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All posts by Josh Wirtanen

Bubsy 3D Pull Quotes

Those “Faked” Bubsy 3D Pull Quotes Were Actually Real

Bubsy 3D is famous for being a trainwreck of a game. It was one of the very first 3D platformers, but it was in the unlucky position of coming out after games like Super Mario 64 and Crash Bandicoot (though just by a few months — Mario 64 launched June 23, 1996; Crash launched September 9; and Bubsy launched October 31). One version of the game’s cover art features a mystery that’s been puzzling Bubsy haters for several years: There are pull quotes on the cover, supposedly from reviews of the game, that present the contents of this jewel case as something of a masterpiece. One quote comes from the esteemed EGM, while the other mentions the game winning the “Gold X Award” from PSExtreme.…
Patrick Hickey, Jr.

A Conversation with Patrick Hickey, Jr. – Part 2: From Game Journalism to Voice Acting and Beyond

I recently spent about 45 minutes chatting with Patrick Hickey, Jr., author of The Minds Behind the Games: Interviews with Cult and Classic Video Game Developers. In the first part of the interview, we talked about Hickey’s motivation behind writing the book. (Click here to read that.) In the second part of the interview, Hickey explains how The Minds Behind the Games has propelled his career into some unexpected places. Parts of this interview were edited for clarity and flow. Josh: So now that your book is out, what’s next for you? Patrick: Brett Weiss has a Super Nintendo encyclopedia coming out in August, and I wrote something like 25 entries in that. It’s a two-volume collection that contains every single Super Nintendo game that ever came out.…
Patrick Hickey, Jr.

A Conversation with Patrick Hickey, Jr. – Part 1: The Minds Behind the Games

One of the reasons Retrovolve exists is to document forgotten stories and facts about retro video games so they don’t get lost to the ages. It turns out, we have a partner in this great endeavor. Patrick Hickey, Jr., has recently released his book The Minds Behind the Games: Interviews with Cult and Classic Video Game Developers, in which he interviews the developers of 36 video games. In this book, he records the stories behind a broad range of games. Besides being the author of this fascinating book, he is also the voice behind The Padre and Relentless Rex. He also runs the website ReviewFix.com. I recently had the chance to chat with Hickey for about 45 minutes, so we dove into the inspiration behind The Minds Behind the Games and explored his journey from video game journalist to voice actor and more.…
The Minds Behind the Games

Retrovolve Reviews Books: The Minds Behind the Games by Patrick Hickey, Jr.

Because video games were once such an upstart medium — and because the medium rose to prominence before the Internet did — much of the history of how we got here has simply been lost. In a lot of cases, information must be dug up retroactively (not unlike a particular pile of Atari 2600 games). And that’s the point of The Minds Behind The Games: Interviews with Cult and Classic Video Game Developers by Patrick Hickey, Jr. — it digs up, dusts off, and puts on display a tiny sampling of the could-have-been-forgotten stories about game development. The Minds Behind the Games contains interviews with the developers of 36 video games that span several decades. In it, there’s a wealth of knowledge about the journey of video game development, detailed by the people who made it all happen.…
Jerry Glanville's Pigskin Footbrawl

Jerry Glanville’s Pigskin Footbrawl Brought Hyper-Violent Football to the Genesis in 1992

American football is often seen as a violent sport. Charlie Camosy, a professor of Christian ethics at Fordham University in New York, called it “a great combination of raw caveman strength and gladiatorial combat and the most complicated chess match you can ever imagine.” This was part of a BBC interview in which he questions the ethics of football as a sport that glorifies violence. But long before professors (and columnists) began debating about the more violent aspect of the United States’ beloved sport, back in a golden age called the 1990s, a few game developers had the idea to simply turn that violence up to 11 and run with it. Thus Pigskin 621 A.D. was created. Released in 1990, this arcade classic pitted two teams of brutish Medieval warriors against one another in a game that resembled modern American football.…
Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy

