This Month In Retro
Hello all and welcome to This Month in Retro! Today, I am taking you back to August 2000, otherwise known as the Acquisition War Month. I’m not even kidding here; Electronic Arts wins the worldwide interactive rights to Harry Potter books and films, Pacific Century CyberWorks Japan K.K. announced the acquisition of the entire Jaleco company, and Ubisoft acquired Red Storm Entertainment, known for the Tom Clancy games. There were also some smaller acquisitions, like an edutainment one that I won’t talk about, and RTZ Interactive taking over Superscape Ltd. RTZ Interactive hadn’t really done much at that point, but Superscape was actually responsible for the LEGO Creator games as well as publishing a mobile J2ME adaptation of The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion! Yeah, I kid you not, that exists. Gameday Software LLC was formed to release two shareware titles which is uh, job well done I suppose.
Pretty busy month on that front for sure, but that’s not what you came here for is it? You came here to see what games released during August 2000; which ones are considered the best, the worst, and maybe score some hidden gems while you’re at it. I’ll also be going over the RetroAchievements implementation while I’m at it, talking about opinions from the community as well as covering the more unique challenges and the difficulty. Fortunately for me, the 2000s and beyond are a bit better documented than the years before, so the critic reviews and sales are usually pretty accurate. Sales numbers for lesser-known games are still tough to find though, so they are marked with question marks instead. So without further ado, let’s delve in!
This month had several bigger hits on the western side! We’ll be going over the most succesful ones in a bit, although the winner is probably obvious since… well, the plumber himself released another game this month. It’s not that easy to overcome the man, the legend, the… tennis star?
|Mario Tennis (Nintendo 64)|
|Release dates||JP: July 21, 2000
NA: August 28, 2000
PAL: November 3, 2000
|Average score||87% (GameRankings), 91% (Metacritic)|
The second game in the Mario Tennis series, but commonly seen as the first since Nintendo wants us to ignore the Virtual Boy ever existed, Mario and friends duke it out with enemies in a competition of tennis. If karting or golf doesn’t work, tennis is your next best friend after all! But as it always goes with sports and Mario, the games become beloved by many people due to their more simple- and accessible approach that make the games more easy to understand for people not familiar with the rules of the original sport. The same applies here, making all shots compatible with just two buttons, but how those buttons are used results in different effects. Like always, Mario took the world by storm and critics absolutely loved the game–GameSpot even going as far as having it as runner-up for the “Best Nintendo 64 Game” award. The fans are generally in agreement here, making it a strong “start” to a new sub-franchise that is still going on to this day. But… we all know that everything regarding the gameplay is irrelevant. The true only reason this game did so well is because it introduced WALUIGI LET’S GOOOOOOOO!!!! The game could have even scored a 10 and “Best Game of all Time” because Camelot asked Miyamoto to give Wario and Waluigi girlfriends for doubles since their good counterparts had them in Peach and Daisy, but he rejected the idea. What a shame.
Now, while I am slightly familiar with the Mario Tennis games… I’m probably going to butcher describing this achievement set since I have no idea what rings are. Please don’t hate me. I asked around in the Discord and user Delmaru told me the rings achievements are for side modes where you have to hit the ball through rings multiple times, and upon doing so successfully, the difficulty is cleared. Aside from that, we also have achievements for the cups and playing as various characters. It sounds like a solid set, but multiple people in the comments have complained about bugged achievements so this is something to keep in mind.
But aha, I have baited you! I said that nothing could compete against the big plumber himself, but that’s not entirely true! Although that is going to vary depending on who you ask.
