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Offbeat Hall of Fame: Nintendo Super Power Supplies

Dec 09 // Tony Ponce
It's easy to forget just how great we have it these days. In the early 90s, aside from the rare Mario or Sonic merch, there was next to nothing on store shelves to feed our gaming appetites when we weren't actually playing games. The Internet has helped to turn the once isolated gaming community into a powerful network linked via cyberspace. Serving such people is as simple as making goods available anywhere. If it exists, we'll find it. This is why digital storefronts like Fangamer and Meat Bun can be so successful. Literally anything you may want in order to express your gaming passion, from toys to music to clothing to the odd bit of paraphernalia, can be yours with a quick Google search and a few mouse clicks. Toss it all in a virtual basket and punch in a credit card number or PayPal password, and within a week your newest gadget or fashion statement will be in your hands. Back in the 90s, ordering anything from the comfort of your home meant suffering the dreaded six-to-eight-week delivery period. If you phoned in your order, you might shave a week or two off that delivery time. Either way, you were waiting at least a full month before anything arrived. By then you probably forgot you had ordered anything at all! On the flip side, coming home to a strange parcel on your doorstep was a little like Christmas. You wondered, what could it be? It's only when you saw the sender's address that you remembered what it was, then you tore open the box like a feverish child. There's nothing quite like being pleasantly surprised by something you forgot was coming in the mail. Nintendo Power's Super Power Supplies catalog was really something out of a young Nintendo child's wildest fantasies. In many ways, it was the precursor to Club Nintendo. Only you spent real money instead of virtual coins. And there was more stuff to buy. And the selection wasn't shit. After launching in 1994, new editions of the catalog would arrive seasonally, swapping out older items with newer ones that ranged from practical to downright strange. I mean, there was a 6.5' Donkey Kong Country inflatable raft shaped like a giant banana! I would love to meet the dude who still has one of those stuffed away in his garage! Of course, there were always items to help with your ever-growing NP library -- plastic protectors, magazine binders and racks, and a full suite of Player's Guides. For your hardware storage needs, you had travel bags for handhelds, organizers for home consoles, and cases to keep the dust out of loose game cartridges. Nintendo gave us the means to fortify our gaming collection against any and all types of damage and degradation. I paid an extra close eye on the available soundtracks. To this day, physical game albums are treated as a pointless novelty by most Western publishers, while Japan gets CDs for even the crappiest of C-grade filth. Nintendo seems especially averse to selling its music -- we're lucky that the Super Mario Galaxy games got the full CD treatment, but it still took a lot of teeth-pulling just to convince Nintendo to bundle the first Galaxy's OST with American Wiis. It wasn't always like that. There was a time when Nintendo happily produced albums for all its biggest software hits and made them available for the NP army. You wanted Killer Cuts, the aptly titled Killer Instinct soundtrack? It was yours! You wanted a trilogy set that included the music from Super Mario 64, Star Fox 64, and Mario Kart 64? No problem, son! You wanted Play It Loud!, a compilation CD that pulled tracks from Super Nintendo titles like F-Zero, Super Metroid, A Link to the Past, and more? Ain't no thing but a chicken wing! My very first game soundtrack purchase was DK Jamz, the Donkey Kong Country OST. I bought that sucker on cassette -- remember those things? You had to rewind them and shit? I loved it! I didn't even own an SNES, much less the game itself, but combined with my copy of the DKC Player's Guide, I felt like I knew that game inside and out. But the best were the special goodies brought out to commemorate Nintendo Power's 100th issue. You could score an "NP100"-stamped watch, T-shirt, or set of collector's coins, or you could hold out for the limited-edition gold N64 controller and Game Boy Pocket. I skipped out on the Game Boy (kinda wish I hadn't) but snatched up the controller. When that hotness showed up at my house two months later, I became the god of GoldenEye 007. I was invincible! Suck on THAT, Gold Nunchuk! I never did buy all that much stuff from Super Power Supplies -- there was no way my parents were buying anything over the phone with a credit card, and they saw mail order offers as not quite a scam but close enough to one. I was lucky enough to receive the items that I did; for the rest, I gazed longingly upon those pages. Take usual fare such as shirts, hoodies, jackets, watches, plush dolls, action figures, wall clocks, console decals, hats, and posters, then toss in amazing pieces of gaming memorabilia like Yoshi's Island animation cels or Donkey Kong Country Blockbuster Video competition carts, and you've got Super Power Supplies. And when you consider that this was merely supplementary to the Nintendo Power reading experience, you can understand how it was so easy to get caught up in Nintendo mania. Nintendo Power was a phenomenon, plain and simple. There will never be anything like it ever again, and that makes me incredibly sad. At the same time, I'm thankful that I was able to be part of a movement that literally changed my life and the lives of millions of others. And if I was able to score some sweet gaming swag out of the deal, so much the better!
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Nintendo Power had awesome merch
[Offbeat Hall of Fame is a showcase of the cool, often bizarre products and media from years past that celebrate videogames and gamer culture.] Have you picked up your copy of the final Nintendo Power yet? Looking through it ...

