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Podcast: Super Metroid Game Club

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supmet_post

This week Fred and Jam tackle the beloved SNES title Super Metroid.  Building upon the fantastic foundation of the original, many consider this title to be their favorite game of all time.  Well neither of us had ever played it, so we gave it the old college try 20 years after release.  

This episode features songs from the album Peace in Space by Maddy Myers (with permission).  You can find it available for purchase at: http://maddymyers.bandcamp.com. These tracks are highly recommended and were selected by Gaming History 101 with no advertising or promotional compensation.
Mid-episode break: Ridley’s Theme by Maddy Myers
Closing: Meditation by Maddy Myers


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Written by spydersvenom

May 7, 2014 at 11:00 am

May the Fourth Be With You: Super Star Wars (SNES)

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super-star-wars1

For part one of this week’s Retro Friday we are celebrating May the Fourth with the SNES title Super Star Wars.  Known for its impressive graphics and sound, this title was also revered for its punishing difficulty. We handle it the best way we can: with swearing and mockery.  Check out the video and stay tuned for the remaining members of the Super Star Wars Trilogy later this weekend!  Click on the graphic above to be taken to the video.

Written by spydersvenom

May 3, 2014 at 9:27 pm

Retro Fridays: Unreleased Games

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starfox-2-snes-rom

This week for Retro Fridays we are playing unreleased games.  The Sunsoft canceled NES title Sunman, which was really a re-skin of a Superman game. An ultra violent PS1 game that was deemed too violent to release named Thrill Kill.  And finally the stolen never released SNES sequel to StarFox, StarFox 2 (of which most of the gameplay was integrated into StarFox 64).  All of these games were captured on actual hardware, no emulation (and we tell you how to do it too).  Click on the Starfox 2 photo above or here to be taken to the video.

Written by spydersvenom

April 12, 2014 at 12:55 pm

Retro Game Night: Super Metroid

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In honor of the April game club, I’m giving Super Metroid a try for the first time ever.  Regarded as easily one of the strongest titles on the SNES, if not of all time, I get started to see what all the fuss is about with the title that is responsible for the “Metroid” in “MetroidVania“.  Click on the box art below to see the video.

supmet

Written by spydersvenom

April 5, 2014 at 3:00 pm

Posted in SNES, Videos

Tagged with ,

How Product Design has Transformed the Amusement Industry

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The term “arcade game” these days conjures up images of cutting-edge graphics and sound, combined with innovative and interactive technology that can bring any concept to life.  However, good graphics and interactivity have not always been a necessity for a game that is both enjoyable and addictive. I dread to mention the recent phenomenon of the Flappy Bird app but it is an example of an outrageously faulty and basic game becoming extremely popular. This has been seen in the past with games like Space Invaders, Pac Man, Tetris and Asteroids following very basic concepts and graphics, but still being addictive and rewarding when completed.

The Really Early Days

The first arcade games kicked off at amusement parks and are still present at fairs and theme parks, but there’s nothing particularly sophisticated about them. Ring toss, throwing balls at stacked cans, shooting targets, and other simple challenges have been doing the rounds for hundreds of years and can still draw in the punters to this day. Just don’t go expecting an easy win. Perhaps this is what is indicative of a good game – making it appear simple whilst making it actually fiendishly difficult to win. Make it too hard, however ,and you are left with Zelda II.

Pinball Wizard

2The introduction of the electric element into arcade games in the 1930s completely revolutionized pinball, which had existed as a spring-loaded tabletop ball game since the 17th century, and the advent of player controlled flippers in the 1940s solidified pinball’s reputation as a classic favourite amongst arcade gamers. Pinball continues to be a popular game to this day with digitized versions adding to the range of machines available. The Japanese even have their own variant of Pinball called “Pachinko’” which features multiple smaller balls in play all at the same time.

The Beginning of the Computer Age

The 1970s was the dawn of computer-based games. Rather than mechanical amusements, which had up until this point held sway. The seminal Pong was released in 1972 and in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s a swathe of arcade classics were released including Space Invaders, Asteroids, Pac-Man, and Donkey Kong. Game cabinets took their lead from pinball table designs but featured digital monitors and player-controlled joysticks and input buttons to control the action on screen rather than physically manipulating items, as in earlier amusement games. Anyone who was lucky enough to be alive at this great time will tell you that Pong was very addictive.

Late 80s Into the 90s – The Birth of the Games Console

SEGA MEGADRIVE – Release Date – October 29, 1988

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The Sega Genesis (or Sega Mega Drive outside the US) saw the beginning of the developed console, bringing games like Sonic The Hedgehog, Pat Riley Basketball and Mortal Kombat to life. This product was unwittingly the start of a new generation of gaming. With most of the games relying on reflex and timing, they relied on the same instincts that were instilled in the general population from old arcade games.

GAME BOY – Release Date – April 21, 1989

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The Game Boy saw a different kind of gaming completely. The handheld device was a revolutionary idea, and the death of every gamers social life. When I was a youngster I would literally take the bulky object everywhere I went, just for a few more goes on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles or Super Mario Land 2: Six Golden Coins. Again, the product design of the Game Boy was very simple, whilst the hardware and software were complex at the time of its release, showing that product design does not necessarily have to be complicated to be popular.

