Classic gaming legend, Todd Rogers shares his first pro gaming experiences as a kid.
For those of you who have been fans of Obsolete Gamer for a while, you will know we started as a classic gaming website and love all things Retrogaming.
For this episode of OGS we feature Eli from Piko Interactive a company that develops and publishes new and previously released games for classic consoles. Imagine playing Duke Nukem 3D for the Sega Genesis, yes, you can do that!
We talked with Eli about his company, his gaming background and some of his favorite classic games. Fans of vintage games will really want to check this one out.
The Gamer Profile Show is back and we are talking The Omega Imperative. This retro inspired game is currently on Kickstarter and caught our attention not only because we love classic games but because of the uniqueness of combining the top down adventure of a Zelda type game with a space shoot-em up game.
We sat down with Mike Bonafede and Mike Lamark two guys who have been playing games since the Atari 2600 about their gaming background, their inspiration to get into game development as well as the challenges of getting their work out there.
Check it out and if you like what you see support their Kickstarter.
President of Moon Spider Studios Loris Malek tells us about his video game background including the numerous console and computer systems and games he has owned and played. What was really interesting in this clip was when he talked about getting a NEO GEO and setting up a game testing, purchasing and sharing system in his little hometown in France.
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The Model G1 from Rabbit Engineering
Today’s Daily Awesome is the Model G1 from Rabbit Engineering. It is an arcade unit that allows you to play almost any NES cartridge. What’s cool is the styling’s which was made to order and features arcade-style inputs and its own screen and the classic wooden finish is pretty sweet.
Now this rig is a bit pricy at $199, but for retro enthusiast it’s a must have!
P.S. In the video above is the G2 which features an Atari 2600!
Check out the specs and details here – Rabbit Engineering Model G1
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NBA 3 on 3 Featuring Kobe Bryant had no right to be good.
The artwork for the game’s cart and box looks goofy beyond belief (just look at Bryant’s expression in the picture below), the name is a bit rubbish, and it was only released in America.
All these factors would seem to point towards only one outcome – the game is a failure and has been rightly forgotten.
But no. Somehow NBA 3 on 3 Featuring Kobe Bryant is a polished basketball extravaganza of a game, and is accessible for people who don’t even have an interest in the sport (such as myself).
It starts off as many sportsmen sponsored titles do though, with a pixellated image of the sports celebrity in question and some lively backing music.
All the options you’d expect are here as well – Pick Up (where you can play a one-off match), Season, Play-Offs and Rosters (where you can look at individual’s statistics and even create your own player).
You can also choose from a huge number of teams, all with their own cool names and flashy logos, such as the Houston Rockets and the Sacramento Kings.
It’s the actual basketball itself where the game impresses though.
The small court is viewed from an isometric perspective, which could be a recipe for disaster, but actually works well- mainly because of the colourful but clear visuals.
There is some ghosting on certain players when there’s a lot of action on screen, but generally the game is impressive in the visuals department, especially for a GBC title.
Matters are helped further by the controls being simple to understand, but still offering enough depth to stop things from becoming boring.
While attacking A is pass, B lets you pull off a fake shot, and A plus B lets you throw the ball.
Defending is usually difficult in basketball games, but here it’s actually fairly easy to pick up if you’re patient.
B allows you to swap your player, and A lets you swipe to attempt to regain the ball. Doing this at the correct time is crucial, and thanks to the game’s clear graphics it’s easier to do than you’d expect.
So the game’s well designed and fun to play, but it’s elevated even further by its excellent presentation.
An example are the sound effects that you hear during games, such as when you dispossess someone of the ball, manage to score, or lose the ball yourself.
They all sound like SFX from an Atari 2600 shoot-em-up, and are therefore brilliant. It helps stops the game from feeling too serious too.
Little cutscenes when you make a slam dunk, start a game, and win a match all add noticeably to the experience as well.
Overall, NBA 3 on 3 Featuring Kobe Bryant feels like it has had some real effort put into it, and it still holds up today.
As complete a portable sports game as you’ll find, this is well worth investigating if you’re into basketball – even if you’ll have to import a copy from the US.
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Diddy Kong Racing
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Capcom & Disney just fit together so well. You have Disney’s memorable characters backed up by Capcom’s outstanding record of classic game after classic game. Back in the day the Super Nintendo was THE machine to own Capcom games on. It had Street Fighter 2 before anyone else, it had Mario & it had some of Capcom’s finest Disney releases, including Goof Troop & the 3 Mickey’s Magic Quest games.
While the 3 Mickey Mouse games were platformers, Capcom decided to make Goof Troop a Zeldaesque title. The view is similar to Zelda, the gameplay is similar to Zelda, you have some items that were in Zelda making appearances here. So why don’t we just play Zelda??? Good question.
Let’s answer that question with another question. What are the similarities between Zelda & Goof Troop? Here’s a list:
– Same viewpoint
– Same items such as keys, the hookshot & a candle (instead of a lamp)
– It’s just as fun
That third one is the clincher. It’s just as fun as playing Zelda. Yes it blatantly rips off certain parts of the A Link To The Past, but it stands on its own as a fun game that’s a lot easier than Zelda & is going to appeal to kids.
For this review I managed to finish this in one sitting, it really is a very easy game & extra lives are in abundance. You collect red gems for extra lives & pieces of fruit to build up your life metre. Cherries give you 1 heart & bananas give you 2. Once you have 6 hearts you get an extra life. This is both good & bad, you see, when you have no hearts & you get hit you die. When you have hearts & get hit you can continue. If you get 6 hearts & then another life, it means you have an extra life but no hearts, so whereas before you could get hit & continue you now die when hit. It’s a very strange setup.
The game features little cut scenes that explain the story over the course of the game. Goofy, Max, Pete & PJ were out fishing together in separate boats. All of a sudden Pete & PJ’s boat is taken by a pirate ship. Goofy & Max go to rescue them but along the way find out that Pete resembles Keelhaul Pete, the pirate’s leader hence the problem. The pirates thought they were rescuing their leader. Pete of course takes advantage of this, but when the real Keelhaul Pete returns the rescue mission kicks up a notch as Pete & PJ really are in danger now.
The player can control either Goofy or Max, or in 2 player mode one player controls each of them. Goofy is the slower of the 2 but doesn’t slow down when holding an item, whereas Max is quick, but does slow down when holding something. Max can sometimes take 2 goes to hit an enemy whereas Goofy only takes 1. I preferred to use Max as he’s quick to get away when you don’t have a weapon, but it’s down to personal preference.
The controls are simple, you walk around with the D pad, B picks up, throws objects & allows you to catch, Y uses an item selected & L changes the selected item. Strangely enough Select pauses the game instead of Start. I always find it odd when a game does this, Turtles in Time is the same. Why the different button? Who knows…
So what are some of the differences between this game & Zelda? Firstly when the hookshot (or rope gun as the manual calls it) is used to bridge a gap the rope stays in place & you lose the item. There’s no overworld, the game is just a series of levels, & the game tends to focus more on puzzle solving than Zelda which is more action based.
Also unlike Zelda you can only carry 2 items at a time, but it’s not a big issue here as you don’t need to backtrack after leaving an important item behind. The game is structured so it feels like a lazy trek through the levels. That’s the best way I can describe it really. There are no real tense moments where you’ll get stuck, or face an enemy that’s difficult to beat. If you do get stuck there are passwords for each of the worlds.
The music gives the game a very Disney feel & the final level music just feels right for being on a pirate ship. The sound effects fit the gameplay well, but there’s nothing really special to note about them.
If you like Zelda but have either played it to death or just want to relax a little then Goof Troop is the game for you. The levels are a walk in the park, the bosses aren’t terribly taxing & it’s just plain fun. A bit too easy & a bit short, but it does the job.
I give this one 80%. It’s a lot of fun, but way too easy.
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I’ve described my childhood circumstances in many past articles, including the nature of my relationship with arcade games. I simply didn’t get to play them very often, because my grandmother felt it was a waste of money to give me quarters for games that I’d only last a few minutes on if I were lucky. Looking at it from that perspective, you could arguably see her point. But that doesn’t change the fact that arcade games and arcades in general were simply amazing back in the 80s and early-to-mid-90s. If you weren’t around in those times to experience arcades as they truly were, back when they were new, exciting, and relevant, it’s honestly very hard to try and really describe it to you. In many ways, while home gaming (especially my beloved NES) was amazing in it’s own right, some rightly viewed the arcades as the pinnacle of gaming. How it used to work, is that arcade games would inevitably be “bigger and better”, at least in terms of graphics and certain types of content, than home console or home computer games. So in some respects, arcade games back during their golden era, were the vanguard of video gaming as a whole.
As a gamer, you would go out to wherever your local arcade was, and if you weren’t, like me, lucky enough to live in a big enough town that had it’s own local dedicated arcade, then you went to whatever businesses where such machines could be found, whether it was local pizza joints, bowling alleys, skating rinks, bars (if you were old enough of course), or even laundry mats or gas stations/convenience stores. You would go to these places to experience the newest advancements in video game graphics or sometimes even brand new concepts in gaming. And then, as the process went, if you were lucky, some of these arcade games would eventually be “ported” (with obvious downgrades to accommodate lesser technology), to some kind of home platform that you hopefully owned or knew someone who had one.
One of my own personal favorites, that I of course rarely got to actually play, was a game called Rolling Thunder. It was at my local Pizza Hut, where so many other treasures came and went over the years, like Klax, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and Double Dragon II, and Final Fight, and Pole Position II, and Ghost Pilot, and 1943, and my biggest childhood arcade crush, Street Fighter II. Rolling Thunder was a very intriguing, unusual game that for whatever reasons caught my attention, and it was one of the games I gravitated to most whenever we’d go out for pizza. One of the allures it had, I’d have to say, was the unique graphical presentation. It was a sprite based game, as almost all were in the 80s and early 90s, but as you can see above, it had a very simple, shaded, almost “pre-rendered” look, akin to an early prototype of the sort of thing games like Donkey Kong Country would pull off years later. The characters also had unusually smooth animation for the time it released (1986), and the game had a very intense, but subdued, moody soundtrack, very much “secret agent” type of fare, and the whole thing was just very novel in it’s approach. I suppose the other reason this game stuck with me, is because of the “Game Over” screen: when you lost, it took you to the big screen from the title, where the boss “Maboo” (this big green fucker) would laugh at you for losing. That alone probably kept me coming back, because as a kid, this really genuinely upset me that this assclown was laughing at me, and I wanted revenge.
Rolling Thunder was developed by Namco, creators of groundbreaking classics like Pac-Man, Dig Dug and Galaga. It was released in 1986, right in the midst of the “arcade boom” of that decade, and it was a different sort of game that caught people’s attention. At it’s core, it’s a side-scrolling shooter, similar to something like Contra, but unlike Contra where you just run, shoot, and hope you don’t lose too many lives per-level, Rolling Thunder was a lot more about strategy. The most immediately noticeable feature of the game when you start, is that you have limited ammo, even with the simple pistol you start with. You can’t ever totally run out of ammo with the pistol, but once you “run out”, you can only shoot one slow bullet at a time until you find more ammo. That alone plays into the “strategy” nature of the game.
Another main feature of the gameplay, is that the levels feature doors all over the place, and you can open pretty much any door you wish. However, it is sometimes a gamble, because certain doors have enemies that will pop out. Other doors (typically labelled “bullets”) hold more bullets for you, or even a temporary upgrade to a machine gun. And there are yet other doors that you can duck inside of to avoid enemies or enemy fire, and then pop back out to blast ’em in kind. Lastly, the other major facet of gameplay, and perhaps the one thing that this game really added to the gaming spectrum (as it was emulated by several other games down the road), was the ability to jump between the ground floor and an upper floor of each level. That in itself presented more strategy to be utilized by the player, to move upstairs or down to avoid obstacles or enemies. All in all, much like the graphics and music, like I said, a very unique game unto itself.
The basic story of the game, is that you are a secret agent called “Albatross”, who works for an international group called “W.C.P.O”, which stands for “World Crime Police Organization”. You are on a secret mission in New York, trying to rescue a fellow agent named Leila Blitz, who has been captured by the sinister terrorist secret society known as “Geldra”. Most of these “Geldra” goons are hooded baddies known as “Maskers”, who frankly look kinda like prototypes for the TMNT “Foot Soldiers”, as they are covered head-to-toe and come in different colors, each color having different weapons or abilities. The game has other enemies like mutant bats, ninjas, robots, etc., but the “Maskers” are the main course. Ultimately, the game plays out over two distinct parts, each having five levels, and at the end of the tenth, to save Leila, you face off with that green-faced asshole who laughed at you after every game over screen, “Maboo”. So at least, I guess, the developers were nice enough to give you the possibility of catharsis: if you could actually MAKE it through this fucking game, you could shoot that son-of-a-snake right in his smirking mug, and make him pay!
As you can see in the picture above, the game got it’s share of home “ports”, first coming to various home computers in 1987 and 1988. Tengen, Atari’s home console publishing arm that had infamous issues with Nintendo over their own less-than-scrupulous efforts to get around the NES lock-out chip that kept third party publishers from being able to put out more than five games a year on the system, put out many unlicensed (aka not officially approved by Nintendo releases) games for NES, and in 1989, one of them was Rolling Thunder. Namco didn’t yet publish their own games outside of Japan, and so they contracted Tengen to do it….which of course probably wasn’t the smartest move, but I digress. Nonetheless, Rolling Thunder on NES was, for all intents a purposes, a pretty strong port of the game. It didn’t have the technical prowess of it’s arcade original, but the core gameplay and atmosphere where still intact, and it’s still pretty damn fun to play.
