Goof Troop

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Goof Troop

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.

Goof Troop - Disney - Capcom - SNES

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.

Goof Troop - Disney - Capcom - SNES

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

Goof Troop - Disney - Capcom - SNES

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.

Goof Troop - Disney - Capcom - SNES

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.

Goof Troop - Disney - Capcom - SNES

Goof Troop - Disney - Capcom - SNES

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.

Goof Troop - Disney - Capcom - SNES

Goof Troop - Disney - Capcom - SNES

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.

Goof Troop - Disney - Capcom - SNES

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…

Goof Troop - Disney - Capcom - SNES

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.

Goof Troop - Disney - Capcom - SNES

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.

Goof Troop - Disney - Capcom - SNES

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.

Goof Troop - Disney - Capcom - SNES

 

I give this one 80%. It’s a lot of fun, but way too easy.

X-Men Mutant Apocalypse

X-Men Mutant Apocalypse

X-Men Mutant Apocalypse

Okay, the trilogy of X-Men (technically, Marvel) articles on the weekend. I doled out Marvel vs. Capcom 3 for the Playstation 3, then Marvel vs. Capcom 2 for Xbox Live – now I’m headed back to the Super Nintendo.

X-Men Mutant Apocalypse

I couldn’t think of any throwback Marvel vs. Capcom games I had floating around the house (though I recall similar beat ’em ups in the arcade once upon a time) – so I decided to look around for an X-Men or Marvel title, and found X-Men: Mutant Apocalypse for my Super Nintendo and figured I’d toss it in for a bit. Now, while the other two games I talked about this weekend were fighter games, this one is a beat ’em up/platformer. It lacks the depth of field you find in Final Fight, Double Dragon or Streets of Rage, but you have to time your jumps and memorize attack patterns a bit more along the way.

X-Men Mutant Apocalypse

Early on levels are designed around whichever mutant you are going to play (Psylocke, Wolverine, Cyclops, Beast and Gambit). It’s an interesting idea, since most games of this sort let you pick from a pool to get through a level – and that happens later in the game, but early on each X-Man is assigned a task in a different location, forcing you to use them all. This is a good and bad thing since you may prefer one character over the others, but it does add a bit more variety to the gameplay as well when you have someone like Wolverine who just tears through people using his claws while moving left to right, as opposed to someone like Beast who can cling to ceilings and attack enemies from above as well.

X-Men Mutant Apocalypse

The story’s a bit of a mess, which is often the case in these older comic games, but the sounds get the job done and the graphics actually look pretty good. I didn’t spend a ton of time playing this one again – I honestly don’t have the patience for memorizing platforming like I did years ago, but I got a grin out of my time running around beating people up along the way.

Tetris 2

Tetris 2 Super nintendo

Tetris 2

The success of the original Tetris prompted the creation of a lot of clones, sequels, and spin-offs. Despite all of those, this was the “real” sequel to Tetris.
Tetris 2 Super nintendo
Unlike Tetris, 2 seems to have dropped all the Russian influence from the game. The setting appears to be more like a childhood room in a Japanese house.
Tetris 2 Super nintendo
Unlike some other Tetris variants, this one plays differently enough from the original but you can tell it has the same basic formula. Instead of clearing all blocks, you must also take care of the little bomb blocks as well. Once they’re cleared, the round is over, and you proceed.
 Tetris 2 Super nintendo
There’s also a decent puzzle mode added for those want a real challenge. Despite all that, it’s not going to rival the original to almost any player. It’s a decent puzzle game, and I could see people back then having their fair share of fun with it. On the other hand I can why nobody has really tried to re-release the game since the 90’s.

Score: 7 out of 10

Super Bomberman 4

Super Bomberman 4

Super Bomberman 4

There are 5 Super Bomberman games on the SNES/SFC. Not many people know this as in the Western world only the first 3 were released. The problem is that Super Bomberman 4 was released in 1996 which was around the time the SNES had started to drop in popularity. The world was anticipating the next generation of systems, & the 16 bit machines were being abandoned. Not in Japan however, where SNES games were made well into the year 2000. On a side note, recently a Bomberman article featured in Retrogamer magazine where they claim that number 5 was the only one never released outside Japan, but I can’t find any evidence to suggest 4 was so we’ll put that down to being a mistake.

So let’s have a look at the game. A very nice intro starts us off with Shiro & Kuro (another little known fact is that the 2 Bombers actually have names) asleep on a rocket ship which is attacked by a group of 5 evil bombers.

Super Bomberman 4

The guys are then awoken from their sleep & they are sent into a world full of clocks for some reason with a little girl dressed in cowboy clothes. Hey, it’s Japanese, I don’t speak it, so that’s the best I can give you. The manual has a little comic at the start which explains the story, but as it too is in Japanese I can’t refer to that for plot points I’m afraid. Does the plot of a Bomberman game REALLY matter though? We all know what we’re here for. BLOWING THINGS UP!!!

As you can see by the title screen at the top of the page you have your typical 3 options of “Normal Game”, “Battle Game” & “Password” for the normal game. If you’ve ever played a Bomberman game you’ll be pretty familiar with these options. If not I’ll explain as we go along. How does Bomberman 4 differ from the others? Well I’m glad you asked…

Here’s the first stage:

Super Bomberman 4

Not a lot in it, is there? Looks like Bomberman 1, Bomberman 2 & Bomberman 3. Bomberman 5 had a massive graphics overhaul which will be covered in another review later on. But here we are, typical Bomberman play. For the uninitiated, You play as Shiro (the white bomber) or Kuro (the black bomber) & using an infinite supply of bombs (though initially you can only use 1 at a time) you must blow up boxes blocking your path to the enemies, collect any powerups that may appear from those blocks, then blow up the enemies, then an exit will appear. You go to that exit & it’s level over. It really is the simplest of concepts.

Super Bomberman 4

Each Bomberman game has little things which differentiate it from the one previous. Bomberman 3 was quite innovative in that it had the Louies (Rooies), who were kangaroo type characters that you could ride. When blown up, some of the blocks in the level would reveal an egg you could collect. It would hatch into a Louie & you could ride it. Each Louie has its own special ability. Yes, it’s Bomberman’s version of Yoshi, but we won’t dwell on that as the Louies aren’t in this game. They do come back in Bomberman 5 however.

Super Bomberman 4

Bomberman 4 expands on this feature by allowing you to defeat enemies & use their special abilities. Some enemies when blown up will become green spotted, or metallic eggs. You collect the eggs, they hatch back into that enemy you blew up & they become your pets, allowing you to ride them & use their special abilities.

Unlike Bomberman 3 you can stockpile these guys allowing you to ride one & carry 2 eggs behind you in reserve. The problem with this is when you lay a bomb you must get those eggs out the way or they WILL be destroyed, even if you’re clear of the bomb yourself. If you are in a 2 player game your ally can come & pinch one of the eggs. This can be a problem in Battle Mode which we’ll cover later.

Super Bomberman 4

Another new idea introduced in this game is the idea of imprisoned Bombers who you can free. In some levels you will see a rattling cage such as the one pictured below. It’s along the left. side of the image.

Blow up the cage & you get yourself an ally for the remainder of the level. Here he is in the top left corner of the screen.

Why is he up there for seemingly no reason? Well the problem is these Bombers aren’t too bright, just seeming to lay bombs at random. This can cause problems as they don’t seem to care where you are when they place them. You don’t HAVE to free them to pass the level, so if you want to leave them to rot in their tiny cages go right ahead. They deserve it!!

Super Bomberman 4

I haven’t touched on the powerups yet. Upon destroying blocks you may find one of the following:

Skates for speed
Wooden sandals to slow you down
Additional bombs
Additional blast power
Viruses that cause random negative affects
Remote control bombs
Protection vest
The ability to kick bombs out of your way
The ability to punch bombs
The ability to be hit once & still remain in the game
Extra lives
Spikey bombs that go through blocks
Clock that freezes enemies
The ability to go through walls
The ability to pick up other Bombermen & throw them
The ability to push other Bombermen
2 others I can’t understand from the manual. One has a picture of a question mark & another as a normal human face. I never saw this item while playing the game, so I don’t know what it is.

Super Bomberman 4

The single player mode showcases some impressive bosses. The guys at Hudson really have a good imagination when it comes to designing some of these.

Not much to say here. Hit them 8 times with a bomb blast & they’re history.

Music is fun as always with variations on Bomberman themes featured in the earlier games. In Bomberman 3 as soon as you turned the console on you would hear a voice saying “By Hudsonsoft”. This voice is back but it’s slightly slower & less high pitched. The little Bombers will speak occasionally, but as it’s in Japanese I don’t really know what they’re saying.

Super Bomberman 4

Let’s move on to Battle Mode. Bomberman 4 gives us a little more yet keeps the improvements introduced in Bomberman 3. You can either choose a generic Bomber or one of the 5 enemies.

Now these guys aren’t just new sprites that look different. Each of the Bombers has their own special ability which can be used to cause problems for the opposition. For example, one of them can swing a ball & chain over their heads knocking items off anyone they hit & scattering them across the screen for other players to pick up. Another one can shoot fire destroying anyone it hits, but he loses all his powerup abilities for a short time afterwards. Now you & all of your friends will want to play Battle mode over & over trying all 6 of them… presumably that was the idea anyway…

Super Bomberman 4

When a Bomber gets blown up you can switch on an option that will allow them to come back & exact revenge on the players still in the play field. They pilot little ships that hover on the outside of the play field & can lob bombs into it. If a player is hit on the head with one of these bombs they get stunned & lose some of their items which will scatter around the screen, so if you blow someone up watch out!!! They may come back & hunt you down.

Super Bomberman 4

Summary.

This is without a doubt my favourite Bomberman game & it’s a shame it was never released outside Japan. What makes it my favourite? I personally think it’s the most innovative of the 5 games. Lots of new ideas which expand on an old favourite. It’s got to be 5/5. Sheer Hudsonsoft brilliance.

Gamer Profile: Cambria Edwards

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I didn’t have gaming consoles growing up, but my cousins did and I was over there all the time. Donkey Kong was one of the first games I ever played and I fell in love. Whenever a new console came out, of course my cousins had it and monopolized it. So I would go in the other room and play my Donkey Kong on the Nintendo. Even in the early 2000’s I would always ask to play until they finally got rid of their system. I was a bit heartbroken and it still remains one of my favorite games to this day. ~Cambria Edwards

Cambria Edwards

Favorite Classic Video Game: So I don’t know if this counts, but my favorite is Nintendo’s, Donkey Kong.

 The Tomb Raider Project:

Tell us about working on the Tomb Raider Project: It was brilliant! Being able to play the most iconic female video game character, having all of her gear and rolling around in the mud (there was a LOT of dirt involved, half of which doesn’t even register on camera). I got to wield my pickax, hang from trees, and I even build a fire for one of the shots. I do archery, so luckily that came in handy as well. In July I went to Comic Con as Lara and it was fantastic.  A lot of people recognized me from the videos and even more were astounded with the costume. It meant a lot to see so many people as passionate about the character and game as I am.

See more of her Tomb Raider work here.

Be sure to check out our other celebrity gamer profiles.

SGB Commander

SGB Commander

Thought I would share something cool that I ordered online. I never realized that something like this existed until recently when I was on ebay. It’s the SGB Commander! What’s that you ask, it’s a controller made specifically for the Super Game Boy. The awesome thing is that you can use it on the Super Famicom or on the Super Nintendo since the controllers aren’t system specific.

SGB Commander

The A and B buttons are in the exact same spot as on the Game Boy, but if you look above that you will see buttons that are specific to the Super Game Boy like Window, Color, Speed and even a Mute button. So now you don’t need to go into the menu to change your colors or frame, you just hit the button. You can speed up or slow down the speed of your game so if you are stuck on a part in your game you can slow it down a bit to help you get through it. The addition of a mute button is pretty neat, though I’m not totally sure how much you would use it. The one thing that I really like about this controller is that it’s a little bit thicker than your usual Super Nintendo controller, but not quite as thick as a Game Boy. It definitely feels a lot more like you are playing the game right on your Game Boy though which is awesome.

Check out this video review from Satoshi Matrix.

Castlevania Dracula X

I thought it’d be interesting to start showing off some obscure pirated/counterfeit games. Pirated games can be a weird thing. They are fake, rare, and cared for or hated. Allow me to introduce the pirate of the day…

Castlevania Dracula X for SNES

Pirate Games - Castlevania Dracula X

There’s not a whole lot different from this pirated version, except if you look very close at the artwork on the label, it’s not as clear of an image. The game is also in Japanese. Other than that I believe it works like a charm. Thought I’d share a few photos of the game.

Pirate Games - Castlevania Dracula X

The back side of the cartridge is blank as can be.

Some screen shots from game play.

MegaMan X3

Megaman x3 - snes - gameplay screenshot

So it’s time for another pick of the week even though it’s a little late but we’ll keep them coming along steadily. This time around we have Mega Man X3 for the SNES. The game itself is the final release in the SNES trilogy of the X series and in my opinion, the toughest one of them all. You may not get a hadoken or a fire punch like in previous games but you’ll get whatever you need to get the job done. Read on!

