Gaming History 101

Know Your Roots

Archive for March 2014

Progressive Challenge: A History of Game Difficulties

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Zelda2

Zelda II: The Adventures of Link, Shin Megami Tensei Persona, IkarugaDark Souls.  All of these games have one thing in common: they are hard as hell.  Since the genesis of the video game difficulty has existed to be the barrier to entry and the extension of game experiences.  What is a video game if not a challenge?  Originally technology had not caught up with the goals of the medium so games had to use difficulty to bridge the gap of a good experience where visuals and storytelling failed.  Nowadays games are just as capable, if not more, than other media in being an interactive experience and therefore difficulty steps aside most times.  I consistently hear that the concept of difficulty is dead, that a hard game dictates a good game, and that today’s gamers are weak and catered to.  Frankly, I disagree with all of that.  Gaming is typically tech dependent and with that dependence comes the evolution of experience, which results in the evolution of difficulty.  Games haven’t gotten harder or easier, they have simply evolved.

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Written by Fred Rojas

March 31, 2014 at 4:01 pm

Retro Game Challenge: Radiant Silvergun

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For those of you gearing up for this week’s Gaming History 101 shmup game club, we’ve got the Radiant Silvergun campaign through to completion on a video here.  Don’t expect the best playing in the world, I’m okay but I’m no match for the one-lifers who take this game on.  It was more like 50 lives in my case, but nonetheless, I managed to complete the game despite some self destructing bosses.

Written by Fred Rojas

March 30, 2014 at 1:39 pm

Podcast: Edited For Content

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banned

This week we are joined by Derrick H of All Games Radio to discuss games that have been banned.  As a medium that started marketing to children, governing bodies and the games industry have consistently worked together to avoid the dangerous word of censorship.  Our panel discusses the roots, press, and various actions taken to edit or ban games that are deemed inappropriate for public consumption.


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Written by Fred Rojas

March 26, 2014 at 11:02 am

Version: Resident Evil Intro Movies

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In this episode of Version, we dissect the different intro movies found in the original Resident Evil.  It was heavily altered in the US versions so we hunted down a Japanese version to compare the difference and even included the Gamecube remake for posterity.

Written by Fred Rojas

March 23, 2014 at 4:37 pm

Posted in version, Videos

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How Product Design has Transformed the Amusement Industry

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The term “arcade game” these days conjures up images of cutting-edge graphics and sound, combined with innovative and interactive technology that can bring any concept to life.  However, good graphics and interactivity have not always been a necessity for a game that is both enjoyable and addictive. I dread to mention the recent phenomenon of the Flappy Bird app but it is an example of an outrageously faulty and basic game becoming extremely popular. This has been seen in the past with games like Space Invaders, Pac Man, Tetris and Asteroids following very basic concepts and graphics, but still being addictive and rewarding when completed.

The Really Early Days

The first arcade games kicked off at amusement parks and are still present at fairs and theme parks, but there’s nothing particularly sophisticated about them. Ring toss, throwing balls at stacked cans, shooting targets, and other simple challenges have been doing the rounds for hundreds of years and can still draw in the punters to this day. Just don’t go expecting an easy win. Perhaps this is what is indicative of a good game – making it appear simple whilst making it actually fiendishly difficult to win. Make it too hard, however ,and you are left with Zelda II.

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Podcast: One Disc to Rule Them All

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cd_post

This week Fred (@spydersvenom) and Jam (@Jamalais) are celebrating the compact disc, or CD.  Aside from the various movie and music industry uses, commercial CD video games changed the face of gaming and drastically increased potential content in retail games.  Join us as we make new site announcements and celebrate one of gaming’s most pivotal technology upgrades.


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Written by Fred Rojas

March 19, 2014 at 1:02 pm

Podcast: Gaming History X: This is Next Gen?

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WiiU_Next_Gen_post

This week we celebrate Jam (@Jamalais) coming on board as a permanent co-host, a slew of retro news, and onto the more modern topic of contemporary consoles.  Now that the gang’s all here, we dissect the current state, conditions, and factors of the previously called “next gen” and loosely discuss the upcoming future.


