Retro Gaming 00’s- Crash Nitro Kart: (2003)

One of the few racing games from the early 00’s that was definitely overshadowed within it genre was Crash Nitro Kart. For those do not know Crash Nitro Kart was published by Universal Interactive and developed by Vicarious Visions and appeared on multiple game systems including the PS2, Xbox and GameCube back in the early 00’s. Crash Nitro Kart was considered to be a sequel to the Crash Team Racing game from ‘99 while being the ninth Crash Bandicoot game within the entire series. Crash Nitro Kart contained over 20 playable characters including Crash, Coco and Crunch Bandicoot and introduces a few new characters such as Fake Crash along with N-Trance as well. Crash Nitro Kart also saw the return of Doctor Neo Cortex who was the main villain in the very first Crash Bandicoot game from ‘96. We also saw the return of Nitrous Oxide the main villain from Team Crash Racing in Crash Nitro Kart as a leader of his own group known as “Team Oxide”. The game has a rather interesting plot that saw the main villain Emperor Velo XXVII abduct Crash & Neo-Cortex’s group while forcing them to compete in a racing tournament.

The possibility of Earth’s destruction plays a role in both Crash and Doctor Neo-Cortex’s group agreeing to participated the race with the winning team receiving freedom from the Galactic Emperor Velo XXVII. The story for Crash Nitro Kart has alternate endings depending on which team won which added to the game’s overall replay value. As cool as Crash Team Racing was back in ’99 many would argue the Crash Nitro Kart was a more superior game despite not being on the same level in terms of popularity. Crash Nitro Kart was challenging and the gameplay was highly enjoyable since it felt like Naughty Dog’s version of a 3D Mario Kart game. But unlike many Mario Kart games we have seen in the past Crash Nitro Kart has an actual storyline which in some ways makes it better than some Nintendo’s past racing titles within the Mario series.

Retro Gaming 10’s- Metro 2033: (2010)

One of the many memorable first-person shooter survival horror games that came out back in the early part of the 10’s decade that people generally like to talk about nowadays is Metro 2033 from 2010. For those who do not know Metro 2033 was developed by 4A Games and initially published by THQ before its release on the Xbox 360 and Microsoft Windows back in 2010. Since its initial release in ’10 the game was remastered and released for consoles such as the PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch as the Redux edition which started appearing on various game systems since 2014. The Metro 2033 game was based off of the fictional post-apocalyptic novel by Russian author Dmitry Glukhovsky which originally published in Russia back in 2005. Similar to the novel the setting of the game took place in the desolate city of Moscow following a global nuclear holocaust that occurred in an alternate timeline during 2013. Metro 2033 contained a well balanced blend of stealth & survival gameplay as players controlled the main protagonist known as Artyom. In the game players have to fend off threats from the various enemies from mutated rats to large mutants and other sinister creatures in order to survive.

As players progress throughout Metro 2033 they discover some mind-blowing revelations in relation to Artyom and the Dark Ones. While Artyom constantly had supernatural visions pertains to the creatures he has been battling he eventually discovers the true intentions of the Dark One. While its was in initially believed that the Dark Ones wanted to destroy humanity it turns out they wanted to reach out them instead. These details were discovered by the time players reached the secret missile command center and depending on what decisions are made multiple endings could be unlocked. More details about Artyom’s childhood and his connection with the Dark Ones were emphasized in detail on Metro: Last Light which was the 2013 sequel to Metro 2033. The game itself was critically acclaimed by various gaming publications despite not being on the level of games such as Fallout 3 from ’09 as far as survival horror titles were concerned. Many people would argue that Metro 2033 was without a doubt one of the most high profile first person shooter survival horror titles of 2010 along with being one of the best video game adaptations of any novel in the history of gaming history.

