Here is my ranking of the StarTropics video games, with #1 being the best:

1) StarTropics (NES)

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2) StarTropics II: Zoda’s Revenge

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So, why this order?

StarTropics, the original, is my all-time favorite video game. Cry “bias” all you’d like, but you’d be missing the point of an informal list anyway.

StarTropics is certainly a sentimental choice, though, both in the sense that I got to enjoy it as an impressionable youth and in the sense that I am aware of its faults but see through them anyway.

As I discuss in detail near the end of a podcast I recently guested on, StarTropics is one of those classic titles that best exemplifies the wonder of old-school video games. The case in point is the inclusion of a “letter” in the complete box set, which you literally, physically, actually-in-the-real-world had to dip into water to obtain a certain code to continue in the game. This was a mind-blowing, unique experience, and truly set off my imagination as to what games were capable of and just how immersive they could be.

And it was just cool.

Both StarTropics games share many similar traits: These are first-party efforts from Nintendo. They are topdown adventure games, with overworld exploration interspersed with dungeon sections. There is a rich sense of heart and humor throughout, and many quirks that set the franchise apart from any other.

If you’re looking for a quest in a contemporary setting that stars a baseball-bat-swinging, yo-yo-slinging young man who also happens to be a psychic who gets involves with aliens in a plot that sees him traveling through time, why, it turns out that Earthbound is not your only option.

The sequel, Zoda’s Revenge, is more accessible. You can actually move diagonally (!), and this, along with being able to change midair direction during jumps, really does make the game a bit easier. Puzzles based on precision tile-hopping lose their luster when you no longer have the constant threat of one wrong move instantly killing you. Well, at least, not in the same rigorous sense as the original C-Island fare.

The sequel is very linear, with a much less engrossing plot, almost generic in its execution. It is still a really fun game. And being released in March of 1994 (!!), rather near to the end of the NES’s console-supported life cycle, big N sure knew how to squeeze every last drop out of the machine’s capabilities.

… or did they?

I mean, sure, the graphics are great and the animations are smooth and the blah blah blah but, y’know what? The original StarTropics has more memorable music. It has more original characters. Being a more challenging game, it just feels like a meatier, more satisfying experience overall. The ending is more rewarding. The whole trip is more worthwhile, honestly.

So it makes it difficult when someone asks which I would recommend they play first, if they have not played either. StarTropics is not for everyone. The sequel probably has more mass appeal.

But for my personal choice, I have to hand it to Mike’s first outing as would-be world-saver, island-conqueror, dolphin-rescuer and ear-fruiter.

Now I just wonder what the heck I’ll have left to say about the darn game when I review it.

Many would probably be surprised to hear that some of the oldest casino games were invented in 1895. New casinos got an in-depth article about how slot games all began when Charles Fey invented the antique slot machine called “Liberty Bell.” The first machine had only 5 symbols and 3 spinning reels.

The next big milestone was when Bally Technologies launched the Money Honey in 1964. This new machine had many cool features at that time, such as flashing lights and jackpots, to further entice new players.

The very first video casino game came out in 1975 and was called Fortune Coin. It never got really popular until IGT bought it and introduced the first progressive jackpots, “Megabucks.” In the late 1990’s, the first online casinos arrived and after one decade, the competition started to become serious. New online casinos have to offer free spins and enormous bonuses to stay competitive. It’s now also required to be available on mobile phones and the next step might soon be here – casino games developed for smart watches.

Only time will tell what future advancements will be in the industry, but history has shown us that casino games have a long history of success to build on, with a market that still shows an insatiable appetite for high-stakes fun.

So when I posted my previous blog entry, Nintendo Legend’s Rankings of the NES Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Games, afterward I got a couple requests on social media to elaborate a bit more on my placements.

I guess I can offer a couple points on that.

First, it is just my opinion. Like, literally, just my own scope of enjoyment. I am pretty sure the most raised eyebrows would go toward placing Tournament Fighter over the original, classic TMNT title.

I can’t help it — I think Tournament Fighter is quirky fun! It’s a technical achievement on hardware very limited for that genre, it’s a bold foray into the utterly unnecessary (seriously, why bother porting to the NES, you have two perfectly good-enough 16-bit cartridges to profit from at this stage in the game, no pun intended), and there really is little else on the system like it.

Does that alone make it a great game? Well, no. Which brings me to…

Secondly: TMNT is probably the better game.

I know, I know, why would I rank it that way?

I just think if I was sitting down, right now, at the NES, I’d rather play Tournament Fighters. In fact, I know I would.

I’ve played Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles before. I think it’s a pretty good game. In fact, I think it’s better than its reputation; the dam level isn’t as nightmarish as people make it out to be, and the whole experiences shines with Konami’s then-era quality overall.

So, yeah, that’s all just my long-winded way of saying that the ranking is very subjective, personal, and based on more than a simple, mechanical metric.

If that means being the world’s biggest 8-bit TMNT Fighters fan, so be it. I think it’d be pretty cool if there were, like, tournaments for the game or something… I’d dig that so hard.

Then again, I wish there were more public events for retro titles in general.

Oh, and as for TMNT II and TMNT III.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Arcade Game is a game I feel strongly attached to, sentimentally. I have played through it many times. Specifically, it is one of those titles I remember staying up late with my mother to play. It was one of the first games I owned (I had a TMNT phase, like any child in the 1990’s pretty much).

But… it’s not as polished as The Manhattan Project. In TMNT III, the characters are actually different, both in their attack reach and their special moves. The levels have more variety (in my opinion?). The whole shebang just feels a little smoother, a little neater.

I mean, I’d be the first to say that added variety alone does not make a sequel superior to its predecessor. But TMNT III stands as the better game in my eyes, and among my favorites. I played it a lot growing up, too.

