Gaming History 101

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Posts Tagged ‘sonic the hedgehog

Podcast: Sonic the Hedgehog, Re-Hash

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This is an update on a topic from the past.  This week Fred and Jam are re-hashing the original episode Blast Processing: The Story of Sonic (Part 1) and discussing Sonic the Hedgehog.  As a change of pace, they discuss the iconography of the blue hedgehog and how he evolved over time.  Be sure to listen to the end of the show for a very special message from Jamalais.


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Written by Fred Rojas

January 18, 2017 at 11:00 am

How Bad Could It Be: Sonic the Hedgehog (2006)

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Formerly known as “Is it Kusoge?” the series has changed to “How Bad Could It Be?” and we’re playing notoriously bad games.  In addition, these videos are more brief cut together highlight reels to determine what Fred thinks of the game.  This time he’s looking at the 2006 release of Sonic the Hedgehog on Xbox 360 and Playstation 3.  How bad could it be?

Warning: This video contains adult language.

Written by Fred Rojas

February 26, 2016 at 11:00 am

Posted in PS3, Videos, Xbox 360

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Podcast: Genre Study – Platformers (Part 2)

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This week Fred and Jam wrap up the platformer genre study.  They start with analysis the 16-bit era, which many consider to be the pinnacle of 2D platforming, and then move on to 3D.  3D platformers were an interesting impasse in that they marked the future of game technology and design while also making way for a strong batch of platformers that refused the third dimension.


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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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Retro Game Night: Sonic Xtreme and Sonic Blast

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This week we play the two 3D Sonic titles most of you have never touched.   First up is the unreleased demo of Chris Coffin’s late in the development cycle version of Sonic Xtreme as discussed on this week’s podcast:

And next is the Brazilian Master System port of the Game Gear’s final Sonic title, Sonic Blast, which utilized much of the same technology as Donkey Kong Country:

Written by Fred Rojas

July 27, 2013 at 11:00 am

Podcast: Top Scores

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This week Fred flies solo again and he’s celebrating his favorite songs from video game soundtracks.  The entire history of games is reflected from 8-bit and 16-bit to the glory of CDs and red book audio.  Kick back with a good time wasting game and enjoy a journey through gaming’s musical past.


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Review: Christmas Nights Into Dreams (Saturn)

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christmas_nightsConsole: Saturn
Released: December 1996
Developer: Sonic Team
Publisher: Sega
Instruction Manual: It did not have one – manual of the original game should suffice
Difficulty: Easy
Played it as a child? Yes
Value: $24.25 (used), $56.00 (new) (pricecharting.com
Other Releases: Yes – A Japan only PS2 remake of Nights Into Dreams includes the Christmas content
Digital Release? Yes – included in the HD remake of Nights Into Dreams on XBLA and PSN, certain content removed (see below)

Christmas Nights Into Dreams is significant for several reasons, but most of all it’s one of the only Christmas themed games to ever come out.  No, seriously, look through the vaults of retro console history, this is a holiday that is rarely celebrated save for games that focus on certain days (Animal Crossing, for example).  In the winter of 1996 Sega was already in big trouble with the Saturn.  At only about a year and a half old, Sony’s Playstation was killing it in terms of sales and there were few exclusive titles that generated any kind of buzz.  Even Sonic, the faithful hedgehog that always seemed to sweep in and save Sega’s butt, hadn’t released a real game yet.  Not only that, but this was the Christmas release of the Nintendo 64 and Mario 64 was selling out consoles nationwide.  Nights Into Dreams was the only recent release on the Saturn that appealed to the typical gamer and with its colorful aesthetic, roots in platforming, and Sonic Team developer it was Sega’s best bet for the holidays.  Under these circumstances Christmas Nights invaded the market in several forms from being a free pack-in with Christmas console bundles (that already included Nights), inside several magazines, a mail away/in store offer with certain game purchases, and even for rent at Blockbuster Video.  This “sampler” title was everywhere, but only for about 45 days, and now it’s one of the more rare and sought after pieces of a retro gamer’s collection.

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Written by Fred Rojas

December 25, 2012 at 11:00 am

Review: Sonic CD (Sega CD)

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soniccd_boxConsole: Sega-CD/Mega-CD
Released: 1993
Developer: Sonic Team
Publisher: Sega
Instruction Manual: Not Necessary – Link
Difficulty: Moderate
Played it as a child? Yes
Value: $11.99 (used), $23.50 (new) (pricecharting.com
Other Releases: Yes – PC, PS2/Gamecube (Sonic Gems Collection)
Digital Release? Yes – Steam, Xbox 360, PS3, Android, iOS ($5 on all platforms)

Sonic CD is one of those games that it’s just popular to like.  I don’t want to start on a negative note, the game does have some merit, but it’s not a particularly good Sonic game and doesn’t quite change the universe like many will claim.  Before Sega decided to blitz every console on the market with the digital version, Sonic fans were gnawing at the bit for a decent port (sadly the Sonic Gems Collection ports had emulation issues).  Now that it’s everywhere the gaming community seems to have adjusted to a more realistic view of the CD adventure that throws a few imaginative ideas at relatively lackluster level design.

At one point you're forced to beat Metal Sonic in a race.

At one point you’re forced to beat Metal Sonic in a race.

For those that aren’t up on their Sonic history, the hedgehog was co-created by Naoto Oshima and his more known partner Yuji Naka.  After the release of the first game, Naka and several members of that team moved to the United States and joined with STI (Sega Technical Institute) to create Sonic the Hedgehog 2.  Meanwhile the remaining developers, including Oshima, took the concepts that were in early development for Sonic 2 and expanded upon them into what eventually became Sonic CD.  This is why despite coming out around the same time as Sonic 2, Sonic CD looks graphically more like the original and doesn’t seem to adapt some of the great ideas of the sequel.  Still, it does feature some interesting gameplay mechanics, like the ability to move into the past and future with two full versions of the many levels.  This dual expansion of the campaign does have a casualty: level design.  Many of the levels in Sonic CD feature plenty of wasted real estate in the interest of moving quickly to the right, odd gimmicks that net death if you don’t tolerate the so-so platforming, and several instances where Sonic’s momentum is completely spoiled by a random ramp or springboard.  Despite these layout flaws I still contest that the boss designs are superior over Sonic 2 and prove that not all of the talent in Sega’s Japanese team migrated to America.

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Written by Fred Rojas

November 30, 2012 at 9:09 pm

Podcast: The Final Countdown, Part 2

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We continue our Final Countdown series that swaps the wonderful stories associated with some of the most beloved games of all time.  Again, little discussion as to whether or not the ranking is valid and much more on the interesting stories and memories that came from them.  This time around Fred from Gaming History 101 is joined by Trees from EZ Mode Unlocked (Colm from the T4 Show couldn’t make it, but was present in spirit) as they tackle even less games than the first show but with equally fun stories.


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