Gaming History 101

Know Your Roots

Archive for January 2014

PC Gamer Replays Hell

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In the mid 1990s PC gaming was a bit of a wild world.  Consoles were clearly embracing the 3D as an up and coming technology – Star Fox, Virtua Racing, and Donkey Kong Country were just a taste of things to come – and PC developers all had various approaches to making the next big thing.  During this time a series of point-and-click adventures, often with embedded action sequences, made their way to your Windows 95/DOS platform that featured voice acting from stars, adult themes, and horrible early 3D renders.  

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Some of these games caught on and have quite the cult following.  Sometimes it’s quality, like Tim Schaefer and LucasArts’ Grim Fandango, and other times it’s the creator’s reputation, like Roberta William’s Phantasmagoria.  Still others are a complete anomaly, like D.  One of the more buried projects that released was Hell: A Cyberpunk Thriller, and before you think of it as a victim of circumstance it really is a terrible game.  Your guard should always be up when words like “cyberpunk” and “thriller” are in the title instead of the description and the big sticker that proudly announced voice work from Dennis Hopper was a red flag even back then.  I spent a lot of time and chunk of change getting my hands on a copy of this game for the 3DO – I tend to grab old PC games on this console because it’s easier to just drop the game into my 3DO than try to get it to work on a Windows 7 device.  Needless to say after one hour it was a dust collector in my game closet.  Fortunately for all of us, Richard Cobbett over at PC Gamer covered the entire campaign and gameplay in a more-words-than-it-deserves addition to his Saturday Crapshoot series.  If you don’t know this game, this well written piece is a much better way to experience Hell and I chose to cover it because there’s no way I’m ever going to review it.  Check it out!

Written by Fred Rojas

January 30, 2014 at 2:19 pm

Podcast: Guardian Heroes Game Club

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This week we are joined by Horseplay podcast’s Yogi Lopez (@Yogizilla) and freelance retro writer Jam (@Jamalais) to discuss Sega’s gem for the Saturn Guardian Heroes.  A surprisingly deep hack-and-slash with RPG elements and even a fully controlled NPC, this title ushered out 2D sprites and a genre that was much beloved in the early-to-mid 1990s.


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Written by Fred Rojas

January 29, 2014 at 11:00 am

Good Old Games Holds “Time Machine” Sale

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If you head on over to Good Old Games right now you will see they are holding a “Time Machine” sale on the main page.  It looks like each offer goes live for around 75-90 minutes with really decent discounts.  Already today Tomb Raider 1-3 could be had for $1.99 and currently Carmageddon and the expansion, the Splat Pack, are $1.49.  According to the press release the sale goes all day, covers 30 years of gaming, and some sales will offer games as low as 59 cents.  As with all GOG content, these games come DRM-free, are optimized to work on modern day (typically Windows XP-7 at least) machines, and include plenty of goodies like PDF versions of the manual along with bonus content like wallpapers and soundtracks.

Editor comment: Unlike Steam and other digital distributors, GOG has always done an excellent job at creating a package that you can quite literally double click on and play in today’s PC gamescape.  With retro gaming on PCs being plagued by incompatibility issues it can be risky to pick up your classic games elsewhere.  To see sales like this shows that GOG is ready to compete with other online stores head on.

Written by Fred Rojas

January 29, 2014 at 8:49 am

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Podcast: Big Boss Man

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This week Fred is joined by guests @JamesFortengard and @Xenocore to discuss the origins and some of our favorite boss battles.  A dying art, we celebrate those large scale gatekeepers and rule-breaking big baddies that challenged our past and is barely kept alive today.


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Written by Fred Rojas

January 22, 2014 at 11:00 am

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Podcast: Excelsior!

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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 Fred Rojas

January 15, 2014 at 2:45 pm

Let’s Play Michigan: Report from Hell

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Here’s our complete Let’s Play of the PS2 Japan/Europe exclusive by Grasshopper Manufacture and Suda51, Michigan: Report from Hell.

Written by Fred Rojas

January 9, 2014 at 12:06 pm

Podcast: 2014 on the 5s and 10s

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This year special guest Andy Urquhart (@damien12473) joins Fred to discuss the 5s and 10s of 2014 (meaning 1959, 1964, 1969, etc.) along with some additional reminiscing from the chat.  Find out what happened in the ancient years leading up to and during the golden age of console gaming.


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Written by Fred Rojas

January 8, 2014 at 11:00 am

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Podcast: Final Fantasy VI Game Club

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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 Fred Rojas

January 1, 2014 at 11:35 am