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NBA Action ’95
To its credit, NBA Action ’95 was revolutionary. While EA was tinkering with a 3/4 view for their NBA series, Sega loaded NBA Action ’95 with then unheard of features like create-a-player, trades, injuries, and more. In 1995, it was the most feature-packed sports game ever made.
Unfortunately, all of that time spent developing those bonuses led to a hysterically funny basketball game. Situated in an illogical overhead view (where the players still appear as if viewed from the sides), every player was a force on the court. Chicago Bulls center Will Purdue could lead a fast break down the court every time, and the game’s total lack of defense meant he was an offensive powerhouse.
Lay-ups and dunks were missed more than jumpshots, and an absurdly high levels of foul calling meant you spent extensive time at the line (and made it even harder to play defense). Glitches (or a total lack of acceptable animation) results in players warping from the top of the key to the basket when dunking. Stepping out of bounds was only a problem when the referees decided it was.
NBA Action ’95 was so terrible, it contained a weird charm. There was (and still isn’t) anything remotely like its bizzare combination of simulation aspects and broken arcade gameplay. A level of complete unpredictability happens during every game, but that doesn’t mean its a classic, or even acceptable. On the bright side, Marv Albert’s now unintentionally funny, “Serves up a facial,” commentary may be the best aspect of the actual gameplay.
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Subtitled ‘The Secret of Shinobi,’ this is actually a do-over of the arcade game of the same name.
It’s not quite classic enough in my opinion to be classed a proper Shinobi successor, but it’s still a damn fine game in its own right.
You play as a ninja, who can jump, throw shruikens and summon a fire attack. You can also strike foes with a blade if you get close enough. There’s also a white dog that follows you, but I don’t think it does anything of note.
You scroll to the right, basically shooting down foes with your shruikens, and avoiding their attacks/bullets. And it’s pretty damn important that you avoid their attacks, as one hit and it’s back to the start.
This makes the game a lot more difficult than it would have been otherwise. Ducking usually allows you to avoid the bullets that come flying at you, but with no room for error, one mis-step can send you right back to the beginning of a stage.
Fortunately levels are quite short, and can be rattled through fairly quickly if you know what you’re doing. I believe you have to save a set amount of hostages held throughout the levels to progress, but they’re usually found along the path you’re going down anyway.
There’s a decent range of ideas in the levels as well, such as one being ripped apart by an earthquake, and another allowing you to jump into both the fore and back ground.
The graphics are clear and detailed, and the animation is as fluid as you’d expect from a title with a Shinobi connections.
Bosses are fairly simple, but are made a real challenge due to the ever present ‘one hit = death’ element.
It all adds up to a game that’s a challenge, but one you’ll end up relishing rather than rejecting. Although a genuine cart of the game will cost you a fair bit, it can be found in a few of those Blaze Mega Drive collections – which is nice.
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I just had to do this because this game is so awesome. So awesome it deserves a pick of the week. After seeing it for a total of three times at my flea market trip last Sunday, I decided to give it a shot and wow what an amazing game this is.
For a side scroller the graphics are superb and the sound just outstanding, just try playing the game with the stereo plugged in and you will have one of the most amazing soundtracks in video game history! I’m not kidding! The gameplay is simple, you have Shaq doing the Shaqattack! doh! and much much more!
Once you pick this game up, you can’t put it down!
btw….this is all a sarcastic entry….this game is pure shit but since no one in the entire world will pick it as a game of anything, I decided to be a nice guy like usual and do it myself. Screw this game! UP THE A-HOLE!
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Irritatingly Alien 3 has many hallmarks of a top title – but I can’t help but feel some of the design choices have been made purely for masochists. ~Simon Reed
In yesterday’s Lucky Dime Caper entry I rambled on about how I preemptively expect most old school 2D platformer style games to be infuriatingly tough. Alien 3 is a prime example of exactly why I have those expectations. Irritatingly it has many hallmarks of a top title – but I can’t help but feel some of the design choices have been made purely for masochists. The first thing that strikes you as you’re thrown into the game is how clear the design of it all is. Rather than the overly dark and grimy recesses of the film, there’s a pleasing crispness to the game.
You play as Ripley, with your first mission to save a set amount of fellow humanoids who have been trapped by the aliens. To complicate matters you have to escape using a specific door, as well as reach it before the clock at the top of the screen reaches zero. You’re also never told that this is what you need to do, but fortunately it’s a fairly straightforward mission. Still, some instructions would have been nice.
One other notable feature is your large arsenal you have at your disposal. A missile launcher and a machine gun are two of the finest from the selection available to you. These weapons aren’t enough to stop the aliens regularly handing you your ass on a plate though. Instead of going down the slow, tension addled route the game throws aliens at you like they’re going out of fashion. They leap at you so quickly that they can be nigh on impossible to avoid completely. Worst of all Ripley takes far too long to get up once hit – not a good thing when you’re up against the clock.
It doesn’t help that your control of Ripley can feel a little stiff. You feel slower and far more useless than the aliens – this concept works well in the films, but in a game it’s a potent recipe for frustration. The game may be a good looking and reasonably varied in its design – but the difficulty kills it.
Okay, there is a chance you played it – but I would guess it’s unlikely. This gem of a game came out for the Sega Genesis (and was called Langrisser overseas). I am not sure what inspired me to pick it up at the time. I had heard nothing about this game in any of the magazines I read, none of my friends had played it, but something about it caught my eye when I was mulling what game to purchase next.
But something about the back of that box must have sparked my interest, because I took the game home, put it and and began to play. The define what Warsong is, I would say it was a fantasy strategy/RPG hybrid – maybe the first I had ever played quite like it.
I immediately loved the game’s art style. The graphics had a colorful, anime feel to them when showing character portraits. The actual battles that took place were actually pretty active as soldiers kill each other off. The backdrops and map designs were actually pretty well detailed also.
The sound and music get the job done. There was nothing terribly memorable about it, but this was a game that was more about the tactics. It would have been nice to have a bit more variety in the music, but I don’t recall it ever particularly bothering me either.
So how did the game play? Well, there were two aspects to it. There are the leader characters, and they are the most important. Hints of Fire Emblem here, as when a leader dies, he or she is gone for good. I recall saving often to prevent that from happening. Shades of Dragonforce follow, as each of these main characters had soldiers units they could control. Each character has a range or aura of influence and if their soldier units fight within that range, they got bonuses to their stats. Each leader can hire different kinds of soldiers at the start of each level, and there is a sort of rock/paper/scissors mechanic to which soldier units perform best against one another.
There are other factors as well, such as terrain and if your leader characters have any gear equipped (at the start of each level, a scenario is given to you and you have a chance to spend your hard earned gold on different kinds and quantities of soldiers, and that is also when you can choose to put a piece of equipment on a leader character). I recall getting so good at the game that I could go through the first couple of levels or so without buying any soldier units, to conserve money for when I would need it more in subsequent levels.
When a leader character dies (the enemy units are made up of these as well), their support soldiers will perish as well. Some levels also have assorted neutral characters who will go after anyone who gets to o close. Some missions are designed for certain types of soldiers as well – for example one of your heroes can hire mermen and they are almost essential for water combat – but useless in levels without water to cross.
The game is made up of twenty levels, which may not sound like much, but each stage can take quite some time to get through. The menu and controls are very simple to navigate and while it is easy to learn – there is are so many different tactics and unit strategies to apply that there is perfectly valid reason to come back and play again once you beat the game.
The story itself is nothing new – good guys are put on the run for attacking bad guys. Good guys regroup after getting smacked around a bit in the first level, and rally a force to defeat not only the known bad guys, but the evil controlling them behind the scenes. It is all really well presented though, with story pieces between levels and dialog scenes from characters on maps. While you have no options to change the storyline itself, it was actually one that I found fairly interesting.
The RPG elements come in the form of gold, equipment, experience and levels. In fact, this game was the inspiration to a leveling system I implimented on my MUD over a decade ago that I called a Tier system. Your characters start off a specific class, level up to a point, and then choose one of two. Level up some more, and you can again choose one more new class from a new set of branching options. Some characters were so similar that their later tiers became the same thing, like Magic Knight, but there were unique ones too. For example your lead character Garrett can become a King class, and no one else can. Each tier brings new skills and powerful stat boosts and adds a good deal of replay value to the mix.
And replay I did – I can recall beating this game at least three times – maybe more. And it was a hit among my friends who initially asked: Warsong? What’s that?
But these were the same friends I had gotten hooked on strategy games on the NES years before too (Nobunaga’s Ambition, Bandit Kings of Ancient China and Romance of the Three Kingdoms to name a few) – so they gave it a shot and not a single one disliked it. Most of them borrowed it long enough to beat the game once if not twice (and one other friend borrowed my copy for a day and a half. I was a bit surprised when he handed it back to me and said I could have it back. I asked if he had not liked it – turned out he simply went out and bought his own copy afterward).
To this day, this ranks as one of my favorite all-time video games, and influenced my opinion on what a strategy game could be. It also had clear effects on my own game design years later for my MUD, Kingdoms of the Lost. I played it again recently and feel that it holds up pretty well today still. If I bring it up in conversation with most gamers though, none seem to have ever heard of, let alone played this under-appreciated classic.
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If you are interested in how it plays? Here is a quick video down below that really shows off a lot of the game as you start off in a scenario where you and your troops are under heavy attack right off of the bat.
