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Archive for July 2013

Gaming History X: Speed Round

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This week Fred is greeted by a whole bunch of guests: Rob “Trees” from EZ Mode Unlocked, Chip Cella from The B-Team, Eli “Sodoom” of Knuckleballer Radio and Shawn Freeman of both Knuckleballer and Zombie Cast.  For this month’s GHX the guys are discussing various topics in speed rounds comparing contemporary game design to retro or classic game design.


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Written by Fred Rojas

July 31, 2013 at 11:00 am

Hardware Profile: Game Cartridges

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It’s hard to believe, but the typical cartridge game began to phase out of gaming in 1995 when the new wave of consoles and the subsequent movement to disc-based media began. I’m sure plenty will be quick to point out that the N64 was a cartridge-based console, but I truly believe this decision was the result of Nintendo not wanting to give up the control over manufacturing and sordid history making a machine that read discs. This change happened 18 years ago, which means there is a significant number of gamers that are now in their early to mid 20s that have never played games on a cart. This is truly a shame because the versatility of cartridges is much more abundant than most people realize, but the crutch will always be that carts offer little storage for massive prices. In today’s lesson we will discuss what makes up a cartridge, benefits/setbacks, and how the cartridge was used to literally upgrade consoles for more than two decades.

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Written by Fred Rojas

July 30, 2013 at 8:35 pm

Retro Game Night: Sonic Xtreme and Sonic Blast

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This week we play the two 3D Sonic titles most of you have never touched.   First up is the unreleased demo of Chris Coffin’s late in the development cycle version of Sonic Xtreme as discussed on this week’s podcast:

And next is the Brazilian Master System port of the Game Gear’s final Sonic title, Sonic Blast, which utilized much of the same technology as Donkey Kong Country:

Written by Fred Rojas

July 27, 2013 at 11:00 am

Review: 9 Hours, 9 Persons, 9 Doors (DS)

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999_Cover_ArtAlso Known As: Kyokugen Dasshutsu (Extreme Escape in English, later re-branded to Zero Escape)Release Date: 11/16/2010
Developer: Chunsoft
Publisher: Arksys Games (US), Spike (Japan)
Value: $17.50 (used – pricecharting.com), $19.74 (new – Amazon.com)
Similar Games: Sweet Home (Faimcom), Clock Tower series (SNES-PS2), S.O.S. (SNES), Corpse Party (PSP)

999_19 Hours, 9 Persons, 9 Doors (999) is one of those games you’ve always been told to play, but many haven’t pulled the trigger.  Upon the release of the sequel, Zero Escape: Virtue’s Last Reward, that premiered late 2012 this title has been re-branded as the predecessor and seen a bit more love.  That still doesn’t change the fact that few have experienced this hybrid between classic point-and-click adventure puzzles and Choose Your Own Adventure storytelling.  It’s a very Japanese concept that may not capture many, but those willing to put in the time and effort will find an intriguing mature form of an interactive book.  Yes, you read that right, 999 is basically an interactive work of fiction.

This is probably the biggest hurdle to getting into 999, after that just sit back and enjoy the ride.  You play as Junpei, a young man who awakens on a ship that is sinking and must assist 8 other people to get through a total of 9 doors in 9 hours (see the title significance) in the “Nonary Game” set up by a gas masked kidnapper known only as Zero. Along the way you will see death, betrayal, and plenty of twists concluding in one of six endings – 5 bad, one good. Bring a pen and paper, you’ll need it, and an FAQ upon completing a few endings, it’s a complicated ride to the perfect end. After the tens of hours to get through the entire adventure, the unfolded plot impressed a novel reader like myself quite a bit. If you have 20-30 mins a day for portable gaming, this is a new take on two classic genres of storytelling, and worth it for those that find that kind of thing intriguing.

999_initial

Score: 4/5 (see our review policy for what each score means)

Due to the title’s late release only a few years ago, there is currently no historical significance to date.  It was reviewed due to its classic style and was purchased by the reviewer.

Written by Fred Rojas

July 25, 2013 at 11:00 am

Podcast: Xtreme – The Story of Sonic (Part 2)

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Screen capture from Sonic Xtreme

Screen capture from Sonic Xtreme

This week Fred is teamed up again by Andy (@damien14273) and Ali (@thealmiesta) of the 42 Level One podcast (@42levelone) to discuss the second and final part of the history of Sonic the Hedgehog.  For the second part we cover Sonic’s 3D outings including the sordid tale of Sonic Xtreme (and its many other project names and iterations) as well as all other 3D Sonic titles up to 2006 (Sonic the Hedgehog on 360/PS3/PC).  Although it ends badly, trust us, it’s a great ride.

