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All posts by 8-bit Luigi

Retrovolve - A Link to the Past

How a French Version of A Link to the Past Improved My Relationship with My Fiancée

When I first moved in with my fiancée, she lived in a small, two-bedroom apartment that just fit her and her kids, so we had to move some things around to make room for my stuff. This is how we happened upon an SNES and some games she had forgotten she’d had. Most of the games were clearance-bin fodder, but one of them was the French version of Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. It played perfectly fine on a North-American SNES; the text was just was written entirely in French. By that point in my life, I knew the story of A Link to the Past well enough that I didn’t need to read any of the text, and I also didn’t have an English copy of the game.…
Star Ocean: The Second Story

Star Ocean: The Second Story’s Private Action System Was Fantastic

I’m a sucker for deep character work in video games — things like side quests where you learn things about a person’s back story, dialogue that reveals a party member’s quirks, or game mechanics that simply let you get to know characters a little bit better in your down time. This is why I absolutely adore the Private Action system from Star Ocean: The Second Story. The Private Action system was an optional feature that allowed your party to split up whenever you got to a town, causing individual party characters to appear as NPCs that you could converse with. Each might have a line or two about the local shopping, or about wanting to find some food, or about the weather.…
Super Mario Bros 2

5 Reasons Super Mario Bros. 2 Was Better Than Super Mario Bros. 3

I know this isn’t a popular opinion, but I actually consider Super Mario Bros. 2 to be superior to Super Mario Bros. 3. How could I enjoy Super Mario Bros. 2, the much-maligned re-skin of Yume Kōjō: Doki Doki Panic, more than Super Mario Bros. 3, one of the most beloved video games of all time? Well, here are five reasons: 5. Freedom of Choice Super Mario Bros., as a series, has not exactly been known for having a plethora of character choices. Yet when Super Mario Bros. 2 came around, it proved that you could make character choice a genuine part of level planning. Who doesn’t remember using Toad for the desert levels, because Toad could pick up things and dig faster?…
Lunar Sega CD

My Gender Dysphoria: “Damsel in Distress” and “Hero Gets the Girl”

I’m genderfluid, which means I identify as both male and female, depending on a variety of factors (including what side of the bed I woke up on that morning). This often leaves me with a feeling of whiplash because, as someone who enjoys video games, I can’t help but notice how many of the video game tropes that screw over women manage to screw over men as well (and how very few people are talking about that side of the coin). There’s been much discussion of the “Damsel in Distress” trope and how harmful it is to the perception of women in our society. And let’s be honest, it is harmful — it reduces women to prizes to be won. And, while I think there’s nothing inherently wrong with a story in which a princess needs to be saved, I do think that we could do with a few more stories about the princess saving herself.…
Mega Man in Fallout 4

Fallout 4 and Pixel Art Homages to Retro Gaming

Fallout 4 has been so well received that Pornhub claims they noticed a significant drop in traffic the day it came out. This shouldn’t surprise anybody who’s been paying any attention; Fallout 4 has some great storylines, some amazing characters, and creative tools that allow players to do all sorts of settlement building. Then there’s the people who do things like this: A friend of mine made that, which might be the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen. I asked him his overall opinion on Fallout 4, to which he said the following: “Rescuing my kidnapped son and avenging my dead husband can seriously wait until I have built a giant Samus Aran that gives you the thumbs up as you enter town.”…
Bubsy

Bubsy Two-Fur Successfully Brought Two Bubsy Titles to Steam Greenlight

Unlike Mario, Bubsy isn’t the sort of franchise you’d expect to see represented on “Best Games of All Times” lists, but that doesn’t make it unworthy of at least a footnote in the history books of gaming. Bubsy: Claws Encounters Of The Furred Kind launched on the Super NES and the Sega Genesis in 1993, introducing the world to Bubsy, a smart-mouthed bobcat who leaped and clawed his way through 2D platforming levels. A curious choice was the addition of fall damage (which, in my opinion, has no place in a classic 2D side-scrolling mascot platformer). A sequel, Bubsy 2 came out a year later. In 2015, over 20 years after their initial releases, the two original Bubsy games launched a successful Steam Greenlight campaign under the title Bubsy Two-Fur.…
samus girl reveal

Can We Stop with the “Samus Is Trans” Thing?