The first game was popular enough, that in 1991, Namco made a lesser-known sequel, Rolling Thunder 2. A slightly confusing affair, as the original game was apparently supposed to take place in the 60s, but now the sequel takes place in modern times, yet the characters in both games are named Albatross and Leila. In Rolling Thunder 2, Leila is now the main character, which is a cool touch, not only letting her get her revenge, but also making her one of the first playable female protagonists in gaming. The biggest addition to the sequel, was simultaneous 2-player action (a big feature in many arcade games of the day), with Player 1 playing Leila, and Player 2 controlling Albatross. They have identical abilities, outside of their visual differences, of course. The gameplay is essentially the same fare, focused on doors and jumping between upstairs and down. However, the level designs are more varied, this time splitting the game between Florida beaches and Egyptian ruins. The “Maskers” also this time become (if not visually) a bit more “Foot Soldier”-esque, as they are now robots, whereas in the first game they were live villains. Storyline-wise, Geldra, thought destroyed for good in the first game, is back, and it’s up to the heroes to stop ’em.
The Sega Genesis (Mega Drive in the rest of the world), received a port of the game that included cut scenes and additional levels that featured new weapons and bosses. It was apparently successful enough to warrant Namco producing a third, Genesis exclusive game, Rolling Thunder 3, released only in North America in 1993. Gameplay-wise, it took a bit of a step back, once again only being single player, where part 2 was 2-players. But on the other hand, they greatly expanded the weapons format. Where the first and second games only made use of pistols and temporary machine-gun upgrades, in Rolling Thunder 3, you can choose one of 9 different “special weapons” before each stage begins, and you get two separate fire buttons, one for your regular pistol, and one for the special weapon. The special weapons, once out of ammo, can’t be used for the rest of the game, thus maintain the strategic element of gameplay. Another way the game differs, is that the levels now have no time-limit: instead, if you take too long, a sniper will eventually come out and try to kill you. Story-wise, the game seems to be a companion piece to Rolling Thunder 2, where while our heroes Leila and Albatross are busy fighting the main Geldra forces in that game, in RT3, a new hero, special agent “Jay”, is chasing after Geldra’s “Number Two” in command, another green-faced mother-fucker named “Dread”. In an era when the Super Nintendo tended to get most of the cool third party published exclusive games, Rolling Thunder 2 and 3 were an exception to the rule.
All in all, while I’m not as experienced with the sequels, I need to play them more, because the original Rolling Thunder will always have a special place in my gaming heart. If you’ve never heard of or never had a chance to play these games, find a way to do so (however that may be), because there are fun times to be had, guaranteed. And give my old pal “Maboo” a kick in the balls for me while you’re at it.
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The Simpsons: Bart’s Nightmare
Bart’s Nightmare is often considered one of the better retro Simpsons games as well – although that may be because it’s not competing in a particularly strong field of candidates.
By today’s standards Bart’s Nightmare is an overly difficult and strangely structured beast – but it still has some interesting elements.
One plus point is the game’s presentation, which as you can tell from the screenshot is very colorful and quite unique.
This is mainly as the developers used a hand drawn art style, which ends up portraying the bright colors of The Simpsons’s cartoon world quite well. It looks a little ramshackle by today’s standards, but still maintains a certain charm.
The music used is also quite strange, exuding an oddly lulling quality that is very hard to accurately describe (as you can tell from that hash of a sentence).
In terms of plot the game sees you play as Bart, who falls asleep at his desk while attempting to do his homework.
You are then taken into an odd dream world where you must recover nine pages to get back to reality.
To find the pages you have to scour the game’s hub (see above), which sees you avoiding crazed mail boxes, old ladies who shoot kisses, bouncing basketballs and so on.
Finding a page is seemingly a random event – and at this early point is where the game may start to test your patience.
Finding the pages isn’t enough either. You have to jump into one when you find it, and select one of two doors to enter.
Each one takes you to a different stage, with every challenge different from the last.
This is where one of the main problems with the game lies. Although it offers up a variety of challenges, each has its flaws – making the game a rather bittersweet experience.
Most of the problems contribute to the game’s over-difficult nature as well.
In the Itchy and Scratchy stage for example, it can be tough to avoid taking consecutive hits before you’re able to fight back.
The Bartzilla stage on the other hand, doesn’t even have the common courtesy of giving you a life bar.
A Indiana Jones inspired block jumping stage also feels far too random to be fun.
The controls also needed refinement. Your jump (B button) is too stiff and inflexible to make you feel in complete control, and movement is a little stilted in general to boot.
Overall, Bart’s Nightmare hasn’t aged particularly well. It’s presentation now acts as less of a cover for its slightly sloppy structure, but if you’re a Simpsons die-hard you might get something out of this.
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OGX #3 The Pre-E3 2014 Show
With E3 2014 next week we decided to talk about what we were looking forward to most for our trip out to L.A and to reminisce on our previous trips to the expo. There is a lot to E3 besides what you see on the net or videos and it is definitely something you should experience live if you have the chance and if you plan to be out there look out for us. We will be recording everything to be featured on our future shows are articles. For now, I hope you enjoy the show and as always we appreciate any comments or feedback.
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Love it or loathe it, Dig Dug is (correctly) regarded as an all-time classic arcade game and, despite being converted to a large number of home systems, it has not been one of the franchises that Namco has furnished with a large number of updates or sequels. It received a rather anonymous second installment in 1985, but the series wouldn’t be revisited for another fourteen long years.
Originally intended to be Dig Dug 3, the transition during its development to Mr Driller also included a change in the protagonist. The hero of Dig Dug was Taizo Hori but taking his place here is his son, Susumu Hori! As the highest ranked Driller in the world, he was the first one the panicked people called when the cities became overrun by mysterious colored blocks rising from underground…
This flimsy, and largely unnecessary, premise does of course set the scene for another colored/shaped blocks puzzle game. Once you’ve chosen between a 2500ft or 5000ft challenge, the arcade mode throws you straight into the action with Mr Driller falling on top of a huge pile of colored blocks. He can drill in all four joy-pad directions and doing so causes drilled blocks to vanish. As he drills down, untouched blocks may fall downwards if the blocks supporting them are drilled. This can of course result in Mr Driller getting crushed and losing a life.
It’s not quite as hard as it sounds though as falling blocks shake for a split-second before falling, giving you a precious chance to get out of the way. Falling blocks also stick to non-falling blocks of the same color if they touch them, forming larger blocks. There’s only four different-colored blocks as well, so some blocks can get pretty big!
Luckily, larger blocks are destroyed from a single drill-strike, much like single blocks, and any four or more falling blocks of the same color will vanish once they land. This can of course cause big chain-reactions so it’s best to make sure none of them land on your head! Speed is of the essence for more than one reason too.
Mr Driller has an ever-decreasing air supply so he must drill strategically but quickly. Air capsules are readily available which top up his supply by 20% but sometimes they’re tricky to reach. They are often near brown ‘X’ blocks. These take five drill strikes each to destroy and also take away 20% of Mr Driller’s air, so it’s not really worth breaking one except in an emergency. Mr Driller can clamber up blocks either side of him, but only if they are one block high. This is invaluable for reaching air capsules or escaping falling blocks, but sometimes it’s not enough!
As well as the arcade mode, Mr Driller players also have access to a survival mode and a time attack mode, both of which are fairly self-explanatory. The basic gameplay doesn’t change a great deal, but it doesn’t need to either. I don’t think I was alone in finding Mr Driller a rather unlikely release by Namco on the fancy new Dreamcast, but any initial disappointment soon faded.
It may look like a game that could’ve been hosted by a console from the previous generation, perhaps even the one before that, and it’s not even particularly original, but Namco ensured Mr Driller had it where it counted. It’s bright, colorful, and loud – the music and sounds effects are great. But more importantly, it’s just immense fun. And addictive. Very addictive. If you haven’t dabbled before, Mr Driller comes highly recommended.
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Iron Soldier isn’t the greatest game in the world – put amongst the software libraries of the N64, Saturn or Playstation it’s positively mediocre. ~Simon Reed
A Jaguar exclusive, Iron Soldier also happens to be one of the most common titles on the system.
Fortunately it’s no disaster like Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story (another common Jag title), but instead a fairly solid game that’s worth picking up if you’ve had a Jaguar inflicted upon you.
You take control a robot/mech, helping what sounds like a resistance group. There’s no real explanation of the over-riding plot, but it would be foolish to suggest that makes the building destroying action any less satisfying.
At the start you have four missions to choose from (with 16 overall), which can be tackled in any order you wish.
Or at least, it seems that way. Some stages can be a real struggle if you aren’t equipped with weapons gathered from certain other levels.
Before you enter a mission you can tool up your mech with any weapons you may have, and you’re given a brief rundown of your objectives.
This quick briefing has to be studied carefully – as not knowing exactly what you’re doing in a stage is suicide.
As soon as you enter a level you’ll probably be struck at how blocky the game is. If you needed any more evidence that the Jaguar wasn’t really 64-bit then here it is.
The next thing you’ll realize is that the controls aren’t the easiest to grasp.
The simple task of movement requires you to press A and either up or down to start going forward or backwards respectively.
Once you’re moving (you can adjust the speed accordingly) you simply have to steer and shoot. Changing your weapons is tasked to the option button and – this took me a little while to realize – the numbered keys at the bottom of the pad.
Shooting is something you’ll be doing a lot as well, with endless streams of tanks and helicopters firing at you non-stop.
This is why knowing your objective is an absolute necessity, with missions being reasonably varied. Even if most basically just involve destroying stuff.
The first stage, for example, sees you going around a city to destroy a warehouse. The second has you sinking docked boats, and another involves reducing a bridge to rubble with the use of grenades.
There’s no hugely complex action here, and the game is probably all the better for it.
Yes, the graphics may be ridiculously blocky, but the game still has some impressive explosions, and the way buildings dissolve into showers of cubes is actually rather charming, in a retro kind of way.
Iron Soldier isn’t the greatest game in the world – put amongst the software libraries of the N64, Saturn or Playstation it’s positively mediocre – but for the Jag it offers up some solid robo-destruction action.
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“Worst game ever? Human Killing Machine, Capcom. Seriously, look it up. I have a copy of it on disk, given away by Amiga Power, I believe.” @GuyFawkesRetro
Human Killing Machine
The above tweet peaked my curiosity, I boldly replied “Worst game ever? I have a sudden urge to try it.” And so I did. As you know I recently reviewed Yolanda! for review a bad game day, however if I’d known about this one it would have been a serious contender. I actually felt like playing Yolanda! after this, in fact, I felt like playing Rise of the Robots just to wash away the memories.
You play as Kwon, who is apparently strong. You have to knock down (no K.O’s here) your opponent a number of times to win, your first battle is against Igor, once you’ve defeated him you then fight his dog (I’m assuming) which in my mind is just plain mean. I didn’t get much further than that, the collision detection is terrible, the controls unmanageable, and the poor animation lets down the relatively good graphics and backgrounds. At points I had no idea how or what I was doing to hit the opponent as the controls didn’t really match with anything on the screen.
A player comment from Lemon Amiga:
“A clone of Street Fighter. Strangely, they took the Amiga version with its bad animations as reference and not the arcade version. So you got the same gameplay as SF, but executed even worse.”
“Often described as the next best thing (or something like that…) on many games-mags previews at the time, this soon revealed itself for the unforgivable, unplayable, Tiertex-developed utter disaster it actually was. If you played it for more than 10 minutes and survived, congratulations: that sure was a big task…”
Anyways, if you must see more, see above for the game on YouTube, someone has kindly played through the whole thing. Also good luck to @GuyFawkesRetro on twitter, who is on the search for the ultimate bad game…. (I think you may have found it?)
Little Big Adventure 2
What is Little Big Adventure 2: Twinsen’s Odyssey
Why it’s Great
Where you can get it
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As unfair as it may be to those passionate coders, the end result does feels markedly amateurish, and as much as needless bells and whistles should be trimmed from some titles, this is a game that could have used some fancy additions and fine-tuned detail-worked. ~Eric Bailey
Dudes with Attitude
The year: 1990. The developer: American Video Entertainment. This was a company that produced unlicensed cartridges for play on the 8-bit Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) console. Included in their instruction manuals after 1990 was an entire page dedicated to explaining to consumers how they could help bypass Nintendo’s latest consoles that includes a new chip to prevent playing their games, and a somewhat martyr-tinged note of explanation that AVE sought to provide affordable family entertainment, even going so far as to offer free games with a mail-in offer.
After having put such simplistic efforts like Solitaire and Blackjack onto the market, a quirky interesting game was pushed into existence, apparently thanks to the efforts of Michael and Cam Crick: Dudes With Attitude,” a frenetic action-puzzler hybrid that combined uniquely distinctive innovation with the usual pitfalls and pratfalls of small-time development operations.
Dudes With Attitude on the NES definitely qualifies as being among that category of video games that is much more easily understood when seen in motion, rather than reading an attempt at a worded description. Truly interested readers should probably consider checking out its video entry on NESGuide.com for the full scoop to truly grasp what is going on.
To try and summarize, though: Dudes With Attitude is an action puzzler, like a fast-paced arcade/puzzle genre hybrid. The player controls a Dude of his or her choices; these are little round head-shaped characters, who then enter play on a one-screen field. The grid-based field takes place on a black background and each level, to varying degrees, is filled with objects. The goal is to collect all the treasure on a particular stage without dying, which means avoiding static hazards and moving enemies. How this is accomplished is through a feat quite distinctive on the console: The Dude relentlessly moves back and forth across the screen, bouncing each time it meets a boundary or wall object, dying if it strikes a hazard or enemy twice (one “free hit” is allowed, visibly reducing the size of the round Dude), and collecting treasures.
These mechanics are all done by color-coding. Certain cups on-screen change the Dude’s color as it hits them. Then, that Dude is immune to enemies and hazards of that color, and can collect like-colored treasures. Remember, this is all done non-stop, as the Dude endlessly slides left and right in the field of play.
