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Street Fighter IV

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Jon Brodkin writes "Pity poor Mega Man. The little blue robot boy with a gun for a hand was one of the most popular heroes in the Nintendo Entertainment System's heyday, starring in a video game series almost every bit as good as The Legend of Zelda and Super Mario Bros. The original Mega Man series resulted in some great games for the original NES and the Super Nintendo. But then he dropped (swiftly) from the face of the Earth. Attempts to bring Mega Man into the 3D world resulted in games not nearly as fun as their predecessors. Most recently, the planned Mega Man Legends 3 for Nintendo 3DS managed to generate a bit of fan excitement, but the project was canceled in July 2011. Gamers moved on — some grudgingly. Fans have clamored for Capcom to revive Mega Man for years, and it's happened to some extent. Mega Man 9 and 10 came out in 2008 and 2010, respectively, continuing the original series with the same graphical and gameplay style perfected in the 1980s. And Monday, something perhaps even more exciting occurred for Mega Man's 25th anniversary: the release of Street Fighter X Mega Man, a celebration of two excellent game series that have lost their luster in the HD age." Read on for the rest of Jon's review.

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Over Christmas I drew up a list of little things about games that have always intrigued, interested, or appealed to me. I’ve been adding to it over the past couple of weeks, and I’ll be writing about these little nuances of gaming in the coming months. These are just idle musings, but I hope you’ll find them to be food for thought. Today’s is about the odd joy in seeing AI entities getting into a fight.

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Keeper of the faith.

It's just a sideshow attraction in Guardian Heroes, but Arcade Mode embodies all of the inimitable, brash creativity that has made its maker, Treasure, one of the best-loved game studios. Imagine, having selected your character in Street Fighter IV, that you were made to fight not one but every character in the game, all of whom piled on you simultaneously in an endless survival gauntlet, without so much as a stutter in frame-rate.

It's mayhem. And not the kind of conservative, Saturday morning children's TV mayhem of so many Smash Bros. titles. It's bona fide wild-men-picking-fights-with-rocks mayhem, the sort that, in the blur of colour and shape, makes it difficult to know where your character ends and an enemy begins. But it's also the kind of mayhem that, in some deep place in your being, unlocks the abandoned joy we all play video games in the hope of rediscovering.

Guardian Heroes is the eldest of Treasure's three seminal releases for Sega's Saturn (the others being Silhouette Mirage and Radiant Silvergun, which was also recently re-released on Xbox Live Arcade). It mixes the side-scrolling fantasy beat-'em-up play style of Golden Axe with the combat complexity of Street Fighter II and threads them into an OutRun-style branching structure. As a result, the Story Mode is at once familiar and, in the unique combination of these iconic designs, fresh and enthralling.


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