Old School Vs. New School

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Seriously, what the hell?

Sometimes gamers can be very odd. In 2004, when Nintendo released the NES Classics line for the Gameboy Advance, people complained because Nintendo was charging twenty bucks for what were essentially emulated versions of NES titles. Fast forward to 2006, and on eBay people are paying up to 30-40 dollars for a used copy of Super Mario Bros. Oddly enough, the other NES Classics titles, like Zelda and Metroid, only seem to be going for around ten, fifteen dollars at the most.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

This is why I don't get excited about emulation.

Emulation can be a wonderful thing for the casual game player that wants to waste a little time having fun, or someone that's curious to play an old/rare game. I even use emulators and roms, but I don't find them very satisfying.

I love Lightening Force (Thunder Force IV) on the Sega Genesis, it's one of the greatest space shooters of all time, so a few nights ago I was feeling lazy and instead of hooking up the Genny I simply downloaded the rom and an emulator and started playing it. The first emulator was horrible, not only was the music of really crappy quality but the GFX were also terrible. So I tried the rom on another emulator. The GFX came out great, and I would say the sound was about 60% to 80% accurate depending on the song and situation. It's not 100% accurate though and that takes away a lot from the game in my opinion.

I don't think emulation should be totaly ignored simply because it can't give a 100% perfect experience of how the game was, I just don't reccomend it as a replacement for using your old consoles. When I'm bored and feeling lazy I'll definately play a rom, but in the end nothing will win out over my consoles.

On a side note if you're looking for a place to get emulators or roms why not check out these two sites.

http://romhustler.net


http://www.romnation.net

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Modern Gaming Review - Bonk's Adventure (GCN)

I had been wanting to get Bonk's Adventure on the GCN for quite some time, having never played the original TG-16 version. Of course, I did just recently play the TG-16 classic, but that just wheted my appitite to play Bonk on a next-gen system. Of course, the title is Japan-only, so importing was the only option. Only problem was, no one had any in stock. So after being out of stock of the title for WEEKS, Play Asia finally got a batch in, which I promptly ordered a copy of.
A week later, it arrived. I tore it out of the package, carefully opened the box, slapped the Freeloader into my Cube and prepared to Bonk.

I was not disappointed.

The first thing I noticed (aside from the improved cel-shaded graphics and clearer sound) was that it wasn't so much an enhanced port but rather a remake of the Bonk classic. The levels themselves are smaller and more consise, but that doesn't make the game a cakewalk. Rather, Hudson took the original Bonk game and condensed it into a more pure, more enjoyable gameplay experience. Levels are no longer long trudges across sparse terrain, but now a more exciting romp through more enemy populated lands, offering many opportunities to jump and bonk and spin to the point you could get through some levels without ever touching the ground.


However, if you thought that shortening the levels made the game easier, Hudson was ready to slam you back down to earth. Whereas in the original, contact with an enemy shaved off maybe a fourth of a heart in your life meter, in the remake, every hit knocks off a FULL HEART. There are plenty of extra lives scattered to help make up for this, and you can collect all eight hidden fruit in a level to gain another 1up. Of course, once you realize that the only way to restore your energy is to collect said fruit, you'll realize it's just another way for the game to slam you back to earth.
Just like the TG-16 game, you must play through the entire game in one sitting. However, once you do, you'll unlock a level select to play a certain level as much as you want. There are also three different difficulty levels to play with, each unlocked as you beat the previous difficulty. Hudson has also hidden gold coins in the levels, ten on each difficulty level, which you can use to unlock classic Bonk TV commercials. Of course, they are well hidden, so good luck finding them all.

If you're looking for a good, old fashioned 2-D platformer on a next gen system, Bonk's Adventure will rock your world (at least until you get your palms on Donkey Kong Jungle Beat). The Gamecube version of Bonk is somewhat hard to find (and expensive) but a PS2 version is also available, and both are exactly the same.

Bottom Line
Graphics (8) - Not gonna push the Cube's processor, that's for sure, but the cute cel-shaded Bonk and enemies are just awesome. The backgrounds are very nice, with a "Yoshi's Island" crayon style. Word cues like "BONK!" and "TMP" appear as Bonk smacks enemies and trots along the ground.

