To the Moon is a 2D, 16-bit adventure game that follows two scientists who are fulfilling a dying man’s last wish. They use a strange computer to go into his memories to find the link that will allow him to go to the moon. To the Moon has a heartwarming story with a beautiful sweeping musical score, but lacks any type of real gameplay.
The game is broken up into three acts and during the first two, you are walking around John’s memories and have to find five memory links to unlock the shield surrounding time jumping mementos. As you go further into John’s past you find out why he doesn’t know why he wants to go to the moon. There is some memory block and you have to find out what it is and remove it. Finding these memory links only takes a few seconds because you just click on the few items in the small area. Once you remove the shield you play a little puzzle game then on to the next memory. This all just seems like an excuse to add gameplay to an otherwise visual-only adventure.
Through act two you get to interact with two different mini-games which are Whac-a-Mole and a zombie shooting section and each is uninspired and pretty lame. The visuals are, like I said, 16-bit and pretty average. There’s nothing special here visual-wise, and don’t even expect voice acting. The second best thing about the story is the sweeping musical score. This score is beautiful and one of the best ones I have ever heard. I really wish that this game could have been more, but I understand most indie developers have small budgets.
Overall, To the Moon has a story that will tug at your heartstrings, as well as the music, but the gameplay feels like an excuse to extend the 1-hour story to barely four hours. If the gameplay was a little more engaging I wouldn’t complain about it so much, but as it is, stay for the story and you will be entertained.
Based off of a popular manga in Japan, Corpse Party delivers a great and haunting story with memorable characters in a very haunting setting. Several school kids perform a cult-type ritual called the Sachiko Charm as a gag. They don’t realize that the charm is part of a sadistic and horrific murder of four school children including the girl the charm is named after. They get thrown into a parallel dimension of Heavenly Host Elementary and must find a way to appease the ghosts or get stuck there for eternity. What the children go through is horrific and gut-wrenching, but that is the beauty of Corpse Party.
Forget about gameplay and everything else because this game is all about the story and atmosphere. I have to give the developers props for bringing across such a scary game with such simple graphics as a 2D survival horror with low-quality sprites and the occasional well drew anime shot. The game is disturbing mainly in the well-delivered Japanese voice acting and just the raw terror and gore in the game. There are buckets of blood, severed heads, and mutilated bodies everywhere, but mainly in textual descriptions more than anything. The game really doesn’t do much in terms of visuals so you solely rely on the great script to get the horrific images. Some scenes are just black with only voices and text to go by, but it still brings across the feeling of sheer terror.
This is possible because you go through everything with these kids and the things that happen to them are just horrific and extremely sad because you really get attached to everybody. The game, however, is also lacking in gameplay because you only run around pressing X on everything trying to find items to unlock new areas. The school is the same through every chapter, but it just changes and blocks certain areas off or adds new areas. The game is pretty easy to navigate and understand until you get to chapter 3 and then it all falls apart and requires a guide. Everything has to be done in exact order or you wind up with “Bad Endings” and it’s game over. While each bad ending is different you get frustrated when the game takes you through 20 minutes of gameplay only to realize it was all part of the bad ending. There is even a glitch that won’t let you get all the school tags to unlock the extra chapters. I really hate how the game has to be played out an exact way and not to mention during certain scenes you can die by selecting the wrong choice, but there are saves throughout the game that help remedy this a bit.
While the game is lacking any type of gameplay at all you will still be satisfied with the excellent story and characters. This is the only thing saving Corpse Party from being another terrible attempt on the PSP, but being so late in the systems cycle is a surprise. If the game had better graphics, or maybe just more anime cut-aways, the game would be one of the best on the PSP.
The first three MK games saw dozens of ports over the years and not all were very good. The latest port of the three is all packed into one tight collection, and they are perfect arcade ports. I won’t go into each game in detail, but it’s great to see the progression over the three, and they all have their strengths and weaknesses. People who are used to the new fighters with tons of combos won’t like the first two as much because combos weren’t implemented until MK3. The first two are just spamming special moves and getting someone stuck in high punch spam. The good old sweep and uppercut move worked, and the feeling of nostalgia came back.
