Archive for the ‘Blog’ Category
Back by popular demand the Horror Obscura returns for another series of terror. This year, as well as discussing some horror titles you may not have heard of, I also wanted to revisit some games which are not necessarily considered horror but have horror elements portrayed in them really well. I’ve always been quite the fan of horror. When I was 5 years old one of my parents made the big mistake of allowing me to watch Stephen King’s It. Pro Parenting tip: Don’t let a 5 year old watch It they will think Tim Curry is terrifying, Home Alone 2 to me is terrifying with his inclusion (full disclosure I’m currently not a parent). Regardless of this experience I always held a kind of fascination with horror and think deep down we all sort of do. Whether its watching a scary film, playing a scary game or doing something scary like falling in love. Okay, I know this is a gaming blog not a life lesson but I feel we all sort of find horror even if its in media that doesn’t contain a monster as my first entry of the Horror Obscura 2016 will begin with.
This week, Nintendo announced the Eastern component to the NES Classic Edition (or NES Mini) that most of us knew were coming. Nintendo did allow some hands on time and offer new information on the NES Classic that will probably apply to the Famicom Classic as well, so check that link above if you haven’t already. The delightful Famicom Mini is officially called the “Family Computer Classic Edition” and it appears to be quite similar to the Western version save for the obvious aesthetic difference, but also with some details and games. Like the NES Classic Edition it will contain 30 games, it does not accept cartridges, and it will retail for ¥5980 (which at time of writing is literally $59.80). Those of you already hoping to import should expect international shipping to be approximately $20-$30 depending on the speed of shipment and retailer. I’ve already checked and no one currently has it on pre-order, although some bigger import sites do have pages for it, but I suspect it will not have a supply problem as the price point for these consoles suggests it needs to sell a large quantity.
Now there are some notable differences that you should be aware of. Of course the games will all be the Japanese counterpart and contain the Japanese versions, but the universal HDMI out means that any HDTV worldwide should easily support either console. On the other hand the USB power supply is not included in the Family Computer Classic Edition and can be purchased for ¥1000 ($10) if needed. Those picking up both versions can most likely use the included NES Classic Edition cable and it’s probably the common micro-USB plug type. Also the Famicom Mini, like the original Famicom, has two controllers wired directly into the console and are not removable. As for games, 8 titles are unique to each region, so 22 of these titles are on both consoles. Here’s a quick list of those and you can expect a video of these region specific titles coming soon.
Sometimes a game comes along that is almost universally loved. People sing its praises, the critics all give it good scores, you’re called a “troll” if you don’t like it, and the gaming world refuses to accept any other opinion. As with all games, there will be an inevitable minority that don’t like the game, for whatever reason, and it’s only a matter of time before you find yourself in this predicament. In my case, it’s with Dishonored. Arkane Studios gorgeous 2012 first person stealth title about a man named Corvo rescuing a girl named Emily was beloved across the board. Garnering a 90 percent Metacritic and just about the same score across most of the major US and European publications gave little reason to not think this was a masterpiece. It would go on to win several Game of the Year awards as well as industry awards and had the sales to back up the hype. There’s no reason not to play Dishonored, no matter what game you’re into. Except for me. I am consistently infuriated by this game and it sucks that I don’t like it. I want to like this game, I should like this game, but I just don’t. Here’s my story as to just how hard I tried to convince myself that I should like this title. It is not a review.
Unless you’ve been under a rock, it’s hard to ignore the presence of a game called Pokemon Go that released about a week ago to most mobile devices (July 6, 2016 in Australia and the United States). Those of you in Europe and Asia, don’t fret, it’ll be out in your neck of the woods hopefully by next week unless you’ve figured out the way to bypass iOS or Android region locks. If you’ve ever played a Pokemon game, then you basically know what to expect. The game uses your GPS and your phone camera to embed Pokemon in the real world, AR (augmented reality) style, and then have you go chase after them and capture them in your poke balls. You can level them up, keep collecting, and of course battle them. I cannot stress enough how ridiculously addicting and fun this is. Much like we have seen with other crazes, this transcends “gamers” and moves into the universal world of all mobile users as potential (and eager) customers. Pokemon Go manages to merge the popular concepts of Facebook, Twitter, Snap Chat, and even Tinder into one universal, easily used for free, app that has gotten it wide attention from games press and mainstream press. It also resulted in a surge in Nintendo (and other) stocks adding a reported $7.5 billion in net value yesterday. So it’s an essentially free social app – there are microtransactions but they can be easily avoided – that makes companies a ton of money and is a blast to play? Too good to be true, right? Yep, it totally is.
Now I’m going to go on record right now and say the point of this piece is to inform, nothing more. If you’re going to let a lowly retro blogger decide whether or not to put an app on your phone, you’re going to have trouble with your security. I’m merely pointing out what has been brought up as a point of concern and inform my readers of the potential ups and downs of this game. It is up to you whether or not you want in, but at least you’ll be prepared for the decision. If it sounds like I’m making a big deal out of downloading a simple app, you should probably read on.
When you think of video game movies there are probably a glut of mostly bad films that come to mind. Whether or not you like the big budget stuff, there’s no denying that the secret best work is done in the independent scene, for free. My favorite three examples can be found below and each are short and worth watching instead of me writing about them. Hopefully you enjoy them as much as I did. And yes, I’m aware the free indie film Pixels was turned into the high budget divisive film of the same name.
