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Favorites Game Boy Advance

Mother 3 Is Arguably the Greatest Game of All Time

Mother 3 is not my favorite game. I experienced it too late in life, and don’t see it through the nostalgia-tinted glasses I apply to my most cherished titles. I have no warm, fuzzy memories of unwrapping the game at Christmas or attempting to play it the backseat of a minivan in the middle of the night. But I still think it’s the best game I’ve ever played. Mother 3‘s opening borders on saccharine. You’re asked to name each member of an adorable family, from its cowboy-hat wearing patriarch to the lovable family dog. From there, you’re asked to choose both your favorite food and your “favorite thing.” It’s charming, but it’s also time-consuming, and could easily turn off players unfamiliar with the Mother series.…
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Editorial Favorites Super NES

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.…
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Favorites PlayStation

LSD for PlayStation Might Be the Weirdest Game Ever Made

I came across a YouTube video of LSD‘s gameplay, and knew this was a game I absolutely had to play. I quickly discovered that there has never, and probably will never again, be a more truly bizarre release like this for a major home console. How this even got green-lit for development is beyond me. I am so very glad that it did, however. LSD (purportedly not named after the drug of the same name, but I’m skeptical) defies any sort of genre classification or gaming archetype. It’s a game completely unique in its concept and execution, and one that I think you all owe the weird part of your brain the privilege of experiencing. I have always had an appreciation for the more abstract and esoteric forms of art and entertainment.…
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Editorial

Atelier Is the Batman of JRPGs

People like to say that Batman could beat anyone if he had enough time to prepare. With his determination, brilliance, and near-limitless resources, he’ll eventually find a way to conquer any foe. It doesn’t matter if they’re ridiculously overpowered or an omnipotent demigod. If they have a weakness, Batman will find it, and he’ll figure out how to exploit it. If Batman was a JRPG series, I’m pretty sure he’d be Atelier. Atelier is lacking in both vengeance and the night, but it’s like Batman in the ways that really count. Beyond its sweet anime exterior lies a game that’s all about being prepared. If you want to take on Atelier‘s biggest challenges and toughest bosses, you’ll need prep-time, and lots of it.…
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Atari 2600 Faux Retro

Denny’s Atari Remix: Denny’s Reaches out to the Hungover Atari Demographic

Denny’s has absolutely everything I look for in a hangover cafe. They’re open 24 hours a day, they serve breakfast all day long, they have coffee, and they attract the sort of crowd that’s not going to judge a guy for being an alcoholic. Plus, there’s a Denny’s within walking distance of my house, so no one has to drunk drive to get there. Denny’s recently released an app called Denny’s Atari Remix, which is 3 old school Atari games remade as breakfast-themed iOS games. There’s Centipup, which is a version of Centipede that requires you to shoot Pancake Puppies and other breakfast items with ketchup (even if ketchup would taste awful on Pancake Puppies.) Hashteroids is Asteroids with hash browns and ketchup, and Take-out is Breakout with bacon, eggs, and pancakes.…
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Favorites Game Boy

This 90s Grunge Chiptune Mashup Is 8-Bit Nirvana

You may not completely love the 90s, but you have to admit that it’s a hard decade to hate. Weezer and Green Day were still good, it was every kid’s patriotic duty to play with war toys, and games like ToeJam & Earl were allowed to exist. Best of all, Kurt Cobain was alive and pumping out grunge music for the first half of the decade. In the video below (which we originally found on Stereogum.com), Nirvana and an impressive line-up of fellow 90s bands get chiptuned. The result is a chiptune grunge medley to rock the sound chip right out of your Game Boy (which actually originally came out just before the 90s started). Can you name all 7 songs?…
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Faux Retro Sega Genesis

Strike Force Foxx Has No Aspirations to Be Desert Strike: Return to the Gulf

If you were a kid who was super into playing war, the early 90s were pretty awesome. There was this whole Desert Storm business going on, and Capitalist America used it as a golden opportunity to sell toy guns and army figures to children. Hell, I remember they released a whole series of collectable cards to commemorate that conflict. (I think I’ve got a few extra General Schwarzkopf cards lying around, if anyone wants to trade something for them.) Anyway, as part of this war profiteering racket, Desert Strike: Return to the Gulf was released for Sega Mega Drive, and I played the absolute crap out of it. To this day, I have a fondness for flying helicopters across an isometric desert and rescuing tiny little pixel people, and that fondness spawned from Desert Strike. So when Strike Force Foxx was released for Nintendo 3DS, I noticed three things: It has the word Strike in the title.…
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Super NES

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.…
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Editorial NES

