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Retrospective: Rebel Strike (Rogue Squadron III)

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In order to understand why Rebel Strike even exists and why reviewers were so harsh on certain aspects of it, it’s important to understand where the series roots begin in the Star Wars video game universe as well as the significance of developer Factor 5.  As most gamers are aware, the mid-late 90s was a rough time for video games as games went from sprite-based 2D experiences to polygonal 3D experiences with extremely varying degrees of success and failure.  During this time Star Wars was ramping up for some new content beginning with the 1995 announcement of the Special Edition Trilogy that would remaster the original films and bring them back to theaters.  At the time this was all good news.  My friends and I were mocking the transparent snowspeeders in Empire, laughing at some of the effects in A New Hope, and reveling over the cool new things that were teased in the trailer (like the ronto in Mos Eisley).  These days there are clearly sour grapes with the Special Edition Trilogy and far more edits have been made for the Blu-Ray releases of these films than what hit theaters in 1997, but again before those films had even come out it was time to ramp up on Star Wars console games.  Couple that with the announcement of the upcoming Prequel Trilogy set to release in 1999 and Star Wars fever hit.  It should be noted that Star Wars games would consistently release during most of console gaming’s life, but most of the variety was found only on PC and the more traditional action games were found on console.

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Written by Fred Rojas

December 17, 2015 at 11:00 am

Podcast: Majora’s Mask Game Club (Part 2)

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This week Fred and Jam wrap up Majora’s Mask with the final two dungeons, the ending, and probably the biggest draw to the game, the side quests. It’s a lengthy discussion that goes down to the wire but definitely demonstrates a game that while not appreciated in its time but can have a second life now.  Part 1 can be found here.

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Written by Fred Rojas

June 10, 2015 at 11:00 am

The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask Review

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Riding the coat tales of the excellent Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, which basically was another re-creation of the original formula that A Link to the Past had done before it only this time in 3D, it was going to be hard to top.  Not only that, but there was a long four year development cycle for Ocarina and Nintendo wanted a follow-up done faster with a smaller team by re-using the engine and assets.  It was determined that this could be accomplished by containing the whole game in a smaller world and on a game clock that would control the overall scope of the title regardless of what the player did.  As a result, The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask released in 2000, finished in less than half the time of Ocarina.  Unfortunately it also garnered half as many sales (3.36 million compared to the 7+ million of Ocarina) and while critically praised, it didn’t seem to hold the attention of the many fans that wanted many of the series staples to remain intact.  Majora’s Mask was recently re-released in 3D on the 3DS and it appears today’s audiences are treating one of the franchise’s few ugly ducklings with a bit more of an open mind.  Is that love justified or are people just that desperate to get their hands on a unique Zelda title in hindsight?

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Written by jamalais

June 2, 2015 at 2:44 pm

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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Smash TV Review

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smashtv_boxPlatform: Arcade, microcomputers, NES, Master System, Game Gear, SNES, Genesis/Mega Drive, Xbox/Gamecube/PS2/PSP (part of Midway Treasures)
Released: 1990
Developer: Williams
Publisher: Williams/Midway
Digital Release? Yes, it had a digital release on XBLA (360) but was delisted in Feb. 2010

Smashtv01These days there is a good chance any gamer is familiar with the “twin stick shooter”, a concept where you move with the left stick and shoot with the right.  Back in 1982 when fantastic game designer Eugene Jarvis premiered the concept in Robotron: 2084, it was unlike anything we had ever seen.  The merits of that game, and what it brought to video games, cannot be denied and if you want an idea of how Robotron played you need look no further than recent neo-retro release Rock Boshers Dx.  It wasn’t until almost a decade later, in 1990’s fantastic Smash TV, that Jarvis along with a talented team at Williams created one of the most addicting arcade games from my youth.  Set in the year 1999 – oh how we thought so much was going to change with the year 2000 back then – Smash TV has you and potentially one other person shooting it out in a room-to-room TV studio playing the most violent game show of all time (Running Man anyone?).  It takes the building blocks of Robotron: 2084 and brings it into the nineties by giving you a second player, having you kill tons of humans instead of rescue them like in Robotron, and of course you’re doing it all for cash prizes to selfishly grow your wealth.  I loved it then and I love it now.

