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Procyon's blog

1:59 PM on 07.09.2008

Things in life that games don't prepare you for.

Before I start writing this post, I just want to say up front that there's no need to call the Waahmbulance. I'm not writing for sympathy, or a whole bunch of "cheer up, it'll get better, you're better off" comments because I know that's not what this community specializes in. What it does specialize in is humor, and I really need to laugh right now.

So my wife is leaving me. No it's not another guy (or another girl), no I wasn't an asshole, no it wasn't any of the usual dumb shit that a wife leaves a husband for. After being married for a little over 2 years, and being together for over 7, my wife decided that being married simply isn't for her. She didn't want to be responsible to anyone else in the world but herself, and she realized that her continuous denial of the fact that I actually worry about her when I don't hear from her hurt me quite a bit. She doesn't want to hurt me anymore, but she doesn't want to change either, so she decided it was time to leave, even though we still love each other very much.

The thing is, I had this beautiful half black, half Japanese gamer chick for a wife, and at the moment, I don't see how I'm possibly going to replace her with someone else. Early on when we were going out, I wasn't sure if she was exactly the right girl for me. I used to think it was because of the race difference (I'm just boring vanilla) but now I'm starting to wonder if I didn't know something was up way back then. All of my friends, mostly game developers, thought I had found the holy grail: a hot chick who likes games. And I felt that way as well, so I made it work. And to this day, I would have continued to make it work because of my "never say die" attitude towards marriage. She finally decided we could never be happy if we kept going the way we had.

When we first got married, she said she wanted the same things out of life that I did. She's finishing up her degree in Japanese language, and she had an opportunity, just a few months after our wedding, to go to Japan on an exchange program. It was 3.5 months, and I knew it would be hard as hell to live without her, but I thought what the heck, this was a once in a lifetime opportunity. I figured when she got back, the ball would roll back in my favor, and she would dedicate herself to the marriage. Instead, she was so inspired by living in Japan, that the ball actually rolled further in the opposite direction. She wants to spend a year there, and I just don't want the same thing. I want to plant some roots and build a family.

So now I find myself in the unenviable position (or is it?) of being single again at 32. I was never good at the bar game, and I think I come across way too much like a gamer geek when I write profiles on on-line dating sites, even though I'm just trying to be honest. I have more dimension than just my interest in games, but that's hard to communicate. Anyway, I'm slowly coming to grips with the fact that it's over, even though a very small part of me holds out hope that she will change her mind. I guess I'm just a Pac-Man who has lost his Mrs. Pac-Man, a Link without a Zelda, a Mario missing his Peach.   read

1:09 PM on 07.03.2008

Suishou no Dragon: The Square game you never played

Nor would you have, it was a text / point-n-click adventure for the Famicom Disk System that was only released in Japanese. That is until a ROM hacker known as Mute translated the game's Japanese text into English in January of 2003. After playing through it and translating some of the walkthroughs that I could find, it turns out that the game is incredibly short. You can finish it in under half an hour easily. You can take a look at my English guide for the game right here.

As a concept, Suishou no Dragon is interesting. It seems to borrow from a ton of the typical sci-fi anime cliches that exist, and meshes them into some playable storyline. The problem is, this storyline seems to live in the absence of any supporting or background material. You never really learn much about your character, or Cynthia and Nial, the friends that you are attempting to rescue. You have no idea why the old lady doctor is so willing to help you and provide you with free space scooters. The game just sort of drops you in to the middle of someone else's life, tells you what you need to do, and lets you go on your merry way. Perhaps the instruction manual filled in a lot of the back story and the existing relationships, but I'll never know.

So if you get past the whole "I don't know who the hell I am, or why I'm doing this stuff" part and get down to the doing, what you find is your typical point-n-click adventure game, where the pointing and clicking takes the form of an on-screen arrow that you move around with the d-pad. When you need to move to another location, you cycle through all of the available directions and select one. I often don't like point-n-click adventures that have random solutions such as "touch item X that you collected with item Y in the room," because I don't have the patience to sit there and try the 200 different combinations of items that are available. But this game really has very few items and interactive objects on the screen, so it felt "solvable."

