Name: Axel Schmidt
Title: Head of Public Relations
Favorite Classic Game: StarCraft
Tell us why it is your favorite: Due to its unrivalled presentation, its compelling storyline, the unique races and characters and the enormous strategic gameplay depth and balancing StarCraft has continued to keep my fascination alive over the years.
The days of video games that can be controlled with a joystick and two buttons are long past. Today’s hits seem to require more fingers than a human being has, especially on the PC.
Enter the Stinky Footboard from SteLuLu Technologies. This PC-based controller is plastic and metal pad that allows users to use their foot to control up to four different key functions. The keys can be custom mapped to any function.
Installation of the device is a snap and the customization software is easy to use. Users can be up and running, perhaps quite literally, in no time.
The controller itself takes a little getting used to, as reacting to on-screen action with a foot isn’t exactly typical on many games. A set of springs with different tensions were included along with a tool to quickly swap them, giving users of the product the ability to find a comfortable level of tension.
For first-person shooters, the Stinky Footboard proved to be a godsend. It was no longer required to remove fingers from important buttons to perform other on-screen actions, as those buttons could be replaced by functions on the Stinky.
To add a different element to the mix, a some old school titles were used for this review. The classic Pac-Manproved too challenging using the footboard, but it turned out to be quite fun to try the iconic Space Invaders with the unique controls.
The Stinky Footboard can also be used for non-gaming functions, including surfing websites.
The product itself is quite sturdy. A video shown at PAX East showed the Stinky Footboard being run over by a car and continuing to work with only minor case scratches. While that extreme was not used for this review, the product managed to survive hours of use by a 245-pound former pro wrestler without any loss of functionality. It continued to work like new, which is more than can be said about almost any other controller product.
In addition to gaming and work functions, the Stinky Footboard could be used as a solution for those with disabilities or injuries.
Overall, the Stinky Footboard is a sturdy solution to multi-tasking gameplay. Once a player gets used to it, they should find the extra functionality allows for a smoother experience while the product itself can truly take a beating.
This week in honor of the NBA playoffs we bring you the Turbo Views, video game review of Takin it to the hoop. Sadly, this title made by Aicom Corp is really sub-par and I mean even for NES standards much less TG-16. The roster is not good and the big heads and style of the graphics is made more for a Wii retro game that a real basketball game. Also, get this, you cannot even jump!
Name: Guillaume BASTIDE
Company: Anuman Interactive (through Joystick Replay label)
Profession: PR & Communication Manager
Favorite Classic Game: Donkey Kong (Game&Watch)
Quote: This is one of the first game Very simple but very hard too, especially challenging my father on the high score ranking 🙂
Bio: Created in 2000, Anuman Interactive is a french softwares, applications and videogames publisher. Launched in March 2013, after Anuman Interactive recovered the “Joystick” and “Tilt” brands, the “Joystick Replay” Label includes the remastered versions of the big classic titles of the video game history. More informations on http://www.anuman-interactive.com/en/
Released: “Crazy Cars – Hit the Road”, “The Bluecoats – North vs South”
Incoming: “Fire & Forget: The Final Assault”, “Prehistorik”
Flintstones: The Rescue of Dino & Hoppy
Overall Rating: 4/5 Stars
Taito is a video game developer/publisher that has been in the industry for decades, from their work on arcade cabinets in the 1970’s to mobile device diversions in the 2010’s. As part of their somewhat storied history, in 1991, they released a license game called The Flintstones: The Rescue Of Dino & Hoppy, based on the popular animated television show. Oddly enough, the platformer was actually pretty good.
This is a one-player two-dimensional side-scrolling platformer in which the A button jumps and the B button attacks. This is already a promising formula, but with a lot of room to screw up. Fortunately for gamers everywhere, Taito did not take the somewhat typical route of cheaply, quickly producing the license title to try and take advantage of the fleeting popularity of the name recognition; instead, they packed in enough extras to add some intriguing gameplay dimensions, levels designed at least decently enough to provide a simple challenge, and all done with fairly slick execution.
The player controls Fred Flintstone who, beyond just jumping and swinging a big caveman’s club as an attack, has a few other maneuvers in his repertoire as well. Pressing down causes Fred to drop his head into his shirt, making him able to dodge certain projectiles he will encounter. Holding A during a jump will enable him to grab onto ledges, and pressing up on the edge will enable him to climb up, an essential move to completing the stages. Holding B powers up the club for a more powerful hit, during which Fred humorously waves it above his head until the release strike. There are items to collect as well, such as health items to replenish hearts (begins with three, five max), extra lives, and also including additional weapons. Once one of the three are collected, they can be activated by pressing up and B.
The ammo system is interesting. The three items are an axe, which is thrown upward in an arc that comes back down; a slingshot, which fires straight ahead; and, amusingly enough, Boomasaurus eggs which are laid then, a few seconds later, “explode” to kill all enemies on the screen or harm a boss. Using one of the weapons takes tokens. The tokens can be found by killing most enemies. The Boomasaurus eggs take ten tokens to use, while slingshot shots and axes take three, but grabbing a token adds five to Fred’s total, offering an economy of use whereby one slingshot projectile per each fallen foe giving a token item results in a net profit of two tokens per enemy, although the amount does max out at 100.
The levels express a diversity in physics effects at a couple points, though perhaps feeling a little contrived. There is the usual ice level, with its slippery surface; but also a neat twist on an underwater level where, rather than swim, it is still a platforming stage, but with reduced gravity. The truly contrived, at worst, comes with the Asian level, complete with stereotypical martial-arts enemies and 8-bit “Oriental” music.
Then there are the three basketball matches. Huh? Yeah, there is an overworld accessed between levels, offering route choice toward completion, which would be notable enough, but the truly noteworthy feature is the three one-on-one roundball rounds against Hard-Head Harry. The strangest part is that, if the player wins by scoring more points in the one-minute time period, the reward is one of three abilities granted by pressing Start and requesting from the Great Gazoo, who himself is a time-traveling alien who appeared on the show as the resident shark-jumper. The three possible rewards are temporary abilities to Fly, in which Fred dons wings and can head upward until hitting something; Jump, for which he hopes on a dinosaur and jumps a crazy height; and Dive, which is supposedly to help travel through water but is not really necessary, and even only helpful on a single level.
