Saturday, December 3, 2016

10 Uncommon Video Games from the 90’s Every Gamer Should Play

Star Tropics (1990) – Chronicling the life of a young boy named Mike Jones, Star Tropics involves cave exploration, alien bad guys, and fighting off enemies with a magical yo-yo. The story begins with Mike visiting his uncle, Dr. Jones, on C-Island only to find him missing. Baboo, Dr. Jones’ assistant, lends Mike a submarine, a crucial component of the game, in order to island hop to find clues about his uncle’s disappearance. Defeating cavern bosses grants Mike extra hearts that increase the strength of his yo-yo. The intensely colored 2D graphics and memorable music add to the game-play, but the true genius comes from increasingly difficult chapters and puzzles swirled around a complex and unexpected plot. Owners of the original game were surprised with an unusual clue to solving Uncle Jones’ disappearance, a physical letter to be dipped in water. New gamers fear not, Star Tropics is still available for purchase on the Virtual Console for Wii. (Released by Nintendo for NES).

Mansion of the Hidden Souls (1994)
– The game-play is slow, the music repetitive, and the storyline short, but if you look past the bad, Mansion of the Hidden Souls is a story worth the experience. Mansion resident June is summoned by the elder to solve the mystery of the blood red moon by speaking with other ghosts and solving puzzles. The ghosts appear as butterflies that transform into eerie human heads that, at times, react fiercely to stories and events of the plot. Over ten spirits haunt the mansion, leaving June with an overwhelming task of moving from room to room searching for clues. Combine the floating heads with random encounters, paranoia-inducing music, and voices that always seem to trail off to get a creepy game that keeps you looking over your shoulder every few minutes. Remember, try not to make Cathy angry. . . (Released by Sega for Sega Saturn).

Astal (1995)
– On a world known as Quartilia, young Leda and her protector, Astal, watch over the planet and bring life to all inhabitants. While the goddess, Antowas, sleeps, an evil force, Jerado, fights to takeover the world with his warrior, Geist. Astal ravages the land after Geist kidnaps Leda, only to awaken Antowas and receive punishment for ruining her creation. Imprisoned on the moon, Astal watches as Leda is stolen once again, causing him to break free and finally rid Quartilia of Jerado and Geist. Play the game as Astal and his bird companion, racing through over 20 levels of gem-like enemies and larger-than-life bosses. Each level is side scrolling, split between player-controlled time and computer-controlled time. The planet resembles its name, a plethora of quartz crystals sparkling in time to twinkling music, like faeries with a dark sense of humor. If you have two controllers, one player can control Astal while the other uses the bird to help fight enemies. (Released by Sega for Sega Saturn).

Suikoden (1995)
– Although popular among veteran gamers, Suikoden is probably unknown to new video game enthusiasts. The first role-playing game (RPG) of its kind, Suikoden boasts a turn-based battle system that invokes physical and magical attacks through the use of runes, the cornerstone of all Suikoden games. Wander the world as the hero and recruit the 108 Stars of Destiny to build an army, construct your own castle, and return peace to the land. To be successful, an RPG must possess a deep, spiraling plot, believable characters, music and graphics to match the feel of the game, and, most importantly, the addition of challenging quests and puzzles to receive 100% completion of the game. Trust me, Suikoden excels at all of these traits. Without a guide, some serious footwork is required to recruit every Star of Destiny, and if you don’t know where to look, you may find your save file reaching over 60 hours of gameplay. And I loved every second of it. (Released by Konami for PlayStation).

NiGHTS into DREAMS (1996)
– Flying around a dream land, collecting orbs of Ideya, and fending off Nightmaren may sound simple, but only with speed and exact maneuvering will players defeat Wiseman and deliver peaceful dreams. NiGHTS into DREAMS opens to reveal two children, Claris and Elliot, who have fallen prey to nightmares due to fears in the real world. With the help of Nights, a Nightmaren who has betrayed his creator Wiseman, each child flies through Nightopia to collect their missing Ideya, colorful spheres of light which hold positive pieces of their personalities. Each level or dream consists of four Mares where players must fly through the dream to collect points. Each Mare is graded, and passing grades go on to a boss battle hosted by one of Wiseman’s top Nightmaren. Characters fly in a whimsical 2D environment, but can also use their human counterparts to walk each dream in 3D. However, the dream will end if caught by a beeping alarm clock. For diehard fans, the game music is unforgettable with its upbeat tempo and flute-like sound. While the Sega Saturn version may be difficult to find, Nintendo released a new game, Nights: Journey of Dreams, for the Wii. Not the same experience, but at least it gives gamers a taste of Nightopia. (Released by Sega for Sega Saturn).

