Impressions: Cosmic Spacehead (Genesis)

April 1, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Cosmic Spacehead

Cosmic Spacehead boxart

Well, how about this… I’ve already beaten a game I got on Saturday at the Midwest Gaming Classic!  I was giving all my new games a quick test run and wasn’t planning on spending much time with them yet, but this one managed to grab me enough to keep playing.  A full review will come later, but for now, I thought I’d share some initial thoughts.

Cosmic Spacehead is a nice little game.  It’s a hybrid point-and-click adventure/platformer (kind of like Alex Kidd: High Tech World….. but not as bad). The story is that you’re playing as Cosmic, and you’ve just discovered planet Earth. The problem is that, when you return home to tell everyone, nobody believes you.  Now, you’re off to set the record straight.  You have to find a way back to Earth to take pictures and return home with proof so you can get the hero’s welcome you deserve.

Overall, the game is pretty easy and pretty short, but generally well-made.  I really love the colorful, cartoony graphics (it’s one of the few Genesis games with a great color palette) and the general tongue-in-cheek style.  Basically, it doesn’t take itself too seriously, and that’s always a plus in my book.  That’s all for now, stay tuned for a full review!

Videogames Hardware Handbook

January 30, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Videogames Hardware HandbookI’m a big fan of Retro Gamer magazine, despite how expensive it is to get here in the US (it’s a UK import).  It’s a fantastic classic gaming mag, jam packed with lots of great content in every issue (the typical issue is 114 pages, with virtually no ads).

One of my favorite parts of the magazine is their recurring “Retroinspection” feature.  With this feature, they give an overview of a particular gaming platform. They go into its history, its strenghts and weaknesses, relevance in the marketplace at the time, and oftentimes even interview key players involved with the platform in some way.  These articles are a great introduction to the different platforms that are out there, and the “Perfect Ten” portions where they recommend 10 games everyone should play are a great way to figure out where to start when exploring a new system.

So, when Retro Gamer released a compliation of past Retroinspections over the holidays, I knew I had to have it — especially considering how interested I am in collecting hardware.  Videogames Hardware Handbook: The Game Machine Collector’s Manual covers a 22 year timespan from 1977 to 1999 and covers everything from consoles to handhelds to odd British 8-bit computers that we never saw over here (but are crazy popular over there).  You get info on all the platforms you’d expect, like the Atari 2600, NES, Genesis (or the Mega Drive, as they call it), plus some of the more obscure, like the 3DO, Jaguar, NEC PC-FX, and 8-bits like the ZX Spectrum and Dragon 32.  Basically, it’s 256 pages of pure content covering 35 different platforms.

Unfortunately, though, it’s not comprehensive.  Since this is a compliation of past articles instead of fresh content, anything that wasn’t already covered in a Retroinspection isn’t included.  So, no Colecovision, no 32X, no Neo-Geo, and no PlayStation.  Nevertheless, if you’re into retro game collecting, I’m finding it a fascinating compliation and a great value.

Note that I’m in no way affiliated with Imagine Publishing and this isn’t a paid ad or anything.  I just really like Retro Gamer magazine and this special edition.  I want everyone to know about it!  And I want it to sell well enough that they make a second volume covering all the platforms that weren’t included in this edition…

Latest Haul and Impressions: Buster Bros. & Battletech

March 7, 2008 by · 2 Comments 

Latest Haul: Buster Bros. & BattletechBelieve it or not, I’ve been pretty busy with retro gaming lately.  I may not be posting much, but I’ve been playing a lot of my Turbo, lurking messageboards, and watching eBay like a hawk.  My latest acquisitions are Battletech (Genesis) and Buster Bros. (TurboGrafx-CD).  Battletech was a nice find, because someone at work posted to the internal classifieds that they were giving it away for free.  Being the collector I am, I immediately put dibs on it!  I was bummed to see that he took the poster that was included with the game and hung it up in his office, but hey, free is free.  Buster Bros., on the other hand, was an eBay purchase.  It’s a fun little game that turned out to be a pretty good deal — it’s in pristine condition.  Anyway, here are my thoughts after playing them each a bit:

  • Battletech (Genesis): It’s a top-down/isometric shooter reminiscent of the Strike series, but you pilot a mech in the Battletech universe.  It’s a well-made game with nice graphics and controls, but wow!  It is brutally hard!  I still haven’t passed the first level!  This one is going to take some serious playtime to dig into. (Free, from a coworker)
  • Buster Bros. (TurboGrafx-CD): This is a fun little old-school arcade game.  There are a bunch of bouncing spheres invading the Earth, wreaking havoc, and it’s your job to destroy them all.  When you shoot a sphere, it splits into two smaller ones until, finally, the smallest ones can be destroyed.  You get more points for shooting multiple spheres of the same size in a row, so you’re rewarded for filling the screen with tiny, hard to avoid, bouncing balls — it gets pretty hectic!  The soundtrack makes use of the CD format, the graphics are simple but charming, and the gameplay is straightforward but challenging and addictive.  ($5.17, eBay)

Anyway, I’m on a real TurboGrafx kick these days.  I think I might flesh out my collection a bit… Of course, I should probably get around to writing some reviews before I do.  But we’ll see about that! (My source for good screenshots is gone, so I’ve kinda been using that as an excuse not to write any lately ;))

Impressions: The Lion King and F-Zero

January 23, 2008 by · Leave a Comment 

The only two classic games I’ve bought in the last several months are The Lion King and F-Zero, so is it any surprise that they’re the two games I have some impressions to report on? Not really… The real question is when I’ll get around to writing the next full review for the site! What game will it be? Nobody knows… Not even me.

  • The Lion King (Genesis): A technical feat for the Genesis, this game is much better than I expected. The graphics and sound are top notch, but the gameplay leaves a bit to be desired. Some of the platforming segments are just frustrating, and it’s overall fairly short (I haven’t managed to beat the last two levels yet, though). Much harder than I expected, as well.
  • F-Zero (SNES): I’m a huge fan of the rest of the series, so it’s only right that I spend some time with the original. The Mode 7 effects aren’t nearly as dazzling as they used to be, but a great sense of speed, smooth controls, and colorful, attractive graphics mean it stands the test of time very well. Overall, it’s a great deal of fun.

So there we have it… I was starting to feel the classic gaming bug again, and after rewiring my game room last night, it’s as strong as ever. Now that I have all my systems hooked up without any need to fiddle around with plugs behind the TV every time I want to play (ugh, that was such a pain), I have no excuse not to play more than I was!

Latest Haul: F-Zero, The Lion King, and More

January 19, 2008 by · Leave a Comment 

Latest Haul: F-Zero, The Lion King, and MoreWhat’s this?  A post to The Retro Review Project?  I know, I know, I’ve been lax lately (okay, really lax), but sometimes gaming just takes a back seat to life.  But I’m starting to feel the pull of the old consoles again, so here I am.  The last four months have been slow, but I’ve made a couple trips lately to my favorite store in the world (Pre-Played on the west side of Madison, WI… Used games for systems dating back to the Atari, plus used DVDs, CDs, and books.  What more could a geek want?).  Here’s everything I’ve picked up since my last update in September:

  • The Lion King (Genesis): I saw this, along with Aladdin and Mickey’s Castle of Illusion.  I was tempted to get all three, but decided buying all those Disney games at once might seem a little fruity!  Instead, I just went with The Lion King.  This is one of my girlfriend’s old favorites, so I figured we could geek out together and play it.  For $2.99, I couldn’t pass it up.  Unfortunately, Aladdin and Castle of Illusion were gone the last time I went  back to the store.  Oh well, I’ll keep an eye out for them in the future.
  • Dogbone Controller (NES): I’ve been wanting to pick up one of these controllers for a while, but never saw any outside of eBay.  Once I started playing my NES more, I realized how awful the sharp corners on the standard NES pad really are.  The store had a mix of standard, Advantage, and Max controllers, plus this one dogbone.  I quickly snatched it up for $4.99.
  • Nintendo Power Mints (Swag): The one thing on this list that didn’t come from Pre-Played, this is a clever little stocking stuffer my girlfriend got me for Christmas.  It’s a tin of mints in the shape of an NES controller with the Nintendo Power logo.  Apparently, Urban Outfitters carries them.  I may use it as a DS game case once I’m done with the mints.
  • F-Zero (SNES): I had F-Zero X for the N64, F-Zero GX for the GameCube, and F-Zero: Maximum Velocity for the GBA, but never had the orignal SNES launch title.  That’s now rectified, at a reasonable $6.99 (cart-only).
  • The Wizard (DVD): I normally just check out the game section when I go to Pre-Played, but last time, I took a look at the DVDs, as well.  When I saw this on the shelf, my eyes got really wide, and I just said “Oh, woah!”  I couldn’t resist — especially since I’ve been thinking about reviewing some old game-related movies for this site.  I bought it with little hesitation, for $7.99.