For a while I was having a little trouble with Sega Genesis controllers. For instance some times while playing an adventure game I would press the down button to make the character duck down, but instead because of the D-pad the character would only move left or right, rarely ducking. The character would only duck if I was pressing the down direction exactly in the exact middle of the D-pad. It was very very sensitive.
So! I received a Quick Shot controller in the mail and gave it a try. I was skeptic at first but I gotta say, all my problems disappeared! The Quick Shot control pad is so awesome! Super accurate and great control. It feels spot on and I’m so glad I found it. The cord is nice too because it’s not so damn thick, easy to roll up.
If you’re also having issues with your Genesis D-pad, try the Quick Shot controller out. They can be found relatively cheap on ebay or amazon.
The Sega MegaDrive – The First Genesis
The rise and rule of the Genesis system led to some nifty accessories. Here’s five of the coolest accessories that gamers could add to their Sega Genesis:
EA Sports 4-Way Play
EA Sports have been making sports-related games for decades, and back in the day Sega Genesis titles were where you went to get your Madden or NHL fix. But many sports are team games, so Electronic Arts developed the 4-Way Play accessory. This handy little device allowed up to 4 players to play their favourite EA Sports games, so you could have a gamer Super Bowl party, complete with a little pre-game Genesis warm-up!
The Genesis Game Genie by Galoob
Some Genesis games were hard to beat. Really hard. (And some ridiculously easy, but I digress.) Game Genie by Camerica/Galoob to the rescue! All you had to do is pop the Genie into the Genesis and insert your game cartridge into it, enter the right code for whatever cheat you wanted, and the game suddenly became a lot easier! (And you could use the Genie as a country converter cartridge for most games, too – but not officially…)
The Sega Channel by General Instrument
Long before Internet online games, Sega came up with the idea to offer games by download. This little box attached to the Genesis and to the cablevision line. Players paid a monthly service fee to get access to unlimited access to 50 or so games, plus limited previews of new releases, as well as special versions of fan favorites. The service is long gone, but still remembered fondly!
The Sega Power Base Converter
Power Base Converter
Before the Sega Genesis was a hit, there was the Sega Master System. Although it never reached the market share dominance that the Genesis did, there were quite a few games and consoles sold. Rather than tossing out the old games (like Phantasy Star!) gamers could pick up the Power Base Converter, which attached to the Genesis and allowed those SMS games to be played on their new Genesis. 8-bit gaming goodness on their new 16-bit gamer powerhouse! Gamergasm!
Sega CD Accessory – Top and Side Mounts
If you had the cash, the Sega CD was a must-have accessory. It came in two designs, a CD-player style for the older Genesis systems, which stacked on top of each other, and a top-loading style for the new Genesis systems, which acted as a base and the Genesis inserted into its side. (The Nomad would be released later.) Some of the best games for the Genesis were released on CD-format, including Lunar: The Silver Star, Sonic the Hedgehog CD, The Amazing Spider-Man vs. The Kingpin, and Earthworm Jim. Now that’s quality retro gaming!
Fans of the classic Sega Genesis platformer can get their hands on Ristar for free thanks to DotEmu. The evil tyrant Greedy holds the galaxy of Valdi under a reign of terror, spreading misery and darkness, but from the depths of space comes Ristar, a shining shooting star who is destined for greatness. Only his special powers can restore happiness to the solar system once again.
Here are the key features from the game:
> A game with original and zany situations
> A difficulty that increases progressively
> An inspired and original level design
> Action, puzzle and strategy are combined in Ristar
Now I played this back in the day and loved the style. The game really excels in its soundtrack that features catchy tunes and themes and the boss music is pretty awesome as well. Most of the game involves jumping, swinging and bashing enemies’ against your head as you make your way towards the boss. However, Ristar features a lot of cool puzzles and secret areas to discovery and there is real strategy involved in the gameplay.
With the DotEmu package you can choose to play in windowed mode or full screen with several resolution options so it will play on pretty much any system. Like emulators, you can save the game at any point which is a pretty awesome feature. The game plays just like the original and you can use keyboard controls or connect a joystick. I use the Xbox 360 controller which was automatically detected by the program.
Normally for $2.99 you can get Ristar free (as well as DRM free) for a limited time so get it now and tell them Obsolete Gamer sent you.
The History Of Sonic The Hedgehog
Fans of Sonic you can now preorder the upcoming book titled The History of Sonic the Hedgehog. . Amazon is not taking pre-orders for the book that outlines the history of Sonic from the development stages through all the games we know and love. Here is a scoop on what to expect:
The History of Sonic The Hedgehog covers every 2D and 3D Sonic game in detail, ensuring that every generation of ‘Sonic’ fan will find a lot to love! The book also details every spin-off game, every crossover, and even rare cameo appearances by Sonic across the gaming universe! Whether you’re looking for a detailed history, character profiles, promotional art, game packages, or even rare concept art, you’ll find it in The History of Sonic The Hedgehog!
The History of Sonic The Hedgehog is the book that fans of this series have been waiting for, and whether you’re an avid gamer, a Sonic comic reader, or just have fond memories of this series, you’ll want a copy on your shelf!
Currently the exactly release date is unknown, but you can reorder yours right now.
Mobile gaming has not only added new gamers to our world, but also allowed classic games to have yet another platform to be played one. When I first began playing mobile games, I always thought it would be the perfect place for retro games to be played since it would not require much in the way of system resources. Battle Squadron ONE is one of those games that translates well onto the mobile platform giving gamers a great classic game to enjoy on their Apple or Android device.
Battle Squadron was a top down shooter developed by Cope-Com and published by Innerprise and EA for the Amiga computer and later for the Sega Genesis. This version stays true to the retro feel of the game with its classic sound and graphics, but it looks very good and clean on a mobile phone, which is important since you have so much going on and various attacks being flung at you.
The plot and gameplay is classic greatness, your commanders were kidnapped and you have to rescue them by going into the enemy’s base and destroying everything. Oh, did I mention the base is the size of a planet? The game starts off by tossing you right into the fray and you soon realize you need more than your standard gun to take out the hordes of enemies on the screen. You can upgrade your weapon by collecting the cubes dropped by defeated enemies which makes the game much easier especially with the spread shot and if all else fails you have your bombs which creates an area effect pulse of destruction that takes all enemies near you out.
Level design stays true to its retro roots where instead of having a stage and a boss and then a new level you instead have a “master stage” where you take out the enemy and then come upon a large crater in the planet. It is at this point you can enter the next stage, or you can continue on. Now if you did not purchase all the levels you will not be able to continue, but you can play the master level over and over. There are also bosses in the game and some levels have two bosses.
The graphics as said feel like the classic version of the game and the sound is direct from the Amiga version. The controls are easy to use and can be switched between the standard touch and drag controls with onscreen buttons or an analog slider, you can even use motion controls, but I liked those the least. In multiplayer mode, you play using a split screen, which on smaller phones can be a bit difficult, but on a larger device, like the iPad, it works very well.
Overall, Battle Squadron One brings true classic gaming to smart phones and should be in any retro gamers collection. We give this game a 9 out of 10. You can find the App Store and Android version of the game here.
More retro gaming from the Sega Master System and Sega Genesis are on their way to both PSN and XBLA. Soon you will be able to play the Monster World Collection, which comes with Wonder Boy in Monster Land, Wonder Boy in Monster World and MWIV on May 23. Next up will be the arcade edition of Golden Axe along with Golden Axe 2 & 3 and the Streets of Rage Collection, which will feature all three games. These collections sell for 800 Microsoft Points each.
For the PSN you get Wonder Boys, Super Hang-On, Revenge of Shinobi, and Alex Kidd in Miracle World on May 22. These will sell individually for $5 each. Expect more retro gaming to be released in the next few months for both networks and as we get the details, we will bring it to you.
My Home Alone knowledge goes as far as being forced to watch the first movie because of a girl…..it’s always a girl. I’ve been told (thanks @CrapDracula) that the Home Alone game has completely different game play depending on which console it was purchased, which I found odd. But thankfully, the Genesis version seemed to capture the fun parts of the first movie.
You play as Kevin, the Macauley Culkin character, and you have to protect the neighborhood from the Wet Bandits, played by the Wonder Years voice-guy and Leo Getz.
There’s some really unique game play here, which won me over right away: There’s an overview of the “neighborhood”, which consists of the 5 houses that Harry and Marv are trying to rob. The game gives you 20 minutes to slow down the Bandits before the cops arrive. You do this by staying ahead of them inside the houses. Moving around the neighborhood in a motorized sled, you enter each house to set up traps. Once you’ve entered, there’s a blueprint map where you do this; marbles, toys, oil…a number of things to slow them down, because they seem to be too stupid to look down at the floor, I suppose. Once they’re inside, you go into “attack” mode, using weapons against them. You’ll find items by running over snowmen outside or just grab something off the shelves in each house. There’s another map where you’ll put these items together, likeMacGyver. Because of the lead character being a little boy, I had plenty of enjoyment blasting these two idiots in the groin with a snowball cannon. If they catch you, you’re hung on the wall for a couple of seconds before you wiggle loose.
The characters look like the actors…very well done. The wintery setting and the story taking place over Christmas vacation makes this a fun and memorable game for that time of year. Plus, I try to remember Macauley during his “good old days” before Michael Jackson got a hold of him….I think I meant that literally.
