Thursday, July 14, 2011

Lady Gaga's hat reminded me of Excitebike

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

PlayChoice-10: Nintendo's Lazy Man's Approach to Competing in the Arcades in the 80's

I was having a chat today about arcades in the 80's and the subject of the PlayChoice-10 came up.  To my astonishment, the individual I was chatting with had no memory of the PlayChoice-10.  Following up with others, and to my displeasure, I found some gamers have no recollection of what an arcade is outside of a place to drink beer and play Skeeball.  

Arcades in the 80's and early 90's were a staple for gamers as they were a place where we would play games that appeared graphically and phonically better than games we would play on our home console or computer.  But, these also would cost money.

It is no mystery that Nintendo ruled the home console world in the 80's with the NES.  But, they had stopped with their arcade games by the mid-80's thus leaving a glaring hole in their revenue stream.  Contrary to what 80's movies would want you to believe, arcades were not just for the geeks of the world.  Arcades were a place where teenagers would go to hang out since they were one of the few places you didn't have to be over the age of 21 to be allowed in.  Arcades on a Friday and Saturday night were generally packed and not just by a bunch of guys wearing thick glasses and pocket protectors.

To make up for the fact that Nintendo had exited the arcade market they came out with the PlayChoice-10 which would literally play NES games at the arcade.  In a nutshell, they basically took the same specs from the NES and added some bells and whistles and put the machine in the arcade.

One of said bells and whistles was the time limit.  Per credit, $.25, you would get five minutes of play time.  Adding quarters gave you more time.

Also, there was a second monitor so that you could get tips for each game.  For any seasoned NES player, the tips were pretty much useless but a nice perk seeing as you were just playing NES games where there were better games available to play.  For example, you could play Double Dragon on the NES via PlayChoice-10 or you could walk five feet and play the arcade version which the NES version pales in comparison.

However, the PlayChoice-10 did have some perks.  You could potentially try some NES games for a quarter instead of making the purchase, getting it home, and finding out the game sucked.  Even rentals were usually $2 or $3.  Also, it gave an opportunity to show off you skills for your friends.  It was nice playing the games using arcade controllers.  But, for me, the biggest perk was that I could easily spend a dollar and kill 20 minutes when I was running out of money playing Super Mario Bros. when I knew my ride wouldn't be there for awhile.

Here is the list of games that were available.  A couple of them standout as interesting choices, like Metroid.  Who would sit there and feed quarters to play Metroid?  It would cost you $50+ to beat the whole thing.  Also, there is a certain level of irony that you would pay to play Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Arcade Game in an arcade where there was actually Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II, the arcade game.

A couple of questions for those who remember the PlayChoice-10, did the Contra code work for PlayChoice-10 (I have a shaky memory that I tried it and it did)?  Also, would passwords work for games like Goonies?  Finally, did they replace Mike Tyson's Punch Out with just Punch Out?  Please comment here or shoot me a message on Twitter if you know the answer to any of these

