“In those final months, Secret Level laid off a number of junior staff members. In their place, the studio hired a number of experienced designers, artists, and coders in attempt to salvage the fledgling “Beast Rider.” Even producers shifted on the charge to turn “Beast Rider” into something playable. But it still wasn’t playable after a delay to finish “Iron Man,” still struggling with frame rate problems and uneven vision.
Butler came in with a year to go. “They gave me a design document and said don’t read it. It was about the size of the bible. They said that’s all changed now.”
When Acero joined on with two years to go, he was told, “You’re basically inheriting a mess,” he says.”
Read my full feature on Golden Axe: Beast Rider at Variety
“There are no politics to Streets of Rage 2. A syndicate wants this city for, well, reasons. It’s not even clear why. In Final Fight, Metro City mayor Mike Haggar is one of the playable characters who takes to the streets to clean them up, punching the trope of the “do-nothing” politician square in its jaw; then again, maybe that is Streets of Rage 2’s point: the heroes ignore the system of on-the-books police work to defeat corruption from the ground up. That corruption was likely brought about in the first place by inept leadership—how else does a city succumb to this scenario twice (and a third time by Streets of Rage 3)?
So let the citizens do the work. Remove the government influence. In that way, Streets of Rage 2 is deeply conservative, or rather as conservative as something this crudely violent and goofy can be. The foursome are not pandering to a droll anti-capitalist narrative, and Streets of Rage 2 is thus unprecedented. Few other games are optimistic to this degree. Further still, nothing in the genre has matched its style, look, ideas, or bravery yet. How unique a classic this is.”
Read my full look at Streets of Rage 2 on Playboy
“Tembo is as illogical as ’60s era cartoon shows. It has their spirit too. George of the Jungle, Danger Mouse, Dudley Do Right; Tembo wants in their club. He’d fit there – mostly. Friendly violence, a sense of mischief, those boldly drawn outlines. But he is still a video game creation. Odd, weird, and kooky all fit as descriptors. Only in a video game would something this absurd be accompanied by elaborate orchestration where some themes appear to be culled from Rambo.”
Read my full review of Tembo the Badass Elephant at GameSkinny
“Revealing a checklist of colors at a time when they were individually counted in hardware specifications, Fantasy Zone is tirelessly cheery. It may as well act as décor in a nursery. The cuteness is decidedly persuasive to its cause.
Fantasy Zone borrows the formula of Defender and makes it less immediate, even gentle. Played to the perky and lyrical rhythms of first generation J-Pop composed by Hiroshi Kawaguchi, Fantasy Zone snuggles in, placing itself amongst the frequently surreal but impossibly catchy arcade output of Sega’s earliest productions.”
Read my full review of Fantasy Zone 3D at GameSkinny
“Characters need their vocal fortitude to bust through Lyric, an overtly obvious villain. He’s a sniveling space snake in a space suit. Lyric worships life saving technology, not organic medicine (he took some and now needs the suit, you see), turning Rise of Lyric into a loose parable against the overuse of automatic blood pressure machines, inorganic meat, and high-fructose corn syrup. Clearly, that is what can save Sonic, turning him into a defender of nutrition for the generation of children turning against the overlords of McDonalds. Sonic is fighting against an indirect representative of the Happy Meal; how the once mighty have fallen.”
You can read my full Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric review at Pulp365
“Visiting with Sonic has become uncomfortable. There are truths we no longer wish to admit, but need to accept. Exhaustion forms from the realization the character’s best years are 20 years past, locked to the ideals of a game machine mournfully discarded to thrift store shelves. Sonic was a then creation, not a now. Seeing development time spent on patchwork lock-on systems and propping Sonic up on gameplay crutches is painful. He is a wounded animal and unless he is placed in the strict 2D conditions he deserves, it’s time to put him down.”
Read my full Sonic Lost World review at Blogcritics
“For its inarguable clumsiness, Champions is locked to Sega hardware, exhibiting design ideals which aimed older in order to pick away at an aging Nintendo audience, game playing landscapes maturing as they entered the ’90s. Nintendo would learn their lesson. Fixating on a grungy campaign of illicit fonts, technological gains, and wonky TV ads, Nintendo’s spirited attitude would splice itself into Sega’s methodology. Champions, while a lesser influence in that drastic marketing modification than censored Mortal Kombat ports, remains a historical relic. Released as the two console companies became embroiled in heated competitiveness, Nintendo was still playing nice as Sega reached for a teenage jugular.”
Read the full flashback to Eternal Champions at MultiplayerGames
“Project X Zone is fetishistic in its colorful depictions of cartooned mayhem, so stately as to bog itself down into retro-fied simplicity. Players unwilling to cast aside 40 hours for a straight session can be relieved: X Zone is built for minimal and partial digestion. Taken in diminutive chunks, it becomes naturally filling. This is in-joke laden comfort food for the tactical klutz.”
Read my full review of Project X Zone at Blogcritics.