Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Game Collecting: New Console Ahead

Last weekend while retro game hunting, I made another great console find! It's one of the less commercially successful consoles, which is a shame, because it's got some jaw-droppingly amazing games. Any guess at what it is?

Friday, March 23, 2012

Collecting Dust: Princess Tomato in the Salad Kingdom (NES)

Princess Tomato in the Salad Kingdom
Adventure, Nintendo Entertainment System
1991 Hudson Soft

Certain games are bizarre, and certain games aren't that bizarre but have disturbing cover art. I think Princess Tomato falls into the latter of the two categories. Even with the blank, desolate stares of the clay vegetable-headed figures on the box art, that famous Hudson bee must mean it's a quality game, right? Let's take a look.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Review: Suikoden (PlayStation)

Role-Playing Game, PlayStation (PS1)
1996 Konami

Suikoden was one of the first RPGs I played on the PlayStation, right around the same time I was exploring titles like Final Fantasy VII. It was Konami's first RPG on the fledgling console, and they certainly came out with guns blazing. Depending upon how it's played, this game can be either a fairly long, or extremely long endeavor, so let's begin our journey.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Review: StarTropics (NES)

Action-Adventure, Nintendo Entertainment System
1990 Nintendo

StarTropics is an RPG-flavored action adventure game from the cusp of the early 90s. I'm lucky enough to have a cartridge of this one, and as I promised in my game collecting post about it, here is the review!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Rate With Friends: Top 5 Educational Computer Games of the 90s

Anyone who was a child in the 1990s likely had the joy of playing educational computer games at school or at home. From kindergarten through fifth grade my school had "computer lab Fridays". We got to learn how to use computers and play some awesome games in the process. But which among those educational games were the best? Andrew from Yes, These Things Matter is back once again - and that means it's time to rate with friends!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Game Collecting: Time to Buy a Sega Genesis

This week I followed my usual route of local thrift stores, but I changed one thing - I went on a different day. And whether it's because I picked a better day of the week to look for retro games, or I just had some good luck, I found something great!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Review: Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island (SNES)

Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island
Platformer, Super Nintendo Entertainment System
1995 Nintendo 

Yoshi's island is a spinoff from the original Mario series of platformers, with the character roles reversed: Yoshi, the noble reptilian steed of Mario, is now the hero. It's actually a sort of prequel to the other Mario games, because in this one Mario is an infant. His brother Luigi was kidnapped by baby Bowser, so Yoshi takes the helm to save the day.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Retro-ish: Appy 1000mg

For the Retro-ish series, I'll be taking a look at present-day games that are evocative of retro games either visually or otherwise. First I'll be checking out Appy 1000mg, a game created by Sebastien Benard from Motion Twin for Ludum Dare 20 (May 2011).

Friday, March 2, 2012

Blue Ribbon: 5 of the Best Final Bosses in SNES RPGs

I've decided to expand my "Blue Ribbon" series of posts to list specific elements of games in addition to games themselves. There are a lot of games that aren't necessarily my favorites as a whole, but do have elements or characters I am fascinated by. With this expansion of the format, I can honor some of the titles that I might otherwise gloss over. Today's category is the best final bosses in SNES RPGs.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Review: Illusion of Gaia (SNES)

Illusion of Gaia
Action Role-Playing Game, Super Nintendo Entertainment System
1994 Enix

For some reason, Illusion of Gaia is one of the games from my childhood whose box art is forever ingrained in my head. An Enix release from smack dab in the middle of their SNES RPG dynasty, it follows closely to the formula they used in many other games. But does it hold up to the test of time?

Monday, February 27, 2012

Game Collecting: A Small Nintendo Find

This post will be a brief one, because it's about an individual game I happened upon this week. What game you ask? Well, it's an action-adventure title from the good ol' NES that follows protagonist Mike Jones as he journeys across a tropical island to find his missing archaeologist father. If you haven't picked up on it by now here you go - StarTropics!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Collecting Dust: Tomba! (PlayStation)

Platformer, PlayStation
1998 Whoopee Camp

Anyone who watched television in the late 90s probably remembers the iconic series of commercials for the game Tomba!, wherein people wearing ridiculous cotton candy-looking wigs posed and talked about the character. Although these commercials were memorable, very few people ultimately bought the game from fledgling developer Whoopee Camp. I personally bought the game when it came out, and found it proved that sometimes the commercial failures are some of the best games out there.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Review: Final Fantasy II / IV (SNES)