Oh, the plot, by the way, and forgive this second-person-voice reviewer for slipping into more informal language for the moment, revolves around the two beloved dino-pets being kidnapped by a diabolical evil doctor from the future, who breaks Gazoo’s time machine, spreading its parts across the world, which is the whole point Fred is defeating all the stages to complete the machine to chase the villain down. Along the way, Fred will run into other classic characters from the shoe, like Wilma and Barney, who tend to inform him of an upcoming boss fight, which all the stages end which, featuring enormous monsters and even, at the castle, a Dracula-like character, matching giant Frankenstens throughout.
The point: This is a solidly designed, thorough, professionally developed platformer, and done well by Taito, standing as a great example of what a license title can be and, dare it be said, approaches the level of Capcom’s license platformers. It does play a little slower, a little more strategic with its Prince of Persia-like edge-hanging, so it is not as much of a fast-paced game, but some players may even dig that. On the other side of the coin, the worst parts would have to be the knockback suffered with every enemy hit, and the sinister traps laid by the designers, including the need to take a couple leaps of complete faith to advance.
Flintstones: The Rescue Of Dino & Hoppy looks pretty, sharp, and pretty sharp. The animated sprites are drawn well, the enemy designs are competent, and the levels vary widely in their appearance. Even the signature style from the show is used for Fred’s walk animation, with his exaggerated leg movements. The way Fred can creep along while holding B for a club strike is enjoyable. Yet among the strengths are a couple noticeable flaws: Primarily, the one-color backgrounds in some bits, startling when jumping across a broad chasm; and, in the game’s ambition, there are some minor flickering issues when dealing with the larger foe creatures.
A weak point of the game, in this reviewer’s opinion, but for a very specific reason that not everyone may agree with: The background music tracks very heavily rely on painfully high notes. Even though the compositions themselves are fine, even achieving the right range of zany cartoon mayhem, the melody leans on ear-splittingly high notes. The sound effects are okay; if not difficult to comment on, considering the onslaught of eardrum-burstingly shrill tunes.
The head-ducking effect, the plot twist that shows an amazingly brilliant use of license property near the end of the game, the tokens-as-ammo weapons system, and other elements add up to this being an admirably creative platformer. Perhaps no one of its ingredients is in itself inherently completely original (for example, there are certainly other basketball games on the NES), but the combination is distinctively unique and proves to be a satisfying experience. The rating goes four stars out of five for this one.
The Button Affair is the story of Enzo Gabriel. His quest. To steal the priceless Button Jewel from the infinitely wealthy business tycoon Victor Meirelles.
J.A. Laraque on 1337 Lounge Live!
The Gamer Profile Story
So here is the story. When we first created Obsolete Gamer, one of my personal goals was to talk to as many people as possible and find out what their favorite classic game was. To reach this goal and bring people to the site I created Gamer Profiles. The idea was simple. We asked people what their favorite game was and why. At first it was hard to get people to respond, but we were lucky enough to know the founders of Origin PC and they became one of our first gamer profiles, but I was just getting started.
I wanted more and I figured if you can get one profile then why not 100. We added profiles from small indie companies all the way up to people from Capcom and more, but then I said: How about celebrities. I am a big fan of the Jace Hall show and wanted to interview the man himself. We sent out e-mails, but he was very busy at the time working on his web series as well as the remake of V. For a time I thought I would never get his gamer profile, but then after several delays he promised to send one.
A man of his word, in a few weeks I had it and from there I was determined to get many more and so I created the sub category of GP All-Stars, but it did not end there with Jace. Later we got a full interview and we teamed up to help our respected sites. I participated in video game discussions and talked with his staff about my ideas. Then I got an e-mail I never expected.
I was asked to come on the show 1337 Lounge Live. I was ecstatic and within a few weeks we shot the promo you see below. Here is the story of the video, the 1337LoungeLive hosts forgot about a very important interview with video game legend, Jace Hall, and try to cover it up! Xander and Jennifer are super cool and the whole experience was incredible. Now, this is a promo and it is for my appearance as a guest on the show on April 26th from 6PM to 8PM PST. I will be hanging out and talking with fans of all video games.
So I ask you to spread the word and hang out especially if you love classic gaming. Who knows if this goes well maybe we can do more. Either way it will be a fun time so I hope to see you there. In the meantime check out the video and let us know what you think.
Written by: Jennifer Zhang & Xander Denke
Directed by: Adam Rady
Produced by: Jennifer Zhang, Xander Denke, Adam Rady
Cinematography: Jared Hoy
VFX: Adam Rady
J.A. LaRaque……. as himself
Xander Denke……. as himself
Jennifer Zhang……. as herself
Format: Commodore 64 (C64)
Developer: HAL Labratory, Inc.
Game Mode: Single Player
Gentlemen, start your engines! How apt that I pull out the LeMans C64 cartridge on this day, the start of the 2013 Formula 1 (F1) Grand Prix season. I am aware LeMans and F1 are two separate sanctioned sports, but hey, it is a racing game, and that is all there is to it. Perhaps I should have ripped out Checkered Flag on the Atari Lynx. I just have to stop second guessing myself and stick with this old game.
LeMans on the C64 is a top-down up-the-screen driving game, where you as the driver, must hit the pedal to the metal and drive to a never ending finish line. The goal of the game is to pass as many cars as you can. The more cars you overtake, the more points you earn. It’s not about the finish line in this game, it is all about accumulating the highest points score.The faster you go, the more points you earn – 2 points per metre to be exact. Every 10 cars passed you earn 1000 bonus points. Keep an eye on the countdown timer, as you will only get time extensions every 20,000 points. This is old school tough.
The strategy to doing well in LeMans is to drive as fast as you can for as long as you can, passing computer drivers (watch out as they veer in your path!) and traversing all kinds of terrain. The terrain sections in LeMans is what makes the game quite interesting – there are icy roads (your car slides as if it’s on skates), divided highways (squeezing into 2 lanes), night driving (relax, you have headlights) and the famous “LeMans Esses”.
