Browse By

Category Archives: Editorial

cocoron milk sea

Weird Games Are Good for You (and Good for Gaming)

No one fully understands why we like the things we do. Even the most beautifully crafted games have their detractors, and even bug-laden pieces of crap have fans. Sometimes, we love or loathe something for reasons that have little to do with its quality. But while the tastes of gamers aren’t an exact science, developers can make safe bets. It doesn’t matter what you think of Call of Duty, Madden, or even Pokémon. There are fans that will gobble up each new entry in the franchise. Certain IPs have reliable mainstream appeal, and will sell even if the game doesn’t live up to expectations. In an ideal world, the success of these games would give their studios the freedom to experiment.…
Ace Attorney and the Tetris Effect

Jamais Vu vs. The Tetris Effect: What Makes Games Memorable?

I like to think I have a pretty good memory. I can recite scenes from Final Fantasy VI verbatim, and I know all the words to “Shoop.” But when I replay games, I almost always encounter a scene I can’t recall. I’ll remember everything that came before it, and everything that follows, but that one moment will feel completely new to me. There’s a term for this. It’s called jamais vu, and while it’s commonly associated with brain fatigue, you can experience it when you’re feeling perfectly alert. Sometimes there’s a logical explanation — like being distracted the first time you you viewed a scene — and sometimes it occurs for no reason at all. Your memories of that scene were simply buried in the depths of your brain.…
Video Game Instruction Manuals

The Decline of the Video Game Instruction Manual

Once upon a time, tearing into a new video game instruction manual was a thrill for me. Even when I had the game itself in hand, the manual held a special allure. Manuals helped me decide what to name my characters, gave me a feel for a game’s controls, and provided a convenient place for me to take notes. Nowadays, manuals have lost their luster. The manuals I poured through as a kid were full of unique art and interesting information, but modern manuals are pretty bare bones. Many manuals are devoid of color, and most don’t feature any information you won’t learn in the tutorial. If it wasn’t for the Internet, they’d still be a useful reference, but as is, they don’t hold much value.…
Corpse Party

Why Simplistic Graphics Make Horror Games Better

There’s a little song that creeps into my head when I’m trying to fall asleep. The words aren’t in English, but I understand them all the same. A sweet, childish voice sings sweetly about the entrails of your dead friend. Kids singing creepily is as overused as horror tropes get. It’s the kind of thing that makes me shake my head when I see it in a movie trailer. So why do I find it so chilling here? That’s because it’s from Corpse Party, a 16-bit survival horror game for the PSP. Created with RPG Maker, the game’s graphics are as basic as it gets. While there are character portraits and event CGs, the game forces you to rely on your imagination as you explore a haunted, body-filled school. Games and movies have never been able to frighten me the way stories do.…
Super Mario Bros 2 Sleep

Don’t Sleep, There Are Video Games

The days when I could routinely pull all-nighters are far behind me. When it gets late, a switch goes off that reminds me I need to go to bed at a reasonable time. Barring setbacks, I get the seven hours a night you’d expect of a boring, responsible adult. There’s only one thing that can consistently distract me from my self imposed bedtime: video games. When I’m focused on a good game, I lose all sense of time, and hours slip away in an instant. I’ve told myself “just a few more minutes” until I’ve looked at the clock and realized I had to be up in 3 hours. These all-night gaming sessions sometimes leave me feeling predictably awful, but on other occasions, I’ve woken up feeling great.…
Claymation Mario

Old Video Game Magazines Are an Incredible Time Capsule

Thanks to the Internet and my pack rat tendencies, I have a sizable collection of old video game magazines. I’ve wasted countless hours re-reading the Nintendo Power letters page or admiring old Game Players layouts. The nostalgia factor is part of the appeal, as is my interest in gaming journalism, but what really fascinates me about these magazines is the way they let me see the past. There are things about  remember the video games of my youth with perfect clarity. I vividly recall flipping over tickets at Toys R Us, hoping that the games I could afford looked like something special. I remember being completely stuck in Final Fantasy VI and hoping the next issue of Nintendo Power would come to my rescue (it totally did).…
Harvest Moon Dating Sim

Harvest Moon Turned Me into a Dating Sim Addict

I still vividly remember the day I discovered Harvest Moon. While flipping through the latest issue of Nintendo Power, I came across a game that was unlike anything else I’d ever seen. In retrospect, I’m not sure why Harvest Moon captured my imagination so completely. I’d never had any great love for farming or a burning desire to raise livestock. But somehow, I knew I had to play it, and a lifelong addiction was born. I had a surprising amount of fun growing crops, but where Harvest Moon really got me hooked was its dating sim aspects. Back then, I hadn’t played anything like it, and I obsessed over finding the perfect gift for each girl. During my first playthrough, it took me ages to get married, but by the second time around, I had it down to a science.…
Mario, Pac-Man

