Gaming Consoles- Sega Genesis: (1988)

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We all remember how cool the Sega Genesis was when it made its debut in Japan during the late 80’s.  The console wars throughout the 90’s is what made gaming  an exciting experience during that time period.  One of the coolest things about the Sega Genesis was that it was a backward compatible console that could also utilize games from the Sega Master system that was originally released in Japan in 1985.  When we think about the Sega Genesis the first thing that comes to mind is Sonic the Hedgehog who is considered the mascot Sega.  The Sonic the Hedgehog games developed between 1991 and 1994 were legendary not only because it helped revolutionize the platform gaming genre it also provided a great alternative to most of the titles released by Nintendo’s Super Mario series during that era.  Along with Sonic the Hedgehog the Sega Genesis also had many great titles including Streets of Rage 2, Sega Outrun, Golden Axe and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Hyperstone Heist.

One of the many features that stands out about the Sega Genesis includes the sound chips used for this game console. The Yamaha YM2612 along with the Texas Instruments SN76489 had allowed the Sega Genesis to produce some great soundtracks for many titles especially the ones produced by Yuso Kushiro such as the Streets of Rage series and Revenge of the Shinobi.  Along with having great soundtracks for many games Sega had developed add on hardware for the Genesis known as 32X which was available in both Japan and America in late 1994.   The 32X was unique because it allowed people to play 32-bit games on the Sega Genesis which was originally a 16-bit console.  In terms of high quality graphics some might argue that the 32X was Sega’s response to Super Nintendo’s Super FX Chip which provided enhanced 2D visual gameplay in certain game cartridges such as the original Star Fox.

While online gaming is predominate in today’s generation in the early 90’s it was not such a big thing.  In fact many people who were children were probably unaware that the Sega Genesis had provided online service for a brief period of time.  The online services were accessed using Sega Meganet which was only exclusive in Japan along with Sega Channel and the XBAND modem.  While the development of online services appeared to be good in theory but there were some issues in practice.  One of the issues for the Sega Channel had included a high subscription fee along with having a few playable games such as Mega Man: The Wily Wars which is considered an underrated classic by many people.     When the Sega Genesis was originally released in the late 80’s many people where blown away by the graphics and gameplay it provided with the inclusion of the Motorola 68000 and the Zilog Z80 CPU.  The visual design & sprites for various games such as Phantasy Star series was incredible and seemed ahead of its time during the early 90’s.

Since its release the Sega Genesis had sold at least 30 million units worldwide with the best selling game being the first two Sonic the Hedgehog games with a combined total over 21 million buys.  It should be noted that the Sega Genesis game consoles were being manufactured and sold in retail stores throughout the entire decade as it was discontinued in 1999.  Some might say that the reason way the Sega Genesis sold more units worldwide than Sega Saturn & Sega Dreamcast was because it was discontinued almost a decade after it was released while the other two were available for only a few years.  Either way, the Sega Genesis along with Super Nintendo helped revolutionize the landscape of gaming during the 90’s during the console wars and is seen by many as one of the best game systems of the 16-bit era.

Gaming Consoles- Super Nintendo Entertainment System: (1990)

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When we think about gaming consoles of the past the Super Nintendo Entertainment System is always one of the first systems that comes to mind in regards to the 16-bit era.  When the Super Nintendo Entertainment System was released in the early 90’s it exceeded the expectations of many people who were fans of the 8-bit NES game console.  It was almost impossible to be a gaming fan during the 80’s and not being familiar with the Nintendo Entertainment System released in 1983.  Almost seven years later when the Super Nintendo was released in 1990 many people around the world were blown away by various features that this console had included.  One of the many great features for the Super Nintendo included the S-SMP which was the audio processing unit this console.  Even though, many people often compare the sound system to Sega Genesis in terms of quality the audio for many games involving the SNES were actually pretty good.