Nintendo Power's last hurrah leaves me in tears

Dec 08 // Tony Ponce
You already know about the magazine's cover, which pays tribute to the cover of the very first issue. Perhaps even cooler than that is the included poster, which features a spread of every single issue plus variant covers stretching all the way back to 1988, bringing the total count to 300. I can even see the issue that started it all for me: October 1991, with Star Trek on the front. I was a devoted subscriber until early in the GameCube years, when I foolishly dropped it for the more "mature" Game Informer. I even tossed my entire back catalog in the trash because I was running out of room in my closet! I was soooo stupid. I wish I could go back in time 10 years and punch my high school self in the nuts. The mag is split up into four massive sections: NP's top Nintendo games ever, a recap of all 24 years of NP history, farewells from current and past NP editors, and a review blowout for most of the Wii U launch library. And this time around, the letters to the editors don't only include messages from readers but also from industry faces like WayForward's Matt Bozon and Sean Velasco, DreamRift's Peter Ong, and Game|Life's Chris Kohler, among others. The top 285 games -- one for every issue of the magazine's run -- definitely has some odd placements, especially on the lower rungs. I'm slightly disappointed that the Game Boy got as little representation as it did, but just about all the games you'd expect to make the cut have. These are just the editors' opinions, after all, and it's not like you'll be able to write in your objections. The biggest draw, of course, is the year-by-year retrospective of Nintendo Power. Seeing the scans from those decades-old issues and reading about all the promotions running at the time really sent me back to my childhood. They even highlight one of my favorite moments: a 1995 contest in which the winner would get to be an extra on the set of The Mask II! Whoever won that contest got royally fucked over! Ha! Simply seeing the magazine's progression in an abridged format gives you a true sense of how much effort was put in tailoring Nintendo Power to the fans. From free games for subscribers in the form of Dragon Warrior and The Legend of Zelda: Collector's Edition to full-on monthly comics for Mario, Zelda, Metroid, Star Fox, and more, it was just an avalanche of goodness. Editors from throughout NP's life chime in with their favorite moments and also a couple of their more shameful ones. For instance, I'm glad that Scott Pelland, managing editor from 1988 to 2008, was able to admit that no one on staff was happy to promote the Virtual Boy but were obligated to anyway. And Steve Thomason, editor-in-chief from 2003 to 2012, asks forgiveness for giving Shadow the Hedgehog an 8.0. It's cool, Steve. Nobody's perfect. If there was one thing about this issue I wasn't too pleased by, it was the third-party advertisements. One of the things I admired about Nintendo Power back in the early days was that, unlike competing mags, it was relatively ad-free, and the few ads that were there were for Nintendo's own hardware and software. It wasn't until this past decade that NP started welcoming outside ads. I had hoped that for this big sendoff, the mag would have eschewed any and all ads. I mean, seriously, what's the worst that could have happened? The companies pull support and refuse to print anything in Nintendo Power ever again? Pssssh! The magazine closes with one last surprise: a two-page comic starring Nester and his son Maxwell. Nester was just a spunky kid when he first graced NP alongside "Gamemaster" Howard Phillips. After Nester's Adventures completed its run, he would return sporadically for high-profile events, such as the mag's100th issue. We saw him grow up, go to college, and start a family, but throughout it all, he's still a kid at heart and able to pass that gaming spirit on to his progeny. It was a fun ride, Nintendo Power. You did alright.
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The final issue hits all the right notes
Last night, I noticed that the final issue of Nintendo Power was in stock at Barnes & Noble. Naturally, I bought two copies: one to peruse and one to leave in the shrink wrap FOR. EV. ER. If you've ever been an NP reader ...

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The final Nintendo Power cover is perfect


Simply... perfect...
Nov 30
// Tony Ponce
On the left is Nintendo Power #1. On the right is the final issue, #285. Wow. Bravo. We were hoping to wait until the mag hit newsstands on December 11, but since this photo of its cover has been making the rounds all day, we...
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Let's watch 27 minutes of Rockman commercials!


Kicking of the 25th anniversary celebration right
Nov 23
// Tony Ponce
Thanksgiving is over, which means it's time to shift gears and focus on the next major celebration: the 25th anniversary of Mega Man! My writing output, which was already very Mega Man-heavy, is poised to become even more "m...

