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Guest Blog Post by Kevin @Agent_Prince / Agentprince
The Sega Mega Drive Mini (Sega Genesis Mini) comes packed with 42 amazing games
The dust has finally settled. Not only are we getting a Sega Mega-Drive Mini (Genesis mini in the US) in just over 3 months’ time, we now already know all of the games that come with it. 42 titles, 13 of which are exclusive to the west.

As good news as this all is so far, there are reasons why the Sega Mega Drive Mini is both essential and, er, not. Starting with the good; Sega really seem to be aiming to get things right. M2 are handling the conversions, and given their expertise in that field it’s a sure-fire sign Sega aim to knock Sony’s lacklustre Playstation Classic out of the park.

The choice of games also heralds quite a few tasty surprises. Castlevania: Bloodlines, Mega Man: The Wily Wars and Contra: Hard Corps are among the rarer and desirable classics on offer, as well as a very welcome return of Road Rash 2. Who knew Sega and EA even still talked?

The console itself, at 55% the size of the original classic, certainly looks the part. Much like Nintendo’s mini editions, Sega’s effort looks aesthetically pleasing on the eye. It will come bundled with the traditional three-button controller, with support for the Retro-Bit six-button option, but hopefully Sega will listen and include a six-button as standard. Some of the games of course will demand one anyway.

On the downside, many of the titles are a case of same old, same old. Sega have been releasing various Genesis/Mega Drive collections since the PS2 era, with the latest edition only being made available on Switch last December. No less than 24 titles (57% no less) make a reappearance on the Mega Drive Mini.
But no one can argue that regardless of how many times they are released, many of these titles were key to the Mega Drive being a success. From Alex Kidd to World of Illusion, The Mega Drive Mini certainly looks to be worthy of our money and time. And so, in no particular order, here are the five inclusions I’m looking forward to the most.
Castlevania: Bloodlines (1994)
The inclusion of Castlevania: Bloodlines is certainly one of the most anticipated for many reasons. Firstly, it is the only Castlevania game for Sega’s platform, and was also exclusive at the time. Thankfully, the version included matches that of the recently released Castlevania: Anniversary Collection for PS4/Xbox One/Nintendo Switch in that it is uncensored; its original 1994 release felt the wrath of the censors, much like Mortal Kombat did for the SNES. The end result is a traditional Castlevania adventure that is also among the most violent in the series.
Eternal Champions (1993)
Not an obvious choice for many I’m sure, but a pleasing one for me nonetheless. Sega’s answer to Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat was better than neither of them, but could easily be considered the cultists choice. Sega developed Eternal Champions for the Mega Drive, and not an arcade port like its more successful counterpart giants of the genre.

Its unique characters from different time zones, including caveman Slash, futuristic Muay Thai fighter R.A.X. Coswell and 1920’s mobster Larcen Tyler, are unlike any other fighting franchise. With weapon-wielding, an Art of Fighting-style special move meter, even its own take on fatalities, make Eternal Champions an equally unique, if a little clunky, fighting experience.
Street Fighter II: Special Championship Edition (1993)
On the back of Capcom developing Street Fighter II: Turbo for the SNES, Sega made the wise choice of delaying their own version of Street Fighter II to improve its content. Originally intended as a port of the namesake arcade, this newly dubbed “Special” edition includes both ‘Champion’ and ‘Turbo’ modes, the former of which the SNES version never had. In addition, this was the first console port of the famous fighting introduction sequence, which is noticeably absent from all SNES versions of Street Fighter II.

It’s incredible to think that a decision to originally stick with Nintendo as its home console base, then to come full circle and over-compensate for a rival console, would result in such a console-defining moment. Special Champion Edition became a revolutionary move for the Mega Drive, paving the way for production of the 6-button controller. A controller that resolved the initial issue of toggling between punches and kicks with the 3-button pad start button. A decision that transformed a title that was originally unworkable, to arguably having better control than its SNES counterpart.

