With Christmas coming, I asked my oldest son, Matt, to share tips and reviews of current and older video games. He’s been knee deep in video games for quite a few years. With his expertise in buying and selling used and new games and equipment, I rely on his guidance when reviewing games for my younger kids, especially when attempting to understand why some games receive a certain rating.
This 3 part series focuses on older games which can be purchased for younger kids for $10 or less. Part One was published last Saturday with Part Three of the series being published next Saturday. If you find his reviews helpful, and have questions for Matt, share that in the comments.
Sega Genesis 6-Pak
Now we really go back in time, with a game released for a 24-year-old platform. This game is a compilation of 6 bestselling Sega Genesis games on one cartridge: Golden Axe, Streets of Rage, Columns, Revenge of Shinobi, Super Hang-On, and (last but certainly not least) Sonic the Hedgehog.
Golden Axe and Streets of Rage are two different takes on the beat-em-up genre. Golden Axe is more fantasy-oriented, with dragons, dwarves, and the like, and an RPG-esque system of healing items and stronger characters as you progress, while Streets of Rage has a more urban feel, with jugglers, thugs, and martial artists facing you on your quest to free the streets of crime. Streets of Rage easily has the superior music and controls of the two, and overall, I feel it’s a much better game.
Columns is basically a Tetris clone, albeit a pretty well made one, with an equally catchy song playing in the background. Revenge of Shinobi is an action game, in which you play as the ninja Joe, who wants to avenge his slain master. You use throwing stars and ninjitsu, along with your hopefully advanced skills, to achieve this goal. Not gonna lie, Revenge of Shinobi is far from an easy game; however, with much practice, it can be completed.
Super Hang-On is an arcade port, in which you drive a motorcycle for as far as possible without running out of time; you replenish said time at several checkpoints along the way. It’s a simple game, but very addictive. Sonic the Hedgehog is the very first game the famous blue rodent starred in, and it’s lost little of its charm with age. It was the main reason many people got their Sega Genesis in the first place, and it’s still a very good reason to own one. Good controls, good graphics, good gameplay, good music… There is very little one would be able to find wrong with it.
While there have been many Sega Genesis compilations on more recent consoles, this is the best one you will find that was released on the actual console. Most of them were only released in Europe anyway, and wouldn’t work on a North American console. The Sega Genesis 6-Pak can be bought cart-only for about $6, or if you want the box and manual, about $8-9.
NOTE: this game has no save function, so any score achieved must be written down, or they will be lost.
WarioWare: Mega Microgame$ (Game Boy Advance)
This game is quite possibly the perfect portable game for waiting in line. Inside this cartridge are dozens upon dozens of “microgames” (5 or so second minigames), ranging from dodging a speeding car, to shooting UFOs, to dodging soccer balls, to chopping logs, to twirling spaghetti, to entering a cave… the possibilities are endless here. The game will flash a quick command at you before you begin, though, so it’s all good. The range of microgames is very impressive; the developers were very creative with all of them, and each one of them controls exactly as they should, once you figure out what it is the command flash at you means. Very addictive.
Warioware has many sequels of similar creativity available for other Nintendo platforms. the second Game Boy Advance game uses a tilt sensor, the DS game uses the touch screen, the Wii game uses the Wii remote, etc. Even the Wii U game, Game and Wario, is good, though this game is more of a minigame compilation than a microgame compilation, the difference being that minigames are more complex. Regardless, most of them can be had for under $15, and this particular game should set you back about $8.
Toy Commander (Sega Dreamcast)
And now for one of the more obscure consoles. The Sega Dreamcast was a short-lived console available from 1999-2002, and with it brought many unique and quirky games to the table. Unfortunately, its sales were killed off by the Playstation 2. It was Sega’s final console before they began exclusively making software.
Many of the Dreamcast exclusives were never ported anywhere else, or if they were, it was inferior (Crazy Taxi lost music, Grandia II got bad slowdown, etc.). As well, many of its games can be had complete with case and manual for about $10. The Dreamcast was a very underrated console. The game, Toy Commander, was a unique idea for a video game. A boy brings new toys home and starts to play with them more than the old toys; this makes the old toys angry. They take over the house, and you must complete several missions within a certain time limit in order to restore balance. So, kind of like Toy Story, but not really.
There are several different vehicles to take control of, such as a plane, a truck, a tank… Each one takes a little getting used to, but each one has their own little gimmicks. For example, the helicopter is the only one that can move things from place to place. Did I mention that each toy looks at the world like it should? Everything is proportional to the size of your toy, meaning they’re all about the size of the in-game eggs. And the entire world is bright and colorful. While it does have its flaws, such as a strange and finicky control system, the game has enough charm that you look past them.
This game also has a four-player mode, which I haven’t played. However, with how cheap Dreamcast stuff is, it shouldn’t cost too much to set up. This game is a Dreamcast exclusive; you should be able to find it used for about $9, or if you want a new copy, about $30.