The 3D Platformer: How 1996 Witnessed the Birth of a Genre

In 1996, the 3D platformer was born. That’s not technically true, of course, as the first 3D platformer was almost certainly a French game called Alpha Waves that came out in 1990. But Alpha Waves failed to kickstart the 3D platformer genre, and very few people would be comfortable citing its influence on the genre. I’d even argue that it’s been largely forgotten by mainstream gaming culture. It simply came out too early and for the Atari ST, a system that few people owned. Jumping Flash! is another 3D platformer that pre-dates that 1996 mark as well. It launched for the original PlayStation in November of 1995. It too failed to make a significant mark on the genre, though it had the luxury of launching for the PlayStation so it’s better known than Alpha Waves.…
Pokemon Nintendo Power

Nintendo Power Predicted a “Pokémon Trade War” in 1998

In 1998, Nintendo Power magazine took on the monumental task of trying to explain Pokémon to its American reader base. With Pokémon Red and Pokémon Blue fast approaching a September 30 North American launch date, Game Boy owners were going to need the scoop if they were to jump into a crazy new world their Japanese friends had been enjoying since 1996. After all, the West had seen nothing quite like it at this point in history. In Volume 108 (May of 1998) issue of Nintendo Power, five whole pages were dedicated to these strange little pocket monsters. While there’s a lot of good information on those pages, there are a couple points that seem kind of odd in retrospect. For example, the Poké Ball we know and love today was referred to as a Monster Ball. Now, it’s probably safe to assume Nintendo Power‘s information came from Nintendo of Japan, and Poké Balls are actually called Monster Balls in Japan.…
Disney Afternoon Collection

Capcom’s Disney Afternoon Collection Is a Nostalgia Overload

Nowadays, a new licensed video game is typically met with eye rolls and groans. But there was a time — an oh-so-wonderful time — when Disney’s licensed video game lineup was legendary. From the incredible, Mega Man-like DuckTales to Darkwing Duck, the Disney games for NES were almost all pure gold. It seemed the teaming up of Capcom and Disney had uncorked some sort of genie’s lamp of inexplicably awesome video games. Well, Capcom has announced that it’s bringing back six of its NES classics in The Disney Afternoon Collection for PS4, Xbox One, and PC. For a complete list of games, check out the list below. Included games: DuckTales DuckTales 2 Chip ‘n Dale Rescue Rangers Chip ‘n Dale Rescue Rangers 2 TaleSpin Darkwing Duck On top of these games, Capcom also promises new features, like Boss Rush and Time Attack modes, A Braid-like rewind mechanic, and full 1080p support.…

Remastered Turok 2: Seeds of Evil Coming to PC with Multiplayer

The folks at Night Dive Studios have confirmed a remastered version of Turok 2: Seeds of Evil will be hitting PCs on March 16, 2017. This isn’t incredibly surprising, as the studio released a slightly touched up version of the original  Turok: Dinosaur Hunter on December 17, 2015, and it’s been assumed for a while now that Turok 2 would follow. But what is surprising is the addition of multiplayer. Night Dive has added a new gameplay mode called “Last Turok Standing,” which, according to a press release, will let players “battle with friends for an even more visceral gaming experience.” It sounds like a pretty standard deathmatch, but its addition is a welcome one for anybody who’s ever wanted to use Turok‘s assortment of sci-fi guns on their friends (digitally, of course). I actually spent a good deal of time with Night Dive’s remaster of Turok: Dinosaur Hunter.…
GoldenEye 007

The Making of GoldenEye 007

GoldenEye 007 for the N64 is a landmark game that solidified the 4-player multiplayer shooter genre. It was a staple of dorm rooms and living rooms across the nation at the end of the 1990s. On September 2, 2004, Martin Hollis, director and producer of the game, delivered a long speech about the development process at the 2004 European Developers Forum. Below is a full transcript of the speech, courtesy of the now-defunct site Zoonami. Picture the scene: It’s E3. June 1997. GoldenEye the movie came out an embarrassing 2 years ago. The next Bond film has already finished shooting. It’s called Tomorrow Never Dies. It will be released in a few months. The world’s most famous FPS, Doom is ancient history.…
Super Mario 64