Although it trumps the SNES Turbo title on feature inclusion alone, what of the action itself? Everything is intact, plus the additions of tournament modes and both ‘Champion’ and ‘Turbo’ modes give the Street Fighter II Turbo a run for its money. As ever though, the Mega Drive just isn’t up there when it comes to the sound quality. The slightly muffled tunes and voices let the side down just a tad. Nevertheless, this is the best fighter the Mega Drive ever had to offer, until the arrival of its sequel, Super Street Fighter II.
Road Rash II (1993)
Although boasting an incredibly baron Wikipedia page, Road Rash II is easily one of the greatest racing games on the Mega Drive. The core elements of racing with dirty fighting tactics to take out your rivals makes for challenging yet brilliant entertainment. Pick up chains, clubs or punch your way through multiple obstacle-riddled tracks at breakneck speeds. Road Rash II is simply an insane amount of fun.

Childhood memories of Road Rash include unlocking several of the nitro bikes, such as the black nitro addition. It would often go too fast, and if you hit anything your rider would simply fly through the air, hilariously defying gravity. Ah memories.

The best addition from the original is the split screen 2 player mode, whether against CPU opponents or head to head. Road Rash 2 is simply a riot of a racing game, and a very welcome surprise to the Mega Drive Mini.
Mega Man: The Wily Wars (1994)
A unique inclusion given it is its first ever rerelease, Mega Man: The Wily Wars is unique to me in that I’ve never had the pleasure. All the more reason for looking forward to it then, in this 16-bit take (a la Super Mario All Stars on SNES) of the first three NES Mega Man games.

Unlike Nintendo’s Mario compilation, there is a story behind this Capcom collection; Dr Wily seeks to change the future by going back in time, to the first three adventures, to eliminate Mega Man. Once you’ve conquered the graphically-enhanced adventures, it’s on to an original stage, Wily Tower, for a final showdown.

Given its sporadic release back in 1995, particularly in the US, it’s no surprise that Wily Wars currently sits at the £200+ mark on eBay and other gaming markets. Which in turn makes it all the more pleasing that it is included here. I for one am certainly looking to get my hands on this for the first time.
So there you have it. From 42 come the 5 I can’t wait to get my hands on the most. What are your most anticipated Sega Mega Drive Mini titles? Will you be buying one on September 19th 2019?

​Guest Blog Post by Kevin @Agent_Prince / Agentprince
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Guest Blog Post by Jack @ThePnutbean and YouTube
SOS: The Final Escape - Also known as Disaster Report
Protests of the Extinction Rebellion across London to tackle climate change, something I personally feel strongly about because you know, it’s just the survival of all life on this planet. What a better way to celebrate humanity, when it comes to climate change then playing a game involving an earthquakes and tidal waves?

Ladies and gentlelads, I give you the PlayStation 2 cult classic, SOS: The Final Escape, also know Disaster Report for the folks across the pond and in Japan it is known as Zettai Zetsumei Toshi (絶体絶命都市 The Desperate City). 

In SOS: The Final Escape, you play as journalist Keith Helm, an everyday kind of man as displayed by his first name (Keith!), who’s just on the way to his first day at work. An earthquake strikes Stiver Island -the games location- and truly wrecks the place. You wake up after being knocked out, trying to survive the rough terrain, you must find an exit but a long the way you will meet other various survivors and maybe there is more to this disaster than you think? Woooohoooooo.

A low budget and an early PlayStation 2 title, SOS looks pretty rough. It has that very square, bland texture look when developers where just starting to handle 3D environments. Though the game makes good use of it’s limitations by using some good camera angles by really capturing the set pieces cinematically and building the tension.

Throughout the game you will see Keith’s clothes get more and more haggard, a small touch that was starting to be introduced more in videogame from this era. However, it does add the sense of desperation within the characters and a sense of exhaustion.
SOS: The Final Escape (PS2)
I was, at points, pleasantly surprised with the sound design. There are destruction noises when buildings and stuff is collapsing leaves much to be desired at times, other times the pure volume of it attacks your senses and creates urgency. The most effective use of sound was when you are at high levels and wind sound kicks in, though the mixing is done poorly it is a nice attention to detail that kind of makes up for its low budget, adding a layer of isolation in this cityscape.

And what would a low budget game from the 2000’s be without awful dialogue and voice acting? I’ll tell you what, boring. Yes, SOS has some terrible voice acting and writing that made me actually laugh out loud. It’s brilliant, it’s charming and it makes the game more entertaining. It adds this B-movie quality that is perfectly fitting for the game. If it was seriously, it would take something away from the experience.