Most of the solutions are fairly intuitive, while a few seem like red herrings (the whole monument on the planet of Alias thing with the tablet for example). But really the story is so short and you can pretty much get through the game without a walkthrough except for possibly two or three moments. As far as I know, nothing ever became of this franchise, but it is notorious for one piece of trivia: When the game came out, a popular Japanese gaming mag thought that other mags were stealing their material. So they intentionally placed a bogus article in one issue, about being able to enter a secret code that would let you play strip rock-paper-scissors with the girl illustrated above. They did it just to see if any other magazine would steal this "secret" and print it. Pretty like the whole EGM Sheng Long in Street Fighter II thing (which was an intentional joke on their part,) players were trying like crazy to get a little anime girl to play rock-paper-scissors and take off her clothes. That's the only real lasting legacy that this game ever had.   read

8:30 PM on 07.02.2008

The most common gamer dilema: WTF do I play?

So it's about 9:30pm for me, and I'm sitting here staring at my not-so-meager collection of games that I have. Between the Wii and the 360, I have about 20, not counting downloaded games. Make that around 50 if you count GameCube and Xbox games, and chalk that up to a crapload if you want to count PS2 games. And I'm just trying to figure out...

WTF do I play?

I'm in one of those "no particular game" moods, where I'm not really deeply into any one game at the moment, and I'm finding it hard to figure out what direction to lean in.

Now, to be fair, part of the problem is I'm 32, and I just don't have the same amount of time and energy that I used to have, say, 10 years ago. So the thought of plopping down on the couch and diving into an RPG or playing more GTA4 for hours is not as appealing. It's not the playing of the games themselves that's not as appealing. It's the idea of staying up late, going to bed at some retarded hour, and getting up early for work the next morning that's the problem. And I don't even have kids! (yet...)

So it's hard to pick a game that I know I won't be able to tear myself away from in less than 2 hours. So that still leaves a bunch of choices. How about a fighter? Soul Calibur IV is coming soon, I could bust out SC3 for shits and giggles... but nah, I didn't have too much fun with that. I might as well stick with SC2 and play as Link. Or how about Beautiful Katamari on the 360? Well... I already did the biggest level in the game and rolled up the whole earth. What else? Oh, I started playing through Boom Blox, why don't I pop that back in... no wait, my arm is still killing me. I know, I could play Guitar Hero III, but there's the one song I can't play on Expert and it pisses me off...

See, this isn't something I normally go through, it just strikes me every now and then when I'm exceptionally bored. Normally, I fill this time working on StrategyWiki, but I'm just not in the mood right now. I think I'll just turn on Cartoon Network and watch Adult Swim...

So how do you decide: WTF do I play?   read

2:32 PM on 07.02.2008

A cast of thousands: Pac-Man

Yeah, you read right. Old school Procyon is going to rave about an old school character in a serious attempt to shed light on why I think Pac-Man is one of the greatest video game characters ever created, as opposed to a humorous attempts to get some laughs.

When you think about all the mascots that there's ever been... Mario, Sonic, Bonk, Megaman, Simon, Crash, even Ratchet... they've all been venerable and memorable characters, but as icons, they've only ever come to represent the development houses that created them, respectively; Nintendo, Sega, NEC, Capcom, Konami, Sony (early), and Sony (later). None of these characters (with the possible exception of Mario in the early days) have ever been strong enough the represent the entire video game industry. Sure, Pac-Man could be equally labeled as being nothing more than a Namco trademark, but it's actually surprisingly hard to find an average person who realizes that Namco created Pac-Man, and not Atari like I frequently hear from people. About the only other character who seems to be able to universally represent video games is a Space Invader (and the middle guy of all choices.)

But it goes deeper than that. Every video game pits a player in a theoretical battle of good vs. evil, right vs. wrong, team A vs. team B, and while some let you blur the lines a little bit, most of them shoe-horn an ethical model into the game to provide a motivation. Why do you destroy Space Invaders?: to save the earth. Why does Mario fight Donkey Kong: to save Pauline. Why does Donkey Kong Jr. fight Mario: to save Donkey Kong (deep, right?) But why does Pac-Man battle against the ghosts to eat all of the dots? Because that's what he does. There's no moral and ethical implication there, it's simply his nature to eat, and he does what he's good at. He will even eat the ghosts if he can, but most of the time, the ghosts present a danger to him.