Review: Retro City Rampage

Oct 31 // Tony Ponce
Retro City Rampage (PC [reviewed], PlayStation Network, PlayStation Vita, WiiWare, Xbox Live Arcade)Developer: Vblank EntertainmentPublisher: Vblank EntertainmentRelease: October 9, 2012 (PC, PSN, Vita) / Q4 2012 (WiiWare, XBLA)MSRP: $14.99 (PC, PSN, Vita) / TBA (WiiWare, XBLA) Retro City Rampage has had quite the colorful history. Originally conceived as the NES homebrew project Grand Theftendo, Brian decided to shift development to PC in order to escape the NES' limitations. From then on, the game started to gain an identity of its own. RCR may be an open-world sandbox, but a GTA clone it is not. It is a melting pot of ideas and inspiration, a conglomerate of cameos and pop culture references that are woven into the fabric so seamlessly that it feels like they truly belong together. It's Brian's own Who Framed Roger Rabbit, and the in-game world of Theftropolis is his Toontown. So rich is the city with heartfelt nods to cherished icons of yesteryear that you can't even go 30 seconds without being slammed by a parade of nostalgia. As you cruise the streets, you may notice the Ninja Turtles' Party Wagon or the A-Team's van driving by. Environments and objects straight out of Super Mario Bros., The Legend of Zelda, Sonic the Hedgehog, and more dot the landscape. There's even a boxing gym operated by a man who is totally a dead ringer for Doc Louis from Punch-Out!! [embed]237235:45596[/embed] A lot of these references are window dressing, so it might be easy to pass RCR off as lacking substance. That couldn't be further from the truth. The biggest references of all are built into the missions themselves, straddling the line between parody and homage but always with love and attention to detail. In one mission, you break into the home of the very Batman-esque Biffman, don his costume, and patrol the streets in search of Biffman's nemesis the Jester. In another mission, you bust onto the set of a Saved by the Bell knockoff during a live taping, beat up the high school boys, then take the girl back to your place for some "iced tea." In yet another mission, you have to dive into the reservoir to deactivate bombs in a recreation of the infamous dam level from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles on the NES. These are the kinds of adventures you'll embark upon during the main missions, but you might want to kill some time driving around the street, jacking cars, and mowing down pedestrians instead. The more carnage you create, the more your notoriety grows, attracting the attention of ever more aggressive cops and eventually the military. As with GTA, there's something morbidly cathartic about spreading wanton chaos and destruction -- even more so when the world is populated by pixelated, toy-like caricatures of beach bums, gymnasts, and mariachis. Like I metioned, there is an overarching story. You are a hired thug known only as "Player," who is hurtled through time after stealing Bill and Ted's phone booth in front of a convenience store. Stranded in the future, you are fortunate enough to bump into Doc Choc, who's willing to let you use his DeLorean time machine if you can help repair it. Thus, you must track down the missing pieces of the machine, following leads and taking odd jobs along the way. During your quest, you frequently cross paths with your former employer, A.T. Corp., which holds a monopoly on nearly every industry in Theftropolis, from the media to software development. The biggest thorn in your side is the company's lead scientist, Dr. Von Buttnik, who rides around in a wrecking ball-swinging pod like a certain blue speedster's nemesis. In a stroke of hilarious cleverness, Player's conflict with A.T. Corp. sidesteps all player agency concerns. Player claims to be disgusted by A.T. Corp.'s nefarious business practices, which would seem at odds with his penchant for city-wide mayhem. When asked about this contradiction directly, Player flatly states that the two behaviors are not mutually exclusive. By embracing such a contradiction, Retro City Rampage allows you to have your cake and eat it too! Beyond the core levels, you unlock sub-missions that task you with using a specific weapon or tool to destroy a number of pedestrians or cars or to earn a certain amount of points within a time limit. You are then rated on your performance with a bronze, silver, or gold medal, and your score is posted onto the leaderboards. While scoring is typically very straightforward -- link kills together for a streak bonus -- I had serious issues in sub-missions involving handheld explosives like grenades or dynamite. Destroying people or vehicles with these items yields very few points, so the trick is to cause a chain reaction by using the explosion of one vehicle to destroy nearby ones. For some odd reason, this doesn't always result in a substantial amount of points. Maybe I've yet to discover exactly what triggers scoring chains when it comes to explosives, but I find them to be very random, making these some of the most difficult portions of the entire game. Then there are the guest mini-games, starring Commander Video from the BIT.TRIP series, Meat Boy, and even Harley Morenstein and Muscles Glasses from Epic Meal Time. Commander Video's game is an abridged version of BIT.TRIP RUNNER, Meat Boy's takes its cues from Rad Racer (use 3D glasses for stereoscopic mode!), and the EMT crew's closely resembles "Test Your Might" from Mortal Kombat. Clearing these games unlocks the characters' likenesses in either Free Roaming Mode or in the plastic surgery office alongside the Dtoid crew's mugs. The EMT game is not all that hard, but the BIT.TRIP and Meat Boy ones may make you want to smack your head against a wall. They start easily enough, but the challenge quickly ramps up. Particularly in BIT.TRIP, I was having extreme difficulty bouncing off alligator heads using the Xbox 360 controller. When I switched to the keyboard instead, jumping became far more responsive. That may have simply been a mechanical problem with my controller, but as I didn't have any similar issues elsewhere, I'm left to wonder. Customization is another major feature of RCR. You can change the border around the game screen to look like various monitors or arcade cabinets, add CRT scanlines, or apply color filters to simulate the look of old console, handheld, or computer software. If you want to pretend you are playing on an old VGA monitor, you can! If you want to recreate the feeling of squinting at the Game Boy's tiny spinach-colored square, that's possible too! Whatever tickles your nostalgia bone, there's an option available to satisfy your desires. Options extend to play style as well. By pressing and holding the fire button, you will lock onto the nearest target in your line of sight, but you can also use the right stick on a controller to enable twin-stick shooting, Smash TV style. You can dispatch enemies either by shooting them, bashing them, or running over them. n addition, you can pull a Mario and jump on their heads, a quick means to escape a tight squeeze when you are besieged on all sides. There's even a basic cover system for fans of Gears of War because... hell... why not? I haven't even touched upon the amazing chiptune soundtrack, composed by notable game composers Leonard "Freaky DNA" Paul (Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit 2, NBA Jam 2010) and Jake "virt" Kaufman (Shantae, Double Dragon Neon) as well as game music arranger extraordinaire Matt "Norrin_Radd" Creamer. Their tunes can be heard on the various radio stations while cruising through Theftropolis, the pulse-pounding bass and melodies giving voice to RCR's marriage of anarchy and candy-coated nostalgia. Unfortunately, the on-screen action at any time can be so overwhelming that it drowns out the music. At its worst, the soundtrack sounds like chaotic noise, hardly the catchy rhythms we associate with 8-bit gaming. That isn't so much the soundtrack's fault as it is the sheer concentration of activity that fills every second of play time, but it's nonetheless disappointing. It's this chaos that serves as both RCR's greatest triumph and biggest failing. To go anywhere and do anything, to never go a minute without being bombarded by visual and aural stimulation -- that all sounds good on paper; in practice, it often comes off as distracting. It's a jumble of events that fly past so quickly that your sense of focus will fall apart if you aren't completely devoted. But that was always going to be a problem, considering the ambitious decade-long journey Brian embarked upon. He wanted this to be his magnum opus, a love letter to everything that ever influenced him or made him smile. At the very least, the game never feels bloated or drawn out -- if you only attempt the main story missions, you'll be done in a matter of hours. However, if you want to lose yourself in the city or embark upon an Easter egg quest, the size and scope make for the perfect playground. Will there be people who don't like Retro City Rampage? Of course. In many ways, it bites off more than it can chew, especially when it comes to some of the one-time gimmick missions. Regardless, it is an ambitious achievement that celebrates everything that gaming has been and ever will be. It's clever, funny, outrageous, and even a bit frustrating, but there is a genuine respect for both the players and the sources of all the referenced material. I've barely scratched the surface of what secrets and activities are in store, but I'll leave the rest to you to discover on your own.
Retro City Rampage photo
Grand Theftendo
[Full Disclosure: Not only do current and former Destructoid staff appear as unlockable character skins in the game, there's also a main story mission during which you go inside a giant Mr. Destructoid robot. For these reaso...