While each game has great “-alities” and characters, each game suffers from some visual quality because these are arcade ports. You can turn on various filters, but overall don’t expect the games to look amazing. MK1, for example, is very pixelated, but what can you expect? Each game has online play and that is what will keep you coming back. The CPU is cheap when fighting solo and I always hated MK‘s AI system with MK2 being the worst. I also loved how all the “-alities” and special moves are on the pause screen which prevents you from having to have a FAQ near you.
Arcade Kollection could have used more features such as being able to play Test-Your-Might mini-games separately from MK1, throwing in the great Puzzle Kombat, and maybe even adding some more online modes. Including Mortal Kombat Trilogy would have been nice despite it never being in arcades. I’m also not sure why MK4 wasn’t included because it was the last arcade MK game. What is here is excellent, but only hardcore MK fans will really appreciate this collection.
Everybody knows what a controller is whether you play games or not. They are used to control things remotely such as your TV, garage door, camera, stereo, and other devices. Game controllers are almost a form of art because they must feel comfortable, be useful, and have a good amount of buttons, but most importantly is the button layout. There have been amazing controllers and terrible controllers that don’t make any sense. I want to talk about game controllers in the past, present, and what might hold in the future.
Controllers started out in arcade cabinets with joysticks and big buttons you bang on. Atari kind of copied this idea with the original Atari joystick.
It just had one red button, but it worked and was ergonomic at the time despite being shaped differently than those balled sticks you smacked around with two fingers. As time went on in the 80s other consoles came out with some wacky controller ideas like the Colecovision.
Not only were the games wacky with projector laminate screens you put on your TV that served as the levels for the weird bouncing ball you controlled with the turn dial, but it was also probably one of the worst designs of the 80s and not very useful. The console itself was stupid and pitiful, but a remote for a controller? Well…it did get brought back but more on that later.
Later on, the home console scene shot up like a rocket with the Nintendo Entertainment System, and not only did it revolutionize home consoles and set it in stone, but also helped tell the story of game controllers, so let’s say it was chapter 1.
It was pretty small in your hands and not much to look at. The rectangle design was a little uncomfortable, but it worked and was easy to understand. There were many third-party knock-offs that were total disasters, and some that were better, but the original design is still pretty iconic and has actually been turned into a million different things from candy dispensers, MP3 players, iPhone cases, and so on.
Of course, there were other controllers at the time (mainly for the NES) like the piece of crap Power Glove, yeah remember that? While I wasn’t even born yet when it came out I do remember people carrying on about how much of a dump the thing was. With two huge RF receivers that fell off your TV unless they were duct-taped on, only a few games to support it, and just overall bad design, the Power Glove was one of the worst controller failures in history even with movie stars backing it.
Nintendo MAX Controller
NES Advantage Fight Pad
Later on when the SNES and Genesis were released and the controllers took the next step. Nintendo advanced the controllers with 4 more buttons (X, Y, and two shoulder buttons), but Sega stuck with the basics with just three buttons. The SNES controller was great, but still too small, and the Genesis controller was bigger, but having three buttons in a row wasn’t exactly ergonomic because that C button was always hard to get to. There were problems with people with smaller hands having to shift them to hit it.
Sega Genesis Controller
The SNES and Genesis both saw a lot of knock-off controllers, but Sega released a controller later that had six buttons trying to outdo Nintendo’s four face buttons. This made the controller even less accessible, but third-party companies tried to remedy this. This was also the era for turbo buttons which would rapidly repeat a button for certain games and were probably some of the first game “hacks”.