In this sense Pac-Man becomes a blank palette upon which you may prescribe any number of aspects to, according to your whims and desires. Does Pac-Man eat dots in order to save his family; his home town; the world? Are the ghosts evil for trying to stop Pac-Man, or are they merely protecting the dot farm that they worked so hard to grow, and now they need to stop this maniacal eating machine from devouring their winter stores? It's entirely up to you. You get to decide whether Pac-Man is noble or delinquent, wise or insentient, worthy of respect or completely corrupt.

Unless someone has specific cause to see him as a problem-maker instead of a problem solver, I think most people tend to portray Pac-Man in their own minds as a simple fellow who simply does what must be done for the good of those around him. He sacrifices without complaint. He performs his duty for as long as he is physically able to, and does not quit until he has no more chances left to try. In this respect, he may appear analogous to an idealized Japanese employee, one who works tirelessly for the benefit of his company asking for nothing more than the chance to return to work and do it again.

Speaking for myself personally, I have always seen Pac-Man as a noble soul. He may not necessarily be a natural born leader, as he typically operates on his own, but he is willing to step up and settle a score as an individual than to drag someone else with him into his fight. He may not be the wisest or smartest character, but he always does what he believes in his heart to be the most good, and never intentionally causes any harm. He doesn't see a problem with eating ghosts, because they can't die, they merely go back to their base and regenerate. Nor does he blame the ghosts for trying to stop him, because that is their job; that is what they do. And if my perceptions about Pac-Man are correct, then the world would be a much better place if there were a little Pac-Man in all of us.   read

9:06 AM on 06.30.2008

Long MAME update is long

I don't know how many members of the community care about MAME or emulation. I imagine many people kind of figure that MAME is a little passé. But that's exactly why I decided to write this blog, because if you take a look at one of the latest "whatsnew.txt" files (Check it here), you will see a tremendous amount of effort being put in to fixing bugs in games as old as Qix, Joust, and Choplifter.

These days, MAME really isn't considered the phenomenon it was just a couple of years ago. We live in an age when, whether you like it or not, emulation is a fact of video game life. It's not just an underground hobby anymore, it's also a commercial product. Between compilation discs put out by Capcom, Namco, and SNK, and the entire Wii Virtual Console library, emulation is a mainstay.

When I looked at the update to unofficial build v0.1257, I was astounded to see so much work being put into a project that is well over 10 years old. Thoughts about the legality of ROMs aside, MAME is, far and away, the only way that many people in a much younger generation than my own will ever have to experience the roots of video game history. Sure you can encounter the not-so-rare Pac-Man/Galaga combo at a few arcades, but you don't rarely see anymore Dig Dug or Donkey Kong cabinets. Centipede has been included in a number of console compilations, and is even on XBLA, but if you're not playing with a trackball, you're not really playing Centipede. That control method is as integral to the play experience as the graphics and sound.

It's too bad that once video games are released to the market, the underlying code used to produce them can't get the same TLC that MAME does, and as frequently. If it did, we wouldn't see so many bugs that linger on in the 1s and 0s burned on to the disc years after they were published vanish with patches. We'd live in this near flawless land of perfectly running code, and we'd even engine upgrades long after a game was published. And maybe that sort of thing is possible as the market shifts from retail shelf space to digital downloads. I'm not saying this prediction is realistic, it would just be kind of cool.   read

5:55 PM on 06.29.2008

Crackout - It's not what you think.

Early on in 1986, Taito took the basic gameplay made famous by Atari's Breakout, and gave it nice facelift. They released a game that, while not legendary in everyone's book, was certainly a genre defining game; Arkanoid. Arkanoid was more than a paddle and ball game, you could gain power-ups by breaking certain bricks and catching the capsules that fell out, and players generally enjoyed it. So it seemed only natural that this successful game would make it's way to the popular Famicom platform, and it did... but not before someone else beat them to the punch.