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Google celebrates Little Nemo's 107th birthday


I'm the Dream Master, baby, and I'm dreaming away
Oct 15
// Tony Ponce
The first installment of Winsor McCay's influential Little Nemo in Slumberland strip was published in the New York Herald on October 15, 1905. To celebrate the comic's 107th birthday, Google has created an interactive Doodle ...
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He-Man punches Skeletor's friends in new iOS brawler


By the power of Apple!
Oct 10
// Jim Sterling
Sweet nostalgia is the hook by which Chillingo and Glitchsoft hope to snatch you with He-Man, a new brawler coming universally to iOS devices. It's based on the old cartoon, you see. This means I'm going to buy it. Because I'...
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Build your own dream arcade in Arcadecraft


Aug 30
// Allistair Pinsof
In what is one of the most simplest but genuinely clever game ideas in a while, Arcadecraft tasks players with managing their own '80s arcade. You must satisfy customers by adjusting pricing, conveniences, and adapting to th...
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Halfont, original SNES jams that come in a cool box set


Aug 27
// Tony Ponce
Yesterday, I shared news of Shnabubula's SNESology, an ongoing musical project in which multiple musicians create brand new songs using the soundsets from SNES games. One of the contributing artists, William Kage, recently re...
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Remix! A nostalgic look at the evolution of PC games


Jul 19
// Jordan Devore
Over on Polygon, Reverse Enginears has posted a rather excellent look at the progression of PC gaming, starting with Zork and M.U.L.E. and continuing all the way up to Diablo III. Best of all, it's set to the catchy beeps an...
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You're probably going to forget about Double Dragon: Neon


Jul 18
// Hamza CTZ Aziz
[Update: My mistake, I read the date wrong in the press release. Double Dragon: Neon is actually coming out in September. Far better timing than the blockbuster month of November, with the exception of Borderlands 2 and Kirby...
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I had ALMOST forgotten how crappy Tiger LCD games were


Jun 27
// Tony Ponce
Before the Game Boy, handheld gaming was dominated by LCD electronic devices, most famously the Game & Watch line. Each device was dedicated to playing a single game in the crudest way imaginable -- all possible object l...
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EA: Syndicate failed, old IP still to be resurrected


Jun 14
// Jim Sterling
Electronic Arts has admitted that the attempted Syndicate reboot didn't pay off as intended, but that hasn't stopped the publisher from wanting to bring back more old game names. After all, there's still so many things that i...

The joy of traps

Apr 25 // Chris Carter
Mega Man. Prince of Persia. Tomb Raider. When you think of these games, many of you may be reminded of the numerous spike traps that led to the untimely demise of your digital avatar, and possibly the demise of your actual controller. Of course, one can only think of themselves in this situation, but what about the poor contractors that were conscripted in Dr. Wily's army -- the saps who actually designed those labyrinths? Are they not people too? What if you could outwit your opponent with a combination of crafty cudgels and catapults? Of course, tower defense prides itself on setting up giant obelisks of power ready to crush your enemies with a single blow, but most of the time, you're not fighting in the trenches in favor of an omniscient God-like overview of the battlefield. The feeling of actually being in the thick of things is another emotion entirely that a lot of people sadly miss out on. While I could fill an ocean with my appreciation for trap-setting games, I'll just share a few of my personal favorites that I feel exemplify my love for the genre. Imagine that you're the keeper of a secret mansion -- the sentinel for an undying, God-like race. Now picture a bunch of jealous humans trying to break in and mess things up for said Gods. As young slave girl Millennia, your loyalty is called into question as you balance the scales between those who wield power and those who seek it. That's basically Deception II in a nutshell, and the result is an awesome explosion of trap crafting to the most epic Rube Goldbergian proportions! Deception II, in essence, gives you a bunch of ground, wall, and ceiling traps and then sets you loose on a cavalcade of enemies from ninjas to mages to knights armored head to toe. The big tactical catch is that you are completely defenseless when it comes to hand-to-hand or ranged combat -- your survival hinges entirely on your ability to out-Goldberg your opponents. Friends, there is no better feeling than nabbing someone in a bear trap as you cue a giant Indiana Jones boulder down a nearby stairwell, then watch them panic as you quell their fears (and their body temperature) with a well-placed cold arrow. Traps sound so much more fun when you're not on the receiving end of them, don't they? Deception II is basically a sadistic 3D version of The Incredible Machine, which is pretty much the best thing ever. In what is truly a unique experience, the Deception series is unrivaled when it comes to 3D trap action. While the rush of Deception can't be echoed quite so easily, another game that brings me great joy is a title that happens to be one of the only competitive multiplayer games in the genre: Trap Gunner. While you have the ability to both shoot projectiles and perform melee attacks here, the meat of your damage is going to come from setting traps. Luckily, the game comes with one of the most amazing mechanics of all time: the ability to search, uncover, and disarm traps. Trap Gunner allowed you to be the Sherlock Holmes of action games, adding the mechanic to search suspicious areas for traps in your proximity -- if you find one, you're able to disarm it through a random QTE. Of course, your enemy could spot you and blow you to kingdom come, triggering the trap. This creates a unique cat-and-mouse situation, where you have to weigh the prudence of setting or disarming traps at any given moment. The idea that any given square could have a deadly bomb on it is pretty nerve-racking and makes for a pretty stressful experience, one that's fairly unique to the trap-setting genre! My absolute favorite thing to do is set up a minimum of five push traps that elaborately force my opponent across the entire map and into a stack of TNT so gigantic it would make Looney Toon's ACME Corporation jealous. I remember spending afternoons planning out levels on paper in a grid-like fashion, deciding the best places to place certain traps -- not many contemporary games are capable of providing that feeling, and I miss it. The above two games are classic, but what better way to reintroduce the genre than a title that lets you slaughter hordes of angry orcs? Orcs are the picture-perfect Xeno-Scapegoat for killing and maiming -- just ask anybody! Topped off by a kickass gothic rock soundtrack, Orcs Must Die! bestows upon you the honor of killing hundreds of greenskins (sometimes in a single level) and other such creatures. The setup is kind of like Sanctum but less tower-defense oriented. Your avatar is also the exact opposite of the one in Deception II -- your playable Warrior Mage can kill, maim, slice, and shoot his way to victory even without the help of traps. Fortunately, said traps are extremely useful, especially with the ability to summon NPC archers and knights to join your cause. While there aren't as many elaborate Goldberg-esque combinations, there are still a few, like springboard floor traps and vent traps that can lift your enemies into danger. Orcs Must Die! doesn't do anything spectacularly unique, but it does everything extremely well, especially for an indie, budget-priced title. If you're at all interested in the trap-setting genre and share my joy, Orcs Must Die! is a great place to get started. There are tons of other trap classes in games like Diablo II and World of Warcraft that weren't mentioned here. You could easily compare the genre of tower defense in many ways, even if you aren't necessarily always in the trenches (Sanctum!).  Traps themselves are also found all over the gaming world. Games like Metal Gear Solid feature claymores and other such proximity-based traps. Mario Kart prides itself on player-set traps. Night Trap ... need I say more? While the genre itself is dwindling in favor of more tower defense games, as it stands, I'm lying in wait, ready to trap my next joy. GoldenEye 64 proximity mines only, anyone? [Thanks for the game images, Sir Tobbii!]
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When you think of the word "trap," what's the first thing that comes to mind? If your psyche isn't in the darkest depths of the catacombs, you're probably thinking of a mechanical device with the purpose of inflicting harm up...