Let me start off by saying I’m not a huge fan of fighting games, in particular the 1 vs 1 games like Tekken or Mortal Kombat. I get bored with them easily, and all I seem to do is “button-mash” and hope for the best. Having said that, I wanted to try JLTF, because as a huge DC guy, I wanted to play around with the heavy hitters that I’ve known all my life. Thought that may pull me into it, instead of fighting with “fat guy who open-hand slaps me”, “dude with chain that strangles me”, or “hot chick who flips around but boobs never fall out”. Plus, this is supposed to have a storyline with Darkseid, so how bad could it be?
The game doesn’t start well. I choose Superman, of course, because he’s the baddest and I want to mow through people. The first thing I notice is Blizzard/Acclaim didn’t have the plums to tell DC that they weren’t going to model Supes after Jurgens’ mullet-Supey, so I’d have to look at that the rest of the way. Just sad really.
The storyline has Darkseid attacking a military base?!?! Big Blue is going to contact a JLAer to tell them about it. Suddenly, Green Arrow attacks me!!? WTF? I’m forced to fight him, which should lasts .0002 seconds, but somehow he’s fighting off cold breath, heat vision, and punches….that’s realistic. After “battle”, I decided to talk to Aquaman to see what’s up, AND THAT DUDE ATTACKS ME!!! Where are the villains?!
This keeps going on until Superman figures out that the real heroes must be kidnapped and he’s fighting robots. Holy crap. Once Batman, Flash, and Wonder Woman “robots” are torn apart, Darkseid decides to throw CHEETAH at me!…………yes, Cheetah is the chick that wears a cat costume. Worst. Villain. Plan. Ever.
For whatever reason, I was forced to “fight” her, when all I really wanted to do was let her break a nail on my Kryptonian abs and make her go poop in her cat box. Despero is next, which is nice, because he’s a tough dude, and…well…HE’S A BAD GUY!! Darkseid is still not ready to face me yet, as he throws a Superman robot at me, I guess trying to confuse me. He forgot that as a boy in Smallville, I used to make these robots so Lana Lang wouldn’t think Clark/Supes were the same person. Should have done your homework, son. After the recycling was taken out, Darkseid decides to come after me himself. Getting hit with those Omega Beams, I thought,”Boy, he always talked a lot of smack about these, but they’re not really doing that much damage? Kind of a wimp.”
After it’s all done, my hero-buddies show up and we scold Darkseid about doing property damage on Earth…seriously.
Now do you see why I don’t like these games. It’s just ridiculous that all these costumes are on the same power level, and the winner is the person who presses buttons the quickest….unless it’s Superman Vs Muhammad Ali…..that shit was real!
Old Game Reviewer reviews classic and retro games, you can check out more of his great work on his blog here – Old Game reviewer.
With the holiday season upon us, it appears each modern-day video game console is primed to do more big numbers. While this is nothing new to video gaming throughout most of the past three decades, the sheer numbers are telling of just how much the industry has grown and how much more it may grow before it levels off.
The original “must have” game console was the Atari Video Computer System, later called the Atari 2600. While it didn’t catch on right away, the 2600 was the clear sales leader of the early generations, selling around 30 million units in it’s lifetime, six times more than competing consolesIntellivision and ColecoVision sold combined.
Even with such numbers, however, the lifetime figures of Atari’s classic console have been beaten many times over. While 1996’s Nintendo 64 failed to catch on like retailers had hoped, it still managed to outsell the 2600 in the end my almost 3 million units. Nonetheless, it was tagged a failure by Nintendo compared to previous consoles.
The biggest Nintendo console for some time was theNintendo Entertainment System, which moved almost 62 million consoles in it’s lifetime, saving the video game industry in North America. Only recently did Nintendo manage to defeat it’s own sales record with the Nintendo Wii, which has now hit the 90 million unit mark.
The NES may come down the lifetime charts by the end of some other console runs, however. The XBox 360 is nearing the 58 million unit mark with Sony’s PlayStation 3 not far behind it with over 55 million units sold as of this writing.
Even though it is in last place in the current console generation, the PlayStation 3 may still reach the top five selling consoles of all time by the end of it’s run, giving Sony three of the best selling consoles ever. The PlayStation 2rules the roost with a whopping 153.5 million units sold, a mark that beat Sony’s own record with the originalPlayStation, which shipped over 102 million consoles.
While this article isn’t including handhelds it is interesting to note that the Nintendo DS has sold 149 million units (not including the 3DS model), a number that means it’s already trumped the unreal sales numbers of the original GameBoyhandhelds that had ruled the market for over a decade.
Here is a list of the top selling consoles of all time, according to Wikipedia. Where do your favorite systems rank?
1. Sony PlayStation 2 (2000) – 153.5 million
2. Sony PlayStation (1994) – 102.49 million
3. Nintendo Wii (2006) – 89.36 million *
4. Nintendo Entertainment System (1985) – 61.91 million
5. Microsoft XBox 360 (2005) – 57.6 million *
6. Sony PlayStation 3 (2006) – 55.5 million *
7. Super Nintendo Entertainment System (1990) – 49.10 million
8. Sega Genesis (1988) – 39 million
9. Nintendo 64 (1996) – 32.93 million
10. Atari VCS/2600 (1977) – 30 million
11. Microsoft XBox (2001) – 24 million
12. Nintendo GameCube (2001) – 21.74 million
13. Sega Dreamcast (1998) – 10.6 million
14. NEC TurboGrafx-16 (1987) – 10 million
15. Sega Saturn (1994) – 9.5 million
* = Console still in production as of press time.
I’m Matt Barton, host of Matt Chat, a weekly YouTube show dedicated to classic games. I’m also co-founder of Armchair Arcade and author of Dungeons & Desktops and Vintage Games (co-authored with my friend and colleague Bill Loguidice). I’m also an assistant (soon to be associate) professor of English at St. Cloud State University, where I teach classes in writing, rhetoric, and new media.
2. And what would you say some of your favourite games are? Any particular love for a genre or a gaming machine?
My favorite genres are adventure games, role-playing games, and strategy games. Some of my favorites include Baldur’s Gate, Pool of Radiance, World of Warcraft, Civilization, and the Nancy Drew series of adventure games. I have many consoles, but my favorite gaming device is the PC. Going further back, I will always be an Amiga and Commodore fan at heart.
3. So, Armchair Arcade, how would you describe the site and what’s the story behind it?
We were friends on a forum dedicated to Shane R. Monroe’s Retrogaming Radio show. We talked about putting together an online magazine, and eventually set it up. For awhile we focused on “issues” and tried to make it look like a retromag. We were amazed by how much attention it got, frequently mentioned on Slashdot and many other sites (even Slate and the Discovery Channel). Eventually, though, we morphed into a blog format and started selling our features to other sites (especially Gamasutra). Now we use AA as our home base for communicating to fans and fellow retrogamers, talking about our latest projects, and so on.
4. Same question on the incredibly well produced Matt Chat episodes… How did you decide to start a video show on retro games, and what would you say is this little something that makes Matt Chat unique (for, believe me, it is unique)? By the way, love that gaming wall you got in the background.
Matt Chat has come a long, long way in a short time. When I first started, it was just me and a webcam trying to hawk my books. The production quality was terrible! But I wanted to learn more about videos because Bill and I are producing a feature documentary for Lux Digital Pictures (Gameplay: The Story of the Videogame Revolution). I figured I needed more experience with videos to really handle a project like that, so I kept learning and experimenting, trying to refine my techniques. If you notice, I usually try to put in one more technique or one more refinement per episode, so I’m always learning something new.
I don’t think Matt Chat is unique. There are many, many other YouTubers out there doing similar shows. For instance, ianwilson1978 does great work on the Sega Genesis and Marlin Lee covers a variety of games. I guess one thing that makes my show special is that I feature games from all platforms, especially covering PC and computer titles that the others miss. Most other shows are dedicated to consoles, especially Nintendo classics. I figure those games already get enough love, so I try to cover ground that is not covered by the other shows–such as Dungeons of Daggorath for the Tandy CoCo, Tunnels of Doom for the TI-99/4A, or even the PLATO platform. I also feature interviews with classic developers, such as John Romero and Al Lowe. I’ll soon release my interview with Chris Avellone.
5. Really, is it tough producing something of this quality on a weekly basis?
It can be. Sometimes my editing program (Sony Vegas Platinum) crashes so much during rendering that I’m tempted to just give up. I would really love a better setup! The other big problem is capturing footage from games, especially old Windows games. Even with fraps, virtualdub, and the rest, it can be a nightmare sometimes capturing decent footage.
Other than these purely technical problems, though, it’s not hard at all. I can easily come up with things to say, and I like researching the games anyway. I also enjoy inserting inside jokes and humor, and interacting with the fans is a real joy.
6. How about your books? They are two on games and one on Wikis, correct? Do you feel gamers actually bother reading?
I think most gamers are highly intelligent; at least the ones I talk to. I know plenty of professors and graduate students who are serious gamers. But, of course, there are many who never pick up a book. That is sad, of course, since I couldn’t imagine living life without good books to read. It’s really important to read good books, not just newspapers and such. You can always tell when you’re talking to an avid reader, because he or she will be more knowledgeable on a broader range of topics–plus, I think it makes you more articulate and, frankly, intelligent. I had a friend who read War and Peace just for fun, but he told me later he felt more intelligent after reading it. Some people laugh at comics and graphic novels, but they are actually much more sophisticated now than they used to be. You could certainly learn a thing or two from Moore‘s work.