One of the cool things about the Super Nintendo included its ability to produce games that appeared to exceed the capacity of what it was actually capable of doing.   An example would include the Super FX chips included in certain SNES games such as Star Fox, Doom and Super Mario Bros 2: Yoshi’s Island which enhanced the quality of each title.  The Super FX chip had utilized 3D polygons in order create awesome 2D visual effects for a handful of games released for the SNES in the early 90’s.  Even though there were some unreleased SNES games for the Super FX including Star Fox 2 it would have been interesting to see how great titles would have been.  The Super Nintendo Entertainment System was also known for releasing some memorable RPG titles during the early 90’s including Chrono Trigger, The Legend of Zelda: Link to the Past, Final Fantasy VI, Final Fantasy V, Breath of Fire II, Tales of Phantasia and Star Ocean along with many other games.

The Super Nintendo Entertainment System produced many exciting games but similar to the NES Super Mario sold the most units worldwide.  The two games Super Mario World and Super Mario Kart as sold over a combined total of 28 million units worldwide since its release.  One of the best non Mario games to sell millions worldwide included Street Fighter II: World Warrior which sold over 6.3 million units since its release in 1991.  One of the most interesting things about the Super Nintendo Entertainment System was that this console was still being manufactured despite the release of the Nintendo 64 in 1996.  It has been reported that the Super Nintendo Entertainment system has sold over 49 million units worldwide since its initial release. Even though, the Super Nintendo Entertainment System was very innovative in variety of different ways it still managed to sell less then the NES.

The Nintendo Entertainment System has sold at least 61 million units worldwide with people the Americas being the primary consumers.  While the Super Nintendo Entertainment System was far better in gameplay & quality the NES has been available since the early 80’s and was not discontinued until the late 00’s.  The Super Nintendo Entertainment System was made available in 1990 and was discontinued right before the start of the new millennium. The console wars between Nintendo and Sega during the 90’s left us with a wonderful gaming experience because it forced both gaming companies to produce high quality consoles and games that many people cherish to this day.  Even though,the Super Nintendo game console is over 25 years old some people would prefer playing some of the most popular titles of the 16-bit era opposed to many of the modern titles of today.

Classic Gaming- Breath of Fire II: (1994)

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We all remember how exciting 16-bit gaming was back in the early part of the 1990’s.  We had many exciting games in many different genres which made the 16-bit era of gaming unforgettable. The RPG games of the early 90’s were great especially titles such as Breath of Fire II developed by Capcom and originally released for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System in 1994. It was incredible that Breath of Fire II was released only about a year after the prequel for the same console in 1993.  Also, there were various aspects about Breath of Fire II which made it an exciting RPG title.   The soundtrack for Breath of Fire II was great along with the ability to save progress made throughout the game on the cartridge due to the internal memory it included. Unlike some other RPG titles Breath of Fire II follows the prequel in terms of story which occurs 500 years later while most of the action takes place ten years after the game starts.

Many people would probably agree that the multiple encounters with Barubury in this game were sort of annoying but it was necessary in order to progress throughout the story.  Along with being an exciting turn based role playing game there were some cool features Breath of Fire II had including the “Monster Meter” which allowed players to detect enemies within specific locations. Another cool feature dealt with having the ability to utilize various attacks & spells along with leveling up main characters as you progressed throughout the game.  In Breath of Fire II the players had to overcome many obstacles to advance towards the end of the game where they face their toughest challenge.  As you get towards the end of Breath of Fire II you end up doing battle with Barubury who is considered to be one of the toughest bosses in the game even with a team four people.  Players have the option of battling Barubury alone with Ryu but it would probably be best to have as much back up as possible when battling him.  It would also be best for players to have their characters leveled in the 50’s before taking one Barubury since his attacks take a lot of damage.