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Yo dawg, I herd u like videogames and haircuts...


Apr 23
// Tony Ponce
... so we put a salon in yo retro game store so u can game in style while u get styled! If you live in or plan on visiting Copenhagen, Denmark, you need to track down Ruben & Bobby, a hair studio that doubles as a retro ...
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Adding old box art to new videogames makes them awesomer


Apr 15
// Tony Ponce
During the hustle and bustle of PAX week, there were quite a few bits of Internet awesomeness that unfortunately slipped under everyone's noses. I always hate being the last guy to find that "cool new thing," because it feels...

PAX: Double Dragon: Neon is Double Dragon-y

Apr 07 // Tony Ponce
Once again, you and a buddy hop into the shoes of Billy and Jimmy Lee, out to rescue Marian from a bunch of thugs who have nothing better to do than piss in your Cheerios. A few people have expressed concern towards the art style in still screens, and those concerns are most definitely founded. Even in motion, the characters look and feel very stiff, not to mention that the levels themselves are flat and extremely barren. You've got your basic set of moves: punch, kick, jump, and throw. Then you can use the shoulder triggers to dash or set up a rolling evasion. Throwing is really sketchy because you can't immediately pick up enemies, as you must wear them down a bit before you are allowed to grapple. You've also got your familiar motley crew of baddies: batt-swinging punks, whip-wielding biker skanks, and Abobo, of course. The weapons enemies drop can still be picked up and use in your war against crime. There are a couple of cool highlights. The soundtrack features delicious remixes of classic Double Dragon jams, which have always been stellar and are even better once run through a synth rock, 80s anime filter. Also, when you lose your health, there is a small window in which your partner can come and revive you, accompanied by a cute animation of rewinding the tape on an audio cassette. The demo ends on a pretty kickass note, with the Lee brothers walking into a pagoda that shoots into space like a rocket. There, you meet the game's big bad, this really Yoshimitsu-looking mofo, before the screen cuts to black. If publisher Majesco prices this low, Double Dragon: Neon could be a fun distraction on a lazy weekend when it launches this summer. Just be aware that this is shaping up to be nothing more than an NES game given a polygonal facelift.
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As you may have heard, Double Dragon: Neon by WayForward is being showcased on the PAX show floor. Now, Double Dragon II on the NES may just be my favorite co-op brawler of all time. I have a lot of good memories of my dad an...

Oooooohh! Regular Show's J.G. Quintel and I talk games

Apr 03 // Tony Ponce
00:27 -- Regular Show was green-lit as part of a push to "age up" Cartoon Network. 01:25 -- "2 in the AM PM," one of J.G.'s short films that served as prototypes for Regular Show, contains cursing and drug use. Yep, definitely child-safe material! 02:09 -- "Weekend at Benson's" is an episode that spoofs the 1989 comedy Weekend at Bernie's, with the important distinction that Benson isn't actually dead. 04:00 -- J.G.'s first game console was the Sega Master System, while his friends all had an NES. 05:51 -- Several notable SMS games from J.G.'s youth include Double Dragon, Time Soldiers, Shinobi, Thunder Blade, Psycho Fox, R-Type, and Snail Maze, which was built into the machine and could be played when no cartridge was inserted. 08:12 -- So sad! J.G. is too busy with work to be able to play games anymore! 09:06 -- Other TV shows suck at demonstrating typical gamer posture and button-pressing. 10:55 -- In Regular Show, J.G. tries to demonstrate that videogames are the "equivalent of reading a book or watching a TV show," just as in reality. 13:20 -- For a proper Regular Show videogame, J.G. would either want a co-op brawler similar to old Konami arcade games or a chill, two-player, exploration-based title just like ToeJam & Earl. 16:25 -- "Video Game Wizards" is an episode that spoofs everyone's favorite movie / commercial, The Wizard, right down to the Power Glove. The episode first aired last week, so I obviously hadn't seen it when I conducted this interview. 18:39 -- Regular Show: The Slack Pack, which just came out today, is a compilation DVD that contains 12 staff- and audience-favorite episodes. 19:50 -- "Over the Top" is an episode that spoofs the Sylvester Stallone arm wrestling movie, Over the Top. It features one of the many deaths of Rigby throughout the series. 20:35 -- The world of Regular Show is caught in a time warp, where 80s culture reigns supreme but little bits from later decades manage to worm their way through.
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Last February, I wrote an article about Cartoon Network's Regular Show and how it speaks to the 80s generation of gamers with genuine love and attention to detail. Whereas other shows make only cursory, often disparaging ref...

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Retro City Rampage cereal is a download for your face


Apr 01
// Tony Ponce
"I can really taste the graphics!" How many videogames can you play as well as eat? Inspired by Ralston's nasty-ass Nintendo Cereal System from back in the day, Retro City Rampage: The Cereal brings the pixelated action of R...
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NES JAMS is a half-and-half blend of piano and chiptune


Mar 23
// Tony Ponce
You got chocolate in my peanut butter! Well, you got peanut butter in my chocolate! And this guy put piano arrangements in my NES music! Is nothing sacred anymore!? For the magical price of "whatever," you can grab a copy of ...
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Today is a fine day for a FREE EarthBound tribute album


Mar 22
// Tony Ponce
Any day is a fine day for free music of any kind, but EarthBound is a game that strikes a particularly harmonious chord whenever it is mentioned. Maybe if fans believe in the power of friendship and magic enough, Nintendo of ...
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ScrewAttack uncovered a bizarre PSA from the early 90s


Mar 20
// Tony Ponce
Hop into your time-traveling phone booth and go back to the early 90s, when pastels and neon were all the rage and Hulk Hogan was still a real American who fought for the rights of every man. The boys at ScrewAttack were doin...