Sound (7) - Not exactly memorable, but it gets the job done. A lot of tracks repeat though, but to be honest, it's probably a limitation left over from the TG-16 days. Bonk's voice is cute, and thankfully isn't overused.

Controls (8) - Playing with a Hori Digital Pad bumps the score up to a 9. Weird hic-cups such as difficulty leaping from wall to wall late in the game kinda drag things down, but by no means a game killer.

Gameplay (9) - Jump. Bonk. Repeat. Basic gameplay, but oh so sweet. The game is short compared to the massive quests of 21st century games, but it's so much fun, you'll keep coming back for more.

Overall (9) - The "To Be Continued" screen still exists in the remake. Let's hope a similar update of Bonk's Revenge is well on it's way.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Retro Review - Bonk's Adventure (TG-16)

Having Ulticron rave on and on about the Bonk series is second only to his uncanny facination with the Sega Saturn. So when he gave me a chance to borrow his coveted TurboGraphx-16 unit for a couple of months, I jumped at the chance. Actually, he shoved the console and games into my chest and said in a demonic voice "PLAY BONK OR DIE". Well, either way, with the TG16 plugged into my TV at home, I was able to finally enjoy Bonk as it truely was meant to be, not as the bastardized versions of Bonk I had on the Gameboy would lead you to believe.

Since Ulticron apparently didn't trust me enough to possess the Bonk manual, I have no idea who exactly Bonk is, or why he is on an adventure, since the game is from the days where we did not have any 20-minute cinema scenes that set up the story. You had the read about the story in the instruction manual! That's right kids, you had to READ the MANUAL! Scary, huh? You don't wanna hear about 28k modems, trust me. But in any case, Bonk is a little caveman dude and he uses his head to bonk around little dinosaur dudes. The enemies are full of character, from dancing cactuses (or is it cacti?) to blue dinosaurs who sport buck teeth and thick glasses. The graphics are very nice, looking very much like a late era SNES game. Despite many instances of many objects on the screen at once, I hardly ever noticed any slowdown. The music isn't very memorable, but it gets the job done.
The controls are pretty basic, Button I to jump, Button II to bonk. Pressing button II repeatedly while Bonk is in the air will let Bonk slowly glide to the ground (Similar to Mario's Raccoon tail in Mario Bros 3.) And since the TG controller has built in Turbo functions, it's a snap to do. I quickly found myself using the turbo spin to find slick shortcuts to one ups.
The bosses are a hoot, usually some huge, geeky monster that you don't actually kill, you just knock some sense into them and they'll become "your friend". Yeesh. The conversations after boss battles are priceless.
The game is fun, but I don't see many modern gamers going for it, for the simple reason that there is no save function. Yes, another horror from the early days that you kids don't have to worry about. Of course, you could just leave the TG16 on all day. But you might melt the hue card. And Ulticron would punish you for that.

Stay tuned for more TG-16 reviews!

Sunday, January 16, 2005

Music makes the difference.

To prove my point that music makes the difference i'll compair two games that are essentially the same except for some minor cosmetics. Tomb Raider and Legacy of Kain Soul Reaver. Essentially the game mechanics are the same, the controls are even the same for the similar actions of moving things and attacking. Basically both games have the almost identical concept, except one is of a poorly done, supposedly hot chick (which only appeals to 12yr olds or total losers) and the other one one has a dead undead vampire. I dispise Tomb Raider, always have, always will, it's dull, slow and boring. So logically if Tomb Raider is that then Soul Reaver should be as well right? WRONG! Soul Reaver had a good music score which brought the game to life quite well, it helped set the mood oh so well. I remember when i first played Tomb Raider, which also just happened to be the only time I played it as well *L*. The game felt so flat, an i just couldn't get into it, i felt disconnected with the character, and i couldn't build up any kind of emmotion, simply because the lack of music. It was dull, drab, depressing garbage. It took me a few days of playing Soul Reaver before i realized why it gave me a feeling of De Ja Vu. Then it hit me. THIS IS TOMB RAIDER!!! After the repetitiveness of moving blocks sunk in i saw the considerably warped mirror image of the two. What was funny was the fact that even after i realized it was simply a copy with cosmetic changes I kept cheerfully and zealously playing. Why? Because the music made me identify with Raziel, I felt his desire for revenge, and I wanted to aid him along the way. So music does make the difference. If you don't believe me see if you can scrounge up a copy of Tomb raider and Legacy of Kain Soul Reaver. See if the game concept isn't painfully copied, and then see which one you like better ;).

