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In Memory
Sean Pettibone

Classic Games

Classic Flashback: REZ (Sega for Playstation 2)
Segaís Rez is an innovative music shooter that takes the gamer into the heart of cyberspace. While this may not sound that interesting, incredible cyber visuals look simply astonishing and work in conjunction with the driving music to creating an intense feel that makes you feel like youíre inside a living mainframe. Rez is amazing in that it takes through a series of deconstructionist techno environments that evoke the feel of older games. The brilliant use of seemingly primitive wire-frames and vectors give it a distinct retro look though the graphics donít feel dated in the slightest and makes good use of the PS2's abilities. While it may not appeal all gamers, Rez is another innovative, genre bending title from Sega thatís simply amazing.   

Classic Flashback: Jet Grind Radio (Dreamcast)
Mixing alt.anime graphics, hip-hop influenced character designs and one of the coolest J-pop soundtracks to ever appear, Jet Grind Radio was a brilliant, artistic game that came out of nowhere to ensnare gamers everywhere with its dazzling mix of style and action. Unfortunately, despite being one of the most uniquely stylish games ever to come out, Sega's Jet Grind Radio arrived near the end of the Dreamcast's lifespan and never infiltrated the mass-market the way it should have. However, a well-received follow-up on the Xbox and a decent GBA port have kept the series' cult following alive. Join us as we take another look at this under-rated, yet brilliant title and explain why it's still worth seeking out

Lasercade: Virtua Fighter 3TB (Dreamcast)
Sega's Virtua Fighter 3tb (Team Battle) on the Dreamcast is frequently overlooked in favor of Namco's now-legendary Soul Calibur. VF 3tb remains an excellent fighting game with a deep and
challenging combat system that will challenge the best players to master it. At first, the experience may seem a bit dry, but as you learn the nuances and subtleties included in the game you really get a sense of enjoyment and satisfaction from playing and mastering it. While the less-than-cutting-edge presentation and a lack of extra modes is disappointing on the Dreamcast, VF3tb's core game more than makes up for this. The realistic controls and extensive array of offensive and defensive moves supersede its sub-par graphics to create an addictive and thoroughly enjoyable title that has held up well over the years.  

Fighters Megamix (Sega for Saturn)
What do you get when you combine the cast of Virtua Fighter with the warriors from Fighting Vipers? Sega AM2ís Saturn Classic 3D fighting title, Fighter's Megamix. In case you havenít heard of this under-rated fighter, it mixed brawlers from both Virtua Fighter and Fighting Vipers. So, how does the game stack up to itís own saturation marketing campaign? Glad you asked. To begin with, FMM features more than 22 characters from the aforementioned games plus 10 hidden fighters. This made for a huge cast. Along with the then state-of-the-art Saturn engine, it was definitely impressive for it's time from a technical standpoint. How did the fighters interact with each other, you may ask, knowing that VF and FV have radically different styles of play? And how does the game hold up today from a historical standpoint? Read on and find out.

Castlevania: Symphony of the Night (Konami for Playstation)
Konami's classic Castlevania franchise reached one of its high water marks in this outstanding Playstation installment, Symphony of the Night. It took the traditional 2D platform and added a whole new layer of RPG elements to make for a game that is surprising in its length and depth. Aesthetically, SOTNís lush soundtrack and graphics are nearly unmatched creating a mood and drama that is nearly flawless. Taking a new non-linear almost RPG like approach and marrying it with time-tested play-mechanics produces what it by far, one of Playstationís best games. While copies of the game are difficult to come by these days, Symphony remains one of the most important titles ever released.

Castlevania Chronicles (Konami for Playstation)
Based on an obscure Japanese MSX release, Castlevania Chronicles is definitely one of the more interesting and enjoyable titles for the Playstation and Castlevania collector. While it's extremely rare to find one of these at a good price these in the wild or online days, the game is definitely worth seeking out. It definitely has that classic Castlevania feel about it, so join us as we open our archives and take a look at this under-rated Belmont adventure. It's definitely one of the most under-rated games in the series and should be a prime candidate for inclusion on one of the current consoles' download services. 

Metal Slug Anthology (SNK Playmore for Nintendo Wii)
SNK has delivered a launch gift to Wii owners with Metal Slug Anthology, a complete collection of the legendary Neo Geo series. The compilation includes all seven commercially released arcade games in perfect emulated form along with extra features and art galleries. The games play exactly as you'd expect them to, though the Wii controllers make an interesting twist on the formula. It takes some getting used to these changes, but standard option, like using a Gamecube controller, means classic gamers won't be left out. These gimmicks aside, the Metal Slug titles remain as addictive and enjoyable as ever, with flawless translations and brilliant play.

Battlezone  (Atari for PSP)
Loosely based on the classic arcade game, Battlezone puts players in command of futuristic hover tanks as they do battle in simulation with other tanks in a variety of terrain. The gameplay is fairly straightforward and offers several modes of play including capture the flag, lone wolf and hot zone included. Battlezone also offers numerous multiplayer modes with wi-fi play plus numerous upgrades and power-ups to unlock. The simple gameplay is entertaining, but the gameplay feels shallow since it only offers several variations on the deathmatch theme with little variation. It gets tedious after awhile, but Battlezone is a fun and entertaining combat title that delivers a solid dose of action.

