- Dragon View (SNES)
- ~Hack~ Sonic 3D Blast: Director’s Cut (Mega Drive)
- ~Hack~ V I T A L I T Y (SNES)
- Cruis’n Exotica (Nintendo 64)
- Animal Crossing: Wild World (Nintendo DS)
- Battle Heat (PC-FX)
- Game Boy Advance Video Series (Game Boy Advance)
- Crash Nitro Kart (Game Boy Advance)
- Super Mario 64 (Nintendo 64)
- Aladdin (Game Gear)
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Dragon View (SNES)
|Dragon View (SNES)||SNES||Action RPG|
Dragon View is a cool mix of RPG adventuring and Beat ‘Em Up goodness. You’ll explore the land through a mind-boggling 3D overworld to seek out caves and dungeons, where you’ll switch to a side view to search for treasure and fight dangerous monsters in action combat. The aesthetics may come across as generic and far from the SNES’s best, but I think it’s worth looking past that, as the way Dragon View presents its genres is a unique experience in itself.
~Hack~ Sonic 3D Blast: Director’s Cut (Mega Drive)
|~Hack~ Sonic 3D Blast: Director’s Cut||Mega Drive||Platforming|
Sonic 3D Blast: Director’s Cut makes some pretty major changes to the original, with the most important addition being a Password feature, so you can save your game and come back to it later. Other major additions are an Overworld Map, a Time Attack Mode, and Super Sonic (Yes, Super Sonic was not in the original 3D Blast).
The structure of the game is the same (Rescuing Flickies from Badniks), however if you lose a Flicky, the game will let you know by having the Flicky in the HUD jump up and down, and if the missing Flicky is off-screen, the game will show you what direction you should go to find it. You still have to find the 7 Chaos Emeralds, however another major change is that you can only collect 1 Emerald per zone. To make up for that, Tails and Knuckles will also show up in the last 2 Zones (Gene Gadget and Panic Puppet) when they didn’t originally. Once you collect all 7, you can become Super Sonic as long as you have 50 rings, then jump and press the spindash button.
Now the set contains clearing each zone, collecting each zone’s Chaos Emerald, collecting every Sonic Medal in the first 5 Zones, and clearing every level’s Time Attack Challenge. In Time Attack, you don’t have to worry about freeing any Flickies, you just have to make it to the goal in a certain amount of time, which will be either going from Point A to Point B like a mainline Sonic Game, or beating Robotnik within a time limit. There’s also a Level Editor, but from my experience, it doesn’t take too long to make the screen a glitchy-looking mess, so I largely avoided it. The set will ask you to create a Crab Badnik (which for some reason was never in the vanilla game… strange). Once you earn 5 Million points, you will unlock the final new mode, Score Run. Score Run is a mode where you play the entire game in one sitting to go for the High Score, but the achievement set just wants you to collect all 7 Chaos Emeralds.
I’ve actually enjoyed 3D Blast quite a lot while playing it for RetroAchievements, and this Director’s Cut really just emphasizes that. Rom Hacks and Mods for Mario and Sonic games are nothing new, but how often do you get one from someone who actually worked on the original? Like, Jon Burton (the aforementioned Director of this game) didn’t have to go back to work on this game once it released, but he went out of his way to add some major quality of life improvements to this game to make it a better experience, and that’s something I admire. If you even like 3D Blast, please, play the Director’s Cut.
~Hack~ V I T A L I T Y (SNES)
|~Hack~ V I T A L I T Y||SNES||Metroidvania|
V I T A L I T Y is a Super Metroid romhack that is famous for being one of the best Super Metroid romhacks, and having particularly nice graphics and atmosphere. It does some things graphically that will leave you wondering how they could have been done in Super Metroid. The actual gameplay is mostly standard Super Metroid fare but a bit stingier; like the original game, advanced techniques can be fun but aren’t required at all, making it fairly accessible to just about anyone who might want to play it. The difficulty level is also fairly accessible; I’m not the best judge of this kind of thing, as I’ve played a lot of Metroid, but it felt like it was about the same difficulty as the original game, if not a touch harder. The story seems rather interesting, though it apparently is a rip-off of an Alien movie, which might be why it says “Presented by 24th Century Fox” on the title screen.
As far as the set itself goes, it has the standard progression achievements of course, but it also has plenty of interesting little challenges, from getting to certain bosses speedily to beating bosses with limited equipment to getting equipment before other equipment. There’s only really one I would call a sequence break though, and even that one isn’t that hard, just requiring some wall jumps and possibly killing some rippers. Along with that, there’s the standard “beat the game 100%” and “beat the game quickly” achievements you’d see in any Metroid set, though without a combined one. I found most of the challenges to be enjoyable to go through, and most of the weirder ones are early in the game so starting over to get them isn’t a huge deal. The only damageless achievement, for example, is a “play the game damagelessly until you get an early item” one. My favorite overall is a challenge one for a late-game boss that is rather difficult, but certainly not unattainably so, and it feels like a good climactic finish to the set.
