Video Game: Dragon Warrior (NES)

The original Dragon Warrior or Dragon Quest was the first legit role-playing game that I ever played as a child. I played this before I touched any of the Final Fantasy games and just after I had conquered the original Zelda, which was more of an action RPG.

My childhood best friend and I spent a lot of time on this but we weren’t in a rush. We loved the experience of playing through this and not having the Internet around to walk us through the tough bits. We spent months on this after school but eventually we got to the end and beat the big bad. We actually saved the game in a way that we could both have a shot at fighting the final boss.

Dragon Warrior was such a great experience that I got RPG fever and had to play through its sequels, as well as the Final Fantasy games that came out for the original Nintendo and the Game Boy.

Whenever I play any RPG, I can’t stop myself from comparing it to my experience playing this game. The only other game in the genre that made me feel like this was Final Fantasy VII for the original PlayStation, almost ten years later.

Dragon Warrior was an imaginative game that gave me the Dungeons & Dragons experience that I missed out on because my uber religious mother wouldn’t let me play the “Devil’s Game” with my cousins in the ’80s.

Having just played through this masterpiece again, I was transported back to the late ’80s and felt the excitement and emotion that this gave me back then. Truth be told, I have to fire this up every few years, just to bask in its awesomeness and perfection.

Rating: 10/10
Pairs well with: The other Dragon Warrior a.k.a. Dragon Quest games for the original NES, as well as the NES Final Fantasy games.

Video Game Review: Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse (NES)

Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse was really f’n cool when it first came out because of one reason, you could play as Alucard, the son of Dracula.

Well, you could play as a few characters but Alucard was just badass and you could turn into a bat and fly through certain areas. But each character had their own special purpose.

Most importantly though, this returned to the game style of the original Castlevania, which most people wanted after the more complex, tougher and RPG-like Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest. I am of the minority that loves that second game though, even if it’s a favorite classic NES title that people love to shit on. Those people are just simple minded and can’t solve more complex problems and puzzles though.

Anyway, Castlevania III is back to basics with some added flourish in the form of the characters Alucard, Sypha Belnades and Grant Danasty. Your main character is Trevor C. Belmont, as opposed to Simon Belmont, as this game is actually a prequel set a few hundred years earlier.

And while it does return to the formula of the first game, it branches out and is more creative, as it allows you to make choices that effect the game. You can choose different paths and the game has different endings based off of what you do along the way.

This allowed the game to have long lasting replayability. As different people beat it in different ways, kids talking on the playground came to realize that they needed to try different things in order to see the various finales. And this is back in the era when beating a game was a massive undertaking, especially since it typically had to be done in a single sitting. Castlevania III monopolized many summer vacation afternoons.

This is just a solid chapter in a solid series what was fun to play and exciting because of the options within the game. It really was a step forward in gameplay and storytelling evolution.

Rating: 8.5/10
Pairs well with: The other NES Castlevania games: the original Castlevania and Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest, also PlayStation’s epic sequel Castlevania: Symphony of the Night.

Video Game Review: Zelda II: The Adventure of Link (NES)

The Legend of Zelda is, in my opinion, the greatest video game ever made. So when Zelda II came out, I was f’n ecstatic.

When I fired it up, however, it was similar but then all of a sudden, it wasn’t.

You wandered an overworld but the mechanics were different and more like that of a standard RPG. However, when you got hit by a creature, instead of going into a standard RPG battle mode, you entered a side scrolling action world. Part of me was confused and part of me was excited as hell!

In retrospect, Zelda II isn’t the masterpiece that Zelda I is. But it is a phenomenal game that might not have been what anyone was expecting from a Zelda sequel but in a lot of ways, was a better playing experience than just giving fans a rehash of what they already experienced.

Not everyone shares my sentiment. A lot of people hated this game because it wan’t what they wanted. Also, this game was tremendously f’n hard, the deeper you went. I couldn’t beat it way back in the day but once I got into my mid-’20s, I really chipped away at it and finally beat the thing. As a kid, I could get to the final boss but it always ended in me getting my ass kicked… hard.

Anyway, this game has a vast world, secret areas and really cool mechanics. It was extremely well thought out and meticulously designed.

love the boss battles in this game. Each is pretty unique and a lot of fun. While the bosses of the first game are more iconic and would be the ones that would go on to be in future sequels, this game was still highly creative in doesn’t come with a dull boss or really, a dull moment.

Zelda II: The Adventure of Link is, by far, one of the best video games of its era. It has aged really well, for those of us who still like their games 8-bit. I fire this thing up almost yearly.

Rating: 9.5/10
Pairs well with: The Legend of ZeldaDragon Warrior, Final Fantasy.

25 Best Racing Games In History

Racing games have been around since almost the beginning. They have come in several forms over every generation of gaming. Here I am ranking the best ever. In some cases, I am just listing a series as a whole, as some of these have spanned generations and been consistently good over that time.

