Guest Blog by Carl B @ Carl's Blog
In the late 1980s, Nintendo was under pressure. Its 8-bit Famicom (Nintendo Entertainment System in the West) had been upstaged by Sega’s Genesis. Their black beauty was cooler, faster, better looking and had a wide library of games including hits such as Altered Beast, Alex Kidd in the Enchanted Castle and Golden Axe.
Despite the critical and commercial success of Super Mario Bros. 3, at the turn of the decade the world waited to see what Nintendo would come up with in response to Sega’s growing dominance.
The Genesis had been released in October 1988 in Japan, just a week after Super Mario Bros. 3 had hit the shelves. However, the response from Nintendo wasn’t instant. The company spent more than two years perfecting its next hardware offering, the Super Famicom (Super Nintendo Entertainment System elsewhere) along with its launch titles. One of these was to be Super Mario World, which made its bow on November 21st 1990 in Japan amid fevered anticipation.
When we rejoin Mario and Luigi, we found that they have left the Mushroom Kingdom for a much-needed holiday in Dinosaur land, but their vacation is interrupted by serial kidnapee Princess Toadstool being snatched by Bowser (for some reason or other).
It’s fair to say that SMW doesn’t exactly take the series in a new direction when it comes to its plot, but if that’s why you’re playing it then frankly you’ve got the wrong game. After a couple of introductory moments, the player is quickly into the game, with Mario setting off from Yoshi’s House. What hits you first is how great this game looks. A gorgeous colour palette, vibrant sprites and clean, polished backgrounds are complemented by neat little touches such as the way Mario’s cap wafts up when he descends from a jump, combining to form a feast for the eyes. Then there’s the sound. Koji Kondo once again creates music that fits a given level perfectly, from echoey underground themes to the bouncy, frantic ‘athletic’ music of the forced-movement stages. Aesthetically, the game is timeless.
The overworld map takes the original concept from SMB3 and extends it, allowing its layout to change as our hero progresses and uncovers new zones. The game also allows the player to access already-completed levels, whereas SMB3 didn’t have the capacity for backtracking to previous worlds at will.
The levels scroll vertically and horizontally and include a perfect blend of well-placed obstacles and varied enemies which, in accordance with Nintendo’s famously-perfect learning curve philosophy, get progressively tougher as the adventure goes on.
In many stages, the player is teased by the presence of dotted line blocks which, if solid, provide a mushroom or cape, allow access to out-of-reach areas or help suppress an enemy. These only become ! blocks when the corresponding switch palace is located, encouraging players to backtrack and re-enter levels.
The end of most levels is marked by giant gateposts with a moving finishing line between them. The player is rewarded depending on how high the bar is when crossed, with a maximum of 50 points available. Once the player has amassed 100 points, Mario enters a mini game where up to eight extra lives can be won.
Not that these should be needed, though, as players will earn far more lives than they lose for most parts. As well as collecting 100 coins within a single level, players can nab hidden 1-up mushrooms and exploit a top-secret area which yields infinite lives.
Blog post by Gemma @ Juicy Game Reviews / TheGebs24 (originally written by Gemma and published on Retro Collect)
Something wonderful happened on the Super Nintendo back in the mid-nineties. In fact a lot of amazing moments derived from that 16bit King Console. Long before the days of Grand Theft Auto on the Playstation 1, DMA Designs were hard at work designing a Super Nintendo game that I deem was one of a kind...
Unirally as it is known here in the PAL regions (Uniracers in North America) boasts some of the most eccentric ideas I can recall alongside Earthworm Jim. You take the role of a single Unicycle and your mission is to race your opponent to the finish line. What's eccentric about that? First off, the Unicycle's are completely riderless. It would seem that DMA Designs created each Unicycle with his/her own mind and personality not so much in unicycle's being to ride riderless but in the flamboyant celebrations after winning a race. I specifically recall my yellow Unicycle mimic a form of bow; a form of Chivalry I wouldn't expect to see from a Unicycle?! Nonetheless, this captures the essence of Unirally so well and it would seem that the fun never ended.
Unirally takes place on colour popping 2D tracks (another ingredient to the loud and bashful nature of Unirally) and operates over a split screen when in 2-player mode and single screen when played against AI. With just about every twist, turn and loop you can imagine it's up to us to gain as much momentum as possible to reach the finish line in first place. Executing stunts is a crucial part of the core gameplay mechanics as you're rewarded with a speed bonus. Speed can be both an advantage and disadvantage and herein lays the challenge of Unirally for even the most seasoned of players.
