Mighty Final Fight

Mighty Final Fight
Feel the hi-top of Justice

 The Nintendo Entertainment System certainly had a rather wide variety of game types during it’s 10 year existence. From platformers, to action games, to shooters, to puzzle games, sports games, role playing games, you name it. But the one genre we’re here to talk about today is a fine little slice of gaming known as the “Beat ’em Up”. What defines a “Beat ’em Up”, as opposed to a “Fighting Game”, is that in fighters, your objective is to beat the snot out of the guy across the screen from you, and the person who takes the most rounds wins. But in a “Beat ’em Up”, the objective is to beat the snot out of every single thing that moves on the screen, and to do so until you beat all the bad guys in every single level, and finally save the day. So in other words it’s the difference between a Mohammed Ali fight, and a Jackie Chan film. The NES had it’s share of this fine genre, which enjoyed it’s “boom” period in the late 80’s and early 90s. Double Dragon, Renegade, River City Ransom, Toxic Crusaders, and of course Battletoads all graced the classic console. But I’m here today to tell you about one such game, released late in the NES’ life, years after the Super NES had launched, that may have gotten passed over by many. I’m here to correct that, because it just might be the best of the bunch….

Mighty Final Fight
Back when almost everything Capcom made was gold…..

Most gamers worth their salt know that the first game to truly establish the conventions of the genre known as the “Beat ‘Em Up”, was 1987’s Double Dragon. Developed by Technos, DD became an arcade smash hit that spawned a franchise, and the rest is history. Most gamers worth their salt are ALSO aware of the fact that while Double Dragon started it, another game that came along in 1989, pretty much perfected it. And that would be Capcom’s Final Fight. Originally meant to be a semi-follow up to their first (and terribly obscure) Street Fighter game, this classic was originally going to be called “Street Fighter ’89”. But once they realized it had really nothing to do with their first foray into one-on-one fighting, they renamed it “Final Fight”, and it was off to the races.

Mighty Final Fight

Now, Final Fight was an amazing arcade game, which received a very good port for Super Nintendo, and believe it or not even a solid one for Sega CD. The game was also popular enough to spawn two SNES only sequels, which saw it change characters, but kept the overall look and feel. WELL, around the same time that FF2 came out in 1993, another little known gem also released, for the by then fading-but-still-awesome original NES. And that game, was called “Mighty Final Fight”. Mighty Final Fight is a strange but wonderful beast. It is a fairly comical retake on the arcade original, complete with “chibi” (small, cartoony) versions of the main characters and enemies, and a goofier feel over all. But with the goofieness also came something that most wouldn’t expect, especially out of an NES “port”, and that is the fact that while the SNES version was a great game although lacking 2-player, this NES “remake” was actually superior in a lot of ways, even to the arcade original.

Final fight
The arcade lineup, as seen in the Sega CD version.
Mighty Final Fight
The lineup as seen in the NES. Notice the differing art styles.

For one thing, unlike the better known SNES port, where you could only play characters Cody and Mike Haggar for some strange reason, in MFF you get to choose between all three from the arcade, which includes the ninja characer Guy. Like the SNES version, MFF is only single player, but honestly, that’s small potatoes compared to what they added to the game. Not only does the overall action feel even “meatier” with a superior sense of hit detection, but Capcom also took a page out of the NES port of Double Dragon’s book, and added an rpg like element wherein your character gains experience for every baddie he thrashes, and eventually you “level up”, with each level unlocking new and cooler attacks, as well as extending your life bar.

Final fight
The game’s first boss, “Damnd”, also known as Thrasher.
Mighty Final Fight
Thrasher as seen in the NES version. Aren’t they adorable?

The game also includes most of the content from the original, though it only has 5 stages instead of the arcade’s six, in this case missing the “Subway” area. That aside, it’s got everything the arcade did with a bit more besides, and beyond that, even has one hell of a bad ass 8-bit soundtrack. And again, the soundtrack is arguably superior to the arcade or even SNES versions. All around, Mighty Final Fight is one hell of a game, loads of fun, and a perfect example of why the NES lasted an amazing 10 years in North America, because up through 1994 it kept getting sprinklings of high quality games such as this. In fact, 1993 was a huge year for the ol’ NES all around, as it not only got Mighty Final Fight, it also saw the releases of games like Kid Klown, Zen the Intergalactic Ninja, Duck Tales 2, Battletoads & Double Dragon, and of course Kirby’s Adventure.

Mighty Final Fight
An example of the upgraded moves you get with each level, in this case Cody’s uppercut.

So there you have it folks! If you haven’t ever gotten a chance to get your hands on this true “Beat ‘Em Up” classic, or haven’t even ever heard of it until now, please do yourself a huge favor and do so.You really can’t do much better in it’s genre, and as far as I’m personally concerned, it’s one of the greatest games ever crafted. So fire this bad boy up, and have a great skull-knocking time, on me! Cheers!

Haunted Castle

Haunted Castle a.k.a. Akuma-Jou Dracula by Konami (1988) – Arcade

Haunted Castle - Arcade

So there I was, messing round with MAME again when I selected yet another random, rather generic-sounding title to try. The resultant title screen was pretty cool and from there followed a brief intro which showed some girly getting kidnapped by a pesky Dracula-like nincompoop, and I also noticed that it was a Konami game. Hmmm, something about this was starting to seem familiar, but before I thought about that too much I started the game.

Haunted Castle - Arcade

At this point, a feeling of unbridled horror soon fell upon me like dark clouds casting their mighty shadows over a once vibrant landscape, but it wasn’t the game’s spooky horror theme that caused this; noo, this was down to the game itself which stunk like a garlic-riddled corpse. Intrigued by this badness, I then looked into it in more detail so I could know exactly what/who I was cussing, paying more attention this time. Then… egads! Sure enough, it was confirmed – Haunted Castle is actually a Castlevania game!

Haunted Castle - Arcade

As someone who largely avoided Nintendo consoles until the mid-90’s, one of several well regarded IP’s I never got around to looking into properly is Castlevania. I know of their glowing reputation though, and I have played a couple briefly, which makes this effort all the more surprising. It takes the form of a scrolling whip ’em up and involves guiding a suitably heroic-looking fellow through hordes of skeletons, bats, and zombies with the object, presumably, of rescuing the aforementioned girly. So far, so familiar.

Haunted Castle - Arcade

 

Aside from some clunky controls and suspicious collision-detection, however, there’s one big problem – it’s ridiculously hard as well. Our hero (Mr. Belmont, presumably) can take a few hits but has only the one life with which to face the infinite enemies which require fairly precise strikes from his whip. Then I reached an insanely tough screen on which chunks from a castle wall fly across the screen, and it gets even harder from then on. When I eventually get around to covering the Castlevania series I’ll take another look at this (once I’ve mentally prepared myself) but for now… uurghhh. And people whine about Ghosts’n Goblins being too tough? Holy crap, I hope the other games are easier!

RKS Score: 1/5

Bucky O’Hare

Bucky O’Hare

Overall Rating: 3.5/5 Stars

Bucky O'Hare - NES

Bucky O’Hare was a comic-book character and star of an animated television series that proved to be a popular enough license to eventually lead to Konami producing a video game based on the canon. Concerning the space-faring green rabbit Bucky O’Hare and his ragtag crew of anthropomorphic creature-person heroes and their fight against the dread forces of the toad menace to save the Aniverse.

Gameplay

This one-player game begins with the player controlling the protagonist Bucky O’Hare, whose four shipmates have been captured and stowed on four planets generically named after colors. From an initial stage-select screen, Bucky can tackle the planets in whatever manner he wishes in order to save his comrades before taking the fight directly to the Air Marshal of the frog fighters.

Bucky O'Hare - NES

Gameplay is in the style of a two-dimensional platformer run-‘n’-gun type of title, whereas the A button jumps and the B button fires a blaster. The player can fire directly upward with Bucky’s gun and also fire while crouches. Each level offers their share of pattern-based enemies, precision-jumping puzzles, and fast-paced battle scenarios, all of which end in a nice little boss fight.

Where Bucky O’Hare begins to become somewhat distinctive is in the fact that after each crew member is rescued, you can instantly switch to playing as that character, and scroll through all available cast members by pressing Select. Each squad member has a slightly different weapon (Deadeye’s pistol fires in three directions but at a short range, Jenny has a quick laser that fires from her forehead, etc.) and a special ability activated by holding the B button (Jenny can launch a “crystal ball” attack that the player can control with the directional pad, Blinky can hover for a limited amount of time, etc.). It is this combination of character traits that enhances the challenge of each level as the player must decide which is best for the given situation. What complicates (or makes more tactical, at least) matters is that there are power tokens spread out throughout levels that upgrade each character’s inherent ability, each of which can be upgraded a few times, usually resulting in a longer duration of their particular specialty.

Bucky O'Hare - NES

With the standard platformer formula in place, Bucky adds items and power-ups, character selections, a robust health bar, a smattering of one-ups and continues to go along with a decent password system, and “hidden” levels apart from the initial four offered to form a thorough sci-fi laser-blasting adventure.

Graphics

Bucky O'Hare - NES

The character sprites are big enough to pose distinctive characters against some just-okay backdrops, but in some cases it is the enemy designs that outclass the heroes. For example, there is a portion of the Green Planet (Act 5, specifically, as the levels are divided) when multiple large crafts fly overhead, firing at the character, and all done with minimal flickering and slowdown issues. Then, at the end, a solid boss match with a toadbot who throws enormous boulders that crumble into deadly shards. On that same stage, though, this game shows its occasional “meh” qualities, with running water that is only bothered to be animated at its surface, lending an odd, ethereal appearance as it seemingly hovers a couple feet over the ground, yet landing in it instantly kills the controlled character.

Sound

Bucky O'Hare - NES

This title boasts the usual high-quality Konami effects, many of them recognizable from their library of other NES games (try the Start/pause button in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartridges, or notice the explosion sound of the defeated bosses), along with good background music in place for appropriate ambiance. The skillful renditions reflect painstaking attempt at optimizing what the hardware had to offer, and results in an action-oriented, multi-layered beat throughout.

Originality

While other sci-fi themes had been done before for two-dimensional platform titles, and anthropomorphic protagonists had been seen before, no game was quite like Bucky O’Hare. This does not represent a perfect video game, nor is the experience without its aggravations, flaws, and outright bizarre bits (a spider enemy that drops down from a tree and explodes?!). Nonetheless, this game came late in the support cycle of the Nintendo Entertainment System console, long after Konami had mastered the basics of game-crafting and was able to spin a unique, enjoyable romp here, deserving of a respectable three and a half stars out of five.

Stunt Car Racer

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Stunt Car Racer

Format: Amiga Genre: Racing Released: 1989 Developer: MicroStyle

 

Bizarrely, the inaugural post on this blog is for a racing game. Bizarre because generally I don’t actually like racing games that much; yet, when I think about it, the two or three that I’ve really enjoyed (Ridge Racer, Burnout 3, Gran Turismo) probably rank up there as some of my favourite game experiences, and Stunt Car Racer certainly deserves a special mention.

Most racing games before the mid-nineties were pretty rubbish. It was only with the 3D revolution that racing games really reached their full potential – before that it was all stripey grey race tracks and simplistic leftright leftright holddownthebutton gameplay (try playing a game like Lotus Challenge now and I guarantee the nostalgia won’t last beyond a couple of pixellated crash barriers). However, Stunt Car Racer WAS in 3D at a time when perhaps only a handful of games were, and what’s more it used the 3D space in a way that few games have, before or since.

stunt_car_racer

The raison d’etre of Stunt Car Racer is the tracks – glorious, insane, rollercoaster-like tracks that leave you gripping the joystick for dear life as you hurtle through the air after burning up impossible ramps, then gritting your teeth as you plummet back down, engine still racing, the screen cartwheeling as you miss the track by inches and smash into the dirt below with a bone-shattering crunch. At a time when racing meant dodging in and out of identical 2D cars, Stunt Car Racer did vertical – and how. There was even a loop-the-loop…

stunt_car_racer

The key thing about all this vertical fun was the ever-present sense of danger – there were no barriers to any of the tracks, so you always felt that just one small slip of the wrist could send you hurtling into the abyss, costing you valuable time as your stricken vehicle is winched back onto the track and, more importantly, causing potentially race-ending damage to your car. Above all, it was the intense adrenalin rush this caused that is my stand-out memory of the game; that and the excellent two player mode (only available over a link cable, but more than worth the considerable hassle of stringing together several wires and tellies).

I sold my Amiga recently (sacrilege I know), but I booted up Stunt Car for one last go before I carted the whole lot off to Mr Ebay. It’s lost none of it’s charm: sure, the graphics are basic (even for the time) and there’s only one other car on the track at any one time (believe it or not, that blocky red thing in the screenshot is a car), but it still retains an impressive sense of speed and danger as you hurtle round those suicide bends.

The creator of the game, Geoff Crammond (dubbed ‘Sir’ by Amiga Power), later went on to create the seminal Formula One Grand Prix series on the Amiga, but I’ll always remember him for this classic game. Nice one Sir Geoff.

A Valley Without Wind

A Valley Without Wind
Arcen Games, the creators of the amazing AI War, have never been afraid to try radical new ideas and wildly innovate while offering deep gameplay and unique visuals. Their latest offering though, the brilliantly named A Valley Without Wind, does indeed surpass anything they have dared to dream, and even more impressively actually create, so far. Now, the best way to describe AVWWwould be as the spaced-out spawn of MidwinterTerraria and Lords of Midnight after a chemically altered night everyone is trying to forget everything about, but I simply can’t see how anyone besides me would be able to comprehend a description of this sort.
That’s why I’ve wisely come up with an alternate description too: it is a procedurally generated, side-scrolling, 2D arcade adventure, with strong exploration, RPG and strategic elements, that is sort of infinite. Is this better? Does it make sense? Well, I sure hope so, for I have only entered the still-in-BETA world of AVWW for a couple of hours and am incredibly impressed. I’m also pretty certain that it’s only by playing AVWW that one can properly understand and  fully appreciate the thing, but here’s another try:

A Valley Without Wind

Did the picture help at all? Right. Better provide you with the developer’s description then:
Environ has been shattered in the wake of an unknown cataclysm, with only small pockets of humanity left in its wake… What will you do in this strange new world? 
The creators of AI War bring you a procedurally-generated 2D side-scrolling adventure of limitless proportions. Survive and explore a vast persistent world filled with dangerous creatures, powerful magic, and ancient technology. Do so while helping other survivors establish settlements, gathering resources to craft, fending off evil invaders, and more.