Review: Abobo's Big Adventure

Mar 11 // Daniel Starkey
Abobo's Big Adventure (PC)Developer: Team BoboPublisher: Team BoboReleased: January 11, 2012 MSRP: FREERig: Intel i7-820QM @3.06 GHz, with 8GB of RAM, GeForce GTX 480M GPU Abobo's Big Adventure is a minimal game, a tribute to the NES generation in which everyone from Donkey Kong to Ryu Hayabusa makes an appearance in some form or another. Focused on punishing difficulty and an assumed proficiency on the part of the player, Abobo is a juxtaposition of the modern and the classic, a tangential parody of the youth and innocence of the NES era that melds grotesque physical comedy (read: poop rockets and bloodsport) and the simple gameplay of times long past. Drawing purely from the comedy of anachronistic allusions, Abobo constructs a caricature of everything about contemporary video game culture and feels like nothing less than a snarky shot at the 21st-century gamer. In my experience, a delicious cocktail of allusion and parody are the highest form of comedy. They necessitate prior experience and knowledge as well as engagement and immediate reflection upon the consumed work. Abobo fits right in that niche, tapping into the collective experience core gamers have with the NES. In much the same way that Greco-Roman art can be said to be the foundation of Western culture as a whole, the monomyth of the gamer would be the marriage of Mario, Mega Man, Metroid, and more. It is an aspect of our culture that we all share to some degree, even if the days of the NES weren't our own. [embed]222925:43027:0[/embed] While never quite reaching the comic brilliance of Portal or Psychonauts, Abobo has more than a few "laugh out loud" moments. More often than not, however, it warrants a mild "heh." Solidly constructed in general, the game still steps into the realm of excessive too often (like the aforementioned poop rockets). It was originally made as a free Flash game for Newgrounds and has that classic Newgrounds toilet humor. It fits the audience well.  Stepping outside the allusions, Abobo doesn't have much depth, though in this instance, that's not necessarily a bad thing. Controls are very simple -- you move with the arrow keys and execute techniques with "A" and "S," effectively using the keyboard like an inverted NES controller. Actions are context-sensitive, as the levels are a wildly varied smorgasbord of 8-bit staples. You can go from fighting down Double Dragon alleyways, questing through a penis-shaped Zelda dungeon, and touching gloves with Punch-Out's Little Mac.  Playing just like their respective sources, from a mechanical perspective alone, the stages are damn near perfect. While often a bit too hard for my tastes, they never veers into the realm of absurd (see I Wanna Be the Guy). The title relies on technical skill, not raw trial and error, so if you die, it is your fault. This, like everything else, feeds into the theme of evoking nostalgia for an adult gaming audience. Then there are the boss battles, glorious indulgences in third-generation gaming that amount to simple tests of skill. The 80's aesthetic is matched with gusto, placing the protagonist side-by-side with engines of unbridled nostalgia. Clocking in at around two hours, Abobo manages to pack a lot of content in a very small space -- each of the eight levels contains several dozen references to the NES. Though I realize that the game is meant to throw the audience into the wayback machine, I also realize just how far games have come since then. Even if you are only playing for challenge, there has been a resurgence of modern games that are better in nearly every way (e.g. Super Meat Boy). This isn't to say that Abobo is bad, but it isn't as good as other, newer-feeling games. Still, the experience as a whole is unique and definitely worth a look, especially if you grew up the late 80's or early 90's. Its referential humor is fun and not something that can be found anywhere else. Abobo's Big Adventure is a competent, very short but sweet throwback to our Golden Age. The referential humor and absurd juxtaposition of modern sensibilities on older mores is great, but it's all been done already and better. The game does nothing wrong, in the strictest sense, but it just doesn't have that "pop," that "wow" that leaves a truly lasting impression. That said, it is free, so if you're a gamer on a budget or someone just looking for a few yucks, it's definitely worth it to follow Abobo on his journey, at least for a little while.
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The NES era was a special time for a lot of us. Many of the staff here at Dtoid will always have a certain attachment to the period, myself included. Abobo's Big Adventure is a tribute to all those who grew up with the gaming gods of old. This free Flash game is quite fun and funny, definitely well worth a trip down memory lane.

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Max Payne (and others) derezzed for 8-bit home computers


Feb 01
// Tony Ponce
What if, instead of Max Payne 3, the next chapter in the saga was a retro throwback for old-ass computers like the ZX Spectrum or Commodore 64? You watch the video above and, at first, it doesn't look all that bad. Then you ...