Similar to the prequel Breath of Fire II includes multiple endings which created more anticipation as one made towards the end of the game.  Breath of Fire II along with Final Fantasy VI were two great RPG titles released for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System in 1994.  The gameplay and graphics for Breath of Fire II was just as good as Final Fantasy VI along with some of the in game battle themes.  But one of the main differences between the two games includes the multiplayer feature in Final Fantasy VI opposed to Breath of Fire II which is single player only.  Both Capcom & Square were able to produce remarkable RPG titles in the early to mid 90’s and the competition between these companies made the gaming experience exciting for many around the world.  After its release Breath of Fire II has received many favorable reviews from gaming publications including IGN, Game Informer along with GameSpot which gave the game a near perfect score.  If there is any RPG game from the 16-bit era that is worth playing in this day and age Breath of Fire II would probably be ranked in the top 20 out of many games from the 90’s.

Retro Gaming- Samurai Shodown II: (1994)

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The first Samurai Shodown title released for the arcade system in the early 90’s was great because it was one of the many fighting games that spiced up the genre along with many other popular titles including Mortal Kombat, Street Fighter, Fatal Fury, and the King of Fighters series.  The first Samurai Shodown title released in 1993 was known to be one of the best multiplayer fighting games in arcade centers worldwide despite not being quite as popular as other gaming titles.  Shortly, after its release Samurai Shodown would receive a sequel in 1994 that included enhanced gameplay and a more in-depth story mode.  The cutscenes for each character in the arcade mode of Samurai Shodown II made this title  unique because it instantly drew the attention of players as they progressed throughout the game.    Some people would argue that the arcade mode in Samurai Shodown II is miles ahead of other fighting games such as Street Fighter II series where the arcade mode does not explain anything other than who you are going to fight next.

Samurai Shodown II was one of the many games that diverted from the traditionally arcade mode where characters travel to different parts of the world to fight their opponents without rhyme or reason.  The storytelling in Samurai Shodown was almost as good as other fighting titles released around that time period including Fatal Fury 3: Fight to the Final Victory in 1995.  Even though, the mechanics in Fatal Fury 3: Fight to the Final Victory appeared to be more superior Samurai Shodown II this title was also great game to play in the arcade centers because very rare to own this title for the Neo Geo following its release in the mid 90’s.  In fact, it was uncommon for many people especially in America to have a Neo Geo at all since it was very expensive and averaged around $650 when it was first released while the Neo Geo CD went for $399.   The Neo Geo version of Samurai Shodown was probably the best because of the arcade based quality that the game system was more than capable of producing.  If you were a huge fan of the series during the 90’s your best bet would have been to get the PlayStation 2 version of the game included in Samurai Shodown Anthology which was released in the late 00’s.  After Samurai Shodown II was first released it was praised by Electronic Gaming Monthly and received a nine out of ten for being one of the best 2D fighting games that one would ever play for any console.  Despite, not being a mainstream fighting title Samurai Shodown II is 2D game that is considered to be an instant classic among many retro gamers.

Retro Gaming- Samurai Shodown: (1993)

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There were many classic arcade titles that we remember from the early 90’s as 2D gaming was getting closer to reaching its pinnacle.  While there were many great fighting games throughout the 90’s there were also some titles that were considered to great but does get mentioned as much.  Samurai Shodown also known as “Samural Spirts” was one of the many great fighting games of the early 90’s when 2D fighting games started to become popular.  When SNK developed Samurai Shodown in the early 90’s it became one of the many games including the Street Fighter series, Fatal Fury along with the King of Fighters series that made the fighting genre very popular.  Samurai Shodown was an interesting title because theme for game was based on the feudal era in the later part of the 18th century.

In some fighting games the creators try to stick to modern settings in various countries while Samurai Shodown focuses heavily on Japan.  Despite, having a roster of only twelve characters many people considered it to be a very fun game to play.  Some people would agree that the opening for Samurai Shodown was probably one of the best 2D intros for a fighting game they have ever seen.  The visual presentation along with the gameplay for Samurai Shodown was also pretty good. The Rage Gauge feature was cool addition because characters can increase their fill bar by taking damage instead of dishing it out as opposed to some of  the later Street Fighter games of the mid to late 90’s including the Alpha series.  As we all know Samurai Shodown was released for various game consoles but many would argue that the Neo Geo version was probably the best version since it closely resembled the arcade.