Intrigued? Excellent. On to the news bits then, as you too can now have a taste of A Valley Without Wind by downloading a pretty fantastic AVWW demo. What’s more and for a mere $10 (that’s a hefty 50% discount on the launch price, that is) you can also pre-order the game and gain instant access to its current version, which, incidentally, is getting constant updates. As for me, well, I’ll be playing said BETA and will soon let you know all about my slightly more coherent thoughts on AVWWAVWW is available both for Mac and PC. You can purchase the full version for $14.99.

Jet Set Radio

jet set radio

The beautifully designed, awesomely soundtracked game from the Sega Dreamcast is now only 99 cents on Google Play.  Originally released by Sega in 2000 the game features a gang of rebellious teens who skated around a beautifully cartoonish cell shaded town collecting spray cans to paint designated targets all while jamming to impressive beats.

jet set radio

All this holds up in the Android port however, what does not is the controls. Back on the Dreamcast it still took many a while to get used to the controls especially when preforming tricks to get to those hard to reach places. On the screen pad it is nearly impossible. Perhaps mobile gaming pros will have no issues, but if any game was made to go with a Bluetooth controller it is this one.

jet set radio

Another complaint is its size. At 1.3GB’s it can be a lot for people with smaller storage spaces and if your phone is kind of old there have been reports of crashes. If you have a newer phone then it isn’t an issue and with an external controller the game is just as fun as I remember.

So check it out for only 99 cents on Google play and rejoice in retro and classic gaming having a home on mobile devices.

Syder Arcade HD

 

syder arcade hd

We are always on the hunt for great retro inspired games and Syder Arcade HD fits the bill perfectly. We even love the tagline, no coins, no zombies, just old school shoot em up. This game rocks not only because of the great graphics and gameplay, but it is not trying to get you to buy more stuff in game and no stupid gimmicks or grind fests.

syder arcade hd- gameplay screenshot - 2

Now as you can see the game looks incredible so that means older phones might have issues so check the specifications before you download. The game itself is a top down free-scroller which means you have much more control over your movements then you would in most space shooters. Your ship comes with shields and a number of weapons to take out the multiple enemies that are gunning for you. Did we mention you don’t need to buy addition weapons or features?

Yup, you can pick this little gem up on the Google Play store for only 99 cents. So what are you waiting for, go get it!

The Game Genie

gamegenie

Long before there was an Internet to search for clues and codes to hack your way through a stubbornly difficult game, Codemasters brought a product into the game market which permitted access to your video game’s code, thereby letting you add unearned lives, power-ups, and so forth. The Game Genie was an accessory that you could insert into your game console, and then the game would attach to the Game Genie, allowing the Game Genie to act as an intermediary between the console and the game.

gamegenie

Many gamers found this helpful, and different Game Genies were produced for a variety of game consoles, including the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES), the Nintendo GameBoy, the Super Nintendo, the Sega Genesis, and the Sega Game Gear. Two different companies distributed the Game Genie over the years it was being manufactured: Galoob and Camerica, one of which (Galoob) was actually sued by Nintendo in an effort to prevent the Game Genie from being sold. Fortunately for many gamers, Nintendo lost their legal battle and had to pay Galoob for damages.

Time marches steadily on, however, and the Game Genie is now in the dustbin of gaming history, while Nintendo continues to be a gaming powerhouse.  All we have left of the Game Genie are the few units that can be found here and there in the retrogaming marketplace, and our memories. Speaking of which, see if the following ad brings back memories of how you salivated over the thought of finally mastering that one irksome game, if only you got a Game Genie.

Alpha Mission

Alpha Mission

Alpha Mission was originally an arcade cabinet, produced in 1985, before being released on the 8-bit Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) home console by SNK in 1987. Cribbing from the earlier shoot-’em-up mechanics of Xevious, this title is perhaps best remembered as a cartridge for shooter purists only.

alpha mission-nes-gameplay-screenshot-1

Gameplay

Alpha Mission is a vertically scrolling shoot-’em-up with the typical science fiction flavoring of alien landscapes, starfield backdrops in space, big alien bosses, and starships sporting formidable firepower. Like Xevious, the player can fire at airborne enemies or ones affixed to the ground. The B button fires the laser that hits fellow aircraft (spacecraft?), while the A button launches missiles for fixed ground targets. The environment automatically scrolls, and the player is given free reign to fly about the entire screen.

There are twelve stages, which repeat in true arcade style toward the goal of just getting a high score, and loosely grow more difficult, beginning with new flight-tracking enemies in Area 2 and proceeding toward the eventual all-out madness of double-digit stages. The end of a level has a juicy fight with a big, bad alien boss.

alpha mission

Power-ups can be gained via colored letters found on the battlefield, primarily by destroying ground targets. These can provide upgrades such as increasing the strength of the laser, increasing the strength of the missiles, and enabling faster movement speed.

Along with the score, there is also an energy meter, which grows by increments of 2 each time the letter “E” is gathered. Increasing the energy meter total unlocks additional types of weapons and other options which, when can be afforded, are selected by entering a selection screen with the Select button. Examples include an eight-way shot and a short-range-but-constant flamethrower.

These elements, in and of themselves, do not necessarily comprise bad game design. A very workable, playable shooter can be formed from these components. In fact, ingredients such as power-ups and differing weapons have been combined to create some of the greatest shooters of all time. However, rather than content to introduce these items and merely tweak them closer to perfection, Alpha Mission instead tears itself off the hinges with some poor choices along the way.

alpha mission

Case in point: There are power-downs; in other words, not all of the gainable items are beneficial. There are items that decrease weapons power, items that decrease movement speed, and even a letter just to throw the player back to an earlier point in the level. This only makes the game less possible to enjoy, to a potentially downright irritating extent, and takes quite the imaginative stretch to defend as a good idea.

Furthermore, the mechanic for weapon selection is maddening. It can be admirable to make this a player choice, rather than simply shift the weapon as the protagonist ship passes over a power-up. But the mechanic used here is terrible: Pressing the Select button opens up a black background, onto which are pased icons for different power-up, depending on what the player can afford. There is, too, the icon of the ship itself. The player actually has to take the time to maneuver the ship over to an icon and, once over it, press Select again. The effect is not always smooth; during a boss fight, this can cause the boss to reappear. Also, pressing Select again will suddenly cancel the power-up out and return to that selection screen, which can be dubious depending on the weapon being used, since different ones use up the energy meter at different rates and may not be immediately available again. This method of choosing weaponry is slow, clunky, buggy, and just plain bad.

alpha mission

Alpha Mission already suffers a blow in being ported to a television setting, since vertically scrolling shooters are much more apt to their original arcade screens, oriented to provide an optimal perspective and taller screen. With so much working against it, and forcing the player to deal with a ship that begins so slowly and existing under the constant threat of downgrades (which, by the way, actually serves to discourage quickly going after power-ups, which seems outrageously philosophically counter-intuitive of shooter design), this video game is just not good. Even worse, it is not fun.

Graphics

Aside from decent production values and the nifty way missiles accelerate to full speed a moment after being fired, not only is Alpha Mission graphically unimpressive, but even has some noteworthy issues. The flickering and slowdown problems in this game are atrocious. Enemies constantly blink in and out of existence, some projectiles cannot exist on-screen at the same time as others, and the slowdown happens often enough to truly be a drag. Even if some of the boss designs are interesting and the backgrounds crafted with pixel-precise skill to an extent, these potential visual treats are muddied and muffled by the display problems.

alpha mission

Sound

The background music is too repetitive to be considered high-quality, and the sound effects lack any sort of crunch, punch, power, gravity, or oomph. What more needs to be say? This is a video game that provides only a bland little snack for the ears, and does not manage any aural feats worth mentioning, despite the best efforts of those who composed the basic tracks. In fact, if you hate the music, you are completely out of luck, since it even plays when the game is paused.

Originality

At first glance, Alpha Mission seems like the average 8-bit shoot-’em-up with a generic premise and arcade-style gameplay. At its core, the formula presented is not completely awful. The lesson to be learned here is that execution is everything, and the execution here misses the mark. This game is not original, visionary, or innovative in any discernible way, save for maybe its stupid weapon-selection screen mechanic.

This is an example of a game where nothing about it seems great and everything about it seems to have a problem. There are worthy complaints to air about Alpha Mission. For its crimes against the shmup genre, arcade ports, and the act of gaming in general, this mess gets one and a half stars out of five.

Overall score: 1.5/5 stars.

The Adventures of Willy Beamish

The Adventures of Willy Beamish - PC - gameplay screenshot

The Adventures of Willy Beamish

From all the games I have ever played, there is only one I have firmly associated with Christmas and the whole wintery festive period (I sadly don’t seem to particularly care for this one much anymore, what with me being an apparently empty/logical shell of a gnome and all). Said game is none other than The Adventures of Willy Beamish; a game designed by Jeff Tunnell, developed by Dynamix and published by Sierra back in the too distant sounding 1991. A game I was reading about in every gaming mag of the era, an expensive VGA offering in a big box, and a most excellent Xmas present by my parents.
The Adventures of Willy Beamish - PC - gameplay screenshot
I distinctly remember being incredibly excited about it, yet somehow carefully opening its box to discover a ton of 5.25″ disks, one of the best manuals ever designed, a Sierra catalog, some feelies of sorts and those amazing, colourful Willy Beamish stickers that ended up on my room’s door. I also remember waiting impatiently for what felt like ages for the game to install itself on my 40MB hard-drive and playing it for hours to the sounds of an old Platters LP. Hmm, this must be why I also associate this kind of music with the holiday season and, apparently, why I was listening to 50s music while photographing my dearest of all game boxes:
The Adventures of Willy Beamish - PC - gameplay screenshot
Interestingly though, I have never played the game since finally beating it later in 1992, admittedly with the help of a learned, yet younger, friend who I am sure must have gotten his hands on some sort of rare at the times walkthrough. But, why haven’t I played it again after all those years, then? Why have I abstained from its many charms? Well, truth is, I somehow feel I might just spoil its memory and have decided to only periodically re-read the manual. Besides, I do actually remember Willy Beamish pretty vividly.
 The Adventures of Willy Beamish - PC - gameplay screenshot
I remember its fantastic Dragon’s Lair-esque graphics; they were the first of their sort in a point-and-click adventure. I remember the stunning animations and (low-res, I’m afraid) cartoon quality cut-scenes. I remember the way it showcased the capabilities of my very first PC soundcard. I remember how the story of a nine year old boy trying to competitively play video games while avoiding parental troubles and getting the girl, somehow turned into a ghost infested attempt at foiling an evil corporation. I remember getting sent off to military school and dying a dozen lushly animated deaths. I remember cajoling my in-game parents and entering my frog into competitions. I remember exploring the sanitised darkness of 90s American suburbia and being both shocked and delighted. I remember enjoying the subtle humour. I remember getting hopelessly stuck, but, above all, I warmly remember loving it.
The Adventures of Willy Beamish - PC - gameplay screenshot
I also remember things I didn’t quite notice back then. I remember that Willy Beamish sported an incredibly simple (or elegant if you prefer) interface, one of the first ones to feature a smart cursor, yet remaining incredibly difficult. I remember the dead ends and pointlessly punishing arcade sequences too. And the fact that the trouble-meter was a very smart way of letting players know whether they were on the right track.

Then again, that’s enough with my memories. Anyone else care to reminiscent on the festive joys of gaming? Well, that’s what comments are for I suppose.

Kung Fu Fight

Kung Fu Fight - Android - gameplay screenshot

We are always on the lookout for retro style mobile games and we found a winner with Kung Fu Fight. Created by Nostatic Software this mobile game combines the classic style of gameplay in controls, action and difficulty.

Kung Fu Fight - Android - gameplay screenshot

You are a farm boy who has to rescue the kidnapped girl and you do this by running, sliding, jumping and fighting your way through increasingly difficult levels. I am not kidding here, even on the normal setting it gets hard, Ninja Gadien hard.

Kung Fu Fight - Android - gameplay screenshot

The controls are simple enough. Your character is constantly running and along the way there are various obstacles you have to deal with. For some like bad guys and breakable items you hit the attack button, for tables and other items hanging from above you slide underneath and for the rest you jump over it.

Kung Fu Fight - Android - gameplay screenshot

Sounds easy enough, but so did Kung-Fu Master and just like that game it’s much harder to do than it seems. You begin with simple obstacles to overcome and the game will tell you what to do, but timing is everything so just because it says “jump” that does not mean you might not jump to early or too late. As the game progress the stages get harder and harder.

Overall, this is a great retro inspired game that will keep you entertained if not frustrated while you try to beat all the levels. The storyline, music, sound effects and graphics are all retro themed and executed well. It can sometimes be hard to hit the right buttons especially when you are further in the game, but with practice you will get it.

For 99 cents on Google Play it’s worth the buy for any retro gaming fan.

Double Dragon: 1987 vs 2012

Double_Dragon-1987

vs

Double_Dragon-Neon-2012

 

They say imitation is the best form of flattery. So what do they say about a reboot of a classic ? I know, DON’T do it, leave it alone !

Double_Dragon-Neon-2012

I am an old school retro gamer, and yes, I also dabble in the current generation video gaming systems. When I heard that one of my favorite beat’em ups would be rebooted on the current gen consoles, I was salivating at the thought of kicking some black warrior heads. Well, I have finally ‘tasted’ the Double Dragon Neon reboot, and let me say this – I was initially wowed (nostalgia got to me) but within a few minutes of play I started comparing Neon to the original arcade game. I found myself thinking, I would rather be playing the original !

Double_Dragon-1987

As they say, original is always best. In this case, it is. The Double Dragon of 1987 was a ‘tour de force’. It set the standard that all other two player co-op beat’em ups would be judged upon. It had soul, it had grittiness, it immersed you in the action as you strive to save your girlfriend, even if you had to fight your brother for her affection.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xT0re3Ml7w0[/youtube]

If you are curious how Double Dragon Neon has turned out, get the free demo. If you actually want to (re)play it, then go ahead and buy it, otherwise, get your hit (pun intended) on the original.

Killer Instinct

Killer Instinct - SNES - Gameplay Screenshot

This week we have another gem added to the list. Killer Instinct was Nintendo’s answer to other fighters out there and a true classic game. They were very successful with it although the franchise was long abandoned, we can still look back at this game and see what Nintendo did right.

