Archive for August 2013
This week we divert from retro games a bit to discuss the wonderful world of action figures from the 70s, 80s, and 90s. Fred is joined by Shawn of Knuckleballer Radio, Andy of 42 Level One, and Derrick of Dead Pixel Live for a random discussion that spans from Star Wars to Bucky O’Hare.
This week Fred flies solo to discuss the short live but highly coveted niche console the Turbografx-16. With an 8-bit processor and a 16-bit graphics card this Japan-centric console by NEC only hung around for 4-5 years but has a cult following almost as intense as Sega. This episode covers its release, different versions, Japanese counterpart the PC Engine, and of course the expensive CD expansion and games.
Most HD remakes require a certain degree of love for the original game, especially when you consider a brunt of them just increase the resolution on lower quality assets. In the case of NES classic DuckTales, this doesn’t really apply. It was a stunning game that had few flaws when placed up against other titles of its time. There was much work to do bringing it into modern times and if you are going to do this type of upgrade while still retaining sprites, WayForward is probably the best equipped for the job. The visual result is spectacular, justifying the somewhat melodramatic title of Remastered in a mere screenshot. Unfortunately it seems the team was so focused on keeping the aesthetics intact that they spent little time on gameplay. As a result DuckTales Remastered is a title that will tug at your nostalgic heartstrings before crushing them under the minor, but significant, tweaks of this modernization.
This week Fred and Trees are discussing Capcom’s Disney games. In the 8-bit era Capcom received the Disney license and created a little game called DuckTales based on the popular Saturday morning cartoon. Not only was it a mass success, but it was an excellent game that gave way to a whole slew of 8-bit and 16-bit gems on Nintendo and Sega consoles.
Price: $14.05 (used, cart only), $48.98 (used, complete), $167.61 (new) – Please note: This is a recent spike in value with the release of Ducktales Remastered, approximately 45 percent, and may soon drop.
Digital Release? No, although a re-creation of the original, Ducktales Remastered, is now available on Xbox 360, PS3, WiiU, and PC
Ducktales is one of those rare titles on the NES that has a universal love from anyone who talks about it. That’s because it is a perfect example of what most of us who grew up with Nintendo’s 8-bit console loved about gaming, and all with a Disney license to boot. Granted the developer was Capcom, who at the time was responsible for Mega Man and several other gems on the same console, but Ducktales proved that you could experiment and still get a game right. It was fun, it was addictive, it looked good, it sounded great (one of the signature soundtracks of that era), and of course sought after thanks to licensing deals that will surely prevent a re-release.
At face value it was a standard side-scrolling platformer where you control Scrooge McDuck as he journeys the world looking for treasure. Where it diverges from this classic formula is that of the five levels you explore (Amazon, Mines, Transylvania, Himalayas, and the Moon) you are given the option what order to complete them in. It doesn’t really matter, although from a difficulty standpoint there can be a given order, but I know plenty of fans that have played it enough to do whatever order you choose. I also think due to the various hidden items throughout each level there is a need to complete certain levels in an order if you want to collect a million dollars and get the true ending. This is all before you even start the game, where you learn about the other great mechanic: the pogo cane. Probably one of the most notable gameplay mechanics of the console, Scrooge’s pogo cane allowed him to take out enemies Mario style but also get through hazards like spike pits untouched. Later in the game it will also be the only way to traverse large pits by jumping on the heads of attacking enemies or proper placement of an enemy to reach a seemingly untouchable spot. Once you master the cane, this title is a cinch.
This week Fred is flying solo and discussing the origins of the Doom clone. Named for early first person shooters, a little startup company called id Software created a reboot of Wolfenstein that eventually led to a demon slaughter in hell known as Doom. From there the flood gates opened and it seemed everyone had a game where you ran around and violently killed legions of enemies.
Release Date: 07/31/2013
Developer: Interceptor Entertainment
Publisher: Apogee Software
Platforms: PC (Windows-based only)
Availability: Digital Download Only
Services for Distribution: Steam (online DRM), Good Old Games (DRM-free)
Please Note: This is for the 2013 release. The review for the original 1994 title Rise of the Triad: Dark War can be found here.