Super Mario 64 Was Ultra Game Player Magazine’s 1996 Game of the Year

1996 was a great year for Mario. The smash hit Super Mario 64 launched September 29 in North America (June 23 in Japan), and it was immediately hailed as a masterpiece. In fact, Next Generation magazine gave it the #1 slot on their list of “Top 100 Games of All Time” before the game was even out in the US (they’d received an early copy for review, so they had played it by then). In their 92nd issue (Holiday ’96), Ultra Game Players magazine called Super Mario 64 “The Best Overall Game of the Year,” and they acknowledged that folks (such as those writing for Next Generation) had already taken to calling it “the greatest videogame of all time.” Ultra Game Players praised its depth, the hugeness of its 3D world, and its clean visual aesthetic, among other things.…
Crystal Castles Atari 2600

Comparing the Crystal Castles Arcade Classic with Its Atari 2600 Port

I can’t blame folks in 1983 for thinking Atari’s arcade hit Crystal Castles was incredible. Its isometric viewpoint made great use of its limited resolution, presenting a tangible 3D environment. Plus, you can tell a good deal of work went into its character designs and animations; just look at how much detail there is on the dancing skeleton in the above image or the game’s red-shoe-wearing protagonist Bentley Bear. Its gameplay holds up too. While navigating the narrow pathways can be a little finicky with the arcade cabinet’s trackball, Bentley handles smoothly enough that players will advance further and further into the game as they memorize layouts and practice the required movements. And there’s a satisfyingly crunchy low-bit noise when Bentley collects the gems that are scattered across each level.…
Bubsy 3D

Bubsy 3D for PlayStation Was Reviewed by Ultra Game Players Magazine in 1996

Bubsy 3D has an unfortunate reputation for being one of the worst video games of all time. While many people like to pretend the game was considered a colossal stinker right out of the gate, these people tend to forget the world was a very different place back in 1996. In 1996, Bill Clinton was elected to a second term as US President. The Chicago Bulls were unstoppable in the NBA, winning a record-smashing 72 games in the ’95-’96 season and following that up with 69 wins the ’96-’97 season. Billboard called “The Macerena (Bayside Boys Mix)” the most popular song of the year. Clearly, it was a good year for things that start with B. And sure, Bubsy wasn’t living it up like Bill or the Bulls or the mixes of the Bayside Boys, but he certainly wasn’t having the terrible year you might expect.…
Mega Man 2 Box Art

Mega Man 2’s Box Art Explained by Artist Marc Ericksen

Like many Mega Man fans out there, we at Retrvolve have always been fascinated by the American box art for Mega Man and Mega Man 2. (In the 23rd episode of the Half-Glass Gaming podcast, we spend a bit of time pondering the mysteries of such art.) An an interview conducted by NintendoAge at the 2012 Portland Retro Gaming Expo (and archived by Rockman Corner), Marc Ericksen, the artist behind the Mega Man 2 cover, explains how it came to be: What happened was I had to go down to Capcom and do a game they just got in from Japan. They had a beta version; they were in a hurry to get this thing out. So I went down there.…
Jurassic Park Sega Genesis

Jurassic Park for Sega Genesis Was a Worthy Movie Tie-In

The Jurassic Park blockbuster movie was an unstoppable hype machine in the mid-1990s. This means there were Jurassic Park video games on just about any game system you could imagine back then, including arcades, NES, SNES, Game Boy, DOS, 3DO, Mega Drive/Genesis, Game Gear, and even the oft-forgotten Sega CD. While the Sega CD version might be my personal favorite, BlueSky Software’s Genesis version is a close second. In it, you take on the role of Dr. Alan Grant and platform your way across a chaotic, dinosaur-filled park. It’s not very long, but it’s brutally unforgiving — filled with faith jumps and lacking anything resembling a mid-level checkpoint — and it culminates in one of the most obscure platform puzzles I’ve ever encountered.…
Box Art Documentary

Video Game Box Art Documentary Lands on Kickstarter

We’ve compiled a fairly robust history of Mega Man box art, and we’ve dived into some of the stories behind Atari’s box art philosophy; clearly, we’re very much into video game box art here at Retrovolve. On April 19, 2016, a Kickstarter project appeared that’s very exciting to box art addicts. Box Art – A Gaming Documentary is a documentary by award-winning filmmaker Robert McCallum that explores the history behind those images on your game cases. (Is that Color a Dinosaur we see in the image above? Why yes, yes it is!) The Kickstarter page promises answers to such questions as: But who created those images? Why was it on a box? Why did some games have different covers in different parts of the world?…
Dungeons and Dragons