Capcom has always been known for having such great soundtracks in their games and this one is like the others. The music is memorable and has its classic Capcom bits all over it. You’ll enjoy this soundtrack as much as the previous X games.
Megaman x3 - snes - gameplay screenshot
The graphics are a little disappointing as they look exactly like the first X game graphics! Even with the help of the FX chip, this game wasn’t able to showcase much better graphical interface. I’m not saying I’m disappointed as Capcom and Mega Man games have always had that similarities on their sequels which is that they don’t change much over their releases. The gameplay is king of these series anyways.
Megaman x3 - snes - gameplay screenshot
The X games gave new life to an already used to Mega Man series. This time around, X can climb on walls and such which is something you didn’t see in the original Mega Man series. The game itself is challenging from beginning to end so you better bring your A-game if you want to be able to get through it. I personally think this game is the toughest one of the three in the SNES. If we talk about the rest of the releases in other consoles, well not going to get into that.
Megaman x3 - snes - gameplay screenshot
Mega Man games are always great replay value. The thing about these games is that you can get through it in one run if you know enough of the game that is. Practice makes perfect! I dare you go and play through all three X games in one sitting. I know I would if I had them! Mega Man X collection anyone?
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So to conclude, the game itself is totally worth it. You might end up paying a lot for this in its SNES form so be sure to check out cheaper alternatives like the PS2 compilation or an emulator. You can’t go wrong! Just play this great game and defeat Sigma once more!!

The Classic Gaming Birthday Round Up

The Classic Gaming Birthday Round Up

Over the last two weeks a number of iconic classic games have had birthdays. The following is a grouping of those postings from Patrick Scott Patterson.

August 27

Super Mario Kart celebrates 20 year anniversary today

The original Super Mario Kart, perhapsNintendo‘s biggest 16-bit classic, turns 20 years old today.

The classic racer was first released in Japan on August 27, 1992 with a North American release just days later on September 1. Developed by game industry legend Shigeru Miyamoto and directors Hideki Konno and Tadashi Sugiyama, Super Mario Kart came about in an effort to create a multi-player racing game that improved upon the single player experience of Super Nintendo launch title F-Zero.

The game proved to be one of the strongest titles for the Super NES and Super Famicom, selling 8 million copies during it’s lifespan, a titanic number for that generation of gaming. Sequels and follow-up titles continue to this day, including Mario Kart Wii, the second best-selling game for the successful Wii game console with almost 32.5 million copies sold to date.

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Many fans of the original still look back upon it today.

“At the time of the games release, I was actually into go-kart racing,” said Mario Kart fan Josh Jones of Killeen, Texas. “This was a way for me to experience a whole new way of racing and battling at home. Nintendo did a supreme job incorporating it’s characters into a fun filled game which still has a fan base today.”

The multi-player aspect made an impact on the household of another fan of the game.

Super Mario Kart was the game that settled all the sibling disputes in my household,” said P.J. Stanton of Bordentown, New Jersey. “When my brother and I couldn’t agree on something the winner of argument was determined by a quick race or battle. Of course, by the time we finished playing we usually had forgotten what we were arguing about. My brother and I are estranged now, yet every so often we’ll talk on the phone and the conversation will always lead back to who was the better player.”

August 30th

Original Street Fighter arcade game turns 25

It has now been 25 years since the originalStreet Fighter arcade game first saw the light of day.

Capcom introduced this one-on-one fighter to arcades on August 30, 1987 in two different cabinet styles. The first featured two pressure sensitive “punch” pads while another marked what would be the first-ever six button layout on a fighting game.

While the original Street Fighter was only a modest success, the impact of the game on video game history cannot be fully stated in a short article. Street Fighter II, first introduced in 1991, became the biggest arcade hit since Pac-Man and spawned an entire generation of fighting games. Today, the Street Fighter franchise is one of the most competitive scenes in all of professional video gaming.

“I actually grew up with Street Fighter on arcade back in the day,” said fighting game fan Teri Otis Redding of Australia. “Loved every Street Fighter made pretty much. I think I’ll always remember the arcade experience I had when I was growing up.”

The continued success of the franchise seems pleasing to the maker of products for fighting games.

“Street Fighter has been almost a benchmark for standards on all upcoming games,” said Doug Johnson ofFoeHammer Custom Joysticks. “We love it when they launch a new one because the hype is tremendous.”

August 31st

Arcade classic BurgerTime turns 30 years old

Yet another household name in video game history is celebrating a major milestone this week as BurgerTime turns 30.

August 31, 1982 saw the first public appearance of the game, originally called Hamburger during it’s initial Japanese release. Created by Data East, the game made a big splash at the 1982 AMOA trade show where Data East showed off the title for it’s DECO Cassette System (an early interchangeable arcadesystem) as well as a licensed version from Bally Midway.

BurgerTime featured a chef named Peter Pepper, doing battle with living eggs, hot dogs and pickles who are trying to stop him from making the biggest hamburgers in the world in a multi-level platform. The game gained a loyal following in both coin-op form as well as home console versions from Mattel Electronics.

BurgerTime is one of the defining eighties games,” said Ohio’s J.D. Lowe, holder of the third highest BurgerTimescore ever with 6,109,500 points. “Easy to learn, hard to master, with music that sticks in your head and a design that is hard to replicate.”

Many of the remaining original BurgerTime arcade cabinets have landed in the hands of collectors, including Rhode Islands’ Brian Diamonti, who says he will hold on to his machine regardless of the offer.

“I had a buddy offer to trade me his Joust for myBurgerTime and I had to turn him down,” Diamonti said. “BurgerTime is too much of a staple in gaming roots to trade off and my girlfriend would be too pissed at me.”

BurgerTime made a national television appearance in early 1983 as one of the game titles used in a gauntlet on That’s Incredible. Players had to quickly reach a scoring threshold on the game to move advance to the next game. Texan Ben Gold, who won the televised contest, only had a short time to learn the game.

“I had three weeks to learn it and only one arcade to practice at,” Gold recalled. “Todd Walker was by far the best player on this game and the irony is that his mistake on it is what allowed me to beat him in the competition.”

Numerous sequels to BurgerTime have been released over the past 30 years, including last year’sBurgerTime World TourRay Almeda from MonkeyPaw Games, the company who released the 2011 follow-up, notes the unique concept of the game as a reason for it’s longevity.

“Anybody who plays BurgerTime instantly gets hungrier and hungrier the longer and longer they play,” Almeda said. “Even to this day, Peter Pepper still remains a lovable chef that builds the planet’s biggest burgers. Who would have thought you’d be running from food in a video game? It doesn’t get any more addicting and iconic than that, even after 30 years.”

September 6th

Activision classic Pitfall! reaches 30 year anniversary

The iconic Pitfall! has now reached the 30 year mark.

Originally released on September 6, 1982, this early Activision title was designed byDavid Crane and became an instant best-seller. First released for the Atari Video Computer System (later known as the Atari 2600), Pitfall! sold 4 million copies, a huge number for a game at that time and held the top on best-seller charts for an incredible 64 weeks.

Perhaps the first hit game to popularize the side scrolling style that became a staple of gaming later in the decade, Pitfall! gave players a limited amount of time to overcome in-game obstacles such as pits, crocodiles and giant scorpions in an effort to reach the treasure at the end.

The popularity of the game transcended the title itself with the character of Pitfall Harry at the helm. Pitfall! was one of the video game titles featured in the first season of CBS Saturday morning cartoon series Saturday Supercade. A young Jack Black appears in one of the television commercials for the original game as well.

Pitfall! was our first chance to game as a proper adventurer,” said Jayce Stokes of England’s ConsoleNinjas podcast. “The way it combined maze elements in with the platform staples of timing your jumps and avoiding hazardous drops was unmatched back then.”

As an early example of a game with a finite ending point, completing Pitfall! proved to be a badge of honor among gamers, many of whom say they had a love/hate relationship with the cartridge.

“Who doesn’t love Pitfall!?” said Stockton, California’s John Lopez. “I played it until I thought I’d break my joystick as a kid. The gameplay was great; a running man grabbing the vines, swinging over the pits and quicksand, jumping logs, climbing into the underground caverns, jumping scorpions and collecting treasure. It was one of the coolest games.”

A new version of Pitfall! was recently released for iOS devices, while the original game designer recently opened up a Kickstarter project in an effort to launch a new jungle adventure.

Skyblazer

Skyblazer - SNES - Gameplay Screenshot

Skyblazer (1994)
By: Ukiyotei / Sony Imagesoft Genre: Platform Players: Difficulty: Medium
Featured Version: Nintendo SNES 
Also Available For: Nothing

The arrival of the monstrous 32-bit consoles in the mid 90’s may have brought lots of flashy polygons and lighting effects with them but something else their arrival did was to overshadow a good few of the later releases for the trusty 16-bit machines, and among them was this offering from Sony which must surely have been one of the last games they made for someone else’s console. It takes the form of a platform/adventure game and is actually pretty flashy itself which is just as well since its story is not. It’s an adventure that sees you take the role of a young scamp named Sky, believe or not, which presumably means his adventure will take the form of a ‘blaze’ across the magical kingdom in which he lives; a magical kingdom, incidentally, which is now bereft of its princess, Ariana, who has been kidnapped by the nefarious ‘Lord of War’, Ashura, who intends to use her magical properties to summon Raglan, an ancient creature of unspeakable terror. The story gets a little more detailed with the odd piece of dialogue here and there but the basic objective is – rescue Ariana and smack Ashura upside the head!

Skyblazer - SNES - Gameplay Screenshot

The quest at hand is a rather large one consisting of eighteen stages which are selected, and can also be revisited, via the map screen which shows them spread across the fictional world in question. They include the usual forests, castles, temples, and caverns, as well as a few more unusual locations, and they’re patrolled by a considerable variety of enemies such as sorcerers, dragons, and strange monsters beyond description, all of whom are intent on depleting Sky’s energy meter. He’s a fairly agile guy though. He can run and jump around like any decent platform hero but he can also climb up walls as well which proves to be extremely helpful. His attacks come in two forms. The most basic sees him unleash his fury via punches and kicks which are so ferocious they leave blue swirly things in their wake! These are of course available without restriction. His more potent attacks requires magic power which is represented by a meter similar to the energy one at the top of the screen.
Skyblazer - SNES - Gameplay Screenshot

There are eight magic attacks in all but you start the game with only the first. The others are acquired one at a time after successfully vanquishing successive bosses and, whilst looking quite sparkly and flashy, actually only perform the usual old power-up tricks – more powerful projectile attacks, enemy freeze, temporary shield, smart bomb, etc. You can cycle through all the magics you’ve obtained and of course each has its uses. Using them depletes your magic power, but it’s possible to collect bottles to replenish your reserves. Bottles to recover energy also exist and there are large and small varieties of each. The only other special items to keep your eyes open for are gems. Collecting a hundred of these will award you with an extra life but there’s also some bigger ones dotted around which are worth ten normal ones. All these items are dropped by defeated enemies but they can also often be found around the stages, located in hard-to-reach places of course, so mastering Sky’s movements is key here.

Skyblazer - SNES - Gameplay Screenshot

He doesn’t have a huge repertoire of actions available but control over him is near-flawless, and it needs to be for much of the game. Quite a bit of the action is made up of standard platforming but Sky’s agility is called into question on many occasions as well. There’s some steep walls he needs to clamber up, the second stage mostly takes place through tree-tops with monsters hiding inside, the fourth stage sees him commandeer a mini-hang-glider, there’s a Nebulus-style rotating tower stage with precarious little platforms, and some areas have moving sections of wall which need to be navigated very quickly to avoid a crushing! These comprise but a few examples of the varied gameplay on offer here, and there’s also the bosses. Rather than the usual one boss per stage, here there’s only ten boss battles, but they also invariably require lots of leaping and wall-climbing tomfoolery as well! Fortunately it’s possible to use your magic during these battles and success is generally met with a chit-chat with the old man who guides you through the game and a return to the map screen from where it’s sometimes possible to choose between several stages.

Skyblazer - SNES - Gameplay Screenshot

As mentioned, one area in which Skyblazer excels is the variety between stages. Some games try to add mini-games or bolt-on inappropriate sections that don’t feel right but here the balance has been struck just about right. Each of the many stages is distinctive and each requires a slightly different approach without ever betraying the style and feel of the game. You even have to travel between continents on the map screen by hang-glider which sees the game switch to a 3D view, using trusty Mode 7 of course! A few other touches of Mode 7 have been used during the course of the game too, without ever going overboard, and that’s typical of the graphics used throughout really – instead of trying to do too much, Ukiyotei have ensured that everything is clean, neat, and finely polished, and the result is fantastic. Accordingly, the sprites all feature an ideal amount of detail and the backdrops, whilst generally quite basic, are beautifully drawn with fantastic use of colour throughout.