Every time your car is hit by another vehicle or if you steer into the walls, your car turns into a wreck and you must “Pit” to the left as the on-screen message tells you to. This kills off precious seconds, so try and avoid hitting or being hit by cars and stop steering into walls. If you can avoid damage to your vehicle, then you will be well on your way to that precious high points score.
The only (fun) way to play this game is with the ‘Commodore Paddles’. The Paddles add to the playability of the game as you hold the accelerator button with your left thumb and steer with your right fingertips. There were no “steering wheel” contraptions for the C64 back in the day. The Paddles did (and still do) the job just right.
Well, enough of my ranting, I am off to play another game before the F1 race kicks off.
Name: Jonathan Malave
Title: Founder, Game Designer & Producer
Company: Kuroato Media
Favorite Classic Game: Final Fantasy 7
Tell us why it is your favorite: It’s the only game I have ever played over and over again, and never got bored of it. I love Japanese Anime; Final Fantasy 7 always gave me the feeling like I was taking part of an anime or something. Also, who could deny how cool and bad-ass the main characters, rivals Cloud and Sephiroth were? I have yet to find another game with rival characters that could match their synergy. Overall I think it was the Characters and the Storyline that did for me. Final Fantasy 7 is one of the best games ever made! and I think Square Enix should remake it.
Format- Gameboy Color
Genre- 2D platformer/shooter
Your average Duke enthusiast undoubtedly knows that the blonde haired alien killing machine started his trade in 2D platformers on the PC. They were solid titles, but were pretty much forgotten when Duke Nukem 3D arrived on the scene.
It didn’t signal the end of Duke’s side on escapades though. Duke Nukem on GBC may have been released three years after the 3D Duke, but it admirably still went about reviving much of the ideas and enemies from its 2D ancestors.
Not many seemed to care though, and Duke’s first outing on a Nintendo portable pretty much disappeared without trace, consigned to a mere footnote in history.
I think that’s a shame, as this is an enjoyable enough outing for Mr Nukem. And considering most of the trademark gore, babes and swears of the series are absent here, that’s no mean feat.
The graphics are colorful and pleasingly chunky, with Duke particularly well animated. He’s agile too – able to grab ledges, duck and shoot from ladders, little frustration arises from the controls.
Alas, what the game gives it in equal measure takes away. Controls may be solid but avoiding your enemies’ range of attacks is still tough, and you’ll find yourself taking a lot of unavoidable damage throughout the game.
Health packs are plentiful though, meaning most players should be able to make it to the end of the game just by remaining persistent. Skill isn’t a necessary requirement here.
Incentive to progress is helped by side missions (such as a satisfyingly destructive tank level) and the cut-scenes – which have a nice relaxed humor about them.
For Duke completists then, I think this is a must have. Unfortunately the game is somewhat scarce, but copies thankfully aren’t too expensive when they do turn up. If I may paraphrase the great man – ‘go get some.’
You don’t have to be a real detective to guess what you do in Sherlock Holmes, Consulting Detective. The game is a hybrid of an adventure and simulated game where you play the famous doctor Holmes as you and your friend Watson solve a series of crimes.
The game takes you around London where you will, interrogating suspects, gathering clues, checking out the newspapers, and eventually presenting all the evidence to the judge. If you did your work correctly the judge will accept your results and the case will be solved.
If I had to pick a game that was so bizarre and crazy that it was nutty fun, The MAD Magazine Game would be it. Back in the 70′s MAD Magazine was a serious force on the magazine stand. I remember reading them and laughing at their fresh and irreverent presentations of everything from spoofing the latest movies and TV shows, to social-political commentary dressed up as jokes, to the Road Runner/Coyote style violence of Spy vs. Spy. And so when Parker Brothers came out in 1979 with a board game based on the MAD Magazine zeitgeist, it was a must-buy.
You know you’re playing a different kind of game right from the start when you learn what your goal is: to lose all your money. It’s much harder than it sounds, though, with the Card cards making your life difficult with cards like, “If you are a Boy Person, Win $500″ or “Change Chairs With Anyone.” You can get lucky, and get a Card card that says, “If you are GOOD LOOKING, stand up and imitate your favorite animal, and lose $2,000″ or “Stand up and BOO the person on your left. Also lose $1000.” As you can see, the game plays a little bit more wacky than your average board game fair.
Moving about the table is an integral part of the game, so don’t get too comfortable in your chair. Between spaces on the game board that move everyone to a new seat, to Card cards that do the same, expect to have to pick up your drink and move to your right or your left. But you have to leave your money behind, which can be a good thing (if you had more than anyone else) or a bad thing (if you were almost broke!). This means that there really is no effective strategy to winning the game that can be planned from the start; the random elements send any plan into disarray as quickly as it is formulated. Perhaps this was Parker Brothers’ version of Chaos Theory in action!
The game board is filled with classic MAD Magazine art and zany humor. You can see art from Spy vs. Spy, The Lighter Side of…, site gags from Don Martin and Sergio Aragones, and more. And much like the magazine itself, there are little surprises throughout the game board that you stumble upon as you play. Some scenes should bring back memories, and perhaps a smile or guffaw or two. Just make sure your legal name isn’t Alfred E. Neuman, or you’ll have to collect the special $1,329,063 bill included in the game. Did I mention the game is wacky?
The MAD Magazine Game is yet another timeless family classic, and is recommended for 2 to 4 players ages 8 and up.
By: Taito Genre: Shooting Players: 1 Difficulty: Easy-Medium
Featured Version: Arcade First Day Score: 259,300 (one credit)
Also Available For: MegaDrive, NES
The differences between the gaming cultures in Japan and the ‘West’ really are quite amazing sometimes. Obviously certain genres are more popular in certain parts of the world but even some that are universally popular, such as shoot ’em ups, can be quite different. The Japanese like bright, cute, and often very weird games while us Western gamers apparently have darker, more realistic, and often more violent tastes. A great example of this peculiar trend is Insector X by frequent purveyors of cuteness, Taito. Accordingly, this original is colourful and full of cute characters. Most Western gamers know it as a MegaDrive release, however, and this version features much more realistic graphics devoid of cuteness. When I recently decided to reacquaint myself with the game, this time by sampling the arcade version, it was this kind of game that I was expecting, but as you’ve probably already determined, it’s not the type of game I found.
