Video 6
Notes

Jul 24,
2014
Posted 9 hours ago

Posts are slim this week. My wife is away in Louisiana helping her mother prepare to move to our area, having just recently retired. You might think that an empty house after a long day of work would make a fertile environment to wax nostalgic over classic gaming. You would be wrong. However, I have this weekend and some time next week off, so that should make things much better.

And there’s great news for me personally on the horizon! I have lots of old gaming stuff that we had to leave behind when we made the move to Oregon. Boxes, manuals, disks, tons of 1990s collectible trading card games and, of course, my baby, the Commodore 128D pictured above (taken from my wife’s phone all the way across the country—oh, technology!), complete with 1764 Ram Expansion Unit and the champion of old home displays, the 1084S monitor which is, as far as I’m concerned, the way to play old Commodore, NES and SNES games if you’re going for the authentic experience. Final Fantasy VI never looked finer on any screen…

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Answer 4
Notes

Jul 24,
2014
Posted 10 hours ago
There's a ton of classic gaming questions I want to ask you, but the most prevalent one on my mind is: what do you know of Guilty Gear X for Arcade and Dreamcast that came out in 2000? I heard rumors that they put some hidden goodies on the disc (one of them anyway) that had extra stuff like wallpapers or desktop themes. It's been so long I hardly remember, but I do know ARC System Works likes hiding goodies.
gear-project asked

Feel free to ask any and all questions, and I will gladly answer what I can! My knowledge of Guilty Gear is, sadly, limited. I know it’s a very beautiful series, a great example of pixel art in the fighting genre, and I know, first-hand, that it (the series) has kick-butt soundtracks:
image

Indeed, “Love Letter From…”, the credit music of the original Guilty Gear, is one of my favorite musical tracks of all time.

But in terms of secrets and stuff on disc, I am woefully deficient. This is not one of the titles I picked up for the Dreamcast or played much. We got very few fighting games for the Dreamcast and the most memorable of those was Soul Calibur. Moreover, the last time I made a serious attempt to try and get goodies from my Dreamcast discs, consumer DVDs weren’t even an option for computers (it was a while ago) and the Dreamcast’s reverse-direction GD-ROM format precluded me from reading the discs directly. Now that we’re in a modern era of Blu-Ray discs and vastly improved emulation, I’ll have to try those old discs again sometime and see if it’s more feasible to find some juicy treasures—but Guilty Gear won’t be one of them, sorry.

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  TAGS:  Guilty Gear   gear-project   Arc Systems Works   Dreamcast  
Text 2
Notes

Jul 24,
2014
Posted 18 hours ago

Free Sims 2 Ultimate Collection at Origin.

Nope, it’s not an arcade or console game. It’s not even, in my opinion, old enough to be considered classic. But The Sims 2 Ultimate Collection is free right now, and that makes up a lot for those shortcomings. I haven’t been a big fan of the Sims games (I stopped doing much with Maxis titles after SimCity 2000 and SimAnt), but I like what people have managed to make out of them and my wife, as well as many others, have enjoyed the series. Sims 2 was, from what I gather, a good game (albeit technologically outdated now), so this is a nice offer from EA on a title that was, frankly, probably not generating any sales.

You can read from EA directly on how to get the game for free. Origin is required. The offer is good until July 31st, so don’t delay.

One of the cardinal sins of the Sims series, even amongst diehard fans, is the tendency to release so many items as paid DLC that the base game feels bare on its own. That’s not a problem here. The Ultimate Collection comes with the Pets, Seasons, Nightlife, University, Apartment Life, Open for Business, Free Time, and Bon Voyage Expansions, as well as a whole bunch of item “stuff” packs. Your game will be anything but empty.

Those suspicious about motives here have every reason to be. The Sims 4 is set to release in just a few months and EA has faced some heavy pushback for the fact that the new game takes out several features (including swimming pools, open world, terrain editing and Create-a-Style) that became standard in the earlier games. Offering this for free might be an attempt to get fresh blood into the series just a bit before releasing the next big game that they might all bite at. But regardless of the reason behind it, free is free and a good game for free is, well, a good game for free.

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TAGS: The Sims   Electronic Arts   Origin   The Sims 2  
Video 12
Notes

Jul 23,
2014
Posted 1 day ago

Images from the attract modes of Goketsuji Legends, the third of Atlus’s installments in the Power Instinct series (with this game the series forever drops “Power Instinct” from the name of any of its future titles.)