The Dungeons & Dragons Panic of the 1970s and 1980s Is Tackled in This Retro Report Video

Dungeons & Dragons was introduced to the world in the 1970s. While many saw it as an escapist fantasy game to enjoy with a small group of friends, others, including several prominent religious figures, saw it as a gateway to satanism. A private investigator named William C. Dear took this “Satanic Panic” very seriously when he investigated the mysterious disappearance of a teenage boy in 1979. He hypothesized (incorrectly, it turns out) that the boy had disappeared into the steam tunnels of his college campus to binge out on D&D. About the game, Dear says, “It advocated murder, decapitation… And I’m going, ‘This isn’t a healthy game. How can it be a healthy game?'” Dear went on to publish a book titled The Dungeon Master: The Disappearance of James Dallas Egbert III, and some have come to the conclusion that Dear was stoking the flames of this particular fire in order to sell more copies of it.…
ET Atari

Was Atari’s E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial Really as Bad as You’ve Heard?

When I was a kid, I spent an extended stay in a hospital because of a sick family member. As any kid without entertainment is bound to do, I got bored very quickly and probably complained loudly about it. To mitigate my boredom (and to keep me from getting into too much trouble), a nurse brought me into a private room, set up an Atari 2600, and showed me a selection of games to pick through, allowing me to check out no more than one at a time. E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial caught my eye. Just imagine this cover through the eyes of a third grader in the late 1980s: With its promise of age-appropriate alien adventures and dismantled telephones, it doesn’t look too bad, does it?…
Word Munchers

I Was Mad Good at Word Munchers

One of the highlights of elementary school in the late 1980s was being allowed to play edutainment games in the computer lab. Back then, we had classics like The Oregon Trail, Odell Lake, and Spellevator. (All of these games were published by MECC, or the Minnesota Educational Computing Consortium, an organization that was basically the king of edutainment in the 80s.) Of course, The Oregon Trail was the undeniable cream of the crop, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t have fun with others, especially 1985’s glorious twins, Number Munchers and Word Munchers (also published by MECC). In both games, you’re given a simple problem, which you solve by eating all of the appropriate answers from a grid while avoiding the evil (or perhaps just carnivorous and hungry) Troggles. The main difference between the two games was that in Number Munchers you were solving math problems or finding multiples and factors, while in Word Munchers you were finding correct vowel sounds or parts of speech.…
Hiroyuki Kobayashi

Capcom Releases Hiroyuki Kobayashi Interview to Celebrate Resident Evil’s 20th Anniversary

March 22, 2016 marked the 20th anniversary of the Resident Evil franchise. In honor of two decades of RE games (and movies), Capcom released an interview with producer Hiroyuki Kobayashi, who’s been a part of the series since the beginning. He later served a producer role on the GameCube remake, as well as Resident Evil 4 and Resident Evil 6, and — this may surprise you — he was also involved in the movies starting with the second installment. If you’re interested in the history of the franchise at all, you should absolutely check out the full video below. If you don’t speak Japanese, you’ll have to turn CC on to see the subtitles.…
Stardew Valley Truffle

Stardew Valley: Truffle Guide

In Stardew Valley, it might not be immediately clear where you can find truffles or what to do once you have one, and several players have been confused about this. So here’s a super quick guide to help you solve the mystery of truffles. To acquire truffles, you must have at least one adult pig. In order to get one of those, you’ll have to have at least one Deluxe Barn, which is the third tier of Barn. (You’ll have to go to the Carpenter’s Shop and upgrade your Barn to a Big Barn, then your Big Barn to a Deluxe Barn.) Once your Deluxe Barn upgrade is complete, you can visit Marnie’s Ranch (south of your farm) to buy a pig.…
Stardew Valley Wagon

