Micro Reviews – M-Z

A continually updated, alphabetical round-up of video game Micro Reviews. Any and all games are eligible for review, regardless of age, platform, popularity or otherwise.

A-L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z


M

Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle
Nintendo Switch (2017)

Widely derided when the game’s announcement was prematurely leaked, Rabbids received universal acclaim upon its eventual release. Ubisoft’s collaboration with Nintendo exhibited qualities from both studios and proved to be far more than the mere ‘XCOM in Mario clothing’ it initially appeared to be.

[8.5]


Metal Gear Solid
PlayStation (1998)

Although not the first game in the series, (Metal Gear and Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake preceded it) the powerful new PlayStation console finally allowed Hideo Kojima to create the game he had always been striving to make. A weird and wonderful, cinematic stealth-action masterpiece.

[9]


Metal Gear Solid 2
PlayStation 2 (2001)

A spectacular opening section set on a tanker at sea built brilliantly upon the action-stealth mechanics of Metal Gear Solid 1, before giving way to one of the most shocking bait-and-switch twists gamers had ever seen. Bold, daring and typically Kojima; perhaps we should have seen it coming after all…

[9]


Metroid Prime
GameCube (2002)

Having already updated its Mario and Zelda titles into 3D for the N64, Nintendo waited until the GameCube before turning its attention to the Metroid series. The result was a truly masterful title that somehow managed to completely recapture the mood and atmosphere of its 2D predecessors.

[9]


Ms Pac-Man
Arcade (1982)

Ms Pac-Man was first released in US arcades in February 1982. This first Pac-Man sequel added a female protagonist, alternating mazes and semi-random enemy movement to Namco’s classic original. Ms Pac-Man is considered the better game by most, and arguably remains the best version Pac-Man to this day.

[9]


MSR: Metropolis Street Racer
Dreamcast (2000)

Boasting photo-realistic graphics for the time, MSR straddled the line between simulation and arcade perfectly, providing the Dreamcast with an early racing classic. The game’s developers Bizarre Creations would later go on to create the Project Gotham Racing series for Xbox.

[9]


N

NiGHTS into Dreams…
Saturn (1996)

Sonic Team’s Saturn debut was a thrilling time-based collectathon that took the speed of the Sonic series to the skies. With a specially designed analogue controller it produced an exhilarating sense of flight and freedom despite its predominantly 2D design.

[8]


O

Okami
PlayStation 2 (2006)

A Zelda clone? Arguably. The most beautiful game ever made? Quite possibly. Okami took Zelda’s proven tried-and-tested formula, transported it into Japanese folklore and added a clever painting mechanic in which you could draw solutions to the game’s puzzles. The best Zelda game not called Zelda.

[9]


Ori and the Blind Forest
Xbox One (2015)

Impeccably designed, wonderfully animated and relentlessly pretty, Ori and the Blind Forest is a modern Metroidvania of the highest order. Beautifully expressive characters and a genuinely affecting story ensure it has the heart and soul to match its incredible looks.

[8.5]


P

PaRappa the Rapper
PlayStation (1996)

Kick! Punch! It’s all in the mind! Abstract in the extreme, it’s difficult to explain just how PaRappa’s bonkers concepts and mechanics end up working so well. But they do. Cows, dogs and pungent onions rapping in unison to create one of the first, and most genuinely lovable music games of all.

[8]


Peggle
Mac, PC, Android, iOS, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 (2007)

Sure luck plays a huge part, but that feeling of bending the game’s randomness to your will and the joyous feedback received in return is a powerful drug indeed. PopCap Games’ Peggle is bright, it’s bold, and that iconic use of Ode to Joy to celebrate each victory never fails to raise a smile.

[7.5]


Pilotwings 64
Nintendo 64 (1996)

The gorgeous follow-up to a SNES classic, Pilotwings 64 launched with the N64 and introduced players at the time to photo-realistic visuals, meditative gameplay and a score-based medal system that proved (and remains to this day) enjoyable, deep and utterly compelling.