While many people would agree that the SNES port for Samurai Shodown was pretty good the Neo Geo game console often did a far superior job at replicating the quality of arcade games better than most game systems.  After its initial release Samurai Shodown was highly praised by Electronic Gaming Monthly for being one of the best fighting games in 1993.  Even though, Samurai Shodown was not the most popular fighting title in the 90’s  the game is well known by many people and is regarded as a classic.

Retro Gaming- Fatal Fury 3: Road to Final Victory (1995)

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The Fatal Fury series was always fun to play at the arcade centers similar to many other fighting titles in the 90’s.  While Fatal Fury 2 & Special were considered to be two of the most popular titles within its series Road to Final Victory was also a pretty good fighting game when it was first released by SNK in 1995.  Similar to the arcade version the Neo Geo port of Fatal Fury 3: Road to Final Victory was excellent in terms of gameplay and visual presentation. Road to Victory includes a great 2D opening sequence that instantly draws the attention of anyone playing the game. The opening of Fatal Fury 3: Road to Final Victory was one of the many exciting features about this game since the Neo Geo version was almost exactly like the arcade.  The opening to Fatal Fury 3: Road to Final Victory was also more effective in highlighting plot in comparison to the last two games.  The opening for Fatal Fury II & Special were also good but they shorter in duration did not explain as much in comparison to this game’s intro.

Other great features about Fatal Fury 3: Road to Final Victory includes a more detailed arcade mode which describes the stories of each character as one progresses.  Speaking of characters Fatal Fury 3: Road to Victory includes many popular characters from the previous games including Terry Bogard, Joe Higashi,  Mai Shiranui,  and Andy Bogard.  This game also introduces some new characters including Blue Mary, Franco-Bashu, Hon-Fu and Sokaku.  The bosses in Road to Final Victory were a bit challenging when during the first encounter but can easily be defeated once you get to the game.  Some people considered Yamazaki to be a cheap boss since one of his attacks can drain almost half of your character’s life bar.  Jin Chonshu was very quick in terms of movement and attacks and it would probably take a couple of tries to defeat him for someone who was new to this game.

One of the main improvements made to Fatal Fury 3: Road to Final Victory includes the in game mechanics.  The developers made it so that the characters in Road to Final Victory could battle on three plane stages instead of two which made the fighting more realistic.  Fatal Fury 3: Road to Final Victory was a really innovative fighting title because the oversway system added more life to the game itself which made it unique in comparison to many other games of the same genre.  Even though, Fatal Fury 3: Road to Final Victory does not receive as much recognition as FFII & FF Special this was a great fighting game that a few people consider to be an underrated classic.

Retro Gaming- Ristar: (1995)

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Ristar is one of the many classic games for the Sega Genesis that some people feel is underrated.  As good as Ristar was it never received an anticipated sequel shortly after its release in 1995.   Ristar was a very exciting side scrolling 2D platform game that had the potential to have its own series.  The level of creativity that went into the soundtrack of this game was incredible and in some ways rivals Sonic the Hedgehog 2 & 3 in terms of BGM.  Along with having a great soundtrack the level designs for each stages were fantastic and felt reminiscent to games such as Sonic CD in terms of graphics.  One of the unique aspects about this game includes being a platform title where players do not have to rely heavily on jumping throughout the entire game.

Instead players had to rely heavily on stretching in order to do various things such as destroying enemies along with completing each level.  Another cool feature about Ristar includes the opening for each stage.  Before each stage begins there is an opening similar to that of a play before the player starts a new stage.  The intergalactic journey that you take in this game occurs on six different planets and similar to some of the Sonic the Hedgehog games the stages in Ristar includes two levels for each.  Many people have wondered for many years if Ristar was ever going to receive a 3D release.  The answer to that question is probably not but then again anything could happen.  While Ristar was great for the Sega Genesis sometimes people wonder how it would have played out if it was released for the Sega Dreamcast between 1998 and 2001.  Even though, was not on the same level as the Sonic the Hedgehog series in terms of popularity Ristar was title a very fun side scrolling platform title that many feel deserved a sequel or at least a remake from Sega.

