Tuesday, December 22, 2015

My Favourite Games At Christmas II: Game Harder

Much like last year around this time I was doing a little gaming by the Christmas tree - one of my favourite things to do around the holidays - and once again I found myself reminiscing about Christmases past and some of the different memories I have with fresh new games that Santa Claus was nice enough to drop off under the tree.

Let's keep this new little tradition alive and I'll take you on a trip down memory lane, shall we?
Said Christmas tree
I can still remember when I first saw a Super Nintendo Entertainment System in action. It was the summer of 1992 and I had popped up to a friends' place to see if he wanted to come outside and play, but was instead invited in to check something out. He had the SNES hooked up and was playing Super Mario World.

I should stress that I had absolutely no freakin' clue that a new Nintendo had come out and the concept boggled my mind. I can remember being absolutely blown away by it. The graphics, the sounds, a new Mario game; I was floored.

I ran all the way home to my parents' house and began to blather on about this new, unbelievable Nintendo I'd just seen. There were four buttons! And buttons on top of the controller! And Mario spun as he jumped!

Although I don't remember the particulars of my Christmas list to Santa that year, I'd say the SNES was first and foremost on there. Once again, Santa is a badass and hooked me up with a bright and shiny new Super Nintendo packed in with Super Mario World and another game that I'll mention later on.

Over the next four years I played an innumerable number of SNES games. It was the system that introduced me to so many different kinds of video games. My bread and butter, however, was side-scrolling action platformers. As I've mentioned in my previous article, the Donkey Kong Country series became a Christmas staple for me and you'd be hard-pressed to find better platformers on the system. The year before Donkey Kong Country was released, however, I received another colourful, fun platformer for the SNES, but not one you'd expect: Cool Spot.

I can't for the life of me explain why, but I absolutely had to have this game. If you don't know, Cool Spot features the then popular 7-Up mascot of the same name. It wasn't uncommon back in the 90s to see this sort of thing. Yo' Noid, the mascot of Dominos, had a popular NES game and the California Raisins even had a game developed by none other than Capcom. Cool Spot was developed and published by Virgin Games for the SNES and Sega Genesis and was popular enough to get ported to the Sega Master System, Game Gear, Game Boy and Amiga and DOS PCs!

Could there be anything cooler?
The game is incredibly straight-forward, but try not to chuckle as I explain the premise: You play as one of the many Cool Spots and you're out to save other Spots who have been captured throughout each level. You can run, climb, jump, and shoot soda fizz in order to avoid and defeat the many pitfalls and enemies found in each level.

I know it seems ridiculous, but I'm telling you: I loved this game. My little sister and I would play Cool Spot for hours during the Christmas break. And it was no picnic! This was a tough game! It was well-designed with tight controls and some great stages. It took me quite a while to finish the whole game and I loved every minute of it! I probably wouldn't have admitted it at the time, but I always enjoyed getting games at Christmas that I could play with my little sis and, in a way, Cool Spot was the first one to start the tradition that would continue with Donkey Kong Country.

After all those great years with my beloved Super Nintendo in 1996 Nintendo released its successor, the Nintendo 64, and as you might recall from last years post I was right there playing one of my favourite games of all time, Super Mario 64.

In the meantime, however, my Super Nintendo wasn't just relegated to a drawer somewhere. It was still a permanent fixture of my bedroom and I was still using it to play my newest video game obsession, Role Playing Games. And if there was one thing the N64 lacked, it was RPGs.

The following year, 1997, was a big year for the RPG as one of the most anticipated video games ever was released on the Sony PlayStation: Final Fantasy 7. RPGs were on everyone's minds and I can recall pouring over issues of Nintendo Power hoping to see that Nintendo would finally be releasing a big Role Playing game like FF7 for its cardtridge-based powerhouse.

I would wait in vain, however, but a game would be released to the N64 that would curb my appetite, and that game was The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time.

On Christmas 1998 I received a shiny, gold copy of Ocarina and thus began my absolute obession with that game. I played it morning, noon, and night for weeks. I was a teenager in 1998 and I had all the time in the world. It was a big year for me, actually. I also picked up a PSX and played so many incredible games over the next year, but I kicked it all off with Ocarina of Time.

Like I was saying, I slept and ate this game for the rest of my Christmas break and beyond. It was one of those titles that a friend of mine had picked up and we had the unspoken competition of who could complete it first (the same as with Super Mario 64). We would play for a day or two and then call each other up to check in and see how far each of us had gotten. If either of us were in a particularly charitable mood we'd trade secrets and tips to help the other along.