Killer Instinct - SNES - Gameplay Screenshot

The music is quite catchy for a fighter game. There might not be classic tunes like from Street Fighter 2 but there is something special that came with this game and that’s Killer Kuts. It’s a disc with remixed music of the game!

The graphics are beautiful. The SNES looked to be in its limits when this was released. The game has a 32bit feel although it’s being run in a 16bit console. All I can say is that this was the shit back in 1995!

Killer Instinct - SNES - Gameplay Screenshot

In this game you have to find your favorite fighter and master him or her. You better learn all the finishing moves, combos, and of course the Ultras! The gameplay is very easy to learn so anyone can pick up and play. The next level comes to when you increase the difficulty and decide to take people on the arcade. Of course, that was a 90s thing.

Killer Instinct - SNES - Gameplay Screenshot

Like any fighter, this game is awesome to play against another friend. Have a fighters party and take on all your buddies in a tournament. I can go on and on….it also helps if you have a grudge against a friend and want to kill him via-video games. That works!

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-dR-7TO_LD0[/youtube]

So to conclude, the game is a classic that should not be forgotten. With such memorable characters, great fighting engine, and lots of replay value you can’t go wrong with Killer Instinct! An absolute must have for any retro gamer!

Lee Trevino’s Fighting Golf

Lee Trevino’s Fighting Golf

SNK developed this classic striker in 1988, and that would be about the same time I discovered it.

Lee Trevino’s Fighting Golf - Gameplay Screenshot

My brother was in college during that time, and he and his college buddies were addicted to it. In fact, I don’t remember them ever playing another game.

The Masters got me thinking about this game, although ironically, Lee never won that tournament, his only Major fail. But, I put a lot of time into it back in the day, and like real golf, you find you never really master it.
LTFG is a 4-player game, with only 4 characters playable (conveinent). There’s Pretty Amy, the accurate-conscious lady in the pink skirt; Miracle Chosuke and Super Mex (Lee’s happily-embraced racist nickname), who have a good mix of accuracy and power; and my favorite, Big Jumbo, who has the pop in the club, but has a 3-click meter that runs faster, making it more difficult to hit the perfect shot.

Lee Trevino’s Fighting Golf - Gameplay Screenshot

The game is pretty simple, just 2 courses (US and Japan), 18 holes each. Nothing too intracite like today’s games; no leveling up, buying new clubs and outfits, no cash prizes. Just grab your bag and start swinging. There’s definitely something too the retro-styled golf where you can just pick up and play.

Typical Nintendo sounds ae in full effect here; an opening musical-title piece, the high-and-low tones when the ball is rising and falling, the positive reinforcement tune when you birdie, and the negitive “thud” when the ball hits the “super rough” (words that still pain me to this day).

Lee Trevino’s Fighting Golf - Gameplay Screenshot

Graphically, typical 8-bit sprites for the players, but there are multiple camera angles…a nice add for this era. There was the overhead shot of the hole, so you could play in your head how you would manuever around the bunkers and trees, as well as deciding if you could the wind to hit the far fairway (if only you could hit the perfect shot, Big Jumbo!). The common camera behind the shot would switch to in front when the ball was in descent, a very nice touch for 1988 NES.

There are also enough little touches to give this game a high replay score; the wind being a factor, and the changing slopes of the greens (arrows pointing the way home).

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LCMvgbcCbjU[/youtube]

There may be better golf games out there for the NES, but I haven’t played one. So for now, this gets my highest recommendation for the console. With only a few flaws (4 golfers, 2 courses), you and your buddies will probably find yourself addicted…and according to guys I know, probably never buy another game.

Overall 8/10

PC-Engine: Must have games

The PC-Engine console, a collaboration between Hudson Soft and NEC, was released late 1987 in Japan and mid 1999 in North America. NEC changed the name in the US to the TurboGrafx-16. The US unit also had a facelift, it was bulkier (and uglier) compared to its smaller, sleeker Japanese counterpart.

PC Engine

 

If you were one of the lucky ones to have this cult retro console, or one of its variants, here are 5 must have games you need to add to your collection:

Gomola Speed:

Gomola_Speed

Play as a segmented caterpillar-like creature that has to encircle food in order to exit each level. As you work your way around each area, you pick up new body segments which makes you longer, and have the ability drop bombs that attract the enemy bugs which are then stunned. This is a superb title that mixes strategy with puzzle elements to great effect.

Splatterhouse:

Splatterhouse

 Parapsychology students, Rick and Jennifer, set out to investigate paranormal activity at West Mansion. This arcade conversion remains faithful to the gloriously gory coin-op. The American version was sadly censored upon release. The Japanese version is the one to get.

R-Type:

R-Type

Irem’s legendary side scrolling shoot’em up is regarded as one of the PC-Engine’s most accomplished arcade conversions. This was the PC-Engine’s ‘killer app’. The premise was simple, pilot your R-9 fighter to wipe out the evil Bydo Empire. R-Type was split into two HuCards – so if you want the complete game, you will have to buy both.

Gekisha Boy / Photo Boy:

Photo Boy

 This is the most original and innovative game on the PC-Engine. Photo boy is a budding paparazzo tasked to earn points by taking photographs of newsworthy happenings throughout several different environments. Using the on-screen crosshair, you must take snaps of various objects and events while avoiding obstacles. Think of Paperboy with a camera and you have Photo Boy.

PC Genjin / PC Kid / Bonk’s Adventure:

Bonk’s Adventure

Nintendo had Mario, Sega had Sonic. Although not as famous as these two, NEC had PC Genjin, or as he was known in different regions,  PC Kid or Bonk. You play a cave boy going through prehistoric lands head-butting dinosaurs.

Some notable games that just missed out (and I do mean, just !) on making this list: Parasol Stars, Street Fighter II: Champion Edition, Bomberman’94 and Devil Crash.

If you have never played on the PC-Engine do yourself a favour and hunt one down – or find someone that does, and give these games a whirl.
YOU WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED !

Superman: Atari 2600

Superman - Atari 2600 - Video Game screenshot

Growing up a video game and comic book lover, you can imagine how I felt when my two passions merged, and at the age of 9, had a chance to play the Superman cart for my Atari. It was everything I could ever want; Superman flying around, Luthor trying to kill Supes with Kryptonite, Lois needing more saving, etc… Fantastic!
Now, here is how I feel at age 41…
The game starts with Clark leaving one of those old-time phone booths, and as he walks to the next screen, the bridge blows up. The object of the game is to capture Lex Luthor, 6 unnamed criminals, and find/reassemble the 3 pieces of the bridge. Superman has the power of flight, strength, and x-ray vision to help you accomplish this.

Superman - Atari 2600 - Video Game screenshot
The first part that bothers me (and there’s a big list), is there’s actually no proof that Luthor had anything to do with The Great Metropolis Bridge Explosion of 1978. Whatever reason, I felt Superman was just picking on him a bit. All Luthor does is fly around the entire game with a propeller coming out of his head, and for some reason, wearing Aquaman’s Underoos. As embarrassing as that is, I’m guessing he committed no crime. Also, why these random 6 criminals? Only reason I see is they’re carrying these huge tommy-guns (what year is this anyway?), but they never actually use them.

Superman - Atari 2600 - Video Game screenshot
The characters are very blocky, but they’re colorful enough to figure out who is whom, although Supes has no hair. Lois wears a pill-box hat (again, what year is this?) and seems to find herself in trouble, get in the way, etc….so, she’s easy to locate.
The sound effects couldn’t be more annoying, with the flying sound (90% of the game) bringing back horrible flashbacks of 2AM TV static. The flickering when multiple characters are on screen leaves me to believe this should have been the first game to come with the “epileptic seizure” warning. The “maze” of Metropolis is beyond frustrating. You could actually be on the jail screen, fly down 1, then fly back up 1, only to find you’re not at the jail, but somewhere else. Insane.

Superman - Atari 2600 - Video Game screenshot
There are kryptonite satelittes flying around, and if one hits you, Lois magically appears for you to “kiss” to get your powers back. That makes 2 cases in Superman canon where a magic kiss was used, and that’s 2 times too many.
Finally, there’s a helicopter flying around that serves as the same purpose as the bat in Adventure….to piss you off. It just flies around picking up your bridge pieces and making them harder to find, and occasionally carrying Lois around by her hat.

Superman - Atari 2600 - Video Game screenshot
Friday, I talked about one of my favorite co-op adventures in The Wizard of Wor, but this one of the worst. Yes, they made Superman a co-op game. One person can control him flying up and down, where player 2 can jump on the right joystick and control him flying left and right………….seriously.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r7U2TFIayos[/youtube]
In conclusion, some games just don’t age well, and this is one. I recommend keeping your fond memories intact, and don’t actually ruin them with reality.

Overall 3/10

Spelunky

Spelunky-gameplay screenshot

I don’t often do game reviews. I certainly wasn’t planning to do one when I first downloaded Spelunky for XBox Live Arcade when it came out on July 4. However, after becoming totally addicted to the game I feel compelled to do just that. This game is something special.

Spelunky, written by Derek Yu, originally appeared in 2009 as a freeware game for Microsoft Windows. The game will instantly take veteran gamers back in time with a 16-bit console feel and music soundtrack and side-view platformer style. The object of the game is to take your adventurer through four different environments full of challenging enemies, booby traps and random surprises.

Spelunky-gameplay screenshot

Along the way there are various treasures to tempt you. Collecting these are not required to complete a level but are required to run up the score and to ensure you can purchase items when you find a shop. The player is armed with bombs that can blow holes in the floors and walls and ropes to help reach high places.

Health is scarce in Spelunky. You begin with four hearts, all of which can be quickly lost in countless ways on each level. More hearts can be gained by rescuing “damsels” hidden in each stage, but doing so requires carrying her all the way to the exit.

Spelunky-gameplay screenshot

The charm of Spelunky comes with a unique combination of familiarity and surprise. It somehow borrows elements from numerous classic titles while managing to throw curveballs at almost any turn. That treasure chest or clay pot you just busted open could be full of treasure, helpful items or enemies. Picking up a valuable treasure might trigger a trap. Adding to the surprise factor are random levels. While each world has four levels to pass, the levels appear at random from a far larger pool, sometimes adding in total darkness or zombies as well.

Spelunky-gameplay screenshot

Spelunky is also an incredible challenge, yet somehow contains enough balance to remain charming. Personally, I am reminded of the very balance that hooked me on games like Lode Runner in the 1980s and the original Prince of Persia in the 1990s. Spelunky joins those titles on a short list of platformer games that have driven me just insane enough to demand that I have to try again, knowing that I’ll do better on my next go-around, only to dodge my previous mistake in favor of making a new one. Passing a level is extremely satisfying, even if you didn’t get any further than you have before by doing so.

Spelunky-gameplay screenshot

There is also an element of risk versus reward that exists in very few games of this kind. You will often find yourself at the end of the level, able to simply exit the door and move on, but tempted by trying to gain just a little more treasure stashed nearby. If you pull it off it is quite a thrill, but more often than not you’ll simply end up losing valuable health or finding sudden death, wondering afterward why you didn’t just leave while you could. Greed can also be costly due to time. Taking a page from 1980 arcade classic Berzerk, lingering too long on a stage will bring out an invincible enemy (a ghost in this case) that will end your point-pressing attempt cold if it catches you.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Caj23gbl0n8[/youtube]

All told, Spelunky is easily the most addicting and charming game I’ve come across on XBLA to date. I know people often hesitate on grabbing a game for 1200 Microsoft Points, especially if it doesn’t have a household name attached to it, but in this case it is more than worth the price. Spelunky is as addictive as it is challenging and will provide hours of entertainment before you’ve even realize you’ve been playing for hours. A must-buy.

Super Mario Land

Super Mario Land - Gameplay Screenshot
Another pick for this week! This time around we look at the all time portable classic Super Mario Land for the original Game Boy. This is like the Super Mario Bros for the NES. An automatic classic for sure. The game may have some flaws but there are quite a few to stop it from being a great one to add to your collection. Just when the Game Boy was starting its journey in the world of gaming, Mario delivered in an incredible way! Lets take a look!

Super Mario Land - Gameplay Screenshot

The music is quite good. With such memorable sounds that will be engraved on your brain for years to come. I’m sure if you heard the song, you would know which game it came from. Any Mario fanatic would anyways. The sound effects are also quite good. They aren’t the ones for the NES but have their own gimmick to make it memorable especially that weird sound that comes out of the bosses when you throw a fire ball at them.

Super Mario Land - Gameplay Screenshot
The graphics are just what you would expect from an early Game Boy title side scroller. They aren’t the best out there, in fact there are times where there is no background but the levels do look quite enjoyable. The game also does justice by making the enemies and bosses unique.
Super Mario Land - Gameplay Screenshot
The gameplay is quite good. Just think of Super Mario in a portable handheld and that should say enough. You jump, you get power ups and of course you stomp on bad guys. It’s sort of odd that when you jump on a koopa he turns into a bomb….totally odd indeed! Also, what’s with the flower power giving you one ball of fire that bounces all over the screen. I’m guessing they did it on purpose to help keep the gameplay from slowing down. Oh well, good nonetheless.
Super Mario Land - Gameplay Screenshot
With only four worlds the game is quite fun to come back to. There are secrets hidden everywhere so you can always accomplish your goals in different ways. The game itself is fun overall! A 2 player race mode would’ve made it supreme and increased its replay value in masses!

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9W9ih0ZIcv8[/youtube]

The game is a classic of mass proportions. There are things that could’ve been done to better it even more but this will do for now. A longer game would’ve made the game more amazing and a multiplayer race option would’ve also given it a lot of more appeal. One can’t complain though, getting Mario on your handheld is like part of the Nintendo religion! A must have for sure!

Bomb Jack

Good old Bomb Jack. Could he have been the first ever bomb disposal expert in video gaming ? Perhaps he was. It doesn’t really matter, does it.

Bomb Jack - Arcade - Gameplay Screenshot

Released in 1984, our little hero garnered a cult following. He may have worn red spandex, but that didn’t stop us from pumping coins into his machine.

Bomb Jack - Arcade - Gameplay Screenshot

The premise of the game is pretty straight forward – collect all the bombs to complete a screen. Only one bomb at a time has a lit fuse. If you collect 20 or more of these lit bombs on a level, you get a bonus.