Skyblazer - SNES - Gameplay Screenshot
There’s some nice special effects during the course of the game, such as the rain on the first stage, and the animation is nice too. The foreground graphics aren’t as varied as the everything else, consisting mostly of rock, but all look great as well. Splendidly, the audio is also of a very high standard. The sound effects are good, although not hugely numerous or memorable, but the music is superb. The style is typical of the SNES and its distinctive sound chip and there’s lots of different tunes which are very rousing and moody and add a lot to the atmosphere of the game. The various stages, as well as the aforementioned variety, are generally very well designed, and increasingly challenging as well (although there is a handy password system). Most of the usual themes are visited here at some point like woodland areas, slippy ice, deserts, castles, etc, but there is usually at least an attempt to do something a bit more interesting with them than the norm.

Skyblazer - SNES - Gameplay Screenshot

When I first started playing this game my initial impressions of it were great anyway, but after the first few stages I really started wondering what might be in store for me on the next one too! Sure enough, throughout most of its length it continually surprised me, and pretty much always in a good way. The rise in difficulty is well-graded – the first day’s play should see you reach the second continent but it does get quite tough and requires some quick thinking as well as quick reflexes. In addition to the modestly-numbered enemies there’s plenty of traps and hazards around the stages such as moving platforms, spikes, fire, and all the usual stuff, as well as a few less common ones like rolling logs. Using (or saving) your magic power also requires a little strategic thinking as it can occasionally be used to pass some of these hazards. Overall, it’s hard to think of anything bad about Skyblazer. The SNES sets the standard pretty high for platformers but this one is a tremendously entertaining, varied, and long-lasting game which deserves your attention, however belatedly. The last good release for the SNES? Probably not but it’s certainly a good release. A very good one in fact!

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hqzYe00NLfw[/youtube]

RKS Score: 8/10

William Lukas Black: Mr. Gravity

Mr.-Gravity-Indie-Games

Name: William Lukas Black

Title: Art Lead (Mr. Gravity)

Company: Mr. Gravity

donkey-kong-country

Favorite Classic Game: Donkey Kong Country

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OuZO4qCLY4o[/youtube]

Why it is your favorite game: I liked how the art in (Donkey Kong Country) popped out at the player. It was one of the first games I can recall that tried to combine 3D (style) characters into a 2D platformer. I also liked how varied the environments were in that game.

Latest sales figures show all three modern consoles now top lifetime NES sales

xbox 360, playstation 3, nintendo wii

Latest sales figures show all three modern consoles now top lifetime NES sales

The Nintendo Entertainment System defied the odds as the 1980s came to a close.  Released in a video game market that American retailers had written off as a fad, the NES not only revived the gaming entertainment industry but set sales figures that blew away the earlier console generation and the previous king, the Atari 2600.

The NES lifetime sales figure of  61.91 million consoles became the biggest prize for anything released after it.  Going into the current crop of gaming consoles, only two consoles ever topped the lofty mark set by the NES:  the original PlayStation and the PlayStation 2.

Now, according to sales-tracking website VGChartz.com the PlayStation 3 has now also topped the lofty NES numbers.  Not only does this put all three PlayStation consoles into the top five best-selling consoles of all-time, but it also means the PS3 joins the Nintendo Wii and XBox 360 in that short list.  All three modern consoles have now topped the NES lifetime sales figures, a first for any console generation in history. (Author’s note: All three consoles have also topped the NES software sales figures, according to the same website.)

“It was just a matter of time before gaming became so popular that the modern big three topped the original console that revitalized the gaming industry,” said Eric Cummings, founder of the group Gaming World Wide.  “I’m happy about it.  It means that the industry has really arrived.”

Another gamer who remains an NES player to this day provided similar thoughts.

“I feel this is proof that gaming is more than just people who play games,” said Eric Perez, host of The 8-Bit Eric Show.  “It is part of a worldwide culture.  The fact that three separate consoles have outsold what I feel was the pioneer of revitalizing gaming shows that the industry is in great shape.  The Nintendo Entertainment System will forever hold it’s place in history, but this is also history in the making.  The next generation of consoles will be something to watch.”

The Top Ten Selling Game Consoles of All-Time (source: combined data from VGChartz.com and Wikipedia listings.  Excludes handheld gaming devices.  All stats are as of date of this article’s publishing.)

1.  PlayStation 2 (Sony, 2000) – 153.68 million units

2.  PlayStation (Sony, 1994) – 104.25 million units

3.  Wii (Nintendo, 2006) – 95.25 million units

4.  XBox 360 (Microsoft, 2005) – 65.80 million units

5.  PlayStation 3 (Sony, 2006) – 62.11 million units

6.  Nintendo Entertainment System (Nintendo, 1983, 1985) – 61.91 million units

7.  Super Nintendo Entertainment System (Nintendo, 1990) – 49.10 million units

8.  Mega Drive / Genesis (Sega, 1988, 1989) – 39 million units

9.  Nintendo 64 (Nintendo, 1996) – 32.93 million units

10. Atari 2600 / VCS (Atari, 1977, 1985) – 30 million units

 

SimCity: The City Simulator

Sim City - PC - Box

If there ever was a game that you weren’t really sure if you were playing a game or using an educational tool…but you didn’t care because it was so much fun, SimCity: The City Simulator was it.  Published by Maxis Software in 1989, SimCity was written by a young Will Wright (he of the incredibly addictive The Sims fame), and would go down as one of the most influential and popular games in gaming history.

In SimCity, players had to construct an entire metropolis starting from nothing but a bulldozer and random terrain.  Along the way to full city status sims begin to populate your city and make demands.  They may need more housing or shopping centers; perhaps crime is rampant and a police station is needed; maybe frequent brown outs are creating a demand for a new power station; perhaps your sims are bored and want a stadium…and so on.  Meanwhile, the city needed just the right level of taxes to encourage growth, yet still pay for all those fire and police stations.  Random emergencies could wreak havoc on your city, with tornadoes devastated entire zones, earthquakes leveling buildings, airplanes crashing and resulting fires requiring immediate response.  If you guided your city with a steady hand, your tax coffers filled up and your sims considered you Simsville’s best Mayor ever.  If you failed to keep on top of the ever-changing developments within your city you could find yourself in the ranks of the unemployed.

Sim City - Amgia - Gameplay Screenshot -

Although the core of the game was designed for open-ended gameplay, the game also included scenarios which revolved around achieving a specific goal within a certain time period.  These were based on both past situations as well as possible futures that urban planners had already had to solve or were in the process of planning for.  The past scenarios included dealing with crime-ridden and an economically-depressed Detroit in 1972; a post-earthquake San Francisco in 1906, and rebuilding Hamburg at the end of World War II (this one was only in the IBM PC, Amgia, and Atari ST version).  Future scenarios included Boston suffering a nuclear plant meltdown and Rio de Janeiro flooding from global warming.  There was even a fantastic scenario based upon the classic Godzilla movies, wherein the player had to rebuild Tokyo after an attack from the King of the Monsters.  Further scenarios were released in the SimCity Graphic Set 1: Ancient Cities and SimCity Graphic Set 2: Future Cities.

Sim City - Amgia - Gameplay Screenshot -

The path to SimCity’s initial release wasn’t an easy one.  Originally titled “Micropolis,” Will Wright, its creator, developed it for the Commodore 64, a platform he had previous success in with the now-classic, Raid on Bungling Bay.  By 1985 the game was ready to go, but he couldn’t find a dance partner willing to publish it, as the powers-that-be struggled with its open path gameplay and lack of winners versus losers.  He believed in the potential of what he had coded, so he partnered with Jeff Braun (a successful publisher of font packs for the Commodore Amiga) and founded Maxis Software in 1987, and sought the rights to publish his game with his own company.  After two more years of code changes and legal wrangling (which included cementing Broderbund Software as Maxis Software’s distribution agent), SimCity was brought before the gaming public.

Sim City - Amgia - Gameplay Screenshot -

Interestingly, although Will Wright had originally coded Micropolis for the C64, the first platforms SimCity was released on were the Apple Macintosh and the Commodore Amiga, followed by IBM PC (MS-DOS) and then the Commodore 64.  EventuallySimCity: The City Simulator would be ported to the Atari ST, ZX Spectrum, Commodore Amiga CDTV, Amstrad CPC, and even the Super Nintendo.   The game was, of course, a smash hit, and garnered several gaming awards, including: Best Computer Strategy Game (Video Games & Computer Entertainment), Game of the Year (Computer Gaming World), Best Consumer Program (Software Publisher’s Association), and many, many more.  Its legacy is also well-recognized, earning a top ten position on the still-respected Computer Gaming World’s 150 Game of All Timelist.

 

Sim City - Amgia - Gameplay Screenshot -

The legacy of SimCity is more than just accolades, as its incredible success motivated Maxis Software to publish many variations on the theme: SimAntSimIsle,SimCopterSimLifeSimFarmSimEarthStreets of SimCitySimTown, and SimSafari.  Maxis even picked up the publishing rights for two similar Japanese games, A-Trainand Yoot Tower (which was renamed SimTower to take advantage of the sim-craze).  SimCity also spawned several sequels and remakes, including SimCity Classic(updated for Windows), SimCity Enhanced CD-ROM (which added FMV to the SimCity experience), SimCity 2000SimCity 3000, SimCity 4, and SimCity Societies.  And, of course, there is a direct link between Will Wright’s SimCity: The City Simulator and his epic seller, The Sims (and all its subsequent sequels and expansion packs).  Clearly,SimCity had a huge impact on the gaming universe.

Sim City - Amgia - Gameplay Screenshot -

Sadly, Maxis Software did not last as an independent company.  Although Maxis had been partnered with Broderbund since its inception, by 1995 they hired their own sales team and launched their IPO, taking Maxis public for the first time.  Unfortunately, the buzz from SimCity 2000‘s success had long worn off, and the pressure to fulfill the stock analysts’ projections took its toll on the company.  Wright and the other designers were pressured to abide by a strict deadline in 1996, with Maxis’ management team demanding all four games in development by released.  The designers complied, but the games they published that year did not catch the gamerverse on fire (I’m looking at YOU, SimCopter), and the share price of the new company which had such an incredible history slide precipitously.   In 1997, Electronic Arts made $120 million stock offer that they couldn’t refuse, making Will Wright and Jeff Braun very wealthy young men.  For his part, Braun became the biggest shareholder of Electronic Arts, and gave him the ability to invest in a variety of technology companies.  As for Will Wright, the money afforded him the time to do what he most loved – and did best – in developing new games.  Thanks, Electronic Arts!

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IzHVcvZw_7Q[/youtube]

If you’ve never played SimCity: The City Simulator, you’ve missed out on an integral piece of gaming history.  For a retro gamer, it’s still as fun as it always was, which is a sign of just how well it was crafted by Will Wright.  Between great gameplay and a long-lasting legacy, SimCity deserves to be on anyone’s best games of all time list.  Pick up a copy and see for yourself!

Magisterrex has been gaming since the days of Pong and still owns a working Atari 2600. He tends to ramble on about retro games, whether they be board games, video games or PC games.  If you’re into classic old school gaming check out his blog here

Sabre: Frag Dolls

Frag Dolls - Ubisoft

Name:  Sabre

Group: Frag Dolls

Company: Ubisoft

Gamer Tag: SabreFD (Xbox Live)

 The Legend of Zelda - A link to the Past

Favorite classic game: The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past

Why?  This was my very first Zelda game, and I feel in love with it as soon as I started playing it. I can remember taking turns playing the game with my dad, and we’d work together to beat the mini-bosses and temples. It was absolutely amazing 😀

[youtube width=”600″ height=”480″]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V_cl7fRiu8M[/youtube]

Super Mario World

Super Mario World - SNES - Box

There’s no doubt that the Mario series is one of the greatest runs in the history of gaming, and no doubt thatSuper Mario World is near the top (if not THE top) of the list. Here is where I give you my opinion. Let me tell you why I’m a bit odd…

I had mentioned during a Sonic review that I preferred that series over Mario. I understand that I’m in the minority, but let me explain…I’ve always preferred my games a bit linear. I like having a goal. I like going from point A to point B to complete that goal. The thing that drives me crazy about the Mario games is that there is so many hidden things, so many warps, so many crazy-ass things going on at the same time, that I sometimes forget why I was playing in the first place…the GOAL. I don’t care about capturing every coin, or every power-up, or finding every secret entrance…I just want to grab that princess and tickle Bowser with my moustache. …or was that the other way around? I just wanted to make myself clear.

Super Mario World - SNES - Map

Anyway, the first thing I wanted to add was…I had fun. I had a lot of fun. There were a couple of times I got stuck and had to hit YouTube for the walkthrough, but …what the hell.

The game starts with the princess getting captured again…which is ridiculous, but these games aren’t known for their clever storylines. Bowser is back with his little minion-creatures, and you have to stop them. Luckily, your brother can help (if you play co-op), and you have a new buddy named Yoshi, who is kind of a cute, lizardy/dino thingy that eats constantly…including most of the bad guys. You can (and will) ride him like a horse, although I personally didn’t have much need for him as long as I had cooler power-ups (more on them later).

Super Mario World - SNES - Gameplay Screenshot- 3

The graphics were the first thing I noticed, where I could tell a huge difference between the NES andSNES processors. The basic look of characters and backgrounds were mimicked from SMB3, but a nice upgrade with the brighter colors. Didn’t look too cartoony, which I thought may be a problem for me. I know this was an early title for the SNES, but was damned impressed with the varied look of the backgrounds, and how smoothly everything ran.