Recently, an article at The Mary Sue proclaimed that Samus Aran, kicker of asses and chewer of bubble gum, is actually a trans woman (citing a quote from a 1994 official Japanese strategy guide as evidence). This had the exact effect as you think it did, causing a huge glut of hateful, transphobic comments all over the Internet. This is unfortunate, for two reasons. One, it reminds us that people suck and are horrible. Secondly, it could have been avoided if some people weren’t in a rush to prove minority erasure where none existed. Full disclosure here: I’m gender-fluid. There’s a huge amount of detail, nuance, and contextual situations involving my gender expressions, but if you want a sound byte, the best I have is that I’m the prettiest princess who will drop you with a spinebuster.…
Alpine Ski

I Will Never Be the Best Alpine Ski Player in the World

Have you ever played SkiFree, the free skiing game that used to come packaged with Windows? If you answered yes to that question, then you’ve basically already played Alpine Ski, a 1981 arcade game by Taito. In it, you control a skier on a downhill slope, a slalom course, or a ski jumping competition. One of the things I appreciate about Alpine Ski is that the win/lose scenario isn’t based on how many lives you have. Instead, you’ve got a set amount of time, and you get to play for that amount of time no matter how many times you fail. This means that you could always be certain of getting a specific amount of game time for your quarter. The controls are simple.…
Star Wars

Hey, the Sega Master System Looked like a Star Wars Computer Panel

When I was growing up, no one I knew had the Sega Master System. In fact, I didn’t know about it until I was a full-grown adult, because let’s face it, no one cared about the Master System when it was originally released. However, I absolutely cared — and still care — about Star Wars. And if I’d known about the Master System as a child, its appearance probably would have made me want the thing. To this day, I couldn’t confidently name more than one game that was released on the Master System. Though, I seem to recall that it had a more robust version of Ultima IV, and I mostly enjoyed that game on the NES. Other than that, I have no idea what the thing could play.…
turtles NES

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Defines “Nintendo Hard”

When I was young, one of my favorite games was Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles for the NES. I recall it being difficult; nail-bittingly, skin-peelingly difficult. The swimming stage, which required you to swim through a maze of electrified water and defuse bombs, caused me to lose at least one turtle no matter how careful I was. But I’m an adult now. These days, I play games like Super Meat Boy and Shovel Knight, which pride themselves on being retro throwbacks. I play games that strive to be “Nintendo Hard.” Plus, my hand-eye coordination is much better than it was when I was a child. I’m even a professional wrestler, which means I’ve trained to react physically before my mind can fully process what I’m seeing.…
link to the past

A Link to the Past Is the Definitive Legend of Zelda Game

Now, when we think of The Legend of Zelda, we think of a lot of things. There’s the dungeon crawling, the magical items, and, of course, the mcguffin hunting. But when you boil down the series into its base parts, I think it becomes obvious that A Link to the Past is what we think of when we think of The Legend of Zelda. That’s not to say it’s the best Legend of Zelda game. It’s my personal favorite, but “best” is a really subjective term and I’d never try to tell anyone that they’re wrong about their own favorite. What I mean when I say “definitive” is that it most clearly sums up what a Legend of Zelda game has to be in order to be a game of that series.…
The Legend of Zelda

8-Bit Memories: A Look Back at a Simpler Time

I’ve said in the past that I hate modern gaming. I’m slowly coming to realize that that’s not technically true. What I hate is the triple-A-style shooter and the “throw every type of gameplay into the game in hopes of getting a broad demographic” thought process behind so many of them. Over the years, video games have gotten more complex, which has allowed for some amazing feats. That doesn’t always mean they’re better, though. And sometimes, you just want to sit back with something simple. There’s a certain joy in many of the old, retro-style games that’s hard to match with today’s gaming. Games like Shovel Knight and DuckTales Remastered work hard to re-create it, and they do an admirable job of it.…
Final Fantasy VI

Whatever Happened to Final Fantasy?

