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Zelda Toys

The Legend of Zelda 30th Anniversary – Celebrate with Us

February 21, 2016, marks the 30-year anniversary of the Japanese release of The Legend of Zelda. We here at Retrovolve are longtime fans of the franchise, and we wanted to find a fitting way to celebrate such a milestone with our staff and readers. So we’ve compiled a list of some of our favorite Zelda-related things we’ve published and we thought it’d be fun to share those. You’ll find them below in no particular order. The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker Is a Beautiful, Profound Masterpiece Josh Wirtanen explains why he thinks The Wind Waker is one of the best video games ever made, looking at the art, story, and emotional impact of the game. Read it here. A Link to the Past and the Mystery of Link’s Missing Pants Mandi Odoerfer explores the instruction manual art of the Zelda series to get to the bottom of a strange mystery: Where are Link’s pants?…
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.…
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?…
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.…
Bubsy Art

Bubsy for SNES Had a Great Instruction Booklet

The video game instruction booklet is something of a dying art. These days, you’re lucky if a new game purchase includes a single printed page with box art, some legal mumbo jumbo, and a controller layout that explains how to play the game. In the 1990s, though, you could expect an actual stapled booklet, full of information that was useful, informative, and fun. Bubsy in Clawed Encounters of the Furred Kind for the SNES was no exception. This 32-page tome included credits and warranty information, as you’d expect, but it also included things like this: The quirky attitude of the titular bobcat is on full display here, as he’s tricked into thinking Stephen King would be writing this page. What ensues is a rant about how he’s going to end up writing the thing himself, which he ends up doing.…
Dorke and Ymp Cover

Talking Dorke and Ymp with Piko Interactive Founder Eli Galindo

Piko Interactive is a company that distributes games for retro consoles. However, instead of reselling old cartridges, they purchase the rights to games that sort of fell by the wayside and they build new cartridges with those games on them. For example, they’re the company who pulled Super Noah’s Ark 3D out of its early grave and printed a fresh run of Super Nintendo cartridges. (They’re also selling the game on Steam.) On top of this, they also publish some brand new homebrew games for retro consoles. I first came across the company because they put out a game called Dorke and Ymp, which was a Swedish Super NES game that never saw a proper release until now. Interested in learning more about the project, I chased down Eleazar (Eli) Galindo, Founder of Piko Interactive, and spent a little bit of time chatting with him in December of 2015.…
Bad Box Art Mega Man

An Illustrated History of Mega Man Box Art

In March of 2012, Capcom launched Street Fighter X Tekken, a fighting game that pitted Capcom’s own Street Fighter characters against Namco Bandai’s Tekken characters. To top it off, Pac-Man joined the battle to represent Namco’s greater universe, and Mega Man showed up to support Capcom. But it wasn’t the classic Mega Man we all knew and loved; it was this guy: This character was officially dubbed “Bad Box Art Mega Man” and was a reference to the cover art for the original Mega Man game. Yes, on the original box art, Mega Man dressed in yellow and carried a pistol instead of having a blaster built into his arm. One must wonder, had the person who created this ever actually played Mega Man?…

A Chat with Bubsy’s Michael Berlyn – Part 1: The Rise and Fall of Bubsy

Michael Berlyn is a man of many talents — he’s an accomplished novelist, musician, game designer, and more — but he’s probably most notable, at least in the gaming world, for being the creator of Bubsy. I had the chance to chat with Mr. Berlyn on Skype for almost an hour as he was putting the final touches on his latest gaming project Ogg. (You can see more of his work at the Flexible Tales website). He walked me through the world of game development in the 1990s, the heartbreak of watching the Bubsy franchise crumble, and some of the work he’s been doing since returning to the industry more recently. Read on for the full interview: Josh: Bubsy was a game I really loved as a kid — I mean, I was a kid in the 90s — and I loved it.…
Harvest Moon Cow

EGM Weighs in on Harvest Moon, “Cow Teats,” and “Human Discrimination”

A grand old tradition in Electronic Gaming Monthly magazine was to create an annual Buyer’s Guide issue so readers could spend their hard-earned dollars carefully. (After all, brand new video games were ridiculously expensive in the 1990s.) This Buyer’s Guide was also a place where EGM‘s staff could lampoon the gaming industry at large, poking fun of the ludicrous ads that had graced their pages that year and weighing in on hot-button topics of the time. Thumb through any of these issues and you’ll get the feeling that Buyer’s Guide editorial oversight was much more lax than that of a standard EGM issue. It’s easy to forget that the “Women in Gaming” issue was a landmine in 1998. Tomb Raider III: Adventures of Lara Croft would release that year — marking the third year in a row that would see a major Tomb Raider release — and Lara Croft had become one of gaming’s first sex symbols (possibly the very first)  by then.…
Dorke and Ymp Cover

Unreleased SNES Game Dorke and Ymp Finally Got an Official Cartridge Launch in 2015

Back in the 1990s, a little Swedish company called Norse attempted to make a game for the Super NES. Dorke and Ymp was to be a charming little puzzle platformer featuring a goblin and an imp who find artifacts and deliver them to an evil wizard. Unfortunately, Norse was unable to find a publisher, so the game was never finished and never released. Until 2015. Piko Interactive acquired the game’s code, which was about 50% complete, and chased down the original programmer, artist, and composer to assemble the original development team. This team fixed bugs, added a new Volcano world with several levels, and added four boss fights based on the original game’s story. Then, Piko went full-on retro and released it on Super NES cartridges, homebrew style.…

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.…
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.…

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.…
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.…
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.…
tetris attack

The Tetris Attack Soundtrack Is Happiness in Midi Form

I don’t remember much about Tetris Attack. I know that it wasn’t actually a Tetris game and that Yoshi was involved somehow, but that’s about it. I played an awful lot of puzzle games in the 90s, and this isn’t one that stuck with me. But I’ll never forget its unrelentingly happy soundtrack. Playing a puzzle game can be a pretty stressful experience. Most titles start out slow and simple, but rapidly ramp up the difficulty. Things get more and more challenging until you’re completely overwhelmed, and wind up buried in a pile of incorrectly-colored capsules or S-shaped blocks. The music often goes out of its way to add to the tension. The original Tetris theme is panic-inducing, and many other puzzle titles feature similarly intense tunes.…
Super Mario World

Remember When Parents Thought the Super NES Was a Marketing Scam?

