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"Hidden Gems" Contest: Win Your Choice of Goodies

by racketboy Sun Nov 26, 2006 5:02 pm

It's been a little while since we've had a contest here, so I thought I would give away some goodies and give you guys a chance to share your thoughts on some old-school games.

This time around the winner of the contest will be chosen at random, but you can still compete to increase your chances of winning.

To enter the contest, choose a game from one of the following lists and write an interesting 2 to 3 paragraphs about why the game should be considered one of the best hidden gems for its given console. Your entries are to be posted in full in this forum thread.

Approved Titles (listed in my first post of each thread):
NES Games
Genesis/Megadrive Games
SNES Games
Saturn Games
Playstation Games
N64 Games
Dreamcast Games

You can submit as many entries as you would like. After the December 31st deadline, I will draw the user name of an entry at random to choose the winner.

Entries must be at least 150 words long. (MS Word has a word counter, if you need it).
The selected game must be one that has not yet been written about for this contest or any previous contests.
Each entry is subject to approval (as long as it reads well and makes sense, it will be approved)
Those that I deem very well though-out and well-written will receive a bonus entry into the drawing.

Obviously, the more entries you have, the better your chances of winning. At the same time, it only takes one entry to win.

As another added bonus, any user that does not win this contest will have extra chances to win towards the next drawing. For every two non-winning entries from this contest, you will have one extra entry thrown in towards the next contest.

Disclaimer: All entries become property of and can be compiled into future article and features without further permission.

If you win, you will have your choice of one of the following:
A Sega Saturn Mod Chip
A Dreamcast VGA Box with additional Composite & S-Video Output
A choice of any 3 non-VGA cables from the racketboy store
Three DVD-Rs filled with the Sega CD, Saturn, or Dreamcast game ISOs of your choice.
A slightly-used copy of Super Dragonball Z for the PS2
Last edited by racketboy on Mon Apr 16, 2007 4:54 pm, edited 1 time in total.

by retrogamer Mon Nov 27, 2006 11:30 pm

Title: The Battle Of Olympus
Game System: Nintendo Entertainment System (NES)
Release Date (USA): January 1990
Publisher: Infinity/Broderbund

Like many of us who visit, I was a child of the eighties. Ever since I held a NES controller in my hands for the first time on December 25, 1986 I have played close to every NES game ever made. It was hard to narrow it down to a particular game title that was rare in the sense that the game did not get a lot of publicity or was out shadowed by a more popular genre/franchise. After all back in the days of the NES if a game was not developed exclusivly by Nintendo there was very little if any coverage about it in the Nintendo Power magazine. There was no internet back in the day so your only source of info was from your friends at school or your bimonthly issue of Nintendo Power. The game I feel most represents the criteria specified in this contest is called: The Battle Of Olympus. Besides not getting the proper attention that it deserved it is also a game that is near and dear to my heart which is why I chose to write about it. I was always fascinated by Greek mythology as a kid so as soon as I heard about the release of the game I knew it had to me mine.
Now most will dismiss this game off as a Zelda II clone but if you took the time to play it you will agree that it was so much more than that. The Battle of Olympus is one of those games that was overlooked by many NES fans. It was made by Broderbund, a company that made a slew of very good NES games that never really got the acclaim they deserved (The Guradian Legend, Legacy of the Wizard, etc). Battle of Olympus plays a lot like Zelda II. You play as Orpheus, whose goal is to defeat ancient Greek enemies and rescue your woman. You go through different worlds and battle bosses that represent their mythological counterparts. This game is a great translation of the world of mythology into a video game! Basically in this game, you play a hero (whom you name when you start a new game) who has lost his love (the heroine, whom you also name). Now, with the Greek Goddess of Love, Aphrodite, encouraging the hero, he sets off to rescue his girlfriend's soul from Hades himself! Throughout the journey, he will meet the Gods and Goddesses of Olympus, such as Zeus, Hermes, Athena, Apollo, and Poseidon. Most of the hero's immortal friends, along with an old witch living on the island of Crete, will provide you with all kinds of helpful items and weapons. There are ten landmarks, and the last one's entrance is hidden.
Alot of the enemies are easy to beat at the beginning, but as you explore the entire nation of Greece, you will find enemies that are hard or even impossible (so to speak) to defeat. Of course, it takes strategy to defeat the further enemies, especially the mini-bosses. Some of the enemies can also be pretty annoying, especially the ones that are likely to push you into a bottomless pit; you'll know what I mean in no time at all. Next, there are, not one, but two kinds of currency: first, there's red olives. You can collect up to 99 of them. You'll definitely need them if you're trying to buy something from a God or Goddess. If you fail to pay the price, however, you might lose a piece of your inventory! Also, if the hero is slain, the total number of olives at that time will be divided by two, and you will lose that quotient of olives! And, there's salamander skin, which can be found only in the snake pits of the cavern area, Argolis. You can hold a maximum of 20 skins; and, you're going to need them all to get something good from the witch of Crete Island. Once you've traded the skins with the witch, you won't be able to tan any more snakes' hides. I won’t go in too much detail since I don’t want to give out too many spoilers for those who would like to try out this game for the first time. To sum it up though, arguably Battle Of Olympus in my opinion is one of the greatest NES games made and certainly one of the least talked about or played titles out there. There was also a GameBoy version made but sadly it was never released in the USA. Following the same concept that The Guardian Legend took as it spawned from Legend of Zelda, this game follows the concept of the sequel, Zelda II: The Adventures of Link. Zelda fan or not, this truly is a great game. As far as NES standards go, this game gets very high points from me and may as well from you.

