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All posts by Mandi Odoerfer

The Super Mario Bros. Fragrance Collection Made Us Wonder What Bowser Smells Like

It’s hard not to be curious about the lives of your favorite video game characters. What do they do when they’re not off fighting monsters or saving the world? While old video game instruction manuals provided the occasional morsel, one of the most interesting tidbits we’ve discovered came from a little-remembered piece of merchandise: The Super Mario Bros. Fragrance Collection. Released in Japan in 2014, the collection consisted of four scents that represented four of Nintendo’s most famous characters: Mario, Luigi, Peach, and Bowser. Most of the scents featured in the collection weren’t too surprising. The Luigi cologne had a manly musk scent, and, to the shock of no one, the Peach fragranced smelled like peaches. Mario and Bowser are where things get interesting.…
stardew valley switch

Stardew Valley Console Multiplayer Will Be on the Nintendo Switch First

Since Stardew Valley was released, fans have been eagerly awaiting the release of its multiplayer mode. Now, more than a year after the game’s initial release, multiplayer is headed to consoles and PCs. Surprisingly, the multiplayer functionality will be making its console debut on the Nintendo Switch. During Nintendo’s “Nindies Showcase” presentation (which can be viewed on Nintendo.com) the company announced that Stardew Valley multiplayer will be debuting on the Switch this summer. According to Nintendo, it will be the first console to support Stardew Valley‘s multiplayer mode. ConcernedApe, the game’s developer, has confirmed that Stardew Valley co-op will be coming to the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One as well. @EmotionalDaisy yes, I think it will come to Xbox and PS4 about 1 month after Switch — ConcernedApe (@ConcernedApe) February 28, 2017 He also clarified that while the Switch would be the first console to get multiplayer, it will still be coming to PC first. Just to clarify: the Switch Stardew Valley multiplayer announcement DOES NOT mean that PC will get multiplayer later.…
super mario kart snes screenshot

How Gamers Took Screenshots in the 90s

Nowadays, capturing images from video of games is essentially effortless. If you’re using a modern console (or playing old classics on an emulator) the perfect screenshot is just a button press away. In the 90s, however, getting a shot of your favorite game could get pretty complicated. These screen capturing instructions (from the March ’97 issue of Nintendo Power) show just how difficult capturing an image could be: Of course, anyone that took pictures in the 90s knows that these instructions were just the tip of the iceberg. Although digital cameras existed in the 90s, film cameras still dominated the market. If you wanted to show off your Mario Kart times — or any other gaming accomplishment — you had to find a camera with film, keep taking shots until the roll was finished, and then pay to have your film developed.…
ralph mcquarrie atari

The Strange and Wonderful World of Atari Box Art

In the age of Atari, games couldn’t sell themselves on graphics alone. Games needed ways to spark players imaginations, to convince them that their villains and heroes were more than awkward clumps of pixels. And for that, they relied on box art. While some video game companies gave little thought to their cover art, Atari made it a priority. “I felt fundamentally that this was a consumer product that needed all the care and attention that a record album did,” explained Atari’s founder, Nolan Bushnell.. “I wanted the artwork to have a consistency to it, so that immediately, when you glanced at our packaging, you knew it came from Atari and you knew it was beautiful.” One of the first artists Atari partnered with was Cliff Spohn, a commercial artist with a distinct detailed style.…
mike tysons punch out easter egg

This Punch-Out!! Easter Egg Stayed Hidden for 29 Years

In the 80s, video game Easter Eggs felt like elusive treasures. Although you could occasionally stumble across a secret in the pages of a video game magazine, most gamers had to uncover mysteries on their own. Many now-famous Easter Eggs were the stuff of legend — or playground gossip — for years. Nowadays, it sometimes feels like that magic has been lost. Secrets spread like wildfire the second a game hits shelves. Cheats, dialogues, and even endings can leak long before a game is officially released. But every now and then, someone manages to prove that there are still a few treasures buried away. In April 2016, nearly 20 years after the game’s 1987 release, Reddit user midwesternhousewives stumbled upon a Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!!…
david lynch ps2 commercial

Remember When David Lynch Directed a PS2 Commercial?

