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.
Building a retro gaming collection is a hugely satisfying hobby, but unless you know where to look, it can be an expensive and frustrating challenge. So where exactly should you be searching as you compile your set? Here are the six main avenues you should consider heading down.
Like it or loathe it, the fact is that your best chance of getting what you want is eBay. You’ll find the condition and completeness varies to suit all budgets, from sticky, yellowed carts with most of the label missing to super-rare unopened consoles.
Buyers on eBay enjoy excellent protection, so you can bid and order in confidence that you’ll be able to return the item and get your money back if you’re scammed.
In the early stages of collecting, look out for bundles that will help you tick plenty of items off your list while being much cheaper than buying individually. The problem with this is that you’ll inevitably end up with multiple copies of common games that you may struggle to store or sell on.
You can set up alerts so you’ll be notified if a certain item comes up for sale, but it’s still worth doing a search a couple of times a day. You’d also be surprised at the number of listings with mis-spellings in the title, so it’s worth searching for ‘nintedo’ or ‘seag’ every now and then, as posts containing these errors will get very few views and you could find a low bid snaffles a serious bargain.
As the clock ticks down on a desirable item, it’s easy to get carried away and exceed your budget. So for everything you’re looking to bid on or buy, do your research and look at what the same item in similar condition has gone for recently. Then settle on the maximum you’re willing to pay and stick to it. While you may be desperate to own that big box Super Metroid, once you’ve received it and the initial excitement wears off, you won’t feel great about paying twice its real value.
If you’re tempted by an item but not convinced about its condition, don’t be afraid to message the seller to ask for more photos. If they’re serious about selling the item, they’ll be happy to oblige. Be very wary of listings featuring stock photos, and it may be wise to avoid buying from overseas due to the hassle you’ll have returning the item if you’re not happy with it.
Gumtree and Shpock
While these ‘boot sale apps’ can be a frustrating, fruitless place to sell (ridiculous low-ball offers, requests to deliver for free), as a buyer you may have some joy.
If you have access to transport, it’s a good idea to widen your search well beyond your local area as the chances of someone on the other side of town having what you want is quiet slim.
When you spot an interesting listing, be sure to check out the rest of the seller’s adverts, as they may be listing an entire collection individually and have some other treasures for you.
Do look out for resellers, though. You’ll notice users with posts asking to buy games, consoles and accessories, with the same person also advertising dozens of items for sale. They’re simply trying to buy cheap and move items on for an often extortionate profit. Even if you’ve got money to burn, are these really the kind of people you want to buy from?
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 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.
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.
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