- ~Hack~ Donkey Kong Country 1 & 2: Boss Blitz | Brigand Barrage (SNES)
- ~Hack~ Big’s Fishing Derby (Mega Drive)
- John Romero’s Daikatana (Game Boy Color)
- Kamen Rider (PlayStation)
- Crash Bandicoot Blast! (Game Boy Advance)
- Legend of Zelda, The: Phantom Hourglass (Nintendo DS)
- ~Hack~ Rushed Project, A (SNES)
- Dragon Ball Z: Shin Budokai - Another Road (PlayStation Portable)
- Fangs: The Saga of Wolf Blood (PC-8000/8800)
- Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories (PlayStation Portable)
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~Hack~ Donkey Kong Country 1 & 2: Boss Blitz | Brigand Barrage (SNES)
|~Hack~ Donkey Kong Country 1 & 2: Boss Blitz | Brigand Barrage||SNES||2D Platforming|
Donkey Kong Country: Boss Blitz and DKC2: Brigand Barrage are two separate games combined to make this one set. Both games are entirely boss fights from the first two Donkey Kong Countries. The set will test how good you are at them, from beating an individual boss fast enough, to beating a boss without pressing the D-pad, or even beating a boss with limited ammo. If you think these bosses are chumps, then prove it by taking on all 7 back-to-back, with only one Kong. There are also multiple colors available for each Kong, and there’s an achievement for beating a boss with an alternate color. In fact, the best games I can compare these to are the Mega Man arcade games, so if you enjoyed either of those and wanted a DKC twist, then play these two games today.
~Hack~ Big’s Fishing Derby (Mega Drive)
|~Hack~ Big’s Fishing Derby||Mega Drive||Fishing|
This is one of the most inventive hacks I’ve played. You’ve got to avoid the other fish and rescue Froggy within the time limit. It’s still a Sonic game at heart; rings will protect you from losing a life and power-ups can be caught from other fish which will make it easier for you to reel in Froggy. You travel through multiple zones which also change what other fish are available, with their behaviour changing as well. Robotnik will also get involved on certain levels to compete with you. In true Sonic fashion there’s also a Time Attack mode to challenge yourself with. It’s a heart-warming story of a true friendship.
John Romero’s Daikatana (Game Boy Color)
|John Romero’s Daikatana||Game Boy Color||Action-Adventure|
Daikatana for the Game Boy Color is a rather enjoyable game, though never released in North America due to the lack of success of the prior PC and N64 versions of the game. In contrast to the other ports of the game being first-person shooters, the GBC version is more in the style of Zelda games, such as Link’s Awakening. What it does share with the other versions of the game is the story, with you traveling through time and space, searching for the Daikatana. Many achievements for this set involve completing bosses without damage, which are pretty enjoyable to pull off. Overall, I would definitely recommend trying it out, an enjoyable game and set that you can complete over a couple of hours.
Kamen Rider (PlayStation)
|Kamen Rider||PlayStation||Fighting, 3D Fighting|
Let me tell you about Kamen Rider. Wait don’t run!
Look, I’m not really into the series either, but the PS1 fighting game of the same name has to be played. It’s a fighting game that checks the boxes - unique fighters, good animation, and easy to get started with. The game has some heft to its controls as the characters have weight to them. Each punch and kick is satisfying, and landing your special move has a flair that just feels great. There is something to be said about not understanding the story for a game, but you can kinda piece together who’s good and who’s an evil Spider-Man clone wanting to eat you. If you like fighting games even remotely, consider this PS1 hidden gem.
Crash Bandicoot Blast! (Game Boy Advance)
|Crash Bandicoot Blast!||Game Boy Advance||Arcade, Shooter|
Crash Bandicoot Blast! is a game that is available on GBA by connecting it via Link Cable to Crash Bandicoot: The Wrath of Cortex for GameCube. The game is pretty simple - you have to shoot all the classic enemies from the franchise (Cortex, N. Gin, Dingodile, Tiny, and Uka Uka) with your bazooka while avoiding your allies (Coco, Polar, and Aku Aku). Rinse and repeat until you reach Round 50 / 10,000 pts.
The game looks pretty basic, right? Well, yeah it is, but what makes it better (in my opinion) is the set of achievements! It has a basic progression, and then the cool part, the challenges! There are 5 challenges; some are easy and some are tricky, but nothing impossible. The one that makes me sweat bullets is Reliable Bandicoot, since your allies can appear out of nowhere when shooting a enemy. There are other pretty cool challenges as well, like the gem and accuracy challenges.
while this game is pretty short and doesn’t have that much to offer, the set compensates for this, making for a cool, quick, and fun (but not-so-easy!) set for this obscure game. Play it if you are fan of the Bandicoot!