The classic Mario music was all here…light and bubbly for the most part. Very cutesy and expected for the game. It was mixed up for different stages and “boss” fights, the tone changed when necessary…just enough to notice and appreciate, but not distracting.

The sound effects were fun and funny, again expected. Nothing that really jumped out at me…just typical Mario stuff. Jumping, grabbing coins, etc..

The controls were solid, although it can be difficult trying the “combo” buttons like flying (and hold flight). Mario moved fluidly, sometimes a little too fast, but that’s more my problem. Overall, very nice.

Super Mario World - SNES - Gameplay Screenshot- 4

Back to the gameplay, the map system is still present, very similar to SMB3. Complete a level, and a pathway appears for you to travel to the next area. All pretty simple, although there were some hidden areas that needed accessing for pass-through. This is why I needed YouTube. I don’t mind secret areas if they are “bonuses”, but usually frown upon them if they are necessary. Nothing more frustrating to me than completing a level, then finding out I have to redo the level because there was some ordinary block that I was supposed to hit, which will open a secret room, which will give me some key to open another path. Again, I know most people love that stuff, but it irritates the hell out of me. If I’m playing a Tomb Raider game, I don’t want to escape a temple, fly to Rome, complete half that level, then be told the key to the underground tomb is under a rock back in the flippin temple…got it? Having ranted that, this game didn’t nearly have as much of that nonsense as I expected, and (to me) nowhere near as much as some other Mario and Zelda games.

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

I will say the overall challenge of the game was not very high (which I liked), not including my cheating. CHALLENGE, I like. Frustratingly impossible, I don’t. I was grabbing power-ups like they were going out of style, and I found an area or two where I could farm the crap out of 1-ups. Not cheating exactly, but I wanted to make sure I could complete the game. Most levels were pretty easy to get through, and the replay value (for most people) is extremely high because of the countless secrets.

The bosses were ridiculously easy, just bounce on their heads a couple of times…and there you go. Not really a challenge.

Mario could get super, ride a dinosaur, swim, fly with a magic cape, spin-kick some dudes…all good fun. I really did enjoy the hell out of this game, and the imagination that goes into developing something like this should always be held in the highest regard, even if you’re not a fan of cute platformers (which I am).

I also found myself highly addicted to completing the game, which is the highest compliment I can give. I certainly never got bored with it, or probably ever would. Maybe I’ll get back to it someday and try to find those many secrets I passed up…the game does have save features after all.

Overall, I give it a 9/10. In most people’s eyes this is a perfect game, and it is great. But, the game was either too easy or too difficult, depending on the level or if the “hidden area“ NEEDED accessing. That balance was just wacky. But, it was fun…and that’s usually all I ask out of a game.

 

Console Wars: SNES vs Genesis

snes-sega

Ah, the console wars of the 1990’s it was a time when most people only had one and whichever side you were on you believed it was the best. Either you were a Super NES fan or Sega Genesis fan and both companies took advantage of this, but Sega really played to their fanboi audience.

Remember this commercial:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zlulSyBI2aY[/youtube]

Blast processing, it was a marketing term to make you believe the Genesis was completely superior to the SNES, but what SNES fans noticed was graphics. Often Genesis fans talked about how fast games seemed and said Sonic could not run on and SNES. However, we know that the Genesis only had a palette of 512 colors while the SNES had over 32 thousand. Not only that, but the SNES could show you 256 different colors on one screen while the Genesis could only show you 62. The result was the sprites and backgrounds did run faster on the Genesis because they were less detailed, but were much clearer and detailed on the SNES.

Mortal Kombat

As far as sound the SNES won again and again we can use Mortal Kombat as an example. The sounds in the SNES port were much better than the Genesis and the reason is simple. The Genesis had a Yamaha sound chip and a Texas Instruments PSG, with 8K of sound memory between them. The SNES had a custom designed Sony sound chip and Sony DSP, with 64K of sound memory giving it the clear advantage. The result was clearer sounds with more audible tones available to be heard.

Now when it comes to controllers that is more players choice, many Genesis fanbois said the size of the controller were made for men and the SNES for little boys and girls, but most gamers will tell you the SNES was a better pad and Sega original game pad was a ripoff of the Nintendo design.

SEGA_vs_NINTENDO_STREET_FIGHTER_2

The most important contest was in the games department. Now don’t get me wrong, Sega had a ton of great games and even ports like Mortal Kombat that looked better on the SNES were more fun on the Genesis. However, talking classics SNES wins hands down which is why they seem to keep remaking those classics over and over.

Oh and BTW there was a bootleg port of all the Sonic games for the SNES and they ran just fine, so much for blast processing.

Ok maybe this isn’t the best example.

So which side were you on?

Super Double Dragon

Super Double Dragon - Super Nintendo Entertainment System
During the late 80s and early 90s you couldn’t go to a video game arcade and not play a beat em up game. These games were so popular that people would spend all their quarters on them just to get past a few levels. The games were challenging but they were also about team work, or being an asshole. I’m sure many of you heard of playing cooperative mode only to have your friend pick up the power up which you needed the most. There weren’t that many good ports of arcade games to consoles due to the difference in hardware and such but there was a game that was purely made for 16-bit beat em up action, that’s where Super Double Dragon comes in.

Super Double Dragon - Super Nintendo Entertainment System

Super Double Dragon is also known as Double Dragon 4 and it’s by far the best Double Dragon game to date. The game’s soundtrack is a joy to listen to and the gameplay is incredible. You feel like you are in control of your guy more than in most other beat em up games. Billy and Jimmy come packed with amazing moves that help you create different ways to defeat the bad guys. Just like the other Double Dragon games, you don’t know how much life bar your opponent has so all that’s left to do is to beat the hell out of him (or her at some times but not in this game) and hope they will vanish after getting their ass kicked.

 

Super Double Dragon - Super Nintendo Entertainment System

The game doesn’t have that many levels but makes up for it with great level design. The places are very atmospheric to their surroundings and make you feel like if you are in that city looking at Billy and Jimmy beat up all these freaks. You’ll be able to use all kinds of weapons including knives, sticks, nun-chucks, and objects. They will become very helpful to defeat those assholes but you should beware of the knife because if it hits you, you are dead! There are different bosses in each level as usual but you never get the feeling they are the boss until they come out of nowhere and start to beat you up. They have no boss song or anything which makes the game look even more real, gotta love going in the streets and beating bad guys up. The police never shows up!

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=27Ukz-L-MXU[/youtube]

 

All in all, this game is a masterpiece and with added techniques and even the “bulk” mode technique you’ll be able to have a blast. This game is just that much funner with a pal as well. It’s for sure that two heads are better than one.

TMNT IV: Turtles in Time

TMNT Turtles in Time

This was the first ever SNES title I ever got with the good old console and what an awesome ordeal! The game is just amazing and prove how close consoles were getting to the arcade machines we praised so much in the early 90s. The only thing the game is missing is the four player feature which would have made it a perfection of all perfection for the SNES. Anyhow, this game gave me endless hours of fun. I can play it over and over without getting bored.

TMNT Turtles in Time
Konami made sure you played their games to the death. The only way to see the real ending is to beat this game in hard, you have no other choice. Unlike today’s games, this was what gaming was all about. The game is full of amazing gameplay and great animation. This game started to show what the SNES could do and what the Genesis couldn’t do. Speaking of the Genesis, the game completely changed with another story but similar gameplay. The game was fun as well but in my personal opinion, the SNES rules on top.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BDq1EczJ5M0[/youtube]

 

What else to say about this gem? the game has some interesting options like changing the turtles colors from the cartoon to something called comic. Each turtle has their own strengths and weaknesses. Picking up this game will cost you at least 20 dollars loose but if you are as lucky as me, you will find a CIB copy for 2 bucks. Har har har! Until next time!

E3 2011: Classic Gaming Museum

Classic Gaming Museum - E3 2011

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.

Classic Gaming Museum - E3 2011

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.

Classic Gaming Museum - E3 2011

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.

Classic Gaming Museum - E3 2011

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.

 

The Shadow

 

The Shadow

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.

The Shadow - Super Nintendo - Gameplay Screenshot

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.

 

Donkey Kong Country

Donkey Kong Country - SNES Box
There is a lot to say about this title. Not only did it gave me orgasms back in 1994, but it changed the way I looked at monkeys. According to this game, monkeys kick ass! They sure did when they released this masterpiece called Donkey Kong Country for the SNES. With the enhanced chip it came with the graphics got a big boost to the 32bit level. If you have played the game you will probably wet your pants as you see how beautiful it looks. Then again, with consoles nowadays there is no comparison but back then it was the game to play. If you haven’t played this game then stop reading this and go play it so that you can at least get a feel for it.

Donkey Kong Country Gameplay Screenshot
The game is quite simple. Games don’t need to be complicated to be good you know. There have been games that are just way too complicated which in the end, bores us to death. This is your typical platformer game where you jump, throw, and even hit the floor in order to destroy your enemies. In this game, you play as the almighty Donkey Kong and his sidekick Diddy Kong. Now, I’m not sure what their relation is but it feels that Donkey Kong is taking part of a big brother program and therefore is stuck with the Diddy. Either way, the work as a great time and it shows as from experience, these two work the best from the other two duos in later games.

Donkey Kong Country Gameplay Screenshot
Your main goal in the game is to recover your stolen bananas and you better do it quickly because bananas tend to rot if you don’t eat them in the coming days which makes me wonder why would he go after bananas that might be rotten by the time he gets to them. Poor Donkey Kong, he is sure in a very tight situation. Nevertheless, you go around the “country” and defeat each boss to recover your bananas. How dare they steal your food for the hibernation period!

Donkey Kong Country Gameplay Screenshot

The levels are very well done and takes advantage of your monkey’s abilities. There are secrets around every corner which should keep you busy especially if you want to discover them all. Now that will give you something to do for the whole summer. You also won’t have trouble listening to the game as the music is beautiful and very nature-like.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OuZO4qCLY4o[/youtube]
Be sure to practice your monkeys a lot because you’ll be going through some tougher levels later in the game. The game becomes moderately harder but not hard enough for you to say fuck this! I’m out!

Super Mario Bros 3

Super Mario Bros 3 - Gameplay Screenshot 1Super Mario Bros 3

Super Mario Bros 3 is the supreme of all Marios whether you like it or not. This game is as complete as a Mario game ever was and it’s considered the best Mario game of all time. So lets get started with the discussion.

The Game

The game is what every other platformer become in that era. Everyone wanted to copy the Super Mario Bros games as they were really successful and good at what they did which involved level design, graphics, and sound. The game overall is a joy to play through as many of you might have already experienced it. There is just so much to do in the game that playing through the worlds without using the whistle will take you at least an hour. There also various power ups and secrets that you’ll always be coming back for more as you can find different ways to reach Bowser for the final battle. It’s always fun to come back to this game and find a different path to reach the deadly world 8. There are many memorable worlds in this game that will make you wonder if there is a limit to Shigeru Miyamoto’s creativity. You are in for an amazing adventure!
Super Mario Bros 3 - Gameplay Screenshot 2
Speaking of the game graphics? Aren’t they a joy to see to this day? The game does bring you very sharp graphics that you would think you are playing a Super Nintendo game at some point. In fact, there are some that feel that way but I’ll have to talk about those some other time. The game does deliver you what you are supposed to be looking at. What I mean is that if you see a brick, it is a brick and if you see a monster that you are able to beat by jumping on it, well you’ll be able to do so again. There are so many games out there that trick you into doing things that are not possible in them. Some of them are just tricks while others are just plain bad design. You won’t have problems with this game though as everything is what it’s supposed to be.
Super Mario Bros 3 - Gameplay Screenshot 3

 

The vast amount of bad guys and levels in this game makes it very unique. My only complain though is that this game should have come with a battery in it so you can save your progress because lets face it, this game is gigantic and some of us will get to a point in the game and want to rest up for a while and come back to it later. Zelda got it so why not Super Mario Bros 3? The Famicom version didn’t came with a battery as well. Nevertheless, the game is a joy from start to finish and if you want to be able to save your game you can always purchase the Super NES version of it that comes with Super Mario All-Stars.

There is so much more to say but I don’t want to take the entire page to talk about it. There are many things to talk about such as the missing levels and the obscurity of World 9 but they’ll have to come some other time. They are quite interesting topics after all.

Should you buy it?

Super Mario Bros 3 - Gameplay Screenshot 1
This question should be self answered without me having to write anything here. Of course it’s a must buy for any gamer out there. This is the reason why we have great video games to this day. The amazing work this game represents is still unmatched. You can pick this game up for a mere ten dollars from eBay but if you are still a cheap bastard and don’t want to spend a little money for such a big game, then emulators is your answer. I think this game should be in anyone’s collection retro gamer or not. Have some respect will ya?