There’s really no excuse for being ignorant. So read!
7. Now, let’s focus a bit on the rather epic Dungeons and Desktops. Why CRPGs? Could you briefly describe the book? Has it sold to your expectations? Did you enjoy writing it?
It’s pretty much what it says; the history of computer role-playing games. I tried to talk about every important or even remotely influential game in the book, describing what makes them fun and how they fit into the grand history of the genre. I tried to show connections across eras and styles, so you could get a sense of the diversity. Someone may have heard of Baldur’s Gate, for instance, but be unaware of Planescape: Torment, Pool of Radiance, or Eye of the Beholder. I meet people who may know all about Zelda and Final Fantasy, but have never heard of Ultima or Lord British. That bothered me, so I thought it was time to write a book on the topic.
The book has sold well. Of course, something like this won’t be a bestseller. But I wrote this book for people like us, not the mainstream. By “us,” of course, I’m talking about people who love games like Wizardry and Fallout and enjoy nothing more than talking and thinking about them.
8. Should we expect more books from you? Maybe even a new project or collaboration?
Almost certainly, though it’s very hard to find publishers interested in game books. I have been dying to write a book on adventure games similar to D&D, but no takers so far. Bill and I have been talking about a book on the Atari 2600, and I’ve got one on virtual worlds that needs development. We will probably also write a book based on our documentary.
9. And now for something that interests me quite a bit on a personal level. How did you really manage to -effortlessly, it seems- combine an academic career with all this quality work on computer and video games?
In a sense gaming is my job. A professor is expected to research as well as teach, and game studies is an important part of new media. I’m presenting on aspects of gaming at two national conferences later this year (Computers and Writing, Rhetoric Society of America). People tend to think of “English” strictly as literature and grammar, but it’s far more than that! There are many of us studying games as well as other technologies like wikis and social networking. All of these things involve communication and rhetoric.
10. Finally, have you thought about actually creating a game yourself?
I have, though I’m not satisfied with the results! But a few years ago I taught myself C++ out of some books and made a simple adventure game, which I entered into the Interactive Fiction contest. I was shocked that it was 28th in the 12th annual interactive fiction competition. At any rate, it was fun learning C++, and I’d love to try something more ambitious one day.
I’ve told the beginning of this story before, but I’m assuming nobody ever reads this stuff anyway so it’ll be new to you.
Sonic the Hedgehog
Sometime in the early ’90′s…not sure when, but it was after the launch of the Sega Genesis and after they started packaging Sonic the Hedgehog with the consoles….but sometime in the early ’90′s my brother said to me, “Hey, my buddy I work with has a Sega Genesis and he doesn’t need it because he already has one. I guess his brother stole it from a toy store, then panicked and left it in the arcade next door. So, Mike is keeping it, but would rather have $60.” Obviously, with a deal this good and no love for Johnny Law, I jumped at the deal.
So, I believe the first Genesis cart that ever entered my 16-bit beauty was the classic platformer. That’s not surprising, because a lot, or even most of you, can say the same. However, what I will say next will shock most of you….I’ve always loved the Sonic games more than the NES Marios….Hell yes, I said it. Eat it, Nintendo. Sonic was my boy. At least the first couple of games before he went 3D on me. That’s not really my style. For the record, nothing against Mario, but after an all-consuming Saturday run at SMB3 that ended after 9 hours in a power surge that completely wiped out all existence of my game…..I vowed never to play it again. A vow I have kept until this day.
I can also assume that there isn’t a single person who will read this article that is unfamiliar with the Sonic games, so there’s no reason for any set-up. But, the recent 20th anniversary event that we chronicled at Thumb Culture brought back those memories. Hanging out in my old apartment, enjoying my “futuristic” 3-button controller that Sega (and Mike’s criminal brother) put into my hands. Yep, I could still hear that goofy Sonic title music. Goofy, but I love it. It’s catchy, and will stay with you throughout the entire gameplay.
I decided to fire it up in my man-cave, and within seconds I found myself at the iconic Green Hill Zone Act 1. It’s amazing that one can play a game that they haven’t seen in over a decade, but still remember when to accelerate, when to brake, and where all (well, most) of the little hidden goodies are. The backgrounds still look beautiful after all these years, and Sonic’s irritating ‘foot tap’ when you’re taking too long to move him was still a delight to see. There’s a total of 18 beautifully-designed levels to run Sonic through (6 Zones, each with 3 acts), and while they all seem a little similar, they all still have their unique qualities. Some Zones may allow Sonic to take advantage of his speed, while others force you to master his jumping ability.
One thing that I always loved about this game was you could take different pathways to reach the end of the level. You can, if you choose, run at lightning speeds to reach the end in record time, or slowly collect all of the rings and power-ups. There are a number of vertical platform levels to explore…or not. It’s up to you. There’s not necessarily a set pattern to learn like other platformers. Everything is always in the same place, but the size of the levels and the ‘openness’ make replay-vale high.
The levels themselves seem to increase in difficulty, including the boss fights, which is not always the case. The Green Hill Zone seems like a practice tutorial compared to others, although the Chaos Emerald ‘special’ levels all make me dizzy. They could be exactly the same and I wouldn’t know it.
The jingle of collected rings still puts a literal smile on my face, just as much as taking a cheap hit from a segment of a spiked worm makes me want to throw my controller….the two interlaced emotions that are necessary for a great game. It shows that you’re invested in it. That you’re putting everything you have into it. The rings aren’t exactly necessary, but holding at least one allows you to take a hit (consider it a shield), collecting over 100 gives you a free man (er…hedgehog), and having a good chunk of them at the end of the Act opens the Chaos Emerald levels. The Emeralds themselves are never mentioned in the game for why they need collecting, but they do give you more points, so why would you not? Plus, you can earn ‘continues’ during these stages. Continues that the mediocre (like me) need to be able to complete the game.
There are plenty of different badniks in Sonic, but they were created by the evil Dr Robotnik, who frankly was a pretty crappy inventor. All I had to do was jump on top of his robots a couple of times and they’d blow up. It’s not like I’m a freakin’ elephant for Christ’s sake! How much damage could a little hedgehog do?
Overall, the game is nearly perfect, and there’s a reason why the cute and lovable character became the Sega mascot. While not all of the dozens of Sonic games are good…or fun…or even playable, the original one should be in everyone’s Genesis collection…and probably is. From the colorful and beautiful graphics, to the legendary level design….. from the catchy music to the memorable characters….Sonic the Hedgehog is a must own.
I appreciate Thumb Culture giving me a chance to write about these experiences, and hearing similar (or not) stories from the readers. For every mention of being a poor enough Sonic player where I’ve never been able to capture all the Chaos Emeralds, someone else will tell me how they’ve done it. Every mention of Dr Robotnik, someone will tell me they always call him “Dr Eggman”. The gaming community is pretty special, and now that Thumb Culture 2.0 is back, running, and more beautiful than ever, I’m going to continue writing little retro-blurbs here and there. This has been a very quick take about a 20-year-old mammal (didn’t even have to look that up) that wears sneakers, runs at high speeds, and saves the green lands from evil animal-snatchers, and maybe I’ll do another one in another 20 years. SEGA!
Delphine Software, now long gone, was the French Developer behind Flashback, and had previously given us Another World/Out of This World. Not to mention a future game by the name of Shaq Fu and a Playstation sequel, Fade to Black. Although not a true prequel of Flashback, Another World is still seen in the eyes of the computer-gaming community as genius.
Flashback is set in the future of spaceships, holograms, and jetpacks…although they still use bullets in guns. Your hero, a Galaxia Bureau of Investigations agent named Conrad Hart wakes in a jungle with no memory of who he is or what he’s doing out there. Luckily, a holocube is found nearby with cryptic instructions. He discovered that shape-shifters are on Earth and have been infiltrating the government for takeover. He was captured, mind erased, and after escaping, wakes on this jungle-planet. The game is Conrad’s story to regain his full memory and stop the aliens. I remarked on Twitter as I was playing the game that it’s a sci-fi tale that combines elements of “Total Recall“, “Running Man“, and “They Live“….and I had a lot of agreements. Why “Running Man“? Everybody loves a killer-game show. Eventually, you’ll make your way to the alien planet and take the fight to them, but I don’t want to spoil any more of the game for you. Trust me when I say it’s worth the ride.
Visually, it may seem at first like a standard screen-to-screen platformer, but once you get into it you’ll be blown away at the phenomenal work with the backgrounds and the intricate level designs. The levels are linear, meaning eventually there is only one way out of an area, but with clever use of backtracking, it seems very wide-open. Conrad himself, as I mentioned before, looks human. That may sound silly now, but in 1992 was groundbreaking technology.
Flashback: The Quest For Identity still holds up perfectly today. A 6-10 hour adventure that looks gorgeous, has clever and confusing puzzles, tells a great story, and has plenty of mutant-killing action. If this game is not on your Top-10 Platformer list, then you’ve never played it. A must-have for any Sega Genesis collection.
