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Tonight I Will Play a Licensed Video Game of Your Choice

Sarge

hardcore retro gamin'
I can see how someone might not like Flashback as much just for the controls, but I had a blast with the game a few years back. Wish I'd played it sooner.

And yeah, total agreement that it beats both the arcade game and Genesis port. It's still a very solid game overall, and didn't deserve that kind of reception. Not that we got a chance to buy it back in the day (unless you were heavy into the import scene), but still. I will definitely check it out with the remix album, though - I bet I'd enjoy it a lot more with a good OST. (I mean, seriously, the PCE CD soundtrack is pretty wack.)
 

Lokii

It's always time for burgers
(He/Him)
Staff member
Moderator
You see "looks like a PS2 game" thrown around a lot these days too
 

FelixSH

(He/Him)
You see "looks like a PS2 game" thrown around a lot these days too

I get the sentiment, but the idea that PS2 games look bad is still very weird to me. I mean, I see what people mean (even though I disagree, but eh), but in my head, the PS2 is still a next-gen console with super-awesome graphics.
 

Mightyblue

aggro table, shmaggro table
(He/Him/His)
TBH, for me, quality PS2-era level graphics strike a nice medium point between quality and cheap? Sure, you can get more out of realistic-ish rendering nowadays, but the still sorta-cartoonish look of most PS2 3D modelling paired with smart shading/rendering options can get you pretty far as Falcom repeatedly proves.
 

Phantoon

I cuss you bad
Yeah, I love old videogame artstyles. I've got my N64 hooked up to a CRT and in its intended display it looks great. Forcing it onto an LCD gives people the wrong impression.
 

MetManMas

Me and My Bestie
(He, him)
TBH, for me, quality PS2-era level graphics strike a nice medium point between quality and cheap? Sure, you can get more out of realistic-ish rendering nowadays, but the still sorta-cartoonish look of most PS2 3D modelling paired with smart shading/rendering options can get you pretty far as Falcom repeatedly proves.
This. And while there were compromises to get games from other platforms running on it the 3DS could do some pretty awesome stuff, too.
 

Sarge

hardcore retro gamin'
I'd argue that the jump from PS1 to PS2 is where the biggest strides were made on the 3D side. I can still play some PS2/GC/XBOX games and not bat an eye - they look really nice.
 

MetManMas

Me and My Bestie
(He, him)
I'd argue that the jump from PS1 to PS2 is where the biggest strides were made on the 3D side. I can still play some PS2/GC/XBOX games and not bat an eye - they look really nice.
Don't forget about the Dreamcast! While a lot of the modeling in games on the platform was still PSone-ish in some aspects (mainly lots of jointy action figure people) it still made some pretty big leaps in quality.
 

Sarge

hardcore retro gamin'
Oh, yeah, Dreamcast too. You're absolutely right - for a while there, the Dreamcast was beating out the PS2 in some games. I remember all the kerfuffle about the PS2 version of Dead or Alive 2 and how it looked worse and all that. And stuff like Soulcalibur right out of the gate - holy cow.
 

FelixSH

(He/Him)
Dreamcast graphics were a revelation, when I first saw a game (Sonic Adventure, to be precise). It absolutely blew my mind how beautiful it looked.

Then, some time later, my cousin (who owned the Dreamcast) got Soul Calibur, and my mind was blown again. But I also thought "These graphics are perfect. There will never be anything, that looks more realistic than these backgrounds." That wasn't true, of course, but it was the last time that graphics made a real, intense impression on me. I can appreciate it, when something looks good (mainly cartoon graphics and handdrawn stuff, realism has completely lost its luster, for me). But, honestly, I can't give more than a shrug in most cases. There were a handful of exceptions, but that jump was, to me, the biggest one.
 

MetManMas

Me and My Bestie
(He, him)
Dreamcast graphics were a revelation, when I first saw a game (Sonic Adventure, to be precise). It absolutely blew my mind how beautiful it looked.