Stardew Valley: 16 Tips for Beginners

Stardew Valley seems like a pretty simple game at first, but once you dig in you’ll find a deceptively complex, deeply layered experience. In my first save file, I spent a lot of time trying to figure out how things worked, and by the time I made it to Fall, I had learned an enormous amount of information that, had I known it when I started the game, would have saved me a lot of time and headaches. So I started over and had a very successful first year. Below is a list of things I wish I’d have known sooner: Turn on Autorun Yes, you can enable autorun in the options menu. It will save you from cramping your pinky finger by holding down Left Shift all the time.…
Stardew Valley Spirit Festival

Stardew Valley: Calendar of Important Dates

In Stardew Valley, there are several dates you’ll want to keep in mind as you farm your way through the seasons. You can find most of these dates on the calendar outside of Pierre’s shop (you can also buy a calendar for yourself), but there are some events that aren’t listed. Here is a list of the important dates in Stardew Valley: Spring Spring 4 – Spring onions are in season Spring 5 (Year 1) – The mine opens Spring 7 – Lewis’ birthday Spring 10 – Vincent’s birthday Spring 13 – Egg Festival Spring 14 – Haley’s birthday Spring 15 – Salmonberries are ripe Spring 18 – Pam’s birthday Spring 20 – Shane’s birthday Spring 24 – Flower Dance Spring 26 – Pierre’s birthday Spring 27 – Emily’s birthday Summer Summer 1 (Year 1) – An earthquake opens up the path to the spa Summer 4 – Jas’ birthday Summer 8 – Gus’ birthday Summer 10 – Maru’s birthday Summer 11 – Luau Summer 12 – Crab mating season, causing an unusually large amount of shells to wash up on the beach Summer 13 – Alex’s birthday Summer 17 – Sam’s birthday Summer 19 – Demetrius’ birthday Summer 22 – Dwarf’s birthday Summer 24 – Willy’s birthday Summer 28 – Dance of the Moonlight Jellies Fall Fall 2 – Penny’s birthday Fall 4 – Blackberry season begins (though you might not see any berries ripen until about the 8th) Fall 5 – Elliott’s birthday Fall 11 – Jodi’s birthday Fall 13 – Abigail’s birthday Fall 15 – Sandy’s birthday Fall 16 – Stardew Valley Fair Fall 18 – Marnie’s birthday Fall 21 – Robin’s birthday Fall 24 – George’s birthday Fall 27 – Spirit’s Eve Winter Winter 3 – Linus’ birthday Winter 7 – Caroline’s birthday Winter 8 – Festival of Ice Winter 10 – Sebastian’s birthday Winter 14 – Harvey’s birthday Winter 17 – Wizard’s birthday Winter 20 – Evelyn’s birthday Winter 23 – Leah’s birthday Winter 25 – Feast of the Winter Star Winter 26 – Clint’s birthday…
Stardew Valley Flower Dance

Stardew Valley: Where Is the Spring Flower Dance?

In Stardew Valley, your character will be treated to various festivals throughout the year. One of the first is the Flower Festival, which includes the Flower Dance, though it can be a little tricky to find in your first year. On the day before the festival (Spring 23), you’ll find this reminder in your mailbox: If you follow its instructions, it can be a little confusing. You’ll want to enter Pelican Town, go to the south edge of the town, then head due west. Of course, there’s an easier way to get there: Just head straight south from your home. You’ll end up finding a bridge to an area that’s otherwise inaccessible at this point in the game. Cross it and follow the path and you’ll be enjoying the festivities with the rest of them.…
Aladdin Genesis

Disney’s Aladdin for Sega Genesis Is Still Ridiculously Good

Licensed video games have been hit or miss for pretty much the entire history of gaming. However, in the early- to mid-1990s, Disney’s properties were making the transition to the gaming world unbelievably well. DuckTales for the NES perhaps led the charge in 1989 in the hands of Capcom, who created a very memorable game with some of the best music of its era. Virgin Interactive Entertainment would collaborate with Disney for a while, creating the Holy Trinity of Disney games for the Genesis: Disney’s Aladdin, Walt Disney’s The Jungle Book, and The Lion King. (Virgin would also develop more forgettable titles like Disney’s Pinocchio.) Of these games, Aladdin is probably the best. Aladdin also appeared on the Super NES, but this was an entirely different game developed by Capcom.…
Siralim Sorcery Realm