So, a sample level may have a white locked door at the top third and a red locked door at the bottom third of the screen, behind each of which are its like-colored treasures, and in the center are a couple of hazards and/or enemies. In the center of the arena are the white and red cups that change the Dude’s color. Thus, the challenge is for the player to deftly maneuver the Dude in such a way as to change to a certain color, move through the like-colored door, collect all the treasure within, then switch to the other color and repeat. However, of course, that is a very simplified explanation, and the levels rather widely vary in their imaginative varieties of lay-outs in terms of their hazards, obstacles, enemies, and treasures.
There is also a password option, a level editor, and a two-player mode. The entire experience is rather distinctive, with there being very few games anything like Dudes With Attitude on the NES; the one notable exception is Trolls On Treasure Island, which is just the exact same game, but with the licensed likenesses of Troll dolls used instead of the Dudes (with, granted, a few other palette swaps and level design changes at work), based on the popular toys of the time.
The gameplay emphasizes quick thinking, requiring excellent reaction timing and rapid decision-making skills, along with a some planning in later levels, to the extent required by the fact that there is a time limit for each stage. The odd, bouncing, back-and-forth gameplay may resonate with some, but even when accustomed to, likely grows stale after a while.
With the heavy use of blues, whites, blacks, and pinks, this looks like an old four-color CGA PC game; which, if you could not guess, is a bad thing. Granted, considering the limitations of the small icons being used here, the actual appearance of the title can be forgiven, but not by much: The elements lack detail and, though vary, remain starkly monotone. The “gum” enemies will forever just be a one-color blotch with a few pixels to denote a face, and even the treasures usually just look like crude hearts, poor bricks, or watered-down Mario Bros. coins. This is definitely a case of a video game constructed for function over form, using the bare minimum of gameplay indications to get its mechanics clearly across and not at all aiming for style points.
The sound effects are simplistic buzzes and beeps; and there is virtually no soundtrack to speak of. The levels are conducted without background music, and simply jolly little ditties mark successful completions. Again: This is a small-team development job, that totally aims for just presenting a playable product, without frills or extras to speak of. Including, it would seem, any semblance of actual music.
Now, strangely enough, this is actually a somewhat unique 8-bit video game. The constant, frenetic, horizontally oriented gameplay is a marked departure from the vertically oriented, slow-at-times, one-piece-at-a-time material that many old-school gamers may be used to from such classic titles as Tetris or Dr. Mario. This may serve as Dudes’ greatest strength and appeal: For a certain small niche audience, this may be just their cup of tea, and may truly be a favorite among those select few.
Most, in contrast, can expect a disappointment. As unfair as it may be to those passionate coders, the end result does feels markedly amateurish, and as much as needless bells and whistles should be trimmed from some titles, this is a game that could have used some fancy additions and fine-tuned detail-worked. As it stands, it feels more like old PC shareware, something perhaps briefly played as a curiosity but at a noticeable drop in quality from the bulk majority of NES cartridges. The rating is one and a half stars out of five.
Soul Blazer for the SNES is just another wonderful title by Enix to keep us RPG geeks with something to do during the SNES era of greatness! The music is nothing but wonderful. Enix sure did a great job with the soundtrack and sound effects of their games. You can’t beat the 16-bit sound effects from yesterday. If anything, they motivate you to continue with your quest and finish up a wonderful title. Graphics wise, it is decent. You won’t find any graphics like from lets say Final Fantasy VI or Chrono Trigger but you’ll find some decent graphics that’ll be more than enough to keep your eyes happy till the end of the game. Things look like how they are supposed to so be happy to at least have that.
As far as the gameplay, it is quite satisfying. You will have to come up with your own strategies to defeat certain bosses. You just can’t run to them and kill them, it’s a good way to use your head in a way. There is also a level up system that of course makes you stronger. Weapons, and other items are on the way to help you finish your quest. Everything an action-RPG title should bring is here! Don’t look anywhere else! The game is quite fun but would only be good for a replay if there are extra things you might have missed on your first run. Then again, if you find defeating bad guys and playing this game as satisfying then I suggest you go for it! It’s a great experience overall and experiencing it again would just be joyful and action packed once more.
To conclude, this is a must have for anyone’s collection and anyone willing to step down the golden ages of the 16-bit era. You can’t go wrong with titles from Enix! They always delivered high quality stuff.
Hi everyone! Time for a new post, I’ve gonna highlight a really cool game I got recently called Castlevania II: Dracula Densetsu II aka Castlevania II: Belmont’s Revenge if you get the North American version.
I have the Japanese version of this game so story wise I’m not totally sure what’s going on but based on what I looked up the game takes place 15 years after the first Castlevania game boy game. Dracula has returned and he has kidnapped Chris Belmont’s son named Soleiyu and turned him into a demon. Dracula uses Soleiyu’s powers to retake human form so he can rebuild his castle. So once again Christopher must face Dracula to save his son.
When you first start the game there are four initial levels. Each level has a unique theme like earth, crystal, plant and air and takes place in a separate castle. The cool thing is you can complete them in any order you like. So if you get stuck on one of the large trap rooms you can try out another one.
If you play the Japanese version you will notice that the axe will be replaced with a cross, instead of making the arcing motion the cross moves in a horizontal motion almost like a boomerang when it comes back to you. This can be very useful as it can go through walls to kill enemies.
My only complaint is I wish Christopher would move a little faster, he seems to be going pretty slow at times especially when you are trying to make a bigger jump or avoid an enemy. Other than that it’s a really fun game! It looks really good for a game boy game and the music has been done very well. I haven’t completed the game yet, but if I discover anything else I will let you know.
So make sure if you get a chance to pick up this game definitely do so! Don’t forget that the Japanese version is still playable on North American gameboys as they are region free. I’m so glad Heidi from Retro Gaming Blog told me about this game, now I just have to get the other 2 game boy ones in the series
Developer: Digital Illusions
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Genre: First Person Shooter
Release Date: 2002
Awesome little FPS this, many hours of addiction and therapy needed to drag myself away. Even though the game is getting on a bit now, the graphics for one are certainly looking dated I still keep coming back for the odd game now and again, especially multi-player. The main game consists of capturing and controlling certain strategic points on the game map, almost a multiple capture the flag scenario. Once a team captures a point team members can spawn there, however when a team loses control of all of these points they cannot respawn and if all the players are killed the team with no spawn points loses (deep breath).
The player can choose to play as either the Allied powers or the Axis powers. The Allies consists of the US, UK, Soviet Union, Canada and the French. The Axis consists of Germany, Japan and Italy. Regardless of which side you chose you’ll get a choice of five different character classes to choose from; Scout, Assault, Medic, Anti-tank, and Engineer. All have certain distinct advantages depending on individual tastes, I tended to stick with Scout and Assault as they move quicker, helpful in making it to the coolest vehicle first or for general running away.
Some of my favourite scenarios in this game feature air combat. Let’s be honest, running across the vast maps, especially El Alamein, is a tad boring, driving or flying is much more fun and recommended. The game has a nice choice of vehicles to use and destroy and it’s always satisfying landing that bomb on target or engaging the enemy in a dogfight.
Although the game play remains fun (there’s nothing like trying to fly a bomber like a fighter, or seeing the pilot parachuting out of the plane you’re all in) the graphics are looking a bit naff, and the control system seems slow and clunky, especially if you’ve been sitting there playing something newer and shinier. It’s a game for Sunday afternoon when it’s raining and you’re not in the mood for anything to stressful from the gaming library.
Also released were several expansion packs for the original Battlefield 1942 titled; Battlefield 1942: The Road to Rome and Battlefield 1942: Secret Weapons of WWII. Both added various new game play modes and design concepts but in my opinion didn’t really offer anything amazing or new in terms of playability.
I enjoy this game probably more than I should but then I can’t help it. The catchy intro music even has a certain appeal, so much so I even looked up the composer Joel Eriksson for this blog, see his IMDB page here! If any of you have played Dogfight for the Amiga the theme tune gives me the same sense of nostalgia and charm for a game, on its release, I couldn’t put down for 5 minutes without getting the urge to play it again.
Last Action Hero
Before he became the governor (or Governator, that is) of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger was one of the biggest box-office draws on the planet as the big-muscled action star of such classics as Commando, Predator, True Lies, and the first two Terminator films. However, during a brief foray into such comedies as Junior, Twins, and Kindergarten Cop, Arnie lost his edge a bit for the lighter roles and, arguably, almost ruined his legacy. Among these not-quite-hits was the critically derided meta-movie Last Action Hero.
But, of course, since it was a big-budget film with a big-name actor, it was worthy enough to have a video game developed for it as released on the 8-bit Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) console in 1993. And, like so many others, this license title proves to provide low-quality gameplay, the result of publisher Sony Imagesoft wanting nothing more than to turn a quick profit on a media commodity with a low shelf life in the popular culture of the time. This is not a video game that showcases imagination or innovation.
The first mistake this side-scrolling, two-dimensional (not even the third dimension of being able to walk into the “depth” closer to the background, but purely left and right or up and down) beat-’em-up is that the A button attacks and the B button jumps, which is not only in reverse from the legendarySuper Mario Bros. original NES game that set the golden standard, but also serves as a stark reminder as to what camp this cartridge belongs to: The crappy one with all the terrible games.
Oddly enough, though, in addition to the typical movement left and right, the player is also granted a move other than the basic punch: A kick, initiated by holding up when pressing A. This is a nice touch, it could be supposed. The player can also crouch, punch from the crouch, and try to attack in mid-air as well, with mixed results.
The player takes control of Jack Slater, the movie-star protagonist of the movie-related movie, in a plot that loosely follows the film. It actually, at first, seems to follow it rather closely, down to the oddly rendered cutscene still frames that depict shots from the cinematic experience. However, rather head-scratchingly, the NES game departs from the movie right around the second level, when the boy dreams of a medieval setting involving a Robin Hood-like environment in which the player must then traverse. This seems like a tacky random add-on.
Now, a rundown of the entirety of the gameplay of Last Action Hero the NES game: There are seven levels. Each ends with a boss. Each consists of either running to the end of a one-way path, or repeatedly going back and forth and ascending to higher levels. The enemies infinitely respawn. There are no points or other rewards for killing enemies, so they are best avoided. The best strategy for bosses is to crouch and repeatedly punch until the boss dies. Some projectiles can be dodged by crouching, some cannot. The player begins with three lives and a six-hit health bar for each, measured in hearts. Occasionally, health refills can be found. Continues are offered if all lives expire. Attacking range is short and hit detection is terrible. This is Last Action Hero on the NES.
This video game actually looks really good for an 8-bit title on the NES; though, by 1993, the console was in its twilight years and developers had little excuse to not know how to best make the on-screen action look. Examples from the first level alone: The police cars are displayed in bright detail, the background cityscape is creatively drawn in little pixels denoting window lighting per building, these windows flicker in moody atmospheric effect to match the rain, the protagonist actually wears a two-color outfit and is thus not prone to the Monochromatic Character Syndrome that many NES figures were drawn in, and the action proceeds fairly smoothly with little-to-no flickering or slowdown. That being said, some portions look better than others, the enemies get repetitive, and no amount of good looks can make up for awful gameplay.
The music is not outright awful, but it hardly tries to break boundaries either. You can fairly clearly hear the buzzy and bumpy-grindy notes of the two square-wave channels on the hardware struggling to complement the non-ambitious whines and weak lilts of the triangle-wave piece. The effects are even worse, though; a series of hisses, thuds, and hollow bonks. With such a plethora of previous NES classic titles to have witnessed before, some with truly spectacular soundtracks, it is somewhat remarkable that the developers really did not try to at least grant the background tracks a broader range or add some punch to the punch effects.
By its very nature, a license game lacks originality. However, there is some flexible wiggle room that allows for potential innovation and creativity to nonetheless still be expressed; unfortunately, there is very little true vision to be found on this cartridge. The beat-’em-up gameplay mechanic is even more monotonous than the usual genre strictures, the lack of reward for dispatching of enemies really breaks the entire motivation for combat, and it may be the worst of the handful of Schwarzenegger-movie NES license games, turning in a magic ticket for one star out of five.
All of them fun, but limited in a sense. In the early 90s, games played out in little capsules. I could win the battle, build the city, save the princess, but it all disappeared the moment I flipped off the computer. Even the occasional game that told a story through the progression of levels felt hollow – there wasn’t much of a world behind whatever obstacles I’d been tasked to overcome. It was like some perverted version of Descartes: I play; therefore, the world exists.
Then along came a little company named Dynamix, a game maker determined to challenge my little philosophy. Red Baron was the first game I can remember that convinced me I was playing inside a “real” video game world, and that my actions had both immediate and broad implications on its future. The world, of course, was the Western Front of WWI. And from the moment you first signed on to join the fight against the German menace, the game kept a clock running on that world. Time crept forward between battles; as you moved along history’s timeline, battles were fought, world leaders met to make big decisions, and the war machine turned out technological advancements like faster planes, or machine guns that wouldn’t overheat as quickly.
Whether or not you got to use those cool new toys depended on how you flew, and Red Baron did a great job of rewarding good play. It kept track of your kills, how many times you’d been shot down, and if you’d managed to down one of Germany’s many “real-world” Aces. Rack up the kills, move into a better aerodrome. Better aerodromes meant better planes, and the chance to fly alongside one of the Allies’ elite Aces. Nothin’ wrong with some smarter AI piloting your wingman.
Between battles, you’d keep up with the “real world” through the game’s newspaper. I can’t tell you how proud I was (or how embarrassed I ought to be, today) when the newspaper’s lead story was on my bravery in shooting down some minor German Ace, or the stoic countenance I’d sported upon receiving my first medal. There was my teenage pride when, mouse in hand and Mountain Dew nearby, I’d read that my squadron’s efforts had led to a break in the lines, or frustration in reading about the Red Baron’s exponential kill-count. The newspaper was a (virtual) tangible anchor for the game’s sense of reality. Brilliant, really.