My eyes lit up like a LED screen when I came across this section at E3 2011. Normally, there would be a small section with a few games, but this place was huge. On the back wall were a ton of classic video games from Dig Dug to Killer Instinct and a few even broke down so you know they were authentic.
They had what I called a 80’s living room complete with a couch, a radiation level 6 television and an Atari 2600 and best of all you could sit down and play. Now, while I was still just a baby when the 2600 launched I remember setups that looked exactly like this.
There were a ton of classic game systems, add-ons and games spread out for display. I recognized many of the systems, but there were a number I did not recognize. I was totally shocked by how huge the cartridge was for Metal Slug. We met a couple of guys from SNK there and they were totally cool so watch for some articles about them coming soon.
Not only did they have the boxes and items to view there were many classic game systems setup that you could play for yourself including an Atari 2600, N64, Sega Master System and Intelivision and more.
What classic gaming museum exhibit would complete without music. There were two different bands there that played classic music. We were able to record a bit from 8-bit weapon, a duo that plays classic music from Commodore 64, Gameboy and more.
[youtube width=”600″ height=”480″]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UM1bmLk5zLI[/youtube]
All in all it was great to see classic gaming displayed in such a way at E3 2011 and we hope we will see more in the future.
Check out all our E3 pictures on our Facebook page.
Fans of the Sega Genesis beat-em up game, Streets of Rage almost got a similar style fighting game for the Super Nintendo. Developed by Ocean Software, the game was set to be released alongside the film of the same name.
What we know is the game had at least eight levels where you would control The Shadow as he took down mobs of enemies Double Dragon style. As seen in the screenshot, The Shadow had two bars, one that showed his life and the other that showed what would be consider a “power bar.” The second bar showed the power The Shadow had to preform special movies like invisibility, gun abilities, speed boost and a special shield that would knock out anyone who came in contact with it.
As for stages The Shadow was to battle is why through, Times Square, the Empire State Building, an Amusement Park, a Museum, The War Department, Chinatown and finally Hotel Monolith for the big showdown. In addition to side-scrolling fighting stages, The Shadow video game also contained a driving stage where you battled Mongoles on bikes.
It is not clear exactly why the game was not made. Perhaps The Shadow was cancelled because the movie only made 30 million dollars and cost 40 to make. We do know the game was set to be released in fall of 1994. For those of you who would like to try the game you can find The Shadow as a ROM for many SNES emulators.
Games with speed have always caught my attention so Sonic had to eventually come along into the mix for the pick of the week. Sonic 3 defined how a Sonic game should be and should always be. The game not only delivers a beautiful gameplay experience but a wonderful sound score among other things. The replay value is great and the best part of all, the game saves! Yeah, you have three spots to save your progress and come back for more. Sonic 3 is the Sonic game you should play, screw that crappy Sonic 4 game.
The game starts you off like similar Sonic games. You usually start up in some type of jungle area which developers did on purpose mainly because there could be a new Sonic player out there just getting into the series and wanted to introduce them to the game mechanics with lots of freedom. Sonic veterans will also enjoy the first couple of stages as they can get familiarized to the changes of the game from the previous counterpart. Moving on, the game is what you expect of a Sonic game back in the early 90s. It’s fast, fun, and has a wonderful sound track. There are many reasons why this game is on the top of the list. Sonic comes with some new tricks up his sleeve but you’ll have to figure that out for yourself as this article is meant not to spoil your fun by exploring this game. I’m just here to give my opinion anyways and it’s only up to you to take my opinion into account.
Furthermore, this is a game that you won’t feel trapped and stressed out. The game delivers difficulty in a savvy way. You can just feel the flow and try your best. If not then don’t worry because you can save your game and continue on after you broken a few windows or walls from rage of losing in the game.
To conclude, this game is everything that a Sonic game should have been and if it wasn’t for the downfall of transferring Sonic to 3D so bad then we wouldn’t be seeing the horribly painful games nowadays. I say if it didn’t work in 3D then go back to the 2D games but with Sonic 4 being just a so-so game, I think it’s too late to go back now.
If you want to play an updated NES version of Battletoads, then the Genesis version is the one for you. I feel that this version is a lot easier especially in the second level where you can rack up all the extra lives a lot easier and at a quicker rate. As many of you know, the NES version is brutal and will take you countless of tries to get pass the later levels. It gets to a point of frustration but not in the Genesis version, at least this one takes a lot less tries to get passed such levels. This game really feels a lot more polished and more fair in gameplay than the NES version. Of course, you will still have a tough time in the two player mode and you will probably be better off playing one player unless you have a buddy that’ll do the job just as good as you can.
So lets move on, the game is as fun as the other counterparts. You’ll enjoy the graphics and sounds of this one as the Genesis takes advantage of them. The gameplay will be challenging but it will keep you coming for more.
Well I highly recommend this title especially if you won’t give the NES version a chance. This one is the game not to miss and it’s mighty cheap on Ebay. Go Toads!
Battle Squadron (1990)
By: Innerprise Software / Electronic Arts Genre: Shooting Players: 1-2 Difficulty: Medium-Hard
Featured Version: Sega MegaDrive / Genesis First Day Score: 200,700
Also Available For: Amiga
The days of the 16-Bit Console Wars were an interesting time to be a gamer. If the SNES was better at one type of game, the MegaDrive was better at another. One area in which many agree the MD had a firmer foothold is that of the shoot ’em up. Yes, the SNES had some blinding examples of the genre, but the MD won the day through sheer weight of numbers. An early example of the vertical scrolling shooter on the MD is Battle Squadron, a product of the bygone era of bedroom coders which saw many talented enthusiasts try their hand at that programming lark. Most games resulting from these endeavours were of course very limited, but on the odd, rare occasion, something much more interesting would emerge. Battle Squadron’s success was probably not that immense, but Martin Pedersen did well enough from it to enable him to help form Innerprise Software who subsequently went on to develop several more titles.
Originally released on the Amiga, Battle Squadron is apparently the sequel to fellow Amiga blaster, Hybris. This installment sees you facing off against the evil Barrax Empire, which initially appears to be nothing more than a bog-standard pretext to a bog-standard vertical-scroller. Actually, to be fair, it’s not the most remarkable shmup ever, but it does have a few tricks up its sleeves! For starters, there are no levels. Well, kind of. You start above ground fighting off swarms of enemy fighters as well as lots of ground-based vehicles and gun turrets. Before long, you’ll come to a big crater or chasm of some sort in the ground which you can enter. You don’t have to though – you can fly straight past if you want to as it will return over and over again. You’ll need to enter eventually though, and upon doing so you’ll be faced with an underground area crawling with different types of enemy craft and installations, at the end of which is a boss. Once you defeat the boss you’ll return to the surface again. If you enter the underground section at the first opportunity every time, you’ll eventually fight through three surface sections and three underground sections before you get to face the Ultimate Alien Force of Evil. To quote the instruction book: “You will face Surlotech in the final battle. He’s known for cruelly toying with enemies and laughing at their feeble attempts to destroy him”. Sounds like a charming fellow.
When playing this game, there’s one thing that quickly becomes apparent – Battle Squadron must be one of the most enemy-laden shooters ever – they’re everywhere! It’s lucky then, that there is sufficient weaponry available (though barely so) to ‘convince’ them that their agenda is a flawed one. You start the game with the Orange Magma Wave. This is just about sufficient at the start of the game but needs to be powered up pretty quickly. Once this is done, it becomes a formidable weapon which has a fairly powerful forward shot as well as four less powerful shots which fire at diagonals. Other weapons are the Green Emerald Laser which is very powerful and fires rapidly, but has a very limited range (straight forward), Red Magnetic Torps, which covers most of the screen, but aren’t too powerful, and the Blue Anti-Matter Particle Beam. This weapon also fires very quickly, and shoots both forwards and backwards, but again, has a limited range.
These tools of destruction can be found by destroying the Barraxian gunships that carry ‘X’ capsules. Once freed, these drift back and forth across the screen changing colours as they go. Collecting them will give you the weapon of that colour and collecting another capsule of the same colour will power it up one level. If you’re destroyed, your weapon’s level will be reduced by two, though thankfully you don’t have to restart the level! One helpful way to avoid being shot down, however, is to deploy a ‘Nova Bomb’. These swirling waves of destruction, more commonly referred to as smart bombs, destroy or damage everything on the screen (except your ship, obviously). More importantly, they also rid the screen of enemy bullets. These can be stockpiled by collecting the ‘M’ icons that result from the destruction of an entire squadron of enemy fighters (which appear increasingly frequently), and it’s a very good idea to save as many as possible – you’ll need them later on!
But what of the enemies? Poorly designed ones have been known to ruin otherwise decent shooters, so thankfully that’s not the case here! There are fourteen different alien attackers altogether – not a huge number I’ll grant you, but there are some highly creative ones among this contingent. Some are your standard gun turrets or formation-flying, few-shots-to-kill aircraft, while others are far meaner. One original feature of Battle Squadron from which it derived much of its fame is its ‘Chameleon’ ships. These are sister ships to the standard fighters, except they’re invisible! They can be detected by the funny noise they make when your weapons strike them, and by a slight shimmering of the area over which they’re flying (in a similar style to the titular creature from the Predator movies). Some enemies (mostly the various kinds of gun turrets) leave behind green ‘X’ icons when you’ve destroyed them “exposing their jewel caches”, and each one gives you a thousand points at the end of the ‘section’ (i.e. when you go underground or back above ground).