No versions of the game seem big on story, not even the ones that have instruction manuals as far as I can tell, but it seems the premise involves some sort of insect infestation, but they’re not just ordinary insects – these ones are cybernetic terrors! Rather than using a combination of insect repellent and the odd hydraulic press, however, the fate of the world (whichever world it is) is instead left up to a hero who rivals the insects in terms of his diminutive stature as well as his hardened resolve. He goes by the name of Yanmer and only with your help can he rid the world of the Dark Ruler Queen, etc. Five side-scrolling stages stand between the two adversaries as well as a large number of exoskeletal goons who, I’m happy to say, do not exclusively possess the luxury of flight – Yanmer is not only equipped with wings himself which enable free and unlimited movement around the stages but he also wears a hat topped by a propeller for good measure.
The freedom of flight would be useless without something a bit more aggressive to back it up with though, as a single hit from one of the spindly critters is enough to put him down. To this end, Yanmer is also equipped with the standard weedy gun which initially fires a single small shot. It can be powered-up fairly quickly by collecting ‘P’ icons though, while the similar ‘S’ icons put a bit more wind in his wings, the ‘A’ icon equips an autofire option, Lightning icons are smart bombs, there are acorns to collect for bonus points, and there’s also the odd 1up to look out for. Then there’s the special attacks. There are ten of these altogether which are obtained by collecting insecticide cans carried by some enemies (which is a bit like Ripley carrying an angry Alien around, but nevermind) which alternate between ground and air attacks – coloured brown or blue respectively – of which there are five apiece. They are seemingly awarded randomly but generally consist of either bomb-like things to hammer the numerous floor-dwelling enemies, and various types of missiles for taking out the more numerous airborne nincompoops.
These special attacks can also be powered-up by collecting successive icons and before long our heroic fairy is hurling an almost-unbreachable wall of death! That doesn’t make it the easiest arcade shmup of all-time but it’s far from the hardest either. Least that means you should get to see all the stages though, but are they worth seeing? Graphically, it uses a mixture of styles. As mentioned, the sprites are mostly cute creatures such as flies, bees, dragonflies, moths, and ladybirds in the air while the ground forces are made up of fish, snails, flowers, and even mushrooms. The stages themselves, on the other hand, are made to look a bit more realistic for the most part. They’re named Desert, Plateau, City, Jungle, and Their Empire, and feature a decent mixture of man-made as well as natural environments, both indoor and outdoor.
Each stage, or ‘area’, is guarded by a giant creepy-crawly too, such as wasps or spiders. These things reminded me of the bosses in Fantasy Zone – they have limited movement and seem to content merely flinging a load of bullets your way. They’re not nearly as tough as the infernal guardians in Sega’s older cute ’em up but they do look half-decent, as do many of the backgrounds and some of the amusing enemies too, but I can’t help thinking this looks like a game designed a few years earlier – things were generally quite a bit flashier than this by 1989. The flashiest thing here is probably Yanmer’s weapons, with the screen often brimming with his multi-coloured bullets and missiles, but most effects, such as the explosions or enemies taking damage are quite poor. Still, it’s pleasant and cheerful enough, and sounds the part too. The music is rather on the loud side but most tunes are catchy and suit the cutesy action pretty well.
For all its decent-though-unspectacular aesthetics, though, I’m struggling to think of any one moment or section of the game that really stands out. Control of Yanmer is good, although it’s possible to speed him up too much, but there isn’t really much in the way of foreground scenery or obstacles to manoeuvre around which was disappointing and made progress a bit… well, boring at times, especially as there isn’t really any super-tough, nerve-fraying parts either. A balanced difficulty level is rare in a shmup, admittedly, but sometimes you need a crazy, hectic section to keep you on your toes! It’s not a very long game either – a player of moderate skill should be able to play it through in less then twenty minutes with a bit of practise. Insector X is far from a terrible game and is well worthy of a blast if the chance arises – what else gives you the opportunity blow the crap out of confused-looking snails, frowning moths, and evil mushrooms? – but when the most noteworthy thing about a game, and an arcade game no less, is curiosity over its graphical style compared to a more popular version, it can’t really be wonderful news either.
RKS Score: 6/10
Overall Rating: 2.5/5 Stars
In 1988, developer Taxan offered the North American release of Mappy-Land, a port to the Nintendo Entertainment System based on an earlier arcade game. Like many other home console titles of the era, it was a serviceable version of the cabinet unit but with a step down in graphics, featuring never-ending gameplay in an attempt to garner high scores.
The NES video game Mappy-Land follows the action of the protagonist, Mappy the Mouse, a police mouse in fact, as he traverses various areas in a side-scrolling platforming adventure divided into four stages of eight levels each, the eight levels almost identical but with slight differences in each world until they eventually repeat completely. Throughout the first world, Mappy must collect pieces of cheese; then, the second world, rings; then Christmas trees in the third world, before collecting baseballs in the fourth and final.
As he is doing so, he is pursued by small cats called Mewkies, a slightly larger cat on each stage named Goro, and sometimes differing foes depending on the level, such as level three that has monkeys on vines. Getting touched by any of these enemies loses a life, and losing all lives equals Game Over.
The control is non-traditional, with the B button used to jump and the A button used to set traps, which are kept in an inventory amount at the top of the screen and can temporarily distract moving Mewkies when laid. Otherwise, this is a very vertically oriented game, with dozens of trampolines throughout that Mappy must use to choose which floor of different structures to traverse in order to find the necessary items in each realm needed to advance to the next stage. There is also a time limit, though not overtly shown; however, there are two warning sounds given before enemies increase or one outright kills Mappy. Sometimes a level, like level six with obtaining a cross to get past the vampire cat at the end, requires a secondary objective. Play continues as Mappy collects the needed items and advances to the end of each stage.
Sometimes the trampolines are a bit touchy, and the third-level vines especially so. In fact, this entire game has a very distinct feel to its controls that takes some getting used to. Once you get used to it, you will find yourself smoothly traveling between the floors, using the trampolines, setting the in-level traps, grabbing the items, and traversing along as you conquer level after level, until the welcome reprieve in the castle side-level (like the church or haunted house on level six) of level eight when you race to try and gather the items in time for Mappy’s family member’s birthday party, etc. This is among the most obviously arcade-inspired of the NES games.