Final Fantasy II / IV
Role-Playing Game, Super Nintendo Entertainment System
1991 Square

I'll go ahead and quell the inevitable outrage right now - yes, I know Final Fantasy II for the SNES should technically be called Final Fantasy IV. Yes, I know that there were two other Final Fantasies on the NES (II and III) before this one, so it really really is Final Fantasy IV. But, neither of those NES titles were released in the US on the NES. And seeing as I'm only reviewing American releases, I'm going to go ahead and call this one as I see it on the box art and label for the game - Final Fantasy II!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Game Collecting: My First Super Famicom Games

I've always had a small retro game collection, but recently have decided to become more proactive about expanding it. As a result of my current employment situation and "grown-up" financial commitments, I don't have a whole lot of disposable income to spend on video games, though. So when I make retro game purchases I'm pretty discerning about what's worth my money. While the child in me wants to accrue a complete NES and SNES collection, I have to restrain myself for now. So that means I only really look for my absolute favorite games (primarily RPGs). This week I made 2 fantastic additions to the collection!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Rate With Friends: Top 5 SNES Platformers

For today's Rate With Friends, Andrew from Yes, These Things Matter. returns as my accomplice so that we can sort out our top 5 favorite SNES platformers. It's an immense field of games to narrow to a mere five, and I know both of us put a whole lot of thought into the matter. Let's see how we compare!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Review: Phantasy Star IV (Genesis)

Phantasy Star IV
Role-Playing Game, Sega Genesis
1995 Sega

My first exposure to the Phantasy Star universe was Phantasy Star Online for the Dreamcast. I never owned a Genesis as a kid, so regrettably, for classics such as this I have to go back to retroactively experience them. At the time, I wasn't even aware of the original 4-game series of RPGs at all. But at the request of many other classic game aficionados, I've gladly taken some time to go back and experience the game that is considered by many to be the best RPG on the entirety of the Sega Genesis - Phantasy Star IV.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Collecting Dust: Crusader of Centy (Genesis)

Crusader of Centy
Action-Adventure, Sega Genesis
1994 Atlus

Here is yet another that had fallen under my radar for over a decade (almost 2, actually). If I were to synopsize it, I'd say Crusader of Centy is a Zelda clone with lingering RPG undertones. How this game went relatively unnoticed for so long is beyond me, but the fates have brought us here so let's take a nice long look at it.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Game Collecting: A Weekend Flea Market Find

I've collected retro games pretty casually over the past 5 or so years, acquiring only a Super Nintendo and a handful of games. I've made it a goal to be more proactive about finding new items to add to the collection. On Superbowl Sunday last weekend, I ventured to the main local swap meet and spent a few hours looking around. Here's what I found!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Review: Final Fantasy (NES)

Final Fantasy
Role-Playing Game, Nintendo Entertainment System
1987 Square

The vast media franchise of video games, spinoffs, films, toys, and merchandise galore that we know as Final Fantasy began long ago as a desperate last attempt by a failing game company to stay afloat. Hironobu Sakaguchi, the brain behind the series, titled it as such because it was his final attempt to succeed in the gaming industry before giving up altogether. As we all know by now, the game sold well enough to not only keep Mr. Sakaguchi working, but to propel it into becoming one of the best selling game franchises in history.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Blue Ribbon: 5 of the Best NES RPGs

I'll go ahead and say it: all my favorite games are RPGs. And as a result, I know more about them than any other genre. While platformers were where I started (Donkey Kong and Pitfall I'm talking to you), once I was exposed to RPGs and realized the epic scale that a video game could have, I was hooked for life. Regrettably, there aren't too many modern RPGs that I enjoy, so it seems like a good time to go back and reflect upon the RPGs of yesteryear and why they were so great. Here are my favorites from the Nintendo Entertainment System.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Collecting Dust: Big Sky Trooper (SNES)

Big Sky Trooper
Action, Super Nintendo Entertainment System
1995 JVC

The faint memory of a certain childhood game had been nagging at my brain for years. All I could remember was that it involved a dog, a spaceship, and beaming down to different planets to collect items. I asked my fellow gamer friends, and conducted occasional Google searches, but to no avail. While writing the review for Zombies Ate My Neighbors, I found a familiar sounding game that utilized the same game engine as Zombies - Big Sky Trooper. This was the forgotten game I had been looking for!