Cruis’n Exotica (Nintendo 64)
|Cruis’n Exotica||Nintendo 64||Racing|
As an Arcade Racer, the game is plenty of fun on its own to complete - A decent amount of tracks and cars to play and unlock with all the wackiness and fun Cruis’n is known for. An achievement set isn’t just about the game, however - the set for this game really enhances the experience. Plenty of fun and creative challenge achievements that you don’t see very often with racing games. There were plenty of times where I questioned if some of the achievements were even possible, followed by me figuring it out and becoming a better player as a result. One thing I failed to mention is that the game itself is pretty easy once you know what you’re doing - I probably wouldn’t have ever needed to use a lot of the strategies I learned or the cars I unlocked if the set was just “beat every race on Hard difficulty”. The set really helps add that level of hard but fair challenge into the game and make it a very satisfying game to master.
Animal Crossing: Wild World (Nintendo DS)
|Animal Crossing: Wild World||Nintendo DS||Life Simulation|
Where to start with this gem? This game literally removes stress as if it were vacuuming it away. No trace left of it whatsoever. From its slow pace, to its calming music (I’m looking at you, 8pm music), to its fruit harvesting, 500+ item collecting, bug hunting, fishing and fossil digging, to its quirky inhabitants and slow progression as you chip away little by little, day by day at repaying your mortgage, filling up your museum, earning neighbor’s pictures and trying to complete your catalog.
For a big game, a worthy huge RA set courtesy of SporyTike, finally giving players the incentive to work towards 100% in this game which will require doing certain tasks on specific days, weeks and months of the year. A true challenge that is not to be rushed but to be enjoyed as you embark on the journey for the next year (or two).
Battle Heat (PC-FX)
Battle Heat is an FMV Fighting Game, and when I say that I don’t mean something like Mortal Kombat or Tattoo Assassins, I mean FMV in the way of Dragon’s Lair or Space Ace. In Single Player mode you pick one of four characters and have to go up against some evil empire. It’s still 1v1 like most fighting games, you’ve got you Punch and Kick button and specials, but as it is an FMV game, it’s focused less on movement and more on attacking and countering your opponent’s attacks. It takes a bit to get used to, but once you get it’s pretty fun and has some pretty decent FMV.
Game Boy Advance Video Series (Game Boy Advance)
|Game Boy Advance Video Series||Game Boy Advance||Videos / Quiz|
Have you ever wanted to go back to your childhood days where you could watch cartoons and the only worry you had was getting your math homework done over the weekend? That’s a rhetorical question; why else would you be on this site? Now with GBA Video you can watch old cartoon classics and get internet points for them! How do you do this you ask? Simple, you load up your legally dumped ROM and you can watch old cartoon classics at the ultra high quality of 240 x 160 at a single-digit frame rate. Once you reach the end, you answer a very simple question just to prove you paid attention and if you answer it right you get your internet points!!!
All kidding aside, this is a pretty unique way of doing things and probably took a lot of effort from SporyTike to get it working right, so he deserves some recognition for that. It was a nice bit of nostalgia to watch some of these old cartoons. Now hopefully he, or someone else, gets the rest of the set coded, because I want my internet points for watching Shrek.
Crash Nitro Kart (Game Boy Advance)
|Crash Nitro Kart||Game Boy Advance||Kart Racing|
A lot of Game Boy Advance ports of games are seen as inferior to their home console counterparts by the majority of the community, but Crash Nitro Kart on Game Boy Advance is a rare case where the opposite is arguably true. The original game released on the PlayStation 2 in November 2003, and while it was received fairly well by critics, many people see it as inferior to its PS1 predecessor Crash Team Racing primarily due to its slower pace and a general lack of polish.
Alongside the game was a version released on Game Boy Advance. At its core, Crash Nitro Kart for GBA is a fairly standard 3D racing game similar to games like Mario Kart: Super Circuit in how it looks and feels, and many parts of it are quite competent but nothing special overall. As expected, many compromises were made to areas such as track design and cutscenes, but the game’s overall premise remained intact, with both the heroes and villains of the Crash Bandicoot series racing for the amusement of an alien species across several unique worlds. Features like time trial relics and CNK token races made their way over to the handheld gracefully, though are significantly easier than their console counterparts due to the simpler track designs.
What made the game stand out to me are the fantastic controls. The Game Boy Advance version carried over the popular drifting mechanics of Nitro Kart, where rhythmically holding and releasing the A button right before the drift meter fills up allows you to boost up to three times in a row, even off-road. Mastering these drifts feels great, especially when used to cut corners, and it made the entire game a joy to blast through from start to finish. The set itself is fairly simple, having players 100% complete the story mode and get decent times in each track’s time trial. I was able to complete most challenges on the first try, though some were a little trickier.