edit by racketboy: approved and worth 2 ENTRIES!

Last edited by retrogamer on Wed Nov 29, 2006 10:07 am, edited 1 time in total.
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by Zalphier Tue Nov 28, 2006 10:15 am

Sega Saturn
Usa(unknown if other formats exist)

"a platform fan's dream come true" - GameFan 92%
"may single-handedly revolutionize the platform game market" - Intelligent Gamer A- Rating

This game was a bit overrated, but even still, it was underplayed. We'll see why.

Story: The game stars Nikki, an acrobat, and fargus(and his demented head on a stick names sid), a jester. When Nikki "borrows" a mage's tome, all hell breaks loose. And in order to get rid of all the monsters and oddities, you must get a wish. Yes, the story is lacking a bit, and is a weak part of the game. 5/10

Graphics and World: This is where the game truly shines. Other than the character models(which I'll admit are horrible) The rest of the graphics are pretty darn good. The world is full, not too open, not too closed. Everything that needs to be visible is visible. While the textures could use a little work, they are still acceptable. 7/10

Game Play: While game play is simple, it serves it's purpose.
The game can be played with either Fargus or Nikki. Each character has
one thing that makes them unique other than graphics. That's right, only one. Sad but true.
Nikki has a double jump, and Fargus has a cartwheel attack. The game is played in a side-scrolling, yet 3D way.(even though is has many twists and curves. The enemies are simple. Too simple and fact. They follow very, very simple patterns. Move left and right, or up and down. Or just stay there. 6/10

Over all, 6/10. Fun, but a bit too simple for my tastes. If you like easier games, this is definatly your game. But even if you like things a bit more complex, you still might want to give it a try.

edit by racketboy: Approved!
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by arion Tue Nov 28, 2006 11:09 am

Hybrid Heaven (N64)

One of the few Rpg´s ever made for tne n64. And as an rpg its pretty unique since its about turn based hand to hand combat. Wich im pretty sure sounds a little strange..but its actually quite fun. For example during battle you might need to decide wich hand or leg to hit the enemy with and the wich move to use..the damage will then depend on the current level of the hand or leg you attack with and how good you are at using the move..the enemy then has a chance to either block or evade. Yes your hands and legs level up in this one both in offence and defence.

Anyway the short aliens are trying to take over the earth..nothing wrong with some alien conspiracy.

Graphically i must say konami did a decent job the framerate is descent and most times the graphics are pretty sharp..and it also supports the expanison pak.

