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A Link to the Past Review

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With the departure that Zelda II was from the original, Nintendo wasn’t going to take anymore chances as it began to release beloved franchises on its newest console, the Super NES.  Of those franchises, The Legend of Zelda was one of the first to be rehashed with A Link to the Past.  Instead of trying to create a sequel or something new, Nintendo instead took all the concepts from the original game, added a few enhancements, and made the game that captured so many hearts over again.  To be clear, A Link to the Past is not a remake, it’s just the exact formula of the original utilized in the same world with a different map, different set of dungeons, and slightly altered item list.  Think if it as a remix to the original rather than a true sequel or remake, but one that marks one of the highest points for both the console and the series itself.

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Written by Fred Rojas

June 1, 2015 at 11:00 am

Zelda II: Adventures of Link Review

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With the then masterpiece that was The Legend of Zelda, Nintendo owners (myself included) eagerly awaited the sequel.  Things were different back then and no release dates were ever given, so games would just show up in stores and it was first come, first serve.  This was most definitely the case with both Super Mario Bros. 2 and Zelda II: Adventures of Link in 1988, when both games dropped in the holiday season.  The latter, however, didn’t peak its head out until December with hardly enough time for parents and even Nintendo’s Fun Club newsletter to prepare the rush of players eager to share another quest with Link.  For better or worse, Zelda II was drastically different from the original, now incorporated more traditional RPG mechanics like leveling up and magic as well as being much more difficult.  If you can stomach it, however, there’s a lot to appreciate with Adventures of Link.

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Written by Fred Rojas

May 31, 2015 at 11:00 am

Legend of Zelda Review

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The Legend of Zelda series has transcended time and now acts less as a genesis of the 80s and more as one of Nintendo’s long running trains through time.  Like all trains, many have gotten on and gotten off over the decades and thus the original is no longer that paramount flagship title that gave way to action RPGs that it used to be.  In fact, these days I can’t imagine how one not familiar with the game could get started without a guide.  Where would you go?  What would you do?  How long until you eventually enter the first dungeon that read “level one” and would you know that it means first dungeon instead of top level of the dungeon?  On the other hand there are that other half of the gaming populous that is acutely familiar with all of the intricacies of what was our first true digital adventure.  I myself know exactly where every dungeon is (on the second quest too), know exactly where to bomb a wall or burn a bush, and could navigate the lost woods with my eyes closed.  That’s because I’ve done it so many times that the very movements of my average run are more muscle memory than anything else.  It was one of the first games I played and one of the best.

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Written by Fred Rojas

May 27, 2015 at 4:20 pm

Now & Then: Mortal Kombat 3

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Switching It Up

mk3_1A lot happened both in the talent pool of Mortal Kombat players and in the game design overall between the release of Mortal Kombat II and Mortal Kombat 3 (MK3).  For starters there was a mass exodus of on screen talent due to royalty disputes, so almost no one from the original two games returned for the third release.  In addition, Boon and his team were trying to turn Mortal Kombat into a viable fighting game with things no one had ever seen before and mechanics that could compete with the massive rush of fighters in arcades.  The game was completely Americanized, with all hints of Eastern influence including symbols, locales, and the soundtrack completely absent without a trace and instead replaced by urban stages, 90s hip-hop soundtracks, and cyborgs replaced the signature ninjas.  These locations were now composed of pre-rendered 3D backgrounds and the character sprites were almost totally digitized as opposed to the digitized/hand drawn hybrid of the previous games.  Along with it came an overhaul of the controls, including combos and a “run” button to address rightful claims that defensive players ruled the previous title.  It’s all one giant 90s metaphor but that doesn’t change the fact that MK3 (and it’s update Ultimate MK3 or UMK3) stands as the moment I felt the series went into the mainstream fighter territory.  Couple this with the fact that it was on just about every console that existed at the time, still dominated arcades, and had more content than rival Street Fighter II could ever dream to do with its iterations and I see why it’s creator Ed Boon’s favorite.  Mortal Kombat 3 definitely upped the ante.

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Mini Podcast: The Legacy of Shinobi

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For this week’s mini podcast Fred tackles the Sega franchise Shinobi, and more specifically the Joe Musashi games from the earliest years of the franchise.


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Written by Fred Rojas

January 31, 2015 at 3:14 pm

Podcast: Ghouls, Ghosts, ‘N Goblins

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This week Fred and Jam are discussing the Capcom series Ghosts’N Goblins (or Makaimura if you prefer).  Easily one of the most punishing franchises ever created, the boys tackle the trials and tribulations of Sir Arthur on a never ending quest to save his girlfriend.  Along the path he will traverse to various worlds, see terrible beings, and of course battle the many derivatives of the Devil.


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And just for fun, have a video of me cussing out the original for two hours:

Version: Doom

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I was gonna write a retrospective on this, but honestly in podcast form we’ve covered Doom not once, but twice!  From those episodes came a project that has taken six months and over six hours to put together in one near 15 minute video.  I compare the PC, 32x, Jaguar, SNES, PS1, 3DO, Saturn, and GBA versions of Doom so you don’t have to, complete with bad language and snarky remarks (sorry parents).  Check out this version of Versions for Doom, but fair warning: there is some adult language.

Written by Fred Rojas

September 7, 2014 at 11:00 am

Podcast: GBA Forever

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This week the boys are talking all about the Gameboy Advance.  Nintendo’s successor to the extremely popular Gameboy was touted by many as the SNES in your hands.  Well it was a lot more than that and we’re talking all about the crazy library of games that reminded us how fond we were of the 16 bit era.


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Written by Fred Rojas

July 9, 2014 at 11:27 am

Podcast: Castleroid?

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This week we tackle the “MetroidVania” titles in the Castlevania franchise to follow up our initial episode (Devil’s Castle Dracula).  Fred and Jam briefly define MetroidVania as a genre, discuss some titles that originated it, and discuss Symphony of the Night – the most prolific of the series – as well as the multiple portable titles that followed.


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Podcast: Heroes in a Half Shell

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You can’t have grown up in the late 80s and not been struck by the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  It apparently transcends geographic location as co-hosts Fred (@spydersvenom) and James (@Jamalais) both had similar experiences growing up in different parts of the world.  In this episode we dissect TMNT’s roots, marketing, and obvious integration into video game culture, covering the games that made the surfer-style pizza-eating New York crime fighters a pop culture sensation.


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Written by Fred Rojas

February 12, 2014 at 12:52 pm

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