Retro Gaming 90’s- Castle of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse: (1990)

When it comes down to platform classics for the Sega Genesis one of the few games that instantly comes to mind is Castle Of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse from 1990. Castle was arguably one of the first major platformers to have appeared on the Sega Genesis/Master System before Sonic the Hedgehog blew up in popularity from ’91 onwards. Castle Of Illusion was a platformer with a basic plot that involved Mickey Mouse attempting to rescue Minnie Mouse from a wicked witch by the name of Mizrabel. In order defeat the wicked witch Mickey is required to collect the Seven Gems Of The Rainbow from various levels throughout the game which are considered illusions. In order to complete his quest along with rescuing Minnie Mouse players must deal with various foes throughout the game including the Masters Of Illusion and other strange creatures in the game. The cool thing about Castle Of Illusion is the fact that it felt somewhat similar to a Sonic game for the series even began.

The concept of collecting seven gems similar to how Sonic the Hedgehog collects seven Chaos Emeralds was pretty cool. Also the idea of saving Minnie Mouse In Castle Of Illusion was somewhat similar to how Sonic the Hedgehog had to save Amy Rose in Sonic CD a game that did not come out until ’93 for the Sega CD. While the 16-bit graphics for Castle Of Illusion was a strong positive for this 90’s platformer some criticized the game for being to much like Super Mario in terms of gameplay. In order to defeat enemies players were general required to bounce off of them while being able to toss items such as marbles and apples at them. While Castle Of Illusion was not as complex in terms of gameplay as other platformers from the 90’s it still managed to be a huge attraction for the Sega Genesis. Mickey Mouse as been a pop icon since the 1930’s and was a familiar face that almost everyone knew about; seeing him on the 16-bit Genesis console back then was pretty epic. Castle Of Illusion was so popular to a point where it received a remake which eventually appeared on the PlayStation Network, Xbox Live Arcade along with Microsoft Windows back in 2013. While Castle Of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse May not have been the number one platformer for the Sega Genesis; but it was a game that was mainly critically acclaimed back in the 16-bit era that people still talk about to this day.

Retro Gaming 10’s- King Of Fighters XIII: (2010)

SNK’s King Of Fighters XIII was one of the few high profile fighting games to have been released back in 2013. As good as KOF XIII May have been overshadowed by various other fighting games that were also released 2013; that year we saw the release of titles such as: Killer Instinct, Injustice: God’s Among Us, Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 and Jo Jo’s Bizzare Adventures: All-Star Battle. KOF: XIII was the direct sequel to its predecessor King Of Fighters VII which was released in ’09 and received an arcade release exclusively in Japan back July 2010. King Of Fighters XIII did not appear on the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 until the fourth quarter of 2011 in countries like Japan, Europe and America. As far as visuals were concerned King Of Fighters XIII saw a unique improvement as the game presented players with sharper character sprites in comparison to its prequel. King Of Fighters XIII was also the game that concluded the Ash Crimson arc which began following the release of KOF ’03. Ash Crimson was a very unique character mainly because of his anti-hero persona stemming from his villainous antics. Ash had managed to steal power from descendants of clan members who sealed the notorious Orochi way almost two millenniums prior to the setting of game.

Along with having a very intriguing plot KOF: XIII saw the return of many popular characters within the set including Ryo Sakazaki, Robert Garcia, Mai Shiranui, Lori Yagami, Yuri Sakazaki and others. KOF: XIII consisted of ten different teams including Art Of Fighting, Women’s, Psycho Soldier, Fatal Fury, Japan and Ikari Warriors while giving players the option to download EX characters such as Mr. Karate who a boss character in older games from the Neo Geo era in the early 90’s. The gameplay seen in KOF: XIII was unique considering the fact that SNK decided to bring back features such as the multi-bar power gauge popular from KOF ’97. Also, the inclusion of EX Mode in KOF XIII that allowed players to perform EX Super Specials along with EX Special Moves depending on how many bars they had; served as a suitable replacement for the absence of gameplay features included in KOF: XII. The features that were emphasized in KOF XII included fighting mechanics such as Guard Attack, Critical Counter along with a Clash System which were not present in KOF: XIII. Instead, we got to see the addition of other fighting mechanics including Hyper Drive mode along which allowed players to perform endless Drive Cancels until their gauge runs out. The improved gameplay included in KOF: XIII was refreshing to see especially since SNK managed to make essential improvements that have players a slightly different experience than what they got in KOF: XIII. Since its release KOF: XIII has been seen as one of the best 2D fighting games that SNK has produced within the 10’s decade alongside the critically acclaimed KOF XIV from 2016.