This cartridges looks okay in play, but not great. The colors are a bit washed out, to the extent that it can take a few moments to find a needed on-screen item at times, as they lack proper outlines and detail. It is of average appearance, taking the usual step down from the graphics of the arcade counterpart.
Like other early titles, especially arcade-inspired renditions, Mappy-Land has upbeat, high-pitched background music. It is not as grating as some other examples, but is certainly not going to win any awards any time soon, either. The effects are simple, though very appropriate, such as the little ghost gun on level six, or the heavy noise of the bowling ball traps as they bounce along.
The original concept is interesting, in that the characters have names and there is even a loose plot involving Mappy collecting items for his family members. The gameplay itself is just the natural, organic arcade advancement of previous item-finding, time-sensitive, high-score-seeking titles like Pac-Man, but with a heroic mouse and some more colors.
Overall, Mappy-Land is a very average game, if that “very average” phrase makes any sense. It will have its loyal adherents that have fallen into deep fondness with its mechanics and have mastered them, and it will also have its detractors who only grow further frustrated and annoyed with its play that can be downright difficult and annoying if you are not used to it. Its one endearing value is, pointedly, this learning curve: In a way, this video game is unique, and those who break it down into its basic foundational aspects may find the same satisfaction that other gamers have found when conquering Donkey Kong, Centipede, etc. But even if it is considered a tightly developed, perfectly challenging arcade-style port cartridge, its shallow play and inability to break any spectacular boundaries of quality lands it two and a half stars out of five.
Racing fans always wanted to get their hands on a game that allowed them to challenge themselves on real life racing tracks. As games began to come out featuring them, fans wanted more and more. Enter, Victory Run for the Turbo Grafx-16. It was released in 1989 by Hudson Soft and was one of the first racing games to depict the Paris-Dakar Rally.
Victory run also featured degradable parts that you had to replace if you had spare parts which you acquired before the start of a race. You can find rereleases of Victory run for the Wii Virtual Console and the Playstation Network.
Donkey Kong: The start of a collection
It may appear that we are going somewhat off-topic with this post. Strictly speaking, Donkey Kong, the game that is Mario’s birth-ground, does not seem an appropriate subject for a blog titled beforemario.
But it is not too farfetched, to state that without Donkey Kong this blog would not exist. And it is therefore more than appropriate to put a spotlight on Miyamoto’s premiere master piece; the start of my fondness for Nintendo, as well as the start of my collection.
With that in mind – let’s dig in.
It is not my intention to introduce or explain Donkey Kong. That would be silly. Unlike many of the Nintendo toys and games featured on this blog, I can safely assume that you know all ins and outs of the game’s origin, have played its four levels a zillion times, and watched The King of Kong more than once. Right?
What I would like to show you instead, is my first – ever – Nintendo game. The first piece of what would become a mountain of games. The first snowflake of an eventual collecting avalanche.
Here it is: the actual first Nintendo item I bought, almost thirty years ago.
I did not own a video game console at the time, and got all my pixelated kicks at the local arcade.
Now, I must admit that I had never really liked the Atari VCS 2600, which was the big home video game daddy around that time. I had played it occasionally, but could not get over the difference between its game play and what was on offer at the arcade. As a result, it never made it to my ‘must have’ list.
I remember seeing Atari’s home conversions of Space Invaders and especially Pac Man (two of my favorite games at the arcade) and not warming to these versions at all.
Then one day, I walked into a toy store, and saw a stack of brochures laying on the counter. It featured a new game console about to be released: CBS’s ColecoVision.
The scan shown above is from the actual copy I picked up that day, thirty years ago. Given the many times I have thumbed through it (and drooled over it), in the months that followed that moment, it looks surprisingly fresh.
The main selling point of the ColecoVision was a mouth-watering home conversion of Donkey Kong. A screen shot of it was put prominently on the front of the brochure. With the yellow high-light behind it, it stood out more than the actual console itself. And with reason. This was its killer app.
Inside the brochure, three pictures told a clear story, with a simple side-by-side comparison of the three home versions of Donkey Kong, for the ColecoVision, theAtari 2600 and the Intellivison.
Never mind that Coleco had handled all three conversions, and possibly given the version destined for their own hardware platform maybe a little bit of extra attention and TLC. The difference in quality, foremost visually, was staggering.
The ColecoVision version of Donkey Kong was no pixel-perfect conversion either. The first level, for instance, was missing one platform (it had five, instead of the original’s six). And more was missing, as I would soon find out. But it was close.
So, long story short: desire swelled up in me. I had to have it.
And after months of saving up, I became the proud owner of a ColecoVision.
A magical moment. Look at it. Hours of fun, packed in a black piece of plastic.
I slotted the cartridge into the machine and started playing.
Initial amazement at the feast of color and sound was suddenly replaced by confusion. After three levels the game started again at the first. Wait a minute… where is the factory level?
After some moments of disbelieve, and re-reading the manual, I had to take in the truth: there was no factory level. My favorite level had been sliced during the conversion process. Alas, no running on conveyor belts. No jumping over pies.
After recovering from that somewhat disappointing news, I was still very happy with my own home arcade, and played Donkey Kong for hours on end.
After this first Nintendo purchase came another, and another, and another, and another. But thirty years on, this one remains one of the most special.
One of my favorite board games growing up was Payday. Not the later versions (dreck!), but the original Parker Brothers 1974 release, with the green box and little dollar signs for playing pieces, invented by Paul J. Gruen (who also invented other classic games like Bonkers!, as well as games based on TV properties, such as Battlestar Galactica, and The Six Million Dollar Man: Bionic Crisis.
The game is pretty straightforward. The game board is in the shape of a calendar month. You roll the die and move your token throughout the month. And just like reality, you’ve got to roll with the punches. You get Mail – sometimes bills, sometimes junk, and – rarely! – a little bit of cash. Every so often you get access to a Deal, some which might make you a little extra spending money, some that might make you wealthy – but the deal might go sour, too. And all the while, you’ve got to manage your money.
