Gaming History 101

Know Your Roots

Archive for February 2014

Podcast: Nom Nom Nom

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food

Not only are we graced with guests Jam (@Jamalais) and GH101 alum Rob “Trees” (@Treeslounge00), but Strider gets a reboot.  After that the main topic is all about food in video games stemming from a lesson best taught by “Weird Al” Yankovic: if you integrate food your product will see more success.  Also introducing a new theme song by listener Jake McClenahan (@NeoJakeMcC) so let us know what you think.


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Written by Fred Rojas

February 19, 2014 at 9:48 am

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Strider Retrospective

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Starting today the reboot of Strider hits home consoles and PCs as developer Double Helix attempts to capture the charm that came with the original’s dedicated cult following.  When I try to look back at Strider – and yes I grew up playing every version from the arcade at my local bowling alley that was ported to the Genesis along with the completely different NES version – it’s hard to see what exactly needs to be in the new game.  Still, there’s no denying the hardcore appeal of this unique and odd addition to classic gaming that justifies looking back for those that didn’t grow up with it.

Strider_1If you haven’t played it, the original arcade version of Strider is all over the place.  There are multiple languages, settings across the globe, massive mechanical ape bosses, and even lead protagonist Hiryu riding on a whale at the end.  As one of the pioneer titles of Capcom’s new CP arcade platform – think of it as a cartridge-based cabinet that allowed quick swapping of games with only a few ROM changes – the graphics are indicative of the cartoon style all CP titles shared (ie: Ghouls’n GhostsWillow, and of course Final Fight).  Graphics aside, the game is also noted for its crazy gameplay that features hanging from walls and ceilings, fighting massive enemies, and reversed gravity.  To accompany this eclectic melting pot was an equally frantic soundtrack that covered all the bases from electronic progressive music to ambient classical style.  While the soundtrack is uncredited to original composer Junko Tamiya (she also did the solid NES version of Bionic Commando as well as my personal favorite Sweet Home), the original versions of the arcade game didn’t feature the Aerial Battleship or Third Moon stages (replaced instead by the first stage music on a loop) so it can be deduced that someone went back and composed those additional tunes.  While the game itself covers a scant five stages that will take the average person probably 60-90 minutes in total (pros can do it in half that time) the high difficulty and game design that was more indicative of home consoles was fresh.  Instead of trying to rack up a high score or conquer a single mechanic over and over you were progressing through brutally difficult levels with the carrot on the stick being that provided you could afford to continue as many times as it took, you could see the ending.  This is why most people who play it today will either set it to free play on the cabinet or emulator and also explains why the PS1 port flat-out gave you unlimited continues.

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Written by Fred Rojas

February 18, 2014 at 2:12 pm

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 Fred Rojas

February 12, 2014 at 12:52 pm

Editorial – Nintendo’s Biggest Problem: Us

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iwata

Normally I wouldn’t be speaking to the modern gaming scene, but the overall backlash toward Nintendo is that they are failing with the Wii U and they need to fix it now.  The first statement is unarguably true, and despite the second statement being more of an opinion, it’s one that Nintendo also shares.  From the outset of the Wii U’s supposed and later confirmed failure, my peers on the Internet and beyond that at larger video game media venues have taken it upon themselves to suggest what Nintendo should do to fix this problem (just look at this simple search).  Needless to say the vocal minority in message boards have also role-played as CEO and declared their plans on how to “fix” Nintendo with suggestions that vary from practical to downright stupid.  This illustrates one of the largest problems in gaming today: the public.

wii_u_salesI’m not sure quite when the Facebook generation took over, but ever since social media has boomed it has been handled in a very irresponsible way.  At first people were just plain rude due to anonymity, however now we see people who blatantly admit to their real names and even in public have brought out this behavior.  Internet rudeness has become commonplace.  With it so has any sort of credibility for sources of accurate information and inevitably the whole world thinking they are important.  Well Nintendo doesn’t need your help and wouldn’t do well to follow it.

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Written by Fred Rojas

February 11, 2014 at 3:12 pm

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Podcast: Taito Legends

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This week Fred is joined by James (@Jamalais) to discuss the arcade classics released by Taito in the 1980s.  They cover the company’s history and many of the staple titles like Space Invaders, Jungle Hunt, Zoo Keeper, Bubble Bobble, Darius, Rainbow Islands, and Rastan.  Return to one of the arcade pioneers of gaming’s golden years.


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Please note: In the show Jam refers to a review for Rainbow Islands that was very close to him.  That review can be read, unedited, here.  (It is in an open document type, so I recommend using Google Docs to view.)

Written by Fred Rojas

February 5, 2014 at 12:24 pm

Polygon features “An Oral History of Street Fighter II”

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sf2_arcadeAh Street Fighter II, how you have become a beloved fighter franchise.  While the celebrated fighter may hold a special place in the hearts of arcade enthusiasts or those who were teens in the mid 90s, I am always fascinated by the stories of the game’s genesis.  Since I will never have access to the veteran team responsible for Capcom’s classic, Matt Leone (formerly of 1UP and now at Polygon) has covered just that in his recent Oral History of Street Fighter II.  It’s an amazing and deep read that any fan of game development should definitely take in.  I swear, features like this prove that true featured articles did not die with print.

Written by Fred Rojas

February 5, 2014 at 12:12 pm

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