Then, some time later, my cousin (who owned the Dreamcast) got Soul Calibur, and my mind was blown again. But I also thought "These graphics are perfect. There will never be anything, that looks more realistic than these backgrounds." That wasn't true, of course, but it was the last time that graphics made a real, intense impression on me. I can appreciate it, when something looks good (mainly cartoon graphics and handdrawn stuff, realism has completely lost its luster, for me). But, honestly, I can't give more than a shrug in most cases. There were a handful of exceptions, but that jump was, to me, the biggest one.
I'm sure a big part of it was that stuff like Soul Calibur and Dead Or Alive 2 was the exception, not the norm. Many graphic designers of the time had neither the skill nor the budget to do that kinda stuff.* But when everybody can make a fancy-looking 3D game it ain't special anymore.

* Well, Squaresoft could've 'cuz they had some of the best graphic design people in the business around 1999 or so, but they were firmly entrenched in camp Sony at the time.
 

ShakeWell

Slam Master
(he, etc.)
Honestly? As MetManMas said, Soul Calibur isn't the norm, but I recently played it using the VGA 480p signal line-doubled to 960p, and quite honestly, at a glance, it passes as a modern game. Improvements in graphics between the best-looking Dreamcast/PS2/Xbox/GC games a now has been a generational game of inches. While yes, going right from Soul Calibur on DC to Spider-Man: Mile Morales on PS5 immediately presents some glaring differences, going one gen at a time, well... it ain't like going from the Atari VCS to the Saturn, let's just say that.
 

Dracula

Plastic Vampire
(He/His)


Mickey Mania: The Timeless Adventures of Mickey Mouse was released in 1994 for both the SNES and the MD/Genesis. @madhair60 called for the Genesis version in particular, so that's the one I played!

I had an issue of Nintendo Power which really hyped up this game, and I must have re-read that coverage a lot, because many of the features of the first and seconds stages of Mickey Mania were still familiar to me when I booted this up, even though I think I've only actually played the game once or twice, and probably not at all in almost two decades. The NP coverage gave me the sense that this was a huge, important release for the time, up there with things like DKC. A system seller. I don't think that's its reputation in reality, though. Let's observe.

What It's All About

From the manual:

Join Mickey Mouse on a spectacular adventure through time as he relives some of the most thrilling moments of his career. You start where it all began way back in 1928 with Mickey's very first animated feature, the black and white classic STEAMBOAT WILLIE. Here you'll have to help Mickey brave a variety of puzzles and dangers before continuing through 6 other animated features in a journey that will eventually lead Mickey face-to-face with the biggest, meanest Pete anyone's ever seen.

Fortunately for Mickey, he won't have to travel alone. Along the way, skilled players will be able to find Mickey's faithful pal, Pluto, as well as seven vintage Mickey Mouse cameos from each of the shorts featured in the game.

But time is fleeting. If you're going to get Mickey safely through 65 years of his film history, you better start playing now!

This is honestly a great idea for a Mickey game! The process of gamifying all of these classic Mickey shorts must have been a fun, challenging exercise for the devs, and I think it shows in the final product.

How it Works



Much like Global Gladiators, Mickey Mania is a Euro-as-heck action platformer. It was a collaboration between several design studios and publishing houses, including Sony Imagesoft, Disney Software and one of Disney's Florida-based animation studios, Creative Capers, and perennial UK developer Psygnosis. But the flavor (and the top credit) comes from Jon Burton and Andy Ingram of Traveller's Tales, the studio which went on to design quite a few more Disney-adjacent video games as well as Sonic 3-D Blast and Sonic R and, later, a whole slew of Lego games.

Anyway, you run with the d-Pad, jump with the A or C button, and toss marbles with the B button. You can't toss a marble unless you pick one up first, but fortunately there's marbles floating around everywhere. If Mickey runs out of marbles, he can bounce off an enemy's head to defeat them (usually). His life meter is measured by the hand at the top left corner of the screen - however many fingers the hand is holding up, that's how many hits you can take before you're done in. There's no power-ups or bonus points or anything like that - the game's interest comes entirely from its variety of levels and challenges.