Retro Gaming 10’s- Far Cry 3: (2012)

The Far Cry series has been around since ’04 and out of all of the installments that has been released since then many would argue that Far Cry 3 was best. Far Cry 3 was developed by Ubisoft Montreal and published by Ubisoft and was released in late 2012 for the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and Microsoft Windows. The pre-production of Far Cry 3 began shortly following the release of Far Cry 2 which came out in ’08; the official production of the game really did not start until 2010 due to the changes in regards to creative staff. Far Cry 3 was a first person shooter game that was critically acclaimed due to its storytelling aspects along with its narrative despite being the story being subjected to minor criticism. Despite, having a basic plot where the main protagonist Jason Brody has to rescue his friends who were kidnapped by pirates on an island there was offense taken to some situations that occurred within the story for Far Cry 3 that were politically incorrect. While the controversial elements of homophobia and misogyny were present within the story of Far Cry 3 it did not diminish the overall quality of the game itself.

The were aspects of Far Cry 3 that many people were impressed by including the visuals along with the world design despite the map itself being confusing at times. Even though, the side missions in Far Cry 3 seemed repetitive and presented challenges in relation to traveling the combat system mainly the stealth mode was one of the game’s strong points; the amount of realism included in Far Cry in relation to killing enemies was a feature that was subjected to praise. Far Cry 3 allowed multiplayer gameplay and presented players with two different endings which added to the game’s overall replay value. Since its release Far Cry 3 ended up becoming a huge commercial success and managed to reach close to 10 million copies in sales. Far Cry 3 had sold more than double of than its ’08 prequel Far Cry 2 which sold close to three million copies months following its release. Not only was Far Cry 3 considered to be a “Game Of The Year” candidate by multiple gaming publications but it also received an expansion pack entitled “Blood Dragon” during the Spring of 2013 which was also highly successful as well. Far Cry 3 may not be at the very top of everyone’s list in regards to their favorite first person shooter game of all-time but it was arguably one of the best to have come out of the 10’s decade depending on who you ask.

Retro Gaming 90’s- Cruis’n USA: (1994)

Cruis’n USA was a racing title developed and public Midway Games prior to its initial arcade release during the fourth quarter of 1994. One of the cool things about Cruis’n USA that it was among a few arcade racing games that ended being ported to the Nintendo 64. Although, the N64 port of Cruis’n USA had a different developer/publisher the game was still very similar to the arcade version and presented players with exciting 3D gameplay. Cruis’n USA was released during an era where arcade style racing titles were popular. Retro gamers who grew up during the 90’s saw titles such as Daytona USA, Virtua Racing, Scud Race and Sega Rally Championship released within that decade. While Cruis’n USA was a noticeable arcade racing game from the mid 90’s it most likely paled in comparison to other titles from that genre which were more critically acclaimed. Cruis’n USA utilized a similar formula that most arcade racing titles from the 90’s did; the inclusion of stages based on real life locations along with completing each within a certain time limit was basically the player’s main objective. Also, players had the ability to choose what type of transmission they wanted to utilize between manual and automatic depending on how skilled they were as drivers.

The visuals for Cruis’n USA was arguably the best feature of the game and it seemingly shined more in arcade centers than it did on the Nintendo 64. While the visuals for the N64 port of Cruis’n USA paled in comparison to the arcade version players could challenge themselves more if they owned the game for the Nintendo 64. By completing various race courses on the N64 port of Cruis’n USA players could unlock new cars or similar vehicles of color as they thrive become better drivers. Cruis’n USA was a pretty decent game with its main drawback consisting of its lack of innovation in comparison to other arcade racing games that were more popular during the 90’s. If Cruis’n USA been released for the PS1 or Sega Saturn its like that the arcade racer would have still have been overshadowed despite the arcade version of the game being a commercial success. If Cruis’n USA had more depth in terms of gameplay than Midway Games could have created something special that found a balance between arcade themed racing and realistic Gran Turismo like game mechanics.