 

 

Final Fantasy II

Final Fantasy 2 - snes - Gameplay Screenshot
Final Fantasy II for the SNES is the reason why I started playing RPGs altogether. The storyline shocked me at times and gave me joy at others but I can say this is one of the best games for the 16-bit console. The game is your average turn based role playing game which were really huge back then and are still quite popular nowadays. Final Fantasy II is unique in a couple of things such as the ability to have up to five members in your party and the active battle system it withholds. When I say five characters is unique is because it really was unique since very few games would let you have five members in your party at any point. Most role playing games would let you have up to three or four. It was quite something to have five and I think it all helped demonstrate the power of the SNES in its early run.

Final Fantasy 2 - snes - Gameplay Screenshot

The active battle system is what it stands for. The monsters won’t wait for your turn to attack, they’ll just keep attacking whether you attacked or not so be sure to make your decision on an attack as soon as you can. It’s very vital for your survival to be able to attack quickly and successfully as fast as you can. So moving on, this game’s story line is also something to enjoy. There is betrayal, change, and love all put into one cartridge. What’s not to love? It’s one of the best RPGs for the SNES period! The game is packed with a lot of peculiar characters and the usual Final Fantasy touch although I have to admit the Final Fantasy touch died years ago especially if you have played the latest Final Fantasy. What a sad reality we are having nowadays, that’s one of the reasons I stick with retro gaming and there are more to talk in that matter but I’ll leave it for another time.

Final Fantasy 2 - snes - Gameplay Screenshot

 

The game starts you off on a mission with Cecil, the dark knight and Kain, the dragoon. These two friends will soon find out they were tricked by the king on destroying a peaceful town and then separated against their own will. Don’t worry though, they’ll eventually meet up again but I don’t want to give away any more spoilers, that would be just awful. Nevertheless, the game is packed with a long enchanting adventure and a wonderful music score. You know it’s a good score especially when you keep playing the tunes on your head hours after putting down the control pad. The difficulty of the game is moderate as there are parts of the game that you’ll need to level up in mega-old school style. It’s quite fun to this day as you learn new spells and increase your attack against monsters that used to beat you easily. The tables will eventually turn.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CH1oWbo7GZw[/youtube]

To conclude, this game is something to be a part of and it would be a sin not to play it. Give it a try, it’s quite good. If you aren’t into all the retro look then I suggest you pick up the remake for the Nintendo DS as it’s in full 3D but if you ask me, I prefer the original look. eBay is a good place to pick up the game although it’ll be quite pricey. You can also go for the cheaper alternative and get the GBA port of Final Fantasy 2 which they renamed it to the original number Final Fantasy 4. You have many different alternatives to this game so I suggest you pick them up and enjoy the awesomeness Square used to offer.

MegaMan X to the Virtual Console

Megaman x gameplay screenshot

Power up that Mega Buster, the classic 1993 Super Nintendo game, MegaMan X is coming to the Wii via the Virtual Console for 800 points.

Hundreds of years after his death, Dr. Light’s final creation is discovered. Released from his capsule by Dr. Cain, “X” is born into the world of the future where robot rebellions are a thing of the past. But when Dr. Cain tries to implement Dr. Light’s designs into a new series of Reploids, something goes horribly wrong. Now, the future lies on the brink of destruction and X must use all of his newfound powers and abilities to hunt down the maverick Reploids and their leader, Sigma, before the human race is wiped from the planet!

Megaman x gameplay screenshot

The game is available now.

 

Mega Man X

mega_man_x_coverart

Another Mega Man hit for the SNES. Although in my opinion there were many hits on the SNES involving the blue bomber, this one always brings me back. The game starts like no other Mega Man game has started before which is with a first level of no use but to move the story forward somehow. After that first level, almost all Mega Man games used that technique to introduce you to the game. The game takes a lot of advantage of the SNES pad for once. You have the R and L buttons that helps X change power ups and buttons such as A to help him dash.

mega-man-x-collection

 

The introduction to many other factors in a Mega Man game were introduced and although the series turned from good to bad in the final games(X6 and X7 mostly), it’s still one of the more interesting series around. What I didn’t liked as much is how they turned away from the more appealing Mega Man storyline. There is a lot of weirdness going on but in the end, it’s acceptable. The gameplay is full shoot at everything around you style. It’s a great game if you are just starting to play platformers or the SNES overall. I highly recommend it for any player starting to play SNES games. Until next week!

Super R-Type

Super R Type Gameplay Screenshot

One of my favorite shmups back in the 90s and especially during the console wars of the SNES-Genesis was Super R-Type. I remember going to my friend’s house just to play this game and had a blast with it. It’s just one of those games that would leave me breathless. This game at least for the most part always keeps me wanting come for more. I’m glad I was able to find this game once again. I don’t have to keep bothering my friend anymore to play it although I stopped doing that over ten years ago. Anyways, the gameplay is your solid shmup gameplay that involves a lot of shooting and a lot of power ups. The game of course increases in difficulty as you get to the later levels so take the first couple levels as training.

Super R Type Gameplay Screenshot

The game is also really great graphically and a must have for any shmups fanatic! The game can get quite challenging so if you are looking for a good challenge on shooting form, don’t hesitate to try this one out. Like any game, you can master this one with practice. Some of you may need a lot of practice while others not much at all especially gamers that are used to these kind of games.

Overall, this is one of those games that brings back memories of my childhood. It’s always great to have games like these. I’m sure many of you have sentimental games that’ll give you a flashback of your youth. In this case, I always remember taking the controller away from my friend so that I would play it only to loose five seconds later. Let us keep those memories alive forever. Until next week!

Ads From The Past: Retro Rewind

Street Fighter 2010 NES ad
When Street Fighter 2 was taking over the world Capcom took the opportunity to try to sell a crappy game with its name. Street Fighter 2010 -The Final Fight- was the result. The game is quite difficult and can be very tedious especially if you don’t have any patience. 

 

Classic video game ads
I gotta say I rather enjoy the ads where they showcase a lot more games in just one page especially if they aren’t that good to begin with.
Ninja Spirit ad
Ninja Spirit for the Turbo Grafx is well kinda of bland. I just don’t understand why the Turbo Grafx ads were so unappealing. They deliver a message but why does the background of every ad I have seen so far for a Turbo Grafx game the color white. Where these guys trying to save on ink? I sure hope not….
Nightmare on Elrm Street ad
For such an awesome movie this was such a horrible game. Leave it up to LJN to screw things up over and over again. Enter Nightmare on Elm Street for the NES. The game is at least somewhat playable and beatable if you have the patience for it. I dare you to play through this one!

Konami Handhelds ad

Konami sure took advantage of the handheld craze back in the day. They released many handhelds from their favorite titles. I was lucky enough to find a TMNT handheld to add to my collection but I’ll surely be looking out for these ones.
Toys r us ad
Here we have a nice ad from Toys R Us. They carried everything back in the day. I remember how they used to have their consoles for you to play the latest games on….Those were the days….
Starship Hector NES ad
This one is based on the game Starship Hector for the NES. The game was released by Hudson Soft so you can expect it to be something above average. Hudson Soft always delivered great games you know.

Phelios & Burning Force Genesis ads

Continuing with the Sega trend, we have yet another ad from it. The ad is very simple and has a nice look. The Pac-Man dude helps with giving the ad some attention. As good as the cover art may look, I’m sure these games are just your average Sega titles but I could be wrong.
Pictionary NES ad
Making crappy games interesting was a huge part of video gaming back in the late 80s and 90s and this is just one of the bunch. I’m not saying the game is horrible but it’s not something I would play on a daily basis or in a session of retro gaming goodness. The ad itself portrays it as a game that anyone can pick up and play although if you were smart enough to not buy into the ad, you’ll be good. For the rest of you, run for your lives!
SNK Video Games Ad It mainly shows off some of the good titles from SNK before they dumped Nintendo and decided to go up against them. There is one title on this ad that I think should be in anyone’s list, care to guess? The answer is Crystalis!

Chrono Trigger

Chrono Trigger - PS1 Box

This game was one of the reasons I fell in love with RPGs. It had pretty much everything you could ask for in a game. Great story, great characters, and of course great gameplay is only a few of the amazing features this game brought. The story is the usual gotta save the world from evil but in the end it’s a fun story to play through. The game also has multiple endings so it’ll keep you coming back and fix what you did wrong to get the better ending. The gameplay is pure genius as you battle Final Fantasy style but instead of going to another screen like most RPGs. Your battle will happen wherever you find your enemies. It’s simple, fun, and exciting to battle these monsters.

 

ChronoTrigger - Gameplay Screenshot

Another feature of the battle system is the combined attack combos where you can apply combos with your allies for higher damage. You’ll of course need both allies to have their battle gauge filled and for them to have enough points to complete the attack. If one player doesn’t have enough MP, then you are out of luck.

 

Furthermore, the game features side quests that you can accomplish when you get tired of following the story among many other things. The best feature of the story that I like is the time travel factor. You can travel through time to help save the world, how fantastic! So that’s about it, be sure to pick this one out as I highly recommend it. Until next week!

Did you know? There was a text based game called Radical Dreamers that unveils a lot of info of both Chrono Trigger and Chrono Cross games. Neat huh?

F1 ROC: Race of Champions

Exhaust Heat - F1 ROC - Race of Champions - Title Screen

Exhaust Heat a.k.a. F1 ROC: Race of Champions (1992)
By: Seta Co.Ltd Genre: Racing Players: 1 Difficulty: Medium
Featured Version: Nintendo SNES
Also Available For: Nothing

After I’d had my SNES for a while and played the first few games I had to death, I started to gradually add a few more to my collection, and one of the first games of my second batch was this F1 racer. After playing F-Zero so much of the previous year, I had high expectations of this, especially given its glowing Mean Machines review. Granted, on paper an F1 game doesn’t sound as exciting as a futuristic racer featuring hovering jet-cars that blast around the obstacle-filled courses at speed in excess of 400kph, but being a big fan of F1, I was looking forward to it all the same. First impressions after turning the game on were good – the title screen is nice and the presentation over the menu/options screens is really nice, but once I made all the selections I needed to and actually started playing the game my heart sank.

Exhaust Heat - F1 ROC - Race of Champions - Gameplay Screenshot 1

Whilst also featuring a Training Mode (a ‘quick race’ arcade- type mode, basically), the main play mode in Exhaust Heat is its comprehensive Grand Prix mode (career mode). Here you take on the role of both team owner and driver. You’ll start the game with a little money and must earn more through your racing – obviously the better you do, the more you’ll make. First things first though. Before you begin, you need to select a slot (giggity) in which to save your game. You can then opt for a Test Run which gives you two laps to familiarise yourself with the course, or jump straight into the Race. Here you must first qualify for the race before taking your place on the grid and racing amongst a field of eight cars. Each season consists of 16 races based on what at the time were the actual races on the F1 calendar (this was of course before all the new ones started being introduced).

Exhaust Heat - F1 ROC - Race of Champions - Gameplay Screenshot 2

The drivers are also based on the F1 drivers of the time, with the emphasis firmly on the ‘based on’ part! It seems that Seta didn’t have the license to use the actual driver or team names so we have some vague approximations being used here, but the drivers all look like who they’re based on (Mansell, Senna, Prost, etc). One thing that is not based on actual F1, however, is the ability to customise your car. Well, in real F1 I guess you can change wings, tyres, engines, etc, but I’m pretty sure they don’t use nitrous oxide! For yes, the cars here are able to employ the use of nitro’s amongst other things, and very useful it is too. The customisation options are actually pretty extensive for an arcade-style racer, allowing you to alter front, middle, or rear downforce, add faster/lighter components, change brakes, chassis, fill up the nitrous tanks, and install more powerful engines. This all costs money of course, which must be earnt by doing well in races (or by doing badly many many times).

Exhaust Heat - F1 ROC - Race of Champions - Gameplay Screenshot 3

Something else that costs money is damaging your car during a race. In a slightly unfair alteration to real F1 courses, running off the course here, even by just a small amount in some places, will not result in gravel traps as you might expect, but instead, what seem to be masses of solid concrete. These not only cause damage to your car but are also a real pain to get away from. If the damage-meter fills up, it’s game over. You can repair your car by visiting the pits, but as you might imagine, the time-delay in doing this during a three lap race pretty much ruins any chance of winning, and finishing a race with a damaged car sees you incur financial penalties, so the only way to get maximum money is to drive perfectly. That’s pretty much my biggest gripe with this game – it can be very frustrating. A great run can be ruined by hitting… well, anything really. Contact with other cars often results in a 180 degree spin, and straying off course usually has the annoying effect already mentioned.

Exhaust Heat - F1 ROC - Race of Champions - Gameplay Screenshot 4

Aside from that, the game looks very plain and there’s very little variety in the backgrounds. I know that’s to be expected with this kind of game, but even the cars are small and lack detail, and the Mode 7 effect, made famous with the aforementioned F-Zero, is less impressive here. There’s no in-game music either which is a shame as the music that does exist is pretty good, much like the presentation generally. It can be a pretty fast game when it gets going though, and it will last a while too. The Grand Prix mode doesn’t last for a mere season – you can carry on as long as you want, as far as I can tell. I believe I was a five-time defending World Champion at one point! After the initial disappointment of seeing the game for the first time, I did get into Exhaust Heat after a while. I always enjoy a good career mode to get my teeth into, but the game hasn’t aged well and despite still being reasonably playable once you’ve readjusted to it, there are so many superior racing games on the SNES, it’s hard to think of a reason why you would. Okay, maybe that’s a bit harsh – it’s really not that bad, but don’t expect to be bowled over!