I also picked up Soul Calibur for the Dreamcast, but since the DC doesn’t fit my definition of a retro/classic game console (yet), I’m not going to include that in my official list.  This was a replacement for a copy that I lent a friend back in college, which I never got back!  I also bought Final Fantasy (NES) and an FC Twin, but those were Christmas presents for a friend, so they don’t quite count for this list, either.  Anyway, stay tuned… I should have some impressions and reviews on the way.

RetroTube: Classic Genesis Commercials

August 13, 2007 by · 1 Comment 

Young Bobby EngelsPart of the reason I like old video games is the nostalgia factor.  These games remind me of my childhood and bring about many of the same feelings I experienced back then.  It’s probably for the same reason that I enjoy old commercials from that time, as well.  So, let’s take a moment and combine the two, shall we?

I recently posted one of the worst game commercials I’ve ever seen, but let’s take things in a slightly different direction this time.  How about some of those old commercials we remember so fondly?  For people my age, the classic commercial battle was the one that was waged in the 16-bit era between Sega and Nintendo.  Sega, especially, was known for their ad campaign, including a number of “inflammatory” commercials that attempt to trash the competition (i.e. Nintendo).

First up, let’s kick things off with the simple story of young Bobby Engles and how the Genesis “Fighting System” with Streets of Rage 2 earned him some respect at school, all while saving him $40!

But don’t forget that classic catchphrase: “Genesis Does…”

“…What Nintendon’t!”

And let’s not forget when Sega tried to use “Blast Processing” to pass the Genesis off as more powerful than the Super Nintendo…

Or when they tried to use the Sega CD and 32X as trump cards because the SNES didn’t have expensive, unused add-ons like the Genesis!

Well, Nintendo has something to say to that…

Tons more after the break!  Enjoy…

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Impressions: Populous, Killing Time, Landstalker

July 28, 2007 by · 3 Comments 

I mentioned on the About page that I’m something of a lazy gamer.  Or, at the very least, I’m not a very dedicated gamer.  When I was younger, I could dedicate myself to a single game for hours on end, day after day.  I just don’t have the attention span for that anymore.  I think it happened when I started spending more time on the internet.  So either the internet destroyed my attention span, or I just grew up a little, I’m not sure what it is.  But either way, I play a lot of games, and I play a lot of games for a couple hours at a time.

Eventually, I’ll get around to playing each game long enough to properly review it.  (After all, that’s the point of this site.)  But in the meantime, I’m going to post quick impressions of the games that I’ve been playing lately but haven’t spent enough time with to properly review.  So here goes:

  • Populous (SNES): I’m not sure what it says about a game when its tutorial mode provides absolutely no instructions in any way.  I bought the game used, cart-only, and was utterly lost.  Shouldn’t a tutorial at least describe what all the buttons on the screen do?  Once I found a transcription of the manual online, things fell into place.  This is an unusual sim/strategy/god game where your main power is to raise and lower the land so your followers can farm, gain strength, and eradicate the followers of your rival deity.  I’m going to have to spend a lot more time with this one before I really form much of an opinion of it, but I’ve found it intriguing so far.
  • Killing Time (3DO): Another awkward early 3D game for the 3DO.  It’s an FPS that does a few things right and a few other things horribly wrong.  I love the seamless transitions between areas/levels, as if it’s one big environment I’m exploring, rather than segmented levels.  I hate the ugly enemy sprites that repeat ad nauseum (there are only one or two different enemies per area).  I’ve only played through the first few areas, but so far, it seems like a technically sound game with smooth controls being brought down by poor enemy variety and a total lack of ammo.  In fact, I’m pretty sure I have to ditch my current save because I only have one bullet left and about four enemies to kill to advance any further.  Argh.
  • Landstalker (Genesis): Now this game is promising.  It’s a fun action-adventure/RPG with platforming elements, puzzle-solving, and fantastic graphics that manage to look appealing despite the miniscule color palette of the Genesis.  I was a fan of Dark Savior on the Saturn, so it’s no wonder I’m liking this one.  I’m just having some doubts about the controls, though.  It’s an isometric game, so you spend a lot of time moving in diagonals.  I’m not sure yet if the controls are unresponsive or if the six-button pad that comes with the Genesis 3 just doesn’t do diagonals well.  I think I’ll track down a different controller before making my final judgment, but so far so good.

What have you guys been playing lately?  Have any quick impressions of your own to share?  Hit the comments…

Streets of Rage (Sega Genesis)

July 7, 2007 by · 1 Comment 

Streets of Rage - Title ScreenStreets of Rage - Choose your characterStreets of Rage - Two player

What’s this?  An early ’90s Genesis side-scrolling beat-em-up that doesn’t suck?  I originally intended to review Golden Axe, but it was so awful that I just couldn’t bring myself to keep playing.  (I’ll have to play it when I’m in a more masochistic mood, I guess.)  So when I decided to play Streets of Rage instead, I had low expectations.  It had been a while since I had played the game, so I couldn’t remember much and wasn’t sure what I was getting into.  I had fond memories, but I had the sinking feeling that those memories were of Streets of Rage 2, not the original.  Thankfully, it turned out I was right, and the game is pretty playable.

Streets of Rage is Sega’s response to Final Fight and is another entry in what used to be an extremely popular genre.  Streets of Rage, Final Fight, Double Dragon, River City Ransom, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Altered Beast, Golden Axe… What the hell were we thinking back then?  I guess we really liked walking to the right and repeatedly pushing the punch button.  Streets of Rage is no different.  Like the rest of the group, it’s pretty much a simple button-masher with very little in the way of depth.  You can walk, jump, kick, punch, summon special attacks, pick up weapons, and… Well, that’s about it.  Oh yeah, occasionally you’ll grapple someone.

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Latest Haul: R.C. Pro-Am, Nightshade, Landstalker

June 24, 2007 by · Leave a Comment 

Latest Haul: R.C. Pro-Am, Nightshade, and LandstalkerI said it in The Snatcher Mission, and I’ll say it again. Even though I’ve given myself the task of reviewing each and every one of my old games, I’m going to buy more — I can’t help it! Do I have a problem, or do I have a hobby? I think of it as a hobby, since so much of the fun comes from learning about an old game I may have never heard of in its heyday. It’s enjoyable, satisfying, and now that I’m running this site, it’s also somewhat productive!

And so, with three games now covered in The Retro Review Project, I’ve added three more to the queue. (D’oh.) Here’s my latest haul:

  • R.C. Pro-Am (NES): Add this to the list of “NES games I should have owned a long time ago.”  I played this game with friends a lot and have very fond memories of it.  I need to flesh out my NES collection, and this is a step in the right direction.  $6.99, cart-only.
  • Nightshade (NES): GameSetWatch had an absolutely wonderful write-up of this game yesterday, and after reading through it, I really wanted to try it out.  It’s from the same people that made the excellent Shadowrun for the SNES, so it’s part of a good lineage.  I decided I didn’t want to mess with the hassle of eBay, though.  So imagine my surprise when I saw it today at a brick and mortar!  I couldn’t pass it up.  $2.99, cart-only.
  • Landstalker (Genesis): The thing I love about the game store I shop at is that they have a whole bin of Genesis games at two bucks a pop.  It’s mostly a bunch of outdated sports games, but each time I go in, there are one or two gems in the pile.  This time, it was Landstalker.  I’m a big fan of its spiritual sequel for the Saturn, Dark Savior, so I’ve been meaning to play this one for some time.  Now’s my chance! $1.99, cart-only.