Saturday, January 15, 2005

Retro Review: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Arcade Game

Well, I finally got an account at Blockbuster... and they have a healthy amount of games, some of which I'd definately rather rent than sully my collection by owning. One such title is the latest Ninja Turtles game. Now, I loved the old Ninja Turtles games back in the 16 bit era, but the drek Konami dragged up in the 21st century reek! Riding high on whatever that Yugioh brat uses on his hair, Konami released the sub-par "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" in 2003, and some how managed to top themselves in crappiness with "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2: Battle Nexus" in 2004. However, there was one redeeming factor of that title... Konami decided to bless us with a unlockable port of the old arcade game that was stationed in pizza houses across the country. With this in mind, I made my first rental "Battle Nexus". I spent approximately five minutes on the main game and realized how bad it was even compared to last year's game, so I slapped in my Action Replay and unlocked the arcade game the cheating way. And so, I eagerly selected "Classic Arcade Game" on the main menu.

What I experienced, was not pretty. It was sick, wrong, and kinda stung my eyes. Read on if you dare.
This is in NO way a perfect port. Right from the start you know something is amiss when in place of the old animated arcade intro, you're faced with a static title image. There wasn't even the ability to enter your initials for a high score. Hoping for the best, I plunged ahead and played.
Now, graphically, the game is exactly like the arcade game. Plenty of animation and large character sprites. However, that's where the similarities end. Apparently Konami wasn't able to secure the rights to the original TMNT theme song, and since every tune in the game used that song to some extent (remixed, if you will), they had to replace the music...

With ONE TUNE.

Every stage has the same damn background music. From April's apartment building to the Technodrome, you'll hear the same music over and over again. And it's not even GOOD music, it sounds like some Konami intern pecking away at a Casio keyboard, playing the most boring, elevator song you've ever encountered. It will stick in your head, but not in a plesant way. You'll wake up screaming, hoping it will just burrow out of your skull like 'Alien'. Would it have been TOO much trouble for Konami to put in acceptable replacement music? Hell, I would've settled if they'd just used tracks from "Battle Nexus", I mean, they're RIGHT THERE ON THE DISC!

Then you have the voices, or rather, the lack of them. Konami couldn't get the rights to the original voices, and instead of maybe perhaps having the current voice actors re-record the lines (which probably would've taken maybe ten minutes), they opted just to completely cut them. And for some reason a lot of sound effects are missing. You can't even tell if you've made a connecting hitting a boss, since nothing can be heard. Just that damn background loop.

The omission of any kind of music (I refuse to call that casio crap music) or voices really destroys the atmosphere of the game, and let's face it, that's pretty much all the original arcade game had. All you've got left is an increasingly frustrating game starring green guys fighting purple guys as incredibly BAD music plays in the background. And it is frustrating. Someone at Konami must have been on a sadistic freak, because when they ported the game over, they must have set the difficulty switch to "Let's take ALL this kid's quarters!" It's incredibly frustrating fighting a boss at full health, only to have him punch you, make you land in an electric gate and then blast you with a missle, all before you can even get your turtle to swing. The entire time I was playing, I wished I was playing "Turtles In Time", which I just played last year and is a MUCH improved game.

But honestly, I probably would've enjoyed the game better had SOME sort of care towards the presentation department had been given. Sadly, Konami was probably more interested in how to cross Yugioh with Metal Gear Solid.

If you were even THINKING about buying this game just for the arcade port, DON'T do it. Download the ROM on MAME, track down the original arcade machine, ANYTHING else.
I'm just glad I only lost 7 bucks renting it instead of $40 BUYING it and being horribly disappointed.
NOT recommended. I shudder to think what Konami will do to "Turtles In Time" if they make another TMNT game...