#1: High Speed can kill
It sounds like a TV advert: High speed can kill but in Unirally there has never been a truer point to discuss. As we gain momentum by landing tricks and stunts the speed seems to increase ten-fold. I often got a little too confident at these points by trying to pull off the most elaborate tricks and landing smack on my seat! What does this mean? That's when you lose all of your speed and the other unicycle flies ahead.
At times it feels like you're moving in slow motion to try and re-gain that momentum again. Adding insult to injury there's a really neat feature that shows you how many seconds behind your opponent you are. By making one mistake you can easily fall five to ten seconds behind which seems almost impossible to re-gain.
#2: Practice doesn't always mean perfect
The first track on Unirally is incredibly simple to win and win comfortably. It's a straight line which means you can pull off simple jump tricks to gather the all important speed. That's right! There's no need to fear the punishing twists, turns, loops and drops, that litter the proceeding tracks.
It seems no matter how much I play Unirally I never seem to master the tracks. Being able to anticipate the next turn or loop is crucial in planning what tricks to pull out. At times the tracks seem very tight which make plenty of room for error. Have you ever won a race (aside from the first straight track) on the first go? Perhaps you have but I would imagine that it would be a small number of people. DMA Designs must have had a heap of fun designing the levels in Unirally but it's very difficult to dislike.
Perhaps it's one of those games that was created with a deliberate attempt to just be difficult!?
Blog post by Gemma @ Juicy Game Reviews / TheGebs24 (originally written by Gemma and published on Retro Collect)
In the early nineties there was a huge Zombie outbreak. The dead overran streets and dwellings and they were all seeking one thing: me. Well this is what it felt like as I sat for hours on end playing Zombies on my Super Nintendo. Known as Zombies Ate My Neighbours in NTSC regions LucasArts published the game in September of 1993 in North America and January 1994 in PAL regions. Zombies is a 2D run and gun game that takes a top/down perspective over each level. The overall interface (map, weapon select and health bar) are neatly placed in the top left had corner of the screen with the added bonus of being able to turn the map on or off.
Zombies is great fun to play in two player mode but is as equally as entertaining in single player mode. Zeke and Julie are the characters to choose from; neither of which have any perk differences. In fact I’d say Julie and Zeke have more in common aside from their clear gender differences. The common bond they share is mediated through the games wonderful story: rescue the neighbours at all costs. Each level contains residents that are scattered around the map and we must reach them before the flesh eating zombies get their dastardly mits on them.
It sounds simple but Zombies posed numerous challenges along the way. As the levels progressed I found more obstacles to rescuing my fellow neighbours. Thorn bushes, bins, walls and locked doors are additional obstacles to success. Fortunately, Zombies holds a great deal of opportunity to overcoming these. One of my personal favourites was finding a Bazooka and blowing huge gaps in walls to rescue survivors. Other weapons are not so appealing, for example, I never used the soda cans as they had a ridiculous arching loop once thrown. Either that or my aim was off! Ultimately dealing with a Zombie outbreak (and of course I mean in the gaming world) means we have to cautious about the weapons we choose.
Guest Blog by Carl B @ Carl's Blog
When the Super Nintendo Classic Mini was announced back in June 2017, there were notable omissions from the system’s 21-game list. No room for Pilotwings, Super Bomberman and Chrono Trigger, and despite the presence of the original Donkey Kong Country, the most glaring omission was its magnificent 1995 sequel Diddy’s Kong Quest. The Super Nintendo (Snes) is home to some of the best video games of the 16but era. Rare’s Donkey Kong Country 2 - Diddy Kong's Quest is widely regarded as the finest of the three SNES adventures in the series, so let’s strip the game down and explore just why it’s such a satisfying experience. Here are 6 reasons why Donkey Kong Country 2 - Diddy Kong's Quest is a masterpiece.
The game is enriched by the appearance of various colourful allies, all of whom may help the player during their adventure.
Animal buddies include the return of favourites Rambi the rhino, Squawks the parrot and Enguarde the swordfish, with Rattly the rattlesnake and Squitter the spider making their debuts. The player can ride these creatures and even transform into them at certain points in order to overcome obstacles and reach otherwise inaccessible areas.