Where this game really shines is in the gameplay. As this is a 3D adventure game with slight survival mechanics involved, levels tend to be ‘go from point A to point B’, with you using items to help you progress through the level. Though, this may sound boring and repetitive the game keeps it enjoyable.

One way the developers achieve this is through the aftershock system, as you can be strolling around, minding your own business and then an aftershock shakes the place up sending you on your arse. It’s a nice little mechanic that always keeps you on your toes and adds a little excitement to something very generic and boring.
SOS: The Final Escape
The other way the game keeps you engaged is through the set pieces, running away from falling buildings, cars exploding, the game can really push things into gear and sometimes unexpectedly. This is due to the excellent pacing, as most of the game it’s very quiet with these little rumbles and then out of nowhere it turns up to eleven.

Furthermore, the game does have some rudimentary stealth sections, though the one in the office is done particularly well.

As its kind of a survival game, you not only have to be mindful your health but also your thirst, as you must find bottles to fill with water at various taps etc, some may contain dirty water which also take a fair chunk of health off you. These water fountains also act as a in level save point, the bonfire for you soul’s heads out there.

You have item management system, with bags only storing said number of squares, meaning you must make sure you have enough space to store both survival equipment and items that will help you proceed through the story.

The game adds a lot intentional humor, allowing you to wear silly hats or sunglasses you find around the island to find unusual compasses, like a turtle compass or a surfer guy; the developers know you are here to have fun.

Moreover, sections of the game you have choices to make, making your character a bit of bum hole and with multiple endings, the game has bang for its bucks.​

SOS may have all these mechanics, but they all don’t matter that much. I very rarely died so health items don’t really matter, I very rarely drank from a bottle and the overall game is relatively easy but that’s ok because it’s fun. The games ambition allows you to buy into it, you can see where the developers were heading.

SOS-Final Escape is a unique, fun and exciting PlayStation 2 game. It has thrills and spills around every corner but never loses sight of the games intention to provide you, the gamer a fun time. A game anyone collector should get their hands on because it’s well worth it (it’s cheap too).

Guest Blog Post by Jack @ThePnutbean and YouTube
Warp in to the Lady Lounge!!!
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Blog post by Gemma @ Juicy Game Reviews / TheGebs24
Innocent Life: A Futuristic Harvest Moon on PSP
The PlayStation Portable or rather PSP was launched in Japan in 2004 and later to the rest of the world in 2005. The PSP slid in to a market that was dominated by Nintendo on the handheld front. What with the success of the Game Boy since the late 80’s and at the time the Nintendo DS; the PSP really had a lot of work to do in order to solidify itself within the gaming world.

Now I’m not here to ramble on about the tech specs of the PSP as I would much rather discuss the PSP from a cultural influence rather than a technical one. It seemed to be a instant hit. What with compatibility with the PS2 and PS3 (already highly loved and valued consoles) the PSP was and still is loved by thousands of gamers. With a beautiful library of games from series like GTA, Metal Gear Solid and more; the PSP was forever becoming a classic handheld console.

Today gamers still boast the PSP’s credibility in the home-brew world of emulation. Whilst this is not what I would use my PSP for; I can respect the usability and popularity of such a feature. Here we are today in 2019 talking about the PSP but this time we are taking a look at a possible Hidden Gem game by the name of innocent life a futuristic harvest moon.

Before we dive in to Innocent Life: A Futuristic Harvest Moon I want to ask: Have you payed Stardew Valley? If not then allow me to give you a brief overview. Stardew Valley is a farm simulation RPG. It is down to us to harvest and farm our own resources in order to build, grow and prosper. The game takes the form of a top down 16bit inspired style. It’s charming, it’s addictive and it’s captivating. Innocent Life for me is reminiscent of the Stardew Valley. Now, yes, Stardew Valley was released much later that Innocent Life but I feel we must draw the similarities.

Innocent Life: A Futuristic Harvest Moon takes place in 2022 in the colourful and aesthetic world of Heartflame Island. Known as Harvest Moon: Innocent Life. The game follows a robot boy who was created by Hope Grain. The game starts from the completion of the Robot Boys development. From there the game unfolds with tutorials which are based around learning to farm, interact and move around the world.