Legend of Zelda, The: Phantom Hourglass (Nintendo DS)
|Legend of Zelda, The: Phantom Hourglass||Nintendo DS||Action-Adventure|
It’s been over a decade since I last played Phantom Hourglass. I recall loving it back then, and I’m glad to discover it’s still a ton of fun all these years later. The game has developed a reputation as one of the weaker Zelda games, however, so I would like to address its most common criticisms and explain why I believe it’s worth playing.
First off, the controls: in its original release, Phantom Hourglass was an entirely touch screen driven game. I never had any issues with this back in the day, but it’s worth noting that I was the kind of hardcore fanboy who believed Nintendo could do no wrong. Thankfully, you can now play the game with a patch that incorporates D-pad and button controls, and it works so much better than I expected. You still need to use the touch screen for various actions outside of your basic movement, combat, and interactions, but it was never an annoyance to me. It all feels rather natural, and I never felt at a disadvantage by using a controller and mouse as opposed to an actual touch screen. I can understand how unconventional controls can make it difficult for some people to enjoy some games (looking at you, Skyward Sword), but if this was your major sticking point with Phantom Hourglass, then I encourage you to try it with the patch.
People also often bring up the Temple of the Ocean King when criticizing this game, and I really don’t understand this one at all. I’ve seen reviews describe the dungeon as tedious, saying that you need to keep visiting it and doing the same thing over and over throughout the course of the game, but this is such a misrepresentation of what the dungeon is all about. First of all, there are only a few mandatory visits, and there’s even one point where you can continue onward rather than taking two separate trips (which is required for an achievement). They even give you a warp point halfway through! Additionally, each time you visit the temple, you have new items which allow you to take all sorts of new shortcuts. If you pay attention to your surroundings, there ends up being very little repetition of content across your visits. It’s such an ambitious dungeon that’s unlike anything else in the series, and considering it’s one of the rare times I’ve actually enjoyed stealth mechanics, that’s worthy of high praise.
A major reason why I love this game so much is its sheer AMBITION, particularly for a handheld title. Nintendo had a design philosophy with its handheld games that they should be easy to pick and up play for short sessions, and Phantom Hourglass pulls off the seemingly impossible goal of simultaneously embodying that style while also providing a massive and varied world. It feels like a game for people with short attention spans, in which they constantly throw some new surprise at the player every few minutes. I love how each island you visit feels so unique and memorable, both in terms of aesthetics and gameplay, something even Wind Waker couldn’t pull off. I love how elaborate several of the sidequests and minigames are. I love that there’s so much to collect for completionists, including spirit gems, heart containers, treasure maps, sand for your hourglass, ship parts, and treasures. I love how cinematic and downright epic the game gets at times, particularly with the final boss. I also love the puzzles that take advantage of the DS hardware in ways you won’t see anywhere else.
A couple final points that you should know if you choose to play the game. There are a few points at which the RetroArch cores’ mic support won’t allow you to proceed. These are all very early on, and you can either switch to a standalone emulator or use provided saves to proceed. Also, if your PC can handle it, I highly recommend increasing the core resolution, which makes the game look great! Phantom Hourglass is truly a one of a kind Zelda game, and if you couldn’t get into it before, I hope this has changed your mind.
~Hack~ Rushed Project, A (SNES)
|~Hack~ Rushed Project, A||SNES||2D Platforming|
- Set and write-up by: GalacticSpear
An article written by the creator of the set who also created the hack itself? What level of shameless self-advertising is this? A Rushed Project is a mini hack that, as the name says, was rushed. I made it in less than 4 days during the Summer C3 of SMW Central from 2020 to make sure I at least got something done for the event, but don’t underestimate the quality of the hack just because of that! I still tried my best to polish as much as possible the 7 exits that the hack has during this small time period. Each of them has its own gimmick and theme, like a level that allows you to jump infinitely in the air if you are close to a specific block, a level made of chocolate, a level where you float like Peach in Super Mario Bros. 2, and more. All this while challenging myself to finish creating each level in less than an hour! It was a little tiring, but I am happy with the result and it was fun in the end.
About the set itself, considering that the hack is quite short, each of the 7 levels has 3 challenge achievements that will test your SMW skills. The most common type of challenge is speedruns, and almost every level has them. The set also has several achievements for playing in different ways, like reaching the signpost while holding a Koopa shell, melting all the ice blocks in the ice level, beating a level using only spin jumps while having a Fire Flower, and more². I had a lot of fun making both the set and the hack, and I hope you have a good time with both if it caught your interest! Oh, and you play as Sonic in the hack, because yes!
Dragon Ball Z: Shin Budokai - Another Road (PlayStation Portable)
|Dragon Ball Z: Shin Budokai - Another Road||PlayStation Portable||Fighting, 3D Fighting|
Manga and anime DBZ fans rejoice! Here we have yet another DBZ game (the 134th Dragon Ball video game to be precise), released in 2007. It takes what made the Budokai series great and dials it to 100, giving you a portable game you can fit in your pocket (assuming you have a PSP handy).