NES Cartridge Prices Are on the Rise, But That’s Not a Bad Thing

Retro gaming enthusiast site Rawrcade.com posted an article claiming we’re in a retro games bubble. The article showed some evidence (supplied by the Price Charting site) that NES cartridge prices are on the rise. The author’s perspective is that of a collector, lamenting these rising prices as a potential barrier for growing that ever-expanding retro game collection. However, these rising prices, when viewed through the lens of simple economics, seem to be evidence of a growing demand for this old stuff. And that’s a good thing. Gaming, which used to be a niche hobby enjoyed by kids and mega-nerds, has burst into the mainstream. Collecting NES cartridges is cool now. There are people who enjoy and respect the history of gaming as a medium, and seek to preserve it by amassing large collections of old school games.…
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Editorial PlayStation

Linda Cube Again Is My Favorite Game I’ve Never Played

If someone stuck Pokémon, Dragon Quest, and 90s psychological anime in a blender, they might wind up with Linda Cube Again. It takes an already bizarre concept — saving animals from the end of the world by placing them on an ark-like spaceship — and dials it up to 11, throwing giant arm transplants and evil twins who dress like Santa Claus into the mix. It’s everything I’ve ever wanted in a video game. I’ve tried to play Linda Cube Again on several occasions, and I’ve had to give up every time. The game’s entirely in Japanese, and is extremely text-heavy. I understand a little of the language, but nowhere near what I’d need to tackle something like this. Image Source: ObscureVideoGames Even though I have no shortage of games to play, I’ve never been able to get Linda Cube Again out of my head.…
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PC

Portal, When Sped Up to 2,000%, Takes Less Than 4 Minutes

No, this isn’t an epic speed run; it’s just simple math. YouTube user Killthealias uploaded a video of the game Portal sped up to 2,000%. The results are a less-than-4-minute playthrough of the entire game. I kind of hope some obsessive kid decides to take this as a challenge to speed run the game in under 4 minutes, though I doubt that’s humanly possible. Good luck if you are that obsessive kid. Either way, the footage is kind of hypnotic. Check it out below.…
Categories
Sega Genesis

ToeJam & Earl Defines 90s Game Design in a Weird Yet Charming Way

ToeJam & Earl is the sort of game that triple-A developers would be afraid to make these days. For me, though, it defines what was great about game development in the 90s better than almost any other title I can think of. The 90s was an era when video games were allowed to be crazy and bizarre. Earthworm Jim was allowed to do battle against a bungee-jumping ball of snot. Cool Spot, the sunglasses-wearing mascot for 7up, was allowed to star in a game that was actually good. Boogerman was allowed to exist. Trio the Punch – Never Forget Me was allowed to do whatever the hell it was trying to do. The best thing, for me, about these games was that developers focused on the question “Is this fun?”…
Categories
Editorial

Final Fantasy Should Go Back to 2D

Some of my all-time favorite games are 3D Final Fantasy titles. Final Fantasy IX is a heartfelt love letter to the JRPG genre. The battle system in Final Fantasy X-2 is fast-paced perfection. Squaresoft handled the transition from pixels to polygons with unparalleled grace. But it’s time for the Final Fantasy series to go back to 2D. Recent Final Fantasy titles have lost all semblance of charm. They’re so desperate to be taken seriously that they’ve forgotten what made the series fun. There’s no room for joke-cracking octopuses or impromptu squat competitions. Instead, they drown you in melodrama and overly complex exposition. Contrast that with Bravely Default: Flying Fairy, a title that positively oozes whimsy. There’s still plenty of angst, but it’s balanced out with goofy conversations about food and hilarious Ringabel journal entries.…
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Editorial

Pokémon Was Better When I Didn’t Know What I Was Doing

I love Pokémon just as much now as I did in 1998. Every time a new title is released, I play it obsessively, ignoring everything else. Every generation has had at least a handful of critters I adored. But even though my love for Pokémon is enduring, I enjoyed the game more when I didn’t understand it. In the early days, I didn’t give any thought to team building. I used my favorite Pokémon, and that was that. I steadfastly refused to evolve my starter — a Squirtle, of course — and just did some grinding if I found a gym I couldn’t get through. It didn’t matter that Pokémon like Jumpluff, Ponyta, and Teddiursa had lousy stats. They were cute, and that was all I cared about. Then online battling hit, and I realized everything I was doing was wrong.…
Categories
Faux Retro NES