What makes Innocent Life so special? Not only is it rarely talked about; Innocent Life is full of charm. Its relaxing to play and feels charming throughout. If you can battle the, at times, long tutorial discussions I think you should really try and grab yourself a copy of Innocent Life.
Innocent Life requires a full watering can at all times!
Innocent Life: A Futuristic Harvest Moon takes place in 2022 in the colourful and aesthetic world of Heartflame Island. Known as Harvest Moon: Innocent Life. The game follows a robot boy who was created by Hope Grain. The game starts from the completion of the Robot Boys development. From there the game unfolds with tutorials which are based around learning to farm, interact and move around the world.

What makes Innocent Life so special? Not only is it rarely talked about; Innocent Life is full of charm. Its relaxing to play and feels charming throughout. If you can battle the, at times, long tutorial discussions I think you should really try and grab yourself a copy of Innocent Life.

Don’t be put off by the slower pace of gameplay. Arguably Stardew Valley was slow at times. Innocent Life will move forward if you give it time. As with Stardew Valley it’s a top down perspective that still looks fantastic in 2019. The world is easy to navigate, menus can be accessed by pressing L and R respectively so form the get-go you won’t have any trouble jumping in.

Now in terms of gameplay challenges, like I said earlier the tutorial is monotonous. And in the nature of transparency you may feel bored at times as if there is nothing to do. But personally I found this to be the case in Stardew Valley and I still got totally sucked in to that. Anyway, in Innocent Life seasons come and go, we must do our best to keep animals alive and generally keep things moving which is what you would expect from a farm sim kind of game.

So whoever you are, whether you’re a Stardew Valley nut or a Harvest Moon Uber fan I think you will love Innocent Life. In terms of the PSP long may it live and here’s to hoping that more hidden Gem games are talked about right here.

Blog post by Gemma @ Juicy Game Reviews / TheGebs24
PSP HIDDEN GEM (MUST PLAY 2019!) Innocent Life a Futuristic Harvest Moon | TheGebs24 - YouTube
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Blog post by: Gemma @ Juicy Game Reviews / TheGebs24
The PlayStation Classic has not had the best start. The console was launched 24 years after the original PlayStation released in Japan on December 3rd 1994. Over the last 24 years the PlayStation has been host to classic games (and franchises) like Tomb Raider, Crash Bandicoot, Spyro The Dragon, Ridge Racer, Gran Turismo and more. In fact many, many more PlayStation Games have entertained us for years. I remember being completely stuck at the end of the first disc of Metal Gear Solid. Back then I did not have the luxury of checking out a guide/walkthrough on YouTube. I had to run down to a friends house to ask about the code on the back of the case. That will teach me for playing copied PS1 games.

Fast forward to 2018 and we are over five years in to the PS4 Generation of gaming (and of later years; PS4 Pro). Not only that we were all at the peak of excitement when Sony announced we’d be getting a PlayStation Classic. In essence; a mini PS1. How many games did Sony confirm? At the time of announcing the PlayStation Classic only five games were announced; arguably the stronger five. Without beating a regurgitating information we eventually got the list of PS Classic games:

  • Battle Arena Toshinden
  • Cool Boarders 2
  • Destruction Derby
  • Final Fantasy VII
  • Grand Theft Auto
  • Intelligent Qube
  • Jumping Flash!
  • Metal Gear Solid
  • Mr. Driller
  • Oddworld: Abe's Oddysee
  • Rayman
  • Resident Evil Director's Cut
  • Revelations: Persona
  • Ridge Racer Type 4
  • Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo
  • Syphon Filter
  • Tekken 3
  • Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six
  • Twisted Metal
  • Wild Arms
PlayStation Classic the Good and Bad | TheGebs24 - YouTube
If you’re like me then you’ll be sick of hearing “there’s no Tomb Raider, there’s no Crash Bandicoot…” So often we are quick to judge a product in what should have been instead of taking a look at what we actually have. Now whilst a Tomb Raider game would have been great I think there’s enough Tomb Raider games out there to entertain us for a lifetime. Not to mention that the original Tomb Raider game is so common that we could quite easily play it on original hardware for super cheap.