The joy of pinball

Jan 26 // Chad Concelmo
Sadly, the above scenario is becoming less and less common. And not just because there are fewer and fewer arcades left in the world. In the small number of arcades still remaining, pinball machines themselves are becoming a rarity, being rapidly replaced by massive Dance Dance Revolutions and driving games so expensive they drain your wallet after only a few plays. And that is a real shame. Because playing pinball is one of the greatest joys in the world. I will never forget my first experience playing pinball. I was six years old and accompanying my parents to their weekly bowling league. I remember those trips to the Bowl America like they were yesterday. While my parents were bowling, a friend of the family would always bring me to the bowling alley's arcade: a small, modest room hidden behind the snack bar. I would look forward to this arcade trip every week. As my parents would try their best to pick up splits, I would melt into the world of Crystal Castles, Star Wars, and Centipede. I was in heaven. Outside of the minimal number of cabinets, the arcade had only one pinball machine: Haunted House. It was a ridiculously rad pinball machine -- one of the rare "triple level" machines with sets of flippers on platforms above and below the main table. Yup, below. It was that rad. Being so young, though, I could never reach the machine. I was too short to play it. One night, however, my parent's friend lifted me up and let me try Haunted House for the first time. I got to insert the quarter into the glowing red slot. I got to pull back the plunger. I got to activate the flippers. And I got to do this all by myself -- well, outside of the woman with the glorious perm struggling to hold me up. The first time I saw the metallic ball bounce off a bumper and slide through a gate, I was mesmerized. I had fallen in love. All these years later, my love of pinball has not changed. I am just as obsessed as I was as a child. Every time I walk into an arcade or bar, I immediately check if the establishment has a pinball machine. Or, even better, multiple machines. If they do, that is where I spend my night. Just me, a pinball machine, and a draft beer resting on the sloped glass top. This joy I get from playing pinball comes from many different things. There are the technical reasons: the unpredictability of each game; the engineering that goes into creating each machine; the way pinball machines have evolved over the years; the physical interaction between you and the game. But, for me, there is so much more to it than the flawless, mathematical design that goes into building a successful table. For me, pinball is an experience like no other. It is some kind of unique hybrid between the interactivity of videogames and the passivity of, well, watching a shiny metal ball roll around. It's a strange, exciting, communal experience that no other form of entertainment can duplicate. Every since I was a child, I have been obsessed with the beauty of pinball machines and the way their design can result in such a surprisingly exhilarating experience. I used to build my own makeshift tables using bulletin boards, rubber bands, and marbles. I would even name the darn things. Adventure Lair. Pirate's Cove. Chad's Pinball Madness! (Yeah, they weren't the best names.) The amount of money my poor mother had to spend at office supply stores because of my obsession was staggering. But it wasn't just designing these tables that gave me so much pleasure. When I would pull the rubber band back and let loose the marbles, watching the colorful balls make their way through the push pins and thumbtacks would bring a huge smile to my face. Every single time. Heck, it still does! Regardless of the size or age of the table, the experience is the same. The randomness of the ball's path. The unexpected sounds and flashes of light. The marvel of seeing a table full of impossible-looking loops and spirals (the more loops and spirals the better!). The feeling of standing at a machine, hands pressed comfortably against either flipper, knowing you have to react at a moment's notice to control the mayhem playing out in front of you. The satisfaction of mastering the "flipper hold" and launching a ball up a jackpot-activating ramp. The loud clack that echoes throughout the entire arcade when you match numbers and are granted a free game. All of these factor into the joy that is playing pinball. And don't even get me started on multiball. Okay, get me started. For me, there is no powerup in game history that will ever top the excitement of getting multiball. Yeah, getting the spread gun in Contra is great. Kuribo's Shoe is fantastic! But when you are standing at a pinball table ... and you lock a few balls ... and then those balls are released to the fanfare of flashing lights and sounds ... and you frantically start slamming the flippers, not even sure what the heck is going on ... and the chaos starts to grow and grow as your points multiply at an alarming rate? My God. There is nothing greater. Keeping multiball alive for a long period of time is the closest I will ever get to an athletic achievement. From the simple joys of Target Pool to more recent masterworks like Twilight Zone, Addams Family, or Indiana Jones, no matter how old or new the table, I will always look at pinball machines as things of classic beauty. And as much I love videogame pinball (Pinball FX2 is, hands down, my most played XBLA game), nothing can top the wonderful, nostalgic feeling of playing at a live table. With the rate they are disappearing -- and STERN Pinball, the only maker of pinball machines left, quietly shrinking -- who knows how long pinball will still be around? Even the thought of pinball machines being a thing of the past makes me sad. I would ask you to stand up and take action, but I have no idea how to start stuff like that! I guess play more pinball? Support more arcades? Write a letter to ... someone? Chain yourself to a machine and refuse to leave until ... something happens? I have no idea. #occupypinball? I guess the best thing you can do is just enjoy the hell out of pinball machines while they are still around. I know I am. In fact, I think I am going to go play one right now. Bride of Pin-bot, here I come.
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You walk into an arcade. Whether you just finished playing miniature golf, swinging a bat in the batting cages, or just decided to make your way to one of the few remaining standalone arcades hidden in some random downtown no...

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ScrewAttack asks who or what your favorite retro boss is


Jan 13
// Tony Ponce
With a title that I would have expected our own Chad Concelmo to concoct, ScrewAttack has kicked off a new series entitled The Best EVER! The premise is quite self-explanatory: folks ask SA their opinions on the best "whateve...
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A collection of videogame maps drawn from memory


Jan 13
// Tony Ponce
Here's a novel idea: ask gamers to recreate stage layouts and overworld maps from their favorite games... without any sort of reference! The result is Mapstalgia, a place where folks can upload hand-drawn game maps spawned en...
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Japan's Super Potato has got all the bomb frostings


Dec 08
// Tony Ponce
Any gamer with an interest in visiting Japan will most undoubtedly be aware of Super Potato, the famous retro game store in Tokyo's Akihabara shopping district. You might have even sen a few videos that tour the joint, but o...
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Remember The Nightmare Before Christmas: Oogie's Revenge?


Oct 29
// Jim Sterling
It's the weekend before Halloween, and my mind turns to thoughts of the spooky. After recently re-watching The Nightmare Before Christmas, I suddenly remembered its sequel, Oogie's Revenge. Never heard of the sequel? Well, it...