Reality didn’t begin and end with the in-game world, however. The various flyable planes each had their quirks, strengths and limitations. Guns would jam, often at the worst possible moment. One of the planes’ wings could literally rip off if you banked too hard, too often. You might parachute out of a plane and pray you avoid getting hit with flack.
Then there was the nightmare of your pilot taking a bullet from an enemy machine gun – as you lost blood, you’d begin to black out. Lose too much without finding an aerodrome or crash-landing (and hoping for a sympathetic farmer), adios. Game over. You’d have one last chance to read about your remarkable achievements and regrettable death in the aforementioned newspaper, and that was it. Reality was pretty harsh in WWI.
All of this would be for nothing if the gameplay wasn’t fun; luckily, it was amazing. The dogfights were edge-of-seat serious business, dodging around flack while emptying a machine gun into a zeppelin was the pinnacle of fun gaming. The game stomped its left foot in the muddy history of The Great War and placed its right foot in the shifting ground of an adjustable-reality flight simulator.
Red Baron put its feet down and straddled a line called “Best Game of Its Time,” and I’d dare anyone to try and knock it off.
Which is why I’m confused. It’s a strange phenomenon: Red Baron was – at the very least – the best flying game of its time, if not one of the best flight sims ever. In my opinion, it was the best game to come out around that period of gaming, beating out the likes of Civilization. For whatever reason, however, it’s also a game that today often goes un-remembered when bloggers and game magazines come up with “best of” lists. Strange.
Well, this is my little scream into the ether, for all it’s worth. Red Baron was and is one of the best games ever made, and God help you if you disagree.
While Capcom canned the Gameboy Color remake of the the original game, that didn’t stop them from developing on the system completely. They made a “kiddie” version of Resident Evil for the GBC near the end of it’s lifespan.
Welcome to 1 QUARTER RUN, where I try to get as far as I can with ONLY 1 quarter! No continues, replays or savestates!
Why do this? I’ve been a gamer for a VERY long time. That being said, I’m constantly trying to improve myself. These “let’s plays” are my attempts to improve myself and talk about the game and its surrounding context at the same time.
My first entry is WWF Wrestlefest. I had done a text review of its predecessor, WWF Superstars, some years back. However, it was THIS game that TRULY set the standard for great wrestling games during an era when wrestling games had a hard enough time being “good.”
So come and join Prixel Derp’s Chris “Sledge” Douglas as I take on WWF Wrestlefest’s Saturday Night’s Main Event mode, and see how well I can do on this notorious quarter muncher!
Retro Gaming: Brasil
During my stay in Sao Paulo Brasil my wife and I made a stop at Bubsy Games. Retro gaming stores are sometimes hard to come by and I am very glad there are still a few around. Every time I’m in Sao Paulo I make sure to stop by Bubsy Games. I ended up trading some games with them and always enjoy stopping by.
They have a small tv to test games out on, I love the air brush art on that thing.
A few of the gems I picked up in the trade. I’m stoked on Time Killers for the Sega Genesis and also the pirated Ninja Gaiden III famicom cart. I’ll be enjoying these a lot when I arrive back home. Thanks Bubsy Games!
Format- Master System
Genre- 2D scrapathon
Kung Fu Kid
This game reminds me of The Ninja on the Master System – in both a good and bad way.
Many Sega produced titles for the Master System were very odd indeed, and Kung Fu Kid is no exception. Their games for the system weren’t particularly polished and had several odd touches in them. They weren’t broken in any fundamental sense, but felt as if they were at times.
Take the first stage for instance. There are three ways it can go. The first time you play it, you’ll get your ass kicked. Angry men and leaping dolls (see, there’s the ‘odd’ touches I was talking about) storm across the screen at you from both directions.
You’re armed with a kick and a large jump, but you’ll most likely get your rump served up to you on a plate, confused at how to survive such an onslaught.
The second way is probably the way the developer envisioned you progressing. Inching your way to the right, you kick away foes (these ones only take one hit – small mercies), and try your hardest to avoid being hit. You have to build up a rhythm of move, kick, move kick to survive. Then, the boss.
The best way to beat the level though? Jumping. Leaping over the enemies is incredibly easy, and you’ll find yourself at the end of the stage in no time.
Best of all, the fast moving dudes can’t get to you if you use this method, as they get stuck behind the jumping dolls, leaving you to stroll away unchallenged. Slightly broken design at its finest.
The first boss battle, an old wise warrior (that’s what he looks like anyway), is not so easy though, and you have to have a bit of luck to beat him.
Levels get a bit harder, but in every one the same mantra of jump, jump, jump remains. Kung Fu Kid? More like Jumpy Boundy Boy.
Bosses however, generally get easier. Once you recognize their attack patterns you can open up a whole can of whupass on them.
One of the main reasons to stick with the game is to see what weird enemy the game will throw at you next. Tiny lobsters, zombies and what look like tin soldiers all stand in your way – i’m not sure why Sega though these enemies would fit into kung-fu game, but they’ve been shoehorned in nonetheless.
One enemy, that first appears in the third level though, is particularly worth seeing. Frogs. Tiny, cute green little frogs. Now don’t get me wrong, as I kid I didn’t put firecrackers into frogs and watch them go boom – like my Dad admitted he did – but the amphibian cruelty in this game had me in stitches.
About halfway through the third stage a small frog comes a-leaping at you. As with any enemy, you prepare to unleash a kick. But unlike the other enemies, which are knocked back a little and destroyed when hit, when you kick a frog they fly like a missile across the screen, taking out any other enemies that appear in their path. It is one of the most hilarious things I have ever seen.
Even better for those with a vendetta against frogs, the end boss for that stage is a huge version of the small green amphibians. It’s a spectacularly easy boss fight in fact – just barrage him with consecutive kicks right to his huge froggy nads and he’ll fall down like a pack of cards. Simple.
It’s in the fifth stage of the game where things get much tougher. Your jumping tactics aren’t as effective here, and you’ll probably end up taking on the boss with a weakened health bar.
Still, the game is never really unfairly difficult, and you can usually work your way through all seven stages if you’re patient enough.
What else is there to say about Kung Fu Kid? It’s weird, very weird indeed, but that’s undoubtedly part of its charm. Pick this one up if you see it abandoned at a car boot – and endless frog flying hilarity will be yours to cherish forever.
[youtube id=”Os9Uo1CAaGs” width=”633″ height=”356″]
Name: Daryl Rodriguez / Jeanette Garcia
Company: World 1-1
Profession: Independent Filmmakers
Favorite Classic Game: Metal Gear
Quote: It showed me that video games can achieve a cinematic experience.
Bio: Two filmmakers from Miami focused on creating a visual history of the video game industry.
Project: World 1-1
Project Info: World 1-1 is the first in a documentary series on the history of video games. This chapter is about the early years including Atari and how they helped to create a new industry. It focuses on the business deals, the personalities of the pioneers, and the creations of the engineers. This documentary will be a combination of interviews, archival footage, and reflection that retells the story to a new generation that may not know the roots of their favorite hobby.
I play Nintendo games cause I was raised playing NES and SNES games with my dad, plus I’m super cool right :p I never realized that would lead me to have a serious retro gaming addiction in my later twenties.
So why did I feel the need to make a site and dedicate it to my retro games? It’s actually simple: I love talking/writing about retro games almost as much as I enjoy playing them. I also love watching other people play classic games, thus my love for Game Center CX. I guess everyone has that one thing they are passionate about, whether it is sports, cars, clothes or whatever, for me it’s classic Nintendo games. I don’t have many close friends at my age who really play anything other than ps3 or xbox so it’s kind of rare when I get to nerd it up and talk about NES games, let alone my Famicom games.
I read anything I can about NES games on Wikipedia and read reviews and blogs from other retro gamers. I check eBay for NES and Famicom game lots, for cheap rare titles, the few old Nintendo Power issues I’m still missing and just cool Nintendo themed collectibles. I constantly talk to my hubby about the cool deals I got, or the random NES or Famicom facts I read that day. I take pictures of my son holding Nintendo plushies and I even got him a teething toy that looks like a NES controller called the Ninteetho. I even painted Yoshi’s Island murals all over his room. I’ve taken a vacation day from work just to play NES games I picked up online or at the local used game store. I have not one but two Nintendo themed tattoos. I am a full-time Nintendo geek and I love every minute of it.
I appreciate everyone who comes to the site just to read my random Nintendo ramblings. I know there are tens of thousands of sites online where people blog about games and I’m really humbled that you decided to come read what I have to say. I’m sure you’ve heard this kind of confession before on someone elses site about the new games that are out there. But I have to say it’s just not the same as playing a classic 8 or 16 bit game. I think I’m addicted to the pattern recognition that was required when you played tricky NES games like Mega Man or Ninja Gaiden, it took hard work, good timing and memorization to get past some of those parts but the feeling of accomplishment you get when you finally get it is awesome. Plus new games have nothing on the 8 bit chip tune music you would hear in classic NES games. Nothing can compare to some of the awesome music you hear in games like Mega Man, Castlevania, or Mario, those songs really stick with you.
As I get older it gets harder to find time to play video games. There’s work, family, and kids (which I’m really hoping my little guy will one day share my passion or at least want to play the occasional game with me), and all that other stuff you never used to have to worry about when you were a kid spending any time you had away from school playing games. Luckily I’ve been able to sneak in some time lately after my little guy gets to bed. Once I get to sit down and play, it’s like I’m transported back to when I was young and only had to worry about the game sitting in front of me. So I make sure every chance I get to expose my friends to classic games I take it. I’m just hoping to give them an appreciation for it, or at the very least see the reason for my madness :p
So thanks to everyone who comes here to nerd it up, and messages me on twitter. Thank you for sharing my passion for classic games!
We come to another edition of Retro Game of the Week, this time around we have a game that seems to be just a hack of a very awesome game for the Game Boy. Nevertheless, it’s here to stay and it’s just totally awesome. If you can look over the Hello Kitty characters, then you’ll be all set. Enjoy as Hello Kitty World enchants you with its magic!
The music is the same one as the Balloon Kid game. The game does a great job at entertaining you with tunes you’ll surely remember. It’s not the best of a soundtrack, but it does the job. You can’t get any better than 8-bit music anyways…it’s making a comeback!!
The graphics are good. Just think of it as being a colored Game Boy title. After all, it is based on a Game Boy game. Either way, everything looks great. You won’t run into any dead ends due to the graphical interface of the levels so you’ll not only enjoy the sights but enjoy the gameplay as well.
The gameplay is quite entertaining. You keep yourself levitated with two balloons and your goal is to get across the level without getting your balloons popped! It may sound simple but believe me, levels get tougher and tougher as you move along. Even if you get your balloons popped you’ll be able to inflate new ones to fly into the sun! Of course, you gotta make sure you don’t land on the different obstacles that will definitely kill you such as fire.
The best part about older games is the their replay value is infinite. That’s why you see people playing such games as Tetris or Pacman in their more advance devices. Simple fun stuff is always welcomed and this is no different. You can go through the entire game and go for it again and again. When you don’t need to remember passwords or save the game, you have less stress going on, believe me.
This is another obscure game that never made it to the NES but if you do want to play the cheap alternative then I suggest getting Balloon Kid, other than that you should import this game as soon as possible. It’s a lot of fun and well…it’s Hello Kitty!!
Genre- Ghostbusters, but with Luigi
Considered an unrecognised classic by many, is Luigi’s Mansion really that good? I would say…no. It definitely doesn’t get the recognition it deserves, but it’s not up there with the greats. It’s ‘merely’ very good.
Now that mild criticism is out of the way, lets me just say what the game does well.
It’s quite obvious why Luigi’s Mansion hasn’t dated as badly as other games of its era. Very tightly designed, the game’s small, self-contained environments have actually helped to give it a somewhat timeless appeal.
Sure, the detailed graphics don’t look quite as nice as they did on the Cube’s launch, but they still have a rather endearing appeal, and there are some nice touches present throughout.
The gameplay mechanics are also commendable, with a pretty much perfect take on busting ghosts. The pull-back analogue control for grabbing ghouls is the perfect mix of randomness and skill, and feels physical enough to be hugely satisfying. Especially with a rumble enabled controller (sorry Wavebird users).
Puzzles are a mixed bag. The majority are nothing too taxing, but the way the game squeezes as many ideas as it can out of Luigi’s limited moveset is admirable. But occasionally you do feel the game is struggling to design a puzzle that is different enough to a previous one. This doesn’t really detract from the experience to any significant degree though.
It helps that the game isn’t too long. This means it doesn’t outstay its welcome and is a manageable (but not too short) size.
For the most part, you’re just happy to soak up the game’s unique atmosphere. Sure, you’ve probably been through a scary mansion before (Resident Evil), and you may have had the chance to play as Luigi before (Mario is *shudder* Missing!) – but have you experienced both those together?
Luigi is a lovable coward (his nervous humming of the game’s theme tune is priceless), and the supporting cast of enemies and allies is a memorable bunch as well. It’s a game you’ll want to revisit every few years, for sure.
Overall, it’s very obvious why this game is close to many people’s hearts. It may not be perfect, but it’s a hidden Gamecube gem.
Once video games were invented it didn’t take too long for home gaming to get established too. A few ‘electronic’ games had started appearing in the 70’s before the first actual home consoles arrived starting with the Magnavox Odyssey which, despite achieving limited success, spurred on others to try the same. Fairchild had their Channel F and later Mattel’s Intellivision had been doing respectable business, but it was of course Atari’s immense VCS that had destroyed all who stood in its way. By the early 80’s even that was starting to look a little old and tired though, and this new breed of enthusiasts known as ‘gamers’ were eager for a more advanced successor.