[9]


Pokémon Red and Green
Game Boy (1996)

Pokémon Red and Green (or more specifically, the release of Pocket Monsters Red and Green in Japan) were the world’s introduction to Pokémon. A series originally created to share it’s designer’s love of collecting insects, Pokémon has become one of gaming’s biggest, most successful and most recognised brands.

The Pokémon name has gone on to adorn multiple sequels, TV shows, music concerts, movies and an unlimited supply of merchandise. In gaming terms, the series continues to sell in huge numbers and shows no sign of slowing down any time soon.

[9]


Power Stone 2
Arcade, Dreamcast (2000)

Although less focused than its predecessor, Power Stone 2 is an absolute riot of a multiplayer fighter. Player count is doubled to 4, arenas are larger and projectiles more plentiful and powerful. Power Stone is a series that seems perfectly suited to – and long overdue – a modern day update and online multiplayer.

[8.5]


Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time
GameCube, PlayStation 2, Xbox (2003)

Trying to move a 2D classic into three dimensions has claimed many victims over the years, and although technically not the first 3D Prince of Persia title, Ubisoft’s The Sands of Time managed to successfully update the series for a modern audience whilst retaining what made it so special in the first place.

[8.5]


Project Gotham Racing
Xbox (2001)

A spiritual successor to the Dreamcast’s sublime Metropolis Street Racer, Project Gotham Racing continued Bizarre Creation’s brilliant winning streak with a number of excellent ‘simcade’ racers for Microsoft’s Xbox console that are still held in high regard to this day. It also marked the first appearance of Geometry Wars in the form of a playable arcade machine in the game’s garage.

[8.5]


Pushover
Amiga, Atari (1992)

Back in the days when an obscure license could carry an entire game, the Quavers-powered Pushover required players to solve a series of puzzles by rearranging dominoes with various different properties so that they could be toppled with one push, helping Colin Curly retrieve his beloved crisps.

[7]


Q


R

Resident Evil
PlayStation, Saturn (1996)

Coining the term ‘survival horror’, Resident Evil is a true landmark in gaming’s history. Even awkward controls, bad acting, and schlocky writing can’t spoil the game’s foreboding atmosphere, tension and sense of place. Modern remakes have improved the controls and graphics to prove the game itself remains a unique and compelling experience.

[8.5]


Resident Evil 4
GameCube (2005)

Whether Resident Evil 4 was the start of the series’ mid-life slump is an argument for another day. Shinji Mikami’s masterpiece dropped the slow-paced horror of earlier games for a relentless series of set-pieces to produce one of the most perfectly-paced and downright brilliant action games ever made.

[9.5]


Rez
Dreamcast (2001)

Image

Originally released for the Dreamcast and then later for PS2, Xbox 360 and PC, Rez is a masterpiece of audio/visual design. Nearly twenty years later, the PlayStaion VR version ‘Rez Infinite’ finally saw technology catch up with Tetsuya Mizuguchi’s original vision for the game.

[9]


RiME
PlayStation 4, Switch, Xbox One (2017)

Mired in development hell and seemingly cancelled on a number of occasions, Tequila Works’ Rime was eventually released in 2017 against the odds and proved to be a beautiful, meditative and genuinely heartfelt puzzle-based adventure.

[8]


Rockstar Presents Table Tennis
Xbox 360 (2006)

Not exactly what many had expected to emerge from the house that Grand Theft Auto built, Table Tennis was nonetheless a highly polished, enjoyable and truly stunning-looking sports title from Rockstar with some genuinely impressive physics and mechanics.

[8]


S

Sega Bass Fishing
Arcade (1997), Dreamcast (1999)

Great visuals and responsive arcade gameplay make for a glorious celebration of fishing and another unique and original Sega gem. Released on the Dreamcast complete with an official and authentic fishing rod controller, the game is an absolute riot and a sure-fire crowd pleaser.