When it comes to advertisements, Sony has never played it safe. During the PS1 era, they had Crash Bandicoot to infiltrate Nintendo headquarters, created an anti-Playstation activist group, and inexplicably transformed a Scottish girl into an alien. Their early ads ranged from ballsy to downright disturbing. So naturally, when it came time to promote the PlayStation 2, surrealist filmmaker David Lynch seemed like the perfect choice. Lynch teamed with the London brand of TWBA to create a concept called “The Third Place,” a mysterious world that could only be accessed through PlayStation consoles. “The Third Place is not up nor down, not waking or sleeping, not the past; not the present,” explained the commercial’s creative director Trevor Beattie. “It’s a third thing.”…
famicom controller ii

The Japanese Version of The Legend of Zelda Used Voice Commands

When comparing the NES and Famicom versions of The Legend of Zelda, you’ll notice all kinds of little differences. In the North American version, the Zora sprite was more defined, making them much easier to find and fight. The Japanese version had much clearer hints, and wasn’t afraid to use words like “kill.” But while edits like these are par for the course, the Famicom version included some features that made localization a real challenge. While the Famicom’s first-player controller was fairly similar to its American counterpart, the second-player controller had a completely unique feature: a built-in microphone. It functioned similarly to the microphone on the Nintendo DS; it could pick up sounds and would react when it was blown into. …
final fantasy vii aeris date

Final Fantasy VII Contains a Secret Dating Sim

Final Fantasy VII has never had to struggle to get attention. From the moment it was announced, it received a steady stream of coverage in gaming magazines. Within days of its release,  it had sold more than 2 million copies. Its star, Cloud, has appeared in all kinds of games, from Ehrgeiz to Final Fantasy Tactics to Super Smash Bros. It’s had spin-offs, a movie, and even a remake. When it comes to Final Fantasy, VII dominates the conversation. But curiously, one aspect of the game has largely gone unnoticed. Although it was never advertised on the box, Final Fantasy VII actually contains some light dating sim mechanics. Cloud has the option to earn affinity points with four of the game’s characters: Aeris, Tifa, Yuffie, and Barret.…
yuuyami doori takentai harpy

Yuuyami Doori Takentai Takes a Strange Approach to Realism

Even within the boundaries of legend, people expect certain rules to be upheld. Dragons have to have six limbs, while wyverns should have four. Vampires must avoid sunlight, werewolves have to avoid silver, and zombies need to be separated from their head. Some claim that these rules help to make fictional concepts more believable. Without them, it’d be impossible to suspend disbelief. But when you examine the stories behind most legends, concrete rules are hard to come by. In their earliest depictions, harpies were described as personified storm winds. Later on, Greek poets romanticized them, describing harpies as beautiful maidens with majestic wings. Other writers moved away from this portrayal, making the harpies more and more monstrous. By the time Jason and his Argonauts encountered these creatures, they were disgusting, razor-clawed beings who could easily ruin any man’s appetite. Yuuyami Doori Takentai, an obscure horror game released exclusively in Japan in 1999, strives for realism in every aspect.…
realms of the haunting

5 More Classic Horror Games Available for Under $6 on GOG.com

There’s nothing quite like a good scare. As it happens, you’re filled with a surge of adrenaline, and in the aftermath, you’re soothed by feelings of relief. Many people are addicted to the rush that fear brings, and some experts have even argued that being frightened is good for your health. If you’re a thrill-seeker who loves video games, you should find all the scares you need and more at GOG.com. It’s packed full of classic horror games, and many of them are available for less than six bucks a pop. Below are five examples. (For more spooky fun, check out this list of five more budget-friendly horror titles.) Realms of the Haunting Many horror aficionados think the haunted house setting is overused.…
chrono trigger

For Video Games, 2015 Felt Like 1995 All Over Again

In 1995, Seinfeld aired its 100th episode. Coolio topped the charts with “Gangster’s Paradise,” while the Misfits reunited for the first time in over a decade. Amazon sold its first book, Yahoo! launched the world’s first search engine, and some guy named Valeri Polyakov spent a record-setting 438 days in space. But none of that mattered to me, because I was too busy playing video games. If you weren’t of gaming age in 1995, it might be hard for you to comprehend the magic of that time. It wasn’t just that there were tons of great games; it was that every game released felt fresh and new. The 16-bit era was coming to an end, and the 3D era was just beginning.…
little samson nes

Cocoron and Little Samson: Mega Man’s Secret Siblings

When people mention Mega Man, they often bring up Keiji Inafune as well. It’s easy to see why; Inafune worked on the series from the first game onward, and was the character’s biggest advocate in the years that followed. Fans frequently refer to him as the “father of Mega Man.” But like most successful creations, Mega Man has many fathers. One of them is Akira Kitamura, who directed the first two Mega Man titles and came up with the character’s initial design. Kitamura opted to leave Capcom before development began on Mega Man 3, citing a desire for more creative freedom. He and another ex-Capcom employee, Shinichi Yoshimoto, co-founded a small company Takeru. Shortly after, they began work on their first Famicom title: Cocoron.…
crash bandicoot ad