Bomb Jack - Arcade - Gameplay Screenshot

It’s not all easy going for Jack, he has to avoid various monsters and aliens that chase him around the screen. However, if you collect the powerball when it appears, it freezes the baddies for a short period of time, during which, you can kill them simply by touching them. There are other items to be picked up that give you additional bonus points or extra credits.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_jJzasm63DE[/youtube]

The game starts to repeat after Level 18. However, you will be too busy darting around the screen, collecting bombs to notice. Bomb Jack is one of those old games that invoke memories of playing it at the corner shop or fish’n chips store across your school. I know, it does for me. Most of my pocket money went into playing this game. It kept me out of trouble, which is always a good thing.

GraphicsIt was 1984, so what do you expect !

72%

SoundAs above !

70%

PlayabilityAnother typical arcade game from the early / mid 80′s – dart around the screen, collect stuff and avoid the baddies. Damn that’s a lot of fun

85%

LastabilityWell, the levels repeat after level 18, but who cares, this game oozes nostalgia. It is a great “pick up and play for 10 minutes” kind of game – which is perfect for us time-poor gamers

85%

OverallThis will not be the first game that comes to mind from the 80′s arcade era. But, if you do come across it, play it. It has the perfect mix of platform and puzzle fun. I guarantee it will put a smile on your dial.

85%

 Bomb Jack - Arcade - Gameplay Screenshot

Manufacturer: Tehkan
Year: 1984
Genre: Single screen platform
Number of Simultaneous Players: 1
Maximum number of Players: 2
Gameplay: Alternating
Control Panel Layout: Single Player
Joystick: 8-way
Buttons: 1 [jump]
Sound: Amplified Mono (single channel)

Hero’s Quest

Heros Quest - PC - Sierra - Gameplay Screenshot

This week I’m  looking at the Sierra On-Line classic, Hero Quest, first released in 1989.  This game was a completely different gaming experience back in the day.  Most gamers were used to adventure games, like King’s Quest or Space Quest, or role-playing games, like Might & Magic.  But an amalgamation of role-playing and adventure games was unheard of! Lori Cole’s game design was unique and the game was a best-seller for Sierra, spawning several sequels over the years.

Heros Quest - PC - Sierra - Gameplay Screenshot

You could play Hero Quest either as a Fighter, Magic-User, or Thief.  The game’s puzzles were designed so that they could be solved in different ways by the different character classes, and you could improve your character’s skills and inventory as you played the game.   It played as an adventure game, where your character completed quests and solved puzzles, moving the storyline to its epic finish.  By today’s PC game standards, the graphics and sound are rudimentary at best, with your hero looking a bit like a stick figure jerkily moving about the screen.  But a good retro gamer never judges an old game by today’s standards!  The storyline is strong, and can still be fun to play today.

Heros Quest - PC - Sierra - Gameplay Screenshot

An interesting side note about Hero Quest is that the game’s name had to be changed almost immediately after it was distributed.  Milton Bradley had trademarked the Hero Quest name for their 3D board game, which apparently no one in the Sierra On-Line team knew – until they were told to remove it or else.  The solution was to simply change the title of Hero Questto Hero Quest: So You Want To Be A Hero.  Of course, this has led to these two games forever jumbled together in google searches as retro gamers look to find them to add to their collections!

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b1rJXX5yBcs&feature=player_embedded[/youtube]

Bomb Jack Twin

Bomb Jack Twin (1993)
By: NMK Co., Ltd  Genre: Platform  Players: 1-2  Difficulty: Hard
Featured Version: Arcade  First Day Score: 169,260
Also Available For: Nothing

BombBomb Jack Twin - Arcade - Gameplay Screenshot

Poor old Bomb Jack. After an exceptional mid-80’s debut his future looked bright and he could’ve been one of the very first platform heroes but despite a couple of sequels, he instead faded into obscurity. One of the sequels, Mighty Bomb Jack, appeared only a couple of years after the original and took the addictive bomb-collecting, enemy-avoiding gameplay and introduced scrolling stages as well as numerous bonus collectibles. A year after that, Elite offered their own unofficial sequel, creatively titled Bomb Jack 2, which strangely took away Jack’s power of flight, instead requiring him to leap from platforms to adjacent platforms. The next game in the series was also sadly the last to date and it was… Bomb Jack Twin.

BombBomb Jack Twin - Arcade - Gameplay Screenshot

Appearing some six years after Elite’s franchise-destroying game, Bomb Jack Twin took the gameplay back to the basics, but made one vital addition – a two player mode. Yes, that’s right – joining in with Bomb Jack’s bomb-collecting tomfoolery this time is a female Bomb-collector (Bomb Jill?) and together they must once again save the world’s landmarks and cities from… actually, did we ever find out who was responsible? Anyway, the stages here are basically polished-up copies of those found in the first game with one exception – they’re a lot harder! It appears, therefore, that rather than merely offering the option of a two-player, this game is designed to be played that way.

BombBomb Jack Twin - Arcade - Gameplay Screenshot

The reason it’s harder, you see, is because the enemies are both much more numerous, and much faster. Just look at the screenshots below – both were taken by me a few seconds after the start of the stage and there’s already six or more enemies on the loose! The longer you last, the more of them there will be and some of them chase you around the screen at a ridiculous speed. The first stage eases you in a little but after that you’ll need the reflexes of a gazelle to get very far on your own and the ‘P’ icon becomes more vital than ever before!

BombBomb Jack Twin - Arcade - Gameplay Screenshot

As you can probably see, one of the biggest changes the series has seen from first game to this one is the graphics. It’s been nine years since the first Bomb Jack so this game looks much fancier with its beautifully drawn sprites, some nice animation, and nice backdrops. Some of the music and sound effects return from the first game (in remixed form, of course) but they are joined by some new ones too, and everything is top-notch presentation-wise. But does the pretty new look make it a better game?

BombBomb Jack Twin - Arcade - Gameplay Screenshot

Stages are set in thirteen locations around the world and before play begins you’ll see a map screen showing where you are. After three rounds, then a bonus round (same sort of objective but with no enemies and a tighter time limit), you’ll move to the next dot on the map, and control over Jack (and Jill) through the game is again extremely tight and precise which is more necessary than ever here!

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ArQymJldzkU[/youtube]

Obviously this game is the best in the series for enjoying with a friend since it’s the only entry in the series with such an option, and fantastic (if often short-lived) fun it is too, but when ‘flying solo’ I think I’d have to go for the original. If you’ve got the necessary skills, Twin is a superb game, but it’ll just prove too tough for most single-players.

RKS Score: 8/10

Wizard of Wor

 

Who would have thought, a game released in 1981 would still be played and enjoyed in this day and age ! It just proves that quality always trumps quantity.
This game has simple graphics and even simpler sound effects. But what it does have, is oodles of gameplay, and let’s admit it, that is the most important part of any game, retro or new.

Wizard of Wor-arcade-gameplay-screenshot

Wizard of Wor is a timeless classic. Game play is simple – one or two players, known as Worriors, move around a variety of line-drawn dungeons (mazes), shooting the creatures that wander within. These creatures, or Worlings (Burwors, Garwors and Thorwors), are eliminated so that the player progresses to an even harder dungeon. On each of these levels, there are bonus monsters, called Worluks, and occassionaly, the Wizard makes a special guest appearance – see The Dungeons of Wor.

Wizard of Wor-arcade-gameplay-screenshot

Each dungeon has different maze patterns, with escape doors that your Worrior can walk through to re-appear on the opposite side of the maze – this is great for when things get tough and you need a quick exit. Be warned though, the Worlings and Worluks can also use these escape doors !

Wizard of Wor-arcade-gameplay-screenshot

The Dungeons of Wor:

Basic Dungeons – consist of short passages and long corridors.
The Arena – appears after the first bonus Worrior is awarded. The most difficult of the basic dungeons with an open central maze area.
Worlord Dungeons – Dungeons ’8′ (and subsequent dungeons) are more difficult where the player is likely to engage the Wizard. In these dungeons, the player is addressed as “Worlord”
The Pit – the 13th dungeon appears after the second bonus Worrior is awarded. It is an entirely open area, with no place to hide and requires the greatest skill for survival. Eliminating all Worlings, Worluks and Wizard earns continued play.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=srPdPw9VH2A[/youtube]

If you doubt how good this is game is, I urge you to give it a try. Game play is simple enough for any player to pick up in an instant. Mastering it is another story. I do warn you though, once you enter the dungeon, it is difficult to stop – you will be hooked !

GraphicsSimplistic, but that doesn’t matter

75%

SoundThe tempo of the effects and droning music picking up as you are about to clear out the last Worling, gets the heart racing !

85%

PlayabilityEasy to get into, you just move up – down – left – right and then fire. Sounds simple enough !

92%

LastabilityIf you clear out the Pit dungeon, then you earn continued play. You may find this exhausting and a bit samey, but rest assured, this is the game’s magic – you will want to keep on playing.

90%

OverallIf you do not have access to the arcade version of the game, then hit up the brilliant C64 conversion. WoW is a classic !

92%

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=srPdPw9VH2A

Manufacturer:Bally Midway
Year: 1981
Genre: Labyrinth / Maze
Number of simultaneous players: 2
Maximum number of players: 2
Gameplay: Either
Joystick: 4-way
Buttons: 1 (Fire)

Sonic Blast on the Nintendo 3DS

From the Euro Desk:

Sonic Blast

Sonic Blast on the Nintendo 3DS

UK fans rejoice soon you will be able to play the Sega classic Sonic Blast on your Nintendo 3DS. The retro Game Gear title will be available via the Nintendo eShop  this Thursday for about  €5.

In Sonic Blast you can play as Sonic or Knuckles in this classic title which comes complete with 14 classic levels. The game is full of power-ups, special advantages like Sonic’s new Boost Blast, allowing you to reach hidden areas and Knuckles super climbing skills to help you gain extra points, and even hidden levels.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0T7TcBYUSNo[/youtube]

P.S. Don’t worry U.S. fans, it’s coming soon to us as well.

ASO: Armored Scrum Object

ASO – Armored Scrum Object a.k.a. Alpha Mission (1985)
By: SNK  Genre: Shooting  Players: 1-2  Difficulty: Medium-Hard
Featured Version: Arcade  First Day Score: 20,480 (one credit)
Also Available For: Nintendo NES

Armored Scrum Object

You know, the history of videogames can be funny. As genres were born, some examples of their games were forgotten almost as soon as they appeared while others went on to be remembered as landmarks, even legends in the years to come. The ones most fondly recalled were generally the most playable, not necessarily the most innovative, and that brings me to ASO (or Alpha Mission as most will probably know it). I must confess that I’d never seen or played it before undertaking this feature. I had vague knowledge of its sequel on the Neo Geo, but this original? Not a clue. When I started playing it though, I was rather pleasantly surprised for, as it turns out, ASO is a very innovative game considering its age! Is its obscurity a blip in history or is it deservedly ignored?

Armored Scrum Object

Its innovation doesn’t extend to its story though! Yep, it’s the same old nonsense – evil aliens attacking Earth, blah, blah, blah. In this case, seven waring races from the Tetranova galaxy have been fighting with such ferocity that all their homeworlds have been destroyed. Finding unity in their newfound homelessness, they have joined forces to find a new home on which they can recover and rebuild their fleets before going to war once again and, as you may have guessed, that new home they’ve selected is Earth! Eeek! Fear not though, as you’ve been given the chance to kick them off using the SYD attack fighter, which for once isn’t an ‘advanced prototype’ either! Using this ship you must fight through twelve areas before Earth can be saved and peace restored to one and all.

Armored Scrum Object

One of the first things I noticed about ASO is that the twelve vertically-scrolling stages generally feature just as many targets on the ground as they do airborne ones. To that end, the SYD fighter is capable of firing its laser cannon to take out the squadrons of various enemy craft but it can also fire missiles to destroy ground targets. Many of the latter include several types of gun turrets, but there are also many parts of the scenery that can be destroyed and it’s in the smouldering remains of these that the game’s many power-up icons can be found, and this is perhaps what impressed me most about the game. Yes, its mixture of airborne and ground-based targets is somewhat reminiscent of Xevious but the plethora of collectible icons here is impressive for such an early game!

Armored Scrum Object

This is also where things can get a little complicated! The icons are marked by both letters and colours. Those marked with ‘S’, ‘L’, or ‘M’ will upgrade the SYD’s speed, laser power, and missile power respectively, but the ones marked with ‘E’ will gradually increase your energy meter which powers the various weapons or ‘armors’ available. The SYD has two of these permanently – the lasers and missiles – but the others must be collected and each is split into three pieces. Once all three pieces of a given armor are collected it is available for use, but only once your energy reserves have reached a sufficient level too. Once this happens you can select which armor you wish to use (only out of the ones you’ve collected of course) and unleash it accordingly!

Armored Scrum Object

There are eight different collectible armors altogether and aside from a shield they are all offensive including more powerful cannons, super-missiles, and energy beams, right up to a powerful smart-bomb style attack. Using any of them will deplete your energy and they only last for a limited amount of time or number of shots, plus some are better in certain situations than others, so strategic use is advised! There are many other icons to be found too – twenty in total, amazingly – and even one of my sizable reviews isn’t big enough to go into all of them, but suffice to say it’s possible to upgrade and downgrade your ship’s various attributes and, mercifully, there are also icons that let you keep your various power-ups after a life is lost, one each for speed, lasers, and missiles.

Armored Scrum Object

Other icons include ones that increase the size of your energy tanks, ones for warps and bonus points, extra lives… all sorts of things, and as long as you keep firing those missiles, the landscape will be littered with them, and that’s probably the best thing about this game – your progress is almost entirely down to intelligent collection and use of the millions of icons or ‘energy tiles’. In spite of their numbers, however, the stages themselves are constantly busy with lots of small enemy fighters flitting backwards and forwards taking pot-shots at you, punctuated by the occasional larger, more powerful craft, but the end-of-level bosses are very challenging, at least at first before you adapt to their attacks and learn a few tricks. Some even fire homing-bullets which are really annoying!