And it's quite a variety! But more on that later.

How It Feels

Mickey Mania has that same Euro je ne sais quoi as Global Gladiators, but feels more tightly designed. Mickey is big and floaty, there's lots of hovering collectibles, enemies seem to be placed everywhere willy-nilly, and there's a heckton of stuff to dodge or defeat. The sprite animation is super fluid, reminding me of games of the same era like the Genesis version of Aladdin and any version of Earthworm Jim. There's tons of crisp voice samples and squishy, splatty sound effects that help make this cartoon world pop off the screen. You also get some of those flashy, show-offy 3-D effects here and there which were all the rage in late-era 16-bit games. I noticed it on a boom crane in stage 1, and in several places in stage 2, including a very impressive rotating tower area. There's LOTS to see and hear in this game. It has tremendous wow factor for the era.

What I Played

The first stage, Steamboat Willie, starts off in black-and-white. You dodge birds, jump on a note-spitting goat, encounter old Mickey (Willie?) in the captain's cabin, outsmart a tar-spittin' Pete (and use his blubbery belly as a springboard), ride boxes, and navigate other setpiece challenges. As you progress, more and more color spreads throughout the level, until by the end, everything is in color. Then you fight some gears and boxes in what feels like a somewhat tacked-on boss battle. There are plenty of little hidden areas to tease out and explore, but the stage is completely linear and is finished in a single "scene."

The second stage, The Mad Doctor, rips out all of the stops. It feels like the devs wanted to squeeze every bell and whistle they had into this stage. You start off crossing a crumbling bridge under a flock of bats, then crawl through a castle hall full of skull-tossin' skeletons and more bats. Then you have to beat up some skeleton spiders and use their threads to swing across some deadly lava pools. Then you have to ride a hand car through a gauntlet of sawblades (jump! jump! slide! slide! I'm pretty sure this was as far as a kid. These types of levels were my kryptonite.). Then more spider swings. Then the aforementioned downward descent to the bottom of a 3-D tower, fighting off bats and jumping over barrels. Then there's another side-view stage, and then there's an elevator ride past more skeletons. I think there's even one more area after this, and then you have to fight the Doctor himself.

This boss feels more thematic than the bomb-dropping crates from stage 1. The doc tosses flasks, and each time you hit him with a marble or a jump, he freaks out and tosses bottles in every direction. It's pretty damn hard to dodge them all, but fortunately there are marbles and health refills all throughout the room.

It is a long-ass stage, especially compared to the breezy first stage, and I used up one whole complement of lives to finally beat the doc.

Stage three, Moose Hunters, starts you off with your best bud, Pluto. Pluto runs ahead and sniffs out hazards like falling rocks and branches. I was about two minutes into this stage when Pluto pointed behind us, and I had about a half-second of reaction time before a moose tackled the last hit point out of me.

Game Over.

Would I Play More?

Yes! Well, maybe. Here's why I stopped: that game over? It kicked me all the way back to the title screen. As far as I can tell, you get one measly continue to beat this game's seven stages on default difficulty, and those traps and hazards don't fuck around. It's a frankly unnecessary level of difficulty, probably encouraged by production to make sure this one was more than just a weekend rental. I'd love to see what other set pieces this game's got, but if I do it, I'm usin' cheats.
 

Phantoon

I cuss you bad
I'm sure a big part of it was that stuff like Soul Calibur and Dead Or Alive 2 was the exception, not the norm.
Even if this were the case, all DC games were hugely higher res than PlayStation and N64 games, with 60fps being extremely common. No affine warping, and no N64 smudge. Considering it came out two years after the N64 (Japanese releases) it's possibly the most shocking technology advancement in videogames.

Mickey Mania is a technical marvel. John Burton - its programmer - played through it on YouTube and I think he was caught unawares by how difficult it was.
 