> Recent Classic Game Reviews

Rainbow Islands Revolution (DS)
Bubble Bubble Revolution (DS)
Space Invaders Revolution (DS)
Ultimate Ghosts 'N Goblins (PSP)
Dig Dug Digging Strike
(Nintendo DS)
Retro Atari Classics (DS)
Gradius Collection (PSP)
Street Fighter Alpha Anthology (PS2)
Activision Hits Remixed (PSP)
Capcom Classic Collection Reloaded (PSP)
Taito Legends (PS2)
Capcom Classics Collection Vol. 1 (PS2)
Pinball Hall of Fame (PSP)
Outrun 2006: Coast 2 Coast (PSP)
Lemmings (PSP)
Metal Slug 4 & 5 (Xbox)
Samurai Shodown V (Xbox)
Capcom Classic Collection Remixed (PSP)
Atari Flashback 2 (Console)

Tecmo Classic Arcade (Xbox)

> Feature Review

Confessions of the Game Doctor by Bill Kunkel

Anyone who grew up during the golden age of video games back in the 1980's is likely to have fond memories of "Electronic Games" magazine, the seminal publications which set the standards for gaming journalism that few have reached. Now, one of the original troika behind the magazine, Bill Kunkel has published his long-awaited memoirs with "Confessions of the Game Doctor", an entertaining look back on his distinguished career covering the rise of electronic gaming. The book is filled with lively stories about some of the most influential people and characters, spanning the industry almost since its inception 25 years ago. The writing is crisp, funny and enjoyable, making this one of the best insider views of the industry to date. This is a must-read for anyone who wants to know the inside story of how the legendary magazines came to be. 

 More Classic Reviews & Features

Capcom Classics Collection Volume 2 (Playstation 2)
Featuring an impressive roster of arcade classics such as 1941, Captain Commando, Super Street Fighter II Turbo and Strider, Capcom Classics Collection Volume 2 is an impressive compilation that fills in the blanks left in the first installment. With classic shooters, fighters and action titles and a few pleasing obscurities, there's something almost any classic gamer will enjoy. The games themselves are flawlessly emulated, with standard and enhanced presentation plus support for progressive scan monitors. Add in a healthy number of extra features such as artwork and music and you have a solid package that will appeal to classic gamers.

Atari Anthology (Playstation 2)
While many classic gaming compilations only include a handful of titles, Atari Anthology for the PS2 takes a different route, offering a more than 80 classic home and arcade games to choose from. The majority of these games are timeless classics that have withstood t he test of time. From simple yet addictive 2600 titles like Doge 'Em and Yars' Revenge to the more sophisticated arcade hits like Red Baron and Battlezone, there's something for every taste. The selection is broad and deep, and the games shine thanks to the excellent emulation that recreates the original games almost flawlessly. This outstanding pack is a great value that should please classic game fans.

Atari 80 Arcade Classics (PC)
There have been many compilations of classic games released on the PC over the years, but none comes close to the breadth and depth in Atari's 80 Classic Games in One package. With more than 20 arcade hits and 60 classic 2600 titles included, there's plenty for the classic game fan to enjoy. While many titles such as Asteroids and Battlezone have appeared numerous times in other collections, the real joy here is playing 'official' emulated versions of obscure titles such as Red Baron and Liberator, which haven't been commercially released. Join us as we examine why this collection is a great deal for the classic gaming fan.

Midway Arcade Treasures Vol. 1 (PS2)
Midway's first compilation for the PS2 includes more than 20 classic titles ranging from the early to late 1980's. The game's form a wide swath from the all-time classics such as Robotron: 2084 to more obscure releases such as Bubbles and Blaster. Arcade Treasures also includes interviews with the developers and archive materials to browse. At a bargain price, there's a lot of gameplay value here for fans of the classic era, with very most games having a timeless quality that makes for nearly infinite replay value. Join us as we explain why it's worth a look for classic arcade fans.

Midway Arcade Treasures Vol. 2 (PS2)
Classic compilations usually focus on the golden age of gaming from the early 80's, and this collection is no exception with classic titles such as Wizard of Wor, Spy Hunter II and Gauntlet II making appearances. However, Midway Arcade Treasures 2 also includes a collection of newer arcade classics including Mortal Kombat 2 & 3, Rampage World Tour,  and Pit-Fighter. There are also a number of obscure titles such as APB,  Wacko and Kosmic Krooz'r that are pleasant surprises. An interesting mix of games is included along with a selection of archival materials. While the emulation is a bit spotty in a few titles, AT2's quality is decent overall. The low price means you get plenty of action for your money, making this excellent package an excellent purchase for classic gamers everywhere.

