Guest Blog Post by Stingray Games @Stingray_Games
Little did people know that in 1984 a simple game would be released out of Russia that had a monstrous impact on gaming, create its own genre, and end up being the most ported game ever. This game, of course, was Tetris. The aftermath of this game would be a decade (or more) of games trying to capitalize on the Tetris fever that was sweeping the world. While Nintendo did release Tetris for the Nintendo Entertainment System, this review will cover three tetris-like games that added their own spin to the game.
One of these games was Yoshi, or Mario and Yoshi as it is known outside of North America, and was originally released in 1992 for the Nintendo Entertainment System.
Yoshi is a fun little tetris-like game in which you control Mario as he swaps stacks to match two familiar Mario enemies (Piranha Plants, Bloopers, Goombas, and Boos) in an effort to keep them from reaching the top of the screen. But unlike Tetris, you can only make vertical matches by stacking two enemies on top of each other. Mario is at the bottom of the screen ready to swap two adjacent stacks at your command.
Besides the enemies, two halves (top and bottom) of a Yoshi egg also drops. The bottom half sits on top of the stack in a similar way to the enemies. If another bottom half is stacked on top, both are removed with no reward. A top half will also disappear if placed on an enemy. Creating a Yoshi egg from these two halves eliminates the egg and all enemies between the two halves. A baby Yoshi hatches out of the completed egg and Yoshi is off to the side, counting each completed egg. There is a single-player mode and competitive two-player modes.
The single-player mode has two types: A & B. Type A is an endless mode in which you play until the blocks reach the top of the screen. Type B is a level mode in which each level is pre-populated with enemies and you beat the level you must clear the play area. In the two-player competitive mode, the screen is split into two boards with each player controlling one board.
Overall this is an enjoyable game that despite myself, I played a lot longer than I thought I would. It is a different take on the standard tetris-like game. Instead of controlling the falling blocks, you control the stacks. I appreciate the out-of-the-box approach this game takes. Most reviews I've seen rate this game poorly. While the music or graphics are nothing spectacular, I find the gameplay to be fun and engaging. It does start out slow on the lower levels, but cranking the speed and level up will create a faster paced game in which you will need fast thinking and reflexes.
Wario's Woods is another Tetris-like game that was released for the Nintendo Entertainment System. In 1994, a whole three years after the release of the Super Nintendo, Wario’s Woods became the last officially released game for the NES.
Wario has invaded the area of the Mushroom Kingdom called Peaceful Woods and has cast a spell over the inhabitants, making them his slaves in an attempt to destroy the peace of the forest.
In Wario's Woods you control Toad where you arrange bombs and monsters into a line of three matching colors. The matches can be horizontal, vertical, or diagonal and must include at least one bomb.
This game has a few interesting features that set it apart from other tetris-like puzzle games. Instead of controlling the falling blocks, you control Toad as he rearranges the block in order to make the matches. There is a progress bar that indicates the time left for each of the two stages of gameplay: one in which Wario drops monsters and one in which a fairy of the forest drops the needed bombs. In later stages, there are monsters that need a two-stage color match in order to be removed them from the board.
Although Toad is a bit hard to control at times, I found this game to be quite enjoyable. I like the different take on the tetris-like puzzle game that Wario's Woods presents. In addition to dropping monsters, Wario occasionally drops the ceiling of the playing field which increases the tension of the game.
The last game in this review is Dr. Mario which was released for the Nintendo Entertainment System in North American is 1990. Of the three games, this is the only game that I had growing up and thus has a special place in my fragile gamer psyche.
Mario assumes the role of a doctor who is trying to rid a medicine bottle of viruses as he throws capsules into the bottle. Each half of the capsule can be one of three colors: red, yellow, or blue. The colors match the colors of the viruses and matching four or more colors in a row will remove that colored capsule and any viruses. The capsules can be split in half if one half does not match the color or is not in the vertical or horizontal match.
Two settings can be changed that allow a more challenging game for experienced players. The level, which dictates how many viruses are in the bottle, and the speed at which the viruses fall can be set at the beginning of each game. A music setting is also available which allows the player to choose between three different tunes or no music.
Again, Nintendo shows off what they learned to accomplish over the life span of the NES in this little gem. Screen shots do not really do this game justice. The bad check board background and simple layout may turn some people away. But please give it a chance. So much is happening during the playing that I am often surprised they pulled it off on the NES.