Despite the fact that Battle Squadron was first released on the Amiga, this version is near enough identical. That doesn’t mean it looks bad though. On the contrary. Though there’s not many backgrounds, and one of the later ones will make your eyes bleed (not to mention render enemy bullets near invisible!), the graphics are very decent. The sprites are varied and some of them pretty sizeable, and there’s some lovely parallax scrolling on the underground sections (something the Amiga version lacks). Scrolling is also smooth, even with 15 or more enemies on the screen at once! It’s not just your eyes that get a treat here either. Game music fans will be pleased to hear that the sounds accompanying this manic shooter come courtesy of the great Rob Hubbard, which pretty much guarantees top quality music. Whilst there aren’t many tunes, the ones that are here are memorable and of typically high quality, as are the superb sound effects.
One of the first things you’ll notice about this game is undoubtedly its difficulty. Whilst it’s true that the number of lives, credits, enemy bullets on screen at once and enemy bullet speed can all be altered, even on the lesser settings, this game is still tougher than a disgruntled Chuck Norris. There’s not a single enemy in this game that goes down from a single shot, so until you’ve powered up your ship, prepare to practise your bullet-dodging skills! Even once you’re powered up things are no picnic either. Undestroyed gun turrets can still fire at you from behind after they’ve left the screen, Chameleon ships appear from holes in the ground (sometimes right on top of you), and there’s even heat-seeking missiles that can’t be shot down! With a bit (or a lot) of perseverance, however, some lengthy and impressive blast-a-thons can be enjoyed. One extra special thing about Battle Squadron is that it has a simultaneous two-player mode! A rare thing indeed for a shooter. It’s just as hard with two-players though, so don’t go forcing a friend into playing just so you can see the ending!
Overall, this is a tough game, but not unfairly so. Okay, so invisible ships appearing beneath you don’t help matters but it’s not like it’s one of those ridiculous ‘bullet-hell’ games! One thing’s for sure – you won’t get a second to relax when playing it. It’s like a gaming equivalent of one long sweaty-palmed adrenaline rush! There’s always something going on and its difficulty will keep all but the most awesomely skilled of gamers going for a while, and all but the most pathetically skilled will most likely want to keep trying to beat it.
RKS Score: 8/10
Why I Prefer Video Games Over Board, Card, and Pen & Paper Games
I grew up playing a ton of board games, card games, and pen-and-paper RPG games but for many years now I’ve been sick of playing them and have favored video games ever since multiplayer and playing online against other people became abundant.
Well, even before then back in the days of hotseat (hotseat is multiple players playing on the same system at the same physical location), especially on my Commodore 64 and Amiga, as well as my friends’ NES, Sega Genesis, and SNES consoles, I would rather play a good balanced video game than deal with the arguments and drama that playing traditional games came with.
Now I love board games, card games, and RPGs but the problem I found throughout the years is that most people you play with will cheat at every opportunity or they don’t really know the rules of the game or they create their own house rules that sometimes make the game have nothing to do with the original game.
I grew up playing Monopoly, Sorry, Talisman, Battletech, Hero Quest, Munchkin, Guillotine, Chez Geek, Magic the Gathering, Jihad (the Vampire the Masquerade card game), Dungeons and Dragons (every version; AD&D every version as well), Shadowrun, Mechwarrior, and Vampire: The Masquerade. I’ve played more but those are the ones that easily pop into my head right now. I remember playing Battletech at a game store called Gamesters here in Miami with my friend Tom Birmingham and it was us two against two other players. The other players would do shit like waste time then make their guys move twice and fire twice. Even with their cheating, we decimated them.
For card games, especially Munchkin, there would be so many arguments that one time my friends stayed up all night playing the game and they decided to wake me up at 5 AM asking me to make a rule judgement. The conversation went something like this:
Friend 1: “Yeah we wanted to know how to interpret the Loaded Die card…”
Me: “You have got to be fucking kidding me. You know I’m going to kick you guys each in the balls the next time I see you.”
Friend 2: “I told you not to wake him up because of the game.”
Friend 1: “Shh… Anyways, we want to know if you can counter a Loaded Die card with another Loaded Die card.”
Me: “Yes, now please fuck off and never call me again not even if there’s an emergency. And yes, I will cock/cunt kick you all next time I see you. Good night.”
For pen and paper RPGs people would cheat on their die rolls just so their character would always do well. What’s the point of doing something if there is no penalty? How about playing a game where your character can actually die? What would be the point of real life if no bad things happened? Another problem that I found is that almost nobody knew how to actually role-play anything other than being a combat monster useless fucking character that killed everything that the Dungeon Master (DM) or Game Master (GM) had spent hours designing. I always think of the D&D sketch by the Dead Ale Wives when I think of RPGs. For that I’d rather go play Diablo, at least that’s the point of that game!
Anyways, I grew tired of people ruining games for me so even as a kiddo I knew that unless the controller was broken in hotseat or somebody was using a bot online, video games would solve all that shit by preventing arguments from happening. Whereas on a traditional game you have to enterpret the rules and logic, in a video game everything is happening much faster (no need for die rolls other than internally within the program) and everything is more fluid. Whereas before playing something like Battletech, a battle would take 4 hours of real life time, that would translate into a 5-10 minute match in an RTS game.
The logic is simple and it’s even more obvious to me these days as I grow older than video games will continue to propagate even more and those old games will just continue to die. Now yes, I do agree that they should continue to exist. What are you going to do when a natural disaster happens and there’s no power? They’re great for that. Sometimes they’re great for parties so that at least you can play something with a non-gamer.
Now I’m not encouraging people to play an MMO unless it’s something like Auto Assault or Mechwarrior (two dead games) or PlanetSide (still around but almost nobody plays it) where skill and strategy mean something but more something along the lines as playing Starcraft or any favorite FPS game or anything else for that matter, so long as it’s not a gear based shitty game.. Just be careful with the online cheaters that will employ bots to win like a little bitch!
Another problem that traditional games have versus computer games, especially pen and paper RPGs is that they would take up so much time that it essentially became a ritual that you would have to dedicate time for each week. Think of it as the dedication a WoWhead gives their guild for raiding and other stuff in that game, except instead of clicking on World of Warcraft from any computer to connect you have to go to their house, buy food and drinks, and then drive home (usually really late that night or the next morning). It was even worse as a kid because of parents imposing curfews but I guess that doesn’t matter these days since parenting has gone to shit. =P With online gaming these days, you literally can play any game 24 hours a day and find people willing to play with you. You can’t beat that (although that does create problems like gaming addicts and more but that’s another topic for discussion)
I’d rather play a video game against a friend where it’s much harder to cheat than play a traditional game that could potentially ruin a friendship. I’ve seen some of my friends get into a permanent feud both over traditional games as well as video games but not as much for video games. Anyways, I’ll take something like a hotseat game of Star Control 2 (The Ur-Quan Masters) over a shitty game of Monopoly! However, just because I love video games that doesn’t mean that I won’t join you for a quick board game or card game or RPG session either!
Name: Marcus Hswe
Company: Tandem Learning
Profession: Director of Client Services
Favorite Classic Game: SEGA Genesis Electronic Arts FIFA Soccer 1993
Quote: Once you reached a level of mastery (i.e. cheats), you could be Cameroon and win the World Cup. Plus, it was cheap entertainment until we broke the game. The graphics at the time were average but the functionality and flexibility in play was fairly unusual for the time.
Tandem Learning designs learning solutions that are infused with strategic and creative instructional and game design. Our focus on the learner experience, along with our expertise and passion for immersive learning and serious games, can help you shift the training you have to the learning that will inspire your organization.
Tandem Learning recently launched its Looking Glass® Game Engine. The Looking Glass® Engine is a customizable gaming engine that integrates scoring, leaderboards, team creation, live chat, polls, assessments, discussion boards, and more with a full back-end tracking and reporting tool. The engine has the ability to be customized with additional features and graphics based on the need of each uniquely designed game experience. Tandem Learning licenses the engine and develops customized gaming experiences that utilize the engine.
The competitive game engine was recently used for an Alternate Reality Game (ARG) called Dr. Strangelearn’s Learning Laboratory, which was played in conjunction with the eLearning Guild’s DevLearn 2010 conference in San Francisco.
Name: Lee Amarakoon
Company: UTV True Games
Profession: FX Artist / Heaven Mage
Favorite Classic Game: Herzog Zwei (Sega Genesis, 1990)
Quote: It’s the game that got me into playing strategy games. With only 1 ship, you transported tanks and other units to the different bases scattered around the level in order to take over sections of the map. The ship had limited fuel, so expanding was very important since you could also refuel at the captured points. The ship could transform into a robot so you could attack the ground also. Since it was 2 player split screen the fight for territory control was great. My friends and I would look over at each other’s screen to see who was doing what. This trained us later for GoldenEye 🙂
Bio/Current Event: Currently making class abilities for Faxion Online. If you’ve always wondered “how do they come up with the spells?” I want to take you through an example spell creation in Faxion Online. The spell design and implementation is done by Designer, Jonathan Pollard, he provides me with a list of abilities with a description on what each one does. For this example we’ll use Hellfire: summon demonic flames to burn an enemy, inflicting Unholy damage. The ability asks for demonic flames and flames always look cooler in an unholy green. Image1 shows the textures used in the spell, they were created in Photoshop with brushes and various plug-ins.