[8]


Sensible World of Soccer
Amiga (1994)

Fast, fun and gloriously chaotic, Sensible Soccer – released on the Amiga in 1994 – represents the beautiful game in its purest form. Sensible Software designed a sports title that was easy to pick up and play but which hid greater gameplay depths beneath its surface. Two years later Sensible World of Soccer was released and introduced detailed customisation and management options to the series.

A wonderful remaster of SWoS was released for Xbox Live Arcade in 2007 which added HD visuals and a widescreen option to the game whilst retaining the classic look and feel of the original. This version is still available to buy for Xbox One and Xbox Series S/X as part of Microsoft’s incredible backwards compatibility program. Sensible World of Soccer is a true retro classic, and a legend of its genre.

[9]


The Settlers
Amiga (1993)

Delightful, inviting visuals made The Settlers a much friendlier-looking strategy title than its genre stablemates. And they weren’t misleading either; this was a rare strategy game that gave you time to prosper, to build a thriving town at your own pace without constant fear of attack.

[8]


Shadow of the Colossus
PlayStation 2 (2005)

How far would you go to bring back the one you love? Tasked with defeating sixteen giant, often peaceful creatures in return for the resurrection of a loved one, Shadow of the Colossus is a rare example of a game that forces you to question the very actions it asks of you. Fumito Ueda’s spiritual successor to ICO is another timeless classic.

[9]


Shadow of the Colossus [Remake]
PlayStation 4 (2018)

Thirteen years after the PS2 original, Sony and Bluepoint Games released a stunning built-from-the-ground-up remake of Fumito Ueda’s classic. Truly state of the art visuals are added to the game to make for a thoroughly modern title, but only serve to remind how utterly beautiful and timeless the game’s core art-style and design remains.

[9]


Silent Hill
PlayStation (1999)

Trading the b-movie scares of Resident Evil for a creeping psychological dread and some truly disturbing imagery, Silent Hill introduced unsuspecting gamers to a new kind of maturity and terror in the genre. A horror classic.

[8]


Snake
Nokia 6110 (1998)

Introduced on the Nokia 6110 mobile phones, Snake was a genuine mobile classic long before the term even existed. It proved early on that putting a simple but compelling game into the hands of millions was a sure-fire path to success, way before Angry Birds, Candy Crush and the like came along to steal its crown.

[8]


SoulCalibur
Arcade (1998), Dreamcast (1999)

The Dreamcast was home to some truly incredible games during its short life, and Namco’s Soul Calibur was one of its very best. A staggeringly pretty and accomplished game, Soul Calibur also featured something all-too-rare in fighters; a genuinely worthwhile single player campaign.

[9.5]


Spec Ops: The Line
PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 (2012)

Masquerading as a generic but solid third-person shooter, Spec-Ops: The Line gradually transforms throughout its campaign to become a sophisticated and rather harrowing commentary on the horrors of war and the psychological effect it can have on those involved.

[8]


Spider-Man: Miles Morales
PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5 (2020)

Miles Morales is a shorter but more focused continuation of the first game with less bloat and a leaner, tighter narrative. It’s hugely enjoyable and introduces some good characters to the winning template of the original. It also boasts incredible visuals and some truly stunning set pieces to provide a good early showcase for the PlayStation 5’s abilities.

[8]


SSX
PlayStation 2 (2000)

Image

The surprise highlight of the PS2’s launch line-up, SSX was a sports title like no other. A supremely confident and competent racer combining over the top arcade handling with a consistent physics model. A genre classic that kickstarted the ‘EA Sports BIG’ label with a bang.

[9]


SSX Tricky
GameCube, PlayStation 2, Xbox (2001)

The pinnacle of the series for many, Tricky was SSX turned up to 11. It doubled down on the exaggerated aspects of the first game by moving the main focus away from racing and onto a whole new suite of outrageous stunts. A joyous game and a true classic of its genre.