|Chrono Cross (PlayStation)|
|Release dates||JP: November 18, 1999
NA: August 15, 2000
|Average score||94% (Metacritic)|
After the critically acclaimed Chrono Trigger, we would see another game set in the same world. Chrono Cross lays the focus on parallel worlds rather than time traveling, with two worlds to be traveled between where an event in one world leaves an impact on the other. The party members also come from both worlds, with there being a total of 45 different playable characters! Though the battle system is different from its predecessor by incorporating an element and stamina system, the game still remains a turn-based role-playing game with overworld encounters rather than random ones. That is also why I said that opinions are varying depending on who you ask, because Chrono Cross is NOT a sequel to Chrono Trigger. Many people at the time did not get that memo and were disappointed that this was not the sequel they were hoping for. But seen as an independent game, Chrono Cross has garnered critical acclaim with impressively high scores. GameSpot even gave it a perfect 10, and that is an impressive feat. But yeah, just open GameFAQs and click the reviews tab and you’ll see scores on both extreme ends of the scale. People either praise it as one of the best RPGs ever, or a confusing experience that left them to hate the game. Still, this game is absolutely worth giving a shot if you’re a fan of RPGs, no questions asked. Square Enix has even released a remaster earlier this year, but we are playing on RetroAchievements so… on to the set!
Most of the achievements of this set are regarding story and endings, battle techniques, and characters joining the party, so a simple playthrough should already take care of most of the set. That said, there are several missable achievements to take care of, and it’s unlikely everything can be done in one playthrough. If you’re planning to go for the mastery, be sure to prepare in advance! But like Chrono Trigger, this game also has a New Game+ mode, so focus on enjoying the game first and doing the clean-up later!
And… we are still not done with the amazing games from this month! It really is a packed month huh. So far both Nintendo- and PlayStation already had a contender for Game of the Month, but Sega also wanted a slice of the cake!
|Power Stone 2 (Dreamcast)|
|Release dates||JP: April 27, 2000
NA: August 23, 2000
PAL: August 24, 2000
|Average score||87% (GameRankings), 87% (Metacritic)|
The sequel to the innovative 3D fighting game was originally an arcade game before being ported to the Dreamcast, like many other games on the system. Although the sequel builds upon the first game, many people consider both games to be vastly different experiences from each other, particularly due to the introduction of multiplayer with up to four people. This resulted in player-to-player combat being a bit lower in focus, with the second game almost feeling like a party game where the focus is more on finding items in the dynamic stages. But the changes are by no means negative as Power Stone 2 still brought a lot to the table, like the Adventure mode that follows an unpredictable storyline. And for the people who would still rather have player-to-player combat, that option is covered too in the 1-on-1 mode. Both critics and fans are in agreement when it comes to the high praises, leaving Power Stone 2 as another beloved game from the era. The games ended up being ported to the PSP as well in a singular collection, but that was unfortunately also the final time we would see anything from the series. But hey, Capcom loves porting their fighting games nowadays so who knows?
Be sure to read the forum topic before starting the set however, as the RetroArch cores are not stable enough for this set. While this core is being tinkered with, your only option until then is RALibRetro. As for the set itself, if you’re looking for juicy points, this game will be for you. The set currently gives out a total of 2248 points, with some Adventure mode playthroughs beings 100 points each! Both Arcade- and Adventure mode is where most of your time will be spent, as well as the item creation the game offers. Some achievements may- or may not be inspired my members of the community too, can you guess who?
All of the above three games are candidates for games of the month, meaning that we’ll be looking at a few lesser-scored games or hidden gems from this month now! There were a lot of games released this month and I unfortunately can’t cover them all, but I’ll be going through them a bit more quickly to cover as many as I can. So let’s start with a quick Game Boy Color block!
|Dragon Dance (Game Boy Color)|
|Release dates||JP: December 18, 1998
NA: August ??, 2000
PAL: September 30, 2000
|Average score||70% (GameRankings)|
Yay, more Break-out! Is Nepiki’s bias showing through again? Why yes, yes it is! The only game from this block to have a set, Dragon Dance is a brick breaking game where the paddle is replaced by a majestic Chinese dragon that grows smaller whenever the ball surpasses him. It’s an interesting idea that doesn’t really do much wrong, but also doesn’t necessarily stand out. Still, are you tough enough to master the set? The game currently only has 1 master, so take this chance and become one of few! It is not going to be easy though, as you have to go through multiple levels without a game over, as well as beating the bosses with as little strength as possible. It’s an extensive set for sure!