Super Mario 64 (Nintendo 64)
|Super Mario 64||Nintendo 64||3D Platforming, Collect-a-thon|
It’s hard to say anything about Super Mario 64 that hasn’t already been said. It’s Mario’s inaugural jump into 3D gaming and having made a name for himself before 1996, it only further cemented his legacy for the years to come. But I don’t think I need to convince you to play Super Mario 64 on its own merits, I want to convince you to play the achievement set for it.
This set has what could be expected from a game like Super Mario 64 with achievements being handed out for collecting all the stars in any given level. It goes further than that, though, asking you to collect a lot more than just stars. You’ll be tasked with trying to find all the 1-Ups and coins in the game too. In all my playthroughs of the game, I never stopped to see if I was capable of going beyond 100 coins in the levels and this set pushed me to go that extra mile. Yes, you’ll likely have frustrating moments like in Lethal Lava Land where you miss out on one coin at the last second, but it is quite satisfying if you’re collectathon-minded like I am to see it through to the end.
Beyond that, there’s also achievements that set different conditions for getting stars, such as getting the star from the Tall, Tall Mountain slide without going through the slide. These achievements do a good job showing you just how acrobatic and versatile Mario can be without having to resort to any high level glitch strats. All in all, this set was one of the most rewarding I’ve played on RA and it truly felt like I had gotten to know Super Mario 64 in a new light after playing it the same way for so many years.
Aladdin (Game Gear)
I highly recommend that anyone who enjoyed Disney’s 1992 film “Aladdin” play through the Sega Game Gear version of the video game, developed by SIMS and released in 1994. In my opinion, this is the definitive version of “Disney’s Aladdin”. It covers all aspects of the plot of the movie without adding strange and unnecessary filler (e.g. going inside the genie’s lamp). Like all versions of the game, this one is separated into a series of stages (effectively 9), but what makes the Sega Game Gear version stand out is the varied gameplay and the abundant number of cinematic real-time cutscenes that occur between stages that help to flesh out the story.
The game is fairly short, and even a first playthrough will take most players less than an hour to complete. In spite of this unfortunate truth, SIMS managed to include a number of different gameplay styles, and each one of the stages feels different from the rest. Stages 1-1, 1-2, and 6 are chase sequences where you’re running through a series of obstacles toward a predetermined goal while the screen automatically scrolls forward at a fixed pace. I don’t typically like platformers; however, these stages provided a fresh spin on an overused genre, and they are without a doubt my favorite parts of the game. Stages 2-1, 2-2, and Stage 4 are more traditional platforming levels, where you’re required to navigate through unfamiliar terrain in order to find the way out. I was impressed by the wide variety of options given to Aladdin despite the small number of buttons on the Game Gear: he is able to jump, crouch, sneak, walk, run, slide, grab ledges, and even throw rocks. Stage 4 also incorporates stealth mechanics, and the goal is to reach the throne room without alerting any of the palace guards. Stages 3 and 5 are similar to the chase sequences I mentioned earlier, except they involve flying through the air on the magic carpet instead of running and jumping. The final stage (7) is the most unique, and it is the only one that incorporates actual fighting. You’re even given a scimitar to take down Aladdin’s final (and only) foe. Personally, I love playing games that don’t revolve around combat, but I can imagine that some people might perceive this to be a flaw.
Moving on to the technical aspects of the game, the graphics are both detailed and colorful, and best of all, they look great despite the low resolution (160 × 144) and small screen size (3.2 inch) of the Sega Game Gear; I never once found myself asking, “What is that supposed to be?”. Even the music, which is generally something of a weak point for most games released on Sega consoles, sounded fairly good and, most importantly, fit the various stages quite well. Many tracks that were featured in the film were adapted for this game using Sega’s unique sound chip, and “A Whole New World” in particular is practically indistinguishable from the film version; it sounds phenomenal.
Now, I finally get to talk about the achievement set, which was designed by former developers Prism and salvadorc17; although, it looks like a number of other developers have made contributions to the achievement code since it was originally released near the end of 2018. The achievements aim to make a relatively simple game much more challenging. There is almost no penalty for dying in the game, so it’s nice that there was an achievement for completing the game without doing so. And while the damageless achievements felt somewhat excessive, there were still other challenges, such as a couple of achievements for going through areas of the game quickly and a few more for finding specific items in the platforming stages, that were a nice change of pace. But what really sets this apart from most achievement sets is the aesthetics. Quite frankly, this game has some of the best badges that I’ve seen on RetroAchievements, period. The border makes use of a really interesting design concept which was used during the game’s opening animation, and each badge has artwork tailored to that specific achievement. Many of the achievement names were also rather creative, utilizing a few phrases from the film as well as information taken directly from the game’s manual, like the names of several of the stages.