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Panel de Tetris Pokemon Challenge

Without a doubt, if you are a Nintendo fan, you have played some variation of "Panel De Pon". Most will probably be familiar with it's english name, "Tetris Attack". Originated in Japan in 1996, Panel De Pon is a puzzle game like Tetris, but that's where the similarities end. The goal is to match up sets of matching tiles that rise from the bottom of the screen. It sounds simple, but has caused plenty of flying controllers in its day. The real meat of the game was setting up chains and combos, which would increase your score, and in the case of a two player game, dump tons of "garbage" tiles into his playfield.

In Japan, the game's theme involved flowers and faries (yes, that's where the "Lip's Stick" item from Super Smash Bros. Melee came from) which wasn't so much a problem in Japan, but when NOA decided to bring the game over, a change was needed to appeal to both boys and girls.
And so, Yoshi and characters from the recent Yoshi's Island game replaced the fairies. And in order to generate even more name recognition, Nintendo licenced the "Tetris" name and slapped it on the title screen.

The port was a success and Tetris Attack became very popular among puzzle fanatics and considered one of Nintendo's best puzzle games. Later on, after Pokemon exploded into the scene, Nintendo re-released Panel De Pon again, this time on the N64 and the Gameboy Color.
Interestingly enough, while the GB version of the game (Pokemon Puzzle Challenge) was handled by the same staff (Intelligent Systems) that created Panel De Pon and followed the recent Pokemon Gold and Silver releases, the N64 version (Pokemon Puzzle League) was made by the newly formed NST (Nintendo Software Technologies) here in the States and followed the themes set by the cartoon series. The N64 version was only released in the US, making it the only Pokemon game to not appear in Japan.

Most recently, Nintendo repackaged some of their older puzzle games for the Gamecube, which included Dr. Mario, Yoshi's Cookie, and, unsurprisingly, Panel De Pon. However, this collection is only available in Japan, and despite some large interest, there are no plans to port the game to US systems. However, if it was, you can be sure Panel De Pon would once again be replaced with Yoshi or perhaps even Pikachu.

If you own a variation of "Tetris Attack" be sure to give it a good play through during the holidays. No matter what the theme, one thing doesn't change... it's a damn good game.

Saturday, December 11, 2004

Alien Hominid

Are you longing for the good ol days of 2-D shooters? Do you still drop a token into the Metal Slug machine at the local Dairy Queen or fire up the old NES for a quick romp through Contra? If you've been avoiding the current generation like the plague, a reason for your to submit to the new era has arrived, in the form of a homicial yellow alien, brought to your by newcomer developer The Behemoth. This is Alien Hominid.
For those of you who don't know, Alien Hominid began as a "prototype" FLASH based game on Newgrounds.com a few years ago, and through a series of fortunate events, ended up being developed into a console game for the Gamecube and the PS2 (this review is based upon the Gamecube version, though both versions are the same aside from load time). The little alien (you can name it whatever you wish) is cruising over earth when suddenly the FBI catches it on their radar and promptly shoots him down, and confiscates the little dude's craft. Now the alien must find his spaceship and return home!
As soon as you start the game and start blowing away wave after wave of enemies, you'll quickly relive fond memories of Metal Slug and Contra. It's a 2-D shooter, alright, but it does everything so WELL, you might just enjoy it more than most 3-D titles. The little alien certainly isn't helpless, as you'll find lots of power ups to shoot everything from lazers to pure acid. There's lots of gore and blood, but it's done in such a cartoony and overblown manner, it's actually funny. You can even adjust the gore rating in the options menu to make your enemies splurt out flowers and candy instead. Yes, the humor is certainly evident in this title. There are plenty of places in the game where you will burst out laughing, from when the alien hijacks a car and hangs his head out the window like a little dog, to a part of the Soviet Union level where the alien befriends none other than the abominal snowman and it starts a short "Rampage" sequence.
There are lots of levels to blast through, and you'll even have a few space stages after your alien manages to find his UFO again (the alien manages to find his spaceship, only to lose it again several times during the game). Huge hulking robots usually end each stage, and you'll have to figure out each one's pattern if you even have a chance of progressing.
Most will be able to blast through the game in a few hours, though it is longer than most 2-D shooters. There are also four difficulty settings to play with, and even after you've done all that, there are plenty of mini-games to play, from a Challenge mode, to a whole new PDA game with 200 challenging platforming style levels (you can design your own levels, to boot), and there is even the Atari-ish "Missle Mastar", where you guide Russian missiles to blow up the United States (and see a quick scene of a Russian dancing and the word "PWNED" flashing on the screen).
This game is a blast to play, and well worth the already budget price of $30. If you have ANY sort of old school blood inside you, be sure to pick up Alien Hominid TODAY!
(Available on Gamecube and PS2. Supports up to 2 players in the main mode, 4 in the PDA game. http://www.alienhominid.com)