Someone at Konami must have liked Arkanoid very much, because they decided to make a very similar game and release it on Nintendo's Famicom Disk System platform. They called it Nazo no Kabe: Block Kuzushi, or "The Riddle of the Wall: Block Destroyer." The irony here is that they completed the game and got it to the market almost two weeks before Taito released Arkanoid for the Famicom. It would take several years before Nazo no Kabe saw the light of day outside of Japan, but localization company Palcom saw fit to release the game in Europe. A prototype was designed for the American market, but was never released. The new name of Nazo no Kabe in Europe? Crackout. (Catch the guide right here.)

The odd choice in names aside (an obvious play on the more familiar name of Breakout), this game is actually pretty sweet. It differs from Arkanoid in quite a few ways. While Arkanoid plows through a set of stages, Crackout breaks the game into four sections of 11 stages each. In Arkanoid, you get power-up capsules from the bricks you break, but in Crackout, you can only get them from the enemies that you hit. One of the power-ups includes a rocket that you can launch up at the screen, and then press the button once more to bomb a section of the wall. This is needed to clear bricks that are trapped inside unbreakable silver bricks.

Probably the wackiest departure from Arkanoid is the dancing lizards. Throughout a number of stages, you will encounter these dancing lizards that must be defeated in order to advance to the next stage. Functionally, they are a lot like the large Doh enemy at the end of Arkanoid, but they occur much more frequently, and have a tendancy to move around as well. They must be hit several times, and they change colors as they get closer to being defeated.

I know paddle ball video games are pretty passe these days, but they're always good for a little laugh every now and then. I think this would actually make a fairly good candidate for a Wii Virtual Console game, but then again, it's so easy to outdo with a better WiiWare game (and there already is one, kind of.) Nevertheless, it was on my list of games to cover, and cover it I did. Coming up next will be that unusual Square text adventure Suishou no Dragon (or Crystal Dragon).   read

6:42 PM on 06.28.2008

Famicom Doraemon is three, three, three games in one.

When I sat down to start writing a guide for Doraemon (which you will find right here), I originally thought this was going to fall under the "Retro Pain" category. No such luck, I actually started to enjoy the game somewhat once I figured out what the hell I was doing.

Doraemon is a bit of a quirky game. The game has three worlds, and each world was handled by a different lead designer. So while you have to complete all of the worlds linearly to progress through the game, each world essentially belongs to it's own little game genre. The first world is a four-direction scrolling action game where you roam through a city, the second world is a shmup with secret pathways, and the final world is a room-by-room underwater exploration adventure. If it sounds wacky, that's because it is. Ordinarily, I wouldn't think that it would work, but it really fits Doraemon's style of presentation (read: one that is suitable for Attention Deficit Disorder-like children.)

The first world just kind of drops you off in the corner of some industrial complex in the middle of a city. There are manholes which lead down to the sewer. In these sewers is where you find most of the good stuff like weapons and health upgrades. The problem, most of the really useful manholes are hidden, so you have to fire randomly throughout the world in hopes of noticing that your shots happened to hit something invisible, and then blast away at it until it materializes. Once you find the hidden door that can advance you to the final portion of the city, you take another sewer tunnel to a completely new part of town; an unappealing brown region complete with a cemetery and a large factory where the boss of the level resides. I assure you, I'm not creative enough to make this stuff up.

When you beat the boss, you'll move on to the next world which is a side-scrolling shooter. But at times, the path bends and you find yourself scrolling vertically as well. As the terrain scrolls by, you may notice gaps in the floor or ceiling, and if you're curious enough to investigate them, you may find that you have accessed a secret pathway. These pathways are the only places where you can acquire assistants in the form of Doraemon's owner's friends. They tend to fall away if Doraemon takes too much damage, but if you hold on to them, you can get really good items that will help you stay alive long. The stage is broken up into three sections, each with it's own boss. The final boss, shown below, is the face of a bull dog, and is actually one of the easier bosses in the game.