Armored Scrum Object

This combined with the slightly sluggish controls and the fact that the collision-detection often makes your ship seem to be a little bigger than it is conspire to make this is one tough game! While the music and sound effects are merely functional, the graphics here are pretty impressive. The stages aren’t enormously varied despite seemingly being set on both spacestations and on planets, but the sprites are varied and well-detailed too and the great use of colour means things rarely get confusing.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Co8dKqWsAVs[/youtube]

This is all impressive enough anyway but when you consider that ASO was released in the same year as the legendary but more basic Gradius, it’s pretty amazing! SNK have managed to pack a huge amount into this game – its twelve stages, twenty power-up icons, and eight weapons is far in excess of anything else I’ve seen from other games of this age and on top of that it’s great fun too, if a little hectic. It’s very much a game where practise pays off though and I’m now greatly looking forward to giving the sequel on the Neo Geo powerhouse the once over! Ultimately the few little niggles mentioned prevent this from being an top-ranked blaster but I’m still very surprised it isn’t better remembered.

RKS Score: 7/10

Crystalis

Crystalis-snk-nes-gameplay-screenshotCrystalis

This week I have one of my favorite picks period. Crystalis is the equivalent of an upgraded Zelda title. The game itself is jam packed with action around every corner. The story line is also very interesting since it takes place in the not so far future. The year is 1997, now back in the NES era this would have made more sense since we were in the early 90s but nowadays it doesn’t make much sense since the year has passed and well, just saying they should have made it the year at least 3000. Lets move on, the game is only one of few Zelda-clones which there weren’t many to begin with(The only other one being Faria as far as I know). SNK learned well on how to apply the Zelda-like mechanics.

Crystalis-snk-nes-gameplay-screenshot

 

We will start by talking about your main weapons. Your hero(whatever you name it) has the options to wear a sword, armor, and shield. This made the game very simple which meant anyone can pick it up and play as it’s very understandable. The game itself become focused more on your adventure and less on modification. You’ll start off with a regular armor and shield that will help you take less damage and at one point completely shield you from enemy attacks. Furthermore, you’ll also be able to use different swords to be able to defeat different creatures. This is where strategy takes place as there are some monsters that will deflect certain swords while they will be weak against other swords, it’s just a matter of trial and error.

Crystalis-snk-nes-gameplay-screenshot

The also comes with an item and magic screens. They are quite simple to use and helpful at tough times. I always recommend you have your healing magic equipped because at some point in a dungeon or even in the field area, you’ll be attacked over and over by a whole lot of monsters so using the healing spell will be quite helpful and time appropriate. You have a wide range of spells and items to choose from but you must use them wisely and strategically.

Crystalis-snk-nes-gameplay-screenshot

Crystalis is one of the most memorable for the NES and shouldn’t be one to avoid. This game includes a quest that’ll kepp you interested, awesome music, and fun gameplay of course. You can’t beat riding a dolphin!

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8DWu_BVeg5E[/youtube]

Battle Squadron ONE

Battle Squadron - Gameplay Screenshot - Cover

Mobile gaming has not only added new gamers to our world, but also allowed classic games to have yet another platform to be played one. When I first began playing mobile games, I always thought it would be the perfect place for retro games to be played since it would not require much in the way of system resources. Battle Squadron ONE is one of those games that translates well onto the mobile platform giving gamers a great classic game to enjoy on their Apple or Android device.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v22jB0l1osY[/youtube]

Battle Squadron was a top down shooter developed by Cope-Com and published by Innerprise and EA for the Amiga computer and later for the Sega Genesis. This version stays true to the retro feel of the game with its classic sound and graphics, but it looks very good and clean on a mobile phone, which is important since you have so much going on and various attacks being flung at you.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v22jB0l1osY

The plot and gameplay is classic greatness, your commanders were kidnapped and you have to rescue them by going into the enemy’s base and destroying everything. Oh, did I mention the base is the size of a planet?  The game starts off by tossing you right into the fray and you soon realize you need more than your standard gun to take out the hordes of enemies on the screen. You can upgrade your weapon by collecting the cubes dropped by defeated enemies which makes the game much easier especially with the spread shot and if all else fails you have your bombs which creates an area effect pulse of destruction that takes all enemies near you out.

Battle Squadron - Gameplay Screenshot - 2

Level design stays true to its retro roots where instead of having a stage and a boss and then a new level you instead have a “master stage” where you take out the enemy and then come upon a large crater in the planet. It is at this point you can enter the next stage, or you can continue on. Now if you did not purchase all the levels you will not be able to continue, but you can play the master level over and over. There are also bosses in the game and some levels have two bosses.

Battle Squadron - Gameplay Screenshot

The graphics as said feel like the classic version of the game and the sound is direct from the Amiga version. The controls are easy to use and can be switched between the standard touch and drag controls with onscreen buttons or an analog slider, you can even use motion controls, but I liked those the least. In multiplayer mode, you play using a split screen, which on smaller phones can be a bit difficult, but on a larger device, like the iPad, it works very well.

Overall, Battle Squadron One brings true classic gaming to smart phones and should be in any retro gamers collection. We give this game a 9 out of 10. You can find the App Store and Android version of the game here.

Pit Fighter

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Pit Fighter

 

Back in 1990, Atari released Pit-Fighter – the first fighting game to include digitised fighting characters. This animation was created through a “bluescreen” process which was a major feat for the day. It was the precursor to Mortal Kombat..

Pit-Fighter-Gameplay-Screenshot-

Pit-Fighter has three fighters to choose from: Buzz, the ex-professional wrestler; Ty, the kick-boxing champion; and Kato, the third degree black-belt expert. Each fighter has their own fighting style, strengths, weaknesses and super moves.The premise of the game is to take your fighter through 15 different fights, with grudge matches (bonus rounds) every three fights. You become champion once you defeat the Masked Warrior.

Pit-Fighter-Gameplay-Screenshot-

 

Pit-Fighter has some interesting twists amongst its gameplay. Firstly, it has sly spectators that get involved in your fights by knifing you. They lurk amongst the crowd, so watch out ! The game also has weapons and objects to use, like: barrels, crates, knives, spiked balls, oil drums, sticks, bar stools and even a motorcycle ! But, beware – these weapons and objects can also be used against you ! If things weren’t interesting enough, there are power pills in later stages that can temporarily make both your fighter and opponent more powerful and difficult to hurt and ultimately, defeat.

Pit-Fighter-Gameplay-Screenshot-

Pit-Fighter hasn’t really aged too well, but it does offer nostalgic value with its digitised fighters and interesting gameplay, with crowd involvement and outrageous weapons/objects to use. So, if you want to relive the daddy of digitised fighters, throw in a few coins into Pit-Fighter.

Pit Fighter - Gameplay Screenshot - Arcade Cabinet

Manufacturer: Atari
Year: 1990
Genre: Fighting
Number of simultaneous players: 3
Maximum number of players: 3
Gameplay: Team
Joystick: 8-way
Buttons: 3 (Punch, Kick and Jump)
Sound: Amplified Mono (single channel)

Versus: Games for the Ages

versus - A Compoetition for the ages
I know you know dear reader, but I simply had to blog this. I do love pretty screenshots, outrageous indie game mechanics and TIG Source competitions you see. Versus, the latest competition of the sort, the one cunningly subtitled Games for the Ages, is all about crafting games that pit at least one human player versus another human player. What’s more all the entries have been uploaded to the compo site and are freely available for you to download, enjoy and -should you feel so inclined- rate.
versus - A Compoetition for the ages
There are 81 wildly innovative (and plain wild) games available to try, including the incredible AGI Combat for the trigger happy adventure gamer, the rather unsettling A Cure for Friendship, the deeply spiritual Jesus vs. Dinosaurs and even the particularly silly Macig – The Gambling. Expect surreal genre mixes, visuals any indie gamer would love and some truly frightening sounds; all in glorious multiplayer!
versus - A Compoetition for the ages
Here are a few screenshots to spice things up:
versus - A Compoetition for the ages

Panzer General

By the 1990′s, turn-based strategy war games had become highly specialized with a very thin customer base.  Most required a grognard’s ability to juggle multiple battle statistics at once, and had a limited visual appeal.  Then, in 1994, Strategic Simulations Incorporated (SSI) released Panzer General and the wargame genre transformed into a mass market product.

Panzer General game box

Panzer General game box.

Unlike real-time strategy (RTS) games, turn-based strategy games permit the user time to ponder their next move without having to press the pause button.  The drawback is that once you’ve committed your resources you must watch your turn – and your then your opponent’s – play out.  To state the obvious, chess is an example of turn-based strategy.

Typical combat screen in Panzer General

Typical combat screen in Panzer General.

Panzer General offered players both single scenario play, in which they could assume the role of an Allied or an Axis general, as well as a Campaign Mode, in which the player attempts to win World War II for Germany.  The campaign runs from 1939 to 1945, and as units gain battle experience, they become stronger, and the player (as general) gains access to upgrades and reinforcements – assuming they are victorious, that is.  If the player achieves their scenario objectives with five or more game turns to spare, it is considered a “Major Victory,” which unlocks further game elements.  Major Victories enable the player to alter history, such as invading Britain on the heels of victory in France, or even landing an invasion force in North America to capture Washington, D.C.

The invasion of Malta in Panzer General

The invasion of Malta in Panzer General

The game was published across several platform, including versions for the Panasonic 3D0 system, MS-DOS and Windows based computers, Sony PlayStation, and for the Macintosh.  It also spawned a plethora of sequels, including: the 5-Star Series (Allied General, Fantasy General, Pacific General, People’s General, and Star General), Panzer General II, Panzer General 3D Assault, Panzer General III: Scorched Earth, and Panzer General: Allied Assault.  Clearly gamers enjoyed wargames once again!

Furious combat in Panzer General.

Furious combat in Panzer General.

Panzer General was both well-reviewed and well-received by the gaming public.  Besides receiving high review scores from the critics, gamers just kept playing the game.  To this day, there are sites on the Internet devoted to this game, with hundreds of scenarios, new units, and even new features.  Mods are the fountain of youth for classic games, and Panzer General was no exception, as they managed to keep the game fresh and interesting years after its release.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D2H6pnOZCUg[/youtube]

Ultimately, the game’s fabulous gameplay coupled with its genre-changing aspect make it a classic retro game that every retrogamer needs to play!

Guerrilla War

 

Guerrilla War - SNK - Arcade - Gameplay Screenshot

Ah yeh, Guerrilla War, released by SNK in 1987, was the first game I played with a rotary joystick. Unlike Ikari Warriors where you had the joystick to move side to side and shoot, Guerrilla War allowed you to move your fighter and at the same time, rotate the gun to shoot in 8 directions !  This rotary “gimmick” seemed to work, as it was used on other games, notably, Heavy Barrel and Midnight Resistance.

                        Guerrilla War - SNK - Arcade - Gameplay Screenshot

The game is a 1 or 2 player survival shooting game, in the mould of Ikari Warriors. Play can be simultaneous or either player can join in at any stage during the game. The players have machine guns to mow down baddies and grenades to lob at them. Along the way, the players can also get into tanks and cause maximum damage (and get further into the game). There are bonus weapons too, when certain enemies are killed.

                        Guerrilla War - SNK - Arcade - Gameplay Screenshot

The freedom fighter, and communist leader connection was due to the original Japanese version of Guerrilla War, titled, Guevara. The Japanese game was based on the exploits of the revolutionary, Ernesto “Che” Guevara and the Cuban commy leader, Fidel Castro. Fearing extreme anti-Communist sentiments in the West, SNK did a regionalisation of the game’s dialogue and instruction manual for its US and European releases.

Guerrilla War - SNK - Arcade - Gameplay Screenshot

The game’s description was changed to: The country is struggling against the cruel domination of the king. The guerrilla leader and his comrades attempt to secretly land on shore, but the king’s military is waiting for them. Fight your way inland and attack the fortress.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q4JmBDVWV-0[/youtube]

If you want to play a superlative Ikari Warriors rip-off, then this is your game. The rotary joystick is a godsend, as it allows you to walk and shoot in all directions, causing absolute carnage. Go on, throw a coin in the slot, and play some Guerrilla War.

 Guerrilla War - SNK - Arcade - Gameplay Screenshot - Cabinet

Manufacturer: SNK
Year: 1987
Genre: Vertical Scrolling Shooter
Number of Simultaneous Players: 2
Maximum number of Players: 2
Gameplay: Joint
Joystick: 8-way Rotary
Buttons: 2 [Fire and Grenade]
Sound: Amplified Mono (single channel)

 

 

Gekitou Stadium

Gekitou Stadium - Gameplay Screenshot

With the start of the Famicom Guide Youtube channel why not pick a Famicom title? Well, guess what? I just did! Gekitou Stadium!! is one of the reasons why baseball games are still fun on the classic console. The game is well balanced and has a very moderate setting of gameplay to help make the game fair. You have use the available strategy so that your pitcher won’t get beaten up by the opponent batters. You can hit the hitter if you don’t like him or just trick him to follow a ball outside the pitching box, you decide. The game has a very entertaining soundtrack that will not bore you and will keep you coming for more!

Gekitou Stadium - Gameplay Screenshot
There is a lot to explore as you see in the title screen. You have many settings to choose from. I prefer the 2player vs mode because it’s always a lot more fun to play against a friend. Make sure you hit the ball well though!

Gekitou Stadium - Gameplay Screenshot
Be careful with your opponent especially the ones with lots of HR in their stats, chances are they will try to hit it out of the ball park. My opponent didn’t follow my advice so I swung the bat and make her pay for it!

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rAhFZWsnL18[/youtube]
One of the best parts of the game is you can add yourself in the game. You can see myself right there in the left of the picture waiting to give high fives to my team mate that just scored a home run! Don’t I look sexy? Aha just kidding, this is just one of the many funny cut scenes of this game. Every sport game should have something like this!

Empire Deluxe

Empire Deluxe (1993) title screen

If ever there was a game that could be pointed to and accredited for the “just one more turn” phenomenon in gaming, Empire Deluxe is it.  Released in 1993 by New World Computing, Empire Deluxe was an advanced and enhanced version of Empire: Wargame of the Century, which in turn was a version of Empire, first released in 1977 and coded in FORTRAN.  The early version of Empire was crude as the platforms it ran on, but was still addictive.  The 1987 Interstel Corporation release, Empire: Wargame of the Century, had the advantage of Mark Baldwin‘s graphic user interface, making it visual appealing, which helped the game garner “Game of the Year” honors from the influential Computer Gaming Magazine.  This success helped propel Empire Deluxe‘s sales forward, having the advantage of both a built-in user base as well as being a high quality game.  In fact, Empire Deluxe sold well, and remains a favorite game for many PC gamers, earning a spot on GameSpy.com’s “Top 50 Games of All Time” list.