Although the overall personality of the game is the same as the two earlier entries, the gameplay changes significantly here. There’s now a tag-team system reminiscent of King of Fighters (albeit with only two people on a team) and there are even more technical fighting options available at your disposal. Super attacks from the last game are now joined by super blocks, and there are dashing attacks that can immediately knock you down. It’s flexible, but a little too flexible for me.

Overall, I didn’t get along with this game that well—the general nature of its fighting mechanics is strong, but doesn’t fit what I myself look for in the genre; I’m a down-to-earth basics fighting kind of guy who would never cut it in any sort of official tournament. All that said, the game is still quite good and I have, as the younger crowd has been known to say, mad respect for Atlus just for making this. In a time of Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat and King of Fighters, they had the guts and talent to field this misfit band of characters in their fighting games for a third time and somehow make it work. It’s no wonder they would go on to be known as a developer and publisher of quality unusual titles like the Shin Megami Tensei and Persona games.

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  TAGS:  Power Instinct Legends   Atlus   arcade   1990s games   Art in Video Games   Goketsuji Legends  
Photo 6
Notes

Jul 22,
2014
Posted 2 days ago

Come on, you know your day isn’t complete without the image of a majestic steed charging dramatically through a shower of Othello chips. Thankfully that’s exactly what Sunwise’s Othello Derby from 1995 offers, and you don’t even have to go any further than the attract mode!

This unusual title has you playing Othello against an opponent, and your performance in the game affects how your horse, who is racing on the lower part of the screen, places. Does it sound convoluted? Sure, but better that than the usual alternative of forcing the loser to undress.

What happens when the horse wins? Does that then allow you some advantage in a third form of competition, like getting an extra discard in poker? I don’t know. I never won because I am not that good at the game. The catchphrase of Othello, at least when I was first exposed to it at the tender age of four or so, was “A minute to learn, a lifetime to master.” Unfortunately, not long after learning Othello, I had decided my lifetime would be spent trying to master video games instead.

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 TAGS:  Othello Derby   Sunwise   arcade   1990s games   Art in Video Games  
Video 43
Notes

Jul 21,
2014
Posted 3 days ago

Scenes from the attract mode intro for Darkstalkers 2: The Night Warriors (titled Vampire Hunter in Japan, based on the Darkstalkers series being known as Vampire there.) The second game is very much like the first, with the addition of two new characters, Donovan (with disturbed orphan-child Anita in tow) and Hsien-Ko (also with an accompanying character—this time her sister in the form of the paper talisman on her hat.) The two bosses from the first Darkstalkers game, Huitzil and Pyron are now playable. Pyron is still the final boss, even if you choose to play with Pyron, and he has his own ending.

The fighting style for Night Warriors is a bit more technical than the previous game, with deeper fighting options that, for someone like me, who tends to go more bare-bones in fighting style, can be a bit much. But it’s still a good game and one of the best options around for getting your classic horror monster fighting on.

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  TAGS:  Night Warriors   Capcom   arcade   1990s games   Art in Video Games   Darkstalkers 2   Vampire Hunter  
Video 7
Notes

Jul 19,
2014
Posted 5 days ago

Video game wallpaper time. Today’s selection is a mishmash of titles. As we slowly approach the chronological end of arcade game coverage, we also approach the end of arcade wallpapers (after which point I will likely move to console game wallpapers.) For today, we have four great games from days gone by: Spy Hunter, one of my early gaming loves; Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, one of my favorite beat-em-ups and a game whose inclusion needs no explanation for arcade vets; Time Soldiers, an excellent gem from SNK that’s oft-overlooked in the wake of Ikari Warriors; and Vigilante, Irem’s spiritual follow-up to their 1984 classic, Kung-Fu Master.

As always, these images are artistic interpretations of the games in question and contain character arrangements that would not be possible in the game. Spy Hunter also posed an unusual scenario, since its native resolution was a massive (especially for 1983) 480x480, causing all the vehicles to appear disproportionately large in the wallpaper.

You’ll want to grab the full size files from one of the links below in order to get proper image size and scanline representation, since these are all scaled down from 1920x1080 to 1280x720 for Tumblr.