|Lil’ Monster (Game Boy Color)|
|Release dates||JP: July 30, 1999
NA: August 31, 2000
|Average score||45% (GameRankings)|
Who’s a cute monster? Yes, you are! But apparently not a beloved cute monster, what a shame. Yeah, this game didn’t do too well with fans and critics, leaving it as a game nobody really knows about. That said, it does have a cult following so maybe it’s more just an overlooked game than anything. You raise a cute little monster and give it some moves, then duke it out with other monsters. I have a weak heart so despite the reception not being too great, I am interested in it. There’s no set for it yet unfortunately though, so I’ll probably wait until that fateful day comes!
|Space Marauder (Game Boy Color)|
|Release dates||JP: July 23, 1999
NA: August 28, 2000
|Average score||62% (GameRankings)|
Now this is a game you might have never heard of, but maybe the Japanese name will ring a bell? Otherwise known as Burai Fighter Color, Space Marauder is the Game Boy Color version of Burai Fighter, released almost 10 years after the original! While the horizontal shoot ‘em up gameplay is the exact same, a few levels are different with a randomized layout, making this not a direct port. Most importantly of all though, it is a very, very smooth game. In this franchise, only Burai Fighter Deluxe has a set, so consider checking that out if this concept sounds interesting!
Man, there were so many Game Boy Color games this month, it’s crazy. I wasn’t even able to talk about the technical marvel that is the Perfect Dark port to this handheld, but let’s head over to other systems before my Western time is over for today. But there isn’t much interesting to talk about anymore, so what do I pick next… oh, I know!
|Release dates||JP: July 29, 1999
NA: August 9, 2000
|Sales||520,000 (JP only, NA numbers unknown)|
|Average score||81% (GameRankings), 82% (Metacritic)|
Hamha, it is I, Nepiki, to share a daily reminder that yes, Seaman does exist and yes, it can hurt you. Everyone has heard of Seaman at least once in their life right? That weird game where you talk to fish with human head through a microphone? Yeah, that one. It’s an infamous game due to not just the fish having human head, but the conversations you can have with this fish while you’re feeding it. It starts as an egg, transforms into a fish and finally becomes a frog it you take good care of this… thing. There’s so much information about this game that I could be going on for a long while really, but one of them was that Shigeru Miyamoto, the man himself, was interested in the concept and wanted it on the Nintendo 64DD. That never happened of course, but the fact that more than one person thought this was a fantastic idea is amazing in and of itself. Due to how the game is set up though, seeing this game ever released with a RetroAchievements set is… highly unlikely. Until the microphone somehow works, we won’t be having Seaman on the site for a long while.
Alright, let’s close it off with a quick round and then move on to the land where Seaman was developed. Crazy people that they are.
|Taz Express (Nintendo 64)|
|Release dates||EU: August 1, 2000|
|Average score||62% (Moby Games)|
I don’t usually get to talk about PAL-exclusive games on this segment, usually because they aren’t too interesting. Although it is a massive crime that I’ve had to skip talking about an Asterix game multiple times in a row now. One day my love, one day… anyhow, I’m getting off-track. The Tasmanian Devil decides to become a delivery guy in this 3D platformer, having to carry a crate through entire levels while fending off enemies at the same time. Of course, he does so with his trademark tornado attack. The camera is always fixed, but it does alternate between 2D and top-down for example to give different perspectives every now and then. There’s not really much else I can say about the game but if this looks interesting to you, the game does not have a set yet so be sure to request it!
|Sega GT (Dreamcast)|
|Release dates||JP: February 17, 2000
NA: August 29, 2000
EU: December 1 2000
|Sales||130,000 (JP only, WW numbers unknown)|
|Average score||84% (Metacritic)|
I don’t usually talk about Racing Simulators as I’m more a fan of Arcade-like experiences, but that doesn’t mean I dislike them by any means. Designed to be a rival to Sony’s popular Gran Turismo series, Sega GT lets the player compete in 22 different tracks to win licenses and cups to buy more cars and additional mechanical parts. In fact, there are more than 130 different cars to choose from from well-known manufacturers, with the European version getting even more than that from European manufacturers such as Alfa Romeo and Fiat. It did get overall positive reviews and was able to become a short-lived franchise, but it unfortunately never managed to even come close to the success Gran Turismo had–though part of that was because of the Dreamcast itself.