Friday, December 03, 2004

Restoring Retro Games

It's all happened to us before... we'll find a cool game, but pass on it because the label is all torn up. Well, weep no more! Watch how I transform this thrashed N64 cart into... THE SWAN!... er, no. Oh, just check out my post on Digital Press and see for yourself.
http://www.digitpress.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=47389

Sunday, November 28, 2004

A wonderful game that's sadly forgotten by most.

BONK! Does that name ring a bell with you? Well if it doesn't I'm not to horribly suprised. As far as my knowledge of the game's history goes there were 3 games made for the TurboGrafx 16, 1 for the NES, 1 for the Super NES and 2 or 3 for the Gameboy. I've never played the Nintendo versions of Bonk, mainly because they're all so near impossible to find, but I have played Bonk 3 for the TG 16 and I must say it's a magical game. In a way it's like playing a Cartoon. Nothing is more fun and funny than watching a big headed caveman quite literally "Bonk" things with his head. The graphics are stunning for the time period, and eventhough we live in a 3D rendered world these days the GFX are still quite good. The musical scores are equally good. If at all possible I reccomend you find this game, in whatever form you can, cherish it, and enjoy it

Retro Review: Adventure of Link (NES Classics)

I recently obtained a copy of Zelda II: Adventure of Link, which is part of the NES Classics line for the GBA. In case you've been living under a rock, the NES Classics line emulates a single NES game onto the GBA. The price is usually a bit high (20 bucks for a 20 year old game), but I was able to snag it for pretty cheap at Target. Anyway, I've played far enough into it to find that it's the exact same game you either loved or hated back in 1988. Using a different perspective on the action, the game uses the traditional top down view for the map screen, while using a side scrolling method to fight battles and explore dungeons. Some declared it to be an evolution to the series, while others cried out for the return to the original Zelda. As for me? After all these years, I'm still undecided. But you can't deny it added new things to the Zelda universe that we couldn't imagine playing without nowdays, such as the magic system.
The only updates to the GBA version is a system menu you can access to either reset or put the game into Sleep Mode. You can also immediately saveand end the game, which is the same as losing all your lives, though you have to press Select and Up on the system menu to do so. Why they just didn't add a Save option to the system menu is beyond me.
But hell, if you're reading this, then you've probably already played through and beaten this game YEARS ago. So if you're feeling nostalgic, and your NES is all dusty, and you didn't get that Zelda Collection Disc, be sure to pick up Adventure of Link.

Friday, November 26, 2004

Black Friday

You know, Black Friday isn't nearly as bad if you know how to do it properly. My first tip? Instead of heading out at 6 in the morning, go out at 6 in the EVENING. Much more relaxed. Despite the fact I wasn't part of the morning mob, I STILL managed to get exactly what I set out to get. I got the excellent (though Joe probably disagrees) Aladdin: Special Edition for a mere twelve bones, I scored the last copy of Adventure of Link for the GBA for less than fourteen bucks, and I obtained Harvest Moon: A Wonderful Life for the cube, at the standard price of $20, but I got a free stuffed cow, which I plan to give to my cow-crazy mom for Xmas.
Anyway, if you were too scared to go out before, there are sure to be plenty of stuff left over. Target's extending the sale until the end of tomorrow, so you'll have plenty of time to take your time and find some good deals.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

My 10 cent thoughts on shopping at EB

I know we've discussed EB in a bad way in the past Josh, but I must say tonite i did quite well. I found 2 complete NES games there and with the shrinking stockpiles of NES & SNES games at Gamestop I may just get the EB discount card. If your EB down in Athens is carrying a decent ammount of old school games you might want to consider it. As for you the reader you should look at your local EB and decide if it's worth it. They're games are a smidge higher than they should be but it's still worth it w/the discount card.