Was the final level of Super Mario Land 2 unfair?

Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins is quite possibly the best Mario game to have appeared on Game Boy back in the 90’s. Not only was Super Mario Land 2 one of the easiest Mario installments within the series but the world got to see the debut of Wario who appeared game as the main antagonist back in ’92. Despite, how successful Super Mario Land 2 became following its initial release the game has often been the subject of criticism as it pertains to its final level inside Wario’s Castle. As we all know a majority of Mario games back in the day had Bowser’s Castle as the final level but they were not nearly as difficult to complete as Wario’s Castle was in Super Mario Land 2. There were countless obstacles thrown at the player who controlled Mario included moving spikes along with statues that spit fire along with the entire stage being filled with lava. The absence of save checkpoints in Wario’s Castle made the level unbearable to some people; while the final boss battle with Wario himself was interesting yet more complex than anything you would see Bowser in some of the older NES/SNES Mario games.

If players screwed up once in Wario’s Castle they had to start all the way from the beginning making this level very unforgiving for such an easy game in Super Mario Land 2. While many people around the world have made more difficult levels using Super Mario Maker 1 & 2 since 2015 Wario’s Castle was by far one of the most difficult video game levels in history during Nintendo’s Game Boy era. For such a difficult level in Wario’s Castle the ending seemed underwhelming considering all of the trouble players had to go through in order to complete the entire game. To say that the final level of Super Mario Land 2 would be an understatement at this point; but seeing that Wario became more popular as a anti-hero from Super Mario Land 3 onwards its not a big deal for so many people who were fans of the series.

Retro Gaming 90’s- Marvel Super Heroes In War Of The Gems: (1996)

When it comes down to underrated beat em games from the 90’s that may have been overlooked on the SNES Marvel Super Heroes In War Of The Gems is one that comes to mind. Marvel Super Heroes War Of The Gems was initially released in October ’96 and was a game that looked like it should have been released between ’89-’94 seeing how popular the beat em up genre of gaming was during that time period. The cool thing about Marvel Super Heroes War Of The Gems is that the visuals and gameplay looked somewhat reminiscent of X-Men: Mutant Apocalypse from ’94; after all both games were developed by Capcom and included 2D platform gameplay as well. MSH: War Of The Gems was a single-player game that allowed players to choose one of five characters to complete various missions while trying to achieve the Infinity Gems. Superheroes that player could choose from included: Spider-Man, Iron Man, Wolverine, Captain America and the Hulk as they battled various super-villains throughout the game with Thanos being the final boss. Collecting Infinity Gems in certain parts of the MSH: War Of The Gems gave players certain advantages that would help them complete the game depending on which stone they obtained.

Players could gain to access to different Infinity Gems such as: Power, Soul, Reality, Space, Time and would have to make it towards end of the game to obtain the Mind stone after defeating Thanos. As far as gameplay creativity was concerned in relation to the Infinity Stones this game added a layer of complexity rarely seen 16-bit beat em ups which contributed to its overall appeal. While MSH: In War Of The Gems was considered to be a solid 2D beat em up game from the mid 90’s that particular genre began to decline in popularity by that time. Seeing how MSH: War Of The Gems came out in ’96 the game may have been overshadowed because the SNES was starting to decline in popularity as well; despite all the great games that appeared on the 16-bit console within 1996. Marvel Super Heroes: In War Of The Gems could have possibly worked on the 32-bit Game Boy Advance in the early 00’s seeing how popular the game system was during the time. Even though, Capcom has never re-released MSH: War Of The Gems for any other game system than the SNES its still one of the coolest beat em up titles to come from Nintendo’s 16-bit console during the 90’s.

Should Star Ocean have been released in America during 1996?