Opening Song – Living in the City from Sonic R (Saturn)

Closing Song – Sonic X Theme from Sonic X cartoon show


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Written by Fred Rojas

July 24, 2013 at 11:00 am

Gaming Coverage and Review Policy

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Greetings retro gamers and readers of Gaming History 101,

Normally I do not find the following information necessary or standard, but the fact of the matter is that the world of video game coverage has changed. With most of my written reviews, articles, and stories there is a small amount of traffic that aggregates to the wonderful number of views this site receives everyday and I have no one to thank but all of you. Breaking it down, each video receives about double to triple the views and article would receive and the podcast blows all of them away by literally hundreds of times. At this point I cannot ignore the data, nor would I ever fight it, and concede that audio is the most popular medium for retro, followed by some following for video, and lastly with written. It then occurred to me that perhaps the volume of coverage I put into each game far surpasses the interest of most of you readers and, in truth, probably surpasses the volume I care to read in articles myself. For this reason I have decided to alter written coverage in the following ways:

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Written by Fred Rojas

July 23, 2013 at 5:50 pm

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Retro Game Night: Fatal Labyrinth and Call of Cthulhu Dark Descent

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In what is easily the two hardest game titles to spell, we are going dark for this week’s Retro Game Night.

First up is user @NeoJakeMcC requesting one of the first ever rogue-likes from the Genesis/Mega Drive: Fatal Labyrinth.

Next up is the relatively rare hybrid between survival horror, first-person shooter, and adventure: Call of Cthulhu Dark Descent.

 

Written by Fred Rojas

July 20, 2013 at 8:39 pm

Podcast: Hey Everybody It’s Tuesday!

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This week we join the masses in our endless love for the one, the only, Ryan Davis.  Fred is joined by Trees and we discuss the career of Ryan Davis, including some off the wall discussions about Jeff Gerstmann’s looks, and the end of the console team at GameSpot that gave way to the Giant Bomb web site.  After some kind farewells the boys talk about Ryan’s other passion than gaming: movies.  Specifically retro games licensed from movies that they really enjoy and from there the banter takes the show off the rails.

Both clips for the intro and outro are from episodes of the Giant Bombcast.


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Written by Fred Rojas

July 17, 2013 at 11:00 am

Retro Game Night: Sonic the Hedgehog, 8-bit Edition

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This week in honor of our Sonic podcast, I’m playing the 8-bit (Master System/Game Gear) outings of Sega’s mascot.  If you’ve never seen them before, they are drastically different than the 16-bit versions.

First up is the original Sonic the Hedgehog:

Next is, obviously Sonic 2:

And finally, Sonic Chaos (Sonic & Tails in Japan), which was to be the 8-bit companion to Sonic 3 had it not been delayed:

Written by Fred Rojas

July 13, 2013 at 11:00 am

Review: Final Fantasy Adventure (Gameboy)

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ffa_coverConsole: Gameboy
Released: 1991 (1993 in Europe)
Developer: Square
Publisher: Square/Sunsoft
Instruction Manual: Link for manual, link for map (both helpful)
Difficulty: Moderate
Played as a child? No
Value: $14.49 (used), $77.49 (new) on pricecharting.com
Also Known As: Mystic Quest (Europe), Seiken Densetsu: Final Fantasy Gaiden (Japan), Sword of Mana (GBA)
Digital Release? No

To fully understand the mystery and headaches surrounding Final Fantasy Adventure, you must first understand the massive differences between the names, although not the content, around the world. Times have changed and these days for uniformity (and the much more widespread import scene) most games retain their original title or some semblance of it. Square in particular was very forward thinking in terms of translation and localization, which resulted in games being renamed and more properly translated in different regions. Enter the portable debacle with the Final Fantasy name. On Gameboy there was a single title named Final Fantasy Adventure, this title, and another trilogy called Final Fantasy Legend (I, II, and III); Adventure is in fact the first entry into the Mana series (known as Secret of Mana Zero for a while and now officially renamed to Sword of Mana) and Legend is better known as the SaGa series, which has continued like Mana outside of portables. Legend wasn’t very widely regarded, SaGa has always been a bit of a so-so series, because it didn’t do anything new and was a simplified RPG by all accounts. Final Fantasy Adventure was a bit more interesting because it took the RPG-like elements of a Final Fantasy (the term “gaiden” in Japan relates to a “side story” so the title is fitting over there) and combines it with the action/map/exploring elements of Legend of Zelda. In short, it’s a hybrid of the most popular RPG and adventure titles on the NES now moved to the portable. It was popular then, too, spawning a long running series and the sequel, Secret of Mana, is an SNES favorite to most gamers.

ffa_1Final Fantasy Legend involves a story about a boy, you name him, and a girl, also named by you, that are brother and sister. Bound by an interesting connection with the Mana Tree, the adventure begins with an evil presence named, get this, the Dark Lord, and his plans to destroy the world. In order to prevent it, our duo sets out on a quest to eliminate him. You will journey to many towns, meet plenty of people that will either help or inform you, and of course at some point the girl gets kidnapped by a man named Julius, the Dark Lord’s advisor. This is just a simplified version of the first third of an adventure that spans tens of hours, a time hard to pin down because like Legend of Zelda your progress depends on how fast you can navigate the map and know what to do next. Trust me, print up the map in the link above and bring a FAQ with you – there are a few moments where you can get stuck unable to beat the game.

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Written by Fred Rojas

July 11, 2013 at 11:00 am