1942 (1986 Capcom)
Balloon Fight (1985 Nintendo)
Baseball (1985 Nintendo)
Baseball Stars (1989 SNK)
Captain Skyhawk (1990 Milton Bradley)
Castlevania (1987 Konami)
Contra (1988 Konami)
Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers (1990 Capcom)
Double Dragon (1988 Technos)
Double Dribble (1987 Konami)
Dr. Mario (1990 Nintendo)
Duck Hunt (1985 Nintendo)
Excitebike (1985 Nintendo)
Fester's Quest (1989 Sunsoft)
Gauntlet (1985 Atari)
Golf (1985 Nintendo)
The Goonies (1986 Konami)
Gradius (1986 Konami)
Hogan's Alley (1985 Nintendo)
Kung Fu (1985 Irem)
Mario Bros. (1984 Nintendo)
Mario's Open Golf (1991 Nintendo)
Mega Man 3 (1990 Capcom)
Metroid (1986 Nintendo)
Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!! (1987 Nintendo)
Ninja Gaiden (1989 Tecmo)
Ninja Gaiden II: The Dark Sword of Chaos (1990 Tecmo)
Ninja Gaiden III: The Ancient Ship of Doom (1991 Tecmo)
Pinbot (1990 Rare)
Power Blade (1991 Taito)
Pro Wrestling (1987 Nintendo)
Rad Racer (1987 Square)
Rad Racer II (1990 Square)
RBI Baseball (1987 Atari)
R.C. Pro-Am (1988 Rare)
Rockin' Kats (1991 Atlus)
Rush'n Attack (1987 Konami)
Rygar (1987 Tecmo)
Shatterhand (1991 Jaleco)
Solar Jetman: Hunt for the Golden Warpship (1990 Rare)
Super C (1990 Konami)
Super Mario Bros. (1985 Nintendo)
Super Mario Bros. 2 (1988 Nintendo)
Super Mario Bros. 3 (1990 Nintendo)
Tecmo Bowl (1989 Tecmo Inc.)
Tennis (1985 Nintendo)
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1989 Konami)
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Arcade Game (1990 Konami)
Track & Field (1987 Konami)
Trojan (1987 Capcom)
Volleyball (1987 Nintendo)
Wild Gunman (1985 Nintendo)
World Cup Soccer (1990 Technos)
Yo! Noid (1990 Capcom)

Friday, June 24, 2011

Another Twenty Year Old Game - Sinistron

Clarification from yesterdays post - Five Facts about Sonic the Hedgehog on his Birthday (
I do have to make a slight correction from yesterday's post.  Not really a correction, but a clarification.  I mentioned that Sonic's bundling with the Genesis made it the leader of market share by January of 1992.  While that is true, it should be mentioned that the Super NES was released in August of 1991 so it had only been on the market for six months when Sega took the console reigns.  Nintendo caught up in April of 1992 and would eventually take them back a couple years later.

Now that I got that out of the way, I wanted to stick with the nostalgia that comes with the year 1991.  About the time I picked up Sonic, I also snagged Sinistron for TurboGrafx.  I mentioned a few days ago that I have always been enamored with side-scrolling shooters and Sinistron was right up that alley.

To give a little bit of personal history, back in the day (1991, duh) I worked in the same office as the guys at EGM and they were big on Sinistron but my little FCI office, that I would spend my Saturdays (the only days I worked), didn't have a PC Engine in it since FCI wouldn't be making TurboGrafx games - just unbelievably shitty NES games, I'm looking at you Hydlide.

After hearing them hype it for awhile, I finally went ahead and picked it up.  It was...ok.  To be fair, I had played through the Mega Drive version of Thunder Force III several times by this point and was really into Blazing Lazers for Turbo as well.  Sinistron wasn't nearly as good as either game.  Hell, it wasn't as good as Life Force for the NES, but I digress.

It moved slow.  I think that was always my biggest complaint, it just moved too slow.  And, it was an R-Type (a fabulous shooter) rip-off.  I did understand why the EGM guys liked it - it was a tough game, it looked pretty in parts, and the music was pretty good.  It just didn't do much for me.

One of the things that aggravated me the most, and I remember this vividly, I had taken an evening and stayed up unfathomably late, for a school night, playing it just so I can say I beat it (and not have to hear shit from work) and finally did.  I sat back and waited for a nice ending and all I got was, "Congratulations".  That bastard.

Note: I have no idea why this is such a obscenity laden post, I guess just my mood.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Five Facts about Sonic the Hedgehog on his Birthday

June 23, 1991 brought one of my personal favorite characters to gaming, Sonic the Hedgehog.  To celebrate his birthday, here are five facts I dug up about the original 1991 Genesis cart.

1. Naoto Ōshima
Naoto Ōshima came up with the characters for Sonic but also is credited with other titles over the years including Phantasy Star I & II, Fatal Labrynth, Silent Hill 1 & 3, and Yoshi's Island DS.  An impressive resume.

2. The US and Europe gamers got a lesser product
The US and Europe versions of the game lacked graphical content that the Japanese cart had including independently scrolling clouds and water effects.  Couple that with the SuperGrafx only being released there (for some reason I always wanted one) and it is safe to say back in the 80's and 90's the Japanese got the better end of the video game stick.