SNES – Release Date – November 21, 1990

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What a machine. As a proud owner of a SNES, I have to say that the hours spent in front of the console were some of the best of my childhood. If you think this is sad then you obviously haven’t played the original Super Mario Kart, Street Fighter II or Donkey Kong Country. The design of the console and indeed of the games themselves worked extremely well. It never tried to be too extravagant or design based, simply slot the cartridge in the top (after blowing on it, of course) and you’re in gamer land. Nintendo skyrocketed in popularity with games being created in house and by third parties like Capcom. The product design of the console meant that they could improve the graphics and make a significant move from 2D platform games. Eventually this design would give us the hallowed Nintendo 64, which brought out games such as Banjo Kazooie, GoldenEye, and Mario Kart 64.

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Shift Towards The Physical

Fighting games such as Mortal Kombat and Street Fighter II gathered huge followings whilst racers such as Daytona USA developed the trend of simulating an actual in-car experience. Gun games also developed so that players held an imitation weapon and fired at on-screen targets. In 1998, Dance Dance Revolution (DDR) marked a shift towards physical actions and computer inputs being combined. Players “dancing” on arrow pads would try to stay in time with a selected track, simultaneously watching the rhythm and timing displayed on-screen.

7This has now led to new product designs and consoles that promote active movement. Consoles such as the Wii and the Xbox One now have the player standing up, moving around, and using themselves as the controller in many games. The future of product design in the gaming industry has never been predictable, but we can see that there is definitely a paradigm shift in the way that people are viewing gaming experiences and indeed the target audience for games.

Increased physical interaction has incorporated all manner of activities that have now been made available in arcade format. Football, guitar, drums, shooting, driving, and many more pastimes have been translated into interactive games with motion control, eye tracking, and other modern features common in today’s games. DCA’s design for the X-Putt, a golf putting game, shows how a design idea and inventive product can combine to create a novel and fun experience for gamers.

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 spydersvenom

February 12, 2014 at 12:52 pm

Podcast: Excelsior!

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marvel

This week Chip Cella (@CaptinChaos) and Andy Urquhart (@damien14273) from the Agents of Shieldcast join Fred to discuss retro titles featuring Marvel Characters.  They learn that the distinction of titles early in gaming were almost nonexistent and perhaps Marvel having Disney behind it may actually be a good thing.  Listen on true believers!


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Written by spydersvenom

January 15, 2014 at 2:45 pm

Podcast: Final Fantasy VI Game Club

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ff6_post

This week Fred and Eli (@Sodoom) discuss what many believe to be the best 16-bit RPG of all time: Final Fantasy VI (better known as Final Fantasy III on the SNES in the US).  We discuss the combat system, characters, plot, and most memorable moment on this truly timeless RPG.


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Written by spydersvenom

January 1, 2014 at 11:35 am

Retro Game Challenge: Daze Before Christmas

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dazeMerry Christmas fellow readers.  Today we are looking at one of the only true Christmas themed games, which is also one of the most rare 16-bit titles released.  Originally developed by then newcomer Funcom, Daze Before Christmas took a whopping year to develop (most games took 4-6 months back then) and was really just a conversion of the developer’s other game We’re Back: A Dinosaur Tale.  It eventually wrapped up and publisher Sunsoft decided to release it exclusively to Australia (a PAL region) in 1994, which is why the title is expensive and hard to find.  Near the end of the summer of release (most games came out in the summer to prepare for word-of-mouth advertising in the holiday season) an SNES port released in Europe, but only in Germany, which again explains its rarity on that platform.  Sunsoft USA had begun work on a US version for both consoles but it was canceled as Sunsoft USA was nearing its closing in late 1994.

It’s really too bad because aside from being super easy, the game is a solid Christmas themed platformer with Santa as the playable character, bright colorful graphics, and a synth Christmas soundtrack.  While a legitimate copy will cost you on the upwards of $100+ today (not to mention the mods needed to a Genesis/SNES to actually fit the cart in your console), reproduction carts like the one I got are much more affordable around $30-$40 online.  For a game that can be completed by almost any seasoned gamer in about an hour and a very narrow theme that may seem like a hefty price tag, but I’ve seen people pay more than that for a copy of fellow holiday game Christmas Nights so supply does justify the purchase.  Either way, Merry Christmas and enjoy Daze Before Christmas.  Friendly warning: I get too close to the mic for portions of the playthrough so I apologize for the jet engine breathing.

Written by spydersvenom

December 25, 2013 at 1:06 pm

Podcast: Twas the Night Before Xmas Part 2

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8-Bit-Gaming-Christmas-Wreath

This year we celebrate more releases of Christmas time with special guests Rob “Trees” (@TreesLounge00), Shawn Freeman (@Freemandaddy5), and special guest Yomar “Yogi” (@Yogizilla).  With a goal of 1991-1996, we only make it through the first half of 1994 but it’s a fun ride through the biggest titles of the 16-bit era.  Merry Christmas everyone!


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And as a bonus we have a special Christmas card from Jam:

Written by spydersvenom

December 24, 2013 at 8:17 pm

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