Crash Bandicoot Starred In the “Worst” Ad of 1998

In the late 90s, video game ads had a bit of a Wild West quality to them. Gaming had become a billion dollar industry, which meant that publishers were willing to pump plenty of cash into print campaigns. However, even the biggest magazines still had minimal oversight, allowing companies to run advertisements that were genuinely shocking (at least by today’s standards). Occasionally, Electronic Gaming Monthly took advantage of this lack of oversight and openly criticized a few of their advertisers. In their annually published Buyer’s Guide issue, they named the best and worst ads they’d seen that year. More often than not, the ads they called out deserved a good dressing-down. Past winners were exceptionally gross, dumb, or just plain tacky.  …
shenmue soccer ball

The Relentless Twitter Campaign to Save Shenmue Continues

When Twitter launched in 2006, most gamers assumed that the Shenmue series was dead in the water. The last game in the series, Shenmue II, had released back in 2001, shortly after Sega exited the console market. The big-budget franchise had earned rave reviews, but it also cost Sega a small fortune to develop. Between Sega’s financial woes and the years of radio silence, a third game seemed all but impossible. But like Ryo Hazuki, the protagonist of the Shenmue series, fans were incredibly persistent. They used Twitter as a rallying point, banding together to share their love of the series. On the third day of every months, hundreds, then thousands of users would tweet alongside the hashtag #SaveShenmue. It didn’t matter how hopeless things seemed; they were determined to see Ryo’s journey through to the end. On June 15th, 2015, the impossible happened.…
baby t-rex game boy

Baby T-Rex Was the Little Game Boy Game That Could

On June 25, 1993, a Game Boy game titled Baby T-Rex was released to little or no fanfare. Five months later, We’re Back came out for the Game Boy, with similar results. By the year’s end, two more titles, Bamse and Agro Soar, hit shelves, neither of them receiving much attention. Although there are plenty of forgettable titles in the Game Boy’s library, the circumstances surrounding these games is slightly unusual: Every one of them is the exact same game. In the 80s and early 90s, it wasn’t particularly unusual for a game to be re-purposed. Yo! Noid was a re-skinned version of a Famicom game called Kamen no Ninja Hanamaru. Sports-A-Roni, a Commodore 64 title, was ported to the Famicom as a Donald Duck title, and was released again for the NES as Snoopy’s Silly Sports Spectacular.…
8 bit music power featured

8 Bit Music Power Is the First Famicom Release in Over Twenty Years

Although the Famicom had an unusually long lifespan — Nintendo didn’t stop manufacturing units until 2003 — developers stopped producing games for the console decades ago. The final Famicom title, Takahashi’s Adventure Island IV, was released back in 1994. But now, it looks like the Famicom will be making a comeback. A brand new title, 8 Bit Music Power, hits Japanese shelves on January 31, 2016. If you’ve been itching to play a new NES title, you shouldn’t get too excited. Even though 8 Bit Music Power is being released on a cartridge, it isn’t actually a game. It’s a collection of 12 original songs composed by Japanese chiptune artists. And, unless you own a Japanese console, you’ll need an adapter to get the cart to run.…
Mario Bong

This Nintendo Power Mario Redesign Is Pure 2005

Nintendo Power 196 is not one of the magazine’s more memorable issues. There are no hidden gems in its letters section, no nostalgia-tinged game awards, no eye-opening reviews of classic titles. Even the cover is just a picture of Daniel Radcliffe with a bad haircut. If you had a chance to thumb through some old issues, you’d probably toss this one aside. And that’s a shame, because it’s probably the only issue in the magazine’s history to to feature a tattooed Mario holding a bong. Or maybe a pimp chalice that sort of resembles a bong (with the stem hidden behind his fat plumber hand). I imagine Mario is the sort of guy that would use a glass bong for the best high!…
Lost Souls Of Tong-Nou