This soon arrived in the middle of that decade’s third year courtesy of another American company – Coleco. Despite their name, which was a contraction of Connecticut Leather Company, and their history of producing plastic and indeed leather products, they were no strangers to the exciting realm of electronic entertainment. They had already produced a range of standalone consoles in the late 70’s called Telstar which each featured a few pre-programmed variations of existing games such as Pong and Tank. Their latest effort was called the ColecoVision and, unlike the Telstar range, offered games on inter-changeable cartridges. In fact, it was bundled with one such game, a conversion of the popular arcade hit Donkey Kong, no less, and its quality soon showed that perhaps this new contender was the system gamers had been waiting for.
Unlike the blocky, low-resolution games found on Atari’s machine, Coleco’s games were like having an arcade in the home thanks to the Z80A processor that powered it. Indeed, many of the games it hosted were arcade conversions and most of them were close to arcade perfect – a term that had to be invented for their machine.
Thanks mainly to its many games of this type, the ColecoVision became popular immediately; sales soon surpassed one million units and several fancy accessories were released as well, including a steering wheel controller (complete with ‘gas’ pedal) and, ironically, an adaptor that enabled it to run Atari VCS games! Although this device automatically gave the Coleco a vast library of games, and provided a great incentive to buy it in the process, it was the system’s own games that impressed the most and the number available quickly passed the hundred mark. Unimaginable success looked assured for the former leather company but sadly the sudden, catastrophic collapse of the US gaming industry, the infamous ‘video game crash of 1983’, then took their console down along with numerous others.
Happily for us retro gamers though, a good few titles were released before that unfortunate event brought things to an untimely conclusion and I’ve selected a few of them at random to help me determine whether ‘the crash’ was a curse or a blessing in disguise. Here’s how I got on:
Lady Bug (1982)
Arcade conversions represented a substantial percentage of Coleco titles and this one, whilst hardly a jaw-droppingly original game, was a top effort. As is obvious from the screenshot, it’s a Pac-Man clone, but it may not be as generic as it first appears. As the titular beetle, your job is of course simply to collect all the dots (or x’s in this case) around each maze. However, parts of the walls are made of movable gates (the green bits) through which your twitchy bug can move but the scary enemy bugs cannot. This is particularly handy as there can be up to four of them scurrying around and they move as fast as you do! The graphics are simple and there’s no in-game music (aside from the odd jingle), but apart from a bit of detail on the bugs this is pretty much an arcade perfect conversion and as such is splendid! It’s a fast-paced game which requires quick reflexes but it’s great fun to play and very addictive too. A great introduction to Coleco gaming for me!
This Data East title must be one of the more famous games to have received a Coleco release but it’s also one that I’ve never really been too keen on, I’m afraid to say. It’s a single-screen platformer – a type of game I generally dolike, ironically – in which you, as Peter Pepper, must create tasty burgers by walking over the various components to make them fall down before the various evil foodstuffs who patrol the stages can stop you. Sounds good but I’ve always found it to be a rather frustrating game with unreliable controls. If you’re one of the many who like the arcade game though, chances are you’ll like this version too. The graphics are smaller and slightly more squashed but the stages are correct, the catchy music is spot on, and it plays just like its arcade parent. Not one I’ll come back to very often but a treat for fans.
From Out of the Jungle (1984)
Even in the early days, most video games asked you to kill and/or destroy stuff so the premise of this game was a refreshing change. It instead asked you to rescue the ‘Great Apes’ and other animals that had been imprisoned through a tropical jungle filled with evil hunters and their allies. This may sound slightly familiar, and indeed, it didn’t come as a big surprise to find that the game is also known simply as ‘Tarzan’. It plays a bit like a slightly more advanced version of Pitfall and is viewed from an angled side-on perspective which allows Tarzan to more easily evade his foes. Unfortunately he only has a feeble punch versus their guns and ‘Beastmen’ but he can climb trees and swing from vines as well. It’s a fairly interesting game with some decent ideas but is let down by two things – there are some unavoidable hazards such as trap doors that open beneath your feet, and the controls are also rather clunky, often resulting in unfairly lost energy (sometimes repeatedly). Good try but needs a coat of polish.
Flipper Slipper (1983)
This one is almost that rarest of rarities – a Coleco exclusive (but there was an MSX version as well)! It’s not a game I had previously heard of though, and its strange name provided few clues as to what I could expect. A subsequent perusal of the instruction booklet reveals that it’s supposedly a weird pinball game but it actually plays a lot more like a weird Breakout clone. There are ‘forested’ areas in the top-left and top-right of the screen which can be cleared by hitting the ball into the ‘trees’ with two movable ‘flippers’ (actually just crescent-shaped bats). There are also animals (turtles, fish, etc) to kill for bonus points, two ‘beaches’ on the sides of the playfield, a moving ‘beach house’ in the middle of the screen, and an angry dog behind a breakable gate (although he looks more like a reindeer to me, complete with red nose!). So, like I said… weird! But, like most Breakout-style games, it’s also rather addictive!
Nova Blast (1983)
I was determined to find a shooter on Coleco’s machine before concluding this feature and went for this one based purely on its title. Sure enough, it is indeed a shmup and, unsurprisingly for the day, it’s one based on Defender. As Nova 1, the last of your fleet, it’s your job to protect the six ‘Capsuled Cities’ that occupy the looping planetary surface. Much like Williams’ classic, there are loads of airborne attackers to shoot down with your rapid-fire laser, but your ship can also drop bombs to take out the ‘Water Walkers’ which are the main threats to the cities. So, it’s not very original but the graphics are detailed (I particularly liked the stars and planets in the background), the controls are responsive, and crucially for poor old me it’s also an easier game than the hardcore Defender! Once again not an exclusive, but it still provided Coleco owners with some fast and addictive blasting action.
Despite coming from a less prestigious background than companies like Atari, Coleco did a pretty impressive job with their console. They were pretty brave, too, releasing it while the VCS was so dominant. It must’ve been a bit like Sega, and Atari again, trying to muscle in on the handheld market which Nintendo has sewn up with the Game Boy, to use an analogy that I can personally relate to, but on this occasion it worked. Or it seemed to be working until the entire market imploded in the US, ending their dream, and those of many other companies as well.
It’s always a shame when a system goes down before its time, of course, but for many the ColecoVision’s untimely demise was particularly upsetting. It was similar to other system’s that emerged around the same time such as the MSX and Sega’s SG-1000, technically, and accordingly these platforms shared numerous titles, and many of the Coleco’s other games were arcade conversions. This obviously meant that it had very little exclusive, truly original software. Perhaps it would’ve received a steady flow of titles like this eventually, if things had gone differently. However, the bulk of the user-base of the aforementioned systems was in the Far East which meant the Coleco received ports and conversions of games that many Western players hadn’t seen before, and generally their quality was of a very high standard.
My personal experiences of the ColecoVision are vague. I’m sure I knew someone who owned one when I was young but I can’t remember actually using it much, if at all. That obviously made my time with it for this feature my first such experience and it’s one I’ve enjoyed a lot. Having already spent a good amount of time with some of the systems to which it is technically similar, there wasn’t really much here that surprised me, but most of the games I tried (which included several more not covered in this feature) were pretty slick and playable. The controllers were never particularly popular of course, but several peripherals had already been released for the ColecoVision (including the cheeky VCS adaptor!) and others were on the way including a new controller, so there seems to be little that would’ve prevented the system from going on to great success.
Sadly though, all we can do now is imagine what might’ve been. Coleco did (perhaps unwisely) try to follow up the ‘Vision with a home computer version called the Adam but, while compatible with all of the console’s software and accessories, it suffered from a number of problems and never really even got off the ground and its failure pretty much put the final nail in Coleco’s coffin that hadn’t already been hammered in by the market crash. I suppose if I had to sum up the ColecoVision’s legacy, I’d say that it was a good piece of kit with some good games, but it was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time…
I got this game for like .99 a while back. Thought it was worth the money just for the cool light on the cartridge Lights make everything better! The game is Spelunker made by irem according to the game case, but when the title screen loads up it says Broderbund Software….
There isn’t much for controls, directional pad moves from side to side, A jumps and B uses your drill. Thing is it’s insanely easy to die, jump down a couple pixels to far, you are dead and you will be dying a lot. Check out my gameplay video…
It’s kind of frustrating, so I’m going to need a lot more practice and figure out what to do so I don’t keep dying constantly. At least it was only .99 cents!
Twin Cobra is not officially a sequel to Tiger-Heli, but it sure seems like it. Although Micronics developed the arcade port for the NES for its predecessor, the pleasure of publishing Twin Cobra went to American Sammy in 1990, rather than Acclaim’s work to distribute Tiger-Heli.
Twin Cobra is a military-themed vertically scrolling shoot-’em-up in which the player controls an advanced attack helicopter and wages a one-craft war against the evil enemy, who fights back with copters of their own, tanks, boats, turrets, in addition to other vehicles and obstacles. There is some horizontal scrolling as well, a bit to the left and right, adding a sense of size to the ten looping levels and an enhanced sense of flying freedom for the player.
The A button launches a devastating bomb, of which the player can hold up to nine at a time and find by shooting various objects for bonus items. The B button fires the primary weapon. Twin Cobra has a very solid variety of weaponry. To begin with, there are four types of ammo: The starting weapon, which has red-orange shells firing forward; a green-projectile weapon, which concentrates fire in a straight direction forward; a white-blue shot, which spreads in a radiated path forward; and a crazy multi-directional brown-ball weapon, which even slightly homes in on hostiles.
In addition to the variance in weapon types, they can also be upgraded via collecting “S” items, with six total levels of upgrade, resulting in an annihilating amount of firepower. Even though only two shots can be on-screen at once, when fully upgrades, this still represents several projectiles in mid-flight, even up to a couple dozen in certain cases.
The player begins with three choppers, gaining an extra one when 50,000 points are reached; afterward, 150,000 points is required per one-up. Five continues are given. To grant the player a rest between frenetic rounds of bullet-blasting, each stage ends by landing on an aircraft carrier helipad for a brief rest from the firestorm festivities. Bonus points are totaled if the player was able to collect an amount of star items without dying. The white stars, rather than give bonus points, instead grant temporary invulnerability, as does a respawn.
Twin Cobra does not have the most polished presentation, but it definitely offers a challenge that makes hearty demands on a player’s reflexes and flight tactics. Fans of the genre will enjoy discovering the absolute to-the-pixel limits of the chopper’s hit box, while casual players may be intrigued by the sheer amount of action on the screen at any given moment. There are even boss fights to contend with. Better than the plainest of shooters but not quite as refined in its quality as the better titles, Twin Cobra is quite decent, and will be fancied by some while ignored by others.
Twin Cobra definitely has to deal with flickering and slowdown. With multiple moving enemies firing multiple projectiles while the player-copter itself is firing multiple projectiles of its own, perhaps it is no minor miracles that the NES does not simply give up and freeze during the proceedings. The actual vehicle designs are alright, somewhat par for the course as far as these games go, but presentable. The staging is solid, as the player will find the chopper traversing over ocean naval forces, jungles, and even fighting some enemies on rails. The projectiles can seem a little odd, since most of them are just colored balls, but such lack of realism can probably be forgiven, given its 8-bit setting.
Eh. The music is not awful in its composition, but the tonal quality leaves a bit to be desired. Those square-wave channels are a little obvious, and come off as tinny, plain (for digital musicianship), and not as rich as it could be. As for the sound effects, an enemy ship exploding sounds like a soft splash in the ocean, whereas the protagonist definitely suffers from “pew pew pew” syndrome, with very wimpy gunshot sounds. Twin Cobra is not a soundtrack powerhouse. Those wearing rose-colored glasses may find some appeal in its simplicity.
Twin Cobra is undoubtedly not the first military-themed vertically scrolling shooter on the NES, and not even the first to feature a helicopter as hero. Thankfully, it features a much greater gameplay variety than Tiger-Heli, especially in the arsenal offered and enemy/boss designs. The basic level-loop, high-score-seeking shell is intact, and the general rule of “your mileage may vary” applies here. One does get the impression of Twin Cobra being somewhat rough around the edges, if anything. Overall, not the most staggeringly innovating 8-bit video game, but it can hardly be accused of being boring. A worse starting point for the shmup category could be found.
Rating: Two and a half stars out of five.
By: Core Design / Gremlin Genre: Run ‘n’ Gun Players: 1 Difficulty: Medium-Hard
Featured Version: Atari ST First Day Score: 9,240
Also Available For: Amiga, PC, Commodore 64, Amstrad CPC, ZX Spectrum
Whether you love or hate Rick Dangerous, there´s no question that it was a memorable game. Anyone wanting more of the same would have to wait for its sequel which would arrive a year later, but released the same year as Rick’s first adventure was this game. It’s similar in looks and gameplay so it comes as so surprise to find that the same team was responsible for both games, but the setting has changed. This latter effort takes place ten thousand years in the future rather than the recent past, and it appears to be an anime-influenced future ‘cyber world’ called Thraxx where the Undercity is now ruled by the evil Havoc who has shattered the Fireblade and filled the city with his minions.
It’s down to you to flush the Undercity of this filth and simultaneously find the sixteen pieces of the Fireblade, the source of the Bladeknight’s power, and rebuild it to ensure lasting peace. You do this as Hiro, the last of the Bladeknights. He has as much stealth and cunning as you can muster as well as a programmable cyber-arm. Only when the Fireblade has been reassembled will you be able to take on Havoc and help Hiro gain revenge for the death of his people. You’ll start this flick-screen adventure above ground but after only a few screens you’ll enter the underground depths of Undercity, a vast, sprawling labyrinth of rooms, tunnels, and passageways. A labyrinth it is too as only sections you’re in or have previously been in will appear – all other sections are hidden until you enter them.