It seems like more and more games are being rebooted from the past, specifically the mid 1990s, and given new life for today’s audience. Of all the games that probably didn’t need to be brought back, Apogee’s Rise of the Triad is high on the list. Let’s face it, the game wasn’t that good, most people didn’t play it, and save for coining “ludicrous gibs” it’s a title best lost in nostalgia. From the initial announcement I’m thinking “why are they doing this?” Well as it turns out this updated Rise of the Triad does the one thing I never expected: re-creates a classic “Doom clone” with all the dated gameplay style and features intact. It’s like the last 20 years of first-person shooters (FPS) never happened and now we’re back with a fast paced, tough as nails, rocket launcher frenzy with awkward controls and heavy metal music. It’s jarring at first and my initial hour made me want to put this title away and never think about it again – I had spent more than an hour trying to complete the first level, how was I ever going to overcome the entire game? Once I overcame the initial hurdle of figuring how to adjust for 1995 shooter gaming I was rewarded with a crazy, addictive title that just shouldn’t exist today. I’m quite happy it does.
Rise of the Triad is more significant than it initially seems in the annals of first-person shooter (or Doom clone) history. In fact, had it remained under its original title, Rise of the Triad: Wolfenstein 3D Part II it would probably have more awareness and fall under the pantheon of id titles still garnering praise on Steam and Good Old Games. Due to several disputes that arguably are the direct result of John Carmack, a co-founder of developer id Software and lead in milestone shooters Wolfenstein 3D, Doom, and Quake, the project was terminated in 1993 to avoid clashing with upcoming title Doom. This led to several disputes within the developer of Doom, id Software, and the planned publisher of Doom and previous publisher of several other titles, Apogee Software.
In the beginning there were two companies: developer id Software and publisher Apogee Software. For the most part Apogee was better known as its later developer 3D Realms, the team responsible for Duke Nukem 3D and originally Prey. Before that all happened, Apogee was making its money publishing id Software’s earliest successes including Commander Keen and Wolfenstein 3D. Apogee utilized the plan of “shareware” to market games, which is a method of giving people approximately 25-33 percent of a game to try out with the option to purchase the full game if interested. John Romero, the then lead designer on Doom at id Software, canceled Rise of the Triad and John Carmack decided to have id self publish so Apogee ended up not publishing Doom. id Software’s co-founder Tom Hall (Carmack and Romero were the other founders) left id to join Apogee. Apparently Hall had concern over the amount of violence and gore in Doom, a project he assisted greatly in creating. Ironically a year later when he completed work as lead designer on Rise of the Triad for Apogee, it would have even more blood and gore than Doom, including a random occurrence where an enemy would explode into gory giblets and “Ludicrous Gibs!” would appear on the screen.
Console: PC/DOS, Mac
Digital Release? Yes – PC/Mac (Steam/gog.com), iOS
Price: $3-$5, depending on digital distributor
Please Note: This review is based on the original 1994 PC game, for the 2013 updated version, our review can be found here.
In 1994 the first-person shooter was rampant. Like today, you just couldn’t look over a rack of games without a large number of the genre present, although at this time they were simply known as “Doom clones“. Ironically, one of the craziest of these titles, Rise of the Triad (ROTT), was played by almost no one unless you were like me and relied heavily on free shareware titles. People keep thinking they’ve played it, but once I start describing it quickly discover it’s a different game. It’s basically a Wolfenstein 3D-like title, which makes sense because it started life as the sequel, and focuses on graphic violence, crazy traps and platforming, and plenty of different explosive weapons. You play as one of five members of spec ops group H.U.N.T. (High-risk United Nations Task-force), each has a value of 1-5 in either strength and speed that balances to the same total amount for each. It’s not as diverse as it sounds in terms of character class, but it allows mild adaptation to your play style. In the game H.U.N.T finds itself trapped on an island after a rescue boat gets destroyed and your goal is simple: kill.