Gaming History 101

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Games You’ve (probably) Never Played: Zombie Nation (NES)

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Console: Nintendo Entertainment System (NES)
Released: 1991
Developer: KAZe
Publisher: Meldac
Famicom? Yes (as Abarenbou Tengu Translation: Hooligan Tengu)
Instruction Manual: Not necessary – Link
Difficulty: Moderate
Played it as a child? No
Value: $187.49 (used) $127.61 (new) (pricecharting.com)
Digital Release? No

Aside from the steep price tag, there are few games on the NES that are like Zombie Nation.  Not only is it it an original horizontal scrolling shmup, but it does many technical tricks not often seen on the console.  Starting with the title screen, which has a line effect that resembles many arcade shmups of the time period, there is a lot happening onscreen at any given time.  The NES would often suffer stuttering or slowdown when the screen was flooded with only a few enemies – heck, Double Dragon couldn’t have more than three characters on screen at once!  Zombie Nation has far more than that with little slowdown and even background effects with everything from burning buildings to guiding lasers.  Additionally the boss battles and frantic later levels would dowse the screen in bulletfire, making it a precursor to the popular “danmaku” genre of shmups that emerged in the mid 90s.    Did I also mention it’s fun as hell?

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Written by Fred Rojas

October 6, 2012 at 12:49 pm

Video: Let’s Play Double Dragon (NES)

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By popular demand (and my own personal affinity toward playing games on a capture card), here’s the Let’s Play of Double Dragon on the NES.  I do complete the game but I cut my many attempts at Mission 4 for brevity.  If you guys prefer to uncut versions in the future, that’s fine but it’s going to be really repetitive.  This definitely demonstrates many gamers’ frustration with the blatantly unfair nature of the final mission.  Feel free to let me know what you think in the comments below.  More to come very soon!

Written by Fred Rojas

September 21, 2012 at 3:05 pm

April Fools: Best Video Game Industry Pranks

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April Fools Day.  This was probably my favorite holiday growing up because you could be truly cruel and no one would call you on it because you were still a young buck.  Well, as much as we in the video game industry (this includes fans) try to fight the fact that our hobby is seen as child’s play, there’s no reason to believe we wouldn’t run with it.  Here are some of the best (and most cruel) April Fools Day pranks played over the years (and yes, I’m aware they’re all EGM pranks, sue me):

1992 – Sheng Long
It was probably the first or second year that Electronic Gaming Monthly (EGM) began doing the April Fools Pranks that they introduced the legendary character Sheng Long in Street Fighter II.  The way it came about dealt with the English localization of the arcade game, which changed Ryu’s message after a win from “If you cannot overcome the Rising Dragon Punch you cannot win!” to “You must defeat Sheng Long to stand a chance!”  See, Ryu’s Dragon Punch is “sheng long” in Chinese and the translators mistook the converted name of the attack for a person.  Since Ryu was supposedly trained by a great karate master, we were to assume that was who Sheng Long was.  Capcom even corrected the mistake in the SNES version, changing the phrase from “Sheng Long” to “Dragon Punch” but the instruction manual explained Sheng Long to be the master of Ken and Ryu.  After that it was only one quick clever plan and EGM had people believing he could be unlocked!  According to the article, you would have to beat all 11 fighters without taking a hit and get 9 draws against M. Bison and you could fight Sheng Long.  Let this be a lesson, if it seems impossible, it is.  It was even funnier when the April Fools Contest appeared just under the article.  Ironically there is speculation that character Akuma was created based on the prank and Capcom has admitted that Gouken from Street Fighter IV is a spiritual version of Sheng Long.

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Written by Fred Rojas

April 1, 2012 at 12:00 pm

Posted in Features

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Dropping the Ban Hammer

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Have you ever eagerly anticipated the release of a game only to find out it isn’t coming to the United States?  Imagine if the reasoning wasn’t due to licensing issues or internal policies by the ESRB and console developers.  Aside from Rapelay, a game I can barely give credit as a video game and was never intended to see a release anyway, I’ve never heard of a game that isn’t welcome in the US.  It’s one of those great freedoms that we take completely for granted in this country – we don’t have our media banned or censored federally.  This isn’t to say content isn’t stripped down, many of us remember Manhunt 2 getting an AO rating that rendered it unable to release on its intended platforms (PS2 and Wii).  As a result, developer Rockstar released a “toned down” version that was approved with an M rating and saw retail release.  The difference between this situation and the situation in other countries is that the industry self polices and decides what is allowed and what is not.  Currently the major console manufacturers refuse to  release AO titles, but that doesn’t restrict a developer from releasing on PC or an available platform.  In some other countries, you’re given a stringent refusal to release your product after you’ve created it.

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Written by Fred Rojas

December 30, 2011 at 12:53 pm