One of the few JRPG’s for the Super NES that may have her overlooked back in the mid ’90s was Star Ocean from ’96. For those who do not know Star Ocean was developed by video game company tri-Ace and published by Square Enix and was released exclusively in Japan during the summer of 1996. Unlike, some of the previous JRPG’s that Square Enix has published between the early to mid 90’s Star Ocean had features that made it stand out more on the SNES. Unlike games such as Secret Of Mana & Chrono Trigger it should be noted that Star Ocean was one of the few JRPG’s in the SNES that included voice samples. By the mid 90’s video games were able to push the limits of the 16-bit SNES and being able to do things that was previously thought to be impossible when the console was first released in 1990. The visual aspect of Star Ocean was also very impressive along with the plot which emphasized time travel. Star Ocean was a game that could have been very successful in the early 90’s especially since 2D JRPG’s were more popular during that time period.

In fact, some people might of have been surprised that Star Ocean was released exclusively in Japan for the SNES especially considering the fact that the 16-bit console was starting to decline in popularity by the mid 90’s. Many have probably questioned why Star Ocean was not ported for the PS1 during the mid 90’s seeing popular Sony’s 32-bit console was during the time. Either way, despite how adventurous the plot for Star Ocean along with how polished it looked on the SNES it still may not have been a huge attraction in America back in 1996. American gamers were more fixated on 3D gaming along with titles such as Mortal Kombat & Killer Instinct that emphasized blood, gore and violence. While it made sense to keep Star Ocean as a Japanese exclusive during the mid 90’s the game still should have been released in America much sooner than it was. Star Ocean was not officially released in America until October 2008 before it appeared worldwide on PlayStation 4 & Nintendo in December 2019. If the original Star Ocean game appeared on the Game Boy Advance back in the early 00’s it could have been somewhat of an attraction on the 32-but handheld console seeing how successful it ended up becoming during that decade.

Retro Gaming 00’s- Need For Speed: Most Wanted (2005)

When we think about top-tier racing games to have emerged from the 00’s decade one of the few games that could be listed within category is Need For Speed: Most Wanted from 2005. For those who do not know Need For Speed: Most Wanted was developed by EA Canada & EA Black Box and was published by Electronic Arts prior to appearing on multiple game consoles worldwide. While Need For Speed Most Wanted appeared on the Nintendo DS, GameCube, Microsoft Windows along with the PlayStation Portable the game is best remembered on systems such as the: PlayStation 2 and Xbox 360 during its peak in popularity within the mid to late 00’s. Need For Speed: Most Wanted was the successor to the critically acclaimed NFS: Underground 2 game from ’04 which reached over 8 million copies in sales within a short period and was considered arguably the best installment within the entire series. However, Need For Speed: Most Wanted was a game that was praised for mechanical improvements in terms of gameplay over its predecessors as it pertained to racing. In Need For Speed: Most Wanted players had access to more in-depth data regarding hot pursuits from law enforcement than they did in previous installments such as: Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit 2.

Enhancements made to the police pursuit mechanic within Need For Speed: Most Wanted was impressive and allowed players to keep track of certain statistics regarding how many law enforcement units have been evaded. Also, players are able to determine the type of consequences that are associated with the heat level players accumulate when fleeing from cops based on the amount of offenses they have committed. While the pursuit mechanic was designed in a way that added more realism to Need For Speed: Most Wanted the in game modes such as Career, Challenge Series and Quick Race were all death that added to the fun factor of this racing classic. The Career Mode featured in Need For Speed: Most Wanted had a very good story full of twists and turns involving the player’s participation within an illegal street racing scene in Rockport as they attempt to become the number one Blacklist racer in the game. Throughout, the game players are assisted by a key character named Mia Townsend who is revealed to be an undercover cop later in the story as she helps out in defeating other street racers as the story progresses. The downside to starting the Career Mode off included having a limited choice on what they can choose to drive. However, players were able to acquire more vehicles as they defeated other Blacklist drivers within the competition and were able to customize, sell or upgrade their cars in the process. While NFS: Most Wanted did not sell nearly much as Need For Speed: Underground I & II from ’03-’04 its still considered one of the greatest street racing games ever made depending on who you ask.