And you know what? Even though I played this game at a feverish pace I did take my time to enjoy it. I can remember whiling away time relaxing and fishing, diving off the waterfall near the home of the Zoras, or just riding around Hyrule Field on Epona, shooting arrows at Stalfos when the night fell. I had never played a game like it. I felt like I was fully immersed in a fantasy world and to this day I don't know that any game has ever sucked me in quite like The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time.

Now let's take a step back to the day I first got my Super Nintendo. Like I said, I was a kid in the 90s, so of course I was not only obsessed with video games, but also the Ninja Turtles. I had thrown countless quarters into the various Turtles arcade games between '91 and '92 and when I opened up my presents that fateful Christmas I found a game I never expected to see: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IV: Turtles in Time.

I un-packaged the Super Nintendo as soon as my family was done around the Christmas tree. I had a little Nintendo TV stand set up with an old TV in the basement. I can still recall how excited I was when I realized I could actually hook up the SNES to the TV at the same time as my NES using the RF Connector.

Of course I had to start with Super Mario World, but I had already played that game the summer before. I quickly changed my focus to Turtles in Time. This was a game I'd been playing in the arcade whenever I could and here I was about to play it at home! I had to be torn away from the TV to get ready to visit my grandmother's later that morning and all I could think about was getting back to that new SNES and play some more TMNT IV. When I got home later that evening, that's just what I did.

There was some differences with the arcade game, of course, but I expected that. It still looked amazing! I took my turns as different Turtles, but in the end settled on Donatello, who was my favourite of the brothers to play the video games as, even though I was always a Raphael guy. I went from present day New York City, into pre-history, the Wild West, and even the future!

Yeah, in hindsight, that is way cooler than Cool Spot!
I'm not certain if everyone just forgot about me being down in the basement or not, but there in the dimly lit room, basking in the glow of that old colour TV, I blasted my way through all the different eras of Turtles in Time.

I don't know how long I was down there, but I know that it was definitely very late when my mother finally yelled down to me that I had to go to bed. The "Just Five More Minutes Mom" Rule had to be invoked, though, because I was at the end boss, the Super Shredder! And then, just like that, it was done. I had defeated the Shredder and saved the world, yet again. I completed Turtles in Time the same day I received it, December 25th, and it is one of my fondest video game memories of all time.

Merry Christmas,

Friday, October 30, 2015

Resident Evil (1996) - Sony PlayStation

The original "long box" art
I first played Resident Evil not long after it had been released even though I had no idea what the game was about. My friend Cole (now contributor here on Retro-Def!) and I rented it back when he first got his PlayStation and I cannot recall for the life of me why we picked that game. If you have seen the cover art for it, it is infamously bad - something Capcom is known for - but we did and I'm so glad, because Resident Evil has become one of my favourite games and gaming franchises of all time.

It was developed by Capcom in Japan as Biohazard and directed by Shinji Mikami, who to this point had only done a handful of licensed titles, such as Goof Troop, Aladdin, and Who Framed Roger Rabbit?

Mikami has said that in making Resident Evil he was attempting to make a game like Sweet Home, which was a Japanese only title released for the Famicom. As a horror movie buff, Mikami has also stated that he was dissatisfied with 1979's Zombie, directed by Lucio Fulci, and wanted to make a game with none of the failings of that film. Couple that with being heavily influenced by George A. Romero and his films, it is not shocking that he delivered a horror game featuring... the undead!

Resident Evil follows an elite specialized police force known as STARS (Special Tactics and Rescue Service) who are investigating some weird murders that have taken place in the small community of Raccoon City. When communication with the STARS Bravo Team is lost, the Alpha Team is sent into the Raccoon City countryside, where the ground team is chased into an old mansion by a pack of monstrous dogs, ultimately losing contact with their helicopter.

That is how the player finds them self in The Mansion, the main location for the rest of the game. You can play as two characters, Chris Redfield or Jill Valentine, each of which has their own storyline and some minor changes in gameplay.

Barry and Jill taking on the undead!
The character models are all in isometric 3D and the player traverses The Mansion in what have become known as "tank controls". It can take a little getting used to, but once you get the hang of it it is pretty easy to use. Essentially you aim the character in the direction you want them to go using the left and right directional buttons and then move them forward or backward by using up and down. At the time Sony had not yet released the DualShock controller, which featured analog controls, but after that controller became available the game was re-released as Resident Evil: Director's Cut, which featured and Arrange Mode and DualShock controls. Honestly, though, they change nothing and I find it easier to use the d-pad.