RKS Score: 6/10

Top Five SNES Shoot em ups

Games-Related Top Fives Disclaimer: I’ve traditionally stuck to the games I know and love so far, and these game-related top fives reflect that. One of the purposes of this blog is diversify my gaming experiences, to play games I haven’t played before, so I will do new game-related top fives in a few years to see how different they are!

If I review any SNES shmups in my upcoming features that get really high scores, they don’t appear in this Top Five because I hadn’t played them before! (a.k.a covering my arse!)

Macross Scrambled Valkyrie - gameplay screenshot

5. Macross: Scrambled Valkyrie (1993)

I didn’t discover this one until fairly recently as it was only released in Japan but I was certainly glad I did find it! It’s based on an older anime and as such you can choose between three characters, each of whom has their own variation of the ‘Valkyrie’ fighter with unique weapons, all of which can be upgraded. The ships have an energy meter rather than lives and they can also switch between three different forms at will too, each of which is more useful in certain situations than others, as you might expect. There’s a good few other nice features here too (including enemies with tractor beams – grrr!) and that, combined with the superb graphics and decent soundtrack, makes this a pretty damn fine shmup. It would be higher on the list if only it wasn’t so bloody difficult though!

Pop n Twin Bee - Gameplay Screenshot

4. Pop’n’ TwinBee (1993)

There had to be a ‘cute em up’ on the list somewhere and this is surely the finest on the SNES! Indeed, although there had already been numerous games in the TwinBee series, this was the first one to be deemed worthy of a release outside of Japan. It’s the easiest game in this list by far too, which makes it a nice break for one thing, and it’s certainly a rather unique game too. Either one or two players can play at once piloting the strange creatures, TwinBee and WinBee, through the unusual stages filled with both airborne and ground-based enemies including all sorts of oddities. It’s probably not the most technically proficient game here but the backgrounds and sprites are beautifully drawn making it the nicest to look at anyway, in my opinion, and the music is fantastic too. This definitely won’t be your thing if you dislike cute games but for everyone else it’s a superbly entertaining and original game.

R-Type 3 - Gameplay Screenshot

3. R-Type 3 (1994)

Despite its name, this is actually the sixth game in the great R-Type series and for many people the best. It would be nearly impossible for it to have anywhere near the impact of the first title but it adds a lot to the existing games. Not least is the ability to choose from three different Forces, each with its own weapons, and it must also surely rank as the finest shmup on the SNES, graphically. It features none of the slowdown that blighted the otherwise awesome Super R-Type but adds bigger sprites, some fantastic backgrounds, and superb bosses. The levels, too, are pretty creative with not only the usual kinds of enemies but also all manner of moving scenery which actually causes more problems than the enemies do. Indeed, this is a notoriously tough game and one that I’ve never managed to finish but I’ve sure enjoyed trying!

Axelay - Gameplay Screenshot

2. Axelay (1992)

Konami unleashed this amazing game pretty much out of the blue and it took SNES owners by storm, myself included! There could be many reasons for this including the graphics which are at worst good, and at best jaw-dropping, or the fantastic soundtrack, but it must surely be the innovative and varied stage design that clinched it – there’s a few new ideas here which work really well. For starters the game alternates between vertically and horizontally-scrolling stages. The former makes use of a pseudo-3D viewpoint combined with Mode 7 graphics to create an amazing scrolling landscape effect and the latter is packed full of moving scenery, barriers, and lots of crafty enemies that try to halt your advance in any way possible! Axelay hasn’t aged at all and remains a superb and varied shmup that still commands a strong following today. Just one question… Why no sequel?

Super Aleste - Gameplay Screenshot

1. Super Aleste (1992)

Some may disagree with me but I still think this is one of the best vertical-scrollers of all time, and certainly the best shmup for the SNES generally, and the reason for this is simple – there’s pretty much nothing about it that isn’t awesome! The graphics may not be quite as flashy as some other shmups but they’re still superb, detailed, and varied. The second stage in particular is noteworthy, featuring a distant enemy base that gradually gets closer and closer (using some splendid Mode 7, of course), all the while firing missiles at you from afar, until if finally gets close enough for you to shoot up! The sound is also fantastic too, with some great music, speech, and some very bassy explosions. There’s also eight varied and customisable weapons which can all be powered-up, twelve long, well-designed stages, but best of all it has the most perfectly-pitched difficulty curve of any shmup I’ve played. A truly awesome shooter.

Street Fighter 2 Turbo

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Street Fighter 2 Turbo

One of the most influential fighters for any fighter game in particular is none other than Street Fighter 2 and what could make it a better experience? Turbo! The game went to the next level as the savvy creators (Capcom) decided it would be a good idea to let you play as the boss fighters(Bison, Vega, Sagat, and Barlog). As many of you know, the original Street Fighter 2 for the SNES came with some bugs that were later fixed in this version which is why I picked it rather than the original one. You not only get more playable fighters but you also get the turbo setting which increases the speed of the game. I do have to agree that the original Street Fighter 2 was kinda of slow but that’s for today’s standards. Back in the day, it used to kick ass and we just couldn’t wait for our fighter to land that flying kick that would take like an hour to land. It was just awesome…..

Street fighter 2 turbo - hyper-fighting - Title Screen

Part of the game is also to pick your fighter. I have and will always pick Ryu as the fighter of choice for myself. I like him mostly because he is the easiest fighter to play with and has very interesting and effective moves. Of course, all fighters have their strengths and weaknesses to keep the game balanced. I used to know a couple of freaks that loved playing as Dhalsim and kicked my ass with that Indian fighter. Like I said, it’s only a matter of finding which fighter suits you best and most of all, learn their strengths and weaknesses.

Street fighter 2 turbo - hyper-fighting - Gameplay Screenshot

Yeah this game is full of interesting features such as the ending with all the fighters posing which you can only get if you don’t take damage through the whole game and you have to beat it with the highest difficulty, yeah it’s not much. Even if you are a Sega fan, the Genesis version is also a good choice. It all depends on which one you like and feel more comfortable with.

Street fighter 2 turbo - hyper-fighting - SNES Box

Well there is not much to say that many people have mentioned before. If you get a chance you can check out the arcade machines if there are still any left or better yet, buy yourself a 3DO console with the Street Fighter game but that will cost too much. The 3DO version is also the closest to the arcade and almost perfect. That should do it for this week.

The Interview: Jonathan Biddle: Curve Studios

Explodemon Screenshot

Curve Studios

A few weeks ago, we told you about Explodemon, a classic gaming inspired platformer to be released on the Playstation Network, Xbox Live and WiiWare. Obsolete Gamer had a chance to talk with Jonathan Biddle, design direct at Curve about the game and his gaming background.

Can you tell us about your gaming background?

Jonathan Biddle: I was basically raised by games! They have far and away been the most prevalent form of entertainment in my life. I started gaming on the early black & white paddle-based tennis games, which we had as far back as I can remember, progressing through to the ZX Spectrum, and eventually to the Atari ST (unfortunately my dad didn’t buy an Amiga). I moved onto consoles at that point, owning every major home console from Mega Drive & SNES through to the PS3 and 360, and doing some especially heavy importing during the PS2 era.

I was also a frequent arcade visitor, most notably for Street Fighter II, around the time of SSFII Turbo and Alpha 1.  I did miss a large part of classic PC gaming because I didn’t own a home computer until about 1997. That meant I originally missed out on X-Com, Doom, Quake and so on. When I did get a PC, I focused mostly on emulators, playing as much stuff as I could on MAME, ZSNES/xSNES9x, Neo-RAGEx, ePSXe, Final Burn, Project 64, etc. I remember telling someone that I had access to a six-figure count of games at my flat at one point. Obviously this was before I was a father!

What was it like working on the game before bringing it to Curve?

Jonathan Biddle: It was amazingly enjoyable. I’d never been able to code before, so it was all a huge process of discovery. At every stage I just thought to myself ‘I wonder if I can do this?’ It seemed that the answer was always ‘Yes’ as long as I just kept at it, so that’s what I did. I pushed the game far beyond what I thought I was capable of. I could pick and choose various gameplay elements from the games I’d been inspired by and just try them out. It was really empowering.

 

Explodemon Screenshot 1

Can you expand more on what inspired you to create Explodemon?

Jonathan Biddle: I don’t know why, but I’m constantly driven to create. If I’m not making something, I get fidgety, agitated; ideas start to bubble over and I just have to get them out. When I started Explodemon, I was feeling particularly unfulfilled in my creative work, and so desperately had to seek some kind of outlet. That ended up being Game Maker, and Explodemon.

When did you begin working on Explodemon?

Jonathan Biddle: I started the prototype at the beginning of November 2005. There was then a long and complicated road to starting the PS3 version in November 2009.

How long was the development process?

Jonathan Biddle: I worked on the prototype over two main periods. The first chunk of work, which spanned from November 2005 to March 2006, was purely done in my spare time. By the end of that period the game was pretty much fully formed, but a bit rough around the edges and needing some features to flesh it out. I then did a couple of months more that summer – adding some features and kicking the game into a much more finished shape, based on feedback I was getting from players.

The PlayStation 3 version took about a year to finish, but Christmas slowed things up and we had a bumpy submission with a few tricky bugs, so we weren’t on the PlayStation Store until this Feb.

What makes a great platform game?

Jonathan Biddle: You could write thousands of words on this! There are many elements that go to make up a platform game, and these are shared across many game types. At a base gameplay level you could ask; what mechanics are at play? How many options does the player have? Are these options interesting? Do they complement each other? There are no right answers here, but a great platform game gets the balance right between the number of options open to the player, how they interact with each other, and how enjoyable the actions are to perform.

It goes without saying that great platform games have to have great controls. If you can’t trust that your intended input is going to result in your expected action, you’re going to get frustrated. However, it’s fine for controls to require a bit of practice before getting to this sweet spot. Mastery of a game’s controls can be its own reward, and can add an extra layer of depth to a game.

Finally, a great platform game is nothing without excellent level design. If you have lots of lovely mechanics, but the levels presented to the player don’t maximize the potential of those mechanics, then what’s the point in having them in the first place?

 

Explodemon Screenshot 2

Why do you think the classic platformer has not been used more in today’s games?

Jonathan Biddle: I think it’s been used just plenty! There’s definitely been a resurgence in the classic platformer in recent years. If we look at remakes or retro revivals such as Bionic Commando Rearmed, Rocket Knight, Mega Man 9 and 10 there’s a trend to bring back exactly those kinds of games experiences. Mario is still around in his classic 2D form as recently as last year in New Super Mario Bros Wii, Contra was recently released on the Wii, Hard Corps Uprising is a classic game in the same vein, the new Rush N Attack also leans heavily on the retro style. Indie platformers of the moment are also very much influenced by this period, such as Fez, VVVVVV, Braid, Limbo, Spelunky, and so on. If anything it might be overused!

What was your favorite platform game?

Jonathan Biddle: I have a very soft spot for Yoshi’s Island on the SNES. The game was stuffed full of great ideas, all made with great passion and polished to perfection. Nintendo have loomed large over the humble platformer, with some incredibly inspiring works. It was amazing to be able to work with them on a platformer of our own, Fluidity/Hydroventure for the Wii, and even greater for it to be the highest-rated Nintendo-published original game of 2010 (according to Metacritic at least!). Honestly, if I could’ve told my 20 year-old self that same fact while I was playing Yoshi’s Island the first time, I think the younger me might have done an Explodemon.

Can you tell us about working at Curve?

Jonathan Biddle: It’s a great working environment here. We’ve got some very talented people; some extremely experienced and others more fresh-faced. It’s a creatively-driven company; everyone has something creative to contribute, and it leads to a great atmosphere in the studio. We’re working on some very interesting stuff too, which certainly helps motivate us all!

Are most of the development staff gamers themselves?

Jonathan Biddle: Absolutely! Everyone has their own preferred genre or type of game, of course, but we’re all passionate about the medium, both as players and creators. The level of knowledge of gaming history you find here is sometimes astonishing. There’s always some heated discussion going on about the relative merits of new or old titles. It’s a great place to learn about games you’ve never played.

Explodemon is available now on the Playstation 3, Xbox 360 and Wii console systems.

Star Fox 2

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Star Fox 2

After the success of Star Fox on the Super Nintendo both Argonaut Games and Nintendo were excited to get to work on the direct sequel. As development began, the buzz was spread to a number of media outlets and everyone was waiting for its release in 1995. The Japanese version of the game was finished and was in the debugging and final beta stage when it was decided to hold the game back because of the upcoming release of the Nintendo 64 and their wish to release a updated version of the game which we all know become Star Fox 64.

Star Fox 2 - Screenshot 3

The story goes that after Andross’s defeat at the hands of the Star Fox team he returns to the Lylat system, home to Star Fox and his team members for revenge. Andross has his sights once again set on Corneria and brought along new battleships and bad guys to help him. This time around, Fox’s team has new Arwings to fight against the Andross forces and a new Mothership as a home base. One of the coolest things about Star Fox 2 was that you could play as six different characters.