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Written by Fred Rojas

March 24, 2015 at 11:34 am

Retro Shop Finds: Mystery Gamecube 10-pack Unboxing

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Fred and Brian unbox a mystery Gamecube 10-pack that could have any game in it.  Check out what they find.  Fred also notes a handful of Game Gear games he picked up for coverage in the upcoming weeks.

Written by Fred Rojas

March 15, 2015 at 6:37 pm

Posted in Game Gear, Gamecube, Videos

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Resident Evil HD Remaster Under 3 Hour Speedrun

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Completing a longer game in a speedrun can be not only an accomplishment but also quite rewarding.  In the case of Resident Evil, completing the game in a speedrun is literally built into the programming with the expectation that after you’ve explored the game a couple of times you will jump right into it.  The recent Resident Evil HD Remaster came out and while I found the game quite difficult in my recent playthrough and it took me over 11 hours to complete, I dared leap into an under 3 hour speedrun (albeit with the gracious help of a guide from GameFAQs).  I also decided to capture it and offer voiceover so that you can not only enjoy watching a speedrun, but see what is done and why to somewhat bend the timeline of the game to be as short as it is.  I’ve embedded the first video below and you can see the entire playlist here.


Written by Fred Rojas

February 2, 2015 at 11:00 am

Retrospective: Resident Evil 4

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Now & Then is different from both a retrospective and a review.  It tackles games you probably already know and is a place for gamers to discuss these games.  Below is an overview of a game’s presence in the market then and now.  Authors of these articles share their personal experience, so we encourage all of you to do the same in the comments.

Editor’s Note:  Although I love classic games as much as the next guy, few games get to be restored as often as Resident Evil 4.  Therefore, the recently released Ultimate HD Edition has the most cleaned up, 1080p native graphics to date and thanks to screenshot technology being what it is we were able to grab those assets directly from the game without any quality loss.  We at GH101 have decided to feature screens from this version in the interest of clarity, despite the fact that they do not faithfully represent the graphical fidelity of the many previous versions.  Hopefully purists will forgive us.

The Story of the Scrapped Versions

re4_boxWhenever a game sits in development hell for too long, it has an adverse affect on everyone’s feelings for the game.  The examples are too many to count but a couple quick mentions are the likes of DiakatanaToo Human, and of course Duke Nukem Forever.  With a few exceptions, games that take too long to make can’t help but not live up to the hype and therefore disappoint an all-too-eager audience.  One of these exceptions is Resident Evil 4.  Originally announced in 1999, the concept was a Playstation 2 game with a brutally strong protagonist that was more action focused per the ongoing desires of Shinji Mikami (series creator that has been trying to go more action oriented since Resident Evil 2).  This new iteration was appropriately tasked to Hideki Kamiya, notable for his director work on Resident Evil 2, and in connection with Noboru Sugimura, writer of Resident Evil 2.  After a European trip that netted a Gothic art style and given the goals of the game it was decided that the camera would have to be dynamic and movable (much like Capcom had started in Dino Crisis) and thus ditch the traditional pre-rendered background in exchange for a fully rendered world.  Much of the development style, tone, and even Kamiya’s direction involved a what was described as a “cool” world and eventually it got so far removed from the roots of both the survival horror genre and Resident Evil series and instead integrated demons and a new protagonist, Dante.  A small fraction of the Capcom Production Studio 4, named Little Devils, converted this new concept with the juggling bug this team had seen in Onimusha: Warlords and eventually renamed the project to Devil May Cry in November 2000.  While it spun off to a good game and an ongoing franchise that still lives today, Devil May Cry left Resident Evil 4 in a rut without a dev team (and some hardcore RE fans still refer to the game as Resident Evil 3.5 since the core concepts remained intact).

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Written by Fred Rojas

September 5, 2014 at 3:41 pm


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