Siralim: A Guide to Realms and Resource Gathering

A huge part of Siralim — especially as you get deep into the game’s systems — is gathering resources. The game’s infinite, randomly generated dungeons have no shortage of things to collect, though some Realms are better for gathering certain items than others. For those looking to stock up on a specific resource type, we’ve created this guide to the things you’ll find in every Realm. You start the game with a single Realm available to you, and that Realm is tied to your character class. For example, if you start off with a Sorcery Mage, the Sorcery Realm will be available to you. As you go through the game, you can unlock the other Realms by performing Rituals. The Realm you end up in will be random based on the Realms you have available to you, but if you purchase a Scroll of Alteration from Bynine in the War Room, you can choose which Realm you’ll end up in next.…
Mega Man 7 Werewolf

The Ghosts ‘n Goblins Theme Music Is a Mega Man 7 Easter Egg

Mega Man 7 was put in the unfortunate position of being the first mainline Mega Man game to release after Mega Man X and Mega Man X2 had completely revised the franchise formula. As a result, it ended up being a far less memorable game than most of its NES predecessors (even if it did have better box art). But that doesn’t mean it wasn’t a great, well-designed game that did some interesting things. For example, there are werewolf-like robots in the Shade Man stage, and they become much easier to dispatch when the moon disappears behind the clouds and they revert into their knight-like form. Now, I don’t really know how the lore justifies this moon-based transition (what benefit does lycanthropy give that would cause the builder of such robots to include it in their design?…
Berzerk

How Many People Has the Berzerk Arcade Game Killed?

The Berzerk arcade cabinet is a fascinating piece of video game history. It was one of the first games to use voice synthesis, which was an insanely expensive process back in 1980. In fact, it’s estimated that Berzerk‘s 30-word vocabulary cost $1,000 per word to produce due to its expensive Linear Predictive Coding. The game was also notable for introducing the world to “Evil Otto,” an antagonistic smiley face that would chase the player down if he or she spent too much time in a single panel of the maze. (It’s no coincidence that Evil Otto shares a surname with Dave Otto, a security officer who had worked with Berzerk designer Alan McNeil.) Perhaps the most macabre piece of trivia about this arcade game, however, is that it’s infamously known as the first arcade game to be tied to the death of its players.…
Turok Dinosaur Hunter

Turok: Dinosaur Hunter Tip: Use the Map Overlay as a Reticle

Turok: Dinosaur Hunter originally came out in 1997, and it shows (even in the 2015 remastered version). That’s not necessarily a bad thing, though. While it lacks modern-day FPS features like ADS (aim-down-sites) and target reticles, it really nails the slick, arcadey corridor shooter thing. Admittedly, those attuned to the more user-friendly shooters of today might find the lack of reticle a bit disorienting. Thankfully, there’s a dirty technique that will make this much less frustrating. The minimap overlay (pictured below) has a yellow arrow (it looks like an upside-down V) that can be used as the same purpose. Take note that your guns still won’t be 100% accurate, but it certainly makes popping headshots a bit easier. And, in later levels where enemies soak up more bullets and ammo tends to be slightly more scarce, this can be a life saver.…
Project Dream

Project Dream: Rare Shows Footage of Legendary Unreleased SNES/N64 Game

Rare is the company behind beloved games like Battletoads, Banjo-Kazooie, and GoldenEye 007. They served quite a long stint as a second-party developer for Nintendo, working on classics like Donkey Kong Country. Needless to say, they’ve long been an influential and important development studio with an impressive list of masterpiece games on their resume. Of course, there was one game, commonly referred to as Project Dream, that never saw the light of day. It was originally going to launch on the Super Nintendo, but then focus re-shifted and the game was going to come to the N64 instead. While it never actually came out, it sort of served as the fertile soil that Banjo-Kazooie would be planted it. Rare has finally told the story of its development, and has shown of some footage of the game that never was.…
The Super Mario Bros. Fragrance Collection Made Us Wonder What Bowser Smells Like
The Minds Behind the Games
Retrovolve Reviews Books: The Minds Behind the Games by Patrick Hickey, Jr.
Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy
The 3D Platformer: How 1996 Witnessed the Birth of a Genre
Pokemon Nintendo Power
Nintendo Power Predicted a “Pokémon Trade War” in 1998