One of the most frustrating things about gaming is trying to explain it to non-gamers. This has gotten way easier over the past decade or so now that gaming has completely permeated our social consciousness. But back in the early 90s, the gap between those who “got it” and those who didn’t was a pretty wide one. For example, the Super NES was a new generation of tech that was superior to its predecessor and thus more expensive to produce, and this means the SNES should probably be expected to cost more as a result. Somehow, enough parents misunderstood this evolution that this became a news story. Parents were very proud of the fact that they weren’t going to fall for Nintendo’s scams, and they seem so delighted at their admission of this on the local news.…
Final Fantasy VI

Final Fantasy Was a Great Escape

When I was maybe 15 or so, I discovered Final Fantasy III on SNES (now known as Final Fantasy VI) and fell completely in love with the graphics, the characters, and the storyline. Oh, and the music – especially the music. I even loved the chocobos (the yellow ones as well as the black variety) and have an affinity for them to this day. I played this game for dozens of hours, delving into the world as if it were a second life. Sometimes, a great amount of my time was spent grinding and just gaining as much XP as I could to be ready for whatever adventure was around the next corner. Not long after that, I received a PlayStation and Final Fantasy VII, which drew me in with its story and music.…
Super Metroid

Super Metroid Still Stands as a Testament to Brilliant Game Design

Rarely does a title completely nail every aspect of game design, from sound to controls to story to visual aesthetic. But the incredibly well-crafted, damn-near-perfect Super Metroid somehow does it. This shining achievement stands above most of the games that have come out since then, and a majority of the ones that came before. The pacing is pitch-perfect. The rewards for exploration and trial and error gameplay were savory and satisfying. Figuring out how to eventually get that one missile reserve that has bugged you since the outset of the game — coming upon it through some mysterious back entry — was a punch of an “aha” moment. Mastering the skillset as it broadens — sometimes with nothing more than an animal giving you hints, or a row of barriers that once x-rayed reveals the correct path to break through — while running at blistering speeds creates a perfect sense of pacing. This was the first game that I felt truly spoke to me, both literally (via the opening spoken dialogue portion) and figuratively (encouraging imaginative troubleshooting and problem-solving).…
pokey minch

Pokey Minch Was Eric Cartman Before South Park Existed

EarthBound‘s Pokey Minch is a conniving, calculating coward. His taunts are incredibly childish, and his actions are unbelievably evil. He thinks nothing of sacrificing others, even if it doesn’t benefit him in any substantial way. If that sounds exactly like South Park‘s Eric Cartman, it’s because Pokey pretty much is Eric Cartman. They’re villains cut from the same piece of cloth, substituting brooding and angst with astonishing levels of jerkitude. Other jerks came before Pokey, but those pricks lacked potency. Pokey was annoying, but he was also an actual threat. He was at his most dangerous when he was at his most obnoxious. Cartman took that formula and refined it to a science. Pokey kidnapped a member of your party and attempted to use them as a human sacrifice; Cartman gave one of his best friends AIDs.…
earthbound flying men graves

The Flying Man Song From EarthBound Might Be My Favorite Piece of Video Game Music

Video game music is what I listen to when I want to get pumped. There’s a long list of songs that have moved me to tears, and a longer list of tunes that put a smile on my face. But there’s only one piece of game music that really makes me think. That song is Louis Philippe’s “Flying Man,” a tune that’s technically never appeared in a video game. It was recorded for Mother, but it never plays in the game itself. If that catchy melody sounds familiar, it’s because it shows up in EarthBound — twice. One version is every bit as happy as the song above, albeit lyric-less. The other rendition is slightly more somber. To understand the significance of “Flying Man,” you have to understand the Flying Men themselves.…
secret of mana dark lich

The Dark Lich Battle Theme From Secret of Mana Gives Me Vertigo

I’ve never beaten Secret of Mana. This isn’t due to lack of interest, or because I couldn’t finish it before it had to go back to Blockbuster. It’s because the Dark Lich Battle theme makes me physically ill. It has all the components of a good boss theme. It instantly makes you uneasy, and things only get more intense as the song progresses. But for some reason, the song makes me feel sick. I get dizzy and lightheaded the second it kicks in, and I get more nauseous the longer I listen to it. I’ve never been able to go more than a few minutes without shutting it off, and I feel awful even after the song stops. I realize now that I could have just turned the volume down, but as a kid, that never occurred to me.…
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.…
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.…
Final Fantasy VI Mobile

Final Fantasy VI Mobile Is Terrible; Stop Pretending Otherwise

It wasn’t at all surprising to see Final Fantasy VI‘s mobile release described as garbage. Final Fantasy VI is considered to be one of the greatest games of all time, gamers have a tendency to be negative, and the game does indeed look like fresh garbage. What was shocking was that many insisted that the awful new graphics were an improvement. Worse, they claimed the only reason anyone would prefer the original was nostalgia. Everyone has their own tastes, and I’m sure some people like MS Paint chic. Still, it seems ludicrous to state that the bargain-basement version of FFVI is the superior one, especially when anyone willing to spend five minutes in the App store can find a better looking game for free.…
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