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Written by Fred Rojas

March 12, 2014 at 11:00 am

Retro Review: Hydro Thunder Hurricane

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ht_hurricane_boxWhen I think of summer I think of warm sunshine, outdoor activities and blockbuster movies.  It doesn’t seem I’m alone, either.  Developer Vector Unit has taken all of the thrills of the classic arcade boating racer and compiled a sequel that delivers on all counts.  The only issue I can see is that it holds quite strong in the nostalgia factor and it may be difficult to convice those not familiar with the original that this is nothing more than just another arcade racer.

Hydro Thunder always seemed to me like the popular Nintendo series Wave Racedone right.  You race with boats and therefore are confined to the way a boat moves along water (and in the air in this title’s case).  It takes some getting used to, it rides too close to both racing sim and arcade racer at times, but once you’ve mastered the basics it really opens up.  There’s a little bit for everyone here including traditional races and tournament cups, missions where you have to drive through rings along the track, and “gauntlet” missions where almost every corner and main drag is loaded with explosions.  Most people may take a moment or two with the various modes, but the draw of Hurricane is clearly in the traditional boat races against 16 opponents.

As a fan of the original arcade, I can’t seem to remember doing anything more than racing against people.  The new rings and gauntlet modes were probably good ideas in the development studio, but seem to exploit the more annoying aspects of boat racing.  Anyone who’s driven a boat knows that it’s all about anticipating what’s coming and trying to react appropriately, which means that tracks with obstacles that come out of nowhere seem unfair.  With the length of the tracks and the fact that most require multiple laps, it’s just frustrating to do a near perfect run and then have it all taken away at the end due to one or two screw ups.  For me, this is where the extra modes, while appreciated, ultimately prove to be unnecessary and had me shifting all my focus to racing.

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Written by Fred Rojas

March 11, 2014 at 11:00 am

Review: NES Remix

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nesremix_box

Despite all the piracy and archival purposes of emulation, my personal favorite addition to the gaming landscape was the ROM hack.  ROMs are the name for the entire program contained on a game cartridge and so naturally a “ROM hack” is taking a game we all know and love and changing it.  Nintendo hasn’t really dabbled in this until now – sure, the 1994 World Championship cart and a few SNES competition carts exist, but they are rare and thus hugely expensive.  NES Remix takes 16 established early games from the legendary 8-bit system (listed at the bottom of this review) and runs you through a series of challenges to compete with yourself, your friends on the couch, or the world online.  While it’s mostly just a derivative of WarioWare, this has to be one of the most addictive games for someone who grew up playing the NES.

nesremix_3

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Review: Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Chaos Bleeds

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buffycb_boxSo after already saving the world in the first Buffy game on the Original Xbox, I was curious when the apocalypse beeped me for the sequel. My main interest was to see how the creators did and if they were able to improve on the issues of the first game. Developed by Eurocom, these guys had their work cut out for them as not only was this game released just a year after the Xbox exclusive, it was also multiplatform released on PS2, Gamecube and Xbox in 2003.  Lets cut to the chase and find out if this game was doomed to the hellmouth or was it everything Buffy fans wanted?

Chaos Bleeds is set during season 5 of the TV series and is actually believed to be based on a lost episode of the show. This time the big bad is “The First” – anyone familiar with the TV show will know this nasty. The basic storyline is: The First has a bet with Ethan Rayne (another popular bad guy-who worships chaos) and they must each summon five heroes or villains to fight it out. The winner of the bet gets the ultimate prize of a nice little condo overlooking the sea. Naturally Ethan goes for Buffy and her Scooby gang, except they want to find a way to destroy The First so at present no one can win the bet.  Once again the story is engaging and certainly feels like it could exist in the same universe as the TV show. It’s just a shame that much of the plot is ruined by some bad voice acting, but we’ll come onto that later.

buffycb_xanderAs well as playing fan favorite Buffy, this time you control a whopping six characters throughout the campaign: Willow, Xander, Faith, Spike and Sid the dummy – who incidentally was only in season one for a single episode, but sure why not.  While it was a nice idea to have you playing as other protagonists, there is little variation in the way each one controls.   It really takes you out of the experience when Xander is just as strong as Buffy, but combat is switched up with Willow casting spells and Sid the dummy being small but not very combat savvy. There was an opportunity here to create a more unique experience for each character, such as a stealthier approach for Xander,  but sadly that’s not the case.

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Written by jamalais

March 7, 2014 at 11:28 am