Michel Ancel (the creator of Rayman) and his team produced a video gaming classic in 2003 with Ubisoft‘s Beyond Good & Evil.
It is a pseudo sci-fi fantasy, third-person action/adventure where you control a young woman called Jade, with a pig sidekick called Pey’j, and who is battling against the sinister “DomZ”.
Gameplay is a mixture of running around, pushing buttons, taking photos, blasting stuff, hitting things, having boss battles, driving a cool hovercraft, and all manner of other interesting mechanics. If there’s one thing Beyond Good & Evil is it’s “varied”.
Graphically the game still manages to hold its own on modern systems and is a pleasing mixture of wild colours and ethereal special effects. The game is reasonably child-friendly too, although I wouldn’t say that it is a game necessarily for kids. I really enjoyed it and I’m an old b*stard…
Always worth picking up in a sale, if you haven’t yet played it.
Developed by Sega and released for the Megadrive/Genesis in 1990, Castle of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse is a masterpiece platform game that has stood the test of time extremely well.
The game itself is pretty simple: running, jumping, climbing, and swimming, with Mickey on a quest to save Minnie Mouse from the evil witch Mizrabel.
Mickey’s main weapon is his bounce, which he can perform while jumping and which helps him defeat enemies. He can also pick up items, such as apples and marbles, to use as projectiles to throw at enemies.
To defeat Mizrabel, Mickey must find the “Seven Gems of the Rainbow”, each of which can found behind a door, in a different realm, protected by one of Mizrabel’s henchmen. There are six different – graphically distinct – stages (The Enchanted Forest, Toyland, The Storm, Dessert Factory, The Library, and The Castle), with a boss battle at the end of each.
Castle of Illusion still looks and plays great to this day. If I had any complaint it would be that the Megadrive doesn’t have transparent pixels (like the SNES does), which means that the designers had to make do with using ‘stippling’ in the water sections (which is ugly and makes the game look dated). Otherwise: it’s marvellous (still).
Goof Troop is an attempt at a Disney-based Zelda-style game, by famed Japanese developer Capcom. It’s based on a ’90s television series of the same name and was first released in 1993.
The emphasis in Goof Troop is more on solving puzzles than gaining experience or collecting money, and (of course) you play the famous Disney character Goofy, who is the lead character in the TV series. A second player can play simultaneously as Max – Goofy’s sidekick. Max moves more quickly than Goofy, but Goofy can deal more damage to enemies.
Graphically, Goof Troop is wonderful. The characters are all beautifully-drawn and animated, and the backdrops are also clean and colourful. Nothing gets in the way of the gameplay, which consists mostly of finding your way through a maze of screens by locating keys; opening doors; disposing of enemies; and defeating the boss at the end of each level. There are five levels in total: Spoonerville Island beach, a village, a haunted castle, an underground cavern, and a pirate ship (where you must finally defeat the Disney arch villain, Pete).
One interesting thing about Goof Troop is that it was designed by Shinji Mikami – the director of Resident Evil (and its sequels) – and it was one of the first games that he worked on.
Goof Troop is still a great game to play now – particularly two-player. It’s an oft-forgotten SNES and Capcom classic!
Back in the early 1990s Ocean Software had a reputation for producing mostly movie-licensed action games, and The Addams Family on the Super Nintendo is arguably the pinnacle of that niche.
Because of the strict approval process for Super Nintendo games (basically having to demonstrate to Nintendo, well in advance, that the game was free of bugs or unplayable sequences), The Addams Family was obviouslyhighly polished by Ocean before release. Which makes it an enjoyable game to play overall.
Based on the 1991 film of the same name, in The Addams Family you play Gomez, and you must explore the platform-based mansion – and surrounding areas – in order to rescue your family members. Each one has been kidnapped and is being held by a boss that you have to find and beat, and they can be tackled in any order.
The Addams Family owes a huge debt of gratitude to Nintendo‘s Mario games. To kill enemies you either bounce on their heads, or use any of the available weapons (which of course must be found and picked-up first), which is pure Mario. It has to be said, though, that The Addams Family is nowhere near as good as any Mario game I’ve ever played. It’s far too simple to be even in the same league.
That said: The Addams Family is still a decent game and is especially good for kids to play. Like many SNES games: it’s aged quite well.
Released in Japan in 2004 and everywhere else in 2005, The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap was developed by Capcom and Flagship, with Nintendo overseeing the project. The result is: a fantastically fun handheld adventure game, with beautiful 2D graphics and captivating gameplay.
In The Minish Cap, Link makes friends with a talking, magical cap that guides him into a world of monsters and miniaturisation. A miniature race of people, no less, called The Minish. And – as Link explores and makes progress in the game – his powers increase, as does his arsenal of weapons and tools. Just like in every other Zelda game. And – just like every other Zelda game – The Minish Cap is packed with new ideas and game mechanics that make it a joy to play. The ‘Gust Jar’ is one such example: stand on a floating lilypad and shoot it in the opposite direction to which you want to travel.
I’ve always had a soft spot for the look of The Minish Cap. It has the visual appeal of something like A Link To The Past, but with a unique Capcom twist to it. The Minish Cap is a procession of beautifully-drawn (and incredibly colourful) pixel art, from start to finish, and really shows what the GBA is capable of.
Gameplay-wise: there’s little to fault. There are enough dungeons, puzzles, boss fights, and side quests to keep you going for days. Weeks even – depending on how much you like to take your time.
As Zelda games go, I would put The Minish Cap up there with the best of the 2D adventures. It’s a must-play if you like cute and colourful exploration games.