3. Conceptually, Sonic was a whole different hedgehog
The literal translation for hedgehog in Japanese is Mr. Needlemouse and that was the original name that he was given.  He also was originally brown, couldn't swim, played in a band, had fangs, and had a girlfriend named Madonna because apparently everyone in America would just go gaga for anyone named Madonna.  Happily, all of that changed, thank heavens for market research.

4. Altered Beast was asked to return to the grave
Replacing a poor port of Altered Beast with Sonic was one of the best moves that Sega could have made.  Six months after his birth, in January 1992, Sega took control of the 16-bit console market with 65% of the market share against Nintendo and TurboGrafx (does TurboGrafx even require a mention?)  Sonic would go on to be the Genesis' most sold or shipped title with over 4 million sold of the individual cartridge and 15 million as a pack-in.  Yes, I know that Sonic 2 individually sold more but I count the pack-in because...I am the one writing this.  Also, talk about polar opposites.  Altered Beast was one of the slowest moving games with large, clunky characters who walked at a snail's pace and Sonic is the fastest moving creature in the world.

5. A little bit about the hedgehog himself (and Japanese thoughts on American culture)
Sonic is 15 and never aged.  His favorite food is chili dogs and his favorite beverage is soda.  In pure Poochie fashion, he was made to be a hip teenager who can run faster than the speed of sound and has attitude.  A lot of attitude.  Sonic is, "one outrageous dude."

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Free PC Game of the Day: Lethal Judgement Origins

I know that I have already fallen behind on my claims that I will be blogging more.  Stupid work!

<MyBoringHistoryofGaming>Anyway, ever since I played Gradius for the NES I have been a huge fan of shooters.  I take that back, it was River Raid for the 2600 that started my passion for shooters.  Or maybe even Asteroids.  Well, Gradius would be the one that started me into horizontal shooters.  And that enjoyment would grow as I played great titles like Life Force, Thunder Force III & IV, R-Type, UN Squadron, and hundreds of others.</MyBoringHistoryofGaming>

In this day where most gaming decisions are first-person-shooter or play a cutesy game on Wii, it is good to go back and play an old fashioned horizontal scrolling shooter like we had in my youth.  That is what Lethal Judgement is, a good side-scroller with tons of power-ups and a difficulty level that starts out a breeze but slowly gets a little obscene.

I only got to sit down with it for a little while this afternoon but can say, without a shadow of a doubt, that it is a great game.  On top of that, it's free (for PC if you are an XBox-er it 240 points through XBox Live).

It has the spirit of R-Type and there is no way that can be bad (for those of you who don't know what R-Type is, shame on you and get on the Internet and download the ROM).

Graphically it is out of this world, plays great (I would highly recommend a controller if you are not used to using the keyboard controls for other games), and a retro feel that makes it worth a download.   Definitely game me that familiar nostalgic feeling.  I think I am going to have to throw on some Skid Row and watch The Cosby Show next.

Check it out here -

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Castlevania - The Bloodletting: Free Download and Short Review

Sticking with my Castlevania theme of yesterday, I decided to download and start playing Castlevania - The Bloodletting, a free fan creation for the PC with gamepad support so no Joy2Key for this guy.  The download link is at the bottom of this post.

To give a little history, Castlevania - The Bloodletting is a fan creation that has the retro feel from the original, Castlevania III, and Super Castlevania IV (why the hell did every Super Nintendo game require that the word Super be a part of the title?)  Originally, it was intended to be released on the Genesis 32X but never saw the light of day.  More than likely, that was due to the underwhelming sales of the 32X so the team working on it began working on Symphony of Night for the PSI (one of my favorites of the series).

Since there is nothing to really go on for the fan made game, it is more of an original title than anything.  The original 32X game had a "supposed" screen shot (which extensive research by yours truly never came to fruition (if you have said screen shot, shoot it on over to me at - I would love to take a look at it).  So, all they really did have is a sprite from the original game and that is what they went with.