The main crux of the gameplay is surviving, which is why these games have become known as Survival Horror, along with Mikami being dubbed as the Godfather of the subgenre. You have very few items at your disposal and you can only carry a handful with you at any time. You slowly work your way around The Mansion, unlocking different rooms, searching for useful items, and fighting your way through zombies, giant spiders, and all sorts of crazy monsters. You can store items in special lock boxes that you will find strewn about The Mansion and you can save your progress on typewriters, as long as you've got some ink ribbons tucked away. You will find several different weapons, but remember that ammo is scarce and must be used sparingly!

It is this scarcity of ammo and healing items that drives the tension and scares of Resident Evil. You never know what you will face around the next bend, nor what items you should have on you. The game features beats not unlike the ones you would experience in a horror movie. The music will sometimes drop in a room to keep you off guard for the next scare or you will be clicking away in a room looking for an item and a zombie will jump out of nowhere and attack.

Barry and Jill in the Resident Evil REmake
Resident Evil is the very definition of a slow burn. You will find yourself running circles around The Mansion and additional areas trying to find that one door you didn't unlock yet or that item you forgot to grab. It is not an action title, like the series has become. To truly enjoy it you have to let yourself get immersed in the setting and the story and take your time. When you do hit an action sequence, it is less about how many bullets you can pump into your opponent as it is just trying to make it out alive.

The writing can be a little hokey and that is one thing that has always intrigued me about the game. The actual story itself is fantastic. It has grown to be something much, much larger than I'm sure Mikami and his team ever anticipated. The only person I know that can actually really wrap his head around the story in its entirety is Cole. That said, the writing and dialogue in this game is infamously silly at times. There are incredible lines like, "You were almost a Jill sandwich!" and "... you, the master of unlocking..."

I used to think this was just due to translation, but when you think about the influences of the game - campy horror films from the 60s and 70s - one starts to wonder if Mikami didn't do this on purpose to pay homage to directors like Fulci and Romero. The game even opens with a B-movie introduction that certainly hearkens back to horror films of that era.

The Resident Evil series has gone on to be one of the most influential video game franchises of all time and is closing in on its 20th anniversary next year. The original game was actually remade for the GameCube in 2002, which was itself re-released and remastered on a number of modern consoles. There has even been a successful film franchise based on the property which is seeing its sixth title in 2017.

Mikami's newest title, The Evil Within
I am not a huge fan of how the series has found itself in the action genre, but there are still compelling titles coming out under the Resident Evil umbrella (see what I did there?) and I am certain that there will still be great games to play in the future.

Shinji Mikami no longer has anything to do with the series. He has gone on to make new Survival Horror games, his most recent title being The Evil Within, which has garnered pretty high marks both critically and commercially. He is still out there trying to scare anyone that dares to boot up one of his titles.

It all started with this campy little horror title on Sony's newest little fledgling system back in 1996 and although there have been many remakes and sequels I still think the original Resident Evil is relevant and anyone who likes to play video games should give it at least one play through.

Happy Halloween!

Friday, October 23, 2015

Extra-Life 2015: Donator-Voted Playthrough

We just wanted to take a quick moment and explain our Donator-Voted Playthrough.

It's pretty self-explanatory: If you donate to The Electric Wesleys Extra-Life campaign you will receive an email to fill out a survey. This survey includes four games of our choosing and whichever one receives the most votes will have a complete playthrough LIVE beginning at 5PM EST tomorrow night during the livestream.

The four games to choose from are:

  • Resident Evil
  • Mega Man X
  • The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past
  • Castlevania: Symphony of the Night

So, if you'd like to vote for a game just send us a donation! There is no amount too small! All of the proceeds go to the IWK Health Centre and sick kids.

We hope to see you this Saturday, Oct 24th, at the livestream starting at 7AM EST.


Friday, October 9, 2015

Extra-Life 2015

Hi everyone,

Back in 2013 a friend of mine asked me to join him in an event called Extra-Life, which is a charity program that raises money for Children's Hospitals. It was a 25-hour (thanks, Daylight Savings) gaming marathon, which we streamed live on Twitch for our family and friends.

It was a great - albeit exhausting - time for a great cause... and we're doing it again!