Midway Arcade Treasures Vol. 3 (PS2)
This is a solid emulation pack that steers the classic compilation in a new direction. This installment features 8 classic arcade racing games ranging from earlier classics such as STUN Runner and Race Drivin' to newer releases like Hydro Thunder and San Francisco Rush: The Rock. Each game has been emulated faithfully, and they look and play as they should, for the most part. There are a few minor glitches and frame rate issues, but nothing significant. Most of the games in this package hold up well, with some of the earlier games retaining a nostalgic charm. Join us as we accelerate into the past with these classic games on a race down memory lane.

Midway Arcade Treasures: Extended Play (PSP)
When it comes to creating a compilation of classic games for the PSP, Midway has done a decent job converting some of their legendary titles to the portable console. Featuring more than 20 classics ranging from Defender to Mortal Kombat 3, the game offers a broad cross-section of classic titles, may of which are online-enabled for multiplayer action. The presentation is somewhat erratic, with most converted perfectly while others suffer from bad aliasing and poor sounds. The games themselves are still highly enjoyable for the most part with generally decent emulation, making this a solid purchase for gamers who want to play their favorites on the go.

Sega Smash Pack (Dreamcast)
With a dozen Sega classics in tow, this exclusive limited edition CD is the perfect antidote for Dreamcast owners looking to relive the company's glorious 16-bit era. The only real problem with Sega Smash Pack is that players currently have to buy an entire Dreamcast system in order to play the disc, which makes it quite an expensive oldies package. In the following review, we explore the dozen games included and examine whether the disc alone is worth the expense.

Namco Museum (PS2)
Namcoís Museum installment has arrived on the PS2 and  features a larger number of games than previous installments. As usual, Namco has included a couple of surprises in the pack that should keep classic gamers happy: three of the remixed Ďarrangementí versions of these oldies make their first appearance on console along with a bevy of timeless classics. Join us as we take a nostalgic trip back to gamingís golden age when things were much simpler.

Sega Ages (Saturn)
Towards the end of the Saturnís lifespan, Working Designs did Sega fans a huge favor by releasing an outstanding compilation pack, Sega Ages. With 3 landmark AM2 titles (After Burner II, Space Harrier and Out Run) on one disc in close-to-perfect arcade form, this is a must-own package for gamers and collectors alike. WDís trademark deluxe packaging seals the deal and the hours of addictive and timeless gameplay makes Sega Ages the Saturnís best domestically produced compilation.

Defender (Playstation 2)
Defender is one of the all-time classic coin-op games, with a legend that remains strong even 20 years after its release. This long-awaited PS2 update mixes the classic gameplay of the original, and takes it into full 3D with all-new elements such as mission-based play and gives the player more elaborate weapons. Defender also gives players enhanced abilities and weapons, but there are smarter enemies that make it even more intense. Despite all these changes, Defender remains as addictive, fun and frenetic as the original. We happily blast away and explain why this classic update is a must-buy.

Spy Hunter (Playstation 2)
The legendary 1980ís arcade hit  has returned on the PS2 thanks to Midway. This version of Spy Hunter comes complete with a huge graphics and gameplay facelift that sets it firmly in the contemporary gaming arena. While the title takes its inspiration and many of its basic mechanics from the original, there are so many upgrades and changes to the formula that it almost feels like a new game. However, the essence of the original is still very much evident in this version. There are a few minor problems, the biggest being the overly dark graphics, but are these flaws enough to spoil the experience? We take a look at this neo-classic title and find out.

Dragon's Lair 3D (Xbox)
Dragonís Lair has returned in fully rendered 3D with a new installment for the Xbox that features numerous enhancements. Instead of making players wait for pre-rendered sequences, the game now takes place in real-time, allowing for greater freedom of movement. Dragonís Lair 3D retains the original gameís feel but uses a spectacular cel-shading technique to great effect. Dirk himself can perform new moves and use cool weapons as he tries to save Princess Daphne. Join us as we find out why this reborn should appeal to more than nostalgic gamers.

More Classic Games

Note: These articles are original scanned pages from the original Laser 'zine back in the 90's. We apologize for these low resolution images. If there's demand, we can re-scan them in the future.

Space Dungeon (Atari 5200)
Smurf Rescue in Gargamel's Castle (Colecovision)
Zaxxon & Cosmic Avenger (Colecovision)
Stella Gets a New Brain (Atari 2600 Starpath Supercharger Compilation)
Wipeout XL (Playstation)
Nights Into Dreams (Saturn)
Darkstalkers (PlayStation) & NightWarriors (Saturn)
Panzer Dragoon  (Saturn)
Street Fighter Alpha 1 (Saturn)
Daytona USA (Saturn)
Fighters Megamix, Robo Pit, Alone in the Dark & Ascii Joystick (Saturn)
Die Hard Arcade & Bottom of the 9th (Saturn)
Classic Atari 2600 & 5200 game reviews
Dragon's Lair & Space Ace (DVD for PS2)

> The Laser Classic Reviews Organized By System

> Atari 2600    
> Atari 5200    
> Mattel Intellivision
> Nintendo NES
> Commodore 64  
> Atari Jaguar & Lynx    
> Sega Saturn
> Sega Genesis, 3DO & Misc.

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