Player Two by Zachary Antell (This suggestion was submitted by community member Blake aka JediSlurpee)
Pixels by Patrick Jean
Portal: No Escape by Dan Trachtenberg
I’m a little late to the party reporting on this announcement but I thought it warranted discussion.
People: we are currently living in great times in gaming. Not only are we getting a spiritual successor to the Wonder Boy series in the form of Monster Boy being developed by German developer FDG entertainment, but we are also getting a remake of what some may consider the best entry in the Wonder Boy series, Wonder Boy III: The Dragons Trap from French developer Lizardcube. Of course the remake has removed the “III” to eliminate confusion. The Wonder Boy chronology is incredibly confusing for gamers and is a topic I will be addressing very soon on the site. The reveal trailer so far of The Dragons Trap showcases some beautiful artwork as well as some actual gameplay which appears to closely resemble the feel of the original game. In fact there were scenes I noticed in this game that appeared the same as the original just with the updated graphics. The simple 2D gameplay remains intact. The Dragons Trap also allows you to transform into various animals like a dragon, a mouse, a Lion as well as several others. Surprisingly I saw no human form of Wonder Boy in the trailer.
I think what makes me happiest about The Dragons Trap and Monster Boy is both games are being developed independently without the use of crowd funding. It’s almost as if developers read my open letter to Sega. Both games also seem to be in very good hands looking to develop a product that is faithful to the original series. My only critique is the games do look dangerously similar as both feature animal transformations. However, if the developers are as passionate as they say they are then I’m still on board. Monster Boy really is a new tale entirely whereas The Dragons Trap appears to mirror the infamous Master System/Game Gear game.
I really can’t stretch how giddy I am that The Dragons Trap and Monster Boy are coming out. I’ve been waiting for a sequel to the Wonder Boy series for years and now we’re spoiled with two. I’ll buy both these games day one possibly on multiple systems (especially if they’re handheld versions) and cover them on the site. But hey, if any other developers want to jump in any release another game then I’ll buy that too – some name suggestions include Wonder Otter and Monster Planet.
When I was younger and talked to friends about games I was often asked the question that would come up regularly, “how long is it?” If I followed up, “well, not that long bu…” I would usually have lost their interest and they would dismiss the game entirely despite me possibly recommending the game whole heartily. In this article I wanted to explore the topic of game length and give some personal thoughts.
As I’ve grown older I went through a few phases with my perception of game length. When I was very young without a care in the world and I messed around on the Amstrad and the Mega Drive, I didn’t care diddly squat about game length. I was small and just happy to mess around with this fascinating medium. To quote Dylan Moran from a a episode of the hilarious Black Books TV show, “He looks surprised, all children look surprised, the world is new to them.” This was absolutely me as a youngster everything just amazed me. I wasn’t allowed to play games for extensive lengths of time because my dad did accounts on the Amstrad computer and I was interested in other things like rocks and bugs. When I did game I didn’t care about length, I didn’t care about completing the game I was just having fun. I rarely would finish a game because I was young and pretty dumb, this probably pleased my parents as it meant that they didn’t have to buy a whole lot of new games.
Recently I came across an article which called into question the point of playing older games when there are plenty of better newer games released today. I’m not going to link this article since it seems to be gaining a lot of negativity on the Internet, which is a shame as everybody is entitled to there opinion. In this article I’m going to simply give my personal take on the subject and why I still play retro games to this day.
I’ve mentioned in previous podcasts and articles that I started playing retro games even when I had modern systems. When I used to play the Mega Drive when I was younger the two games that got a lot of play time from me were the Midway Arcade Collection (which included Defender 1 & 2, Joust, Sinistar, and Robotron 2084) and another collection of older games that included Pong, Centipede, and Missile Command. I’ve always had this fascination with the past. Outside of gaming I love to go to museums and watch historical documentaries. For me personally, its always just been a general interest to learn about the games I play and see how they have evolved over time.
In the U.K a surprisingly good place to hunt for old games are charity shops. In the U.S most will know these as Goodwills or a Salvation Army store. Charity shops are not generally very large. They’re small little retail units which mostly sell clothes but some often have a little section in the back where they keep DVDs, CDs and yes video games. This article is going to cover some general tips when hunting for games in charity shops.
Sorry to have led you here on false pretenses by suggesting that I had written an article on the subject. Don’t worry, there’s a link here to the incredible, somewhat heartbreaking details of the beginning and tragic end to Lionhead Studios. I’ve said before that the challenge of being a no ads blog about retro games and located in the Midwest (Kansas City) leaves me at a loss for developer inside stories. I’ve got Jam, who is closer to some of the core studios in London, but frankly he doesn’t work for pay (none of us do) and I have no idea how he would get into a closed studio to ask insider questions. None of these factors are the case with Eurogamer. Writer Wesley Yin-Poole wrote a fantastic piece last week that not only told the history of Lionhead (many of us could do the research and write that) with the rare inclusion of some candid stories. Those stories, including quite a few of the colorful actions of Peter Molyneux, are what I always want to know about game development and the studios responsible. In short, read this story now. The link can be found here, or by clicking on the Lionhead logo at the top, which some of you may have already done.