The last world is more like a giant Zelda dungeon, only underwater, where you have to swim from room to room to find and unlock three treasure chests that contain Doraemon's friends. The problem is that in order to do that, you need to make use of a couple of items, but you can only hold one item at a time. One item in particular, a bag, lets you cart two other items around with you to make things easier, but a ghost has a habit of appearing and stealing one of your items away so that you have to relocate it. It's not too hard to accomplish, but it does take a bit of thinking and wit to solve the puzzle in a timely fashion.

All in all, it's not a game that I would recommend anyone rush out and find or play, but if you've got some time to kill, and the only thing that you have access to is a NES emulator (and doesn't that happen all the time?), you could pick worse games to play than Doraemon.   read

3:03 PM on 06.24.2008

Shmup walkthrough = oxy-moron?

I was contemplating this question as I worked on the my latest NES/Famicom guide for StrategyWiki, a Famicom Disk System vertical shooter called Gall Force - Eternal Story (Click here for the guide). Some old-school anime fan may recognize this as the title of a mid-80s series about a crew of seven female space pilots. The game uses the same cast and overall concept, but rewrites the story for the sake of the shooter game play.

To be honest, at first I was going to dismiss this game and just stub an article for someone else to write about if anyone ever felt like it. But I dug into the game a little more, and found a few aspects of it enjoyable enough to write about, so I wrote a one-page guide. Most of the guides on StrategyWiki encompass several pages, so that it's easier for readers to isolate the information that they're looking for. However. when a game simply does not have a lot of depth, you can usually write all that you can about it on one page, and not inundate the reader with too much info.

This turns out to be the case with most shmups, including two other recent guides that I posted for Tiger-Heli and Terra Cresta. I find that writing a play-by-play of shooter experiences to be somewhat useless. With RPGs, Adventure games, or even Action games, you can sometime find yourself in a position where you wonder, "What do I do next?" You rarely ever ask yourself that in a shooter. You just... shoot. And survive. I don't think anyone is every going to pause the game to find out what's going to come next, because you pretty much know in a shooter: more enemies or a boss.

So I find that the only really useful thing to do is write about the system, especially the power-up system, if one exists. Granted, some shooters deserve more coverage, so I went into a lot more depth about the different stages in Gradius, and Zanac was especially worth expanding, since a lot of events and encounters are scripted, despite having a random assembly of smaller enemies.

But I don't know, when you all play a shmup, do you ever find yourself wishing for a walkthrough? I just don't see that as being something very useful to most players (especially shmup fans).   read

3:13 PM on 06.18.2008

Ultimate Retro Pain: The worst game in history

Now, granted, the worst game in history is a very subjective thing, but I'm pretty sure when someone actually set out to create the worst game in history, they pretty much deserve the title. The someone in question is Japanese comedian Takeshi Kitano (better known as Beat Takeshi). And the game in question is Takeshi no Chousenjou.

Here we have a game that was developed by a comedian who specifically intended to confound video game players with completely unintuitive solutions to a very absurd situation; one in which Takeshi is a workaday salaryman who dreams of quitting his job, leaving his wife, and going in search for treasure so he can live the rest of his life out in the lap of luxory.

You may not be familiar with the title of the game, but it's very likely that you may have heard something about it's ridiculous solution techniques, such as leaving the controller untouched for 60 minutes in the middle of the game, screaming into the microphone (of the second player Famicom controller) at particularly inappropriate moments, and clobbering a man who provides you with a treasure map to death. You cannot win unless you divorce your wife and quit your job. The box itself claims that "common sense is dangerous."