It’s a perfect game to play with teens and tweens to help them visualize a typical month of paying bills, collecting a paycheque, and trying to get ahead just a little bit more than the month before. And it’s all done with a healthy dose of clean, family-friendly humor. You can play it with as little as two people, and up to six, ages 8 and up.
Payday is a classic board game, and certainly one of the best. Highly recommended!
Format- Atari 2600
Genre- Side on shooter
There’s only so many things you can say about a lot of Atari 2600 games without stating the obvious.
The graphics are basic. The gameplay is confusing. What is that shape actually supposed to represent? Yes, if you’re not trained in the ways of ye olde Atari, most of the console’s games are more trouble than they’re worth.
Judging Crash Dive purely on adjusted standards though, it isn’t too bad. Sure, it’s pretty aimless and outdated, but what do you expect?
You play as the white ship (see pic) that is always fixed on the left hand side of the screen. Enemies such as fish, battleships and lizards all come at you, and it’s your duty to blast them away. That’s your lot.
Added intrigue does comes about however, with how the screen is unevenly split between air, sea and underground. Your craft can dive underwater (which involves a cute – for the Atari – splash effect) and burrow underground, but for all extents and purposes the ship’s handling remains the same.
You have a few lives, with the only aim seemingly to stay alive. You’ll play this for a few minutes and that’s probably it. This is a solid entry into the 2600 pantheon, and the sounds are as retro-cool as ever, but i’m struggling to say any more.
Developed by 20th Century Fox, i’m not sure whether the game is the studio attempting a very late interactive version of the 1943 film of the same name. I don’t think the film would be worth seeing if the game’s ‘plot’ is anything to go by though.
KT-Super 90 in 1
I picked this Game Boy cartridge up from Sao Paulo Brazil. I’ve got quite the little collection of pirated GB games now most of which are from Brasil.
This particular GB cart says it has 90 games in 1, but really it’s just 7 in 1. Sometimes you never know what you’re going to get with one of these carts. I’m not sure why exactly I’m so intrigued with these old pirated carts, maybe because we didn’t have them in the US. But I like them and continue to enjoy them very much.
KT-Super 90 in 1 contains 7 games. They are…
1. All Star Challenge
3. Battle City
4. Burai Fighter
5. Duck Tales
6. The Punisher
7. Trump Boy
My top 3 games from this cartridge would have to be Battletoads, Duck Tales, and The Punisher. I’m very aware of Duck Tales and Battletoads, but the Punisher was a nice little surprise. I hadn’t played that game before and it’s actually a lot of fun.
Odallus: The Dark Call
We all love retro games and many of us love games inspired by classic favorites. Enter, Odallus: The Dark Call. This action/exploration games was inspired by such classic hits as Ghosts’n Goblins, Demon’s Crest and Castlevania.
The idea of mixing exploration and action is always interesting. In some games like Allen Wake, it did not work so well running to collect book pages while trying to avoid being killed. However, in Odallus we are promised to be treated to intense battles not made for wussies while still maintaining an exploration based experience.
Here is the main story of the game:
On an ancient times, a warrior tired of fighting returns home just to discovery his battles have not yet ended. A Dark Lord and his scourge army ravaged his village leaving no good soul alive and continues his path of destruction in search for the Ultimate Power. Now, it is up to him to put a stop on this cursed destruction before it is too late.
We will have more to come on this game in the coming weeks.
Sonic the Hedgehog Remastered
Coming in April the remastered version of Sonic the Hedgehog arranged by Christian “The Taxman” Whitehead will be available for the Android and iOS platforms. The cost will be three dollars and you can expect it to be a lot like Whitehead’s last release of Sonic CD. In addition, Sonic 2 will also be getting the remastered treatment soon.
Format: Atari Jaguar
Developer: Llamasoft (Jeff Minter)
It has been a long time coming. Nineteen years to be exact. Nineteen years to finally take Jeff Minter’s game for a proper review spin.
Tempest 2000, the beefed-up remake of Dave Theurer’s 1981 arcade classic, was Atari’s killer game that helped it shift lots of Jaguar’s upon its release in 1994. This game was never going to be a straight ‘pretty up’ by Jeff Minter. The great Yak added his usual quirkiness to this seminal favourite. What he produced was nigh on perfection.
You may ask, what is so damn good about Tempest 2000. Well, if you are patient for one second, I will let you know. Yak (Jeff Minter) took a first generation arcade game and injected crisp 3D polygon graphics, an awesome techno soundtrack and oodles of new enemy types and obstacles.
Don’t think that Tempest 2000 is just an audio visual enhancement to the original – Yak also added 100 varying webs (levels), new opponents, collectable power-ups like the particle-blaster/laser, jumps, and A.I. Droids who destroy anything that gets too close. Thrown in this awesome gaming mix was the new ”Melt-O-Vision” transition effect – very psychedelic (very Jeff Minter) indeed. Add the different types of play options – two-player cooperative and competitive play modes and you got yourself one awesomely gorgeous masterpiece.
No game, no matter how great it looks and sounds is complete without a complimentary control system. There is only one way to play Tempest 2000, and that is with a rotary controller. You could use the standard Atari pad, but it just doesn’t do the game justice. The rotary control enhances the enjoyment of the game and it definitely helps in achieving those lucrative high scores. Tempest 2000 is a an incredibly great title which was released on an incredibly obscure system. This game is the jewel in the Jaguar’s crown. If you haven’t played it, you are missing out big time!
|Graphics||Superbly crisp 3D polygons that only the Yak can produce. Yes, the Jaguar can handle it.|
|Sound||A perfect techno soundtrack. Light-synthesizer tunes throughout with very meaty sound effects. It is an awesome aural pleasure. Turn it up!|
|Playability||Getting into the game is quiet easy – spin around on the web and blast away the encroaching enemies. To truly experience this game, it must be played with a rotary controller.|
|Lastability||Considering there are 100 levels to complete, this game will last forever.|
|Overall||Jeff Minter can seriously do no wrong. The Yak knows how to produce brilliant games. This one is no exception. Even Dave Theurer approves of it (I made that up)! Get it and play hard.|
Michelle Juett Silva
The earliest generations of video gamers have now grown into the people who create all forms of entertainment. Among them is Schenectady, New York resident Michelle Juett Silva. As one-half of the married couple behind indie video game developer Ska Studios, she has turned a lifelong love of video gaming into a storied industry career.