DOCS Wireless SNES Controller
ASCIIWare Turbo SNES Controller
Genesis 6 Button Controller
Genesis Arcade Power Stick
When the 32-bit era started coming around there were some other controllers for the Sega Saturn, CD-i, Jaguar, and other wacky consoles and neither could hit the sweet spot or beat the SNES as favorite controller of the time. Not only was the Jaguar a piece of crap and the most expensive console ever made at $800 at launch, but it incorporated those stupid number pad buttons that no one cares about. The controller was huge and bulky and felt like a box more than a controller. Sega was smart and stuck with the Genesis 6 button design for the Saturn and the CD-i was a disaster for the decade with another remote as a controller.
Phillips CD-i Remote
Sad Attempt to reinvent the remote
Sega Saturn Controller
While this was the “experimental” period for consoles for random electronic companies like Phillips, Panasonic, and others, Nintendo and Sega still carried the banner for the core home console market. Later on, the 3DO was released to disastrous acclaim and just copied the Genesis controller.
Panasonic 3DO Controller
When the next generation of consoles came along it was really just the big dog Nintendo and a new contender: Sony. The PlayStation controller was considered the new reigning champion and finally hit the perfect note that every controller today copies. The Nintendo 64 had an interesting controller with three handles because of the joystick. Games now needed a joystick to move in 3D environments because the D-pad was no longer useful for primary movement. Both controllers were great despite the N64 controller being a monster.
Nintendo 64 Controller
The original PS1 controller didn’t have any analog sticks and this was a big whoopsie on Sony’s part because games controlled like crap without it. Quickly they launched the analog controller and were the first with two sticks. While most games didn’t use the second stick until the next generation it was inventive and revolutionary because every controller now has two sticks. Later on, Sony also was the first to incorporate vibration inside the controller with their DualShock line, while Nintendo had packs you inserted in the controller along with memory cards which made the controller even bulkier and heavier.
PS1 DualShock Controller
Later on, the next generation was coming along and Sega jumped in with the Dreamcast while Sony made the most successful console of all time: The PlayStation 2. A third contender joined the party being Microsoft with the Xbox, and Nintendo created the failed GameCube with probably the worst controller in recent memory. The Dreamcast controller was terrible being huge and bulky with an LCD screen that tried to be inventive and let you interact with games that put up stats and also interacted with the memory card.
Sega DreamCast Controller
The PS2 was the best with the DualShock 2 because the button layout was perfect, the size, weight, and the dual analog sticks seemed to be in Sony’s favor, plus vibration helped add another dimension to gaming. It is also the most recognized controller to date; even more so than the NES controller. The Dreamcast was a complete failure, but was loved by many fans and is still one of the most sought-after systems to date.
PS2 DualShock 2 Controller
The Xbox and GameCube controllers were a complete disaster with the Xbox being a huge gigantic mess and almost too big to wield, while the GameCube had buttons randomly laid out and those weird parts that stuck out at the bottom. The shoulders buttons were huge and inlaid way too much and the Z button was randomly placed as one-second shoulder button. What these guys were thinking was beyond me, but not only were both consoles failures the controllers didn’t help much either.
Microsoft Xbox Controller
Nintendo GameCube Controller
Now we get to today’s consoles with the Xbox 360, PS3, and Wii. The Xbox 360 reinvented not only the Xbox controller, but controllers period and is the best controller ever made in history. Even better than the PS2 controller. The design is perfect, the analog sticks are placed just right, and the black and white buttons are now bumpers with nicely placed triggers that have just enough tightness to feel useful. The PS3 controller is almost exactly like the PS2 but adds a useless SixAxis motion control function, but also makes the R2 and L2 buttons triggers, but doesn’t work as well as the Xbox ones. They don’t sit right and your fingers slip off of them, plus they are too big.
Xbox 360 S Controller
The Wii controller went back to the hated remote design but didn’t use numbers. While the thing is still unwieldy with the remote being too long leaving you to shift your hand to use the D-pad, it has an attached Nunchuk analog stick which looks pretty weird. The controller isn’t as responsive or intuitive as people thought since Nintendo is using ancient IR technology that requires canned movements pre-programmed rather than true 1:1 motion capture like the PlayStation Move.