Overall i´d say its a good rpg although the main reason i like it is the combat system..and the fact its an rpg on the n64.

edit by racketboy: Approved!
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by arion Tue Nov 28, 2006 11:19 am

Vice project Doom (nes)

Now here is a mostly forgotten game but a damn good one though.

edit by racketboy: Approved! worth two entries :)
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Illbleed for Dreamcast

by kevinski Tue Nov 28, 2006 4:51 pm

Perhaps one of the most underrated games of all time, Illbleed for Dreamcast made an attempt at completely reinventing the survival horror genre. Unfortunately, everyone who expected something along the lines of another installment in the Resident Evil series was sorely disappointed. The game's flaws were severely exaggerated, whereas its strengths were written off as insignificant.

You need only do one of two things in order to get the most out of Illbleed. First, if you happen to have a friend who happens to be a huge fan of Illbleed (Good luck with that!), you could ask for that particular friend to give you a demonstration on how the game is played. Secondly, in the event that you don't happen to have such a friend (This is the more likely scenario, sadly.), swallow your pride and search for a well-written walkthrough for the game.

If you've played the game without resorting to either of the options above and ended up being terribly disappointed, I'm honestly not at all surprised. Why? Because the game's mechanics aren't explained all that well, thus causing a game that is really only mildly difficult to become ridiculously challenging to the inexperienced player.

No, reading the instruction manual won't help. Furthermore, you'll probably never find the in-game tutorial area on your own, and you probably wouldn't get much from it in the way of useful information, anyway. Now, with that out of the way, let me explain to you why Illbleed is such a great game.

Illbleed's greatest strength lies in its simplicity...or lack thereof. Seriously, this game is pretty complicated, due in no small part to the fact that you have numerous life bars of sorts to keep track of, as well as a ridiculously steep learning curve. You can't possibly progress in this game without patience. Running down a hallway, for instance, will likely do nothing more than get you killed very quickly.

You see, Illbleed's gameplay revolves around Shock Events. Shock Events can lurk in practically any on-screen element, whether it be a chair, a picture...even a toilet. Shock Events are traps that cause some sort of damage to your character, although it isn't necessarily damage in the sense that you know it. Here's where those numerous life bars come in...

First off, you've got your standard life bar. Nothing special there. Secondly, you've got your adrenaline level. I'll talk about this more in a moment, but its primary importance is that it's what keeps you conscious. If your adrenaline level falls too low, your character will probably faint. Then you've got your bleeding level and, lastly, your pulse rate. I mention those last two together because they're very closely linked to one another, just as they are with your standard life bar. It's kinda complicated, though, so just allow me to explain.

If you get hit, you bleed. As your bleeding level increases, your life bar will begin to deplete. If you get scared by something, your pulse rate increases, thus increasing the blood flow in your body, causing your bleeding level to increase and your life bar to deplete more quickly. Intimidated yet? You should be.

This is what makes Illbleed more than your typical survival horror game, in my opinion. You need to make choices. What's that? You just beat the level's end boss and still have to reach the goal, which lies several hundred yards away? Well, that shouldn't be a problem, unless you're severely injured, with your health chipping away slowly as a result of your bleeding level. Oh, and your pulse rate is racing. It's possible that you might have some healing items (which range from bandages to nitroglycerine), but not guaranteed. No healing items? Well, you'd better think quickly. Should you walk to the goal, in hopes that you won't bleed to death on the way, or should you run, getting you there faster at the risk of your pulse rate increasing (Yes, running does that in-game.) and causing you to bleed even faster? Who knows? It really depends on the situation. It's very intense, though.

It's actually made even more intense by the fact that your character behaves according to your health level. If you're bleeding badly and low on health, you can bet that your character will be incapable of any sudden movement, instead dragging himself or herself (Yes, you get other playable characters as you rescue your friends.) along with a slow, staggering walk of sorts.

Let me get back to adrenaline for a moment, though. You have one weapon against Shock Events, and that weapon is a little something called a Horror Monitor. The Horror Monitor allows you to mark anything that you suspect holds a Shock Event, but at the cost of some adrenaline. As such, you can't just mark everything. You need to conserve your adrenaline in order to avoid the aforementioned fainting, and you do this by paying close attention to your senses. You really only need to worry about four of them, since tasting your surroundings just wouldn't be right, and touching them isn't possible without triggering them. Thus, you're left with three regular senses (hearing, sight and smell) and one extra sense (sixth sense).

A possible scenario would involve you walking into a bathroom, only to have your sense of smell spike in the on-screen display. Well, darn...what should you do? I'd recommend activating your Horror Monitor and marking the toilet as a threat, personally. See how it works? Easy, huh?