In the playing field, each virus moves. To the left you can see a magnifying glass which shows the three colored viruses. Each one represents their colored viruses in the bottle. They dance around all happy until you take one of the viruses off the board, then they fall down in a playful animation that shows the “strength” of that colored virus has been weakened. When all of the viruses of a specific color are eliminated, that colored virus disappears from the magnifying glass.
All this movement is happening as you drop and control each capsule into the bottle.
Dr. Mario is a great whimsically fun game to play that will consume much more of your time then you’d expect. It is a great take on the tetris-like genre. This game has had many ports, remakes and sequels over the years and with a few minutes gameplay, it is easy to see why.
I have many great memories of Dr. Mario growing up. It being one of the few games my mother would play with my brother and me, I will always cherish those family tournaments that we had. However, I am grateful that the Virtual Console has given me the opportunity to play both Wario’s Woods and Yoshi. All three of these games are great tetris-like games that took a different approach to the beloved genre.
Wario’s Woods and Yoshi can be bought on both the Wii and Wii U for $5. Dr. Mario is only available on the Wii U, but is also only $5. I recommend these games to anyone and you’ll soon see just how hard it is to put down that controller.
Guest Blog Post by Stingray Games @Stingray_Games
What would have been deemed impossible for both the anime and movie industry 20 years ago, a Hollywood adaption of Ghost in the Shell was released. Masamune Shirow’s original manga of nearly 30 years ago is philosophical, sociological, psychological and essential reading, a feat echoed by the 1995 anime classic. Following its success on both eastern and western shores, and with the Playstation in full flight, Sony released a Shirow-designed video game just 2 years later.
Ghost in the Shell is an action-packed yet simple first/third person shooter on the PS1 and a great entry for fans of the franchise as a whole. Retaining the excellent animation and voice acting from the English dubbing, the highlights of this now-collectable PS1 title are most definitely the original cut-scenes that give the impression of an interactive movie of sorts. You play as the ‘Rookie’, a new recruit to Public Security Section 9 alongside Major Kusanagi, Batou, etc., as a new terrorist threat, the Human Liberation Front, claims to be responsible for the bombing of the Megatech Body Corporation building, but all is not as it seems.
Guest Blog post by Stingray Games @ Stingray_Gaming
Castlevania II: Simon's Quest was originally released in North America in 1988 for the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES). The 80's was a great year for the NES what with the birth of Super Mario Bros and the classic Duck Hunt. Who didn't love the NES Zapper too? That was a classy piece of kit back in the 80's. It's just a shame about that Nintendo Power glove!
Simon's Quest picks up some time after the original Castlevania as you control Simon Belmont on his journey to find Dracula's body parts, resurrect him, and defeat him once again to remove the curse that was placed on you and the surrounding cities at the end of the first Castlevania.
Simon's Quest differs greatly from the linear play style that was introduced in Castlevania. The open world design will have you traveling across the land in search of five castles, which house the five different body parts, and then head to Dracula's castle.
Besides the five body parts that are required to finish the game, there are several items that you can pick up along the way. The items can either be bought from the townfolk or found somewhere in the countryside. The bought items cost hearts to buy, but can be used freely. The found items are free, but like the original Castlevania consume a heart on each use.
The Game Boy Advance (GBA) was Nintendo’s fourth major handheld gaming device following the Game Boy, Game Boy Pocket and Game Boy Colour. Released in 2001 (firstly in Japan) the Game Boy Advance went on to sell a monumental 81.51 millions units worldwide. Despite the Game Boy Advance not being backlit the device had a powerful impact on gamers across the world including myself with solid titles like Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire. The Game Bay Advance evolved in to the the Game Boy Advance SP (a front and backlit model) and later again in the Game Boy Micro. Overall the Game Boy Advance family had a production life of six years with the final Micro produced in 2007.
Nintendo seemed to have a monopoly on the handheld gaming market unlike Sony who clearly didn’t give the PSP or Vita enough love. It comes as no surprise that there are a plethora of clone devices on the market that attempt to thrust the Nintendo handheld games to the next level. Boasting things like crisper sound, sharper picture quality and so on. The Revo K101 Plus falls right in line with that current ethos. It is a GBA clone device (in varying colours and transparencies) that packs an immense punch when it comes to picture quality and sound. Not only does it run original Game Boy Advance games but there’s a Revo cartridge that allows you to insert a micro SD card in to the device. Original Game Boy, Game Boy Color and Game Boy Advance roms can all be played from the micro SD card. Original Game Boy and GBC carts will not work with the device.