The story, through its Another Road mode, gives you an interesting alternate future take which gives it permission and freedom to bring back many characters from not only DB and DBZ, but also from GT and the movies. On top of the game’s already original story, it contains no less than 7 alternate endings depending on how well you do on missions. The overworld slightly resembles Budokai 3 in which you fly around to your next objective, but it goes a step further including the management of your health from fight to fight, the health of your allied characters, and the health of surrounding towns being attacked by the enemy.
Regarding the achievement set, it feels just right. It asks you to discover and complete everything the game has to offer: beating the highest difficulty in each mode, getting Z rank in every Story mode (a tough but doable challenge), Completing Arcade mode with every character on Z difficulty, Survival, Time Attack, Challenges, and collecting every collectible.
I had a lot of fun with this one and highly recommend it for any DB fan!
Fangs: The Saga of Wolf Blood (PC-8000/8800)
|Fangs: The Saga of Wolf Blood||PC-8000/8800||RPG|
At first glance, an untranslated 5-disk Japanese RPG might seem daunting, but don’t let the barrier to entry fool you: Fangs: The Saga of Wolf Blood is a slick, simple, classic JRPG from Enix that, while it won’t be dethroning any Dragon Quest games, is an impressive outing for the PC-88.
Your first question is going to be: how do you expect me to play this? Well, luckily for you, once you get it running in Quasi88, there’s a full script dump you can find via the game’s forum post. It’s pretty easy to machine translate the whole page and run with it! There’s also a slightly improved translation available around the internet, but it only takes you about two-thirds of the way through the game, so you’ll want to get your multi-lingual skills working early on.
I recommend keeping a scratchpad text document open so you can copy-paste Japanese characters from the document and have a cheat sheet of quick translations. I read zero Japanese, but I was still able to pick up on the shapes of a lot of the words pretty quickly, to the point where I could identify swords from armor and tell which equipment were part of the same sets.
At its core, Fangs is a pretty straightforward and highly linear RPG. Embark on your adventure, gain levels, fight a boss, find a party member, move forward. The last quarter of the game sees enemy and boss complexity jump up, though, with one area offering multiple dungeons to be progressed through in order, while bosses require specific use of quest items after a certain point. The final boss, in particular, borders on being a puzzle boss - but one that’s truly satisfying once you figure out what the game needs you to do to defeat them.
The set itself does a great job of holding your hand from objective to objective, and I recommend reading ahead if you get stuck. The Bare Bounty bonus challenges can’t be started until you have a full party, and you’ll find some of these enemy formations to be so rare that you’ll get a rush of endorphins when you finally do stumble onto them. They’re a great way to squeeze some extra, optional juice out of a game that pretty much requires you to move forward in a straight line, and don’t worry: you can go all the way back to the start of the game at any point, until you get into the final boss fight.
With crisp pixel art graphics and classy retro music, Fangs may not be the greatest RPG of all time, or even a particularly shiny hidden gem. But if you, like me, simply adore the PC-88 vibe and want to spend a few more hours in that world, it’s a very enjoyable piece of obscure JRPG history.
Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories (PlayStation Portable)
|Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories||PlayStation Portable||Action-Adventure, Sandbox|
There are so many reasons why I want people to play GTA: LCS. It was the first (of only two) games that I wrote a GameFAQS guide for. It’s the reason why I got a job at EB Games. For the longest time, it was many people’s reason for owning a PSP in the first place (until it became even better known for being a JRPG gold mine).
All of that is perfectly valid. I want people to play it because it has one of the best achievement sets I have seen in a very long time.
It’s a set that touches on everything that the game has to offer. It gives plenty of points for progression, while also all of the side content, even the long drawn out ones like the Taxi missions, or finding all the Hidden Packages. It also challenges the player to play GTA in an ever so slightly different way.
I’m sure I’m not the only one who plays a mission and immediately saves so that if I should die at some point, all my money, weapons, and sense of self is just a re-load away. The original incarnation of the set had long stretches of gameplay where you could not die, lose a mission, or get arrested. Forcing you to know the layout, planning a way of accomplishing as much as possible to get not only the “Beat X Mission” points, but also “Beat everything all in one go” ones.
Some members of the community thought that those stretches were too long. While I personally disagree, the set developer took the time, took the constructive criticism to heart, and adjusted those particular achievements to be more forgiving. That kind of sense of community I think should be rewarded in some way, but I will settle for writing several paragraphs imploring you all to give it a shot, and to take the chance to thank one lordpsycho. Thank you for taking one of my favourite games and improving it with achievements.