These images have all been added to my online wallpaper gallery. However, for the sake of convenience, you can also grab them with the links below:
Spy Hunter - Full size wallpaper
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles - Full size wallpaper
Time Soldier - Full size wallpaper
Vigilante - Full size wallpaper

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  TAGS:  Spy Hunter   Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles   Time Soldiers   Vigilante   Video Game Wallpaper  
Video 59
Notes

Jul 17,
2014
Posted 1 week ago

Backgrounds from Mega Man: The Power Battle (Rockman: The Power Battle in Japan), the first of two arcade-based Mega Man games that Capcom released. This one hails from 1995. I’ve been a huge fan of Mega Man games since the first one in 1987, ugly cover and all. At one time in my prime I was able to complete the first four games in what would have been close to the (then, at least, before speed runs became a thing) record times. Many an hour was spent by young me running through their stages, being assaulted by pits, spikes and relentless enemies, and soaking up detailed graphics and catchy tunes in the process. So understand that when I say I wish I could like this game more, I really mean it.

The concept behind the Mega Man arcade games is a strange one. Both games consist of nothing more than a series of boss fights. This one features enemies from various Mega Man games, depending on which set you choose when you start—Mega Man 1 and 2, 3 through 6, or 7. You also get your choice of playing as Mega Man, Protoman or Bass, each with different endings. After beating bosses, you get their special weapon which allows you different attack patterns (but doesn’t seem to give much damage benefit, unlike the console games.) You can even gang up on enemies with two players at a time, which was certainly a first for the franchise.

Regardless of which path of enemies you pick, there are only eight stages to play through, all of which are just the bosses. In my opinion the Power Battle and Power Fighters games miss out on what made the Mega Man series legendary: its stages, which were not only creative, but would often leave you in a crumpled, weeping heap with their difficulty long before you even made it to the boss. It’s nice to see NES Mega Man characters drawn with arcade quality graphics, and the QSound version of classic stage musics sound great (check them out on YouTube), but by delivering me straight to the boss of each area, I feel like I’m playing an Indianapolis 500 game that starts five laps before the end of the race.

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  TAGS:  Mega Man the Power Battle   Capcom   arcade   1990s games   Art in Video Games  
Video 19
Notes

Jul 16,
2014
Posted 1 week ago

Marvel Super Heroes was the second of five annual Marvel licensed fighting games that Capcom started releasing in 1994. After X-Men: Children of the Atom, it seemed only natural to step up the nature of the license and go from an X-Men specific game to one that encompassed the Marvel universe as a whole. And what better plot to bring these super-powered beings together than the biggest and most cosmically-endangering (at the time at least) crossover storyline, that of the Infinity Gauntlet?

Fans of X-Men: COTA will feel right at home here. The fighting mechanics, controls and even “rippling” impact of attacks are just like an extension of that previous game. The significant gameplay change is the inclusion of the Infinity Gems, six artifacts of virtually immeasurable power which, when combined form the aforementioned Infinity Gauntlet. Each gem gives its possessor absolute control over one element of existence, such as Time, Space or Reality. Within a fighting game, such things would be impossibly unbalanced of course, so they are understandably limited. Using a gem during a fight consumes it for that fight and gives you a temporary boost, such as increased speed or armor, or life recovery. You start with one gem and gain more as you defeat opponents. You’ll ultimately face Thanos, who (minor spoiler) takes all your gems at the start of the fight and uses them at will.

This all sounds exciting, and Marvel Super Heroes packages it up nicely, with graphics every bit as good and better than what was shown in X-Men: COTA, as well as kickin’ 90s synth soundtrack. Yet, it’s my least favorite of all the games in the Marvel vs. Capcom family line. The problem is, that for all of its great controls and fighting fun, the game feels skimpy and disingenuous. A roster of 10 selectable characters was merely adequate in X-Men: COTA, and that was just a game focused on one corner of the Marvel universe. Here, 10 playable characters is downright paltry. Four of those characters (Wolverine, Psylocke, Magneto and Juggernaut) return from the last game, and although the other six contain Marvel staples Spider-Man, Captain America, Hulk and Iron Man, they waste two of the other precious slots on Blackheart and Shuma-Gorath, B-grade villains who didn’t even play any significant role in the Infinity Gauntlet storyline at all. No Fantastic Four? No other iconic villains, or characters more closely tied with the story? Pah.

Speaking of the Infinity Gauntlet, the notion that any single character in the game’s roster—especially less powerful ones like Captain America or Wolverine—could take down Thanos with the Infinity Gems is ridiculous. Thanos snuffed out half of all living creatures in existence with a thought, crushed this combined lineup (and more) in combat, then humbled and enslaved the elder deities and forces of the universe with this thing on his hand. He was something like the second most powerful entity in existence at the time; how exactly is any amount of webbing and spider-sense going to let Spider-Man overcome that? I suspended a lot of disbelief with X-Men: COTA, but Marvel Super Heroes just overloads my limits. I guess that was ultimately my biggest gripe: as a fighting game, Marvel Super Heroes satisfies (and could be more satisfying with a bigger roster) but as a comics fan, I’m left feeling a few courses short of the full meal.