“My first experiences playing games were in daycare on an NES, Super Nintendo and a Macintosh,” she recalled. “We had games like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Super Mario Bros., SkiFree, Number Munchers and Oregon Trail. As there were many kids, we had limited time to get to play.”
After Michelle and her brother were given a Super Nintendo console as a Christmas present, her passion for gaming continued to grow alongside the advancing generation of Nintendo consoles and eventually into the gaming creations of other companies.
“I was convinced I’d be a Nintendo fan for life and even into college I was anti Xbox and definitely not into PC gaming,” she said. “This is now pretty funny because I almost entirely play only Xbox 360 and PC. My favorite games of all time are easily Eternal Darkness and Silent Hill 2. These darker, more horror based games play an influential role on the kinds of games I want to make. As an adult, I made the switch to Xbox, primarily due to my first profession testing Xbox games. I still look back to those first influential games as the inspiration that molded me.”
Majoring in art during college, the idea of working in the video game industry was sparked by her roommate’s desire to become a concept artist for video games. Choosing to take a similar path, Silva turned to an industry contact given to her by a family member.
“My aunt knew a game artist and helped set me up with an advice interview and that helped me get an idea of where I stood in the industry,” she recalled. “It didn’t look too promising. I wasn’t an amazing, jaw-dropping artist and the industry is incredibly competitive. I also didn’t know anybody except my aunt’s contact and I already felt like I was imposing on him. Don’t get me wrong, he was incredibly nice and helpful, but at that point I felt that pestering questions of any industry professional was a waste of their time.”
Michelle then decided to aim for as many industry positions as she could.
“I cold-applied as an artist to ArenaNet and some other, smaller game companies,” Silva said. “Interestingly, ArenaNet was the only one to take the time to send me a rejection email. As hard as a rejection is to hear, to this day, I still appreciate the crap out of them for letting me know. A few months after graduation, I found ‘game tester’ on a job search website that didn’t look like a complete scam and gave it a shot. When I received a call from a contracting service asking for a phone interview, I was completely surprised. The interview was basically a history of my experience playing games. It seemed like a gamer’s dream, still potentially a scam, but I also saw it as a foot in the door. And it was. In more ways than I could ever possibly imagine.”
As her career continued to advance, one of the games Michelle encountered also led her to meeting her eventual husband and partner.
“The Dishwasher: Dead Samurai was one of the first titles I got my name into the credits for being a tester,” she said. “Dead Samurai was developed by Ska Studios, the one man team made up of James Silva. I felt unworthy but quality assurance is still an important part of the game development process. A while later, and a few jobs later, I became a lead in quality assurance at ArenaNet on the Guild Wars live team. At the time I felt this was where I would stay for a long time working my way up into the company. I got to work on some art tasks even in quality assurance. In late 2010, I started talking with James more again who became an acquaintance at PAX in 2009. Talking lead to more and eventually I would move across the country to upstate New York to live and work with James as an indie game developer.”
Ska Studios current project, Charlie Murder, is described by Silva as ‘a 2D stylized four player co-op RPG brawler with a punk rock theme set in a zombie apocalypse’. As the first game she has been part of creating from start to finish, Michelle says she feels the various highs and lows that are part of game creation.
“Charlie Murder isn’t out yet but I’m already feeling all the thrills and depressions of people loving and criticizing the game,” she added. “This most recent PAX was incredibly invigorating yet I have to remind myself to not read the comments sections of reviews. I’m trying to remain professional and diplomatic about the more negative of commentary about our game. I feel the game is me now as much as it is James, which I haven’t felt before. I’m still learning and growing and it’s exciting to see the results.”
While an integal part of Ska Studios, Silva says she has experienced some industry scrutiny based on gender stereotypes.
“My first time officially exhibiting with Ska Studios at PAX East in 2011, I was actually called a ‘booth babe’,” Michelle recalled. “James and I were talking with some attendees for a while when they asked if they could get a picture. We assumed they meant James and he agreed. Then the guys awkwardly said ‘Oh no, we meant with the booth babe’ and gestured at me. I wasn’t sure how to respond and even more awkwardly replied ‘Uh, I worked on the game’ to which they just replied ‘Oh’. At the time I was completely shocked and withdrawn but now every time I think back to it, it makes me angry. It doesn’t make me as mad at the guys as it does that I did not stand up for myself. It’s up to each individual to call out what is unacceptable to change our culture.”
As the industry continues to grow and become more accepting of indie game development, Silva notes that success can take time.
“Although my situation is somewhat unique and I joined an already successful indie studio, my advice carries over from trying to get in the game industry in general,” she said. “Don’t expect to be successful overnight. It takes a lot of work and diligence to get where you want to be. Of course, there’s the rare ‘successful over night’ stories but for the most part, successes come from perseverance and the refusal to give up.”
In addition to her work at Ska, Michelle also participates in group runs, triathlons and races on weekends. Her and James have also recently started a YouTube series entitled Michelle and James Play Video Games!. The indie game duo will be at PAX Prime later this year and aim to release Charlie Murder later this year.
Ska Studios official website and merchandise can be found at Ska-Studios.com.
Another one of my all-time favorite board games is Stop Thief!, produced by Parker Brothers in 1979. This was one of the first electronic board games: players used a handheld device called the Electronic Crime Scanner to hear clues, like the sound of the thief walking across the floor, running down the street, breaking a window, or opening a door. Players move little private detective tokens around the game board, using the Electronic Crime Scanner to check out buildings and search for the thief. But every turn the thief moves, too, so you have to keep up!
It’s a game of deductive reasoning, meaning random guesses won’t help you. The Electronic Crime Scanner can replay the clues to aid you in your quest to locate the thief. Once you think you know where he is, you call the police, and hope to hear the sounds of the thief being taken away to jail. But if you’re mistaken, you’ll hear the sound of the thief escaping, and a big raspberry for your trouble. That sound still makes me cringe as it represents the same thing today as it did over 20 years ago: the utter failure of my detective skills. And I still smile when I hear the thief being taken away by the boys in blue, all courtesy of the Electronic Crime Scanner.