This game does have an Achievement Set available, which tasks the player to collect every car and win every cup there is in the game. Also interestingly, it has a currently untouched leaderboard! This is your chance to become the champion of Sega GT. You can thank me later for this tip. Be sure to also check the forum for additional tips and know-hows made by the developer himself!
And that’s it! But to close off this segment, I would like to do something I haven’t done yet and that is to list every game I didn’t talk about today. I won’t deny that I am slightly biased towards a few genres, so I would feel it’s only right to list the games I didn’t talk about for readers who do like the games I personally don’t care about or didn’t feel noteworthy enough to be mentioned. I’m only doing this for the Western side though, because the Japanese have so many games with little information, and they also really love Pachinko. There’s like, a million Pachinko games there every month, what the hell.
The Japanese coverage this month will be very short–in fact, it will only be about Game Boy Color games too. Aside from there not being too many big hitters, a lot of the games were too text-heavy with no translation in sight, there was too little information known about them, or they were fishing games. I’m serious, there were like, three different Fishing Club games released this month and a bunch of others as well. I figured I would mention them because I know someone really liked fishing games so if you’re reading this then hi! Anyway, let’s move on to some games!
|Magical Chase (Game Boy Color)|
|Release date||JP: August 4, 2000|
First up we have the port of Magical Chase to the Game Boy Color. The game was initially developed for the TurboGrafx-16 which did end up seeing a North American release, but the Game Boy Color version was never released in the west. If you have played the TurboGrafx-16 version however, you are not really missing out on much as it is a 1-to-1 port with simplified visuals and music. That is of course not a bad thing, given that the original game was a well-received very cutesy horizontal shoot ‘em up compared to the likes of Cotton. Magical Chase ended up being a single IP that has never been revisited, and that probably won’t ever be revisited either unless Square Enix decides it’s time to bring her out of retirement again. The TurboGrafx-16 version does have a solid set available on RetroAchievements, but the Game Boy Color version does not. There is a translation available however! I wouldn’t say you really need it, but the choice is yours.
Let’s stay on the Game Boy Color for a bit longer as most of the interesting games this month were found here. Next up, we have two RPGs!
|Soul Getter: Houkago Bouken RPG (Game Boy Color)|
|Release date||JP: August 4, 2000|
There was actually one very simple reason I’ve decided to talk about this game: the battles play out exactly like they do in Breath of Fire, specifically the first game in that series. That isometric view they use during battle is a 1-on-1 conversion and you can’t tell me otherwise. It also has a really sweet OST that I wouldn’t mind listening to on repeat. But this game is unfortunately very, very unknown. The amount of information that I was able to gather is minimal, although it looks like you can combine up to three souls to perform magic attacks in battle. Yet somehow, it is a game with an English translation, albeit unfinished. While I don’t know too much about it otherwise, it’s a game I would like to see a complete translation of eventually, so my aim today is to bring attention to it for a potential future audience!
|Dungeon Savior (Game Boy Color)|
|Release date||JP: August 4, 2000|
Kind of funny how all three games I’ve talked about today have all released on the exact same date. Anyway, if you want an even more obscure game than the last one, Dungeon Savior has you covered as this game has almost zero coverage on the internet whatsoever. Yet it surprisingly had a game page before I started writing this, so that’s an interesting plot twist. Anyhow, Dungeon Savior is a competitive dungeon RPG maker, where you build dungeons and fill them with traps- and monsters, and then attack other people their dungeons to capture theirs. It does have an impressive count of monsters and items to be found- and placed within these dungeons though! But yeah, that’s all you’re getting from me, I can’t find out anything else. The relatively generic name probably didn’t help as I found a lot of other games yet not this one. I’m at least sure there is no translation, and also none in the work, so I’m yet again bringing this to your attention but don’t expect it on RetroAchievements anytime soon.