So what will future controllers hold? Will they have zillions of buttons or continue the motion control craze with Wii, Xbox Kinect, or PlayStation Move? Will controllers have no buttons at all that you hold in your hand? Will we be able to control games with our minds and thoughts through probes and sensors? Will gaming eventually become a virtual reality where we are in the game itself kind of like Tron? We may never know, but with the continuation of handhelds and advanced technology, we will wait and see…….
Original Releases: Arcade, Sega Genesis, Sega CD, Sega Master System, Game Gear, SNES, GameBoy, PC, Amiga
Later Releases: PS2, Xbox
This is where it all began. This was the first video game I ever played and got me hooked at 2 years old. When I saw my cousin do Scorpion’s Fatality for the first time I sat there awe-stricken wondering how he just did that. He handed me the controller and I took to the game naturally even at such a young age where my motor skills weren’t fully developed yet. Of course, that’s what lead me to where I am now, but this kick-started the violent video game trend. The ESRB exists singlehandedly from Mortal Kombat, and that’s quite an accomplishment. It was also the only fighting game to use digitized graphics which were stop motion animations of real people. It made the game seem “realistic” and this stayed through the first three games.
The Arcade version was released to critical acclaim and made billions before it even hit home consoles. While only four guys and 10 months created one of the best games ever made, it paid off in full. Despite having such a small character roster compared to other fighters they were unique, and each had gruesome special moves (mainly Scorpion’s spear and that “Get over here!”). The Fatalities are what caused such controversy and the main one was Sub-Zero’s with his just popping off someone’s head with their spine hanging out, and holding it up for everyone to see.
Later that year Midway created “Mortal Monday” which was to hype up the console release with ads screaming “MOOORTAAAAL KOOOMMBBAATTT!!!!” It sold millions within its first year and was ported to every console available at the time by the end of 1994. Most people nitpicked at which console had the closest arcade port, and while the Super Nintendo did it lacked the Fatalities, blood, and some combo moves for the arcade so the Sega Genesis version remained the best. Voices were added to the game such as the announcer saying “Fight!”, “Finish Him/Her!” and “Fatality!”, and saying the character’s name during the select screen. The voice was pretty basic and not as sinister as the recent announcers, but it started this all off. While the gore was disabled in the Genesis version a code could be entered to enable it. The SNES version had gray sweat instead of blood and Fatalities were disabled. While you could do The Pit stage Fatality you were awarded no points. This was due to Nintendo’s policy of having no violence on their console. There were plenty of secrets thrown in such as the hidden Reptile fight at the bottom of the pit, and a few glitches.
While the handheld versions were piss poor due to their inferior technology the game never did better until it was released in compilations and other games in the series (Mortal Kombat: Deception had it in the Kollector’s Editions). While this version has held dear to every fan it evolved incredibly and will never be forgotten.
Mortal Kombat II
Original Releases: Arcade, Sega Genesis, SNES, Sega 32x, Amiga, GameBoy, Game Gear, Sega Saturn, PC
Later Releases: PS2, PSP, PS3, Xbox, NGC
This version was considered the best Mortal Kombat ever made. It’s revered by fans and non-fans alike and has never really been recreated. It contained a new art style, more detailed visuals, more characters, and new “-alities”. Surprisingly Kano and Sonya were the only characters missing from the first game, and this really made some fans angry. New characters introduced were Kitana, Mileena, Baraka, Jax, and Kung Lao which later became the series staple “classic” characters. Also, Shang Tsung was playable for the first time, as well as Shao Kahn and Kintaro being new bosses. Reptile was finally a playable character since his hidden version in the last game was so popular. He instantly became a fan favorite.