It was only later that I found out it was somewhat uncommon. Many more people have fonder memories of The Arcade Game, and that’s cool! But I’ll take Raph and his insane drill attack (a.k.a. M. Bison’s Psycho Driller) any time.

Thanks.

My rankings of the 8-bit TMNT games, from best to worst:

 

1. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III: The Manhattan Project

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2. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Arcade Game

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3. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Tournament Fighters

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4. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

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Agree? Disagree? Thoughts? Opinions? Rants? Raves? Pizzas?

I’d love it if you left your own rankings in the comments!


Have some 8-bit motivation.

FIGHT!

Click the image to load the full 1080p wallpaper.


Just having fun with the NES palette and switching up the colors in a classic NES game, Kung Fu.

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Kung Fu Original

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Kung Fu V2

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Kung Fu Zombie

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Kung Fu Bizarro

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Kung Fu Grayscale

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Kung Fu Black And White

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I knew it would be asked: “What’s next?”

People wonder. It’s flattering.

I don’t have One Big Answer. Or, at least, if I did have a couple bigger ideas, I’m not ready to show those cards just yet.

I do, though, have lots of little responses. I suppose I could sprinkle them here, rather than try to keep squeezing them into messages elsewhere, right?

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  • I want to send real feature pitches to major gaming websites. It may never pan out, but I would not mind trying. How cool would it be to be published somewhere recognizable and begin building a portfolio? I like writing. I would not mind showing myself, and others, that I can actually do it. Honestly, I could just say here, “I want to keep writing.”
  • I want to be A Guy, rather than The Guy. I want to go back to posting on retro gaming forums, being generally encouraging to those I encounter, and not having obligations and responsibilities elsewhere.
  • I think I would enjoy popping in as a guest on podcasts occasionally, if that opportunity opened. Before 1MoreCastle.com, I had never done podcasting as a thing — it turns out to be quite fun.
  • I will continue to hone my comedic craft on Twitter. You may even, gasp, see material that does not rely on puns.
  • I want to just screw around with pixels. Palette swaps, memes, misplaced quotes, original artwork, whatever. I really like pixels!
  • I want to find talented content creators and greet them warmly.
  • I want to write more stuff on this blog. For example, abuses of the bullet-list formatting.

 

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So those are just a handful of thoughts.

One thing I think I want people to understand that I have not put into words: Having a family, having less time, etc… yeah, it made administrating 1MC hard. And it will be nice to have less responsibility. But that’s just it: It’s not about the extra free time I gain. It’s the flexibility of it. I don’t have to post things, reply to as many time-sensitive emails, things like that.

Yeah, that sounds super selfish, so understand that that’s just a small part of the closing and it’s very reductive to hone in on that. The positive part I’m trying to get to is that, well, I’m not dead. Retro gaming is my hobby. It just is. So I’ll keep rolling around in it, one way or another.

 

[ Edit: Let’s add, “I want to figure out how to add clean line breaks in a bullet list, a.k.a. I’ll be bothered someday to peek at the HTML and manually force it to look purdier next time I promise ugh. ]

It goes without saying that Nintendo have been churning out quality and classic titles for decades, and they’ve almost always been ahead of their time (and ahead of the game, so to speak). Whether sports, role-playing, platform or any other genre, they’ve somehow managed to capture the zeitgeist perfectly year after year.

What was brought out 10 years ago undoubtedly was perfect for its time and the same can be said of what is released this year. The more you think about that, the more you want to check out some of those titles, don’t you? Exactly, so let’s have a look and compare the releases from both times.

nintendo_games by  MShades   

Super Mario Strikers / Mario Tennis: Ultra Smash

Released in November 2005, Super Mario Strikers got a lot of hype but never really lived up to its billing. It was incredibly fun but a lack of options in terms of gameplay didn’t give it the longevity that Nintendo will have wanted.

Yet to come out, Mario Tennis: Ultra Smash is bound to be a hot game for Nintendo in 2015. Tennis games on the Wii and Wii U are so playable that everybody – no matter how old or interested in tennis they are – wants to get involved!

Star Fox: Assault / Lego Jurassic World

Star Fox was a pretty large release back in the day, and was brilliantly playable, with plenty of levels to negotiate and some funky graphics to boot. We’d say that as far as GameCube classics go, this one is right up there.

And as long as we’re talking about classics, we couldn’t possibly go without mentioning 2015’s Lego Jurassic World. The film is huge and anything that’s developed under the Lego theme is bound to sell.

Pokémon XD: Gale of Darkness / Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer

As we all know, as far as game franchises go, you can’t really get much bigger than Pokémon. This wasn’t the biggest of them all to be released, far from it. But as far as 2005 was concerned, it was the only Pokémon title that mattered!

When it comes to modern franchises, kids today seem to be all over the Animal Crossing series. Anything that is put out under the AC banner is snapped up – and it’s easy to see why, when it’s arguably just as addictive as the Pokémon games.

Golden Nugget Casino / None

It’s unusual for a console to bring out a casino game, but Nintendo did just that when they released Golden Nugget Casino in 2005. It never really became as big a hit as the live casino options that are out there today, which is probably why you won’t find another title like it on the shelves anymore.

Mario Party 7 / Mario Party 10

If you’ve ever come across a Nintendo game – and let’s face it: if you’re reading this, you have – you’ll more than likely be familiar with the Mario Party games. Mario Party 7 was multiplayer, multi-layered and multi-addictive, just like this year’s release Mario Party 10.

Donkey Kong Jungle Beat / None

In all honesty, there’s nothing quite like Donkey Kong Jungle Beat out there at the moment, which is a real shame. Compatible with the GameCube’s DK Bongos, this was different from the others in the series in so much as it was neither focused on music nor racing. It turned out to be a success for it.

 

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