Now, I can't give a long drawn out review since I just started the game last night and am only on level 2 of 8.  I can say that this is a beta and it does show in spots (a good reason that I am on level 2 and may stay on level 2).  There are some bugs.  For example, the staircase room in level 2 (think the long staircases with the annoying jumps in Super Castlevania IV) I kept getting stuck on the staircase and couldn't walk off of it.  It was a small glitch that I am sure will be cleaned up in future versions.

My other complaint is the backflip jumping technique is a pain to get the hang of.  If you are going to give this a try, I would recommend just practicing getting the hang of that first before even trying to conquer the game.

I am through bitching.  Now, on to what is good.  Let's start simple, it's free.  On top of that, it is a retro Castlevania title that plays like an old Castlevania title.  Graphically it is sound and the music is pretty good.  It is also pretty tough (medusa heads and long backflip jumps on the first level - that is a little sadistic).  

In the end, it is definitely worth a download and playing through.  I will be interested to see the polished version after they get rid of some of the small hiccups.  I will give an update if I am able to advance further.

Download it here - 
Download it here -

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Castlevania II: Simon's Quest - a Retro FAQ the way it should be

I liked Castlevania II: Simon's Quest.  I know that in the endless ocean of Internet video game reviews, I am in the minority, but I have a nostalgic fondness for it.  I played through it right after its release in 1988 and have played through it a few times after that through the years.  

But, it gets a lot of hell from reviewers.  The biggest complaint that I read is that the game is just too cryptic in what you are supposed to do and without the Internet or Nintendo Power, the gamer would never be able to figure it out.

I am not going to lie, I had Nintendo Power when I was a child.  I was privileged.  So, playing through Simon's Quest wasn't a real difficult chore for me.  I decided to make an FAQ for the haters.  But, I know that there are probably a thousand FAQs out there so I decided to do it right, show you how to cheat the way that I had to cheat.  Go through and read the magazines (and some pretty nifty illustrations) instead of just reading a text file.  

* Note: all magazine came from   

From the September/October 1988 Nintendo Power:

From November/December 1988 Nintendo Power:

From the January/February 1989, Nintendo Power:

From the March/April 1989, Nintendo Power:

From the August 1989, Electronic Gaming Monthly:

Sunday, June 12, 2011

I've been Playing with some Angry Birds on Chrome

Editor's Note:  I know, I missed posting yesterday.  I will double up posts one day this week to make up for it.  Saturday's are meant for alcohol not for blogging.

I don't have an iPhone or an iPad.  I have been on Verizon for years and just got a new phone before the big iPhone announcement so I am stuck with a rather shitty LG whose touch screen barely works.  So I haven't been able to enjoy or embrace the whole app phenomenon to the extent of my iPhone brethren.  When I would listen to podcasts of fellow gamers talking about Angry Birds I would think, "what is Angry Birds and why are the birds angry, is it a Hitchcock thing?"  The latter part of that question I still am unclear about.

I did however finally get a taste of Angry Birds.  I didn't get it from a portable app but from my favorite browser, Chrome.  I discovered (as did a good 4 million others) and have quickly become addicted.  It isn't anything fancy or mind blowing but it is a fun game that, from conversations with other nerdy iPhone aficionados holds true to the mobile version.

For those unfamiliar with Angry Birds, it is a strategy-based game where you throw, well, angry birds at pigs in hopes of smashing them.  The less birds you use to smash the pigs, the more points you get.   It sounds easier than it is, especially in the later levels.

Now for the downside, the Chrome version only has the first group of levels but they do promise to be bringing more to the table.  But, they also have special Chrome levels that are unlockable to make up for it.  I know, this post was short but you really need to play the game to understand.  Go grab yourself some Angry Birds (you can install it as an app in Chrome if you would like instead of going to their Web site each time).  If you don't have Chrome, do yourself a favor and go here - and download it.  You will thank me.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Today I Learned: There were a lot of Top Gun games since the NES Top Gun

I was looking through the 2011 E3 trailers and noticed Top Gun: Hard Lock and thought, "really, they're bringing Top Gun back."  My last experience with Top Gun was with the two NES titles, Top Gun and Top Gun: The Second Mission.  And, from my memory of those games, my thinking was that dog should be left dead.  Both of those games sucked and that franchise is as dead as Val Kilmer's career.

