tails the Fox, Bean the Dynamite or Vector the Crocodile. Frankly I was disappointed not because of Silver’s introduction, but because he was labelled as a “hedgehog”. Like we didn’t have enough of those already. He also looks nothing like a hedgehog, but then neither does Sonic.

Oooh, one of those glowy things!

Hi Ho Silver, awaayyy! *dies*

Silver has gnarly psychic powers and can use telekinesis to throw objects around levels. It’s rather chaotic, but quite fun once you get used to the controls, which I never really did. My cousin Sam – who has spent his entire life playing games, yet for some unfathomable reason isn’t very good at them – went a bit Rain Man on these levels, however, and took to them like a duck to water (or Adam to a pony’s backside – Luke).

To sum it up – don’t let the haters tell you what you can and can’t enjoy. Some things in life are great, some are truly shit, but most things are completely subjective and you’ll get out from it what you put in.

For those looking for more misunderstood Sonic gaming, I can wholeheartedly recommend Sonic Colours for the Nintendo Wii. It’s more traditional platforming fare, and plays very much like Super Mario Galaxy. But with a Sonic.

That is all.

“Fox Bean”

Once Upon a Mouse…

TMW Presents: Retro Gaming Spotlight

Castle of Illusion

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Everything starts out just peachy for our old friend Mickey Mouse. He’s in a meadow, frolicking playfully with his girlfriend Minerva, having a game of “spin around really fast so Minnie might fall over and I get to see her knickers” when suddenly Mizrabel the witch appears from out of the blue and whisks Minnie away to her castle.

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Her castle… of illusion!

Why she took Minnie is never really explained. We imagine that it was a spontaneous decision that Mizrabel figured she had to see through to the end. It’s a bit like that time Adam smuggled a pony home from Crealy farm. In the heat of the moment it seemed like a good idea, but once he actually had it in his bedroom (and dyed its mane purple) he couldn’t think of anything to do. Well, that’s what the police report said, and we’re sticking to it.

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Anyway, Mickey walks some fifty miles to the castle and is greeted by Obi Wan Kenobi. The old wizard gives Mickey brief instruction to collect seven magical gems that will summon Captain Planet so he can beat Miserabel up. Or something like that, who knows. This game isn’t very clear about who’s doing what or why.

Mickey doesn’t really need any help to rescue Minnie anyway, as the little guy can lift boulders clear over his head and throw them ten yards. Kabosh! No-one knows why he’s so strong, but legend has it that – years ago – Mickey was bitten by a radioactive mouse, thus giving him the PROPORTIONAL STRENGTH OF A MOUSE.

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It’s quite amazing. In the Mega Drive version, Mickey carries around a bag of apples (or maybe billiard balls) to pelt his enemies with. Master System Mickey just rips up parts of the scenery and puts the smack down on the baddies.

You wouldn’t really want to hurt any of the enemies, though. They’re adorable! You meet caterpillars and smiley sweeties, honey bees and sugar cubes. Why make the enemies so saccharine and benevolent, we wonder? You don’t see that in Streets of Rage. It just wouldn’t be the same if Galsia and Y. Signal came at you with chocolates and a bunch of flowers.

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A lover of all animals (*splutter*), fictional or no, Adam steadfastly refused to hurt any of the little critters in the game, and often made guests swear by the same oath. You should see him play through the whole of Time Crisis without fatally wounding anyone. It’s astonishing. Adam makes Ghandi look like General Zod.

Reaching the end of any of the game’s five levels, you’re tasked with defeating a boss. These characters are pretty hardcore and require careful planning and strategy to defeat. If you’re clever, you can trap the giant Chocolate Bar Man (exactly what it sounds like) in a pattern and ruthlessly beat him with a rock.

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Once the boss is gone, you’re awarded one of the seven rainbow-coloured gems that you need to defeat Mizrabel. When you grab it, the game plays a delightful little tune that tickles the ears and makes the battle worthwhile.

The levels themselves are all fantastic. If you have the Mega Drive version, throw it in the bin right now – you won’t be going back to it. On paper the environments sound the same: You have the woods, toy land, chocolate factory, library and the clock world. But they look and play completely differently to their sixteen-bit cousins.

The graphics are bold and charming, the level design clever and challenging without being frustrating, and the music is wonderfully bouncy. You can tackle the levels in any order you wish; a feature left out of the Mega Drive version for some reason.

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The final challenge comes when you reach the castle’s inner sanctum (I never touched her sanctum!! Read the report!! – Adam). It’s a spooky and fiendish place, and will require all your platforming skill to negotiate safely. Before the final battle with Mizrabel, you must defeat a wicked-looking dragon that spits balls of blue fire.