This of course means there’s lots of secrets and sneakily-concealed areas which often require some exploration or experimentation to find. Hidden or not though, all areas of Undercity are patrolled by the hideous servants of Havoc, contact with whom will deplete Hiro’s energy meter. To begin with he can only use his fists or feet against them but there are six power-up weapons available as he makes his way through the game which are mostly sword or projectile-type weapons. They will all have differing ranges and some projectile weapons also have limited ammo. The effect of some of them (including Hiro’s default attacks) is also slightly different depending on your use of the charge bar. More ammo can be collected of course, and other things to look out for include speed-ups, a temporary shield, flasks and orbs which award you with bonus points, and increases to your power-meter.
It’s also worth looking out for Fireblade fragments, of course, and successful recovery of all sixteen pieces bestows a sizable bonus upon Hiro as well as the option of using the Fireblade as a seventh weapon power-up. It will be a while before that becomes possible though as Switchblade is a pretty big game. It consists of five levels but, although ending with a boss fight, each level continues on from the last so there’s no real break between them. This extends to the look of them. The graphical style is similar to the distinctive look of Rick Dangerous before it – everything is neat and nicely drawn with small, squat little sprites, and I can’t imagine it really pushes the 16-bit CPU of the ST very hard – but unlike Core’s previous game, there’s almost no variety between the levels, and unfortunately that’s as far as both graphics and gameplay are concerned too.
The grey bricks, crates, girders and ladders that you’ll first see upon entering Undercity are still prevalent an hour later as you approach the climax of the game. This was very disappointing to find as even the much shorter Rick Dangerous has some variety between its levels, graphically. One improvement made here is the audio – the sound effects are pretty anonymous but there is at least in-game music courtesy of Ben Daglish, and it’s great! Playing the game will also feel familiar if you’ve played Rick’s game. There’s less trial-and-error frustration involved here, at least with regards to completely hidden traps and the like, but exploring the levels is done in pretty much the same way – jumping around multi-tiered sections and nipping up and down ladders. Hiro also moves in a similar way to Rick but since he has an energy meter rather than one-hit deaths, it’s a little easier too.
Overall though, I’m not sure if Switchblade represents a forward or backwards step. Rick Dangerous got a mixed response due to its immensely unfair but addictive gameplay while Switchblade was apparently unanimously praised, but in my opinion the latter doesn’t possess either of the former’s most notable qualities – it’s fairer but less addictive since the whole game is pretty much the same as the first five minutes. I know it suits the story to have the whole city looking pretty much the same, but it doesn’t do much for the player’s desire to see it all. This, combined with a very annoying ‘hit mechanic’, which sees Hiro shunted backwards every time he takes damage, means I have less compulsion to continue playing this than I do Rick Dangerous. It’s far from a terrible game, and uncovering all the hidden areas provides some motivation to play it, but it could’ve been so much better with a bit of variety.
RKS Score: 6/10
Perhaps it is the Japanese equivalent to the Ham-burglar.
In Chew Man Fu your mission is to stop this hungry little man from stealing all the worlds’ fried rice and egg rolls. The game plays sort of like Pengo and you have to take out the enemies by firing the balls you place on each of the 500 stages. Developed by Now Productions and published by Hudson Soft and NEC in 1990 you can also find this game on the Wii’s virtual console.
“Forgotten Classics” is a celebration of obscure PC games that weren’t released to widespread fanfare – or simply fell of the radar of gamers at the time of their release – and deserve a second look. In this installment: Wonderland, an adventure game developed by the British game developer Magnetic Scrolls and published by Virgin Games in 1990.
Wonderland was a game set in the Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland mythos. You played Alice as she made her way through the bizarre Wonderland landscape, solving puzzles and enduring plenty of puns. However, the plot of the game did not follow that of the book, although familiar characters, such as the Mad Hatter, the Cheshire Cat, the Duchess, and the Red Queen all appeared to delight the player (or confound them). However, only the characters from Alice in Wonderland appeared; there were no characters or scenes from the sequel, Alice Through the Looking Glass (which meant no Tweedledum and Tweedledee!). Even so, there were still around 110 locations to explore in all their surreal glory.
Magnetic Scrolls developed an interesting game engine called “Magnetic Windows” which they used for Wonderland. Rather than one game screen, Magnetic Windows permitted several game screens to be opened at once (much like Microsoft Windows), and each window could be moved or resized as needed. So a player could have their inventory screen, a screen with details about a particular object, the game map, a specific room item list, a compass, a help menu, the main screen with a graphic, and more all open at once. Particularly enjoyable for those who tired of the constant switch between game map – inventory – action screen that most games used.
Wonderland received generally good reviews: “…very simply, it’s fun stuff to play” (Computer Game Review, June 1991); “Wonderland has shown me that the adventure-game genre is alive and growing” (Compute!, August 1991); ”an atmospheric and cerebellum-crushing adventure game…“ (Amiga Power, June 1991). It was (and is!) an enjoyable romp through a classic landscape. It doesn’t have much repeat play value, but being of the adventure game genre, it’s not really fair to expect it to. For those who have never parsed a text, give Wonderland a chance to show you what gaming was like twenty years ago!
With the game-play and story-style almost unchanged, Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door did receive a good graphics boost. And when you have a decently fun RPG combat system, there’s not much room to complain when its not drastically different. I think all the Super Paper Mario haters can agree on that one.
“Patients are asked not to die in the corridors” ~Receptionist
Format- Atari Jaguar
You’ve no doubt played Wolfenstein, or are at least aware of its existence. But have you played it on the Jag? You really should you know – it’s really rather good.
Remember back in my Power Drive Rally piece I said there were a few reasons why the Jaguar wasn’t completely rubbish? This is another of those reasons.
The Jaguar wasn’t 64 bit, but it could churn out a simple game like Wolfenstein with nary a glitch. The whole thing is super-smooth and one of slickest versions of the game it’s possible to play.
Enemies are large and detailed, and their soundbites always make me laugh. Why they say their positions (‘Luftwaffe!’ ‘SS!’) when they strike is beyond me. It’s like they’re Pokemon trained Nazis or something. No wonder they didn’t win the war (check this great Youtube video of Hitler’s reaction to the Wolfenstein story unfolding).
The bosses add a much needed shot of variety as well, and their catchphrases are often repeated by me in real life, i’m that sad. Classics such as ‘i’m coming for yer!’ have lived long in my memory.
In many versions of Wolfenstein there are far too many levels between boss stages, and they wear you down at times with their somewhat monotonous layouts. Here though, a fair few levels have been snipped, and this results in a far more manageable and fun experience.
Although it’s archaic in many, many ways the game is still good for a quick shot of retro blasting fun. Talking about it actually makes me want to play it again, which is always a good sign.
The Jag version also has the useful feature of three save slots which can be saved to while playing, by tapping either the 1, 2 or 3 buttons on the controllers keypad. No pausing is necessary. Just make sure you don’t press them when you mean to look at the map screen number button. This feature really helps to make the game an even more instantaneous, fuss free fun-fest.
There’s is an oft-cited problem that the game’s enemy sprites were 2D however, and could therefore only be seen facing you. This mean that there was no way to sneak up on them. This isn’t really a problem for me though – who really attempts to be stealthy in Wolfenstein?
The only minor annoyance this 2D enemy issue really creates is when you enter a new room. Enemies can open fire on you from the sides, with you having no chance to fire back and avoid damage. This results in you bobbing into a room and quickly back out again, a tactic you have to use for the later, tougher levels.
As with most Jag games it’s hard to find cheap, but if you have the console it’s worth picking up. I’ll be looking at the other retro Wolfenstein titles I have over the next few months, but this is definitely one of the best.
Content is king and even the most dedicated people get burned out so you have to have a well of content to turn to.~J.A. Laraque
What I’ve learned from Obsolete Gamer
When you speak about creating a video game website you normally will here two different responses. One will be about how cool it sounds and how they will visit it every day. The second, is about how much work it is and how your competition will be great. When Ignacio told me he was creating a video game website I was crazy about it. Mainly because in my past I had tried to launch many different types of websites and just ran out of gas. With Obsolete Gamer moving into year four I thought I would take a moment to talk about some of the things I have learned and experienced being part of Obsolete Gamer.
What are you doing this for?
Like almost everything in life you have to know if you really want to do something before you do it. Not only that, you need to know the different milestones you want to hit and the overall goal of why you are doing something. Now surely you can do something for a bit and move on, but if the idea is to make whatever you are doing part of your life it is much more than just a temporary thing. The first thing I wanted to be sure of with OG was that it was not to become one of the thousands of video game blogs that end up abandoned after a year or two.
This takes us back to knowing you really want to make your endeavor part of your life because there will be a lot of ups and downs and if you lose focus you will lose interest and that’s the end of your blog. We may not be able to see the future, but if you are in it for the long hall you have to ask yourself if you will still be able to do this when you are working like a mad person, swamped in school work and trying to have friends and relationships. Again, if this is a temporary thing it may not matter, but if this is for as long as possible you have to make the time to keep things running.
TLDR: You need to really love what you are doing.
Everybody is in right before they are out
The idea of having a video game website sounds awesome to many people. As such many people will want to be a part of it and will promise everything from writing to donations to promotion and everything else under the sun. True commitment is hard to come by in this business and believe me it is a business. If you do not want to remain unknown you are constantly planning and re-planning and that includes finding out who is with you.
I have found the best way to deal with people you want to help is think of it as a one-time thing and if it becomes more, great, if not then it’s fine. You can never expect someone to have the same dedication that you do. Remember, it is your website not theirs so they may care deeply about the subject, but there is a difference between that and how you feel as an owner. Expect people to come and go, frequently and expect this to continue no matter how successful your site becomes.
We’ve found the key is multiple sources. Which is also why we reach out to people who want to start a blog but feel it is too hard, had a blog that is dead or dying or just someone who wants to write and offer them a spot. You end up helping people and yourself. This goes to planning and re-planning. Content is king and even the most dedicated people get burned out so you have to have a well of content to turn to.
TLDR: Content is king so make sure you have a deep pool of talent to turn to.
And what makes you so special?
That is always the question when writing or creating a blog. Why should anyone read your blog when there are tons of major websites covering the same thing. There are answers, but they change constantly. Here is one reason. In the past you did not see many writers on one website. Back in the 90’s most websites had a small staff and only they posted content. In time more people contributed and today you have websites that are mostly contributor based. So in the past you could talk about providing a unique perspective, but today with so many sites and so much submitted works you can find that as well. So you kind of have to accept that you might not be that special, but perhaps you can just plug along and earn your reputation and in time gain readers.
For the most part people want interaction. They also want a mix of media so they can enjoy pictures, video as well as text. You have to have a bit of everything so people don’t get bored. With Obsolete Gamer, we could have tried some strict policy of retro gaming related content only, but we love a wide array of things and so our site reflects that. We also know in the middle of the night you gamers like looking at sexy Cosplay girls (we have the data to prove this) so we give the people what they want.
Sometimes just being there is enough. There are tons of good classic gaming sites. We never claim to be the best, we just want to be considered one of the good ones. We also want to promote those who for whatever reason cannot do their own sites. Add in things like our Gamer Profiles and interviews, videos and podcasts and with time and practice and learning from our mistakes we have created a decent following.
TLDR: Stay true to yourself, but also give the people what they want.
Keep your day job
If you are in this for the money get out now. There are real costs to a website especially if it ends up getting a lot of hits. You can search for the cheapest webhosting, but you better know what to do if your site goes down. At one point we were ranked about 30K in the U.S. for our website which means every website in the U.S. and then we had a major server crash and move to a new hosting company which shut down OG for about a week. Over a year later and we are still trying to get back to where we were.
Everything costs money and sometimes the biggest cost is time. I personally work a full time job, am almost a full time student (6-9 credits per) am working on my novels and trying to have a social life. Even with OG only posting an article per day it is still a challenge to keep up with new content, writers, news, website issues, promotions, advertising, social media and a whole lot more. At the end of the day we spend more than we make. Web ads do not pay what you might think unless you’re IGN and let’s just be honest, most gamers are not one to click on random ads. I know I am not. Most gamers I know ad-block and hate ads which is why we constantly update the site so we do not bug you with them. Of course the result is less revenue while costs go up.
There are things you can do to keep costs down like knowing your software. Sometimes something breaks and if you can fix it yourself you will save a lot. The same goes for hosting, do your research so you have a stable and fast site, but also one at a good cost. Finally, remember it is about the love of writing and of games. This is why we have day jobs and are working to better ourselves so we can continue doing what we love regardless of the monetary gain.
TLDR: This costs money so don’t expect to make much if any
I had to talk about some of the perks or I might scare off some future writers or website owners. The first perk is just creating something and being part of it. I learned with my novels it does not matter if they sell 10 copies or 10 thousand. The point is I took the time and finished it and put it out there. The same goes for your writing and your site.
You accept the complements as if they were hundred dollar bills. When you tell someone you have a video game website and they are impressed it is worth it. When someone reads your work and likes it you feel better. Now this is the internet so expect people to troll you and tell you that everything you do sucks. You know you’ve made it once someone is criticizing you and saying how much you suck.
Beyond that if you promote your site and make contacts you can meet some awesome people. We have been to many events like CES, E3 and Florida Supercon as well as many local events and have met so many cool people. Being invited to after parties and having people tell you they read your site is a great feeling. Also getting swag and the ability to review games and hardware is nice as well. You might not make a paycheck, but an after party in a fancy restaurant in Vegas in pretty sweet.
For me personally having Wil Wheaton post about Obsolete Gamer and going on 1337 Lounge Live was some of my highlights. As said, also having access to every Con in gaming is also great. We still have standing invites for PAX, ComicCon, Quakecon, and more. Sadly, the time and money restraints come into play regarding which and how many events we can attend. However, just knowing you can go and as press is awesome in itself.
TLDR: We work for trips, swag and food, it’s almost as good as cold hard cash.