The game play is fairly straight-forward: there are 19 possible locations (marked in red on the game board) that the thief may have committed the crime. Detectives chase down the thief as quickly as possible, trying to arrest the thief first. There are 10 WANTED cards for a total of ten thieves to be hunted down, and the first player to earn $2,500 in Reward Money wins the game. Along the way players draw STOP THIEF SLEUTH cards which can send them to different locations on the game board, earn free turns, lose turns, or even get extra clues. Between the cards and the dice rolls, there is enough random elements to make games fresh each time they are played.
A quick note on the box colors in the images you see above and those you see in the original TV spot below: Stop Thief was sold in Canada and the United States with different box designs. The Canadian version of the game had to be in both English and French, so the box had to be altered to show this (and there are extra French-only game cards in addition to the English once, also). The American version was only in English. Though they have different box covers, they are otherwise the same game with the same game play.
Stop Thief! is yet another classic board game. It may be older, but it still has what it takes to be hilarious family fun, and is recommended for 2 to 4 players ages 10 and up.
Test Drive (1987)
By: Accolade Genre: Driving Players: 1 Difficulty: Medium
Featured Version: Atari ST First Day Score: 7,460
Also Available For: Amiga, PC, Commodore 64, Amstrad CPC, Apple II
There are a few games you could credit with the surge in popularity of racing games on home systems during the 90’s but the one that sticks in my mind most is probably The Need For Speed on the 3DO. Not only was this unexpected release fantastic but it was also quite realistic. The many, manysequels that followed it soon went down the manic, arcadey route rather than continuing the approach of the original and this is also true of most of the similar games that starting appearing. Amongst my favourite of these were the Test Drive games on the PlayStation. The series had undergone a ‘reboot’ around this time (purely coincidental, I’m sure) but the first games in the series actually had a lot more in common with the original NFS.
In fact, I had forgotten just howsimilar the two titles are until I played Accolade’s game for the first time in about twenty years for this review! There’s no options before starting the game aside from one important one – the selection of your car. The choices here include many of the supercar favourites of the day – Porsche 911, Lamborghini Countach, Ferrari Testarossa, Corvette, and the good old Lotus Esprit Turbo. Each comes with a detailed stats screen to help you make your choice, after which you’re on the road, ready to go. The game is viewed from the driver’s perspective and each car can only be driven with manual gears, and it’s a full gearbox too, not the usual ‘low’ and ‘hi’ gears! There are five stages altogether with each separated by a stop at a ‘gas’ station where you’ll discover your average speed and points earned.
The stages are all segments of the same road which winds along a clifftop, movie-stylee – one side is sheer rock with the other side presumably consisting of a drop of equal sheerness! Normal traffic passes along the road in both directions now and then, although it’s not too busy, and there are also police radars which will summon a police car if you go too fast. There’s no time limit or other vehicles to race so you can approach the presence of the rozzers one of two ways: either go too slowly to bother them, or the way I’m sure most gamers will choose – go as fast as possible to outrun them! The supercar you’re driving isn’t a Daytona stock-car that will bounce around all over the place though – they’re very delicate things, even more so than I would’ve thought. Not only does hitting the rock face or another car cause you to crash (indicated by a smashed windscreen) but even revving the engine too high will result in obscured vision too!
Fans of the original Need For Speed will no doubt find most of this very familiar but it appears that Accolade got there first! Indeed, Test Drive must have surely been the first ever ‘supercar simulator’ and it’s the opportunity to drive these amazing cars that provides the game’s biggest draw. To that end, it’s a pretty good game. Each of the cars handles differently and the roads, which later on feature the odd oil spill or pothole, are good fun to drive along. Graphically, I remember being mightily impressed with this all those years ago but the intervening years have seen it age considerably. The presentation screens are still lovely but the in-game aesthetics less so. The oncoming cars (and occasional big rig) aren’t too bad but the scaling can be quite poor. If you’re travelling at any decent speed they’ll often seem to appear from nowhere prompting panic-lunges to try and get out of the way in time!
Don’t think that the absence of any kind of time-limit means you can crash as often as you want either – five wrecks equals game over here! Talking of which, one area that Need For Speed improved dramatically is the crashes. EA’s game was famous for its spectacular comings together but the spectacle here begins and ends with the broken glass in front of you. Even the track-sides and backgrounds are rather dull too, and the sense of speed isn’t great, although there is a handy rear-view mirror. So, the visuals might have aged somewhat, which is understandable with this kind of game, but I’m confident the audio was never any good, or at least this version. There are a couple of short (and not especially nice) tunes but the in-game sound is restricted to a horrible engine sound and that’s it! So, this is certainly one to play with the sound turned down, but is it one to play at all?
Well, like NFS, I think Test Drive was probably made as more of a technical showcase than as a thrilling and involving racing game. Accordingly, there’s really not much to it – no opponents, no car upgrades, no forked roads, and certainly nothing as radical as a championship or tournament mode. What there is, though, is pretty good. No time-limit or opponents also means you can relax and drive how you want to rather than be forced to tear through the stages like a maniac, although having said that, the between-stage pit-stops do encourage you to up the ante (as well as provide the odd lairy ‘motivational’ comment) and the lure of improving your average speed is quite strong. It is all over pretty quickly though, so that, along with the number of superior examples of the genre on the ST and Amiga, means that this original probably won’t hold your attention for long
RKS Score: 6/10
Mike Tyson’s Punch Out
Except marines never had weapons as cool as this game’s arsenal. Each ammo type providing a different way to kill an enemy. Some worked better on others, some were traps, etc. You had plenty to play with so you never felt bored when it came right down to it.
Next Gen Xbox to play all PlayStation Games
In an announcement that will shake the console world Microsoft announced today that the next generation Xbox will play all current and future PlayStation games. “Let’s face it, we are an overpriced Blu-Ray player.” A Sony spokesman said. “Sure, we might feel like Xerox after seeing Windows, but when you are losing to a console named after a bodily function you have to make drastic changes.”
We asked an Xbox rep what game most fans are looking to play from the PlayStation library. “Well I was going to say Uncharted.” The spokesman said. “But then part three came out.” We asked how much will this added feature cost but we could not make out the answer from all the launching.
More not to come.
Happy April Fools.