Now do you understand my suffering of having so little to talk about this month? I really tried, I swear. Oh well, let’s move on to a game that I can actually write more than two sentences about!
|Dance Dance Revolution GB (Game Boy Color)|
|Release date||JP: August 3, 2000|
Ah finally, something I can talk about without even needing to go into the deep webz. After all, who doesn’t know DDR? Dance Dance Revolution GB is a port of Dance Dance Revolution 2ndMIX, originally released in Arcades and later ported over to the PlayStation 1 and Dreamcast as well. Obviously, the lyrics are missing and the songs have been converted into chiptunes, but they still sound pretty sweet if you ask me. I’ve already listening to Butterfly by SMiLE.dk more than a human ever should in their lives, so having a chiptune version of it is a nice alternative. The original release also came with a plastic pad to put over the Game Boy Color that would mimic dance pad moves, but it could also just be played with a D-Pad. You could probably be a mad lad and play the game on a dance pad through the emulator, but I don’t know if that’s the smartest idea. Don’t let me stop you though! There are a total of 17 songs to play through, and link cable connectivity allows for competitive play against friends.
The game does not have a translation, but it’s not like you really need it. Hence why it was no problem for this game to get an achievement set! All songs ask you to do them on Maniac ficciulty, as well as a rank of at least A and also hitting perfect notes. You will have to get good at DDR, because the set is not holding back! There are also some Arcade playthroughs to be done, so good luck! And if you can’t get enough, there are also sets available for the two sequels and the Disney Mix version.
And… that’s unfortunately going to be it for the Japanese side this month. I really tried to find more games to talk about, but this month just didn’t have too many games that never left the land of the rising sun. But before I leave, I do want to shortly mention three games that I considered talking about, but left out for a reason I’ll mention with them.
- Perfect Choro Q - Part of the Choro Q/Penny Racers franchise, this game is not a typical racing game like the others, but more a… role-playing golf-like game? I’m serious, you take turns and fire your cars towards walls to bounce them off and make it to the finish line. The concept sounds interesting, but it did look like a text-heavy game with no translation in sight, and not much else could be found out about it either.
- Nushi Tsuri Adventure: Kite no Bouken - This game actually does have an English translation! Localized by fans as Fishing King Adventure: Kite’s Adventure, this is a role-playing game combined with fishing. Unfortunately, this seemed to be more of a passion project as there is not much other information to be found other than what the translator has provided.
- Rune Jade - The only non-Game Boy Color game I planned to talk about, Rune Jade is a Japanese MMORPG on the Dreamcast that plays like games such as Diablo. The best part about this game is that there is enough offline content, and that a fan actually went through the effort of translating most of this offline part. But yet again, that’s where most of the information ends for me.
It was very surprising to me that after the strong months we’ve had on the Japanese side in the past few issues, that I really had a lot of trouble to find interesting games to talk about. Meanwhile, the Western side had more than enough to talk about as indicated by the list at the end of the segment. How the tables have turned huh? Regardless, I hope I was able to bring some unknown Japanese games to your attention, because as a retro community, these are exactly the games we want to know about and appreciate for what they are.
As mentioned before, there were three contenders for Game of the Month on the western side. Chrono Cross would win on the score side from the critics, but it ended up very divisive when players got their hands on it. Meanwhile Mario Tennis has an overall consistent opinion and, let’s be honest, the sales are higher simply because it is Mario while the other is an RPG. The worst game could potentially be Lil’ Monster, but it’s tough to say due to how unknown in it. I didn’t actually talk about the game, but the title of worst game would probably belong to The Ring: Terror’s Realm for the Dreamcast. Not a lot of people were fond of this attempt at Survival Horror. It’s pretty much the only game I looked up where there was far more negative opinions to be found rather than positive.
We go back in time again next month to the year 1986, where we will see a smaller release for a console over in the west for the first time. What system am I talking about? Find out next time in This Month in Retro!
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