Shovel Knight Is Mega Man Meets DuckTales

Shovel Knight was basically pitched to me this way: “It’s like 8-bit Mega Man meets the first NES DuckTales game.” That’s probably the most spectacular description of a video game I’ve ever heard, and it’s actually fairly accurate. Shovel Knight features the pogo-jumping mechanic from DuckTales, only with a shovel instead of Scrooge McDuck’s cane. Even if you can’t use your shovel to pogo across spikes the way Scrooge can with his cane, you can use that shovel to dig up gemstones, which is a pretty Scrooge McDuck-y thing to do. And Mega Man. The level design brings to mind some of the the Blue Bomber’s 8-bit adventures. As does the music, though that’s largely the fault of Manami Matsumae, who wrote music for Mega Man and Mega Man 10.…
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NES Slider

The DuckTales Moon Theme Is the Best Piece of 8-Bit Music Ever Written

It’s no secret that I have an extraordinary passion for DuckTales. It’s also no secret that I have a fondness for 8-bit music. So I think it’s safe to say that the following statement comes with a heaping side of bias: The “Moon Theme” from Capcom’s DuckTales NES game is the most perfect piece of 8-bit music ever written. Let’s be honest here: Anyone who enjoys 8-bit music simply must find this fantastic: And if that doesn’t do it for you, here’s an electric guitar version that will put a smile on your face (unless you have absolutely no soul): And because I just can’t stop now, here’s a (fake) women’s choir doing an incredible arrangement: No matter how you slice it, this is one brilliant piece of music.…
Categories
Editorial

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.…
Categories
Sega Dreamcast Slider

Power Stone 2 Is Everything I Want Super Smash Bros. to Be

Technically speaking, Smash Bros. predates Power Stone 2. While the original Power Stone made its debut in 1999, the sequel wasn’t released until 2000, one year after the first Smash Bros. title. They were two similar games that happened to come out around the same time, and it’s unlikely that either title influenced the other in any way. Still, I can’t help but feel that Smash Bros. could learn a few things from Power Stone. I love every game in the Smash franchise, but none of them have ever compared to the feeling of four-player Power Stone 2. It doesn’t matter that you can’t play as beloved characters and are stuck using the clunky Dreamcast controller. Everything about it is magical.…
Categories
Interview PlayStation

D.C. Douglas and Jonathan Klein Explain Why Resident Evil 1’s Voice Acting Was Awful

“Master of unlocking.” “Jill sandwich.” If you played video games in the 90s, you’re probably intimately familiar with these phrases, which both come from the original Resident Evil game. They’re possibly two of the most oft-quoted examples of bad voice acting from the early PlayStation era. The obvious question has always been, “How on Earth did this end up being so damn bad?” At least, it has been for those of us who don’t have careers in video game voice acting. At AniMinneapolis 2014, I sat in on a panel called “Behind the Voices of Capcom Games,” hosted by David Vincent (the voice of T. Hawk in Super Street Fighter IV), Jonathan Klein (English-language producer on Street Fighter IV), Caitlin Glass (the voice of Cammy in Street Fighter IV), and D.C.…
Categories
Editorial Sega Genesis

Manchester Orchestra’s Andy Hull Likes the Sega Genesis

I recently had the opportunity to see Manchester Orchestra play a show in downtown Minneapolis (sponsored by blu eCigs), where I managed to snap the above photo. And hot damn, Andy Hull’s voice gets me. As concert goers tend to do, I shared the lovely photo I had taken on Twitter and used the #ManchesterOrchestra hashtag to show off to my friends. This hashtag, I presume, is how the folks at blu eCigs managed to find me. See, I received a message from them letting me know that Manchester Orchestra would be at the blu eCigs HQ answering fan questions, and, considering I was obviously a fan, they wanted to know if I had any questions for the band. So where did my mind go?…
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Arcade Editorial

The X-Men Arcade Game Got Me to Eat a Lot of Bad Pizza

When I was a kid, it wasn’t food or ambiance that determined my choice of restaurant. All that mattered to me was getting the chance to play arcade games. Tabletop arcade games made Pizza Hut one of my favorite eateries, and I’d happily dine anywhere that let me play Turtles in Time. But there was one game that took precedence over any other: the 1992 X-Men arcade game. The X-Men arcade game was the most glorious thing I had ever experienced. It had room for six players, which meant that my friends and I could all play together. It had not one, but two playable female characters. The soundtrack was rockin’. There were awesome comic-inspired levels. Magneto called your character an “X-Chicken.”…
Categories
Editorial

Gaming Magazines and the Lost Art of the Letters Section

When I was a kid, gaming magazines were my life. I devoured issues of Nintendo Power, Game Players, and EGM. I couldn’t wait to read the latest reviews, check out tantalizing previews, and get tips on how to beat my favorite games. These days, I can get the information those magazines delivered in less than an hour. When a big announcement is made, I know about it within minutes. I write my own reviews, and any questions I have can be answered with a quick trip to Google. I can learn just about anything in an instant, and I love it. I’d never willingly return to that slow drip of information. Still, there’s one aspect of old school games journalism I sorely miss: the letters page. You could argue that a comment section provides the same thing, but you’d be wrong.…
Categories
Super NES