Falling Down the Nostalgia Rabbit Hole

Recently, I’ve been thinking  lot about the girly video games I played growing up, including Purple Moon’s Rockett series. I’ve been reading about the games on Wikipedia, looking for used copies on eBay, and trying to find out if the series ever revealed Rockett’s middle name. This is a common pattern for me. Something will remind me of The Incredible Machine or Logical Journey of the Zoombinis, and suddenly it’s all I can think about. It doesn’t matter if the game was good or if I remember much about it at all. It’s stuck in my head like an earworm, and I’m doomed to be fixated on it for at least a few days. Sometimes I get sucked into the nostalgia vortex without being reminded of anything in particular.…
Style Savvy

My Secret, Shameful Love Affair with Girly Games

There are exactly zero people in my life that would refer to me as a girly girl. It’s not that I eschew things that are feminine — I’m wearing both makeup and the color pink as I type this — it’s that I don’t have a natural inclination toward stereotypical “girly” things. I own less than five pairs of shoes, I can’t figure out how to do things like apply nail polish or eyeliner, I don’t know how people wear scarves with their outfits and make it look good, and I genuinely can’t remember the last time I wore jewelry. Obviously, none of this is a big deal. The truly stereotypical people I meet are few and far between, and I’m pretty content with my level of girliness.…
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.…
Anamanaguchi

Anamanaguchi Performs on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon in 2013

Chiprock group Anamanaguchi brought some sweet vintage video game sounds to the stage of Late Night with Jimmy Fallon as a part of the show’s Video Game Week 2013. We can’t help but think it’s awesome that at least someone on late night television has an appreciation for gaming. (To be fair, though, Conan O’Brien made it out to E3 that same year.) Anamanaguchi has a special place in our hearts, since we once got to chat with them a bit after a show they performed at the Triple Rock Social Club in Minneapolis. We’re pretty sure everything they told us was a lie, but we loved talking to them nonetheless. Watch their performance of “Endless Fantasy” on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon on Hulu.…
Mega Man

Former Mega Man, Dead Rising Producer Keiji Inafune Talks About Killer Bees

Keiji Inafune is known by many as “The Father of Mega Man,” though this is a title he denies himself. While he brought the Blue Bomber to life in one sense of the term, he doesn’t take credit for the initial creation. Still, the man’s been connected with Mega Man since the 1980s, so we here at Retrovolve have nothing but the utmost respect for him. So when I sat down in a small conference room with him the very same day Mega Man was announced as a playable character in Super Smash Bros. game for Wii U and 3DS (June 11, 2013), the obvious question was how he felt about that. But I didn’t ask the obvious question. (If you’re curious about that, Inafune told VideoGamer.com…
Anamanaguchi

Anamanaguchi Talks Kickstarter, Space Pizza, and Missing Teeth

On Sunday, May 26, 2013, the worlds of music and video games collided at the Triple Rock Social Club in Minneapolis, Minnesota, with a performance by the chiprock group Anamanaguchi. After a fantastic set that included flashing colored lights, crazy 8-bit videos projected onto a screen behind the band, and the obligatory encore, I had a chance to talk with bassist James DeVito and drummer Luke Silas. For the record, I did offer to buy them each a drink at the bar, but they had just finished paying for theirs when I approached them, so that didn’t end up happening. Still, we had a great chat about Kickstarter, space pizza, fake missing teeth, and even the origin of the name Anamanaguchi. I began the conversation on the most logical of topics: the band’s 2013 stunt of launching a slice of pizza into space.…
Resident Evil - You Died

Is Gaming Journalism Dead?

The popularity of gaming-related websites has brought us very near the end of gaming journalism in printed form. The last few years have seen some of the industry’s most influential publications discontinue their monthly offerings: GamePro, Nintendo Power, NGamer, PlayStation: The Official Magazine — all gone. However, most of the time I spent as a kid reading about games occurred in front of a computer screen. While many older gamers may decry Internet-exclusive outlets such as IGN and Gamespot, I don’t see why they are any less legitimate than printed periodicals. Just like the video games we play, the journalism industry evolves and adapts itself to new technology and distribution models. Like it or not, Web-based journalism allows readers instant access to the latest news and rumors.…
Nintendo Power

Your Childhood Is Dead; Nintendo Power Is No More

At the end of 2012, the 285th and final issue of Nintendo Power was shipped to subscribers and newsstands worldwide, in the process officially bringing to end to any shred of adolescence you thought you still possessed. Flipping through this issue is a bittersweet affair, and it really does read like a eulogy to your younger self. Nintendo Power is a name revered by even the most casual of gamers, and its demise has seemingly tolled the death bell for gaming-related printed media. There is a ton of great content in the issue for retro gamers to dig into. There’s a countdown of the 285 best games for Nintendo consoles (one for each issue), memoirs from former editors, a retrospective of each year of Nintendo Power history, and more.…
GameStop Pizza

People Who Go to Midnight Launches Are Insane, but They’re Kind of Awesome Too

As a video game journalist, I don’t often attend midnight launches for video games anymore. I mean, I generally either receive a free copy of whatever game I need for my review in the mail, or I’m too busy playing whatever I’m reviewing to go out of my way to wait in line at a midnight release. Or I’m having sex. But since I’m a game journalist by trade, you’ve probably already called my bluff on that last one. But in 2012, I made a few notable exceptions. The first one was for Portal 2. I was scheduled to review it, but there was some mix-up where my review copy never showed up. So I did the only other thing I could think of: I attended the midnight launch so I could play it all night and have a review up the following day.…
Low-Gain AKA Logan Erickson