While the game looked better and had a different art style, the controls were tighter, more combos were added, and it was a lot faster. Each character had TWO fatalities this time and Babalities and Friendships were added to the game. If you entered a code like a Fatality it would turn your opponent into a baby, so this was more of a humiliation thing. Friendships were comic relief and the characters did something goofy. The Fatalities this time were gorier, more gruesome, and brutal. There were new stage Fatalities added such as The Living Forest, Acid Pool, Kombat Tomb, and The Pit II.
Console ports game a lot faster and the SNES became the superior version this time around not only in terms of graphics and sound but Nintendo allowed them to keep the gore in due to low sales of the last game. The most superior version was for the Sega 32x, but due to the low drive of the device, it didn’t sell many copies. Other versions had things missing such as voices, animations, and the Genesis version only had scrolling text for endings. Once again they couldn’t get a quality Arcade port out for this version until it was released for consoles later on (Midway Arcade Treasures, and Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks).
My favorite part about the game was the deeper combo system, aerial combat, new “-alities”, and the new character roster. I mostly played Scorpion, Sub-Zero, Baraka, and Liu Kang. I was younger so I mainly used special moves, but Liu Kang was easy to use as just a regular fighter. However, I didn’t really like the outfits for Scorpion and Sub-Zero because they featured a “snow jacket” type pattern and seemed flat. I also felt the proportions of the females were off a little. Despite all this, it was an amazing game, but I just wanted the art style to go in a different direction.
Mortal Kombat 3
Original Releases: Arcade, Sega Genesis, SNES, Sega Saturn, GameBoy, Game Gear, PlayStation, PC
Later Releases: PS2, PSP, PS2, NGC, Xbox, PC
This was the turning point for the series for the 16-bit era and was the last 16-bit game released in the numbered series. It was also considered the worst out of the 3 mainly because of the hard-to-pull off, and new, “chain combos”. While the graphics were even sharper and more realistic looking than ever. Newer consoles and more memory allowed more details, more animations, and more characters. This was probably the darkest of the three games and took a very serious turn, and even the new voice announcer sounded serious. I liked this version a lot due to the chain combos and even faster gameplay, plus it featured some of the best characters to date. All the “-alities” are intact here but a new Animality was added, but also never seen again in future releases. This had fighters turn into animals and devour or tear apart their opponents and got mixed reactions. At this point, everyone thought the “-alities” were getting ridiculous and wondered if they would be overkill in later releases. The Fatalities were even more gruesome than before and took a more raw approach due to the more realistic look and theme.
The game also featured 3D rendered backgrounds for the first time, and music took a more techno-modern theme instead of the heavy Asian themes of the past. Multi-tiered stages were introduced where you could uppercut an enemy into the ceiling and they would go up into a new stage. Two new stage Fatalities were introduced as the Bell Tower, The Pit III, and The Subway. New characters included were Cyrax, Sektor, Sheeva, Nightworlf, Stryker, Sindel, Smoke, and Kabal. These two were considered classic characters, but Stryker took the most criticism for his ridiculous “cop” style of fighting. Smoke was a hidden character behind the dragon symbol in the middle of the select screen and was unlocked via a cheat code. Each new character was wonderfully created with each having distinct special moves that still hold grounds today. MK3 was also the hardest game with Shao Kahn being extremely difficult and the new mini-boss Motaro being relentless and also being the biggest character created so far. Kombat Kodes was introduced which had three numbers for each player during loading screens, and these codes modified the game such as no blocking, no blood, fatalities disabled, special moves disabled, etc. These never saw the light of day until the recent Mortal Kombat (2011).
I loved the game a lot because I mainly didn’t know any better, and I loved Cyrax more than anyone. Sure the other guys returned (Kano and Sonya came back due to the criticism from the past game). Johnny Cage and Raiden took a hit this time and weren’t seen until years later, by this point everyone thought he’d show up again in Mortal Kombat 4. Noob Saibot was a playable character through the Kombat Kodes and was liked by many. The game was ported to every console again, but due to the aging 16-bit hardware, the superior version was for those lucky enough to win a Sony PlayStation. The SNES was good enough for people who couldn’t afford one, but the handhelds were horrible (once again), and the Sega Saturn version was also a good port.