Motivational Monday: Boss Battles
Remember those crappy action movies of the 90’s where the good guy would have to plow through hundreds of bad guys and then fight some super tough lieutenant of the leader only to find out the leader himself was a complete pushover? That just pissed me off because I always felt if you led a group of bad asses then you better be a really bad ass. Thank goodness in most video games the boss is pretty tough though it is true that some games did have a pretty weak final boss, Fable 2 comes to mind. Also for the most part there was an earlier end boss that was harder to beat than the final boss.
However, what makes final bosses cool is the intro, the setup. These fights should feel final, the curtain has been drawn and it’s just you versus him, her or it. There are many games that have captured this pretty well.
Final Fantasy 7: Sephiroth
I get it, a lot of people are tired of the FF7 talk, but you have to give them credit for presenting the final Sephiroth fight in a grand manner. Sure, Final Fantasy has used angel themed bosses many times, but the mix of the long intro, the orchestra music and his presentation makes you feel like this is it. Unfortunately, with just a few items it is incredibly easy to not only beat Sephiroth, but to neutralize almost all of his attacks, but hey how about that cool music.
God of War: Ares
Don’t you hate it when your father doesn’t acknowledge your accomplishments? While the build up to this specific fight wasn’t as epic as some of the others the fact remains that you are going up against the God of War. After opening Pandora’s Box and going all “E-nuck-chuck” it’s battle time.
Castlevania: Symphony of the Night – Dracula (Richter)
Dracula is just too cool. I mean he knows even if he’s killed he will be back and ever though Richter has been tearing a hole through his castle to get to him he’s just chilling on his thrown having a drink. He doesn’t even want to fight. Hell he didn’t want to wake up it was those damn presents that woke him.
Ok, so this isn’t a final boss fight per say but is was to represent the end of the previous Castlevania and honestly whenever you go up against Dracula it’s a final boss fight.
P.S. I love his laugh while when he disappears.
Super Ghouls n’ Ghosts – Final boss
This is why I don’t wear my suit of golden armor while writing it just slows me down too much. You have to appreciate an accommodating boss that gives you platforms to jump on to help kill him. What was the grand setup for this boss fight you might ask? Well you had to beat the entire game again to get to him so that’s a cry inducing setup if I ever saw one.
P.S. He looks like Papa Smurf on steroids.
Silent Hill: Final Boss
It’s the power of the womb with that crazy woman with the Mother Teresa scarf on. At the time I thought the cinematic’s for Silent Hill was so cool and now the dialog and voice acting just makes me a sad panda. I love how the cop stands there with her gun pointed for like five minutes before yelling “freeze” then somehow she flies onto her back.
The setup is slow, as slow as the bottle flying through the air, but the point is you finally get to punch someone’s face in for putting you in this nightmare. Then she turns into the man-bat form the Batman cartoons and its battle time.
Super Mario Bros. 2 – Wart
First things first, would you really jump in the mouth of a headless eagle after beating it down? We know a few things about Wart. One, he likes platforms. Two, he likes organ pipes that spit out vegetables. Three, he has nasty acid reflux disease.
Why would you stand in a room with a machine that pumps out things that can kill you? That would be like me keeping a swimming pool of peanut butter next to my bed so I can roll out and into it in the morning and kill myself.
Poor Wart was a bad design from the start being a mix between Bowser and Kermit the frog, but I liked the ending even though it was just all a dream. See, that’s what happens when you OD on mushrooms.
Oh there will be a part 2
There are a ton of awesome boss fights and we promise to get to them. In the meantime if you have an opinion on an awesome boss fight let us know and we will profile it.
Rap is universal, sure it may be dominated by African American artists, but rap is for everyone. Well, everyone except video game companies. Don’t get me wrong, you have to do what you can to grab a younger generation but most of these were just really bad commercials. Also I have yet to find an old video game commercial using rap that has actual African American kids. Oh well, on to the voting!
Atari 2600: The Fun is Back
The fun is back oh yes er re it’s the 2600 from Atari. Oh my lord you know that guy went on to make millions in the music industry. When Atari packaged its system for a new low price of just $50 you know it was time to make a rap about it.
Nintendo: Zelda Rap
Oh Lord where to start. Okay first, does anyone else get the vibe that the kids are looking at an adult magazine and not Nintendo Power? I mean besides the “”Nice Graphics” quote it sounds like something I would have said while checking out Playboy.
Next is the “rap” I have to guess this is a parody of rap because even Solider Boy isn’t that bad. Not only is the beat box out of something you’d see on rapping granny, but the “lyrics” sound like they were pieced together from a fortune cookie.
Finally and again the way they talk about the game toward the end, “Ya go Link ya, get some.” Is that not a line from every Ron Jeremy movie? I just think these children need more parental supervision and a kick in the ass.
Sega Genesis: Toe Jam & Earl
I can’t hate on this one too much because it does fit the style of rap at the time and the game was to have a “hip hop” vibe. Does this rap not sound like the “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” theme? I know when I saw this commercial the first thing I did was call my home boys for some two player action. Err…wow that just doesn’t read right.
This Ain’t American Idol
However, we need your vote. Which rap best fit the theme and style of the commercial?
Five Treasured items from my Console Days
Everyone has items or knickknacks that they keep because of the fond memories. It can be the ticket to the first baseball game you went to or a lock of hair from that girl you’ve been stalking. Just like baseball cards and comic books there are items that we treasure and if we had the time and space would create a shrine to. Unfortunately, when it came to my console gaming days I didn’t take very good care of my stuff and so much of it was either, destroyed, and lost, sold or traded. However, there are items that I would definitely put in a safe place to remind me of the joy it brought me.
The Gold Zelda Cartridge
Believe it or not it is rarer to find the grey Zelda cart than the gold, but for me it was just too cool to open the box and find a shiny gold cartridge. The gold cart just went along with the game and collecting the tri-force of power and began long before the overused term “bling”. The golden cartridge just stood out in your collection.
Sonic 3 & Sonic & Knuckles
I was a big Sonic the Hedgehog fan and as such the last thing I wanted was my game to come to an end. When these carts were released so you could connect them I geeked out hardcore. When you finished Sonic 3 the game would automatically transition into Sonic & Knuckles.
This was called Lock-on-Technology. Originally Sonic 3 was to feature Knuckles and many of the levels found in Sonic and Knuckles but due to time constraints the game was split into two. There are a bunch of differences to the games when using the Lock-on-Technology including the ending being different in Sonic 3, Knuckles being playable in Sonic 3 and having modified levels in Sonic 3. You could also connect Sonic 2 to the Knuckles cart to make Knuckles in Sonic 2 and gain the ability to play as Knuckles.
The Super Game Boy
I was a Game boy freak. Sure, it did not have the graphics or the color of the Game Gear, but I fell it love with the games and played it more than my GG when I finally got one. The Super Game Boy allowed you to play the original Gameboy games and the first Gameboy color games. For the most part the graphics remained the same at least in early games, but later on the some of the Gameboy games could take advantage of the SNES hardware and display more colors.
In addition some games had extras and enhancements when plugged into the SNES. One example was if you played Space Invaders you got the full SNES from the Gameboy cart. Also some games such as Killer Instinct allowed you to use your second control for two player action. Finally some of the Gameboy color games featured additional sounds when used with the SGB.
I know this was a failure, but I loved connecting my Sega CD with the 32x and making a big super console. I felt like it was some kind of transformer like the one that turns into the Autobots base. Honestly, the only game I ever played on this was Doom and by the time I did I was already playing it on my PC. In the end it was a waste of time and money, but I enjoyed just having it if nothing else as a bragging piece.
The Game Genie
Let’s face it, if you weren’t using cheat codes you were missing out on the full gaming experience. The Game Genie changed the way we played console games allowing you to do all types of things with games you normally would have never had the ability too.
The was a Game Genie for pretty much all the major Sega and Nintendo consoles including the Gameboy. You could get the codes from magazines or even by calling an 800 number. Personally I only used codes once I finished a game because I wore beating a game like a badge of honor, but once I did it the legit way it was open season. Truly having a Game Genie expanded the playability of games by a lot.
The Music of Heroes of Might And Magic 2
My friends and I played the living hell out of this game and the music never got boring.
This great soundtrack was written by Paul Anthony Romero, Steve Baca and Rob King.
Here for your listening enjoyment is the music of this classic turn-based wargame!
The Sorceress Castle, probably my favorite song:
Warlock Castle, this one reminds me a lot of Castlevania:
Necromancer Castle, even more music that reminds me of Castlevania Symphony of the Night:
Knight Castle theme, probably the nicest tune in the soundtrack:
Barbarian Castle version 1, sounds very operic but also parts remind me of jazz:
Barbarian Castle theme version 2; very deep sounding:
Wizard Castle, this one is very different depending on which version of the game you own:
Well there are the main themes…
The songs you’ll hear the most are the combat songs.
The first one kind of reminds me of the music from Mechwarrior 2:
The second one is pretty tribal:
And this one is even more so!
There’s mini tunes for every kind of terrain and season but they’re mainly short songs that loop.
The one you’d hear the most is usually “grasslands theme”
Well if you never played Heroes of Might and Magic 2 I would say check it out although it has a ton of sequels now and it’s based originally on the game King’s Bounty which I first played on Sega Genesis!