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.…
Categories
GameCube

Nintendo’s GameCube Had the Second Best Video Game Controller of All Time

I recently had a face-to-face conversation (you know, the opposite of texting or private messaging) with a friend of mine about which game controllers were our number one and number two favorites. Obviously, the Xbox 360 controller is the greatest of all time; nobody is arguing against that. And, obviously, the PS3 controller is a pile of dung. Again, old news. But while thinking back on all of the official console controllers starting with the NES — which was my first foray into the gaming landscape — my choice for number two favorite controller caused a ripple in our discussion, one that reverberated beyond the close knit confines of my living room and shook the very foundations of the society within which we live.…
Categories
Editorial

Great Video Games Need Good Boss Music

You’ve spent hours fighting your way through dungeons. You’ve won countless battles, and foiled many an evil plot. At last, you’ve reached your final destination. Everything you’ve done has been building towards this moment. And then some lame-o music kicks in and totally ruins the mood. Ideally, a boss theme should make you feel like the ultimate badass. The best boss themes leave me feeling pumped long after I’ve put the game down. The right music makes a fight more epic, and makes your characters feel more powerful. But a weak piece of boss music can be incredibly anticlimactic, even if the fight itself is pretty good. For me, the primary example of this has always been Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne.…
Categories
NES

Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!! – A Bruised Trip Down Memory Lane

This past week has been one of awful tragedy, which led to massive amounts of weeping, drinking, and personal reflection. Despite its terrible nature, it somehow culminated in a cathartic get-together that ended with a bunch of old friends watching one of our own strive to defeat Mike Tyson in the NES classic Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!! Sadly, his ultimate destruction was not met at the hands of my old chum Keith, eluding the conclusion of a childhood arc of utter satisfaction and elation. That said, sitting around the television huddled together on the edge of our collectives seats, hungry for such a triumph, brought me back to the good old days of my starry-eyed youth. I felt like a kid again, a feeling I haven’t really experienced lately while playing the current batch of games, even ones I love so dearly.…
Categories
Editorial Game Boy Super NES

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.…
Categories
Editorial

The Kirby Games Are Unintentionally Horrifying

One of the first games I got for my Game Boy was Kirby’s Dream Land. I spent many a happy hour collecting Twinkle Stars, sucking up enemies, and enjoying its chipper tunes. But none of those things were what made me want to play Dream Land. I wanted it because I thought the game looked super creepy. Looking back, the Kirby’s Dream Land cover really isn’t the scary masterpiece that I thought it was. Yeah, Kirby looks like a ghost, and yeah, Whispy Woods looks a little eerie, but there’s nothing about it that’s particularly spooky. Still, I think little me was on to something. Intentional or not, there’s something very sinister about the Kirby series. For starters, there are Kirby’s abilities, which get more horrifying the more you think about them.…
Categories
PlayStation

Intelligent Cube: Awesome Squared

You hear a lot of praise for Tetris, and for good reason — it is, after all, the quintessential puzzle game. But I’d like to shed some light on another, lesser-known yet singularly awesome puzzle game: Intelligent Cube. Created by Tokyo University professor Masahiko Sato and released for the original PlayStation way back in 1997, this was a true classic. I originally encountered the game on a demo disc and immediately fell in love. It was like nothing I had played up to that point, offering a satisfying challenge that required some real ingenuity and on-the-spot thinking. Basically, you’re some poor schmo running around on a grid for reasons unknown, trying to destroy rows of cubes that roll toward you and drive you ever closer to the edge of the board until you finally plummet to your death. Once you get the swing of thing, it becomes incredibly addictive to try and beat the predetermined number of moves for each wave while trying to keep the grid intact, all to ensure the highest score possible: your I.Q.…
Categories
Editorial PC

How Valve Tricked Dota 2 Players into Better Behavior

Anyone who’s into online gaming knows how tough it can be to find a good team they can mesh with. This is largely because people tend to act their absolute worst whenever the Internet veils their identity. So how can a game like Dota 2, which is entirely dependent upon cooperative online play, run smoothly without the community collapsing in on itself? Well, that’s where psychology comes in. I had a chance to hear Dr. Mike Ambinder, Experimental Psychologist at Valve, explain a little bit about how Valve tries to coerce Dota 2 players into behaving well. And it’s kind of fascinating. At the end of a Dota match you have a survey that comes up. It used to just be one question, like “Rate the quality of the match, one to five stars.”…