Metal Jesus Rocks slammed the PlayStation Classic indicating that he was not happy with the game line-up which ended in him cancelling his pre-order. As a much smaller influencer than Jason (aka Metal Jesus) it is easy to judge a product and have a little rant on YouTube. I was guilty of this myself when the NES Mini Classic was announced. I now understand that in order to judge a product then you must experience it. I was naive in my NES Classic video rant and I turned out to love it. I value influencers who are willing to take the leap; rather than bow out over a semi-decent game library.
PlayStation Classic Controller
PlayStation Classic
An exploit was discovered by Retro Gaming Arts in which a Korsair Keyboard can be plugged in to the Playstation Classic Controller port. Once a game is loaded you can press ESC in order to access the PS Classic Emulator settings. From there the PlayStation Classic comes alive; even more so in its base form. The nine PAL PlayStations rooms can be switched in to NTSC format which increases the frame rates. Additional settings can be manipulated such as increased save states and more. Be warned though, this has only been done with various Korsair USB keyboards so unless you own one you’ll be unable to access the PlayStation Classic Emulator settings. Perhaps a new work-around will come out within the next couple of weeks?

The burning question is this: Is the PlayStation Classic worth buying? In its base form; the PS Classic has a lot of flaws. Frame drops, screen tears, polygon bleeding, one save state, the inability to change the aspect ratio and more. The price is a little high for such a sub-standard product especially from a gaming giant like PlayStation. If you’re a person who wants to be blown away by the PlayStation Classic then turn away now. This product is not for you. If you’re like me and loves a nostalgia boost (despite blatant flaws) then you are going to love the PlayStation Classic. Despite a huge retro game collection my heart feels warm when I turn on my PlayStation Classic. Embrace the child in you and go and buy the PlayStation Classic. Don’t be grumpy.

Blog post by: Gemma @ Juicy Game Reviews / TheGebs24
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Guest Blog Post by: Gareth @16bitdadblog and www.16bitdad.com
Silent Hill Review
Following on from a previous post of mine, covering my personal top 7 Survival Horror games, I thought I would fan the flames of controversy by reviewing Silent Hill 2 and explaining why it didn’t reach the number 1 spot on that list. After all, I value honesty when it comes to reviews, so that’s exactly what I am going to be with this one. There are some actual reasons for this too, and they don’t revolve around “I just don’t like it” or anything like that.

On the contrary, I actually really like Silent Hill 2. It was, for a long time, one of my favourite games. However, that changed as gaming moved on (even still within the PS2’s generation) and as I discovered other games. So, let’s take a look at what I love about Silent Hill 2, as well as what kept it from appearing further up that list.

STORYLINE
There was a time when I thought that Silent Hill 2 was the absolute pinnacle of Survival Horror storytelling. Every single character had their own motivations and backstory that had led them to the terrifying town of Silent Hill. On top of this, almost every aspect of the story can be interpreted differently, meaning that people always have their own take on major plot elements. Admittedly, the main twist of the game is pretty clear-cut and doesn’t leave room for interpretation, but the rest of the story does.

That was one reason why the game stuck with me for so long. The depth of the storyline and the way that elements of the game’s world and enemies all connect to it was amazing. It still is, to be fair. Plus, the way in which Pyramid Head plays into the story just adds to the unnerving feeling that you get as everything unravels.

For those who don’t know, Silent Hill 2 follows James Sunderland as he returns to the titular town after receiving a letter from his deceased wife saying that she is waiting for him there. Once he gets there, he is confronted by all kinds of horrific creatures, maniacal characters and a little girl seemingly intent on making his life hell. Oh, and that’s only the beginning. He eventually meets a young woman called Maria, who looks like the spitting image of his deceased wife Mary… Yet she has a very different personality and is obviously not Mary.

As the game progresses, things because darker and more confused as the lines between realities seem to blur. That is until you reach the final twist and learn what is really going on. From there, you can get a number of different endings depending on how you progressed through the story. The plot, despite that terrible summary, is actually a work of art!

We should probably ring out a fanfare of some kind, as Silent Hill 2 is officially the first game I have reviewed that gets a 100% score on the storyline!

However, this was probably both the biggest draw for Silent Hill 2 but also the start of it falling short compared to other games. You see, it is obvious that a huge amount of time, thought and detail was put into the story – it would be impossible to make something so deep and complex if that weren’t the case. However, a game cannot survive and grow based entirely on its story… It can thrive for a long time and create lasting memories and fondness… But that can only go so far as game development moves on.