Yes, this is that game, and I feel that it's safe to say, with relative confidence, that I have written the first English walkthrough ever for this late 1986 game. At first, I really didn't think I was going to attempt it, but I found a few good Japanese web sites about the game and set about translating them through babelfish, @nifty translations, and Jim Breen's WWWJDIC. Eventually, I managed to piece a walkthrough together, complete with appropriate menu option in Japanese, to guide non-Japanese speakers through the game. Although most of the humor will be lost on those who can't read Japanese, at least you can claim you played through the game that is known as the worst game in history (but was later nominated for a Japanese retrogaming award in 2007)

Most of the game's zaniness is in the first half where you wander through the streets of Japan, utterly destroying your former life and burning bridges (figuratively) wherever you go. The second half of the game seems more like a punishment to people who actually bothered to get that far. The Hang Gliding portion of the game contains one tiny portion of land that you can actually land on, and most of the final section of the game can only be accessed by squatting over a tiny sliver of pixels, so you must know exactly where they lie or you will spend forever searching for them. I just want to make sure that you know what you're getting yourself into if you sit down and attempt to play this game.

Protip: To see the ending of the game right away, all you have to do is tap the punch button 20,000 times on the title screen. Easy.   read

7:33 PM on 06.16.2008

Retro Pain: Transformers Convoy no Nazo

For the record, this is actually the second Retro Pain article. Castlequest was the first, but I didn't think of the snazzy title until recently, so... Retro Pain will cover all of my exploits writing StrategyWiki guides for games that are less than pleasurable to play through.

If any of you saw the post about my game room, it's pretty obvious that I'm a hard core Transformers fan. So you'd think I could find something redeeming to say about this third generation TF game known as Transformers: Convoy no Nazo, (hereafter referred to as TFCnN) but sadly, that is not the case.

In 1986, health meters weren't unheard of, but they weren't the norm either. There were plenty of successful games without health bars, but the trick was to make them playable by giving the player the ability to dodge oncoming attacks, and only cause a lose of life if a mistake was made. In TFCnN, you are the victim of a one-hit kill system that shows no mercy to you from the minute the game starts.

You wouldn't believe that you can be so weak, being the mighty and powerful Ultra Magnus. Ultra Magnus has been depicted in many ways by the various TF continuities, but the one consistency between all of them is that Ultra Magnus is one of the greatest and bravest soldiers on the battlefield in the entire Autobot army. In this game he is conducting a solo mission to find out who killed Optimus Prime (aka Convoy).

You see, the animated movie didn't air before the third season of the cartoon in Japan like it did in the United States. You know, the one that had all of us kid bawling when Optimus Prime died and turned charcoal gray. So all of a sudden, Season 3 starts in Japan with this new crazy cast of characters from out of no where, and all the kids there are like, "Wait... what happened to Optimus Prime? Who's this Rodimus guy?" So Takara made this game to fill in the blanks... another thing which this game fails at miserably (it answers nothing.)

So you are forced to play through ten levels of side-scrolling hell, where one shot is all it takes to kill Magnus, while he needs to shoot his enemies two or even three times typically to defeat them. According to Ultra Magnus' tech specs, he can fire his rocket propelled missiles over 30 miles! However, in the case of this game, it's more like 30 feet, and they land with a disappointing poof. The cast of attacking Decepticons is marginal at best with color problems all over the place, and such uninspired bosses like this gigantic Decepticon logo:

Other bosses include Stunticon gestalt Menasor and Combaticon gestalt Bruticus (no sign of Devastator anywhere), a way oversized Megatron (like four times as big as Magnus) and Trypticon as the final boss. That's great if you can ever survive long enough to see them. The typical first game lasts less than a minute and doesn't get you half way into the first board. Even transforming is a chore, taking up to two seconds, during which you are immobile and defenseless.

A Time Attack for the game has been recorded at around seven minutes for the whole thing, blowing your mind with dexterity and almost impossible to reproduce jumping skills. If the game were worth watching, I'd embed the video here, but the stages are all so uninspired and repetitive. But don't take my word for it. Ask these loyal fans.   read

9:33 PM on 06.11.2008

Castlequest: I did write a walkthrough.

Well, not quite. I typed up a walkthrough, but I actually translated it from a Japanese site that I found. A lot of walkthroughs that I found for Castlequest (guide here) fell into two varieties; The insanely hard Time Attack variation that only experts of the game will bother trying, and the "how to beat the game by going into all 100 rooms" method which takes more time than anyone would realistically be willing to put into the game. Fortunately, I found a nice middle-of-the-road alternative that aims to complete the game by avoiding the most fiendish rooms, but not taking you anywhere that you don't absolutely need to go.