Box art for Empire Deluxe

Box art for Empire Deluxe

Game play of Empire Deluxe is very familiar, as it should be considering it is the great-grandaddy of the entire RTS genre.  Each player starts with one city, and needs to develop his military strength to conquer the surrounding territory.  Military units are varied, and include infantry, armor, transports, destroyers, cruisers, submarines, battleships, aircraft carriers, fighters, and bombers.  Targets have differing defensive and offensive values, and not every city is easily conquered.  (In fact, conquering cities lowers their production capacity, and if a city changes hands often, it becomes almost useless as a source of production.)  Combat is straight-forward, with the winner moving into the loser’s square upon victory.  Exploration is key, and as players start on an island, building up a naval task force (with both exploratory and combat vessels) is necessary to achieve victory.

Empire Deluxe screen shot

Empire Deluxe screen shotEmpire Deluxe had three modes for aspiring world conquerors: Basic, Standard, and Advanced.  The Basic Mode was set up for beginners, with limits to the number and types of units available, simple production rules, and the elimination of the “fog-of-war” obscuration of the game map.  The Standard Mode used the “fog-of-war” feature, added a few more complications to the production rules, and permitted the use of a few more military units.  The Advanced Mode unlocked all the military units (from infantry to bomber!), added rules for terrain effects on movement and combat, presented the most complications for city production, and opened the game map to its largest size (200×200).

Rear box art for Empire Deluxe

Rear box art for Empire Deluxe

Some of the game industry’s brightest minds worked on custom maps for Empire Deluxe, including Will Wright (The Sims), Trevor Sorenson (Star Fleet), Don Gilman (Harpoon), and Noah Falstein (Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis).  It seems obvious that the game’s influence throughout the industry is noticeably vast!  If you’ve never played a game of Empire Deluxe, you’re missing out on a piece of retro gaming history.  Between its history significance and the happy memories it invokes, Empire Deluxe is a true retrogaming classic!

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cxgI9LfahK0[/youtube]

Crime Fighters

Crime Fighters - Konami - Arcade - Gameplay Screenshot - Flyer

Crime Fighters

This is one of those games that were much more fun in the past then it was today. Crime Fighters is a beat em up in every sense of the word. In this Konami fighter, you play the role of an undercover cop who really just rushes into gang territory and beats the living hell out of everyone. Honestly, I don’t even know how you are considered undercover when you just walk up and start beating down people.

Crime Fighters - Konami - Arcade - Gameplay Screenshot

The cool thing about this game, at least at the arcades was it was four players like Teenage Mutant Ninja turtles. Depending on how many were playing more enemies would be on the screen at one time. Crime Fighters plays a lot like Double Dragon, your main attacks are punches and kicks and you can grab enemies and preform attack as well.

Crime Fighters - Konami - Arcade - Gameplay Screenshot

Another different thing about Crime Fighters was the health meter. In the four player version when you added money you would get a certain number representing your health and it would slowly count down like Gauntlet (perhaps it was your undercover power).  The only way to gain health was at the end of a level after beating a boss. I think this could make the game seem like you are getting a lot of health, but later on some of the enemies and bosses are cheap and just continue to tick away your health.

Crime Fighters - Konami - Arcade - Gameplay Screenshot

Speaking of cheap, one of the issues I had was with picking up weapons. Now the guns were over powered and once you had one you owned until you were out of bullets, but the knife and pipe were semi useless specifically because when you first picked them up you would like show them off and during this little animation an enemy could hit you causing you to drop and lose the item. Again, maybe it has to do with being undercover, I dunno.

Crime Fighters - Konami - Arcade - Gameplay Screenshot

So like most side scrolling fighting games the key is not to be surrounded. Most of the standard enemies were easy to take out, but later you had big muscle bound dudes that could smack you around or pick you up and slam you. The worst are the ninja guys who would counter almost all your attacks and really drain your life. Here is a pro-tip, don’t scroll too far when fighting a ninja or a big guy or more might come out or you might reach the boss, trust me, mixing the ninja and a boss is horrible and you will lose a ton of life.

Crime Fighters - Konami - Arcade - Gameplay Screenshot

I also like the United Nations of bad guys in Crime Fighters. You had greasers which were white guys that looked like a 60’s gang, a dock worker that was either a huge black or white guy, the Kung Fu thug which was a Chinese guy and the best enemy name ever,  Hispanic, seriously, the enemy name was just called, Hispanic and they wore tank tops and always used a knife. I know my Miami readers would get a kick out of that.

Crime Fighters - Konami - Arcade - Gameplay Screenshot

As said the game can be frustrating especially when you get a team up of hard enemies like the Dominatrix, hit-man and a boss. Speaking of bosses, they just were weird. You had bosses that looked like Freddy Krueger and Jason Voorhees to the stereotypical end boss, which comes out of a limo with a machine gun. If you make it all the way to the end, you can fight all the bosses at once, which I really think was a last ditch effort to grab more quarters from you.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4qrBY3NuC6Y[/youtube]

All in all Crime Fighters gets boring because all you do is mash punch and kick against the same type of bad guys over and over. Also, with the cheap attacks and counters it just gets frustrating even when you are not spending real quarters. However, kneeing enemies in the balls and hearing that bell sound makes it all worth it. This game reminds me of a mix between Double Dragon and Renegade and that in itself is good enough to give it a go.

What is gaming’s ‘Greatest Generation’?

Legendary journalist Tom Brokaw coined the term “the Greatest Generation” in 1998 to describe what he felt was the most important generation in American history.  What generation deserves that tag in video gaming history seems to be up for debate.

video-game_Generation

Over the past several years I have seen and dealt with players who will put the topic up for constant debate.  I have seen classic arcade gamers refer to anything console as “lame” and unimportant in comparison, even going so far as to note the NES as the death of their generation instead of the massive industry crash years before it.  I have seen modern gamers question the loyalty of the classic gaming fans and I’ve seen every generation inbetween sing the virtues of their preferred generations of gaming.

Last Friday’s article noting that all three modern consoles have now surpassed the Nintendo Entertainment System in lifetime sales figures saw some pro-NES fans go on the defensive, even acting as if the statistics were being used to somehow downplay the importance of the NES or claim modern console superiority.   A puzzling yet interesting response that led me to open the floor up for debate on this very topic.

What do you think is the “Greatest Generation” in video gaming?  To help with the discussion I’ve broken down the generations below.

* Pre-History Era (pre-1971) – Games such as Spacewar proved popular on major university campuses, but no consumer video game products existed yet.

* Consumer Era (1971-1977) – Video games became available to consumers in both coin-op form and home products that could be hooked up to television sets.  Few games truly caught on during this time, however.

* Boom Era (1978-1983) – Video games arrived in a big way starting with Space Invaders and went deep into the mainstream in both coin-op and home console form.  Arcade machines set sales records that still stand today.  However, this generation was unable to sustain itself.  After sliding in 1982 the industry began an unstoppable downward spiral in 1983.

* Crash Era (1984-1986) – The video game briefly joins the list of dead fads as most arcade locations close and retailers refuse to carry any video game products.  Personal computer gaming managed to thrive.  The Nintendo Entertainment System came along toward the end of this era and gained some steam…

* NES Era (1987-1990) – Nintendo’s console dominated the home console scene while surviving arcade locations stabilized behind strong titles not yet available for home play.  While the NES manages to more than double the lifetime sales of the Atari 2600, other consoles struggle.  Handheld gaming comes to be, starting with Nintendo’s GameBoy.  Video games are still considered “toys” by the media as the decade ends.

* Nineties Era (1991-1999) – The 16-bit console wars split the gaming audience between Nintendo and Sega but increase the overall scale of the industry.  Arcades see a semi-comeback behind popular fighting and sports titles.  Consumers were unable to keep up with the majority of new console product, however, until Sony’s PlayStation comes along, becoming the first console in history to sell more than 100 million units.

* Millenium Generation (2000-2006) – The PlayStation 2 comes out to product shortages and an eBay frenzy, eventually trumping the lifetime sales of the first PlayStation.  Microsoft’s XBox brings new blood into the marketplace while Sega bows out.  Nintendo finally moves on with the introduction of new handhelds, continuing their dominance in that area but struggling to regain the top spot with traditional consoles. Video games leave consumer toy labels into electronics and entertainment labels.

* Modern Generation (2007-present) – The Nintendo Wii brings the Big N back to the top of the traditional console market with motion control.  The PlayStation 3 stumbles out of the gate but helps Sony’s Blu Ray win the disc format war.  The XBox 360 brings Microsoft ahead of Sony in the console race.  The Nintendo DS blows past the lifetime GameBoy sales numbers while all three traditional consoles reach the top five best selling consoles ever.  Numerous titles break all-time gaming sales figures.

Ads of the Past: Funco Land

Oh Funco Land you evil child pawnshop. You took advantage of me by surrounding me with games I could not afford and made my adolescent brain made deals like trading Megaman 2, which my mother paid over $40 for, and selling it for less than $10.

Funco Land

Funco Land

Most of the time your demo stations did not work and sometimes you only showed the opening video of a game (dick). The man behind the counter was mean and creepy and smell of failure. Oh Funco Land, I got you back one day when I sold my copy of Double Dragon to a lady about to buy it from you for half price of what you were selling it for and triple what you would have paid me for it. Alas, it was my only victory against you as most battles and the war belonged to you. Rest in peace my old nemesis I have a new abusive soul in my life named Gamestop.

Thanks to FamicomFreak from Retro Gaming Life for the scans!

Gaming Memories: Part 3

Soon after arriving home from the family holiday mentioned in ‘Gaming Memories – Part 1, I was suddenly obsessed with the videogames I had previously had little interest in. Chief among my obsessions was the amazing OutRun. It wasn’t long before I discovered that this ‘Sega’ company who made OutRun also had available a home console, much like the Atari VCS I had briefly flirted with at a friend’s house. After some investigation I found that there were three variants available – the Master System, the Master System Plus, and the Super System.

Sega - Master System

Apparently this flashy-looking console also had some flashier-looking accessories. Namely, the ‘Light Phaser’, which, excitingly, looked like a blaster from Star Wars, and the ‘3D Glasses’ which looked cool even before I found out what they were for. The basic Master System pack was just the console with a control pad and a built in-game. The Master System Plus also came with the Light Phaser and featured an additional built-in game. Lastly, included with the Super System was both the Light Phaser and 3D Glasses, and a built-in game that took advantage of both. Naturally, I decided I wanted the latter! The day I found all this out was an exciting one. I stayed up all night trying to work out how I could have this great console. I didn’t want to wait for Christmas, I wanted it straight away! After some pretty brain-bending calculations, I discovered I could pay my parents back £3 per week from my paper-round if they bought me the console I so desired. After a hard fought campaign, they finally relented. Unfortunately the Super System was unavailable but they did buy me a Master System Plus with three games, and some 3D Glasses separately. Two years of paper rounds then ensued, all proceeds going to this cause. It didn’t matter though – I had Outrun!

My trusty Master System would go on to keep me entertained for many years. It even persuaded my best friend, Luke, to buy one of his own, and he was lucky enough to get a proper Super System! Before long we were spending a lot of our time at each others houses, challenging each other at our favourite games, with both of us becoming firm Sega fanboys in the process, an allegiance which it took the SNES to break, and even then our hearts always remained in the Sega camp. Luke and I both have our favourites on Sega’s first console offering (outside Japan), but after my visit to the late, great Microland with my parents, I came away with the following games…

Safari Hunt (1986)

Safari Hunt

Eager to try out my fancy new Light Phaser, this was the first game I tried when I finished unwrapping my shiny new Master System. It was built into the console itself but was also available separately on a combination cartridge. It is essentially the Master System’s version of Duck Hunt and sees you shooting various innocent-looking creatures over three different single-screen settings which repeat over and over until level 69 (giggity). Well, apparently – I never played it that long! The object is to shoot as many creatures as possible before you run out of bullets. If you’ve surpassed the required score you’ll progress to the next screen. If not, game over! Despite its horrifying un-political correctness and extremely limited nature, this was actually good fun in short bursts and I played it often. Light-gun games didn’t really hit their stride (in the home, at least) until the 32-bit era (with Virtua Cop, et al) so this was one of my few experiences with them, but I have happy memories of it.

Hang-On (1985)

Hang On

This conversion of the hit coin-op was impressively released in the same year as its parent and was another game that came built into my Master System. The object is simply to keep racing for as long as possible without running out of time. There are four different backgrounds that the game cycles through (including a nice night-time stage) and the road is packed with other racers, although they’re only there to get in the way – there’s no actual race positions or anything. It’s still great fun though – it’s fast, addictive, and requires skill rather than luck to progress in. I probably ended up playing this one more than most of my cartridge games and it’s still highly enjoyable. Top stuff!

Snail Maze (1986)

Snail Maze

I had been using my Master System for a good few months before I got around to reading the instruction book that came with it, and upon doing so I was surprised to discover there was another game built into it! It seems that on certain models of the console, if you turn it on with no cartridge inserted whilst holding Up and buttons 1 & 2 simultaneously, the result is the now famous Snail Maze! It’s a very simple game – simply guide the small snail through the complex maze to the exit within the (very) strict time limit. There are twelve mazes in total and if you fail to reach the exit of any of them within the time limit you’ll be dumped back at the start of the whole game. It’s a bit of a trial and error, memory-test kind of game really, but again, it’s fun in short bursts and that bloody tune will drive you insane!

OutRun 3D (1989)

OutRun 3D

Ah, the very reason I had a Master System! I had the choice between this and the standard ‘non-3D’ version of this game in Microland on purchase day. I naturally assumed they would be the same, aside from one making use of the 3D Glasses and the other not. I was incorrect. I didn’t play the non-3D version until later on Luke’s MS but it turned out it was a lot faster and harder! This version plays nicely enough though and, despite being a bit too easy, was very enjoyable at the time. The 3D effect was quite impressive too and handily the game had a 2D option as well, and the Master System’s sound chip does its best to replicate the iconic music of the arcade behemoth. It’s not the greatest driving game of all-time but hey – it’s still OutRun!