MetManMas

Me and My Bestie
(He, him)
Even if this were the case, all DC games were hugely higher res than PlayStation and N64 games, with 60fps being extremely common. No affine warping, and no N64 smudge. Considering it came out two years after the N64 (Japanese releases) it's possibly the most shocking technology advancement in videogames.
Very true, even if many of the Dreamcast devs' modeling skills left a lot to be desired there was still a huge boost in framerates, textures, draw distance, etc. over what the competition of the time was capable of. Sonic Adventure wouldn't have been possible on PSone or the Nintendo 64.
 

Octopus Prime

Mysterious Contraption
(He/Him)
I didn’t play Mickey Mania at the time, because I was a grown up 10-year-old who didn’t have time to play baby games.

But I absolutely remember every single magazine insisting I do so.

Jokes on them, I still haven’t!
 

Ghost from Spelunker

BAG
(They/Him)
Even if this were the case, all DC games were hugely higher res than PlayStation and N64 games, with 60fps being extremely common. No affine warping, and no N64 smudge. Considering it came out two years after the N64 (Japanese releases) it's possibly the most shocking technology advancement in videogames.

Mickey Mania is a technical marvel. John Burton - its programmer - played through it on YouTube and I think he was caught unawares by how difficult it was.

The 16-bit days were this weird time when our video games of cartoons actually looked like the cartoons and customers and magazines made a big deal out of it, whether or not the game was any good. After that we took for granted Buster Bunny NOT having bright red eyes and outlines.

I never got around to playing Mickey Mania myself, but when I saw the Continue? Show try it I saw Mickey getting projectiles rained on him nonstop. So, maybe try it with cheats on?
 

madhair60

Video games
The "Continue?" Show sounds like a rip-off of my old One Credit Challenge, a concept so brilliantly unique that only I could possibly have come up with it
 

Octopus Prime

Mysterious Contraption
(He/Him)
I’m curious how many licensed platformers in the day wound up being Europlatformers.

And how many were actually made in Europe.
 

RT-55J

definitely not a robot
(He/Him)
Considering it came out two years after the N64 (Japanese releases) it's possibly the most shocking technology advancement in videogames.
This thread made me realize that the time between the release of Star Fox and the Dreamcast was only 5 and a half years.

The technical progress that happened in the 90s still blows my mind.
 

Phantoon

I cuss you bad
This thread made me realize that the time between the release of Star Fox and the Dreamcast was only 5 and a half years.

The technical progress that happened in the 90s still blows my mind.
Yeah, I've seen people swear blind that diminishing returns isn't a thing.
 

Dracula

Plastic Vampire
(He/His)


The Magical Quest Starring Mickey Mouse is a Capcom-published action-platforming game for the SNES from 1992. This game was suggested by the handsome and generous @Zef .

Much like Mickey Mania, I had an issue of Nintendo Power which hypes this game up. It was cool enough to be right on the cover! And hey, guess what? I still have a copy of this issue!



In fact, I have two copies, for some reason. I think someone may have donated another copy to me. This is a fantastic issue for many reasons - beyond the coverage of the Magical Quest, it's got features on two (2) Mega Man games, a Mario Paint special insert, the standalone Mario vs. Wario comic, the results of the design-a-robot-master contest, and other fun stuff.

What's more, the Mickey coverage actually lays out the entire game from start to end, even mildly bemoaning that the game could stand to be a bit longer. I used to rent this game as a kid, but I don't think I ever got past the second stage. So I figured if this game is short, and Nintendo Power has my back, I can get through it in one sitting. Right??

What It's All About

The story is utter simplicity. Mickey and friends are playing ball, and Pluto runs away. Goofy pledges to find the lost pooch, but Mickey doesn't trust his buddy's sleuthing skills, so he sets off to do the job himself. No sooner than he sets foot outside the ball field does Mickey find himself lost in the Evil Kingdom of Emperor Pete, and a mysterious wizard tells him that if Mickey doesn't find Pluto soon, Pete will curse the dog with evil magic.