This year our team, The Electric Wesleys, will be streaming our 24-hour gaming marathon LIVE on Twitch for everyone to enjoy and this is your invitation to watch along!

The official day for Extra-Life is November 7th, but due to other obligations we'll be doing our marathon on October 24th, 2015.

Any donations are appreciated and all proceeds go the Children's Hospital of our choice, which is The IWK Health Centre. No amount is too small, but there's no obligation to donate. We'd still love to see a big turn out on the livestream!

You can donate on my Extra-Life profile: http://www.extra-life.org/participant/ryho
And check out our Team's Page for the Tentative Schedule: http://www.extra-life.org/team/TheElectricWesleys

Also, make sure to follow us on Social Media for updates leading up to the event, some possible preview livestreams, and any and all updates throughout the day on October 24th.

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/ElectricWesleys
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/TheElectricWesleys
Twitch: http://www.twitch.tv/TheElectricWesleys

We hope to see you there!

Friday, September 25, 2015

Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake (1990) - MSX2

MSX2 box art
When I first played Metal Gear Solid for the Sony Playstation in 1998, I was among the first in the general North American gaming public to do so, having gone to the effort of preordering it. It was one of the first games I'd ever watched video previews of online (something that's completely commonplace these days) and the official trailer Konami released for it had me, among many other gamers I'm sure, salivating in anticipation.

Like a certain someone in my age group and older, I had memories of playing the original Metal Gear on the NES and recognized it as something of a brilliant game given its fairly original premise and gameplay mechanics despite its primitive design and limited capabilities. I'd never played through the game in its entirety though; in fact I never came close. But still the combined experiences of playing through the very early parts of the game and watching someone else advance quite far were more than enough to make me realize retroactively what a special and unique game it was.

The impending release of this 32-bit, 3D sequel had me delving into as much history as I could find on the series (magazines like EGM were a great help in this regard) and I came to discover that not only was the NES game I'd played actually a somewhat inferior port of a previous MSX2 version released only in Japan but also that a sequel, also only released on Japan, stood between it and Metal Gear Solid. There had been no port this time and only the truly hardcore Western gamers who'd gone to great lengths to acquire the MSX system (which never caught on in the North American market but was essentially the standard PC in Japan in the mid through late eighties as well as in parts of Europe and South America) had any shot at playing this sequel: Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake. And even then they'd had to import it and play it in Japanese.

What came of all this was that one of the greatest 8-bit games of all time went almost completely unnoticed in the West and actually, given that by 1990 the MSX2 was nearing the end of its own life cycle, there weren't too many Japanese gamers who would experience it back then either. But the West would get its own sequel that same year on the NES: Snake's Revenge. The bad news was that this wasn't a true sequel at all and certainly didn't play like one. While developed by Konami and released under their Ultra imprint (oddly enough, while developed in Japan it was only released in North America), the game had zero involvement from series architect Hideo Kojima, which is absolutely apparent in the final product. In fact, Kojima was completely unaware of the game's existence until a chance meeting on a train with a fellow Konami coworker revealed it to him. This spurred him to create a true sequel, which I guess Konami wholeheartedly supported. This leads one to wonder exactly why they endeavoured to make Snake's Revenge without him in the first place. Whatever the case, Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake would not only relegate Snake's Revenge to the status of non-canonical sequel, it would also blow it out of the water in every respect.

Snake's Revenge for the NES
One of the reasons it is one of the greatest 8-bit games ever is simply because it packed in both graphically and sonically about as much as was possible on an 8-bit system. The MSX2 was pushed to its limits and it's apparent that a NES port would have struggled mightily to compare, had one existed. The game features a completely reworked engine to provide a much more elaborate game design than its predecessor. And while the first Metal Gear had the thinnest of stories, which was only very sparsely supplemented with dialogue and one lone plot twist near the finale, Metal Gear 2 offers a much more complex narrative, filled with what could be called cutscenes and lengthy radio conversations. For the first time we're given insight into Snake's personality and motivations. I'd even go so far as to say that the game actually features real character development as the story progresses.

At first Snake's dialogue might seem underdeveloped to veterans of the later games as he's actually pretty mature and polite - quite a far cry from the gruff, cynical character we know so well. But if you think about it, it only makes sense - Snake is younger here and while the events of Outer Heaven were certainly difficult and traumatic for him they weren't much compared to what he's going to go through. It's definitely what happens here in Zanzibar Land that molds him into the Snake of the Metal Gear Solid games. Apparently he was into women's figure skating back then, too.