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  TAGS:  Marvel Super Heroes   Capcom   arcade   1990s games  
Video 77
Notes

Jul 15,
2014
Posted 1 week ago

Selected backgrounds from The King of Fighters ‘95, SNK’s follow-up to the very successful King of Fighters ‘94 from the previous year. This year’s release didn’t change things up too much. New music and graphics for the characters and stages are all in place, and on par with the previous game, and the controls also have that comfortable, familiar feel.

One upgrade that makes a surprising difference, though, is the new Edit Team feature that allows you to hand-pick your team of three fighters from the available roster of 24 characters, instead of the pre-made teams from its predecessor, which was another first for fighting games. The flexibility of putting together your own team of three fighters was still five years away in any other series. Although the roster still only contains four women—which would increase significantly the following year—it otherwise provides a lot of variety in character design and movesets. Essentially, SNK’s decision with this game was to give players more of what they loved the previous year with some more options that didn’t break the core of the game.

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  TAGS:  King of Fighters 95   SNK   Neo Geo   1990s games   Art in Video Games   King of Fighters  
Video 12
Notes

Jul 14,
2014
Posted 1 week ago

Video cutscenes and characters from Jackie Chan: the Kung-Fu Master and Jackie Chan: Fists of Fire. In 1995, during the period where Jackie Chan was quicklly becoming a household name in the West, an official arcade Jackie Chan licensed fighting game, The Kung-Fu Master, was being released by Kaneko in the East. The game features a playable roster of six characters, five of whom are actors from Jackie Chan films (and given their real names), and one that’s… Well, some sort of dragon thing called Mysterious Lion. Jackie Chan himself shows up as three separate bosses. What happens after you beat him in the third appearance? I don’t know, I wasn’t able to get that far.

That game is weird, but it’s nothing compared to the revised edition that was released later that same year, Fists of Fire. This updated release made all three Jackie Chan boss characters playable, including their slightly overpowered nature. It kept the original six characters, but changed their color palettes, which included new blue and green skin for some of them. So, for some unknown reason, a third of your characters appear as zombies, aliens, or alien zombies. During combat, characters can dive into backgrounds and foregrounds and sometimes inexplicably grow in size when performing moves like elbow drops. Jackie Chan still shows up as bosses, even when you’re Jackie Chan. But it’s all good; when defeated in combat, he just gives his other self a big thumbs up and everyone is happy.

Neither game is really that good. The in-game motion capture is decent, on par with at least the first Mortal Kombat, but the controls lack precision, the movesets don’t feel balanced, and characters practically float when they jump in Fists of Fire. Thorsten Nickel’s bare-chested swagger and Kim-Maree Penn’s charming smile are the most compelling aspects here—apart from Jackie Chan being Jackie Chan like no one else can, of course.

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  TAGS:  Jackie Chan Master of Kung-Fu   Kaneko   arcade   1990s games   Art in Video Games   Jackie Chan Fists of Fire  
Video 8
Notes

Jul 13,
2014
Posted 1 week ago

This was a pleasant surprise. Semicom was (until they went defunct in 2001) a Korean arcade and computer game developer that I’ve never really covered or mentioned before because every game I’ve come across by them has been little more than a rip-off of other popular games (like Tetris, Bubble Bobble and Pang) with little or no innovation—the exact kind of disregard for intellectual property law that several smaller Asian countries, unfortunately, have a reputation for.

But Hyper Pacman, released in 1995, is different. Not because Semicom obtained any sort of permissions or licensing from Namco to make this game. Not at all. What separates Hyper Pacman from so many of Semicom’s games is that they’ve taken the original game and made significant changes and innovations and, arguably, improvements to the original game. This game changes up the graphics, with an isometric view instead of the top-down perspective of Namco’s Pac-Man series. The framerate isn’t the smooth 60 fps as you would expect from a Pac-Man game and feels stuttered at times, like one of those early 90s PC games, and the graphics themselves aren’t anything that couldn’t have been done in, say, 1986, but it feels fresh and that’s a big plus. There’s a running soundtrack which is quite peppy and fits the game very well but only lasts for about forty seconds per loop, so you might get tired of it long before you run out of lives.

