Retro Reviews


Blast From the Past?
The Ur-Quan Masters

By Dave McLean - June 12th, 2010

UQM1

The universe is at war. The dreaded, innumerable, tentacular Ur-Quan are conquering species after species, enlisting each conquered group as a battle thrall in the Ur-Quan army, or trapping the unwilling under planetary slave shields. Adding to this menace are the Kohr-Ah, the bone-collecting, world annihilating cousin-species of the Ur-Quan—whose mandate is destroy (rather than enslave) every species it encounters. You play a human space captain who—after uncovering an extremely powerful space vessel of alien origin during an exploration mission—returns home to find Earth trapped under an Ur-Quan slave shield. Your goal is to explore the universe, gather resources and allies, improve your vessel, amass a battle armada, and rise up to defeat the Ur-Quan and the Kohr-Ah before it’s too late.

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SUPER HAPPY HAPPY MEGA-FUN MONDAY!
Space Channel 5 Part 2

By Jamie Love - December 8th, 2008

SUPER HAPPY HAPPY MEGA-FUN MONDAY! Space Channel 5 Part 2

Good morning, fellow thumbs! Do you know what day it is? It’s Super Happy Happy Mega-Fun Monday!

We here at Toronto Thumbs know that there are so many ways you’d prefer to spend today rather than going to (or being at) work. Perhaps starting your car with the windows down and the garage door sealed? But before you go tripping the monoxide-fantastic, why not let us sway your will to live with the lighthearted remembrance of games past…

Today we finally pay an overdue visit to the age of Dreamcast, unfortunate proof that the light burning twice as bright, burns half as long – at least in the West. The revolution still lives on in the hearts of all those of the DCUnderground, those true believers waiting for the opportunity to dream again. And who can blame them? The Dreamcast represented a wealth of titles, overwhelming gamers with a return to rich, vibrant color palettes and worlds of unseen depth and unique mechanics. Truly, this was my Woodstock.

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Super Happy Happy Mega-Fun Monday!
Sheep Raider

By Jamie Love - December 1st, 2008

Sheep Raider

Good morning, fellow Thumbs! Do you know what day it is? It’s Super Happy Happy Mega-Fun Monday!

We here at Toronto Thumbs know that there are so many ways you’d prefer to spend today rather than going to (or being at) work. Perhaps taking a bath with that new toaster you bought! Two bagels at once, what an age we live in! But before you start experimenting with the conductive attributes of Mr. Bubbles, why not let us distract you with the lighthearted remembrance of games past…

This week we again visit the PSOne era, that golden age when expanding game sales and the advent of cheap CD technology resulted in titles being produced faster than game designers could be bred – which I’m told led to strange experiments with farms, DNA samples, tubes and the like. It was a time in gaming history that shared attributes with the Atari age, primarily because demand and opportunity led to some truly awful games being created by the storm of small and growing studios that suddenly appeared. On the other hand, there were games that presented solid ideas and design concepts that might never have seen the light of day if not for that environment

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BYTE-SIZE REVIEW
R-Type

By Shaun Hatton - November 27th, 2008

R-Type

Jamie has just written a great piece on Dead Space. Because I see that game as a great homage to the movie Alien, reading his take on it made me think of another game with scary aliens in it: R-Type.

As far as I know, R-Type was the first game that genuinely scared me. The first-level boss, Krell, graced the cover of the Sega Master System version of the game. It was this illustration that would ultimately haunt me more than the in-game menace would (though it would take me years to actually figure out how to defeat him – these were the days before easily-accessible video game information, after all). In fact, it’s quite possible that R-Type fostered my somewhat irrational fear of aliens.

What made R-Type a great experience for me was that it featured such a wide assortment of colourful aliens. Sprite flicker be damned! The slowness of the game may have been in part due to a lack of processing power, but its crawling pace genuinely amplified its creepy atmosphere.

Until I downloaded the Turbo-Grafix 16 on the Wii Virtual Console, the Sega Master System version was the only one I had played. Sadly, it now pales in comparison despite how impressive it still is for an 8-bit title. It certainly still has some of my favourite video game music in it. As a series, though, R-Type is my favourite shooter.


BYTE-SIZE REVIEW
Zillion II: The Tri Formation

By Shaun Hatton - November 25th, 2008

Zillion II: The Tri Formation

When I was younger, a game that let me jump and shoot while riding a bike that transformed into a flying exo-suit could be nothing but completely awesome to me.

In fact, I’m pretty sure I’d be inclined to like any such game even today. Zillion II: The Tri Formation was based on the anime Zillion, which I have never actually seen nor was I aware of as a kid. Turns out the Sega Master System’s Light Phaser was designed to look like the guns used in the anime, which is pretty damn cool.

As JJ, the commander of the White Knights, players are tasked with navigating through eight levels to both rescue comrades Apple and Champ while defeating the goons of the evil Norsa Empire. Stages alternated between auto-scrolling cycle/exo-suit stages and on-foot levels. The Tri Formation is the name of the three-wheeled (and tri-mode) cycle. The on-foot levels each had a boss at the end of them. The boss at the end of the eighth stage, Baron Ricks, was (and still is) a dick. I just played the game today, made it to the end, and he killed me quickly.


Super Happy Happy Mega-Fun Monday!
Tail Concerto

By Jamie Love - November 24th, 2008

Super Happy Happy Mega-Fun Monday!

Good morning, fellow Thumbs! Do you know what day it is? It’s Super Happy Happy Mega-Fun Monday!

We here at Toronto Thumbs know that there are so many ways you’d prefer to spend today rather than going to (or being at) work. Perhaps running a power drill through your frontal lobe comes to mind? But before you start puzzling over which bit size might best penetrate your skull, why not allow us to distract you with the fun remembrance of games past…

During the storied reign of the PSOne, Atlus truly established itself as both a developer and publisher of uniquely epic RPGs, offering gamers vastly new experiences during an unparalleled RPG renaissance. But one title that slipped passed many was CyberConnect 2’s 3D platformer, Tail Concerto. While Sony was pushing for more mature titles to expand sales, Tail Concerto harkened back to a simpler time. Do you remember when dogs and cats lived in a world of floating islands called Prairie? When robotic suits assisted police dogs in chasing down mischievous kittens, capturing them with bubbles? Doesn’t sound familiar? Well Pepperidge Farms remembers!

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BYTE-SIZE REVIEW
The Amazing Spider-Man

By Shaun Hatton - November 22nd, 2008

The Amazing Spider-Man

Spider-Man gets a call from Mysterio. They’re both using gigantic cellular phones. This is normal, because villains always call heroes over the phone. And their phones are gigantic because the year is 1990.

The Amazing Spider-Man for the Game Boy was one of my first Game Boy games, alongside the awesome Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Fall of the Foot Clan. Spider-Man was likely the only other licensed game available in the store the day I got it.

Premise-wise it’s the tale of the girl getting kidnapped and the hero having to rescue her. Each level started off with a phone call from that level’s end boss where Spider-Man would get increasingly irritated that Mary Jane was gone. The game consisted of side-scrolling stages and vertical, wall-crawling stages with side-scrolling elements tossed in afterward.

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