After Burner (1987)

After Burner

Another conversion of an immense arcade machine (you have to call it a ‘machine’, it seems wrong just calling it a mere arcade ‘game’!), and one even more impressive than OutRun from a technical point of view. The little Master System actually has a good go at replicating its parent and proved to be one of the better home versions of it. Piloting the iconic F-14 Tomcat, it’s your job to blast your way through eighteen stages of anonymous enemy aircraft. Obviously the graphical detail has had to suffer a bit here, especially the ground scenery, but overall this is an enjoyable conversion of this classic, and even has semi-cheat feature enabling you to reach the later stages unscathed!

Altered Beast (1988)

Altered Beast

If memory serves I think it was actually my parents that suggested I buy this one, perhaps for a bit of variety. I hadn’t previously heard of it but it looked interesting enough, and for a while I quite liked it. Before long I discovered it was far from the pinnacle of Master System gaming, but I suppose it’s not really a genre the MS is swamped in though, and it’s not too bad. It does have one of the arcade version’s stages missing (the third) and can be pretty frustrating, but how can it a bad thing to turn into a powerful human/monster hybrid? It’s just a shame you don’t get to spend more time in these forms, especially the first one – the fireball-throwing werewolf! Besides, I’ll always have a soft spot for this game as I could actually complete it!

So, these were the games that kept me occupied for the first few months of my console-owning life, and great fun they were. They were of course gradually added to over the coming months with many titles now considered among the system’s best, such as Fantasy Zone, Psycho Fox, Wonderboy 3, Power Strike, Shinobi, Spellcaster, etc, and my good friend Luke often brought his favourites to my house too. The Master System remains one of my most fondly remembered consoles despite the fact that it was soon superseded by the MegaDrive (another of my favourites) and I really can’t recall any bad memories of this under-appreciated console which I still regularly enjoy now.

Abobo’s Big Adventure

As much as some followers try to stick the “classic arcade” tag on me, I am every bit as much of a fan of the 8-bit console era of the later 1980s. Back then, if I wasn’t sleeping, eating, showering or doing my homework I was on my Nintendo Entertainment System, and I wasn’t adverse to skipping one of those listed tasks at times to play it.

Abobo's Big Adventure

Months back I learned of Abobo’s Big Adventure, a fun looking Flash-game parody of the entire NES era, and began looking forward to it. The game went live last night and exceeded my expectations, something that is difficult to do with me.

Yes, you are Abobo, the big muscle-headed ugly guy made famous in Double Dragon and you are pretty darn grumpy. Seems a variety of 8-bit characters kidnapped your kid and you are out to get him back. Thankfully they skip explaining how a guy that looks like Abobo managed to become a father.

As you begin your game you are instantly bombarded with characters from just about any NES-era game you can name. You’ll have to do battle with those pink sweater-vest guys from Kung Fu, characters from Renegade, River City Ransom and even T&C Surf Designs. You’ll encounter Goombas, Mega Man boss enemies, the masters of the Pro Wrestling ring and so many more. Even the title screen is full of any 8-bit game character you want to name, from the Duck Hunt duck to the Eggplant Wizard from Kid Icarus. Finally I got to live out my life-long desire to punch Kid Niki in the face, even if I had to dodge exploding barrels from Donkey Kong while doing so.

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The game plays right in your browser and can use arrow keys or a gamepad to play. As with the 8-bit games of the day there are only two buttons to learn to use. Just pick up and play, and play you should.

Abobo’s Big Adventure is the ultimate 8-bit tribute game and a must-play for any fan of the era. You can stop reading this article now and go do just that by Clicking here.

Patrick Scott Patterson has been a gamer since 1981, acting as a writer, technician and world record holder on several game titles. He has appeared numerous times in the yearly editions of Guinness World Records: Gamer’s Edition. In addition to writing here, Patterson has also written for Yahoo!, Twin Galaxies, VGEVO and Gameroom Magazine, and is always looking for unique and positive news to report from the video gaming world.

Games & Candy

Personally, I find runts have a most distinct taste than Gobstopper so when you are going for flavor it is a better choice. Again, this is a lower calories and sugar candy than many others. ~J.A. Laraque

Candy

Games & Candy

Most people are trying to be healthier now-a-days and even in gaming, where you spend most of the time sitting, there are things you can do to improve your overall health. However, sometimes you just want to enjoy some candy, and there are some awesome candies to eat during gaming that gives you that sugar rush and sweet taste to deal with even the most annoying wow kiddy.

Jelly Belly

Jelly Belly

Nothing is better gaming candy than jelly beans and why be stuck with just a few flavors when you can enjoy 40 different ones. Personally, I love butter popcorn, which puts me in the minority, but I also love their bubble gum and cotton candy flavor. When you are headshotting people in Battlefield, and you blindly reach for a bean and are surprised by the flavor, it is like finding a hidden treasure in an RPG.

Gobstoppers

gobstoppers

This candy is great for MMO players because they last a long time and keep you from having to head out to the store for more. They also are one of the less bad for you candies due to having lower sugar and calories. Gobstoppers are just sweet enough and since you cannot bite into them right away, you learn patients which is important during those long MMO sessions.

Runts

runts

The perfect candy for the RTS fan, this candy is like a mix between a gobstopper and skittles because at first you cannot bite it so it lasts longer, but not long after you can break it into pieces and finish it off. Personally, I find runts have a most distinct taste than Gobstopper so when you are going for flavor it is a better choice. Again, this is a lower calories and sugar candy than many others.

Mike & Ike

Mike-and-Ike

I find these are good for console gaming. These candies are soft, chewy, and very sweet, but you can kill a whole box quickly so you need the ability to pause the game and get more. I like the special red box that has flavors like cherry, strawberry and watermelon, but all the flavors are good. Just be careful with this one because the calorie and sugar content is pretty high.

Pal Bubble Gum

pal bubble gum

This is the perfect retro gamer candy. Pal bubble gum has been around forever and I remember buying them for one cent each at the candy story. The good thing about Pal is for a low cost candy the sweet taste of the gum lasts quite a while. You could have a big bag of gum and it could last days or weeks depending. Since so many classic games are harder and repetitive, the gum gives you something else to focus on when you can’t kill that damn bat in Ninja Gaiden.

What’s in your Candy Store?

So I know I missed a ton of your favorites, so what is a candy you like to snack on during your game sessions?

Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back

Star Wars - The Empire Strikes Back - NES - Gameplay Screenshot

Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back

In 1992, a follow-up to the original Star Wars NES video game was released, this time based on the next film in the series, The Empire Strikes Back. This entry in the Wars-related video gaming canon was notable for retaining some of the elements of its predecessor while departing in some significant ways as well.

Gameplay

Much like the first 8-bit Star Wars game on the Nintendo Entertainment System, Empire Strikes Back primarily follows the protagonist Luke Skywalker in his efforts against the evil Empire, while featuring some play appearances from other characters from the films as well

Star Wars - The Empire Strikes Back - NES - Gameplay Screenshot

This time, rather than starting in the sandy deserts of Tatooine, Luke begins in the icy expanses of the planet Hoth. Skywalker even begins riding a tauntaun, a kangaroo-like creature, just as in the movie, that you can choose to jettison at any point or continue as far as you wish with it beneath you. Play control remains similar to the first game, with the A button jumping, the B button firing, and Force Powers becoming eventually available via a selection menu screen brought up by pressing Start. One key addition in the controls is the capacity of the blaster weaponry to fire in any of the eight basic directional pad directions (the four cardinals plus diagonals), which although adds an intriguing element of firepower, also seems to give the game designers reason to include crazy-difficult enemies that ebb and dive in chaotic patterns and perhaps take too many shots to kill.

While navigating vast levels, enjoying the occasional cutscene and almost-cutscene, switching vehicles from beasts of burden to outright spaceships, engaging in precision jumping, and pressing the fire button as rapidly as possible, the player is working toward the ultimate goal of confronting Darth Vader in an epic lightsaber duel. In order to get there, crazy-awesome instincts, reaction time, intuition, and other gameplay gifts will be necessary, as this game offers a few less continues than the original and seems markedly more difficult.

Graphics

Star Wars - The Empire Strikes Back - NES - Gameplay Screenshot

The visuals of this game are of high quality, showcasing the true capabilities of the 8-bit NES home console as it neared the end of its supported run before being eclipsed by the 16-bit Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES). As such, the animations are smooth, the enemies are daunting, and there are some noteworthy on-screen appearances that feature head shots of the major players in the Wars mythos. Within the first minute of playing, the player will encounter messages from Han Solo and Obi-Wan Kenobi. As the lasers fly and the space-oriented battles emerge into view, this video game makes it clear that it is aiming for a cinematic experience.

Sound

The music, though recognizable in portions, is hit-or-miss. The original score for the Star Wars films, including that for Empire Strikes Back, is among the best in cinema history, yet the digital translation here is thin. Had one not had any attachment to Star Wars, it would take a rather skilled ear to recognize anything special in the digitized tones. The sound effects, too, are a tad generic and overpowering each other at points, with one key exception: This game does feature some nice voice effects, impressive in their historic context of early video game lore.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Zc8Mi5insM[/youtube]

Originality

This was the second and final Star Wars game released on the NES, and for some reason, it feels like it takes a step backward. Maybe it is the slightly more linear gameplay, the seemingly increased challenge, or an intangible “feel” that separates it from the original, but this game is not as fun as the previous. As a two-dimensional platformer, it is decent at best, and eclipsed by many earlier titles from other developers. Some of the portions of the gameplay that are not taking place in a side-scrolling environment are nice, but do not detract from the title’s primary fault: Its immense difficulty. The characters die very easily, there are even more “cheap shots” than the previous Star Wars game, and some inexplicable quirks are in place. For example, in the Hoth ice cave, the wampa monsters (in the film, the wampa is a bigger-than-man, hulking, roaring, imposing Yeti-like animal) are smaller than Luke yet nonetheless pose a significant threat as they nimbly hop over to maul and claw at him. Taking down an AT-AT may be a great experience, but the film-turned-game nabs just two stars out of five.

Eric Bailey is a retro gamer on a crazy quest to write a quality review for every single American-released NES video game over at NintendoLegend.com.

Aggressors of Dark Kombat

Aggressors of Dark Kombat

Aggressors of Dark Kombat

Today’s gameplay footage comes from the SNK fighter, Aggressors of Dark Kombat. Apparently the English title is meant to parody Mortal Kombat which is weird since it is nothing like the game. The game was released in 1994 and is a pretty standard SNK fighter except for the fact that you could walk into the background. Also, you could use weapons and only use two buttons to fight.

Another change in this game is the health bar which reminds me of the health bar for bosses in Final Fight where it turns from Green to Yellow and then Red before you get knocked out. To this end there is only one round so if you lose it that’s game.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x1paJb5kdJc[/youtube]

Personally I took note of two characters; one is Kisarah Westfield which is an English tomboy school girl who has a crush on Joe Kusanagi and Bobby Nelson, an African-American kid that uses his basketball to fight. These games were truly the U.N. of its time.

Tiny Toons

Tiny Toons - Konami - NES - Gameplay Screenshot
I actually played the pirate of this game but fell in love with it nonetheless. Tiny Toons for the NES is how a very funny cartoon converted to a console should have been done. Konami did a lot of things well in this game which went up through the SNES era but that’s another story. Tiny Toons is your average platformed that can turn a hell a lot better if you love the cartoon as the familiarity is uncanny for such a game. You’ll see characters from the series all over the place. The story of the game is very simple, Babs Bunny has been kidnapped and it’s up to Buster and the rest of them to save her. They will have to go through six awesome levels filled with enemies you may have seen in the cartoon DUH!

Tiny Toons - Konami - NES - Gameplay Screenshot
The game is very interesting as you can pick a partner from the duck(Plucky), the Tazmanian devil (Dizzy), and the cat (Furball) to accompany you on your journey. This is key as each character has their own ability therefore they will be useful in different ways on each level. Some of them are more useful than others so it’ll take you at least one run through the entire game to figure out what level each belongs to. It doesn’t make any difference since if you already went through the game once, you already know and figure out everything you need to know in order to beat it so take your best guess!

Tiny Toons - Konami - NES - Gameplay Screenshot

The levels are very easy if you figure the patterns and what not. You can probably get through the game in less than an hour but it’s fun over all. The music is quite good as well as it familiarizes with the cartoon’s at some points not all of course. To conclude, this game is very easy to pick up and play which can be very good for people who aren’t ready to learn new gaming styles and to through hour-long tutorials. Yes, this is the power of retro gaming at its maximum! You better believe it!

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3fJkSynewmA[/youtube]

The adventures of Batman and Robin

Snes-adventures-of-batman-and-robin

I was looking forward to this game, after playing a lot of mediocre to poor ones this week. I had heard good things about it, and was a big fan of the 90′s cartoon, for which it was based. Konami put this out in 1994, around the time they changed the name of the cartoon from Batman: the Animated Series. The cartoon was very good to exceptional, and if they didn’t screw up that feel, we would have a winner.

Snes-adventures-of-batman-and-robin 2
Good news! I start play and find they incorporated the fantastic animation, as well as music from the series. It’s more than a typical scrolling action/platformer that gives you plenty of things to do to mix it up a bit. The first level pits you against The Joker, as you’re invited into his Funhouse for a rescue mission. You’re given a number of Bat-toys incuding the Batarang/rope/stars/goggles, etc…Luckily, they give you a reason to use your gadgets, and they’re not just for show. You fight, jump, and Batrope your way through his puzzles until you reach the first boss, a huge toy soldier! After that, Joker puts you on a runaway roller-coaster and tosses bombs at you. If you make it through that, you’ll face the Clown Prince, himself.

Snes-adventures-of-batman-and-robin 3
There’s probably a dozen levels throughout facing all of your favorite Arkham-escapees; Catwoman, Penguin, Two-Face, Riddler, and more. They each have their unique levels that makes it seem like a bunch of mini-games. Again, it looks beautiful, plays well, and the music makes you feel like you’re playing inside an episode of the series.

The adventures of Batman and Robin - SNES - gameplay screenshot 1
Two negatives on the game; Robin is barely around, and doesn’t really do anything, so if you thought this would be a kick-ass co-op, you’d be wrong. Secondly, and most importantly, THERE’S NO VOICE!! Everything is in text! I could just imagine how good this game would have been had I been experiencing the great Mark Hamill taunting me as The Joker instead of having to read, “HAHAHAHA! Follow me into my funhouse, Batman!”

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eNA9f4OBXe4[/youtube]
Just saying, if you’re going to do it…do it right.

Obviously, I’m pleased with the game, and if you have your old SNES sitting around, pick this up. It’s Bat-astic!