So what is the story anyway? Here's the setup: It's several years after the events of Metal Gear (sometimes it's stated to be three years, sometimes four) at the end of the twentieth century, Christmas Eve, 1999 to be exact. The world is facing an unprecedented energy crisis with its oil supply going dry. But a Czech scientist, Dr. Leo Marv, has developed a new microbe capable of synthesizing petroleum. This comes to be known as OILIX. During a trip to the United States to discuss his findings with the international scientific community, Marv is kidnapped by agents from the nation of Zanzibar Land, a small nuclear-armed country in central Asia, hoping to use OILIX to cement their military dominance over the rest of the world. Once again FOXHOUND agent Solid Snake is sent in alone to rescue Marv and diffuse the situation, much like his mission in Outer Heaven. Also like the Outer Heaven incident, the enemy has a powerful deterrent to any nation or nations that might try to stop them by force - Metal Gear. This latest model is Metal Gear D.

Unlike so many of the games of the day, this extensive setup isn't just written in the game's booklet - it's all presented as an introduction once you start playing. Anyone playing Metal Gear 2 for the first time will quickly discover that while Metal Gear is the series' starting point, its alpha, it is Metal Gear 2 that truly laid the groundwork for all that was to come afterward. From a storytelling and presentation standpoint (extremely cinematic, particularly for an 8-bit game) as well as gameplay standpoint, it was a massive leap forward and practically everything that defines the Metal Gear series was established here. This was the game that introduced the ability to crouch and crawl, to distract patrolling guards by making noise and guards that could see in more than just straight lines. It was here that the radar showing your and enemies's locations was introduced along with an evasion mode following the alert phase. Long radio conversations (codec later in the series) were first established here, as well as dialogue reflecting Kojima's own personal views on various world politics, war and nuclear weapons.

Metal Gear 2's story and gameplay elements were so extraordinary that really, most of what happens in Metal Gear Solid is just a reiteration of them. When I was playing through Metal Gear Solid for the first time, I was blown away, as I imagine most gamers were. Now, I'm sure I still would have been had I played Metal Gear 2 first, but it couldn't possibly be the same. Why? Because when I stated that much of Metal Gear Solid was a reiteration of Metal Gear 2, I was being quite literal. Not only were elements I've already mentioned above again present in the new (Metal Gear Solid) game but even certain plot points, encounters and scenarios were actually lifted verbatim from the MSX2 masterpiece. Fight with a cyborg ninja? Check. Attacked by a Russian helicopter? Check. The need to backtrack through previously visited areas to advance further (more on that later)? Check-a-roony. There's way more than just that but I don't want to give everything away. But I will just mention that when I first played through Metal Gear Solid 2 and got to the part where on the Big Shell Raiden is contacted by a mysterious character warning him of invisible landmines in his path I thought "Oh, right. Just like in the last one where Gray Fox as the Ninja contacts Snake." Well, little did I know at the time that that scenario in the first Metal Gear Solid was just an echo itself from Metal Gear 2!

Metal Gear 2's Black Ninja
As to the gameplay, it's still based on the first Metal Gear but with more abilities, challenges and options. You're still sneaking around inside large bases (and some outdoor areas, too) with multiple floors and many doors requiring different levels of keycards to open. Being detected still brings an alert mode wherein you're chased by not only every enemy on the screen but also those of adjoining screens as well. Security cameras, trap doors, mines and other traps have to be negotiated and you're able to acquire different types of equipment to help you deal with them.

One tweak is that in the original Metal Gear you need to improve your rank, which is basically like gaining levels, so that you have a longer life bar and can hold more ammunition. This is accomplished by rescuing hostages being held in cells scattered around Outer Heaven. In Metal Gear 2 it's a little more straightforward - gone are ranks but you still gain the same perks upon defeating bosses - another element that would show up again in Metal Gear Solid.

Besides Marv and a couple other essential characters, there aren't any other prisoners that need rescuing. Replacing them are children - war orphans taken in by Big Boss (who is once again the primary antagonist - I probably should have mentioned that earlier) who will give you information and tips when you talk to them. In a weird, kind of sick twist, it's actually possible for Snake to kill them but you lose health if you do. The more children you talk to, the more is peeled back about Big Boss's character and for the first time in the series you learn that he isn't just a straightforward heartless villain. I will point out that the revelation that Big Boss is Snake's father isn't actually in this game and was only retconned later in Metal Gear Solid. But knowing that detail during the final confrontation certainly makes it a more emotional gaming experience.