Four members of the Kong family appear, each of whom help the player in return for banana coins while offering a fun break from the main quest.
Interactions with Monkey Museum curator Cranky Kong deliver a helping of Rare’s famous humour, with the old curmudgeon offering players hints. Cranky refers to the game as an “unnecessary sequel,” a “ridiculous quest” and a “ludicrous adventure,” while warning the player about “the limited fun you’re trying to get out of this shoddy product.”
Ghetto blaster-wielding Funky helps players travel between already-visited levels and areas via his barrel plane, which comes into its own when trying to find those last few DK coins and bonus stages.
Found at Kong Kollege, headmistress Wrinkly offers information on the game’s controls and items, although she’s most handy for allowing you to save your progress.
Game-show host Swanky’s Bonus Bonanza rewards players with extra lives for answering trivia questions about the game itself. However, with in-level bananas and extra life balloons plentiful, not to mention the fact that extra lives reset when the game is turned off, Swanky is the game’s least-useful Kong.
Spider-Man has always been my favourite Marvel Comics character and with Spider-Man Homecoming just getting a release it seemed fitting to talk about 4 Spider-Man video games you must play. It was Marvel UK’s US Spider-Man reprint comics that led to my love of the character 25 years ago. Spider-Man is of course one of Marvel’s most beloved creations. Over the years, Spider-Man has become more of a marketable figure outside of comic lore; the new movie Spider-Man Homecoming will be the 6th in just 15 years. The same can be said for video games, with 30+ releases across almost every platform in the last 35 years. Here I recommend 4 of Peter Parker’s best single player releases; heavy on the mythos, and not a Marvel vs Capcom game in sight.
Spider-Man: Maximum Carnage:-
The early 1990’s gave birth to two major new villains for both Spider-Man and Peter Parker: Venom and Carnage. Venom (aka disgraced journalist Eddie Brock) quickly became a fan favourite. After terrorising Peter and wife Mary-Jane Watson in some of the comic’s most haunting scenes, he was even given his own series for a time. Once the murderous offspring Carnage (aka serial killer Kletus Cassidy) came on the scene, Venom became a good guy of sorts. Determined to stop this symbiotic progeny, a truce was called with Spider-Man in order to stop Carnage. And so began the huge comic book crossover that was Maximum Carnage, and the SNES/Sega Mega Drive title it inspired.
Despite this Final Fight clone not holding up so well more than 20 years on, it’s devotion to its source material is still commendable. Panels from the actual comic are used to tell the story as you progress through simple yet challenging waves of bad guys and bosses. Despite being a Spider-Man comic, Maximum Carnage did feature a strong supporting cast of heroes such as Captain America and Iron Fist. These can be called upon as special moves should you feel overwhelmed in combat.
The stages, scenes and characters all appear as if taken direct from a comic book. This gives Maximum Carnage a sense of authenticity and respect to its continuity, despite its gameplay frustrations.
Imagine your perfect Super Nintendo games. Your ideal lineup of Snes games that you’d happily have sitting on your gaming shelves. What would they be? Super Mario Kart is my favourite video game of all time. A timeless classic of a packed Nintendo lineup of familiar faces like Mario, Luigi, Yoshi, Donkey Kong & more. Though perhaps you would prefer to play the classic Super Probotector (Contra III The Alien Wars in North America). Battling your way through the levels collecting flamethrowers, bombs and other deadly weapons! I could sit here all day and talk about how important the 16bit era was to me as I am sure you can to. The Super Nintendo, for me, is the most pivotal console of all time bit just in terms of game lineup but in terms of cultural influences too.
Back in school there were two groups of geeks: those that had a Sega Mega Drive and those that had a Super Nintendo. I had the Super Mario All-Stars Super Nintendo action set. We’d joke and banter all day long at which console was superior and which had the best games. Sonic Vs. Mario was another angle to approach it from. Luckily today I adore both but the Super Nintendo will always hold a sacred place in my heart.