GAMEPLAY
This is where things get a bit more muddled up. You see, when the game first came out it seemed amazing in terms of gameplay. The controls seemed to fine and everything seemed really polished. The monsters felt unique and different, which is always a plus. It just seemed so well crafted… At the time.

However, after playing other PS2 Survival Horror games like Fatal Frame 2: Crimson Butterfly or even the controversial Silent Hill: Shattered Memories, Silent Hill 2’s gameplay lost some of its charms. Suddenly, it didn’t feel that unique or different anymore. In fact, when I went back to play it after those games, it felt a bit formulaic. The storyline still stood strong, but the gameplay didn’t seem to offer anything new.

The controls felt a bit clunky, although that could be put down to the fact that Silent Hill 2 was one of the first Survival Horror games on the PS2. But it was a bunch of little things building up together that really got to me when I went back to the game.

For example, although I know it is supposed to give you the feeling of isolation, the excessively long run at the start of the game just makes the world feel void of all life, even threats. Yes, it might build up a false sense of security, but then this doesn’t really have a pay off as the introduction to the first enemy is completely telegraphed by mini-cutscenes. On top of this, where the enemies used to feel unique and different, going back to it after a game like Fatal Frame 2 makes you realise how much you are fighting the same few enemy types over and over.

Then, when you compare it to games like Silent Hill: Shattered Memories, the base gameplay feels like Silent Hill 2 didn’t really add anything new to the genre. For example, in Shattered Memories the game psychologically analyses you through your interaction with the game world and the way you answer certain questions. This then leads to the story and gameplay changing, including the enemy designs. This was an awesome gameplay mechanic that was more than just some cheap selling point… It actually meant that people had very different experiences of the game. It was something completely new when it came to the Survival Horror genre.

Silent Hill 2, on the other hand, followed the more typical gameplay ideas for Survival Horror. In short, it felt like the first game but with better graphics and a more interesting storyline. The gameplay itself didn’t really change much. As someone who is a fan of experimentation in game design, this ended up grinding my gears a bit.

Don’t get me wrong, I still love Silent Hill 2 and consider it one of the best Survival Horror games ever made… That should be evident as it made my list of the best PS2 Survival Horror games. However, I think it doesn’t quite live up to the rose-tinted nostalgia that I once had for it.
Silent Hill 2 (PS2) - Scary from whatever angle you see it
GRAPHICS
When it comes to graphics, Silent Hill 2 did excel. As one of the earliest Survival Horror games on the PlayStation 2, you’d be forgiven for assuming it lacked in the graphical department. However, even without the HD remakes for later consoles, the graphics still look good to this day. The world is beautiful (yet horrifically) realised and the fact that the developers kept the fog in the game despite no longer needing to hide the redraw rate was great. It went on to be a staple of the series.

The user interface was simple and easy to use as well. In general, the graphics were really good. In fact, I was listening to Super Fun Game Review Podcast Go (that is a mouthful, I know, but I’m a big fan of the podcast) and they mentioned something that I hadn’t noticed before; a lot of the boss battles revolve around fighting enemies that resemble beds – a direct tie in to the storyline.

However, there are a few setbacks as well. For example, since you spend the entire game controlling James as he runs around Silent Hill, I found it so hard not to get distracted by James’ rather odd running animation. Also, as mentioned before, having played other games in the genre, it becomes very apparent that the enemy designs are highly recycled with very little varying between them.

All in all, the graphics of Silent Hill 2 are really good, but a few little bits hold it back from being perfect.
Silent Hill 2 - Packed full of twisted rooms like this
AND THAT’S ALL FOLKS
Silent Hill 2 still has a very special place in my heart. The storyline was, as I said earlier, a work of art with how it ties everything together. It was also the first plot twist that actually surprised me in a game. However, even that was outdone by the final twist in Shattered Memories (for me, personally). Silent Hill 2 is still easily one of the best Survival Horror games ever made, but after playing other games in the genre, it no longer holds the throne for me.

​Guest Blog Post by: Gareth @16bitdadblog and www.16bitdad.com
Gareth's original blog post
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