The boss fights are expanded slightly too, usually there's a bit of dialogue from them after you defeat them and you can also get some background info on them from one of your radio contacts. None of the fights are too hard once you figure out what to do but they offer a nice variety of required tactics over the course of the game. The fight with the Hind D helicopter bears mentioning because although this is a 2D 8-bit game, it's done in such a way that the fight actually feels somewhat three-dimensional - testament to the innovation of Kojima - something we've all become familiar with over the years.

Original MSX radio screen vs. updated PS2 radio screen

As much as I must gush about the game's story, presentation and gameplay, I will admit that it isn't perfect. A significant amount of backtracking is required and some gamers can find that tedious. Usually, as someone with limited patience,  I'd be among them, but honestly, I enjoy this game so much that it really didn't bother me at all. Also, early in the game there is a swamp you must traverse and if you step into the wrong area, you'll quickly start to sink, which can lead to death if you don't backstep very quickly. This sounds like a pretty standard videogame challenge but I'll tell you now that there is no way visually to tell where you should and shouldn't step. Your route has to be figured out through trial and error. Again, this might be acceptable except that this swamp is four screens in size and you have to take a long, convoluted route to navigate it safely. Getting through it is easily the most irksome part of the game. For me at least.
As improved as the game's engine is over the original Metal Gear, for some reason Snake can still only move in four directions which, while not hampering you in any way while you play, just seems kind of weird given all the other changes and advancements.

Another "flaw" is something that is really no fault of the game. It's just a small story point. As the game was released in 1990, it presupposes that by 1999, the year in which it is set, the Soviet Union will still be around. One of the characters is a member of the Czechoslovakian Secret Police - an organization that was dissolved even before the Czech Republic and Slovakia became separate countries. But hey, no big deal. Also, the game's plot really makes NATO come off as a bunch of dicks. Genocidal dicks, practically.

While Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake is unarguably one of the greatest games of its era and one of the more influential games of all time, the fact that it was released exclusively on a dying system just when the 16-bit era was kicking off ensured that in Japan it would only make a small blip on the radar. And of course in North America, none at all. This has to be one of the bigger, well, I don't want to use a word as strong as tragedy so we'll go with "unfortunate occurrences" in gaming history as a plethora of gamers who were active at the time of its release, myself included, missed out on it altogether and didn't even learn of its existence until years later, let alone get the chance to actually play it. In 1998, with the buildup for Metal Gear Solid, a fan translation of the game was done along with an online version of its instruction manual but this also went largely unnoticed.

Snake crawling through a vent
The aforementioned facts also ensured that the game was released in limited quantities so these days it is a highly sought after and highly expensive collector's item. A copy will set you back around three hundred bucks US and that's without the box. A complete version could cost over five hundred, which is more than the MSX2 itself goes for these days. Thankfully, since 2006 gamers have had the option of experiencing this classic by way of Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsistence and later Metal Gear Solid The Legacy Collection.

A mobile phone version was released in Japan in 2004 as well and all of the changes made from the original version were carried over into the PS2 port. These included the addition of thermal goggles, increasing the amount of land mines you can place on one screen, revamped character portraits on the transceiver screen, frequency numbers being saved in a memory window after using them for the first time, name-changes for some of the characters and several more. Because of a few gameplay tweaks and a different saving system, I would assume the original MSX2 version is probably at least slightly more difficult to play through than the updated ports.

The fact that a twenty-five year old, 8-bit game that was barely acknowledged in its time let alone celebrated, could be so complex, well-presented and fun to contemporary gamers marks it as a truly special game. If you're playing it for the first time you'll find yourself marveling how it's so similar to Metal Gear Solid - an amazing game in its own right for a much, much more powerful console with what I can only assume was a much, much higher budget and longer development time. Not only does Metal Gear 2 "hold up" today, it actually shatters expectations of the uninitiated and rivals many current games in enjoyability. Play it any way you can, whether you're a Metal Gear fan or not.

Metal Gear!?
cole d'arc

Cole d'arc is a writer based out of Halifax, NS. He is a practiced blogeteer and professional lister at Five-O-Rama, is the man behind Cole Talks Comics on YouTube, and a founding member of The Sausage Factory live stream movie discussion show.