Here we are in 2017 with the upcoming Snes Classic Mini. Simply a mini build of the Super Nintendo (PAL and NTSC design) packed with 21 of the best Super Nintendo games of all times. Let us pause and hail the fact that Starfox 2 will be among the classic ones games. The unreleased title that was completely finished by never got a release. I was lucky enough to interview Dylan Cuthbert; one of the lead designers behind the original Starwing/Starfox and Super FX Chip. You can catch the video below in which I interviewed him about his work on Starfox 2 but be warned it’s a few years old.
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 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.
Gust Blog Post by Todd M @ The Top Loader
A long long time ago in a Kmart not too far away the hot shot young rebel TODD declared civil war upon one of his brother's, AARON. "Todd I am your brother, join me and put our money together to buy Super Castlevania IV" he begged .. "No, I will never you so my money stays" I said, as it was something I had never heard of and yeah sure it's easy to say now "how could I pass it up"?.. but look at it from my point, that of view young Padawan - I was 11 - and I didn't like mythologies or Excalibur type stuff swinging around chain's at Medusa heads with three headed dragons - that was not me - and it still isn't to be honest (Game of Thrones excluded) .. but that is a story for another time, or another blog as at the time I did what I felt was right of course. We were in this battle together going head to head as it had to be a joint decision - my poor mother honestly - we couldn't decide but as I saw Super Star Wars under the shop light at a glance sitting behind the glass I quickly thought to myself, well he loves Star Wars and it has light sabres. Ironically that was the game play element that I liked the least about the game. We took it home and eventually powered up our SNES to play it for the first time.
What type of game is Super Star Wars (released in 1992) anyway? Well our hero Luke hits the ground running N' gunning while platforming but I find it's more start 'N stop because in true male fashion Luke can't do two things at once - where's Rey when you need her? Maybe the force wasn't with him the same way he wasn't at Tosche Station where he was famously supposed to be buying power converters. Well let's not get our right hand all chopped off just yet and get too far ahead of ourselves as it will be fixed in future games to come and as annoying as it is right now - it's not game breaking. Luckily platforming is my strength because I will need to be strong willed if I want to climb all the way up there to the top of the legendary - Sandcrawler - now that sounds like an awesome club name, or a song I could dance and jump around to. Well Luke is a prodigy so lets get the party started because as we enter the Sandcrawler's house of pain the laser beams that kriss-kross will make you jump jump, yes I am a product of my generation - thank god - I'm sure you're thinking the same thing, yes kids that was cool once and it will happen to you one day too - word. But fear not my young apprentice once you get the pattern down you will be swinging a dull disappointing light sabre around in no time trying to take down those Tusken Raiders because this isn't something I can dance with in my hands as this life sized glow stick is not an effective weapon that doesn't even come in the standard blue or green, sometimes red and the once in a life time purple - so don't give your new hopes up.
Guest Review by Lamar @ Every Gamer Review
Another day, another product placement game and which company wants to sell themselves onto our video games? 7 Up! A fizzy drink that a lot of people may have drank in their lifetime, including me. To me its lemonade in a can…or just lemonade in general. But for those who don’t know (somehow), 7 Up is a fizzy drink with a flavour of lemon and lime. Well that’s it, it’s been around since 1920 and was sold in 1929 as Bib-Label Lithiated Lemon-Lime Soda before eventually changing it to 7 Up in 1936. Wait what does this have to do with Cool Spot? The giant red guy with a pair of sunglasses on and kick ass white sneakers!
Filler aside, how do you sell a fizzy drink, especially to the young generation in the radical and embarrassing decade of the 90’s? Use a mascot of course, and for 7 Up, we have Cool Spot and I don’t know anything about him since in the UK, we had Fido Dido. In fact, he was supposed to have his own game too but unfortunately, due to Kaneko U.S shutting down, the game was cancelled, though you can download a ROM of this lost game. But back to the other game I’m taking a look at Cool Spot, developed by Virgin Games and published by Virgin Interactive and was released in 1993 for the Sega Mega Drive/Genesis and in 1994 for the SNES and other consoles in the US and Europe, with the Amiga, MS-DOS and Sega Master System ports being released exclusively in Europe.
Cool Spot, and his friends have been captured by someone who wants to show them to the world to prove that Cool Spots do indeed exist. So you are Cool Spot, but you’re different, and when I mean different, I mean you weren’t caught by this person. So Cool Spot the…Red Spot, go save your friends…I guess. This is a retro game and stories didn’t matter, especially for a game that’s selling you citrus flavoured carbonated liquid.
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