I want to make it perfectly clear that I like the Final Fantasy series. Final Fantasy VI and VII were masterpieces. I didn’t like VIII, but I understand why some people do. I loved Final Fantasy IX, and I even enjoyed X for what it was. And of course, X-2 was about magical girls, and I can’t hate magical girls. Yet the games after X all seem to work as hard as they can to climb up their own asses. Allow me to clarify. I love world-spanning, epic stories as much as the next geek. I want to fall in love with characters, enjoy and appreciate their backgrounds, and feel their triumph right along with them. At the same time, Final Fantasy games are just that: games.…
Mega Man 2

How Do We Define “Retro?”

The word “retro” is defined by the dictionary as “imitative of style or fashion of the recent past.” Problem solved! Well, not so much. When you look at retro-related Steam tags (as a random sample), you don’t see games imitative of style or fashion of the recent past. Few people consider Resident Evil 4, Kingdom Hearts, or Final Fantasy X retro games, even though they were all released ten years ago or longer. Instead, the “Retro” tag gets placed on games with 8-bit style graphics, platformers, and games that play like graphical flash cards. It becomes apparent — at least to me — that “Retro” means “games that remind me of my childhood,” where “me” is “gamers in their late-20s to mid-30s who grew up playing the Atari and the original Nintendo Entertainment System.”…
A Link to the Past

The Lore of The Legend of Zelda – Why Ignoring It Is Missing Out

When I was a child, there were three games I played for hours on end. Super Mario Bros., Mega Man, and The Legend of Zelda. The Mario franchise has stabilized into a familiar rut that it’ll never get out of, Mega Man as we knew it no longer exists except in a Kickstarter dream, and The Legend of Zelda has devolved away from the interesting, exploratory game it once was. I’m going somewhere with this. I promise. The thing about The Legend of Zelda is that it contains more background lore than any other Nintendo franchise. While one could argue that stuff from the Mario RPG games such as Legend of the Seven Stars and the Paper Mario series contain lore that should be used, by and large Nintendo doesn’t treat those games as mainstream releases.…
The Legendary Axe II

I Miss the TurboGrafx-16

When I was a kid, I had a Super Nintendo. Looking back, I realize it was the perfect system for me, because it had an abundance of JRPGs, many of which are still considered the best in their genre. But my step-brother had a TurboGrafx-16, and I sure did have a lot of fun with that thing, even though all the games I tried on the system were platformers. The Legendary Axe II felt interesting and different, though I never did like the titular axe weapon. (My favorite was the chain.) Then there was JJ & Jeff, which was just bizarre. You play as one half of the JJ & Jeff Detective Agency. Apparently, though, one detective is more important than the other. You then run through the stages, kicking everything in order to find hidden items, power-ups, and bonus stages.…
Link's Awakening Finding the Sword

Link’s Awakening: Game Emulators Just Aren’t the Same as Retro Consoles

While using an emulator to play a classic video game is technically illegal, sometimes it’s the only way to play an obscure game that’s no longer being sold or supported. Even so, I have to admit that it’s really not the same as playing on the original, intended hardware. I recently noticed this when I was playing Link’s Awakening on my GBA emulator. Link’s Awakening was one of my earliest Zelda games, and I played it even before I played A Link to the Past. I have so many childhood memories of the game, I thought for certain I would love playing it again. Unfortunately, without a big grey block to play it on, my mind kept wandering. I’d get wrapped up watching something on YouTube, or I’d go to playing Bejweled Blitz.…
Vampire: the Masquerade – Bloodlines