Guest blog post by Todd M @The_Top Loader
Get over here -----> Welcome to the 90's baby because I'm having fun n' games playing Mortal Kombat (released in 1992), but what version? That has been the topic of my childhood. Who had the best version, who could beat their chest the loudest in this primal rage that surprisingly escalated over just a few drops of blood? It came out on everything you could possibly think of, Master System, Gameboy, Game Gear, PC... you get the idea I literally could go on and on (until I run out of consoles to name) but the real test of might came down to just two consoles - the mighty Mega Drive and the Super Nintendo. The simpler time's of the 80's were gone with our Commodore 64's and their, 8's with their ,1's and don't forget to press play on tape as I watch the true fanboys get all fired up like a Scorpion fatality as they enter the console tournament looking for blood (which is truly where the battle begins) and where the movie version of Shang Tsung would famously say - "it has begun" - while Ed Boon's literal voice as the original game announcer now tells us to "Fight!!" The 90's were Excellent if not a little Dan Forden Toasty as I ripped out hearts and gave the kiss of death as my opponent went up in flames in the face of a burning skeleton's defeat as they dropped down to ashes because didn't you know you weak pathetic fools - I've come for your souls ! .. and so forth. That was Mortal Kombat, the gameplay was decent but let's be realistic here it's the gore that people came for. There were violent videos games before Mortal Kombat but they weren't in the mainstream and were never as popular because - lets face it - everybody pays more attention to the cool kids. Its funny being a parent now and thinking I don't think I would want my kid playing Mortal Kombat X .. but back when I was at that wise old age of ten I knew it all. I knew what was right and I knew what was wrong, hey I may have not bought Super Castlevania IV when I had the chance ..but in my defence I didn't now I was wrong at the time. My brother liked Excalibur with capes and crap like that but one thing we both loved was ninja's and the whole Eastern Kung-Fu scene because guess what? We both loved - Mortal Kombat - finally, we agreed on something.
Throw in a coin, select a player, choose your destiny while watching this klassic character line up that includes my personal favourite Sub Zero as he swings back and forth with his cold blue hands to the perfectly selected music beat while waiting patiently to controversially rip off your head right before we "Fight!!" Kano throws knifes and spins on a dime but what do you expect from a guy that lives for a life of crime because he won't hold back when ripping out someone's heart straight from their chest as it would Finish Him!! ..or her. No time to pause for a moment in this game (which can be frustrating) so you will have to use one of the other klassic digitized characters to release more effective green screen effects if you end up on the wrong side of Scorpion's famous harpoon attack, just don't teleport past Sonja Blade and panic while she flexes her reversed matrix style scissor kick as they both can burn you aliveafter they input the the right button combination before the fatality timer finally runs out. Liu Kang still kicks around while throwing projectiles in your face until Wham Bam! Van Damme .. hey he wasn't in the game, well he was supposed to be but he pulled out to do something else so here's Johnny.. Cage ! What a cool name, he's the complete package and this movie star has a secret weapon that's a real ball breaker and not the kind that you would find in his pants which does not work on Sonja Blade because of what's not in her pants - ironic - but with all this flippin' and floppin' all over the place I forgot to mention Raiden the God of Thunder who looks like he just come off the set of Big Trouble in Little China. You may think I'm going off track here but have you ever have wondered where the inspiration for Raiden came from? Watch the Three Storms in this movie because as I played Mortal Kombat for the first time it hit me like a bolt of lightning needed for the 1.21 gigawatts .. what the hell is a Giga.. wait, what? - wrong movie - sheesh now I'm really getting off track here so let's get back in the DeLorean to take me back to where I was before I made this alternate typing time line. Raiden is a parody verified by the words of Ed Boon himself from one of my all time favourite movies, hey.. who else thinks John Carpenter would have been a perfect match to direct and write a MK movie? It's a perfect blend of East meets West with western digitized character sprites and oriental backgrounds that felt like they were lifted straight out of a Kung-Fu scene with Eastern mystical mythologies including a four armed general monster Goro and shape shifting Lo Pan .. I mean Shang Tsung.. as the final bad guy with a story so far left out of Outworld about Elder Gods and Earth realm Sacred tournaments I can hear the words of Jack Burton echoing "I feel like a little bit of an outsider here"...because we are and I don't care because we all know that all he wants to do is go get his truck back.