There are those who play video games, those who immerse themselves in the video game culture and then those for who gaming is really a part of them. There are millions of fans, but when you truly have a love for all things gaming it sets us apart from the rest. I was honored to spend a few hours with one such person for whom gaming had touched at an early age and stayed with him throughout his life.
Alex Aguila’s love of all things electronic gaming led him to co-founding Alienware, but his love of gaming began long before. From a very early age he became fascinated with video games, so much so, that after seeing the Atari 2600 in action he saved up money From there he began collecting games from Colecovision to the Commodore 64. Even before the success of Alienware, Alex had an impressive gaming collection that has continued to grow over the years.
I was able to personally view his collection and it was awe inspiring. It was much more than the sheer volume, but the care he took in preserving them and the joy he had in talking about them. Many older games were still wrapped in their original plastic. Others though opened were in pristine condition and we talked about how classic games had a collectors feel long before expensive over bloated collectors’ editions of games became the norm.
What made me smile like a child in Electronics Boutique was that I could hear in his voice that he truly cared about the gaming industry. There was excitement in his voice when we talked about the past and how in the 90’s a golden age of gaming began when there was so much choice in gaming in arcades, home console systems and the emerging PC gaming market.
Simply put when you convert a shower into a display case for your collection of console systems you know you have a true gamer before you. Besides the normal Sega Genesis and Nintendo Entertainment System, Alex also had systems I was not aware of like the Vectrex which is an all in one video game system that used vector graphics. Alex then showed me an Atari that was unopened and joked about how he posted on Atari Age that he was considering opening it so he could play. He told me many people offered to send him opened Atari systems just so he would keep his sealed.
In addition to console systems Alex also had an impressive collection of handheld videos games. Long before the Gameboy, these simple but addictive games ruled the market. Then I took a look at his clone’s collection. Clones are systems made by third parties that can play games from systems such as the Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis. Some, like the FC twin allow you to play both Super and classic Nintendo games on the game console. Another cool device was the Retro Mini portable, a device that used the original NES cartridges, but allows you to take it on the go.
Alex is a complete fan of all things electronic gaming meaning that he can enjoy playing the original Atari 2600 using the original cartridge as well as utilizing modern equipment and technology such as emulators. He stressed the importance of those in the community who work to not only preserve classic gaming, but allow new fans to enjoy games of the past. Using programs such as DOSBox allows many gamers to play classic PC games that just won’t run correctly on today’s operating systems.
When I walked into Alex’s arcade room I almost fainted. It was like something out of my childhood dreams except for the large Dallas Cowboys star on the wall. Right away what caught my eye was the M.A.M.E. arcade cabinet next to the air hockey machine. However, something else that caught my eye was the collection of pinball machines. Unfortunately, there seems to be a disconnect between pinball fans and video game fans and it was good to see that Alex enjoyed both.
On the back wall were several classic arcade cabinets including Defender, Joust and Robotron. The systems were all from Retrocade and Alex explained that originally he wanted to keep the classic original cabinets, but it is truly a lot of work dangerous even to care and maintain due to the circuit boards and electronics used in those older systems.
After my tour I sat down with Alex and we talked about his own gaming history from his first console to meeting game designers and developers with Michael Dell. I was even able to instigate a challenge between Alex and Arthur Lewis, Alienware’s general manager.
This began during my coverage at E3 where I was able to talk to Arthur over at the Alienware booth. In addition to telling me about his own love of gaming he mentioned getting together with Alex to play Tecmo Bowl and that they were scheduled to have a game soon.
Alex tells a story about a classic gaming of Tecmo Bowl against Arthur where the loser would have to walk around the hotel halls in their underwear. Alex lost and believed the underwear thing was just a joke, unfortunately it was not. Alex said that it has been a while since they had played and that if a rematch did come about Arthur would find himself on the losing end. Of course, I plan to press this to see if a rematch will happen though I doubt the loser will have to do anything too embarrassing.
Saying goodbye I felt slightly sad to be honest. Being there and seeing someone love video gaming as much as I do reminded me of my summer days of spending hours doing nothing but gaming. On the other hand it is truly nice to find people who continue doing something they love even as they mature and their lives change. My day with a true gamer, Alex Aguila is not one I will soon forget.
Hardcore, unreleased Genesis/Mega Drive Game by Digital Illusions
Hardcore was an unreleased Sega Genesis/Mega Drive game created by Digital Illusions in 1994-1995. The rights of the game ended up being owned by Psygnosis, which Sony owns, and they had by that time killed all development and releases for the Sega Genesis/Mega Drive.
The game reminds me of the Turrican games and Abuse.
Check out a video of what the game would have been like below:
Thanks to Tobias Sixx Bergeld for the heads-up on this video.
His name was Erwin and he played with Orchid and was able to pull off a combo from the start of the match and chain it into a finisher so you did not get in one single hit. He taught me that trick in exchange for six bags of Skittles, a Mars bar and my limited edition Cobra Commander with cloth mask.~J.A. Laraque
Why did she Kick My Ass at Fighting Games?
One day when I was a teenager I decided to invite my sister to play some fighting games with me. She was totally not a gamer, hell she didn’t even know how to turn on my SNES. I don’t know why I asked her to play, the last time I got her to try a game was Final Fantasy and she just looked at the screen, then to me and said; “So this is why you don’t have a girlfriend.”
Maybe I wanted revenge on her for scaring my ass a child making me believe there were ghosts that shook the house never telling me it was the subway underneath. Perhaps I was bored because my friends were out living life and I was trying to master every finisher in Mortal Kombat.
So I popped in Street Fighter 2 for the SNES, I figured the first thing I would do was show her who is boss. I had marathon seasons with my friend John who could beat the game on hard with the controller behind his back. (He did this and yet had a girlfriend). He would play Ryu and I would play Ken and thanks to his skills I could kick almost anyone’s ass.
My sister picked Chung Li because she was a girl and was “pretty”. She didn’t even ask what button did what, but I decided to give her a few moments to get used to the game. After a moment I jumped in expecting to finish her off pretty quickly, and then something weird happened.
I couldn’t lay a hit on her. She was just mashing the buttons and somehow she was kicking my butt. You should have seen her face; she looked like she was wrestling with a rat in her hands. She was blinking wildly and sweating. Even worst she would turn her whole body with the controller as if that helped her. All this and she owned me.
Oh Hell No!
We had about ten matches before I had to take a break to get some air (and to cry). I did get close; she had 10% health and somehow beat me. I could not believe it, 10 and 0, her win. I had to get my balls back so I loaded up the Sega Genesis and popped in Mortal Kombat.
MK2 was my game. I played in the arcades and was taught every combo and finisher from this guy who claimed his dad had worked on the coding for the game. I knew every in and out and I was determined to make my sister pay for what she did to me. If I ever hoped to get laid I had to beat my sis at video games. Yes, I see now my logic was flawed.
I picked Scorpion and again my sister went with a girl, Sonya Blade. My sister told me Sonya was a nice name; she nicely kicked my ass again. Don’t get me wrong, with MK 2 I won some matches, but in the end she won more. She even pulled off a finisher and she never played before or even saw the movie!
At this point I was her bitch and had one more game to try.
Killer Instinct was recently released for the N64 and I had been trained in it by the master. His name was Erwin and he played with Orchid and was able to pull off a combo from the start of the match and chain it into a finisher so you did not get in one single hit. He taught me that trick in exchange for six bags of Skittles, a Mars bar and my limited edition Cobra Commander with cloth mask.
My sister thought the game was very pretty when I loaded it up and to her surprise I picked the girl. My sister was upset, but then smiled when she realized she could also pick Orchid. It was to be sweet revenge because I would beat her with a girl character.
It started off well enough. Again, she knew nothing of the game and didn’t ask for instructions. I had her half health when out of nowhere she pulled off a combo breaker. I felt my scrotum shatter as she pulled off her own combo and somehow killed me. I just sat there, my mouth gaping, I couldn’t believe it.
I only played her that one time. I got up without saying a word and left. I think I walked six miles before I feel to my knees embracing the defeat. At that time everything I was evolved gaming and my noob sister owned me in three different fighting games I was a pro at.
You took my balls and I’m going home!
I didn’t play any games for the next few weeks. I started to go out more and play basketball and even met a girl. It didn’t work out, but hey it was a start. In the end my sister helped to break the addition to games. I still played a lot more than a normal kid, but it did get me to realize that what’s important is moderation because if you sister can kick your ass then you might as well not take the game so seriously.
I also had an effect on my sister. She got into video games though her type was adventure or horror like Resident Evil and Silent Hill. To no surprise she was very good at those games as well.
I never learned why my sister had a natural ability to own me. I never saw her play anyone else so I don’t know if it was just me or something else. Either way I learned something that day; girls can play games and lay the smackdown on you too. Later in life I made sure to get my girlfriends into games, sometimes they beat me, but in the end I always came out on top. (Lol’s sex joke for the win!)
Free Stuff – Overclocked Remix, home of video game remixing
Overclocked Remix is one of the best websites in the world for video game music remixes. You can find almost any game music remixed at the site. Whether you are looking for NES music or Sega Genesis or old DOS games or whatever, you will most likely find any remix on the site, usually if a remix does exist for it.
The link to Overclocked Remix is the following: http://ocremix.org/