[9]


Star Wars Episode 1: Racer
Nintendo 64 (1999)

It’s safe to say that the long-awaited Star Wars: The Phantom Menace film wasn’t very well received when it released in cinemas, so basing a game solely on its most exhilarating sequence was a smart move. Fast, weighty and chaotic it was Pod Racing recreated brilliantly in interactive form.

[7.5]


Star Wing / Star Fox
SNES (1993)

This sci-fi-shooter was something of a departure for Nintendo in more ways than one. Aside from a shift in genre from what they were typically known for, Star Fox was also the first time Nintendo had employed the use of 3D polygonal graphics. Using their new ‘Super FX’ graphics chip, Nintendo created visuals that were genuinely new and thrilling in their day.

But in typical Nintendo fashion, this cutting-edge technology was only used to service gameplay. Star Fox was another SNES classic from the Japanese company, with immediate and compelling flight mechanics and a cast of characters that remain memorable to this day.

[8]


Super Mario 64
Nintendo 64 (1996)

The only thing more remarkable than the countless things Super Mario 64 introduced to gaming in 1996 is how confidently and competently it pulled them all off. Even by Nintendo’s high standards, Mario 64 was astonishing. One of the most important games ever made, and still one of the very best.

[10]


Super Mario RPG
SNES (1996)

Developed by Square and produced by Shigeru Miyamoto, Super Mario RPG was the first Mario game to use isometric 3D graphics and the first to feature traditional RPG-like turn-based combat. Square borrowed many elements from the early Final Fantasy titles to create a Mario entry that was a huge departure from the mainline series players were used to.

There were still some differences however, and one big change from RPGs of the time was the game’s lack of random encounters; enemies were always visible, and could be either engaged or evaded as the player saw fit. Although Super Mario RPG never received a direct sequel its influence can still be found in both the Mario & Luigi games and the Paper Mario series.

[8.5]


Super Mario World
SNES (1990)

Not content to merely re-write the video game rulebook, Super Mario World threw it out of the window and jumped on it. A game of staggering ambition and craft that remains the pinnacle of 2D platformers – and one of the greatest and most important games of them all.

[10]


Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island
SNES (1995)

Although not the sequel to the epic and truly sprawling Super Mario World many expected, Yoshi’s Island instead opted for ingenious level design and some Super FX 2 powered visual trickery to create one of the most charming and beautiful platformers of all time. A game as delightful to play today as it ever was.

[9]


Super Monkey Ball
GameCube (2001)

Sega’s first game as a software-only company following the death of the Dreamcast may not have been what many were expecting from the company, but it was a bright, bold and brilliant game nonetheless. Pin-point controls and robust physics ensure this game about rolling monkeys in balls across maze-like levels without falling off is far more essential than its simple premise may suggest.

Super Monkey Ball and its collection of wonderful mini-games (Monkey Target in-particular) is a genuine highlight of the GameCube’s impressive game library, and as good an advert for the humble analogue stick as you’re ever likely to get.

[8.5]


Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
Nintendo Switch (2018)

Not just a tribute to the the Smash Bros. series and Nintendo, but to gaming itself, Ultimate is a staggeringly complete and feature-rich fighter which raises only one nagging doubt; just how can Nintendo possibly take the series forward from here?

[9.5]


Syphon Filter
‎PlayStation 2 (1999)

Although preceded by Konami’s seminal Metal Gear Solid and containing more than a few rough edges in both the gameplay and visual departments, Syphon Filter was nonetheless a unique and engrossing experience upon release. It excelled at environmental design and measured, skill-based gameplay, contained a huge variety of weapons and gadgets and was an important early entry in the burgeoning stealth-action genre.

[8]


T

Tetris
‎Electronika 60 (1984), Game Boy (1989)

Allegedly tapping into mankind’s innate need to create order out of chaos, Tetris remains one of the most brilliantly designed, compelling and recognisable games ever conceived. With the 1989 release of the Game Boy version it found the perfect way to infiltrate the homes and hearts of millions.

