Archive for December 2012
Instruction Manual: None released outside of Japan
Played it as a child? No
Value: N/A – No official US release, most versions are fan translations and prototype carts have no official price
Other Releases: Yes – This game was updated and re-released in Japan on GBA as Mother 1 + 2
Digital Release? Yes – Although technically not true. Digital fan translations to English are available but not really legal.
Thanks to a strong and devoted fan community and some odd ambiguity with Nintendo’s releases of this series, Mother (known as Earthbound Zero with most circles that play english translations) has got to be one of the hardest series to cover. Having never played Earthbound (Mother 2 in Japan) I did the traditional completionist thing and started with the original game, which is extremely dated by almost all RPG standards. Mother suffers from everything I dread about going into retro role-playing games: a ton of grinding (or “meat walls”), constant random encounters, no true direction as to where to go next, casual dungeons with incredibly hard boss battles, slow pacing, and a limited inventory system. Not only that, anytime you try to look up help on this game, everyone who’s written about it has played the game a million times and speaks so condescending of people who get stuck that you feel like an idiot. That’s because Mother has a small but incredibly devoted community that feels this game and its sequels are the apex of game design. Despite all these faults, the charm of the writing and what it was doing at the time was enough to keep me invested until the grueling end.
For our holiday show, Fred is joined by Shawn Freeman of Knuckleballer Radio and Rob “Trees” O’Connor from EZ Mode Unlocked to discuss the holiday releases of days passed. With a plan to cover 20 years of releases we only get through five (1985-1989), but plenty of fond memories are shared.
Released: December 1996
Developer: Sonic Team
Instruction Manual: It did not have one – manual of the original game should suffice
Played it as a child? Yes
Value: $24.25 (used), $56.00 (new) (pricecharting.com)
Other Releases: Yes – A Japan only PS2 remake of Nights Into Dreams includes the Christmas content
Digital Release? Yes – included in the HD remake of Nights Into Dreams on XBLA and PSN, certain content removed (see below)
Christmas Nights Into Dreams is significant for several reasons, but most of all it’s one of the only Christmas themed games to ever come out. No, seriously, look through the vaults of retro console history, this is a holiday that is rarely celebrated save for games that focus on certain days (Animal Crossing, for example). In the winter of 1996 Sega was already in big trouble with the Saturn. At only about a year and a half old, Sony’s Playstation was killing it in terms of sales and there were few exclusive titles that generated any kind of buzz. Even Sonic, the faithful hedgehog that always seemed to sweep in and save Sega’s butt, hadn’t released a real game yet. Not only that, but this was the Christmas release of the Nintendo 64 and Mario 64 was selling out consoles nationwide. Nights Into Dreams was the only recent release on the Saturn that appealed to the typical gamer and with its colorful aesthetic, roots in platforming, and Sonic Team developer it was Sega’s best bet for the holidays. Under these circumstances Christmas Nights invaded the market in several forms from being a free pack-in with Christmas console bundles (that already included Nights), inside several magazines, a mail away/in store offer with certain game purchases, and even for rent at Blockbuster Video. This “sampler” title was everywhere, but only for about 45 days, and now it’s one of the more rare and sought after pieces of a retro gamer’s collection.
This week we celebrate the release of the Neo Geo X Gold by celebrating the original Neo Geo hybrid console/arcade. We discuss the launch, initial pricing, history and iterations of the console, and eventually get to the many games you can enjoy. As the holy grail of my 16-bit gaming as a child, I always dreamed of (and now currently cherish) my Neo Geo.
Song in the opening and closing is Keith Apicary’s Neo Geo Song (Music by FantomenK) and song info, album info, and music video can be found here.