Low-Gain Interview, Part 5: Life After 8-bit Collective

So what is Logan Erickson up to now that he’s no longer a major player in the 8-bit community? He and I talked about his post-8bc life for a bit. He did mention that chipmusic was still a part of his life, though its role had diminished considerably since the “glory days.” I still come back to it. I still listen to chipmusic all the time. Every now and then I’ll pull out my Game Boys and noodle on tracks that I started a year ago, or two years ago. It is nice to have the break, that’s for sure, because I view music a lot differently now than I did then. Unfortunately, I’d like to think that I was more productive when I was in the chipmusic scene.…
Low-Gain AKA Logan Erickson

Low-Gain Interview, Part 4: Low-Gain’s 8-bit Collective Ban

As the online chip scene continued to grow, a few people realized they could make considerable amounts of money off of it. Some of these people, Like Logan Erickson, had mostly good intentions. Other people, though, were consumed by the business end of this, including 8-bit Collective founder Jose Torres, who was accused of stealing program code from a pair of guys from Poland. (You can read more about this in the previous segment of this interview.) All the while, Logan and Jose’s friendship was deteriorating. Somewhere, he and I had some sort of a falling out. Whether it was because I was selling my products and he was selling his, and we were viewing each other as competitors or something.…
Low-Gain AKA Logan Erickson

Low-Gain Interview, Part 3: The Dark Side of the Chipmusic Scene

Be sure to read the previous segment of the Low-Gain interview, which you can find here. 8-bit Collective (8bc.org) was hugely influential in connecting the chipmusic scene in way that would otherwise have been very difficult due to how scattered its audience was. Under Logan Erickson’s guidance, the site continued to thrive and grow, but it wasn’t without its controversy. The larger any community grows, the more work is involved in keeping it organized. 8-bit Collective’s community had become pretty massive by this point, and it was becoming harder and harder to manage. This was only exacerbated by the noncommittal attitude of site owner Jose Torres, who had also started to dabble in some things that a lot of people in the community weren’t exactly comfortable with.…
Low-Gain AKA Logan Erickson

Low-Gain Interview, Part 2: Blip Festival and the Rise of 8-bit Collective

(Click here to read Part 1 of our Low-Gain interview.) In the mid-2000s, the chipmusic scene experienced something of a boon. No, it didn’t technically break into the mainstream, but its worldwide community finally found a place to meet up, share music and encouragement, and just thrive. As I mentioned in the first part of this interview series, this wasn’t any physical venue, but an online one. In 2006, Logan Erickson (Low-Gain) and Stefen Keen (Unicorn Dream Attack) discovered 8-bit Collective, or 8bc.org. We both joined 8-bit Collective probably around late 2006. It was shortly after it had started up. I think it had to have had somewhere between like 250 to 500 members at the time. 8-bit Collective was cool because [8bc  founder Jose Torres]’s concept was [to] just have a place where people can upload songs and have a forum.…
Low-Gain AKA Logan Erickson

Low-Gain Interview, Part 1: A Conversation with an 8-bit Legend

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when I pulled up to Logan Erickson’s home in the Seward neighborhood of Minneapolis. I mean, I knew the man was something of a legend in the chiptune scene, but this is a music scene that’s remained fairly subversive and has stayed below most people’s radars, meaning its history isn’t a very well-documented one. I was hoping to change that. Now, before I get too ahead of myself here, let me explain what chiptune music is for those who don’t already know. It’s a form of electronic music that’s basically programmed on retro videogame machines. (If you want to look at the earliest roots of the genre, you’ll find instances of what eventually became known as chiptune music being programmed on home computers in the late 1970s.)…
WOW tilt shift

World of Warcraft Gets Tilt-Shifted

You ever hear of tilt-shift photography? Essentially, it is a photography technique that makes real-life scenes look like miniatures. It’s a lens trick, and it’s kind of awesome. Hans Wallner, a freind of mine, decided to use Photoshop to simulate the effect on various screenshots he took in World of Warcraft, and they look pretty incredible. He’s long since quit doing this and has moved onto other projects, but he left an Imgur gallery of his work around for you to check out. We recommend viewing these beauties in full-resolution, and maybe even leave a comment encouraging Mr. Wallner to pick up the art again.…
NES guitar

The Best Guitar Is an NES Guitar

As I was casually procrastinating at work today, I came across a picture on Facebook of an electric guitar made out of an NES, reposted by my friend Tyler. Now, the photo comes courtesy of ultimate-guitar.com (check out their Facebook page), but it made me curious as to whether this was an actual real thing or just some clever Photoshop magic. Well, after a bit of research (thanks, Google!) I found the source of the image, GetLoFi.com. Apparently, these guys had created an entire series of these NES guitars and were selling them at very reasonable prices. You could choose between a maple or rosewood neck, and between humbuckers or single-coil pickups. (Necks were all refurbished, and I’m guessing it’s safe to assume the consoles were too.)…
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