1. Gran Turismo series
2. Forza Motorsport series
3. Need for Speed series
4. Forza Horizon series
5. F-Zero series
6. F1 series
7. Tourist Trophy
8. Super Mario Kart series
9. Road Rash series
10. WipEout series
11. Out Run
12. Rad Racer
13. Hang On
14. Midnight Club series
15. Pole Position
16. Dirt series
17. Crazy Taxi
18. Blur series
19. Virtua Racing
20. Ridge Racer series
21. Burnout series
22. Project Gotham series
23. Final Lap
24. RC Pro Am
25. MotorStorm series

Video Game Review: Castlevania (NES)

Every kid in the ‘8os played Castlevania. Well, if they didn’t, they missed out on one of the greatest experiences of their generation. Sure, it wasn’t as massive as Super Mario Bros. or The Legend of Zelda but it is just as much a classic and has had a similar level of staying power, as sequels are still made and it even has an anime show on Netflix that is currently running.

The game sort of takes the Universal Monsters and throws them into a 2D side scrolling adventure of badass proportions. The big boss is Dracula but you also face Frankenstein’s monster, a hunchback, a mummy, several gillmen, as well as other classic monsters that weren’t in the Universal Monsters canon like the Grim Reaper and Medusa. There are also zombies, giant wolves, giant bats and dismembered Medusa heads that fly at you. There are deadly traps, pits and water that is instant death. The game throws a lot at you and pulls no punches.

Seriously, this really pulls no punches. The game is hard as hell. And maybe the difficulty level is it’s only real negative. It isn’t an unbeatable game, as I have conquered it. But man, it is an incredible challenge that takes hours upon hours of mastery before one can actually beat it. But that was what the best old school NES games were about: mastery.

Another slight negative is the mechanics. Sometimes the jumping is wonky and it’s easy to get overzealous and screw up. Also, the stairs can be a total pain in the ass but eventually you’ll get it.

Castlevania is one of the best games of its era. It had to be to create a franchise as strong as it did. It is a true product of the ’80s and a real blast for old school horror fans.

Rating: 9.5/10
Pairs well with: The other NES Castlevania games: Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest and Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse, also PlayStation’s epic sequel Castlevania: Symphony of the Night.

Top 25 Console Video Games of All-Time

*Written in 2011.

For the record, I am only selecting one title per series, otherwise there’d be a lot of dominance from a few franchises. And chances are, I forgot something while in my drunken stupor.

1. The Legend of Zelda (NES)
2. Final Fantasy VII (PS1)
3. Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater (PS2)
4. Red Dead Redemption (PS3)
5. Uncharted 3 (PS3)
6. Mario 64 (N64)
7. Metroid (NES)
8. Fallout 3 (PS3)
9. Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic (XBOX)
10. Twisted Metal 2 (PS1)
11. Castlevania: Symphony of the Night (PS1)
12. Goldeneye (N64)
13. Bioshock 2 (PS3)
14. Rygar (NES)
15. Spider-Man Vs. The Kingpin (GEN)
16. Killing Time (3DO)
17. Kingdom Hearts II (PS2)
18. Batman: Arkham City (PS3)
19. Silent Hill 2: Shattered Dreams (XBOX)
20. Double Dragon (NES)
21. Megaman 10 (PSN)
22. Just Cause 2 (PS3)
23. Dragon Warrior (NES)
24. Gun (XBOX)
25. Wolfenstein (PS3)

Video Game Review: The Legend of Zelda (NES)

There have been a lot of games in the Zelda franchise. Most of them have been pretty great. This however, is a review of the very first game in the series, which is still my favorite and is actually, still to this day, one of the greatest, if not the greatest video game of all-time.

It is a bird’s-eye-view game and 8-bit, as it came out on the original Nintendo way back in 1987 (1986 in Japan). It features Link and his quest to rescue Princess Zelda from the evil Ganon. To do so, he must acquire all the pieces of the mystical Triforce. Each piece is hidden away in a different dungeon and requires the player to have to beat a boss before collecting it.

Back in the summer of 1987 I was eight years-old. That didn’t stop my friend Kenny and I from dedicating our entire summer to conquering this epic game. At the time, this was the most epic interactive experience either of us had ever encountered. In fact, when we would get stumped, one of us would have to beg our parents to allow us to call the Nintendo Hotline at 99 cents per minute because strategy guides and the Internet did not exist at that time. After about three months, we stormed into the evil warlord Ganon’s throne room and cut him down – rescuing the princess and reuniting both Triforces (after having to reconstruct one of them throughout the game).

I have never had as much fun playing a video game as I did the first time I played through this masterpiece. Final Fantasy VII is a very close second though.

Maybe my interpretation of this game relies heavily on the deep feeling of nostalgia that I experience whenever I think about The Legend of Zelda. However, the fact of the matter is, no other game has had the ability to generate a sense of nostalgia as strongly as this one does. I still pick this game up and play through it once a year. It brings me back to that place and it still feels like a great adventure. The only difference now is that I can beat the game in two hours, as opposed to three months.

This game really showed the potential that the video game medium had. At the time, everything was quick and pretty much beatable within a half hour. This introduced gamers to what the future of gaming would bring. It was the first game that I know of that had the ability to save your progress. That alone, to my eight year-old mind, was pretty profound.

Rating: 10/10
Pairs well with: Zelda II: The Adventure of LinkDragon Warrior, Final Fantasy.