[10]


TimeSplitters 2
GameCube, PlayStation 2, Xbox (2002)

Adding a single-player campaign heavily influenced by Rare’s GoldenEye 007 (indeed, much of the team here worked on the N64 classic) to the multiplayer madness of the original game elevated the TimeSplitters series to the top tier of the First Person Shooter genre. Long-rumoured comebacks and remasters have yet to see the light of day.

[8.5]


Titanfall 2
PlayStation 4, Xbox One (2016)

Following complaints of Titanfall’s lack of single-player options, Respawn Entertainment responded by launching it’s sequel with one of the most blisteringly polished and exhilarating campaigns of recent times. Incredibly responsive controls are mixed with imaginative level design to create a modern shooter classic.

[9]


The Typing of the Dead
Arcade (1999), Dreamcast (2000)

Just when you thought Sega must have used up all of their crazy ideas around the Dreamcast era, along came The Typing of the Dead; a retooling of the classic arcade shooter which sees players frantically bashing out words on a keyboard in order to defeat the undead.

[7.5]


U

Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune
PlayStation 3 (2007)

After the Crash Bandicoot and Jak & Daxter titles for the PlayStation and PlayStation 2, Naughty Dog tried something more ambitious for the PlayStation 3 with Uncharted. Stellar animation, acting, performance capture and a focus on more sophisticated storytelling hinted at what was to come from the studio with its Uncharted follow-ups and The Last of Us.

[8]


Uncharted 2: Among Thieves
PlayStation 3 (2009)

After a competent first entry, Naughty Dog made a huge leap forward in quality with Uncharted 2. State of the art animation and performance capture combined with likeable characters, a great script and a perfectly paced campaign to produce one of the finest action titles of its generation.

[9]


V

Viva Piñata
Xbox 360 (2006)

After a number of disappointing titles for Microsoft, Rare returned to form with Viva Piñata. A delightfully playful, often devious and stunningly beautiful game in which the player must create a garden paradise in order to attract and retain wild Piñata. Piñata who would inevitably end up trying to kill each other.

[8]


W

Wave Race 64
Nintendo 64 (1996)

Wave Race 64 arrived shortly after the N64 console itself and landed in Super Mario 64’s considerable shadow, but it’s quality didn’t go unnoticed. This staggeringly accomplished racer boasts peerless vehicle handling and remains unmatched to this day in its use of water physics to directly affect gameplay.

Wave Race 64 is a stunning example of a classic game that, if anything, has only become even more impressive as it has aged (or not aged, as is the case here). A slightly disappointing GameCube sequel and no sign of a modern entry ensure that this is a must-play racing masterpiece in 2021 as much as it was in 1996.

[9]


WipEout
PlayStation (1995)

Often credited alongside other early PlayStation titles for helping games to ‘grow up’, WipEout’s trippy visuals and thunderous soundtrack meant that it became the post-club game of choice for many young adults in the 90’s. Reigniting a love of gaming in many who had previously thought they’d grown out of it.

[8]


The Witness
PlayStation 4, Xbox One (2016)

Almost too clever for its own good, Jonathan Blow’s The Witness is a game of remarkable craft and precision. Taking 8 years to create, it features hundreds of puzzles both individual and part of a greater whole. The game proved insurmountable for many, but remains a stunning, unique achievement.

[9]


Worms Armageddon
Nintendo 64, PlayStation, Dreamcast (1999)

Worms Armageddon was a refined version of Worms 2 and arguably remains the pinnacle of this long-running series. Featuring new weapons and improved single player options it was as brilliant and chaotic as ever. A fully-featured, polished and enduring classic from Team 17.

[8]


X


Y


Z

Zone of the Enders
PlayStation 2 (2001)

Famous for shipping with the remarkable Metal Gear Solid 2 demo, Hideo Kojima’s PS2 game is nonetheless an accomplished mech combat title in its own right. With solid mechanics, impressive visuals and a trademark incomprehensible plot from Kojima.

[7.5]