Guest post by Ben @Capture Way
You probably don’t need me to tell you that gaming is going in some intriguing new directions, from Virtual Reality to unprecedented artificial intelligence to graphics almost indistinguishable from reality. Somehow, in a landscape where the technology that drives our gaming is thousands of times better than 20 or 30 years ago, it is fascinating that people are still playing retro games. So is this all a flash in the pan? Or, like wearing flared jeans, will this trend quickly fall back into obscurity?
When I was a teenager, YoYos made a comeback. Little plastic discs which spin on the end of a string, and if you really master the art, come back to you. They were back on the playground for all of about two weeks, and everyone was bored again. Who knows where the comeback came from, but it was quickly gone again, and time and time again I have been told that the same thing will happen with retro gaming, but it won’t.
Crawling around in the attic and finding your old Nintendo 64, dusting it off and loading up your favourite games is a great experience, mainly for one reason; nostalgia. Just like we do with movies, albums and other forms of media, we tie games to memories of times in our lives. For me, N64 and other 90s consoles remind me of weekends with friends arguing over Super Mario Kart, drooling over who got the next turn on Goldeneye (N64) or even trying our best to work out what on earth was going on in Pokemon stadium. However, nostalgia alone isn’t enough, so why do people stick to it? At the risk of sounding overly simplistic, it is because the games are amazing!
The YoYo fad came and went because after you’ve had the initial shiny object syndrome and fulfilled your human curiosity, you realise that hanging a ball off a bit of string isn’t that fulfilling, but with a retro game, you quickly remember what drew you in in the first place. There are reasons we could play Zelda, Pokemon or Super Mario for days at a time. Other technology from the time wasn’t necessarily fit for purpose, a Nokia 3310 phone quickly became redundant, and it is unlikely that we will ever want to use them again as they were replaced by something much better. Better is the operative word here, and in gaming, as with film and music, more tech doesn’t necessarily mean better.
One of my favourite podcasts, Final Games, is to video games what BBC’s Desert Island Discs is to music. Each episode a different guest details their 8 video game choices they would take with them to a hypothetical deserted location for the rest of their days. If you're a gamer then you may be able to relate to this; thinking about what video games you would pick to take to your desert island. Which games would you choose to play for the rest of your life. Which classic consoles would they be for? Here are my 8 desert island video games.
Tetris (Gameboy, 1990)
There are many iterations of Tetris, but for me all pale in comparison in quality, simplicity, and sheer importance to video games than the Gameboy version. The tile-matching puzzle titan was the original mobile gaming phenomenon that brought gaming to the masses. It helped launch videogames into the mainstream and many of its derivatives appeal to those who even don’t consider themselves a gamer.
Back in 1989/90 when physical console multiplayer connections were a must, I often challenged a friend who lived around the corner, visiting each other’s homes to spend hours on linked battle mode.
Tetris is the perfect pickup and play game, whether it’s a bus journey, your lunch break at work, or simply the need to engage your brain for any amount of time.
Guest Blog post by: Robert @ C4ke
During the lifespan of the Game Boy we've seen numerous iterations of this device brought to us by Nintendo. It all started with a tiny monochrome display with its distinctive olive green colour scheme. While the competition used high-end processors and colour displays Nintendo used cheap and readily available components. With an impressive 10 to 30 hours of battery life and games such as Tetris and Super Mario Land 2 the Game Boy's success definitely did not short-lived.
One of the key elements for the Game Boy's success is simultaneously also its biggest flaw, which is the non-backlit display causing many third-party add-ons to improve the experience in low light conditions. Who doesn't remember the Worm Light? This problem kept existing on the GB's redesigns and its successors, with the exception of the Game Boy Light (only released in Japan) and the Game Boy SP.
One of my personal favourite handheld gaming systems is the Game Boy Advance. I like the way it fits in my hands just as a normal controller. Though released in 2001 it still had a poorly lit display. Not much later after the official release of the GBA we saw the release of probably one of the first modkits in 2002, the Afterburner modkit. With this modkit you were able to add a frontlight inside the GBA that greatly improved the screen visibility.
At the end of the Game Boy's lifespan we received the infamous AGS-101 model, the official Nintendo GBA SP handheld device with a backlit display! This screen is absolutely stunning to watch and enables the player to almost play anywhere anytime no matter the lighting conditions. Thanks to the modding community we are now able to combine best of both worlds; The original GBA with an AGS-101 backlit display giving us excellent ergonomics with a stunning display! I've been able to get one of these modded GBA's myself recently.