The real change, though, is in the gameplay. The layout of the mazes you’re travelling through changes after each one is cleared, and you have a limited time in which to complete them. You start out facing two ghosts but that number eventually increases to at least five and possibly more. That was the most I ever encountered though, because I am not a Pac-Man expert, unlike my father who could clear dozens of scenes in Ms. Pac-Man back in the day. Anyhow, enough of my shortcomings and back to this game. Hyper Pacman also features power-up items. Not just the familiar pills you can swallow that allow you to eat ghosts, but speed skates for faster movement; jump shoes to leap over a ghost coming your way; helmets that absorb one hit that would otherwise kill you; and laser helmets that absorb a hit and allow you to fire a limited number of ghost killing laser blasts. Each stage is loaded with bonus items to find, like food hidden behind secret pass-through walls, bombs to blow open parts of the maze, and sunglasses that reveal hidden stuff.

At times I’ve called it foolish to mess with the masterful simplicity of the classic arcade games, but all these changes really do make Hyper Pacman a completely different take on the maze chase genre. It was very late to the party, but among the plethora of fighting, strip mahjong and drop-down puzzle games which began to dominate in the 90s, this game is a nice change of pace, and worth trying out.

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  TAGS:  Hyper Pacman   Semicom   arcade   1990s games  
Text 2
Notes

Jul 13,
2014
Posted 1 week ago
Can Storm and Nightcrawler go down Bifrost like Rainbow Road in Mario Kart?

I’m afraid not. But it wouldn’t be very fair even if they could. Storm has all the lightning bolts and could just fly over any shells coming her way.

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TAGS: sean-gaffney  
Video 10
Notes

Jul 13,
2014
Posted 1 week ago

Yesterday, Nikki and I finished the (current) storyline for Marvel Heroes, her playing Storm and me as Nightcrawler. This also included a journey down Bifrost, the Rainbow Bridge of Asgard, which looked every bit as picturesque as in the movies. These are just 1024x768 crops of my 1920x1080 fullscreen image, and look even more enchanting with the full surroundings.

Places like this, as well as Skyrim’s Sovngarde, make me very excited for the (probably far) future of virtual reality. Touring fantastical spots that, as far as we know, simply don’t exist outside of the imagination, is one of those things that we could look upon, ten or twenty years from now, and count as a hallmark of what “modern” technology was capable of that people couldn’t even believe possible outside of fiction five decades earlier.

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  TAGS:  Marvel Heroes   Gazillion   keyofnik  
Video 17
Notes

Jul 12,
2014
Posted 1 week ago

Guardians (aka Denjin Makai II) is a 1995 Banpresto beat-em-up that is everything that their 1994 precursor, Denjin Makai was and more; and everything that their most recent beat-em-up, Pretty Soldier Sailor Moon, should have been. It might be premature since I’m just in the “G”s, but I’m going to throw Guardians into contention for best arcade beat-em-up of 1995. It has the quality craftsmanship of a Capcom or Konami title, with a mind-boggling eight different characters to choose from.

That selection isn’t just for show, either. Each character has their own speed and strength ratings, and unique assortment of special moves, with a repertoire right out of a one-on-one fighting game. You can play Guardians as the more traditional punch-throw-jump beat-em-up and, if you’re skilled enough at these kinds of games, you might even survive, but it’s more likely you’ll need to utilize each character’s abilities, which when used deplete a power bar below your life meter. Each move has specific joystick and button commands, which Guardians lists on the character select screen. Even if you’re not up to the task of pulling off Street Fighter II-style motions, the traditional beat-em-up “super attack” to knock away enemies can be easily activated and consumes power, not life as you would normally expect. The power bar refills slowly as you make regular attacks and will refresh very quickly if you do stand there doing nothing—which isn’t always an option.

In a desperate pinch? When the bar is empty, you can overdraw on it; if you try to use a special ability and don’t have enough power, the game will convert one life point into a full power bar for you. This concept, combined with the move list makes Guardians one of the most in-depth games of the genre. Your characters even make situational attacks, such as throwing a backhand elbow if you turn quickly to attack someone behind you, where most games would just have your character face the opposite direction and throw the same old punch. Within a couple stages, you’ll be beating foes down like something out of an old-school martial arts film. It’s an extremely satisfying experience, marred only slightly by some bosses who fight on the dirty side.

The game looks and sounds nice, with the same kind of colorful palette and attention to graphical detail that Banpresto put into their earlier games. The music tracks are a little on the short side, but pack the kind of energy you’ll want when dishing out justice to all comers. It controls well, responds how you’d like it to, has a branching path stage selection for replay value and is just generally great. Fans of virtual face-kicking need to give this a shot.

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  TAGS:  Guardians   Banpresto   arcade   1990s games   Denjin Makai II