So what the hell am I talking about? Castlequest was the American name for a Japanese Famicom game called Castle Excellent, which was itself a sequel to a popular Japanese game simply called "The Castle." The original program was the winner in a software contest hosted by ASCII Corporation (you might know them better today as controller manufacturers). ASCII published the game on every available popular Japanese micro computer platform (MSX, NEC, FM-Towns, etc.) and it was a huge success. Fans clamored for a sequel, so they made Castle Excellent for the MSX. Right around that time, the Famicom was hot, so they published a version for that too, although it was rather different from the MSX version.

I would best compare Castlequest to some more American titles such as Shamus or Montezuma's Revenge. You must essentially navigate a 100 room castle (arranged in a 10x10 grid) loaded with different colored doors, respective different colored keys, and loads of traps and enemies. While each room may have a particular puzzle that needs to be solved, the over-arching goal of the game is to find your way from the start to the location of the princess and rescue her. Naturally, there's a butt-load of doors in the way, and a limited supply of keys that you continue to gather. You can end up taking a wrong turn and getting screwed with no choice but the reset the game because you ran out of keys. The game does provide you with a kind of "Undo", but it costs a life, and by the time you figure out that you need it, it may already be too late to use it.

Castlequest was definitely one of those game that was far more suited to the Japanese audience of gamers than Americans. This is a huge generalization, but most Americans don't really have the patience for this kind of game (I certainly didn't). It takes a lot of planning and coordination, and it's not high on the immediate gratification meter. Even the ending sucks. Your only reward really is self satisfaction. Ironically, Nintendo Power didn't even cover this game's release... and they covered EVERYTHING. So to spare you any pain, here is the 18 minute time attack for you to watch and never play this game ever again.

[embed]90250:12185[/embed]   read

3:29 PM on 06.10.2008

It's not quite RetroforceGO, but...

The latest issue of Retrogaming Times Monthly is now online. I have been the chief editor of this 10 year old tradition for about a year and a half. It's seen its share of ups and downs, but it's still kicking.

I thought I'd bring it to the community's attention for a couple of reasons. I know that RetroforceGO is extremely popular, but to be honest, it harnesses a different notion of Retro than the one that I'm used to. In the 90s, retro fans used to eschew anyone who considered the NES/TG-16/Genesis/SNES retro. Retro used to mean "everything before the crash." [controversial]If you don't know what that means, you're not a hardcore gamer.[/controversal]

So the Retro community that I grew up with pined over the long gone days of playing with their Atari 2600s, Intellivisions or Colecovisions, or loading floppy disks that were actually floppy on their Commodore 64s, Apple ][s, or Atari 800s. Anyone who wanted to discuss Super Mario Bros. or the Legend of Zelda was summarily kicked out.

Today, I see gamers who not only consider the NES retro (which is very understandable) and the SNES and Genesis retro (also understandable, but less so), some consider the PSX and Dreamcast to be retro. The Dreamcast isn't even 10 years old! Retrogaming Times Monthly is actually older than the Dreamcast.

I don't have any illusions that people are going to read this and all of a sudden find an appreciation, or even an affinity for, games that were created before they were born. I'm well aware that the majority of Atari 2600 games are fairly unenjoyable by today's standards. But I never hear "Yars' Revenge" or "Keystone Kapers" brought up in retro conversations anymore.

What concerns me is that as Retro expands to encompass more periods of time, as it naturally ought to, the origins of Retro start getting lost to the more appealing aspects of Retro. I'd never argue that any Atari system was better than the NES. I love the NES. I just find it sad that the name Atari doesn't make it into many Retro conversation anymore beyond a footnote. I'm all for Retro, I just don't want to see the pre-crash time period lost. Maybe we need a new term for it. Maybe it's Retro-retro? I dunno. But check out the issue. And the archives. I think you'll like it.

P.S. If you've been reading my blogs, then yes, it should be no surprised that reading my column entitled "Game Archaeologist" will give you Deja Vu. My blog entries will be the source of my content for that column from now on.   read

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