It took me a while to find a game that I became obsessed with in the PlayStation 1 days. My first PS1 experience was with Porsche Challenge, Crash Bandicoot and International Superstar Soccer 1997 which are all super solid video games so it comes as a surprise to know that ESPN Extreme Games was my guilty pleasure game. ESPN Extreme games on the Playstation 1 (later renamed to 1Xtreme when the ESPN license expired) is not well received by all gamers. In fact a lot of gamers claim that they had never heard of ESPN Extreme Games. If you are one of those people then I urge you to ignore that bad reviews online. Instead give this blog a read then go and find a copy here. ESPN Extreme Games was a launch titles in North America and later came to PAL regions in December 1995 (then hitting Japan in May 1996). It is a racing game with a difference. In the 90’s the racing genre was dominated by traditional and arcade style racers like Ridge Racer, Gran Turismo, Wipeout and the various iterations of Kart Racers. ESPN Extreme Games boasts a very different set of vehicles namely Skateboards, Street Luges, Inline Skates and Mountain Bikes.
Guest blog post by: Todd M @ The Top Loader
Super Castlevania IV on the Super Nintendo (SNES) is a pretty kick ass Video Game right? Rise from the grave as I see a bat outta hell. Oh no wait sorry my mistake it's just Dracula spreading his wings again. It only took him a hundred years because it's dark and I guess hell was too hot. Well stretch out your legs and relish the sun (unless your Dracula) because oh glorious day, seriously these are Konami's glory days and oh how the mighty have fallen since the days of Super Castlevania IV , a masterpiece on the Super Nintendo but now a relic from the past that should seriously have a resurrection of it's own just as Nosferatu the spawn of hell has done so convincingly here. Resurrection's are supposed to be every one hundred years but let's make an exception and bend the rules a little bit, for Konami's sake. Simon Belmont is the perfect fit rebel for the job and he is here to play by his own rules, on his own terms with a whip in hand - within the boundaries of the game's coding of course - but it maybe too late for Konami because I don't even think in this day and age that the Belmont's would even except a friend request on Facebook from them as they're certainly off the Christmas card list - and I've checked it twice - but just like the opening scroll it's the same old story that will also end in horror. There was a time where I didn't care much for this franchise .. or so I thought as I did the unthinkable .. I judged a game by its front cover while standing in Kmart arguing with my brother over which game to buy next for our beloved Super Nintendo, as at that age I didn't care for the Monster Squad freaks it was showing me on the box. Well we are in Transylvania where things are different and my brother tried to tell me it will be fun to play as he begged me to buy it with him, but I did not listen as I went with Super Star Wars anyway (which is a whole other story) ..was he right .. or was I wrong? I feel like I've almost told this story before.
The power of Dracula starts to revive himself stronger and stronger, his sinister actions have consistently been thwarted! "Let's get the whip out", no time for this nonsense as I'm ready and raring to go so lets skip to the action because - if you know me - which most don't, I'm not big on reading the big picture so just give me the whip, show me where the monsters are at and get out of my way as I slay everything in my sights using Toddy as my password name.. that's the basic gist of this story right or at least that's what I got out of it. My brother drew the short sword so I guess that means I got the long sword, right? Well i dunno but there is a whip dangling in front of me and the more I play with it the bigger it gets but don't worry I didn't go blind because it's clear to see this whip does come in handy so lets whip it - whip it real good. After I get my head out of the gutter I see Simon is having a splish splash making a blood bath avoiding any Vampire kiss's while collecting hearts as he is out and about ice skating cross country.. or by the look of the way his animations show him walking as Transylvania is being threatened in this breeding ground for evil - I wonder what the land value is there. I can tell Dracula has been gone a hundred years because they really let the castle go with all these vines and weeds everywhere that have really come to life, but he's back now making a grand entrance as he has obviously has woken up the dead. Maybe he was out looking for love as these wild hearts that I'm constantly collecting seem to be broken because they are doing nothing to my health bar, wait .. what, OK who's playing funny buggers - Translation - who's playing tricks because these hearts aren't your health but if you look hard enough you will find pork that worksa treat. The walking dead are all skull and bones so I guess they didn't find the pork hidden in the wall - well I'm not sharing - but unfortunately I can't moonwalk my way up the stairs out of this one because these guys are everywhere so I've decided to have a BBQ as I fry all these spare ribs with my awesome Holy Cross when I throw it back and forth through the air and since I'm a Vampire Killer - I'll bring the garlic.
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Welcome to Retro Corner
As my Youtube Channel was built around my love for retro gaming I decided that it was time to honour that passion through blogging. Here I review anything from the retro gaming world.
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