Now there is more, but even with the TLDR’s it is best to separate some of the others into another article. Still, the overall point of this is to get more people to try what they want to try. I watched at least 10 of my former websites close before we started Obsolete Gamer so there will be failures before there is success. Bottom line is I love what I do and want to keep this going as long as I am alive. If you feel the same way stop waiting and get rid of the self-doubt and just do it. Trust me, in the end it is better to try then wonder why.
Overall Rating: 2.5/5 Stars
Wisdom Tree: A developer that produced unlicensed video game cartridges for the 8-bit Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) console, doing so without Nintendo’s authorization or now-infamous Seal Of Approval. They rather boldly did within the guise of publishing Jesus-themed games, even selling their carts in Christian bookstore-type outlets, with the shrewd knowledge that Nintendo would hesitate to threaten legal action against such an organization, since the resulting press would likely earn them some sort of Jesus-hating reputation and would then realistically hurt their sales.
The games themselves were of questionable quality, sporting some flaws in their mechanics despite what could be considered impressive execution at all, given their limited resources as a small-time development group. The notoriety followed them from their days as Color Dreams, however, and their titles under either brand are somewhat derided in the present era. Nonetheless, King of Kings can be considered one of Wisdom Tree’s finest efforts, even if still not quite a spectacular video game. Although such designation is unofficial, it is sometimes thought of as the sequel to Bible Adventures, considering the very similar visuals and nearly identical gameplay mechanics, especially in the Jesus and the Temple portions.
Interestingly enough, King of Kings is actually comprised of three different complete platformer games, all on one cartridge, each dealing with a different segment of the life of Jesus Christ, and selectable from the title screen: The Wise Men, Flight to Egypt, and Jesus and the Temple.
In The Wise Men, the player controls one of the three wise man, rotating every couple levels, as they journey across platform levels with Middle Eastern flavor, from barren desert to ornate palace. Realistically, the wise men ride camels rather than travel the whole way on foot; strangely, the character controls the camel directly, including their combative spit. Between spitting at enemies, consuming fruit to launch a more powerful one-time special attack depending on which sort is eaten, and leaping rather tall heights to tackle precision-jumping challenges, the player must eventually make it to the manger scene where infant Jesus awaits, even collecting gifts for the King along the way, in units of frankincense, myrrh, and gold.
In Flight to Egypt, the player controls Joseph, Mary, and infant Jesus atop a Donkey, as they trek up mountainous terrain, presumably somehow toward Egypt, upward and upward, following the Biblical narrative of trying to escape Herod’s edict to kill all infant males, in his misguided attempt to get rid of this “new king” baby he had heard of. Perhaps humorously, the player can attack with the B button as the donkey twists and kicks with his hind legs, the sole way to contend with wild attacking animals, even fierce beasts like lions. Falling boulders and trail gaps pose challenges as well as the family dangerously treks the seemingly endless route to Egyptian safety.
In Jesus and the Temple, the player actually controls characters on foot, alternating between Joseph and Mary per level. With gameplay mechanics most akin to the Bible Adventures game, precision-jumping challenges are back, including classic logs-on-a-waterfall bits, ala Super Mario Bros. 2. Once again, wild animals are on the prowl as well, even little frogs. The point is, Joseph and Mary are traversing through this levels in order to find twelve-year-old Jesus, who has gone missing; just as in the Biblical account, he has left his parents to go teach in the temple with great insight.
In all three games, the player has a health bar displayed in terms of scrolls, with each hit from an enemy element usually taking a half-scroll away. Scrolls of health can be regained, however, by way of answering Bible questions encountered when scroll icons are touched throughout the course of the levels. Thankfully, the questions and answers are completely displayed on-screen, rather than in Bible Buffet, another Wisdom Tree game, where multiple-choice answer options are offered, but the questions were contained in a separate book, making any relevant interaction impossible without the instruction manual.
Overall, these are fairly basic platformers, each representing a simple goal with little flair or extras to accompany the tedious action. One admirable angle may be the surprising challenge that each choice presents, though, as the difficulty level is actually decent; although these are Bible games, they are not the most kid-friendly, as most children would eventually get frustrated at trying to complete these, especially the latter two. Then again, that can also be construed as a weakness, so really, no matter how you slice it, this is a video game destined for the middle of the road in terms of its place of quality compared to the other titles in the NES canon.
Admittedly, this game’s graphics are actually not too terrible. Its large, colorful sprites and weirdly impressive backgrounds (well, in certain spots), along with detailed level designs, put King of Kings far ahead of many other 8-bit titles on the NES. Whether this was due to the late-cycle release timing general mastery of the hardware tools, or specific development staff gaining familiarity with generating visuals after prior Color Dreams/Wisdom Tree titles, either way it is not bad. However, the actual animation is what brings the presentation down a notch; as unlicensed games are wont to do, at times the movement is somewhat choppy, stilted, and not as smooth as a player would want, even glitching out in crazy ways at times, such as firing the character forward at warp speed or juggling them around in arcane fashion. In addition, the animated icons, like the words flying around and the item tallies after each levels, are somewhat cool; but “somewhat cool” like a neat animated .gif, in the sense that it looks neat, but is really a cheap effect and nothing truly artistic.
Give those wacky non-license developers some credit for the unique elements inherent in their work. This is a distinctive NES game in terms of its soundtrack, in that it shows points of brilliance right alongside points of head-scratching oddity. Some of the effects are very enjoyable, like those rapid countdown shots to tally points and item collections after each level, in varying pitches and notes. Then there are the hymn-inspired tunes, that can come across as either annoying or amazing, depending on one’s tastes, it could be supposed. From Go Tell It On The Mountain to We Three Kings, a veritable Christian Christmas Carol is on full display; and decently composed, too, despite mostly sounding like they may have only been taking advantage of two wave-shapes from the NES sound channels rather than a full set. Nonetheless, at least there is a bass line beneath the recognizable melodies.
Judging the originality of a Bible game, what a proposition. Creating an 8-bit cartridge based on the early life of Jesus Christ was certainly a new idea, and nobody else was likely to touch it. In fact, even in the decades since, King of Kings may truly be the only such game. Even a few of the gameplay touches have strokes of innovation, from the camel-spit attacks to the flying icons on the tally screens to the Wisdom Tree trademark of answering Bible trivia for health boosts.
Yet, overall, undeniably, on the scale of NES platformers, this is a smack-dab center title on the spectrum. What is intact here is a beginning-to-end adventure, in three different flavors, each with their tweak difference in mechanic, and each posing a worthy challenge. That being said, this is noMega Man or Castlevania or Mario or Sonic or other legendary platform game of such stature. Jerky movements, unresponsive controls, and a premise that may make some gamers uncomfortable all add up to a game that, despite Wisdom Tree’s best efforts, still does not quite measure up to the greats, nailing (oops, bad pun choice?) two and a half stars out of five.
Amazon – Grim Fandango
“A ticket on the number 9 is like a leaf of gold Manuel”
Traveling through time with four of your best friends, what could go wrong? No, this isn’t the plot for an upcoming movie (or is it). This is the overview for the game Cratermaze released by Hudson Soft for the TurboGrafx-16 in 1990.
So you are traveling through time with friends and an evil villain kidnaps them and you have to travel through more time periods to save them. Along the way you “collect” (cough *steal* cough) treasures from the various periods. Every 15 levels you rescue a friend (what did he leave them as breadcrumbs). Also on level 30 and 60 there is a floating super boss that can kill you with a single touch.
Why can’t they just be normal people and travel to the previous week can play the winning lotto numbers like the rest of us would?
Super Mario 64 beaten in 7 minutes
Spoiler alert this video contains the use of glitching obviously to get past 99% of the levels, but still as said in the Youtube comments, watching this made me cry for all the days, weeks and months I spent beating the game originally. Don’t get me wrong, I rather beat it legit then cheat, but watching this killed my childhood just a little.
The Retro Duo Portable V2.0: another clone system to satisfy your nostalgic hunger. These so-called ‘clones’ are fast growing in popularity. Companies like Hyperkin and Retro-Bit have capitalised on the popularity of retro gaming by producing systems that can play your old console cartridges.
Retro-Bit is having a second crack at this caper by creating the Retro Duo Portable (RDP) V2.0 – a portable (to an extent) unit that plays SNES carts from any region without hacking or modifications. The RDP V2.0 is also capable of playing NES carts using the bundled RetroPort adapter, which sticks out like a sore thumb. The RDP V2.0 can also play Sega Mega Drive / Genesis cartridges using the RetroGEN adapter, which is sold separately.
Retro-Bit’s first attempt at hardware console creation was modest. The screen wasn’t too flash, the unit felt cheap and games compatibility was limited. They have learned from the experience and introduced a number of improvements for V2.0. These include: upgraded LCD screen, crisper sound, improved D-pad and button layout, better battery life (Lithium-ion) with LED indicator and most importantly, enhanced game cartridge compatibility.
The RDP V2.0 comes in a slick looking package. Inside you will find a vast amount of gear – the console itself, a plastic stand, TV/AV connection cable, power supply unit, RetroPort adapter, a controller hub and two SuperRetro controllers (which can also be used on your SNES!).
After playing with the unit for a number of hours (on one battery charge!), here are our thoughts:
The unit feels sturdy in hand and has a nice soft coating. It doesn’t suffer from that cheap feel you get from other ‘clones’.
The D-pad and button layout is identical to a SNES pad, so you should feel right at home. However, the shoulder buttons do let the controls down as they are too close to the cartridge slot, but this is only a minor niggle. The external control pads are great to use if you intend on hooking the RDP V2.0 up to a TV, or if you use them natively on your SNES.
We did have a few compatibility issues with the Super FX SNES games, but overall we were pleased with Retro-Bit’s claim of improved compatibility.
Using the RetroPort adapter to play your NES carts basically renders the unit ‘un-portable’. The adapter sticks out above the unit which looks damn ugly. But hey, if you want to play your native old NES carts, you will put up with this unsightliness. Playing the RDP V2.0 with the RetroPort adapter definitely got attention on public transport.
The improved LCD screen is better than the original RDP (it has an increased pixel count), but it has a long way to go. You still have to ‘angle’ or ‘tilt’ the unit to get the best visibility, which gets annoying after a while. There is a contrast reset button which has three preset contrast settings for brightness. The clarity is average when compared to modern handhelds; but considering the price of the unit, it is understandable.
The beefing up of the sound is great in theory, however we did find the sound became distorted at maximum volume with a distinct ‘crackling’ on certain games (Super Smash TV). The sound was fine when playing with headphones, however the placement of the headphone jack should have been placed on the side of the unit, not on top (it gets in the way!).
Should you rush out and buy the Retro Duo Portable V2.0? It depends, if you are happy emulating (legally) your 8-bit and 16-bit Sega or Nintendo games, then the answer is no. However, if you want a system that you can plug in your library of SNES, NES and Mega Drive carts, then the RDP V2.0 is perfect. The other plus to owning the RDP V2.0 is that you will safeguard your Sega and Nintendo hardware from further abuse, and let’s face it, these old consoles won’t last forever!
Verdict: If you like the sound of a console that can play your SNES and NES cartridges out of the box, then check this unit out.
The Retro Duo Portable NES/SNES Game System retails for $99.99USD at ThinkGeek.
Blue Stinger (1999)
By: Climax Graphics / Activision Genre: Survival Horror Players: 1 Difficulty: Medium
Featured Version: Sega Dreamcast
Also Available For: Nothing
As game systems get more and more powerful over the years it’s only natural that the games played on them will evolve to make better use of them too, and occasionally new genres appear. One such genre was arguably started by Alone in the Dark which appeared in 1992 for the PC but I don’t think anyone would deny it was the arrival of Capcom’s Resident Evil series which really saw it take off. This genre came to be known, of course, as survival horror, but it’s one that’s never really taken a hold of me. Despite this, I bought Blue Stinger at the Dreamcast’s launch and looked forward to exploring its world. Is that because it promised something more than existing survival horror games, or would I once again fail to be ensnared by this burgeoning genre?
In all honesty it was probably just excitement over the Dreamcast’s arrival which prompted the purchase of this game, but it does have a few differences to earlier games of its type. It’s set in the Gulf of Mexico in the vicinity of the Yacutan Peninsula. As we’re shown in the fairly decent intro sequence, this was the site of the immense meteor strike which brought to an end the age of the dinosaur. Fast forward to the year 2000 and a mysterious island is all that remains after a huge earthquake hits the presumed site of the meteor impact, and it becomes known as Dinosaur Island. It isn’t long before the island is occupied by a shady biotech corporation called Kimra. Nearly twenty years later, ESER (Emergency Sea Evacuation and Rescue) member, Eliot Ballade, is fishing in the area while on vacation with a friend when something falls from the sky, heading towards the island.
Soon after the island is struck by what appears to be a meteor, an energy barrier appears around it which traps Eliot’s friend, and almost capsizes their boat in the process. Needless to say, Eliot awakens on the island with only a blue, floaty creature called Nephilim for company. Urging Eliot to follow her, it’s at this point your adventure begins. To begin with you’ll just have Eliot to control but before long you’ll meet some friendly characters – Janine King, a member of the security force on the island who most of your contact with is via computer/viewscreen, and Dogs Bower, a resident of the island. From this point on you can select either Eliot or Dogs to explore the mysterious island with. Eliot is faster and more agile, Dogs is stronger and can take more damage. But damage from what, I hear you ask? The majority of Blue Stinger is a adventure game – explore the various buildings and other areas, solve simple puzzles or find items to progress, etc, but there are also some less-than-friendly creatures on the loose.
As you might expect from a survival horror game, the island is occupied by some horrifying creatures as well. Many of these used to be human by the looks of it, but I don’t think they’re zombies. Whatever they are, they waste little time in tearing chunks out of Eliot and Dogs if they get the chance. To begin with, your only means of fending them off is your fists but it isn’t long before you’ll start finding some more effective weapons. These come in two groups. Short-range weapons include the trusty baseball bat (do these things actually get used for playing baseball?), axe, even a light-sabre type device. Far more effective (and safer), but with finite ammunition, are the long-range weapons. These include the standard handgun and shotgun, a couple of more originals ones in the acid gun and plasma gun, and the supremely satisfying bazooka!