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Mizrabel herself is easily trounced with Mickey’s mighty mouse strength (by which we mean he smashes her face in with an oil lamp), and she repents her sins wholeheartedly and allows Minnie to go free. Like almost every Master System game ever, the ending is a sweet one that leaves you with a smile on your face. And of course, the game thanks you for playing after the credits roll.

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“See her knickers”

 

Mario Maker Review (UK)

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“I stole this outfit from Ronald McDonald’s corpse!”

You probably already know what Mario Maker is about. If you don’t, the name says it all. But maybe you’re wondering if it’s as intuitive and user friendly as we’ve come to expect from Nintendo. Good news for you: it is. We were creating a brand new Super Mario level within seconds of firing the console up. That’s not a figure of speech either. Seconds!

After the title screen the game dumps you in a NES-style Mario level and sets you loose to play. Run with the D-pad, dash with B – so far so familiar. The graphics have a smooth, HD look and Mario has a kind of drop-shadow effect we don’t remember seeing before but other than that it’s pretty much exactly what you’d expect.

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All the world’s a stage, Mario…

So anyway, your gaming instincts kick in and you hop the gaps, punch the blocks and make a final leap for the flagpole. Except you realise mid-air that you’re probably not going to make it. Some idiot designer made the gap too big and you’re about to plummet to an early death in the mysterious abyss at the bottom of the screen.

The game pauses and switches to editor mode. By way of tutorial, you’re tasked with filling that death-gap, then switching back to gameplay mode and clearing the level. And that’s about all the guidance you get, a complete godsend after Wario Ware DIY and its seemingly endless tutorial mode. Adam, with his hummingbird-like attention span, still breaks out in a nervous sweat just thinking about that one.

Game creation is a stylus-only affair. You’re free to doss about, drawing blocks, adding coins and enemies, and stretching or rotating level furniture like pipes and the like. If you make a mistake you can use the eraser tool to rub it out. We cracked up when we went to “erase” Mario and he started shitting himself.

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“Don’t-a kill me, wahoo!”

The Ninty magic is back in full force. Everything is done in that tongue-in-cheek silly way that Wario Ware players will find familiar. Old NES sound effects and remixed Mario music accompany every tweak and edit, proving that Nintendo are masters of audio design as well as visuals.

You can create levels in the style of the original SMB, Mario 3, Mario World and New SMB, and switch between them at any time. Gimmicks or items that were previously game-specific will cross over (with one or two exceptions), sometimes taking on new forms in order to fit in visually. It’s amazing how switching between styles can breathe new life into your levels.

The game will occasionally throw some curve balls, and enemies or items will behave in unexpected, hitherto unseen ways. For instance, you can put Goombas underwater or suspend Chain Chomps from moving platforms. If you so choose, you can add decidedly odd HD effects that clash with the pixel artwork.

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You pressed paws! Arf!

The game, outside of the editor, is pretty barebones. Features like uploading and playing pre-loaded levels are accessed from a small drop-down menu in the corner. What this means for you is that there’s no loading and jumping from screen to screen. It’s all business, all the time. Even the title screen is completely interactive and lets you immediately start making new levels.

Our one complaint is that the game gradually drip-feeds new items and level styles depending on how much you’re using it – and no, you can’t leave it running overnight to unlock everything (we tried). You might be absolutely sick of the sight of it before you unlock the clown car or the Princess Peach costume. The popular consensus is that it takes 9 days to unlock everything, and as far as we know that’s the official word from Ninty.

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Adam had to be restrained by seven men once he learned that ‘the pony bums’ weren’t an available item

But…! Stay your hands, baying hoards, before you storm the Kyoto headquarters and demand Miyamoto’s head on a pike: There’s apparently been a patch released in time for the UK launch. No one is quite sure what exactly the criteria are now, but one thing’s certain, the game breaks its own ‘one update a day’ rule. Fantastic!

To sum up, the game is presented with all the finesse you’d expect from a first-party Nintendo title. It makes any game you’ve ever played on your PS4 look like a Sega Saturn tech demo, and it’s so polished it’ll make Mr. Sheen mess his pants with envy.

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You can remake Alex Kidd in Miracle World!

The interface is so intuitive that you can do anything your heart desires without so much as thinking about what button to press or where to click, and the game will constantly charm you with its creative flair and neat little touches. You can effortlessly switch between the different game styles depending on what kind of nostalgia hit you’re looking for, and you’ll probably surprise yourself when you unleash the game designer hidden inside.

TMW Rating: – 4/5

The game loses one point for not having a “Mario 2” mode. Nintendo’s staff evidently don’t consider it a ‘true’ Mario title, along with the rest of Japan, and its unique mechanics (such as not jumping on enemies) wouldn’t fit with the rest of the game. But to the western world, that game was the real deal and we loved it more than the first. Still, there’s a lifetime’s worth of play in here.

“Gradually drip”