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Review: Zombies Ate My Neighbors (SNES)

Zombies Ate My Neighbors
Run and Gun, Super Nintendo Entertainment System
1993 Konami

Over a decade before Dead Rising, there was only one way for gamers to get their comical, zombie-slashing, destructive fun. From Dracula, to Frankenstein, to just about any B-movie creature you could conceive of, this game has them all. Even a few you may never have heard of before. Horror fans rejoice, because today we discuss Zombies Ate My Neighbors!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Bottom of the Barrel: 5 of the Worst SNES Games

While basking in the nostalgic glory of the best retro games, it's easy to forget that in a dark corner somewhere are the rotten ones, lying forgotten and dejected. Join me on what will be the first of many painful visitations to the bottom of the barrel. Today, we look at a selection from the Super Nintendo Entertainment System.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Review: Shadowrun (SNES)

Action RPG, Super Nintendo Entertainment System
1993 Data East

For those unfamiliar, Cyberpunk is an odd man out among the science fiction/fantasy genres. Popularized by authors like Neal Stephenson and William Gibson, it came to be in the 1980s with the popularization and increasing affordability of computer technology to the general public. It was a time when words like "hacker" finally found their way into our lexicon, and computers seemed to be the surefire way to propel ourselves into the magnificent future. But with every gleaming image of the great world around us, there must be a dark counterpart. I like to think of cyberpunk as the underbelly viewpoint of technology's ever-increasing entanglement in our daily lives.

Cyberpunk worlds are ones of the highest technology and the worst kinds of people. Neon signs and skyscrapers tower over the city slums where hackers are mobsters, detectives, and cold-blooded killers. The genre often has a lot of parallels to dystopian and film noir type stories, and it's easy to see why. Shadowrun originally began as a tabletop RPG (like a cyberpunk version of Dungeons and Dragons), but its ever-increasing lore and storylines expanded it into a series of novels, and ultimately, the video game here before us.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

New X-COM Reboot to Remain True to Original Series

In 2010, an X-COM remake was announced by game studio 2K Marin. Many online were furious at the decision to turn it into a first-person shooter, a choice that some other studios had taken with classic game reboots.

But now those angry gamers can rejoice, because Firaxis is making yet another X-COM reboot, which promises to stay true to the series roots. XCOM: Enemy Unknown promises to maintain the isometric point of view, ruthless difficulty, and strategy gameplay elements that players hold so dear, while updating the graphics to reflect modern hardware capabilities.

Oddly enough, Firaxis and 2K Marin are both 2K subsidiaries, meaning 2K is publishing both a first-person shooter and strategy game reboot of the same series, at roughly the same time. I wonder if they're just hoping one of the two sticks so they can ditch the other. No word yet on a release date.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Rate With Friends: Top 5 NES Platformers

For the Rate With Friends series, I will be pairing up with different cohorts to rate our individual "top 5" of a given category of game. To start it off, My friend Andrew (of the blog Yes, These Things Matter) and I break down our top 5 favorite NES platformers.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Classic Gaming Innovator Hudson to Close Doors March 1

Working since the late 1970s to develop some of the most beloved classic gaming franchises, on March 1st 2012, Hudson Soft will be fully absorbed into the Konami Corporation. Notable games included the Bomberman series, the Adventure Island series, and the Mario Party series. Hudson also was responsible for some of my favorite obscure titles such as Princess Tomato in the Salad Kingdom and Felix the Cat.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Review: Secret of Evermore (SNES)

Secret of Evermore
Action RPG, Super Nintendo Entertainment System
1995 Square Soft
See this beastie? Yeah, he's the first boss.
As a kid, I frequented my local grocery store to peruse the small video rental alcove near the checkout lanes. It was a time before video rental stores existed in my town, so I took what meager media entertainment I could get. The selection was mostly comprised of VHS versions of major release movies, but there was always one small wireframe shelf that held what my child self regarded as the motherlode - Super Nintendo games. The variety was minimal to say the least. Occasionally they would refresh the stock with games rotated in from neighboring stores, but at $1.00 USD per rental, how could I protest?

The result of this formula - a young kid starving for Nintendo games, plus allowance money burning a hole in his pocket, plus limited selection of games to play - meant that a great deal of what I rented ended up being terrible. I mean godawful. But all in all, it was worth it for the few gems I stumbled upon. And the day I spotted the cover to Secret of Evermore, my naive brain could only vaguely comprehend the cornucopia of nightmare fuel that I would fall neck-deep into (and I mean that in the most wonderful way possible).