Retro Gaming- Fable: (2004)

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We all remember the original Fable title when it was first released for the Xbox game console in 2004.  The original Fable game was  developed by Big Blue Box Studios & Lionhead Studios along with being published by Microsoft Studios. Fable was such a great role playing game since it included the freedom of choice in this game allowed players to do almost anything they wanted.  The alignment system in Fable is one of the key features that stands out because the actions of the main character affects not only their appearance but also the story itself.  Fable also included realistic features such as the characters health being affected by their diet along with appearances having the power to either attract or repel other individuals in terms of interaction.

The main character of Fable is assisted by a famous hero known as Maze after his village was invaded and all of his family were seemingly killed in the process.  Eventually, it was discovered that the Hero’s sister survived the invasion and was living in a bandit camp after being accepted by the leader who was known as TwinBlade.  The irony about this was the fact that the Bandit King was also considered to be a hero prior to his current lifestyle. After infiltrating the bandit camp and defeating Twinblade  the player as the option of either destroying him versus sparing his life.  The same option is also give to the main protagonist when they cross paths with an old friend named Whisper after defeating her in an arena battle ran by Jack of Blade.  As the story continues the main character makes some shocking discoveries such as Jack of Blades being responsible for the attack on his village along with is mother being imprisoned.

To make matters worse the main character is betrayed by his trainer Maze only to discover that he was working for Jack of Blades.  However, the main character eventually got his revenge on Maze which was great especially since it happened after he was imprisoned for a year and kidnapped his sister.  After defeating Maze the main character eventually defeats Jack of Blades but his victory is bittersweet since he ended up losing his mother in the process. Following Jack of Blade’s defeat the player has the option of keeping the Sword of Aeons versus destroying it which was interesting since the game had multiple endings depending on the choices one made throughout the game.  The inclusion of multiple endings based on choices made was great because it would urge people to play throughout the entire game more than once to see each ending. Along with the inclusion of the multiple endings and the freedom of choice there were various side quests players that players could participate in that would allow them to get additional hours of gameplay.

About a year after this title was made its debut a re-release of the game entitled Fable: “Lost Chapters” had featured an extension of the story.  In Fable: Lost Chapters players were charged with the task of defeating Jack of Blades a second time.  The only difference with Fable: Lost Chapters is that the player must capture Jack’s soul in a mask and is then given the option to destroy it or not.   The cool thing about Fable: Lost Chapters is that the player can ultimately decide their fate along with gaining possession of another sword that is just as powerful as “The Sword of Aeons.” When Fable was first released in 2004 many people thought that it was quite possibly one of the best RPG titles they have every played on the Xbox.

Based on the great qualities that Fable had featured including concept, gameplay, and graphics this game was without a doubt a legendary RPG title in the making that people had to play if they owned an Xbox.  After its initial release GamePro came very close to giving Fable a five star rating while IGN scored this title in the nine point bracket out of ten.   While the original Fable game along with “Lost Chapters” was very popular in 2004 & 2005 the series would only improve when Fable II was released for the Xbox 360 in 2008.

Classic Gaming- Aladdin: (1993)

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There many cool 2D  platform games that were released especially during the 80’s and the early part of the 90’s decade.  For the NES and Super Nintendo there where games like Super Mario, MegaMan and Castlevania were very difficult and also fun.  Also, for the Sega Genesis many people know that Sonic the Hedgehog has the best platform game series for that console.  There were also many other exciting platform games such as Aladdin which was a multi-platform game that was released shortly after the movie made its debut in theaters in 1992. When Aladdin was released in theaters in the later part of 1992 many people were blown away by various aspects of the movie itself.