The Lost Souls of Tong-Nou Offers Gamers a Real Glimpse of Hell

Over the years, countless games have allowed players to journey to the depths of hell. Tony Hawk’s Underground 2 lets you grind over a lake of fire. UmJammer Lammy sent you to hell by way of banana peel. The God of War series might as well be titled Hell and Back Again, A Half-God’s Holiday. But the versions of hell presented in these games weren’t created with eternal torment in mind. Some of them are meant to be creepy, or even horrifying, but above all else, they’re meant to entertain. As players explore the underworld, they’ll be thrilled, titillated, or even amused. That isn’t the case with The Lost Souls of Tong-Nou. Created by Osamu Sato, who made the equally bizarre LSD: Dream Emulator, Tong-Nou tortures players at every turn.…
Color a Dinosaur

The Curious Case of Color a Dinosaur

In 1992, Nintendo released Mario Paint, an art studio for the Super Nintendo. With a click of the game’s included mouse, players could draw intricate images, create custom stamps, and even animate their own cartoons. The title even included a music generator, which is used to compose tunes to this day. One year later, Virgin Games published a NES game called “Color a Dinosaur”. While Color a Dinosaur didn’t boast an elaborate tool set, it did allow users to color pictures of dinosaurs. The game was aimed at children between the ages of three and six — kids too young for the kind of sophisticated features other art programs offered. Unfortunately, those easily-confused children would’ve been better off with a coloring book.…
pantless link

A Link to the Past and the Mystery of Link’s Missing Pants

Long ago, in the halcyon days of pixels and wired controllers, an instruction manual was a treasure. Within its pages, you could discover tantalizing tidbits of backstory, admire beautiful character art, and pick up all kinds of useful gameplay tips. But while perusing these manuals was often a joy, they occasionally revealed more of a character than anyone wanted to see. In the instruction manual for The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, Link wears a tunic, and nothing more. There are no flesh-colored leggings, no modesty-protecting shorts, and no attempts to keep undergarments covered. Whether he’s smashing a pot, swinging a sword, or simply sitting under a tree, he consistently throws caution to the wind. An aversion to dungarees is a strange trait for an adventurer, but what really makes Link stand out is his exhibitionism.…
earthbound

This Game Stinks: How Nintendo’s Marketing Failed EarthBound

Like many beloved niche titles, EarthBound — known as Mother 2 in Japan — was ahead of its time. The game’s cutesy graphics and unabashed weirdness belied its dark and meaningful storyline. At a glance, it’s no great surprise that it initially failed to find an audience. But when you look closer, you’ll find that EarthBound had everything it needed to be a success. A dedicated localization team ensured that every offbeat cultural reference was translated perfectly. Moreover, it had an impressive marketing budget, with ads for the game appearing in most major gaming magazines. Unlike most obscure gems, EarthBound was favorite of Nintendo superstar Shigeru Miyamoto. Prior to the game’s release, he had never completed a single RPG on his own.…
controllers

N64 and the Miraculous Success of Expensive Toys

Looking back, it’s easy to point to Nintendo’s use of cartridges as the N64’s biggest misstep. Knowing what we do now, the choice makes Nintendo look like a stick-in-the-mud, a company too stubborn and out of touch to realize that the times were a-changin’. But in 1994, things weren’t quite so clear-cut. Back then, CD-Rom technology was still fairly costly, and to many, they looked like an easy way to price yourself out of the market. When Nintendo announced their decision, many praised them for their business acumen, believing that high-priced CD-only systems would never be embraced by gamers. One of those people was Ed Semrad, then-editor of Electronic Gaming Monthly. Semrad’s comments are particularly interesting not just because he praised Nintendo, but what he praised Nintendo for: for understanding that consoles were essentially expensive toys.…
generic rpg town

How to Tell If You Are a Character in an RPG

It happens to the best of us. You’re living your life, just trying to get by, when suddenly, you realize you’re not actually a sentient being at all, and are instead a character in a video game. Man, what a bummer! If you’re worried you might be suffering from this strange affliction, take the time to read over this checklist. What you learn may save your life, or at least remind you to go use that save point. Everything in your village was peaceful and idyllic, until one day it wasn’t, and you got a sweet sword. Even though you’re in the middle of a war, people seem pretty cool with you barging through their unlocked door and rifling through their stuff.…

Sega Genesis Games Were Pretty Expensive Too

Here at Retrovolve, we’ve been cataloging MSRPs for Super Nintendo and N64 games, and the prices we’ve been finding are completely insane. Games that were released more than twenty years ago are expensive even by today’s standards. While the listed prices are pretty jaw-dropping, they weren’t all that shocking me. I’ve bought a lot of Nintendo games over the years, and I remembered paying exorbitant sums for plenty them. But while I’ve dropped wads of cash on Nintendo titles, I grew up in a Sega-free household. That made me wonder if the high prices I was seeing were isolated to Nintendo, and if Sega Genesis titles were affordable in comparison. The word “nope” isn’t entirely accurate. A quick glance through old issues of GamePro did show that my supposition was sort of right. …
lethal weapon super nintendo