Mortal Kombat 3 stands as the official turning point for the series, hated by many, loved by some, but there’s no doubt Mortal Kombat would stop here. While this marked the end of the 16-bit era for the series forever, MK3 was fantastic.
Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3
Original Releases: Arcade, Sega Genesis, Sega Saturn, SNES
Later Releases: iPhone, DS, PS2, X360, GBA
While this was loved as a cult classic by fans it wasn’t very successful sales-wise. This was considered the “real MK3” with bug fixes, chain combo fixes, a few new characters, stages, and weapons were introduced. These weapons came out during long combos, and another “-ality” was introduced as Brutality. These were extremely hard to pull off since the button combos were sometimes 20+ and you needed to be super fast. The characters would beat the opponent up faster and faster until they exploded into a bony and bloody mess. A new stage Fatality was added as Scorpion’s Lair. UMK3 also had the hardest time with porting since this was the transition from 2D to 3D. Surprisingly, UMK3 was never released on the PlayStation so it suffered from terrible ports on 16-bit consoles. If you had to get one the SNES version was the best while the Genesis version had problems such as Animalities removed, and the announcer no longer said the character’s names. Mercies were introduced which let you put a code in at the end of the match during “Finish Him/Her!” which gave back a bit of health for your opponent. This was never seen again, but also most people didn’t know about it. The Sega Saturn was the worst port with just UMK3 code dumped into MK3 so it was unbalanced and buggy as ever.
The Arcade version only featured three new playable characters and these were Ermac, Human Smoke (palette swap of Scorpion), and Classic Sub-Zero via a code. Both versions saw a return of Mileena and Kitana as palette swaps of Jade, and the console versions got the sweeter deal with more characters. Noob Saibot was a fully playable character, and not just an unlockable while Rain was brand new for console owners. UMK3 was a great addition to MK3 and is widely loved by fans and preferred over MK3. UMK3 never saw handheld releases until over a decade later, but the troubled porting and sales sparked some debate as to if the series was over.
Overall the 16-bit era of Mortal Kombat games was the best, and will always be remembered as some of the best games ever made. While the series took a bit of a dive towards the end Mortal Kombat II was the best of that period but by now people were wondering what they had in mind for 3D. The PlayStation and Nintendo 64 were already hot and Midway had to figure out how they were going to implement the classic 2D fighting style into a fully 3D environment! It was only three short years that the 16-bit era lasted for the series, but it seemed like a lift time for me.
“Endless” games are really popular on phones, but they are only fun for 10-20 minutes then tend to get boring. They are time killers to their core and aren’t really meant to be taken seriously. Super Mega Worm is probably one of the best out there in the sense that it keeps dishing out new stuff for people who keep on trucking. Unlocking new powers, and each level has a different goal to beat.
The game has classic 16-bit graphics with some gory humor thrown in for good measure. You start out by hatching from an egg underground, and you leap in and out of the ground eating everything above it. You have to maintain eating objects or your health bar will run down. You will eventually earn more pieces of your body to make you longer and faster (and reach people higher up in the sky). You have a boost button to give you some extra air, but it’s in the later stages that things get super fun and chaotic.
After a while, you’ll earn an EMP burst which slows down time and kills all vehicles on the screen. You can bounce off ground vehicles to create combos by eating groups of people before burrowing underground again. The enemies get tougher to kill, but you don’t have a health bar. Instead, you have to rely on skill to eat enemies up high once they start running out on the ground. Some goals require you to survive a certain amount of time, and other times you have to eat a certain amount of people.
SMW has some humor injected into the formula thanks to funny speech boxes, screams, and all the body parts flying around in a gory mess. to keep the frustration down you keep your power-ups if you die, but it’s slow to get back up to speed. Super Mega Worm is an excellent and addictive endless game that is well worth its price point. Just don’t go into this expecting gobs of deep gameplay, story, or characters.