Vampire: the Masquerade – Bloodlines Is Everything I Want in a Video Game

Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines is pretty much everything I’ve ever wanted in a video game. The best way I can describe the game’s genre would be “role-playing sandbox.” The game allows you to pick a character type (different types have different powers available to them), and then gives you five areas of a city to play through. Throughout these areas, you find an assortment of side quests and story missions. Each mission generally involves a combination of dialogue options with major NPCs, and attempting to either play stealthily or fight your way through some enemy-ladened territory. At certain points in the story, you get the ability to progress to other sections of the city. So, Sandbox. However, Bloodlines is based on a tabletop role-playing game, which means it has incorporated an experience system.…
Wild Arms Rudy's Gun

Wild Arms Alter Code: F Is the Quintessential JRPG

Wild Arms Alter Code: F  is a remake of the original Wild Arms, which came out on the PlayStation in 1997. The original game is notable not only for being one of the first console RPGs released on the PlayStation, but also being a fucking bizarre Western Sci-fi Fantasy genre game. Wild Arms was the first game I got with my PSOne, and Alter Code: F for the PS2 is the first game I played to 100% completion. Like many of my PS2 games, it had been long enough since I’d played it that I’d forgotten many of the details, so I decided to replay it. Even after all these years, the story, the characters, and the gameplay still felt familiar.…
Vampire: the Masquerade – Bloodlines

Vampire: the Masquerade – Bloodlines Has the Only Worthwhile Super-Speed Power I’ve Ever Seen in a Game

Vampire: the Masquerade – Bloodlines, the cumbersomely named 2004 PC game from the now-deceased Troika Games, is pretty much everything I want in a video game. It removes things I find obnoxious — such as grinding and other players — it tells a coherent story while still allowing you to feel in control of the narrative, and it gives the player a number of options as to how to approach gameplay while not making one option or character type feel more obviously “correct” than any other. It’s also the only game I’ve ever seen that does a super-speed type power correctly. My experience of super-speed type powers comes in two flavors; console RPGs and fighting games. In console RPGs, super-speed type abilities are simple for reasons I shouldn’t have to explain.…
Hiroshi Yamauchi

How I’m Dealing With Hiroshi Yamauchi’s Death

It’s five in the morning. I’ve just finished up an especially long stretch of getting stoned and playing Minecraft, and I’m checking Facebook one last time before bed. After all, never know when yet another Grumpy Cat meme might show up. That’s when I stumble across something that makes me wish I’d simply gone straight to sleep. Hiroshi Yamauchi has passed away. This was the man who turned Nintendo from a playing card company into the video game company its known as today. When I hear this news, I rush immediately to open my word processor. A remix of some Castlevania music begins playing on my music player as I consider what to say to honor a man who made my childhood what it was in a very literal sense.…

Valkyrie Profile: Confusing or Awesome?

Valkyrie Profile is a JRPG created by Enix and Tri-Ace (before the Square/Enix merger), focusing on the Valkyrie Lenneth. As per usual, Japanese game developers play fast and loose with western mythology here, so you history buffs should probably be thankful that they put Odin in charge and comprehend that Valkyries take the souls of dead warriors and leave it at that. The plot? Well, it’s complicated. The basic plot involves the awakening of the Valkyrie Lenneth, who is then tasked by Odin and Freya to retrieve warriors for the upcoming Ragnarok. Even though it’s the end of the world, you’re still expected to train up the warriors you grab. This is the main focus of the game, investing  skill points in your warriors  to raise up their hero level, and thus make them the kind of warrior Valhalla demands of you.…
Fatal Frame II

Fatal Frame II Turned Me Into a Terrified 12-Year-Old Girl

Fatal Frame II‘s cover says not to play the game alone. That was my first clue that this would be bad. The game made me walk through the dark, creepy woods before giving me the title screen. Through this walk, nothing happened. And by nothing, I mean nothing. No enemies, no music, nothing. Nothing but the sound of footsteps. The path led me to an abandoned village. Outside the first house of the village, I was treated to another cutscene. My character, who, again, is a 12-year-old girl, felt her sister’s hand on her shoulder. Then her sister walked past, and the hand remained. That was creepy. I soldiered on. The house was abandoned; still, no music. I was treated to wide-angle shots of the front room, the rafters and pieces of walls littering the floor, impeding my way.…
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