Star Fox 2 - Screenshot 1

There was to be as playable characters, Fox McCloud, leader of the Star Fox team. Falco Lombardi, the loud mouth pilot who is a hotdog and does not like Fox very much. Peppy Hare, mentor to Fox. Slippy Toad, childhood friend of Fox and two brand new recruits, Fay, a white poodle with a pink hair bow and Miyu, a tomboyish lynx.

The gameplay was to be different as well and was to work a lot like a real-time strategy game. You start off with your overview map which shows Corneria on one end and the Andross base on the other. In-between is a series of planets. The overall goal was to protect Corneria, liberate captured planets, defeat all enemy forces then enter the Andross base and defeat Andross.

Star Fox 2 - Screenshot 4

How this worked was Corneria itself had a life bar and enemy fighters would attack the planet as well as missiles fired at the planet from captured planets in the system and you directed teams of two fighters to intercept both the enemy forces and the missiles. During these fights the game played much like the original Star Fox. In those battles, you could fight normal fighters, bosses and the Wolf Squadron (Andross “Fox” team).

When you went to liberate planets you would transport down and your goal was to destroy the generator in the Andross base which prevented them from firing missiles at Corneria. Overall, it sounded pretty cool because you had to think about your actions and who to and no to attack.

Now while the game was never officially released there were emulated versions made from the Japanese version. There were rumors that Star Fox 2 may be released for the Wii Virtual Console, but so far that is where it stands.

The Daily Vid: Tecmo Bowl Highlights

Tecmo Super Bowl logo - title screen

In honor of the Superbowl let us take a look at some cool videos from the Tecmo and Tecmo Super Bowl series.

Bo Knows – crazy Tecmo Super Bowl run


2006 Patriots and Colts play Tecmo Super Bowl


Tecmo Super Bowl Predicts Super Bowl XLV – Steelers vs Packers


Enjoy the Super Bowl, Go Steelers!

Super Mario’s Wacky Worlds

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Super Mario’s Wacky Worlds

Remember the Philips CD-I, well most people don’t because it was a failure, but it did become known for releasing popular game titles from other systems and ruining them. This game was originally in development by NovaLogic and attempted to duplicate the popularity and gameplay of Super Mario World on the SNES.

Super Mario's Wacky Worlds ScreenShot 1

While the game looks and even sounds a lot like Super Mario World the level design was changed to be based on Earth locations rather than the world of the Mushroom Kingdom. Some of the levels included locations such as, Greece, Egypt, and Aztec. However, there were also original zones such as Pipeworks and Land ‘n’ Plaid.

Super Mario's Wacky Worlds ScreenShot 3

So how did this come about? Originally, Nintendo planned to create a CD-ROM unit for the Super Nintendo during this time Philips was given licensing rights too many Nintendo titles including Mario and The Legend of Zelda. When the plan fell through, well, if you think about it I would say Philips got pay back by making crap versions of their games.

Super Mario's Wacky Worlds ScreenShot 2

In the end, Super Mario’s Wacky Worlds was not released and it was a good thing too. Due to the limitations of the CD-i, several features could not be included in the game, such as large numbers of sprites on the screen, Mode 7, and many visual effects. The nature of the pointing device controller provides difficult controls for Mario, as the game has the default controls of running and jumping.

In addition, the level design was not that good and many of the sprits were just copies from Super Mario World, it looked like a fan made game and not a very good one.

SNES inspired action platformer Explodemon

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Due to the prototype, we’ve been in the fortunate position of having been able to play Explodemon! for a long time now. The gameplay has been honed through iterative playtesting so many times, that we are effectively now releasing Explodemon II. We’re excited to now be able to marry this solid gameplay with cutting edge 3D visuals and effects and release it via digital distribution for others to enjoy. ~Jason Perkins

SNES inspired action platformer Explodemon

What do you get when you mix a love for classic Super Nintendo platform games, badly translated classic Japanese games and a company that cares about fun game play, you get Explodemon. Curve Studios is set to release Explodemon a 2.5D platform game for Playstation Network, Xbox Live and WiiWare.

Explodemon is a platform game centered around an exploding hero that can use his special ability to fight enemies, propel himself through the air and destroy anything in his path. In addition to warfare the game will also feature, puzzles that can be solved using the games physics system.

The game came about from Curve’s Design Director, Jonathan Biddle’s, love of classic platform games from the SNES days and his wish to create his own game.

“I’d been a games designer for many years, but had always wanted the ability to prototype ideas myself. I decided to learn Game Maker and started making a platform game about an exploding man. After working silently away for a few months in my spare time, I let a few people at Curve play Explodemon! and it became obvious that I’d managed to create something very fun.” He said.

That fun gameplay was continually tested and tweaked until it was perfect and the result is the fast paced, action packed game, Explodemon.

“Due to the prototype, we’ve been in the fortunate position of having been able to play Explodemon! for a long time now. The gameplay has been honed through iterative playtesting so many times, that we are effectively now releasing Explodemon II. We’re excited to now be able to marry this solid gameplay with cutting edge 3D visuals and effects and release it via digital distribution for others to enjoy.” Said Jason Perkins, Managing Director of Curve.

Curve is an independent video game developer based in London, UK and has worked with a number of partners. Now with Explodemon it looks as if the company has their own hit on their hands.

Biddle continues, “Explodemon! is best described as what Treasure would create if they mixed Yoshi’s Island with Half Life 2. It includes many elements from games as diverse as Street Fighter II, Halo, Super Metroid and Bangai-O. As lifelong gamers, we’re huge fans of these titles and feel we’ve managed to bring together something that captures something from all of them. We think that there are many gamers out there like us who feel that there aren’t enough absolutely amazing action platform games on the current download services and we really can’t wait for people to see that we’ve managed to create exactly that with Explodemon!”

When the peaceful planet of Nibia is attacked by the malicious Vortex forces, the fate of the star system is thrust into the one pair of hands it shouldn’t be: the malfunctioning Guardian robot Explodemon. His comic quest to repel the onslaught and restore peace will take him across three distinct planets over twelve levels, with new abilities and gameplay mechanics introduced throughout.

You will be able purchase Explodemon on February 9th for $9.99. The game will featuring 12 gigantic levels – each stuffed with secret rooms, puzzles and collectibles galore – and well over eight hours of gameplay.

FC Twin Console

FC Twin console
FC Twin console

In the world of virtual consoles and emulators one might wonder why you would need a console system that plays old NES and SNES games and the answer is, why the hell not. The FC Twin is a clone system meaning it copies what the original system did hardware wise, but it is not the original. In the FCT’s case you can play both the 8-bit and 6-bit games on the system. The FC twin can be purchased at major outlets online and sometimes in stores for about $40 USD.

Now the first thing to remember is you will need the original cartridges from either the SNES or NES to play on the FC Twin. The good news is you can find a ton of games on eBay or even your local thrift store. The FCT comes with the following:

Base Console

Two SNES style controls

AV Cables

AC Adapter

FC Twin console
FC Twin console

The base console itself is really light, but the plastic case seems strong enough to take a little beating. The controllers feel good in my hands even though it is much lighter than the original SNES controller. It may feel like cheap plastic and true enough I am sure it is not the best, but honestly they feel better than the original classic controller that you can purchase for the Wii. Another cool thing about the control input is it can fit the original SNES controllers.

A little bit more about the controllers.  The FC Twin is not compatible with the original NES controllers and that includes the guns. The FCT is compatible with most SNES controllers including the light gun and in fact a light gun was release just for the FC Twin.

The AC adapter is pretty standard as is the AV cables. I connected the system to my Vizio television. Don’t expect any differences visually, the system will look the same as if you connected your original SNES to your T.V., so there is no HD mode or anything like that.

FC Twin console
FC Twin console

On the console itself are two cartridge ports, the upper one is for the 8-bit games and the lower one is for the 16-bit games. There are only two buttons on the console. One button is to reset the system and the second is a switch that goes from Power to 16-bit to 8-bit. What makes the switch cool is you can put in two cartridges and switch between both on the fly.

As for looks and sound I personally did not see a difference between the FCT and the original consoles however, it has been a while since I played the original non-emulated. Other uses have reported that sometimes the sound with NES games are not exactly like the original, but I have not been able to confirm that. You can connect your FC Twin’s audio ports to a stereo even with surround sound, but keep in mind the old NES games were not meant to utilize that technology so it might sound a bit weird.

Compatibility wise there are quite a number of games that are not compatible with the FC Twin, but instead of listing them here you can see the list on the Wiki Page for the FC Twin. Most of the compatibility issues are a result of the Super FX chip found in these games as well as the lack of ability to use the Power Pad and R.O.B.. So far playing a few games on both the SNES and NES side I can tell you it plays just like the original, but I can see how if you are a bit rough on your controllers you could wear them out in time.

All in all if you have the original cartridges and are missing the console system then the FC Twin is a cool way to play them. Sure, you could just get the emulated versions, but why not to both as that is the mark of a collector.

A Gamer Girls Experience

GAMER GIRL
GAMER GIRL

I’m not sure why being a gamer and a girl is such a strange concept for so many people, but being a female gamer, I’ve been met with a lot of different reactions. Especially from other women who think I’m either a cheap floozie trying to get laid or an inept social outcast nerd who couldn’t get a paid date. That would at least explain why I would spend time trying to accomplish a goal (albeit in a game) instead of brushing my hair in the mirror 100 times.

I grew up the same way as most other people have and didn’t have brothers in my house to steer me towards gaming. I’ve always had waves of wanting to play games and then putting them on the back burner. I remember begging my parents at Kmart to buy me Super Nintendo when it came out and playing for hours on end. I loved going to the Laundromat and playing Street Fighter, Pac Man, etc. If you heard the bee-like sound in Galaga, you knew you had to step your game up. I remember daydreaming about getting over 500 pounds of meat when hunting in Oregon Trail, but it would never come to fruition. I would figure these memories would be the same for most children, female and male, but I guess they’re not.

When high school hit, I focused on dating, my job, my future, and a whole mess of other things I probably shouldn’t have been focusing on. It wasn’t until I dated a gamer in my 20s that my love for gaming was rekindled. I will admit, it started small with crap like Mario Party and Super Monkey Ball. Then it moved to WoW and as much as I sucked against the people I played, I loved Dark Stalkers and Marvel vs. Capcom. I still play WoW when I have the time (and a functional computer) and the most expensive purchase that I’ve made in the past 2 years was a PS3 for which I’ve bought and played a number of games with it (mostly RPG, but whatever-at least it’s not a Wii). Even though I have moved on from the world of dating gamers, I still have a love for gaming and appreciate the medium.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that if the women that criticize female gamers look to their past, I’m pretty sure they’ll find that they too enjoyed some game in their youth, even if it was something as shitty as a Polly Pocket interactive cd. That and they probably need to get laid. By a gamer.

A New Challenger Approaches…

Princess Peach Daisy driving
Princess Peach Daisy driving

A New Challenger Approaches

Life can throw you a lot of curveballs. You might find yourself unexpectedly becoming a father, be picked first when people choose their teammates, and even find a million dollars in a duffel bag. The point is, there will always come a time where you will be blindsided. Sometimes it is for the better and sometimes it is for the worse. It could hurt your ego or even boost it. This one event, though, could leave you with a knotting feeling in your stomach. You don’t quite know how to take the news and you don’t quite know if you can accept it.

The event I’m talking about is when someone you hold near and dear to you takes you down a peg. You’re supposed to be their knight, their champion. You’re the one who crushes roaches. You’re the one who walks through the dark hallway unafraid. You’re the one who chain roots a Tauren warrior underwater so that your loved one can flee to safety. You are one who is not fearful but accepts fear for what it is. You are the hero and the guardian.

Then, the day comes when you realize this person isn’t as helpless as you’d think. There comes the time where you are the underdog and the fragile swan becomes the marauding murderer.
I had always thought of myself as an above average gamer. One game I thought myself exceptionally good at was Mario Kart for the SNES. I had played every version of Mario Kart because it always held that great competitive yet joyous multiplayer aspect to it. I was a first place kind of player. Yeah, sometimes I’d get second or third but I was always on that pedestal and more times than none I was the one towering over the runner-ups. I had never met a player who was greater than me in Mario Kart. We were either equal or I burned brighter.

It filled me with great happiness to be as skilled as I was at Mario Kart. Yes, it was a game where I would dominate but it was fun not only for me but for friends and family that played a long side myself. It was simply an entertaining game, one that I especially enjoyed throughout my life.

Then, Mario Kart Wii came out. I will admit, I was there at the midnight release with all the nine year old kids who were dressed as Mario but I didn’t care. Mario Kart was something I had to have in my collection and I bared no shame being the only person with hair on his balls in the line. To my lack of surprise, it played practically the same as the previous titles but had a couple of changes that added some gusto to the mix. I would certainly dominate in this Mario Kart again.

How wrong I was… I was so naive.

