The Anatomy of Bionic Commando | 2 | King of swing

Having reached the communications array for Area 1, you’ve opened the door to the base interior. In order to get there, though, you need to make your first true and proper swing; the outer base is divided by a large gap that can only be crossed by swinging across with this lamp as your grappling point. The […]

The Anatomy of Bionic Commando | 1 | OK, we’ll move

After some deep soul-searching (read: Half-hearted musing until moved by a fickle whim), I’ve decided to forge ahead with Bionic Commando. After the unevenness of The Goonies II, it’ll be nice to have a genuine masterpiece to look at. That’s right, a masterpiece. I’m not saying Bionic Commando doesn’t have its shortcomings, but it’s a shockingly well […]

The Anatomy of The Goonies II | 6 | Farewell, Astoria

Like so many video games, The Goonies II presents some strong ideas and solid moments… and it ends pretty terribly. The game sort of peters out, losing its momentum in the final stretch. Quite possibly the strangest portion of the game comes in this final zone, a completely unique tile and palette set that comprises all […]

The Anatomy of The Goonies II | 4 | Rocky Road

“Sure, The Goonies II is an 8-bit game,” you say. “But I’m not convinced it really hates me.” Well, please allow me to show you the truth in all its grim fullness. Following the Keith Haring graffiti will lead you to another section of the orange caverns, which offer a one-way trip to the exterior […]

The Anatomy of The Goonies II | 2 | Pincers of peril

Before we delve any further into the design of The Goonies II, it’s important to take a step back and talk about one of the most curious fundamental concepts behind the game: The idea of front and back. When you pause the action, you’re taken to a Zelda-esque menu screen. Say, this is a pretty […]

The Anatomy of The Goonies II | 1 | Never say die

Hi, everyone. So, I lied. The next game up under the Anatomy lens isn’t Super Mario Bros. 2… because what I have in mind for that is going to take some more prep work. Instead, let’s finish up the second half of that Anatomy of Goonies series I started this spring, eh? I mean, I changed […]

The Anatomy of Mega Man 2 – XVI – Xenophobia

Whatever crimes of redundant visual representations the interior of Wily’s castle may have committed, you can levy no such complaints against this final chamber, in which you face off one last time against the game’s bosses. I mean, check this out. Those screens! In case you ever doubted Mega Man’s anime influence, here are some straight-up […]

The Anatomy of Mega Man 2 – XV – Passive threats

Several people have complained in the comments of this series (and elsewhere) about the repetitive nature of the Wily stages in Mega Man 2. Specifically, the fact that the levels are constructed of the same bulkhead panel tile, repeated over and over again in different color schemes. Interestingly, I never hear those criticisms voiced for the […]

The Anatomy of Mega Man 2 – XIV – So much larger than life

The background music changes for the third leg of Dr. Wily’s castle, from the majestic theme of the previous two stages to a more muted loop that constantly builds to a crescendo, rising in pitch and intensity, but never quite breaks. Instead, it drops right as it seems like it’s reaching a climax and begins the […]

The Anatomy of Mega Man 2 – XIII – The descent

If the Dr. Wily stages exist to recompile elements of the Robot Master stages into more devious configurations, Mega Man 2‘s second Wily sequence consists primarily of Flash Man and Metal Man’s levels. Taste them again, for the first time, and all that. Aesthetically, the interior of Wily’s fortress has a much more austere, utilitarian look […]

The Anatomy of Mega Man 2 – XII – Draconic

Once Mega Man destroys all eight of the Robot Masters in his tireless, violent fight for everlasting peace, Dr. Wily makes his appearance, hailing his usual flying saucer to spirit him away to his evil lair. Said evil lair got a very stylish upgrade this time around: You have to respect a man who dedicated […]