How it Works

Magical Quest is a fairly standard Japanese-style action platformer of the era. Mickey runs around with the d-pad, jumps with the B button, and uses items with the Y button. He can attack enemies by jumping on their heads, or he can pick up blocks (and other objects) and throw them. In each stage, Mickey can find fruit (for extra points), coins (for buying items), hearts (to restore health), heart containers (to increase his maximum health), Mickey dolls (extra lives), and certain other special items.

Hidden in various places are also big golden treasure boxes with Mickey's face on them. These have a chain which Mickey can pull, and if he does, the box explodes with items. Each stage has a secret shop where Mickey can buy temporary and permanent power-ups.

The stages follow generally accepted platformer themes. There's a grassy stage, a forest/water stage, a fire stage, an ice stage, a "too many pits" stage, and an evil castle. Some of them have themes which vaguely call back to classic Mickey toons, but they aren't directly based on them like the stages in Mickey Mania.

Finally, at the beginning of stages 2, 3, and 4, Mickey gets a new costume which grants him special abilities. In stage 2, he gets a magician's outfit which lets him cast a charge-up magic blast and survive for a long time underwater. In stage 3, he gets a firefighter suit which lets him spray water and put out fires. In stage 4, he gets a...I guess it's a Robin Hood suit? Anyway, it has a grappling hook. The first two costumes have limited uses, and can be restored by picking up magic lamps and fire hydrants, respectively.

How it Feels

This game is polished AF. It feels like the culmination of many other Capcom properties. It's a well-oiled machine of short, punchy challenges, hidden areas, and enemy encounters. Everything feels like it's in the proper place. The game sounds and looks quite a lot like Super Ghouls 'n Ghosts, down to a mini-boss who feels like Red Arremer with a Pete skin and Emperor Pete stomping around like Astaroth.

Some of the mechanics feel lifted from other Capcom properties, too - Mickey's charge-up magic shot feels more than a little bit like Mega Man's buster, and the grappling hook is basically swiped right out of Bionic Commando.

There's just enough nuance to keep it all interesting. Even at game over, you keep your extra heart containers. The shops sell 300-coin items which halve the costs of your firefighter and/or magician outfits, so you have incentives to hoard coins and seek out the shops. The only thing that feels vestigial is the point system - I suppose you could play the game for a high score, but there's no real mechanical incentive to do this other than that it feels nice to get extra points sometimes.

What I Played

I sat down to play the whole game...and I did! Just as Nintendo Power promised, it's a pretty short game. Each level has three or four sub-stages, and the maps in the magazine helped me find the hidden shops and heart containers. There are unlimited continues, with the only penalty of continuing apparently being your score resetting.

The most difficult stage was probably stage 4, the grappling hook level. The hook, sadly, is nowhere near as graceful as the one from Bionic Commando, needing quite a bit more precise timing to do it well. But, part of this was on me - if I hadn't been going out of my way to get the hidden 1-ups and shops, I probably would have cleared it a lot sooner.



When you beat the game, it's all revealed to have been a dream. Boo! Get a better stinger, writers! 0/10

Would I Play More?

If I wanted to play this game more, I could try it on the hard mode, or go for a 1CC. But honestly I'd rather check out the others in the series - there was a sequel ("The Great Circus Mystery") on SNES, and a second sequel ("Magical Quest 3") on SFC. Capcom's in-house team was at the height of their console game in the 90s, so I'm sure they're at least worth checking out.
 

Octopus Prime

Mysterious Contraption
(He/Him)
I’m not sure why it all being a dream feels like a cheat with a video game. It does, but it’s not like a Mickey Mouse themed platformer is especially canon
 

Johnny Unusual

(He/Him)
I think its because for no reason they took all the stakes out of our efforts and said "surprise, you only gave the hero a good night sleep." Which would be good as the goal but our goal was to save someone or maybe the world. Not going to lie, this doesn't bother me in Super Mario Bros. 2. But maybe that takes place in dream land? I really don't remember. Also, it occurs to me that if you play it a certain way, Its weird Mario would be dreaming about the adventures of people who aren't him.
 
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