This was the first Mario Kart to come out since my wife and I were married and I had never played Mario Kart with her before. I expected it to be the same kind of formula as when we usually played multiplayer games. We’d do a couple of rounds and then she’d get upset that I’m winning and then I’ll do a couple of rounds where I slow down a bit and pretend to fuck up so she’d do better but then she’d bitch at me accusing me of allowing her to win. Shortly after that, she’d give up and never play again. We’ve all been through this scenario, if not with our wife, then with our brother, or sister, or guido friend.

Not this time, though.

After the first trek through Mario Raceway, my wife was first and by a long shot. I couldn’t even catch up. Beginner’s luck, I thought to myself. That’s what it had to be. There is no way she is devastating me this much.

Another race, again same results.

Another race, she is not a speck in my rear view mirror but a speck in my horizon.

Another race, I finally got ahead but wait what is this? Wham, Bam, thank you ma’am. She demolishes me with every weapon known to the Mushroom Kingdom and overtakes me with an enormous lead.

How could this happen? How could she be this good? She doesn’t know about pressing UP when going off a ramp for a boost. She doesn’t know about using a shell or banana as a barricade to destroy red shells. She doesn’t know about popping a wheelie on a straight road to gain a significant speed boost.
So how?! How does she know how to win with such grace?

Pushing my ego aside, I dared to ask. “Honey,” I politely inquired, “How did you do that? What is your secret?” She looked at me puzzled. “I just raced, you motherfucker.” is her reply. This wasn’t sufficient. I had to know. What did she do?

“Do you dodge bananas well?”
“I just drive.”

“Do you conserve your mushroom boosts?”
“I just drive.”

“Do you race directly behind someone to increase your acceleration?”
“I just drive.”

There is no secret. She just drives. But this isn’t good enough of an answer! How did she defeat me, a golden god in my own right?! No matter how long we haven’t played Mario Kart, she still dominates everyone. None are left in her wake.

When I look into her eyes as she plays, I see no determination. I see no enjoyment. I see no past, I see no present, and I see no future.

What I do see is a soulless machination whose sole purpose in life is to sow confusion and hysteria in the minds of those she crushes.

I love my wife. I really do. However, when we play Mario Kart I feel like I should be sporting a purse because she makes me look a bitch. She took one of the most memorable games of my childhood and turned into one of the most terrifying and unexplainable experiences in my life. I am left with a feeling of pride as it is my wife who is destroying my friends in Mario Kart but at the same time an incredible wave filled with unworthy emotions sweep over me. I enjoy playing with her but I also fear those remorseless eyes.

Never again will Mario Kart hold a feeling of pure bliss in my heart. It will forever and onward be filled with a mixture of shriveling self esteem and panic.

Earthbound OST

Earthbound OST

Original known as Mother, Earthbound was an RPG released on the Super Nintendo in 1995. Earthbound is actually the follow up sequel of Mother that was released in Japan for the Famicom gaming system in 1989.

earthbound

The music of Earthbound was composed by Keiichi Suzuki and Hirokazu Tanaka.

 

Super Castlevania IV OST

Super Castlevania IV OST

If you haven’t checkout my review on Super Castlevania IV go see it now. SCV4 was one of my favorite games on the SNES and it featured a ton of great tracks. The music sounded great for even today, but back then it was really incredible.

Super Castlevania 4 OST

 

The game features a number of remixes of themes from previous games and many new ones. The Castlevania soundtrack is one of the best in the gaming industry.

Super Castlevania 4

Super Castlevania 4 box
Super Castlevania 4 box

Super Castlevania 4

You know you have a great game when it is fun to play years later and that is exactly the case with Super Castlevania IV. Created by Konami, CV4 was the first Castlevania game for the SNES. It was released on the Super Nintendo in late 1991 to high praise by both fans and reviewers.

Going Japanese

Super Castlevania 4 Statue
Super Castlevania 4 Statue

Before we get into my replaying of the game let’s talk about the Japanese version. In Japan the series is called Akumajō Dracula that officially translates to Devil’s Castle Dracula. There were also a number of changes between the Japanese version and the American version including the use of crosses on top of the tombstones, the misspelled name Dracura on the tombstone in the title video was changed to unreadable text.

There were also some level changes which made me a sad panda including changing pools of blood from red to green, removing the blood dripping from the title screen and changing the topless statue in level 6 of the game. Strangely enough the monster called Medusa remained topless however her nipples were removed, how kinky.

Something Old, Something New

The story of Castlevania pretty much remains the same. You play as Simon Belmont the legendary vampire hunter that has come from a long line of vampire hunters. It has been 100 years since Dracula has roamed the earth and his alarm clock just went off.

The Super Nintendo allowed a lot of cool changes to the Castlevania series over its predecessors. One of the first notable changes was the eight directions Simon can swing his whip allowing more flexibility. Second you could keep your whip out to use it like a shield and a weapon to slowly kill the monsters. More whip fun included being able to latch onto grappling points to pull Simon up or down and swing from place to place.

This game featured sub-weapons like the knife, cross and holy water that you could find by destroying Dracula’s Bed Bath and Beyond candles. You would need to collect hearts which represented your ammo for those weapons. There were also power-ups for your whip as well as normal items like health replenishment and one that killed on the enemies on the screen.

Setting the Stage

Super Castlevania 4
Super Castlevania 4

What really made this game stand out was the improved level design. Not only were the graphics improved, but the things going on within the level were new and exciting. Some of the coolest things were the room which rotated when you attached your whip to a grapple point. Another awesome stage was where you ran across wooden planks that would fall with the entire room spinning behind you. It was level design such as this that made the game so fun to play.

I loaded up Super Castlevania and it took me back to my teenage years. It only took me a moment to get use to the controls again and even though you cannot make moves like you can in SOTN it was pretty easy to control Simon. In SCV4 you could control the way you jumped and moved even in midair which was handy since there were tons of bats, birds and ghosts in the way ready to knock you to the ground.

If you are a veteran of pretty much any jumping platform game then Castlevania would not seem too hard. A lot of the challenge came when you never played before and did not know what to expect, but that is half the battle. There were a number of close jumps and run and gun sections of the game that put your skills to the test. As for the bosses, most of them had an easy pattern that after a few tries became real easy.

The Sound of Death
[mp3player width=600 height=100 config=fmp_jw_osg_config-xml.xml playlist=super-castlevania-iv.xml]
The music from this game was just awesome. It sounded great back then and still today with many remixes from previous Castlevania games. The music just fit so well with the stages and did not get boring or annoying. If you want to listen to more tracks from this game head on over to The Music Hall and listen to the Super Castlevania IV OST.

Final Thoughts

Super Castlevania 4
Super Castlevania 4

The game had a mix of feeling long and short at the same time. There are 11 stages in all and if you never played before the game seems long, but if you run and gun through the game it can seem pretty quick. The monsters including the bosses were mixed in from various sources including horror movies, Greek Mythology and the bosses you would expect Dracula to team with like Frankenstein and The Mummy.

As for difficultly the only hard part was not being knocked off a platform by a bird or bat. Honestly, besides that even Dracula himself was not hard to put down. The key is keeping your health high and swinging your whip at as many walls as you can because there are a ton of hidden rooms and secret items to help you out.

You can of course play Super Castlevania IV on any emulator or you can get it on your Virtual console. Overall the game is fun to play and the soundtrack will have you humming the tunes while laying the beat down. I give the game an overall score of 9.0 out of 10.

Motivational Monday: Boss Battles

Trustworthiness demotivational poster
Trustworthiness demotivational poster

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.

Alasdair Evans: Laughing Jackal

Laughing Jackal logo

Name: Alasdair Evans

Company: Laughing Jackal Ltd.

Profession: Senior Producer

Favorite Classic Game: Super Metroid

Quote: I thought long and hard about the answer to this question as I’ve been gaming since about 1983 and struggle with the definition of a ‘classic’ game. Casting my net into the 90s, I am also a huge Street Fighter II (or III or IV, for that matter!) fan. I think, though, that Super Metroid just edges it for me as it probably had a greater impact on me when I first played it. The feeling of being let loose on a huge and deserted alien world was unparalleled at the time. It was the first game that really made me feel something emotionally and was just so well constructed that I still go back and play it today. It also has a maturity and an eeriness that few games of the time did – especially on the SNES. There have been many imitators, including Shadow Complex, the ‘Metroidvania’ games, and the Metroid series’ own new entries in the time since, but for me Super Metroid is the ultimate single player experience and an absolute gem that everyone should try at least once. Still, props to Street Fighter II, if you’d asked me what my favourite multiplayer classic game was I wouldn’t have hesitated! I still play SSFIV on my 360 to this day. If anyone fancies a game, my gamertag is evanac   😉


Mary Sue To: Aksys Games

Aksys Games logo

Name: Mary Sue To

Company: Aksys Games

Profession: Marketing Coordinator & Community Manager

Favorite Classic Game: Super Metroid

Quote: The secluded atmosphere, the epic boss battles, the relationship between Samus and the baby metroid, and the urge to collect 100% items…this is the game that I will never forget.


Gamer Culture: OverClock Remix

Overclocked Remix logo

OverClock Remix

In this new editorial series I wanted to go over different aspects of gamer culture. When video games you could play in your own home came on the scene a whole new world was created. Today there are so many different communities and groups within gaming that you could spend your entire life discovering and experiencing them. From blogs, to LAN parties to institutions dedicated to everything gaming, if you have a niche you can easily find a haven for it.

Now ever since the earliest games on the Atari as far as consoles and the Commodore as far as personal computers, music has been a very important part of the gaming experience. As gaming evolved the music did as well and entire scores were created for games performed by those self-defined as novice musicians to orchestra led presentations of music.

I personally became a fan of video game music after listing to some of the tracks from popular games such as Mega Man, Sonic the Hedgehog and Final Fantasy. In the past it was almost impossible to find the music from video games and if a soundtrack was created it was often only available in Japan.

Slowly but surely websites began to emerge that offered downloads of game music in the midi format. While it was not an exact representation of the music from the video game it at least gave fans something to keep of their own.

Later, more websites were born offering wav files of music. This was a golden age for game music fans as often the music was spot on and could be burned onto a CD. Almost at the same time specialty websites were created offering the direct sound file from a game meaning it was taken from the programing itself so it sounded exactly as it would on the game. For these files you would often need a specifically created program to play it although many created Winamp plugins so you could listen to authentic game music on your media player.

Then came something that for me personally changed the face of video game music. It started with a friend playing a song from Megaman 2 but it was slightly different with added beats and sound effects. When I asked what it was I was told it was a remix. From there I was introduced to the website Overclock Remix.

Overclock Remix was founded in 1999 and was created to showcase video game music as the art form that it is. OC Remix offers fans of video game music a place to remix and re-mastered their favorite video game music arrangements from all across the video game spectrum.  OCR showcases hundreds of re-mixers that have created thousands of remixed versions of video game music all free to download.

From there the site grew to what it is today, a place where fans, fanatics and students of video game music can go to listen, create, learn and remix video game music. You can even learn how to create remixes of your own and read the profiles of the original and remix composers.

I fell in love with this site and spent countless hours listening and downloading remixed versions of my favorite songs many that I play in my home, at the office and even in my car. OC Remix’s artists do not just take a song and make a few changes here or there. Sometimes a song is totally re-envisioned creating a completely new piece of music. These are true fans of video game music and offer it to the world free of change. In addition the remixes help preserve the essence of the original music and credit is always given to the original composer.

David “djpretzel” Lloyd is the founder of the site and after seeing many specialty music sites wanted to create a place where music from all gaming could be found so you can find music from platforms ranging from the Amiga to current systems today and everything in-between.

Music is undeniably a part of gaming culture and the remixes and mix masters from OverClock Remix have made their mark on it. If you like video game music you will love OC Remix and Obsolete Gamer recommends you check it out. They are an important part of gaming culture and gives us fans yet another outlet to enjoy our favorite past time.

Here is an arrangement of a few of my favorite OverClock Remixes.

Nicolai Dutka: Archon Games

Archon Games logo

Name: Nicolai Dutka

Company: Archon Games

Profession: Producer/Project Manager

Favorite Classic Game: Final Fantasy  (The original for NES)

Quote: The original Final Fantasy was the very first role-playing game I had ever played.  I was instantly hooked into the genre and have been a die-hard RPG fan ever since.


Dan Greig: XGen Studios

Xgen Studios logo

Name: Dan Greig

Company: XGenStudios

Profession: Project Manager

Favorite Classic Game: Mega Man 2/Super Mario Bros. 3

Quote: The 2 best games for the NES hands down.  Impossible to choose between them.

Donald Harris: InstantAction

Instant Action logo
Instant Action logo

Name: Donald Harris

Company: InstantAction

Profession: Sales and Social Media

Favorite Classic Game: Super Metroid

Quote: First and foremost the haunting music was just perfect for that game. But one of things I like most about it is that they took my memory of the first Metroid and made the game feel even more technical. The way you get to select weapons and the suit layout. The game was perfect.


Gamer Profile: Alex Aguila

Alex Aguila

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.

Alienware-Logo-Wallpaper

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.

Arthur Lewis @ E3

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.

Alex Aguila Interview

PlayPlay

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.