The interesting plot, memorable characters, and great animation is what made Aladdin very exciting for both children and adults.  As great as Aladdin the movie was many people thought the game was almost as good.  When Aladdin the game was released about year later after the movie it was ported to various consoles including the Sega Genesis, Game Boy and Nintendo.  While some people think all ports for Aladdin the video game are fun to play most people would agree that the Sega Genesis version was probably the best.  The musical composition in the Genesis version was great in comparison the Super Nintendo.  Also the Sega version of Aladdin included faster gameplay along with better graphics.

The Game Boy Advance version of Aladdin was also fun to play because the graphics in the game seemed like a refined version of the Super Nintendo version.  Some would argue that the Game Boy Advance port of Aladdin not as great as the Sega Genesis version but it gives players a sense of nostalgia of when it was first released in the early 90’s.  The Amiga version of Aladdin was just as good  as the Sega Genesis in terms graphics while the speed in terms of gameplay can very depending on what type of computer some had and how well it performed.  The Aladdin game had various stages and mini games that not only followed the movie closely but also presented a challenge for players by the time they reached the well known carpet ride level on stage 3.  These were the good old days when the hardest level of many platform games was either stage 2 or 3 because we did not see it coming.  While the movie was a big hit in theaters when it was released in 1992 it would be safe to say that the game exceeded the overall expectations of many people when it was first released in 1993.

Retro Gaming- Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 2: (2010)

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Everybody remembers how popular the Naruto series was back in the mid to late 2000’s.  The series included in depth storylines involving key characters from the series such as Naruto, Sasuke, Gaara and many other shinobis from the Hidden Leaf Village.  When the first Ultimate Ninja Storm game was released back in 2008 the game had emphasized the events from the Chunin Exams all the way up to Sauske Uchiha leaving the Hidden Leaf Village for his quest regarding revenge on Itachi Uchiha.  The sequel to the original game called Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 2 was developed by CyberConnect2 and published by Bandai Namco Entertainment in year 2010.  As many of us know the events from Naruto Shippuden Ultimate Ninja Storm 2 focuses on various themes including ninjas of the Hidden Leaf village battling against members of the Akatsuki.  The story mode in this Ultimate Ninja Storm allows you to control various characters in the game such as Naruto Uzumaki, Sasuke Uchiha and Gaara Hiden.

There were many exciting features in Ultimate Ninja Storm 2 which made it very exciting.  This game brought back roaming mode from the previous Ultimate Ninja Storm title which included cool camera angles while navigating through various areas of the Hidden Leaf Village.  Ultimate Ninja Storm 2 also presents various challenges such as completing fights under specific battle conditions along with completing various missions to earn money (Ryo) and Storm Points (SP).   Another great feature about the game includes the cutscenes which makes the game feel like a movie version of the anime.  The graphics in Ultimate Ninja Storm 2 are fantastic and the gameplay is face-paced and easy to learn.  Ultimate Ninja Storm 2 gives players instructions on how to play the game during loading screens which are helpful for improving one’s in game skills and abilities.

Additional features for Ultimate Ninja Storm 2 included over 40 players along with at least 20 different stages with a pretty good soundtrack to keep players hooked on the game itself.  Ultimate Ninja Storm 2 allowed many people to gain many hours of gameplay while completing various missions to unlock various items as they progressed throughout story.  There were many exciting boss battles included in Ultimate Ninja Storm 2 for each arc.  While some of the boss battles were fun while many other people considered a few of them to be very difficult. Many people would argue that the battle against Kakuzu was among one of the toughest fights in the game.  Others would argue that Itachi was also a tough boss to fight against as well along with Sasuke when playing as Naruto.  After this game was released IGN scored this game an eight out of ten which is a pretty good rating.  Some would argue that Ultimate Ninja Storm 2 deserved a higher than what it received but since this is IGN some people would argue that the game received a fair score. Overall, everything about  Ultimate Ninja Storm 2 including its gameplay, graphics, storytelling, and visual presentation made this game a great fighting title.  Ultimate Ninja Storm 2 not only exceeded the expectations of many fans  but it also proved to be one of the coolest fighting games to be released during the first half of the 10’s decade.