I’d Rather Swim in Mashed Potatoes than Win This Ocean Software Contest

There were game developers that left an indelible mark on my childhood. Their games spoke to me in ways nothing else could, and helped shape who I am as a person. Ocean Software was not one of them. Remember going to Blockbuster to rent a game and seeing nothing but crappy licensed titles? You have Ocean Software to thank for that. They licensed every property they could get their hands on, from Street Hawk to Waterworld to freaking Highlander. If you’ve ever played a bad game based on a movie or TV show from the 80s or 90s, there’s a good chance Ocean was behind it. While a few of Ocean’s titles were decent, most of their games were bargain bin junk.…
space invaders arcade

In 1981, Politicians Fought Against the “Space Invader” Menace

Politicians have a long history of speaking out against video games. The first Senate hearing on video game violence was held in 1993, and the debate has continued to rage on in the years since. But the most asinine, most beautifully ridiculous strike against video games occurred all the way back in 1981, before the Famicom was even a twinkle in Nintendo’s eye. On a sunny May morning, House of Commons member George Foulkes spoke out about the most dangerous menace the gaming world has ever seen: “space invader” machines. Foulkes wove Parliament a hyperbolic tale that contained a little bit of everything: sex, lies, and flagrant overuse of air quotes. He recounted anecdote after sordid anecdote in which children were forced to go to terrible lengths in order to feed their Space Invaders addiction.…
Super Alfred Chicken

Super Nintendo Game Prices Were Completely Insane

A while back, Retrovolve’s Josh pointed out that your fond memories of cheap old video games are probably inaccurate. He compiled a list of N64 MSRPs, and the prices he found are kind of terrifying. It’d be easy to pretend that this phenomenon began with the N64, that Nintendo’s last cartridge console was the beginning of the end. However, a look back through the pages of GamePro reveals that prices for Super Nintendo games were just as high, if not higher. Metal Marines – $74.95 (Source: GamePro #55) NBA Jam – $74.95 (Source: GamePro #56) The Death and Return of Superman – $69.99 (Source: GamePro #61) Fatal Fury 2 – $69.99 (Source: GamePro #61) Mario’s Time Machine – $69.95 (Source: GamePro #55) P.T.O.…
Women in Video Games

PlayStation Magazine Discussed Women in Gaming Way Back in 1997

There’s this pervasive idea that issues like sexism weren’t something people talked about — or cared about — until fairly recently; that the discussion surrounding women in gaming is a fairly modern conversation. In the old days, video game magazines talked about video games, and that was that. However, the December 1997 issue of PlayStation Magazine proves that people have been debating the role of women in video games for quite some time. In an article aptly titled “Girls & Games,” the magazine looks at everything from what keeps women away from video games to problems with female character design. The article occasionally feels dated — it cites the Tamagotchi craze as one of the things drawing girls into the world of video games — but for the most part, it’s surprisingly current.…
Eidos Depression advertisement

Eidos Mocked Depression in This 1998 Ad

Most of the time, 1998 doesn’t feel like it was that long ago. Sure, it was a world that had never seen The Sims or Call of Duty, but my hobbies and interests back then were pretty close to what they are today. I obsessed over cartoons, spent way too much time on the Internet, and played all the video games I could get my hands on. But when I look back at old advertisements, like this old ad from Eidos, 1998 feels as though it was an entirely different world. At first glance, the ad seems slightly offensive, but not completely shocking. The butt of the joke is clearly depression advertisements, not depression sufferers, and while it’s fairly tasteless, it doesn’t cross the line completely.…
i have no mouth and i must scream game

5 Retro Horror Games Available for Under $6 on GOG.com

If you enjoy retro horror, GOG is an absolute goldmine. There massive library includes all kinds of spooky games, from point-and-click jump-fests to moody FMV adventures. Best of all, you can enjoy most of their titles even if you’ve only got a few bucks to your name. Whether you’re in the mood for cheap thrills or atmosphere, these budget-friendly titles should keep you entertained. Harvester In its earliest moments, Harvester appears to be sending you on a chilling adventure. You wake up in a strange town with no memory of who you are or how you got there. When you ask for assistance, you’re told that the only way to get the answers you desire is to join a mysterious organization called “The Lodge.”…
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