Well, that's where one of the game's flaws comes in. It's pretty difficult to find the Horror Monitor in each level, as your only real hint as to its location is that it's located in a square at the beginning of each level. This "square" could be anything in the environment at the beginning of each stage, so long as it has the basic shape of a square in some form. Yeah, not exactly intuitive.

Let's just assume that you've located the Horror Monitor, though. Everything is just fine and dandy. You progress through the level, marking items by expending adrenaline, then gaining some of it back by correctly marking and disarming Shock Events. Again, Shock Events can involve many different threats, some of which simply scare you (raising your pulse). Others will physically attack you (lowering your life bar and increasing your bleeding). Some even involve real-time battles with enemies, anything from a crash test dummy with a gigantic wrench to an inside-out monstrosity.

Yes, there are some battles, albeit not many of them, depending on the level and your knack for avoiding them (which you'll definitely want to do much of the time). There are boss battles, too. Some of the monstrosities that you'll face require precise timing and daring attacks in order to defeat them. You even have a nifty, albeit unrealistic in that you'll avoid anything attacking you, dodge move at your disposal. Using it will increase your pulse rate, however, so you'd better use it wisely and sparingly. Yes, everything has a consequence in Illbleed.

Anyway, the presentation during these boss battles is quite interesting, as it makes you feel as though you're in a horror movie (thanks to the shaky camera and tense music). And that's really the point, since this movie has your character, a girl named Eriko Christy, going through numerous theaters based on movies from legendary horror writer Michael Reynolds (fictional, of couse).

Illbleed is Michael Reynolds' multi-billion-dollar creation, built to attract challengers who willingly risk their lives at a chance to win millions of dollars. Nobody has ever made it out alive, including Eriko's friends, who have been gone missing after having gone into Illbleed.

This game isn't all about terror, though. Actually, it's quite the opposite. You see, Illbleed was marketed as being the scariest game ever created, so everyone was quite surprised when it turned out to be based more on b-movie horror than anything truly frightening. And if you believe that you have any idea as to what you should expect from this game, let me tell you that you're dead wrong. You'll witness a host of bizarre characters, and you'll play through some of the craziest scenarios available in the gaming world. And the level endings...seriously, just play through level two to see what I'm talking about.

Anyway, aside from the aforementioned unnecessarily steep learning curve, there are some minor issues with Illbleed that seem to be contribute far too much to the game's low scores in online reviews. First off, the default camera view is pretty much useless. In fact, only one of the four available camera views can be considered to be fully functional, in my opinion. That particular view, however, is actually perfect for the type of gameplay that you'll be experiencing in Illbleed. Secondly, the jumping is kinda clunky. You really only need to do precision jumping during a single segment of the game, however, so this isn't a serious issue. Lastly, using the analog stick takes some getting used to.

I suppose that it's enough of an issue to warrant its own paragraph, so here it goes. The analog stick doesn't change your walk/run speed dynamically based on how far you're pushing it in a particular direction. Instead, moving the analog stick in a particular direction slowly will always result in a walk, and moving the analog stick in a particular direction quickly will always (err...usually - it's kinda spotty) result in a run. This makes perfect sense within the context of the game, however. Running long distances in this game will only get you killed. As such, you'll be walking a lot, and this particular set-up allows you to have the full circumference of the analog stick to adjust the subtle directional changes that you'll have to make on a regular basis.

Graphically, the game has a lot to offer. The level of texture detail is very impressive, although the character models (and their animations) are a bit lacking. The important part is that the graphics get the job done, and every single significant item looks like what it's supposed to be. Oh, and the blood spray that accompanies each hit (whether it's you or an enemy that's being hit) is just awesome. Exaggerated, but awesome. Very impressive-looking, in my opinion.

Some people tend to complain that some of the areas throughout the game look too similar to one another, but I feel that this is done deliberately in order to confuse the player. If you take a look at the amazing texture detail throughout each level, I'm sure that you'll agree that the re-use of textures in some spots didn't come as a result of resource limitations.