Glover (1998)
– Have you ever experienced a game so frustrating that you screamed in conjunction with a Donkey Kong throw of the game controller? Well, Glover will make you do just that, along with slightly cry when your ball is destroyed with one life left at the end of the level. Confused? Good, because complete sanity should be abashed when playing this game as an enchanted white glove that must save the kingdom from his evil counterpart, Cross-Stitch. After a corrupt potion spills and turns the kingdom into a wasteland, Glover must return the kingdom’s transformed crystals to the wizard’s castle to restore the realms. Glover would normally be a simple, linear adventure game with fun, crazy levels of carnivals and dinosaur forests, but adding a required bouncy ball into the mix proves to be extremely challenging. Players must travel with the ball throughout every level, using its different forms to solve puzzles and cross barriers. Add in thin ledges, ball-snatching enemies, repetitive music, and slightly off camera angles to the party for a borderline breakdown of gamer sanity. But, to be a true gamer, one must face hardships (and chest pains) to save the world. I’ll see you again in three months with missing hair and the gleam of bouncy balls in your eyes. (Released by Hasbro Interactive for N64)

Bomberman Hero
(1998) – Picture it, an adorable, long-eyed warrior cloaked in white, pink, and blue. Atop his head rests a small, pink bomb. Although he looks cute, Bomberman is a serious warrior who will stop at nothing to save the princess from the evil Garaden Empire and their leader, Bagular. Bomberman must travel to different planets, exploring various stages to reach the assigned bosses under Bagular. Each planet offers a new visual experience, ranging from dark forests and snow covered mountains to volcanoes and pyramids. Not only can Bomberman run and jump, but some stages also require the use of flying and submarine modes. Stages are ranked based on the number of points collected, gold being the highest possible rank. Those who achieve gold rankings for every planet will unlock special minigames and an alternate ending. No worries though, stages can be replayed an unlimited number of times in order to achieve a perfect score. So if you love throwing bombs at enemies, especially salt bombs at slugs, use Bomberman to fulfill your pyromanical desires and save the princess from the empire (insert Star Wars music). (Released by Nintendo for N64).

Tonic Trouble (1999) –
Eating your vegetables has never been more important, especially when faced with oversized killer carrots and turnips. When spaceman Ed finds an unknown can of sludge on the table, he does what any sane person would do, throws back his head and takes a nice, big swig. The nasty flavor causes Ed to dispose of the liquid, which makes its way to Earth and into the hands of the evil Viking, Grogh. The potion transforms Grogh and the surrounding lands, and Ed must fights his way to the can to prepare an antidote. Each level consists of collecting parts to build a catapult that will fly Ed to Grogh’s kingdom. A variety of weapons are earned throughout the game after saving The Doc from his haywire robots. Ed must travel through canyons, glaciers, and ancient pyramids to find all of the machine parts. With the help of Suzy, The Doc, Agent Xyz, and some magical popcorn, Ed stands a good chance against defeating Grogh and bringing peace back to Earth. Despite an inventive plot and range of challenging levels, my two gripes of the game would have to be the poor camera angles and load times of the game, known for causing partial freezes and glitches during gameplay. If you can ignore those flaws, Tonic Trouble is a fun adventure for all types of gamers. (Released by Ubisoft for N64).

Jet Force Gemini (1999)
– Defeat the evil Mizar and his insect army by cruising the galaxy as the brother-sister-dog trio known as the Jet Force Gemini team. The only crew left from their organization, Juno, Vela, and Lupus must go from planet to planet saving natives and killing alien bugs in order to stop Mizar from destroying the galaxy. Jet Force Gemini is a product of Rare, known for their graphic styling and catchy music. Gameplay exists as third-person shooting with a multitude of weapons to use. If accuracy isn’t your gig, you may find yourself consistently running low on ammo, one of the big challenges of the game. Certain members of the team, with each team member hosting different abilities like swimming and flying, can only explore specific planets. Although most levels are tedious, requiring the rescue of every tribal to acquire 100% completion, the game is worth the experience, testing gamers’ attention to detail and shooting skills. Halo and Call of Duty just can’t stand up to this N64 galactic classic. (Released by Rare for N64).

Legend of Dragoon (1999)
– Yet another gem in the RPG world, Legend of Dragoon has some of the best custom music ever created for such a long and in-depth game. Players begin the game on the continent Endiness with Dart, a blonde, rough-looking guy who is immediately attacked by a giant dragon. Physical attacks are launched using a sync system where the X button must be pressed when a series of squares align in the middle. Throughout the game, Dart travels through different regions and meets companions who join his quest to destroy the black monster that killed his parents. Each member of the team resonates with a Dragoon spirit, equipping them with various elemental powers and armor of matching color. Exploring the expansive map requires a lot of time and patience in order to collect all of the treasure chests and key items. Although battling becomes monotonous when power leveling, the storyline is captivating and the side quests allow players to gain more knowledge about the characters’ pasts. Misplaced trust, murder, and secret love flourish throughout Dart’s life, unbeknownst to him and the player until the very end. (Released by Sony Computer Entertainment for PlayStation).


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