Guilty pleasures/unsung classics of my SNES childhood

Aug 22 // Max Scoville
Mickey Mania: The Timeless Adventures of Mickey Mouse I’ve never been a Disney kid. I saw the movies, but unlike a lot of people my age, I’ve never been to a Disney theme-park, or had a favorite Disney home video that I watched on repeat. That being said, Mickey Mania: The Timeless Adventures of Mickey Mouse is one of my favorite Super Nintendo games. The premise is fairly generic; Mickey’s been sucked through a cartoon time-warp by some evil wizard, and you’ve gotta guide him through a greatest-hits collection of his animated adventures via pixelated platforming. If there's one thing I can't stand about SNES generation's games, it's that depressing grey palette.  This mediocre concept was executed quite well. The first level was based on Steamboat Willy, Mickey Mouse’s cartoon debut. It was rendered almost completely in black and white, a concept that’s rather uncommon when creating a product for children. Mickey ran around throwing marbles at various goons and jumping on things. Later levels had him escaping a charging moose and riding a gurney through the halls of a mad scientist’s castle. All in all, a very charming game. Super Baseball 2020 I don’t like sports, and because of this, I’m generally pretty bored by sports games. Unless, of course, they take place in the future and involve robots. Super Baseball 2020 is a baseball game set in the far-off year of 2020. It’s just like regular baseball, except it’s co-ed, with men and women competing together, while wearing power armor, computer sensors, and jetpacks. And also, some of the players are robots. It's basically a prequel to Super Metroid, where Samus is on a baseball team with robots and her cute friends, and they all shower togeth-- Oh. Uh. Sorry. I’ll be honest here: I have no idea how regular, present-day baseball works, so any differences between the actual sport and Super Baseball 2020 are beyond me. I just think robots and jetpacks are really cool. Hopefully, in 2020 A.D., eight years from now, Super Baseball will be a real sport, because I have a feeling I’d be super-good at it. PLOK I’m not sure how to preface a game like Plok. I’ve spent almost two decades knowing what Plok is while still having no idea what Plok is. As near as I can tell, he is either a humanoid starfish, or some kind of mutant Ku Klux Klan member. Plok lives in a world where everything is named after different types of fabric. After his flag is stolen, he goes on a rampage through this strange textile-themed island nation. By rampage, I mean he goes around collecting a bunch of seashells and hurling his own limbs at rabbits made out of burlap sacks. Actually, I'm not sure if they're rabbits, they might be potatoes. And also Plok sometimes transforms into a football player or a sawblade. This would've been a very controversial game if anyone had any f***ing idea what was going on. I don’t understand Plok, and I can’t even tell if I enjoy the gameplay. However, I love the game because it's a shining example of batshit-crazy weirdness that video games often had in the early nineties. I just can’t imagine a team of marketing people sitting around in a boardroom, analyzing trends or sales figures, trying to streamline Plok to be appealing to children. At the same time, I don’t imagine a small team of developers trying to create a work of art. Plok was just Plok, and thinking about the game makes me smile. So someone obviously did something right. Urban Strike (The Sequel To Jungle Strike) One of the things I miss most about a kid is the simplicity of buying games. We didn’t read reviews, we didn't argue in forums. We just kind of went with what we thought was cool. In the case of Urban Strike, the justification was “Dude, the box for that game has a picture of a stealth helicopter blowing stuff up in a big city.” I now know that Urban Strike was the third game in the Strike series, preceded by Desert and Jungle Strikes. Back then, I just thought “Urban” just sounded cooler. Thinking back to the summer of 1995, I don’t remember Urban Strike having much of a plot. Reading up on it now, it sounds like some intense Modern Warfare business. According to Wikipedia, Urban Strike takes place in the year 2001. A billionaire media mogul, former presidential candidate, and cult leader is plotting to destroy the World Trade Center with his super-laser. So, basically the bad guy is Osama Bin L. Ron Paul Murdoch. How can we ever face such a threat? Well, with action-packed isometric helicopter rescue mission combat, obviously! With some on-foot missions too.  Look at that strike. It's just so... Urban.  As a nine-year-old, this was not an easy game. The chopper’s controls were clumsy, and it had terrible mileage. If you ran out of fuel, you would crash, explode, and die. If you ever got far enough into the game for the on-foot missions, they were stressful and terrifying. Why do I have fond memories of this game? I have no idea. But seriously, dude. Look at the box. It has a helicopter on it. And it’s blowing stuff up in a city. That's awesome. Secret of Evermore Squaresoft’s RPGs are some of the Super Nintendo’s most respected games. Final Fantasies IV and VI (or II and III, as they were known back in my day) are practically hallowed, and Secret of Mana is right up there with them. To the ire of many a Japanophile friend, my personal favorite has always been Secret of Evermore, the bastard spin-off of Secret of Mana. I spent a good portion of my real-life childhood loitering outside adult movie theaters in the bad part of town. Secret of Evermore is an American-made action-JRPG that really, really wants to be a Lucasarts title. Most people fault it for not being Secret of Mana, but that’s actually why I’ve always liked it better. Secret of Mana was a pretty typical JRPG story: you’re chosen to save the world and there’s some magic life tree or something. My issue was that it wasn’t relate-able. It was a fantasy world built from the floor up, too far removed from anything I was familiar with as a kid. Plus, everything was way too colorful. I mean, really. The hero character dressed like Cyndi Lauper. Secret of Evermore, on the other hand, was about a kid from a boring little Podunk town (it was actually named Podunk) who got sucked into a mysterious land that was all loosely inspired by different stages of history. Your only other party member was your dog, and he took different forms depending on which area/time period of Evermore you were in. In the self-explanatory prehistoric realm Prehistoria, the dog was a giant wolf. In the futurisic land of Omnitopia, he was basically a flying toaster that shot lasers. In the medieval/Victorian Gothica, the dog was a pink poodle for some unexplained reason. You get a poodle and a bazooka. Your move, Secret of Mana.  When I was a kid, concepts and design decisions like this were much more interesting to me than those of Secret of Mana. Secret of Evermore was childhood fantasies and daydreams, except squeezed into the snug, fluorescent pants of a Japanese RPG. I, too, wished to be sucked out of mundane small town life and plopped down in a world where I could kill bouncing cat-mummies with acid rain spells. Secret of Evermore delivered that. Don't tell me that. You're ruining the magic, jerk. So, there you have it. A completely inconsistent list of video games that I don’t think get the respect they deserve. Everyone always brings up the fun times with Mario, Link, and Samus; I'm just as grateful for the Super NES for filling my childhood with helicopter explosions, robot baseball, and men tearing off their own limbs and throwing them at stuff. Happy birthday, Super Nintendo. You are my favorite grey and purple plastic box.
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It’s the 20th anniversary of the release of the Super Nintendo! To celebrate, Destructoid is offering a week's worth of SNES-related content. Join us for “Seven days of the Super Nintendo!” The Super Nintend...


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