Some of these weapons can be found surreptitiously laying around, but they can also be bought at one of the various (automated) shops you’ll come across. It’s the same for ammunition, although this can also be found on some of the dead bodies you’ll periodically encounter. Eeek! Dinosaur Island is a fairly extensive place too. As well as the expected areas like the docks (which is where you start), warehouses, and research facilities, there’s also shops, banks, and all sorts of other places. It’s more like a town than a corporate headquarters – they even have their own currency – the Kimra dollar. This can be found in several places but your first source of it is a dangerous one – the terrifying monsters themselves!
Predictably enough, the hideous creatures increase in both strength and numbers as you progress through the game but it’s worth taking them on rather than running as each will explode in a shower of coins upon defeat! Whilst this does break the illusion a little, they are nonetheless invaluable sources of money which is needed to make decent progress. Money can also be found in a few other places, as can numerous other items. Some of them are useful but not very exciting such as keys, bank and ID cards, stamps, etc. Others are a bit more interesting but less useful such as an array of new t-shirts! Various foods and ‘Hassy’ drinks can also be found or bought which replenish your energy level to a varying degree depending on what you consume.
One of the biggest attractions of games like this is their realism which is probably why they, as a genre, were born relatively recently as a result of the ever-increasing power of home systems. After all, only so much realism could be achieved on the older and more limited cartridge and disc-based machines! Accordingly, considering it was one of the first Dreamcast games, Blue Stinger is a fantastic-looking game. The intro and cut-scenes are great (although the lip-syncing is a little ropey) and this was one of the first games on any system to feature a fully-3D game environment. The scale and atmosphere this helps to convey is pretty darn good and all the characters, especially the gruesome monsters, look superb. Some of the boss monsters are enormous and mightily impressive!
The various areas of the game have been well thought-out too and the attention to detail is top-notch. For example, the game apparently takes place near Christmas as there are decorations and jingly music around the shopping area! The voice-acting, whilst not cringe-inducing, is a little below-par but the rest of the music is of a high standard too. Some of it’s creepy as you would expect, but that Christmas tune is brilliant. There’s something very surreal about shooting the crap out of disgusting, mutated creatures while music as happy and jolly as that is playing! A vast majority of the game is viewed from a third-person perspective and, mercifully in my opinion, control over Eliot/Dogs is more akin to Tomb Raider than Resident Evil which gives the game a lot more immediacy and is greatly beneficial to the enjoyment of the game.
And enjoyable it is too. The graphics, sound, presentation, etc are all about as good as you could expect for a Dreamcast launch title and they still impress today but for one problem – the camera. Yep, it was a familiar story in the late 90’s. The view of the action is very good until you find yourself in a cramped corner or something similar, at which point it doesn’t seem to know where to go! That said, it’s not a game-ruining problem and it shouldn’t dissuade you from playing Blue Stinger. The story is engrossing and the interaction between the characters is superb with some amusing banter between them all. The shady Dogs rarely seems at ease with Eliot and even less so when Janine’s around (I suspect he’d be ever more incensed if he knew about the revealing pics Sega hid away of her on the game disc!).
Aside from the camera problem there really isn’t and bad points to this game. There’s a genuine urge to unravel the mystery and see how things end and there’s a good 10-15 hours of tense and atmospheric gameplay before you’ll get to find that out. There’s also enough secrets and small side-quests to encourage multiple play-throughs and it’s enjoyable each time. A survival horror beginner I may be, but I’d like to think I know a good game when I see one, and this is certainly that.
RKS Score: 8/10
The name could almost be on a rap label or like those teenage books I used to read in school. However, J.B. Harold Murder Club is a murder mystery game developed by River Hill Soft and published by Hudson Soft for the PC Engine, aka the Turbo Grafx-16 in 1991.
In the game a wealthy womanizer named Bill Robbins has been murdered and you as J.B. Harold has to find out who did it. There is a list of suspects and you must travel around talking to people and searching for clues. For the most part you travel using a grid map and view pictures. For many of today’s gamers it would not be that interesting, but for those who like reading and solving mysteries and puzzles it was an interesting game.
Baseball Stars 2
So this week we have an awesome title. The second entry of the Baseball Stars series for the NES. Many of you might remember this as being the RPG baseball of the NES. Why RPG? Because you could actually level up your team to make them better hitters, better pitchers, and even faster and lucky. The game was so addictive that one could only wonder how great the series would’ve been on the SNES. Sadly, SNK took their talents on their own console and we never saw such a thing happen. Nevertheless, we have this beauty to remember it by so lets check it out.
The music of the game is actually pretty awesome. As with any baseball game on the NES or at least most of them, it would change as the mood of the game changed. For example, if you had a double and were on second base you are already in scoring position so the change and even the mood of the pitcher will change as he is thinking about stopping you from scoring. The rest of the sound effects are the usual baseball ones. Nothing that amazing but enjoyable at best.
The graphics of the game are great. They don’t make you wonder what’s going on and best of all it has barely any flicker on it. NES games had a lot of problem with flickering when there is a lot of stuff around the screen but this one was great at holding that off. The stadiums are your usual baseball stadiums although with different fields. They still feel like the same stadiums but we’ll let the slide. The NES could only do so much after all.
The gameplay of the game is nothing but wonderful. If there is a strong point of this game is the gameplay which is what makes you want to come back for more. Not only is it challenging at times, but it’s just a wonder to go through your noobie team and turn them into professionals. From beginning to end, you’ll end up powering through some tough challenges and it’ll definitely want to do it all over again.
Due to the long length of this game you are welcomed to come back to it at any time. It’s also a great game to play with friends especially if you use created teams. The length of the game can be changed to your liking so maybe playing a season of ten games is good enough for you? You can even play the long 100+ game seasons here. Of course, no official MLB teams but who cares, it’s a great game with amazing gameplay!
Any baseball fan should have this game in their collection. Let me rephrase that, any retro baseball fan should have this game in their collection. You just don’t know what you are missing! The game itself is beautiful, the music is amazing, and the gameplay will keep you coming back for more. This game hits everything bad about a baseball game out of the park!
The original PS1 version is a classic, but the game is dated quite a bit. Just think about it, we went from this
to this. Defiantly not a poor rush job on Capcom’s part. Not only is everything redone, but they added more areas, tweaked weapons, and made enemies even tougher.
I think my favorite part was the crimson head zombies. The regular zombie was no longer a threat, so after a few easy 9mm caps in their butts they go down easy. However after some time, the zombies revive into nastier and stronger version of themselves. The first time you see one of these guys wake up, will make you paranoid about burning or beheaded every zombie you meet.
The only bad thing I can say about it is that it’s a little bit too difficult. I think the PS1 version had a better balance of challenge. However it still was a fantastic job done by Capcom and really is one of the best remakes gamers have ever seen.
Overall Rating: 2.5/5 Stars
In the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, in the wake of the success of two blockbuster movies and a lengthy, high-quality animated series run, the Ghostbusters were a hot media franchise with the usual action figures, lunch boxes, and other tie-ins. A licensed video game on the most popular console naturally had to follow, and Activision delivered with the Ghostbusters title on the 8-bit Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) in 1988.
But it sucked.
It was truly dreadful, for many reasons, and for those who loved both the Ghostbusters and the NES machine, it was an outright heart-breaking tragedy. A couple years later, Activision would publish another Ghostbusters cartridge, this time with development work done by Imagineering, Inc. As the first video game was based on the first movie, the second video game would be based on the second film. Would it be superior?
This is, indeed, a superior video game to the original Ghostbusters title on the NES, although the second iteration certainly has its shares of flaws. The gameplay engages six levels that very loosely follow the plot of the sequel film, which hinges on the antagonist Vigo, stuck in a portrait though regaining power as the collective evilness of New York streams in a gooey river toward the museum he is in, with the Statue of Liberty posing as the only symbol of hope powerful enough to stop him.
Seriously, that’s the plot of the movie. Go watch it. The original’s better, but II is still worth seeing.
The game accomplishes this by, for the most part, varying between two types of gameplay: Driving levels and on-foot levels. Oddly enough, both feature jumping by use of the B button and slime-shooting (good slime, not bad – again, go watch the movie) by use of the A button. The fifth level takes an odd departure from then norm, as the player takes control of the Statue of Liberty with all four Busters in tow, and in a genre-bending style that most closely approximates a good old-fashioned shoot-’em-up, must fire at pattern-oriented flying ghosts overhead, trying to survive long enough to make it to the final battle, which all four guys get to participate in. Ghostbusters II on the NES has a two-player mode available for selection as well, even if it is in the take-turns style and not truly cooperative.
The side-scrolling on-foot levels cannot even be called platformers, as there is no surface but the floor to run on. The enemies are crude as well, consisting of pattern-based apparitions that bounce up and down in place, or bounce across the screen. Some are not as pattern-based, flying around, but are able to be beaten with slime blasts. The other must either be dodged to avoid, or eliminated by use of laying a trap, which is used by pressing the Start button, oddly enough. Also odd is the lack of a pause feature. Furthermore, another odd thing is that nowhere in the game can you go backward on a level; while this makes sense on the driving levels somewhat, it would be at least a tiny bit helpful as a possibility for the footpath stages.
Actually, these are not oddies: They are flaws.
Depending on perspective, there are a couple other features of the on-foot levels that pose as a tremendous flaw as well, or perhaps they are innovative features. Namely, this is the control scheme for aiming the slime-blaster gun and the implementation of a time limit; the former by using up and down on the directional paid to aim the gun in angled increments for several possible shooting angles, the latter by a spider that starts at the very beginning of the level, just behind the player, and slowly follows. Each time the spider catches up, it jumps onto the player and gnaws at the angle, causing the loss of one life. That is not a made-up story, that is how it works.
Fortunately, every time the player collects a Ghostbusters II movie logo (again, not making this up), it goes toward a tally, as every 20 earns an extra life. Collecting most of them will mean getting an extra level about every other level. This is helpful, as the game definitely poses a difficulty curve. Some portions are very challenging; during the second on-foot level, there is a particular section where three red-hued ghosts, right in a row, in a close cluster, move across the screen. Incredibly enough, each poses a different jumping pattern, oriented to differing jumping height, motion, and timing. It is nearly impossible to avoid all three without knowing their pattern, which would seem rather hard to understand without repeated playthroughs. That is the true, underlying nature of Ghostbusters II on NES: The actual levels are fairly short, but in order to conquer them, the player must rely on repeated attempts, memorization, and other tactics of mastering the game, rather than honing true skills.
The driving levels provide more examples of this phenomenon. Controlling the iconic ECTO-1 vehicle in a side view, the player can change to any of four lanes, even while shooting slime and jumping. The lane-changing is essential in order to dodge fixed obstacles on the road, and especially to hit the speed boosts necessary to leap large gaps in the street.
On the first level, the player notices three barricades blocking three of the lanes. Now, by their height, it could be supposed that they look low enough to jump over. This would not be an unreasonable guess. However, they are impossible to jump over, resulting in the loss of a life for a player trying that tactic. So then, now knowing to dodge those particular sorts of barricades rather than try to hurdle them, the player immediately comes across another interesting sight: Three more barricades, and the fourth lane, the free lance, has a speed boost on it. The natural inclination is to take the boost. The problem is, if the player does so, he or she will immediately slam into another set of barricades, in the form of yet another trio that leaves just one open lane. That is two lives lost, right away, on the beginning of the second level of a game. For a video game that gives the player only three lives to begin with, this seems rather harsh, even remarkably so, in light of the fact that these two deaths are practically unavoidable for a new player, despite their skill in any other genre or game.
Perhaps oddly enough, Ghostbusters II is actually a pretty darn good-looking game for the NES. The on-foot stages are rendered in adequate detail, animations run smoothly, and weirdly impressively, the slime gun can fire something like nine projecticles on screen at a time without posing flickering or slowdown issues, an unusually high number not really seen in many other NES titles. The cutscenes, though usually just a single screen with perhaps some text, are a pleasantly nice touch, enjoyable and enhancing to the relevant plot. But it is the driving scenes that show off the true potential of the visuals, as buildings are shown in a gorgeous, comic-book-style skyline, complete with great use of perspective, and not resorting to lazy one-color washovers but instead really digging into the windows, lighting, etc. The drive through Central Park is fun as well, with the lust green scenary accompanied by picnic tables as the ghouls torment the driver.
The music is skillfully composed, offering a rendition of the classic Ghostbusters theme, along with watered-down 8-bit background version of the “Higher, Higher” track featured in the film. There is another theme or two at work as well, which is already a huge step up from the original game, which only had the one theme that played over and over and over and over and over and…
The sound effects are an improvement as well, even if not exactly mind-blowing. The slime-blasting is fleshed out well, the trap is bizarrely quiet, the car crashes sound grindy, the enemies remain astoundingly quiet. Okay, maybe the sound is not great, but it is there, and beyond the buzzy oddity of the original.
Speaking of original, how does one score Ghostbusters II on creativity and innovation? For the pros, we have near-unique weapons implementation in the on-foot levels, an interesting idea for posing a time limit, the always-interesting challenge of combining different styles of play in one cartridge, and inventive use of the source material in transferring to a video game.
But with its flaws in questionable game design choices (no pause, death-trap cheap tricks, very flaccid no-platforms, no-frills gameplay in either fashion) and the status of having a difficulty curve but not practicing it fairly, this cannot, and typically is not, be considered a good game. Then again, it does look pretty good (and, once again, especially in comparison to the original), offers a legitimate beginning-to-end experience, and is not nearly the worst of license titles. For offering a decent game perhaps worth mastery from true Ghostbusters fans or true NES warriors, this middle-of-the-road (literally) cart earns two and a half stars out of five.