I suppose that the only other thing left to comment on is the audio, and I must say that it's amazing. Everything sounds as it should, from blood sprays to footsteps to screams. A sharp shrieking noise will accompany each Shock Event, and I'll fully agree that it's probably one of the few things that'll actually make you jump during the course of your playthrough. The game also features voice acting for each character, and I ask that you please understand that it's intentionally b-movie in nature. It just adds to the charm that Illbleed has to offer.

The music deserves some attention, as well, primarily because I've never heard MIDI's that sounded so incredible. Hearing the music on the Woodpuppets stage, then learning that it's actually in MIDI format just floored me. Seriously, it's incredible.

To make a ridiculously long review of sorts just a bit longer, I feel that Illbleed deserves a real chance to impress gamers. If you take the game for what it is and learn to appreciate its charm and odd sense of humor, you'll grow to love it. It's easily my favorite Dreamcast game, and that's really saying something, since I own well over 100 legitimately purchased Dreamcast games.

EDIT: Corrected an apostrophe's position within the review.

edit by racketboy: Approved! Worth 3 entries because it's so stinkin' long :)
Last edited by kevinski on Thu Mar 01, 2007 10:31 am, edited 2 times in total.
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by racketboy Tue Nov 28, 2006 6:04 pm

good work, everybody!
I've added a line of approval and added extra entry points to a few of them :)
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Extra Points? Nice!

by kevinski Tue Nov 28, 2006 9:09 pm

Hahahaha...thanks for the extra points. I'm very passionate about Illbleed, so I couldn't help but gush about it a bit. :P
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by All Hail The New Flesh Tue Nov 28, 2006 9:26 pm


One of my all time favorite games of all time is River City Ransom. It was one of the most underrated games because first of all, Double Dragon over shadowed the game, which is strange because they where both developed by Technos. Anyway, the reason why I like River City Ransom is because of the game play was so different. It was one of the only games that it’s a beat em’ up with a twist, the twist was that it had RPG elements like leveling up on your stats, you can purchase new moves. Also instead of having your "run in the mill" beat em’ up style of game play that you don’t just run from point A to point B kind of levels that every beat em’ up game have. River City Ransom has the non-linear free roaming game play. It’s a game that you can do whatever you want, example if you want to go to the alley and fight one of the bosses, you can do that or you can walk around beat more bad guys and leveling up and then go to the boss battle. Though you kind of have to fight the boss to progress the story. Also instead of picking up food to recover your health, you have to pick up money and buy food to recover your health and also boost up your stamina.

Passwords were an integral part of the game's replay value, allowing players to continue playing a character with boosted stats, skills, possessions, money, and defeated bosses. The length of the case-sensitive password, 33 alphanumeric characters long, made it nearly impossible to guess valid passwords. Later versions of the game discarded the password in favor of a save system.

The Story of the game In the Western version, the plot follows high school students Alex and Ryan as they cross River City in an attempt to rescue River City High and Ryan's girlfriend Cyndi from the clutches of a villain called "Slick" and allow her to shop afterwards. Along the way, they must do battle with gangs of students (with names such as "The Generic Dudes" or "The Frat Guys") and several minibosses. Enemies will warrant a yell signifying their defeat including the trademark phrase "BARF!”

River City Ransom was not highly successful when initially released. However, due to its unique game play and sense of humor, it is today considered a cult classic alongside games such as Crystalis. Some have produced video parodies of the series.

In 2002, an aspiring game designer, tester for Atari, and longtime fan of the game obtained the title's trademark and began work on a sequel aptly titled River City Ransom 2. The project was halted when it was announced at E3 2003 that River City Ransom EX, a remake of the game by Atlus on the Game Boy Advance, was to be released the following year. Atlus' rendition of the classic boasted new graphics and a number of new items, techniques, gangs, and other features, but also sacrificed some fan-favorite features from the original version, such as its two-player mode.

That is why I like River City Ransom, the game is easily in my top 10 favorite NES games of all time.

edit by racketboy: Approved!
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Re: Extra Points? Nice!

by racketboy Wed Nov 29, 2006 11:25 am

kevinski wrote:Hahahaha...thanks for the extra points. I'm very passionate about Illbleed, so I couldn't help but gush about it a bit. :P

No problem -- nice to finally see you on the forum too :)
I know you've been a commenter on the blog for a while
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