Buying Videogames

If you're like me, you've always got your eyes out of the latest retro game deals. What you wouldn't give to fix a boxed Tengen Tetris, or gold Nintendo World Championship cart, at a garage sale, marked for only a buck. Well, wake up, it ain't happening. But we do have a tool available to us that wasn't available a decade ago. And you're using it right now.

No, not that tool. You sick little monkey. The internet. It's become an invaluable source for collectors out to add to their collection. However, if you're thinking about eBay, you are MUCH better off elsewhere. Seriously. Getting an item off any auction site is always a big risk. You might end up getting something that is amazingly rare and in good condition, but for the most part, you'll end up bidding on what you hope is a Star Fox Competition cartridge,only to find it's a normal Star Fox game that looked like it had been sitting in the toilet of a chili-dog fan for half a century.

Small, privately owned on-line game stores are an excellent source of both older and new generation games. Since they normally operated by people who are hardcore gamers themselves,you know that you'll be getting a carefully cared for product. It might actually cost a bit more than using an auction site, but the fact that you won't end up in a bidding war or having to deal with a seller who might ignore you for weeks, it is more than worth an extra dollar or two.


One site I'd like to highlight is Game Addiction (
www.egameaddiction.com). Run by pure gamers,they operate by the philosophy of "What you see is what you get", which means, they don't use stock photos. They take a digital picture of each product and put it on the site, with a full detailed description of the game, right down to such facts as if the manual has a dog-eared page or if the back of the box has a marker line through the bar code. I ordered the import only N64 game Sin and Punishment, and it arrived in exactly the condition they advertised.It's also a great place to find near complete games from the 8 bit and 16 bit era. Looking for a complete copy of Secret of Mana? Bam! They got it. Castlevania 3 with everything right down to the dust sleeve? Boo yah! They've got it. They're also always adding to their inventory weekly, and you can check out what's new on the front page of the site.

If on the other hand you're looking for deals for today's generation of games, look no further than Byte Size Deals (
http://www.bytesizedeals.com). Basically just a discussion board, you can find forum after forum of great deals on not only video games, but DVDs and other products as well. This is the site that broke the big Toys R' Us clearance deal weeks before the storeseven knew about it.

Tune in next time as I explore the phenomenon that is the "Dirt Mall" and learn how to make a working TG-16 out of chewing gum and common household items.

Good Import dealer.

http://www.importgamesjapan.com/

I've bought from this guy a couple of times in the past and was very impressed. He offers either paypal payment or money order. He ships directly from Japan and even with a money order payment I got my games in 2 weeks. He mainly focuses on Sega Saturn imports, but you can also get imports for the Playstation, Neo Geo, and Neo Geo CD. If you're looking for good quality imports for any of these systems this is a good place to check out.

Wireless NES & Super NES controllers

http://www.playmessiah.com/onlinestore/index.htm

Very impressive! This guy is making wireless NES and SNES controllers using the same remote 2.4 Ghz technology that the Gamecube Wavebird uses. So far I've purchased the SNES controller limited edition and it's very impressive. Below is my report on them.

The SNES controllers are quite ergonomic, they redesigned it so it's not flat but rounded and very comfortable to grip. The remoteness of it as far as i can tell was excellent I was playing super mario all stars from the back hall i had my head around the corner to watch the TV and my body and controller were both pointed in the opposite direction and it was all working great. I also tested them out on Super Street Fighter II. I was extremely impressed with the game play! I was able to pull off harder moves with great ease. After years of playing Street Fighter Alpha 2 on the Saturn the SNES versions have felt somewhat choppy in movement, but the wireless controller makes the game just as fluid as the Saturn Alpha 2 version. If every console was wire free like this it would be so frikkin awesome.