Battletoads

Battletoads - Gameboy - Gameplay Screenshot

Hmmm what do you get when you put one of the toughest games on the NES in a portable handheld? The toughest portable handheld game! Not hard to figure out huh? But to be perfectly honest it’s not one of the hardest handheld games but still tough and very high on the list. Battletoads brings you the toads in a portable adventure most likely to its NES counterpart rather than the SNES one(yuck what a disappointment). Hmmm anyways, this game brings you the toads and well from my personal experience racking up extra lives is quite easy on this certain game.

Now, I know that you can do it the same way in the NES and SNES versions but the screen leaves you a limited amount of room which in the end result leaves you with less space to move around. Do you understand what I’m trying to tell you? Well, to conclude you have a better chance of hitting the falling birds to rack up extra lives….congrats you just passed Battletoads 101!

 

Battletoads - Gameboy - Gameplay Screenshot

Overall, you will get a game that challenges you and keeps you coming for more! You have the great music that keeps you on your feet and well the monsters which you beat up in the most hilarious ways. It’s ok if you haven’t played a toads game before because this would make a great introduction to the series even though there aren’t that many toads games to begin with…..To this day I asked why weren’t there more toads games….I could sure use them right about now….then again that Battletoads phone call prank wouldn’t be that funny because yes they would have Battletoads on stock…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nog6qXg7Nkg[/youtube]

 

I sure hope you can pick this adventure up for your handheld…hell even use the emulator with a big screen! You can’t go wrong with the toads…they will just piss you off and make you come for more in the end!

Silpheed

Silpheed - SegaCD

This time around we have a great masterpiece for the Sega CD called Silpheed. This is probably the best shmup for the short lived peripheral for many reasons which most of you must know already. Lets just say there wasn’t much support or great titles for the Sega CD but there were some unique and groundbreaking ones like Lunar, and Sonic CD. Silpheed is a shmup that starts you right in the action and never lets go. The gameplay is as solid as a shmup game can offer. There are some sorts of power ups which will make you think twice what to pick for your missions again in terms of powering up. The game has twelve stages according to the information I gathered but I’m not sure if there are any secret stages or bonus stages of some sort.

Silpheed - SegaCD

 

The games graphics are phenomenal for a Sega CD game. It just feels like there is so much going on and at some stages you’ll be looking at all the obstacles and be amazed at all the activity going on in a matter of seconds. It’s amazing what the Sega CD was able to accomplish which was awesome for its time.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ecWv3RdTE4A[/youtube]

 

Overall, if you are a fan of shmups, you must get this one even if you have to get a Genesis and a Sega CD or better yet, get a CDX but those are a little too expensive. Also, don’t forget to check out the PS2 version of this game if you don’t want to get a whole new console. Of course, that version has PS2 graphics and all but you get the same experience as the Sega CD version.

Feyruna: Fairy Forest

Feyruna Fairy Forest - PC - Gameplay Screenshot
Detailed sprites, a colourful cutesy game character, pure arcade action and fantastic hand-painted backgrounds… it’s got to be another (only slightly) retro Amiga game, right? Well, shockingly, no. It’s Feyruna – Fairy Forest, a brand new PC indy game from Germany, sporting some refreshingly old fashioned game mechanics and lovely 2d visuals. Interested? Good, let me elaborate a bit then.

 

FFF, as Feyruna – Fairy Forest will henceforth be referred to, probably features Feyruna, a fabulous fairy (which could also be the name of FFF’s setting mind you, but really, I like the idea of calling the fairy Feyruna), and is quite frankly an alliteration heavy casual and/or retro gamer’s wet dream. It also is one of the more polished (but less innovative…) indy games I’ve recently seen and one of the few PC offerings with three unlockable mini-games. They might not be much, they might be simple, basic even, but they’re definitely a touch that shows the amount of care gone into the game.

Feyruna Fairy Forest - PC - Gameplay Screenshot

Then again, bonus games are just that, a bonus. The main course of FFF has the player assuming the role of a fairy (you know, the one probably named Feyruna), a decidedly non-slutty female character, and going on to liberate places from the Princes of Darkness in a rather ordinary plot, that certainly doesn’t takes itself that seriously. After all, FFF, just like every other action heavy game before it, isn’t about plot, it’s about fun, and this it delivers in abundance.

The game, a reflex honing experience with slight shoot-em-up tendencies, is surprisingly non violent and thus quite appropriate for kids, families and small orgies. You, the player, the happy lil’ sprite, travel through 60 levels, each comprising of a beautiful screen, enemies trying to kill/stall you, power-ups and glowies (and butterflies and stuff) you must collect, and …uhm… collect stuff and avoid/destroy the baddies. Eventually you’ll have enough stashed glowies to progress to the next level, that will definitely be more challenging and might also add a new enemy, power-up or tactic to the whole experience. Mind you, that even though the gameplay does indeed get repetitive, these constantly appearing new elements do keep FFF an addictive little pass time, while some progressively tough boss battles to spice things up.

Now, have a try for yourselves. Download the FFF demo. Oh, and I suppose…

That’s a (seven and a half) out of (ten).

Get Lamp

Get Lamp

Get Lamp,  is a documentary about video games. Old video games. Mostly old video games. Mostly old video games that do not sport graphics and are not to be played on consoles. Actually and to finally get to the point, it’s a documentary about a very special kind of text-only video games: interactive fiction (or text adventures). A documentary about the most literary and rewarding form of digital gaming so far and the only genre to truly and fully challenge ones imagination and intellect.

What’s more, Get Lamp is a brilliant and quite impressive -both in scope and execution- documentary, that, carrying on with the themes of impressiveness and brilliance, also makes for a rather great movie. After (not so) extensive field testing I can actually assure you that even people who couldn’t care less about any form of interactive entertainment whatsoever, thought it was fascinating and were actually moved to give Infocom’s Planetfall a try.

Get Lamp was directed and produced by Jason Scott, the same person that was responsible for the BBS Documentary, and the same person that apparently traveled throughout the US in a quest to conduct almost a hundred interviews, that were eventually molded into the basis of the documentary. Among the interviewed, you’ll find such impressive names as Don Woods, Scott Adams, Ian Bogost, John Romero and almost everyone from Infocom, as the movie takes viewers on a mostly chronological trip through the history of interactive fiction, stopping only to focus and expand on the important bits, in what can only be described as an excellent whole. This main feature comes in interactive (something like a simple but well-implemented choose your own adventure thingy) and non-interactive flavors and covers the genesis, rise, fall and current evolution of the genre.

[youtube width=”600″ height=”480″]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LRhbcDzbGSU[/youtube]

But you think I’m over-reacting, don’t you? Well, I could be, though the truth is that Get Lamp is very well shot, masterfully presented and quite extensive in its coverage. It also sports some amazing production values, filling two DVDs with hours of greater and smaller features and featurettes, comes in a beautifully illustrated case (complete with a fantastic coin), features a written intro on text adventures by Scorpia, and even provides gamers with more than a few interactive fiction offerings and a variety of other digital goodies. Oh, yes, and everything is fully subtitled too.

Actually, the only thing lacking and my main gripe -both regarding the main feature and the tons of extras- is coverage of the European and generally non-US text adventure. Now, I do understand that traveling to Europe would have been far too costly, but the omission of Magnetic Scrolls, Level 9, Zenobi, Delta 4, Gilsoft and a variety of other classic publishers and developers was quite a bit disappointing, especially as Get Lamp is such an immensely enjoyable and frankly brilliant offering.

To grab your own copy of Get Lamp, simply follow this very link to its official website. Anyone ever interested in interactive fiction will simply have to own the thing.

The Obsolete Gamer Show: Pre-E3 2011

E3-2011

This week we had a full house as we went over some of the things we are looking forward to at this year’s E3. We began first with a few news items that were posted on our Facebook page. One of the news items talked about married men divorcing their wives to play World of Warcraft and the other was about Chinese prisoners being forced to play World of Warcraft, we felt marriage, prison and W.O.W. went together perfectly.

We then talked about the rumor that Nintendo is going to announce the Wii 2 at E3 2011 and that it will include a Blu-ray player and be faster than the Playstation 3. We all could see how good Zelda, Kirby and Metroid would look on the new system. We also talked about Sony apologizing to their fans and perhaps giving us something else to talk about. We also spent a hot minute bashing Call of Duty 3.

All in all a great show and we were happy to have Paul and Mark with us. Next week we will be at E3 2011 in L.A. so look for our full E3 2011 podcast coming soon.

The Obsolete Gamer Show: The Pre-E3 2011 Show

Or have a listen on our official OGS page and let us know what you think.

Or download our podcast from Itunes

The Obsolete Gamer Show: Osama got Ganked

Osama Ganked

This week on the Obsolete Gamer Show we were joined in the studio by Mark who you may have seen from the Starfox gameplay video we did. The show began by talking about Sony’s recent hacking of their database where access to over 25 million accounts may have been gained. When then turned to our main topics of the night. In honor of Osama getting ganked we talked about our favorite wartime and counter terrorist games. We had a great time and we hope you enjoy the show.

The Obsolete Gamer Show: Osama got Ganked

Or have a listen on our official OGS page and let us know what you think.

Or download our podcast from Itunes

 

Rocman X

Rocman X Gameplay Screenshot
There are lots of pirates out there that catch our attention one way or the other. This one is no different as Sachen took Rockman and turned it into something else. Presenting Rockman’s retarded cousin, Rocman X! We are not talking about X from the series by the way, this is Rocman X not X(I hope you see the difference by now). Rocman X is your average pirate platformer. What makes this game unique though is the use of Rocman X who is also known as Rochman X for some reason.

Rocman X Gameplay Screenshot

The game plays better than your average pirate game as you are able to do what you can do in most games actually worth playing. You can jump and shoot your boomerang although half the time you’ll have to aim real well so you can hit your monster. For some reason the monsters evade your boomerang with ease which can get quite annoying. There is also a charge technique which is not a stronger boomerang technique but it rather makes you jet horizontally through the level. If you get hit though, you will stop using your technique so you are at the mercy of the monsters with this technique. You also collect money which must be to buy items or something, I haven’t encounter a shop or anything but then again I never really got that far. Maybe the shops are hidden or you could get an extra life once your money hits 100.

Rocman X Gameplay Screenshot

The game is quite fun if you want to play something challenging but I advice you that if you don’t have any patience you’ll be left with a big gap in your head. There is stuff to like and to hate about this game so I suggest you try it out before you actually purchase it. We have to thank emulators for that. Going back to the game, the levels not only go left and right but up and down, it’ll be up to you to conquer each level but of course you’ll be running into lots of dead ends. Be sure to learn to use your boomerang first as you’ll need it to be able to preserve your energy for the rest of the level. Destroying the monsters help as you can also get pills of energy to be able to recover some life from any damage taken. Sachen did a very nice job with this game but I will say it again, it’s not for everyone.

Rocman X Gameplay Screenshot

If you want a very challenging and obscure platformer for your 8-bit console, then I suggest you pick this one up although it won’t come as cheap or often. Be ready to pay around 15-20 dollars for one as the cheapest although I have seen eBay auctions ending them in the 50s so beware. There is also an even harder to find version for the Gameboy which I luckily own 😉 The game plays the same way as the Famicom/NES version except that it’s portable. It feels exactly the same. It’s very odd that you can only play it on the Gameboy Color or Original Game Boy Advance. The SP won’t run it for some reason but then again maybe it just needed some cleaning, once I get that game out of my storage unit I’ll see if there is anything to be done. Either way, be sure to pick up and play Rockman’s retarded cousin adventure!

F-Zero Grand Prix 2

F-Zero Grand Prix 2 - Gameplay Screenshot

F-Zero Grand Prix 2 (1997)
By: Nintendo EAD Genre: Racing Players: 1 Difficulty: Medium-Hard
Featured Version: Super Famicom Satellaview First Day Score: 23,900
Also Available For: Nothing

You know, it can be really frustrating, but Japanese gamers so often seem to get a much better deal than European, or even US gamers, frequently receiving extras that the rest of us have to do without. A good example of this was the Satellaview system for the Super Famicom (SNES). Looking much like the proposed SNES CD-ROM add-on, the Satellaview was a device that allowed Super Famicom owners to download updates for some of their games, or even new games altogether. They were usually released in weekly installments, and one of the highest profile games to receive the Satellaview treatment was the mighty F-Zero. Initially, a limited ‘remix’ of the original game was released in several installments via the service, but before long a ‘proper’ sequel became available too.

F-Zero Grand Prix 2 - Gameplay Screenshot

As F-Zero fans will already be well aware, the first game consisted of fifteen courses divided into three leagues – Knight, Queen, and King. F-Zero 2 features a new league – the Ace League – which features five new courses. Some are based on courses from the first game (such as Mute City IV, Big Blue II, Silence II) but with new course layouts, whilst the other two (Sand Storm I & II) are seemingly based on the Sand Ocean stage from the first game, thematically, but are completely new. In keeping with the league structure from the first game, the new courses are probably the most difficult ones yet too. Each features many more hazards than were found in the fifteen F-Zero courses such as damage areas, more ice, magnets, and many ramps, often in highly inconvenient positions! In addition to the courses, the four selectable craft, or ‘machines’, are all new too. Well, saying that, they’re just aesthetically new really, but are welcome all the same.

F-Zero Grand Prix 2 - Gameplay Screenshot

This release was obviously fantastic news for any Japanese F-Zero fans but it went practically unheard of in the West, which is a bummer – I’d have loved having this available during the peak of my obsession with F-Zero but I only even discovered its existence a few years ago! It may have less to it that its prequel (due, no doubt, to the limited service it was made available on) – there’s just a straight grand prix mode, for example, with no time attack or practise modes on offer – but as a supplement to the original game rather than a separate game in its own right, it’s great. The new courses are really nicely designed and the features on them (a couple of which are shown in the screenshots) are a great touch, adding a unique feel to the game. It’s particularly nice returning to two of my favourite course settings too – Big Blue and Silence.

F-Zero Grand Prix 2 - Gameplay Screenshot

It’s been a pleasant surprise discovering this. I can’t help wishing it was available in the West before emulation became widespread but I’m sure glad I can play it now. Admittedly, aside from a few cosmetic changes, it is of course the same game we’ve known and loved all these years. Only harder! It won’t last you as long as F-Zero but it’s a thrilling ride while it does last!

RKS Score: 7/10