I checked out the trailer, which told me nothing.  When will game companies understand that we would like to see actual gameplay in the trailers?  Cut scenes tell us nothing and with the capabilities of the 360, PSIII, and PC - you can make pretty much any game look phenomenal if all we see is a cut scene from it.  The trailer is below.

I was going to make my daily post just be a quick, "hey the trailer is out, they don't show us anything but it is Top Gun," and that would have been it.  But, since I believe in being thorough (and I was bored), I decided to do a little digging and found out there were more than just the two, impossible to land or refuel, NES games.

GameBoy had one called Top Gun: Guts and Glory and GameBoy Advance had Top Gun: Combat Zone, Top Gun: Firestorm, and Top Gun: Firestorm Advance.  PlayStation and PC had Top Gun: Fire at Will.  GameCube, PC, and PSII had Top Gun: Combat Zones.  PC also had one just called Top Gun.  Plus there are a slew of mobile versions.  And, to add insult to injury, I am sure I missed some.

What demographic is still hungry for Top Gun games?  Maybe it is just me, and I was around for the Top Gun hoopla of the mid-80's, but are gaming execs that lazy that they can't come up with a better brand.  I can't dog the games themselves, as I mentioned I only played the two NES games (which to reiterate - really, really sucked) so they could be solid simulation games but don't just slap the Top Gun name to relive a dead franchise.  What's next the Cocktail video game?  Tom Cruise was in that movie too.  It could be perfect for Kinect and the Wiimote - go around mixing drinks while listening to the very brief resurrection of the Beach Boys career.  I think it would be perfect.

So, to pose the question - has anyone ever played any of these?  I may break them out later today on an emulator just to see how they play.  If I do, i will update my findings.  I wouldn't hold your breath though.  For me, I like to think of Top Gun as a really bad series of NES games and a average at best, homoerotic, movie from the 80's.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Wii U makes siblings beat each other

Two days ago I posed the question, how will it become feasible for Nintendo to keep the price down by offering up-to-four touchscreen controllers at a guesstimated $100+ a piece for the new Wii U?  Well, it appears the answer is simple - only one controller.

While they haven't "officially" said that, their press release is pretty telling.  It discusses "a" controller and none of the demos at E3 feature multiple controllers.  So, I guess I was right that the controllers are too damn expensive for multiplayer.

I guess Super Mario Kart, Mario Party, and other multiplayers will take on a whole new level of competition as brother beats on brother to get the cool touchscreen controller.  It will be anarchy in households across the world.  It is a sad day to be the youngest in a household of four children as that child will be forced to use the old, generic battery fueled, Wiimote that came with the original Wii purchased in 2006.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Blast from the Past: Hudson NES Controller

Sticking with my promise yesterday to blog everyday during Summer, I saw this when thumbing through an old EGM today and realized that I don't remember this at all for the NES.  But, it sounded pretty damn cool.  Do you know how many times in junior high I could have used a controller with headphones so I could listen to my Nintendo music after my bedtime when my parents think I'm asleep but really trying to work through Adventure of Link?  Anyone ever use one of these?  I am curious if it was any good.  It is available on eBay for $25 here -

Someone should purchase it and let me know if it is worth it (I sure as hell am not going to spend $25 on a controller that could potentially really, really suck).

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

What Frightens me About the Wii U

I'm not going to lie, Nintendo's unveiling of their new system, the Wii U, looked out of this world to this long-time Nintendo fan.

Relevant question: did they hire the same marketing juggernauts that Apple hired to promote the iPad when coming up with the name?

What we saw would make your average Nintendoian very happy.  It has a pretty cool tablet controller thing that is part alluring and part marketing fodder.  It finally will have some third-party support (for the first time since the Super NES).  <sarcasm>Hey, it's 2011 so we can finally take advantage of that new technology known as HD.</sarcasm>  What could possibly go wrong?

From the initial video at E3, I don't think that anything that the Wii U is able to do is going to persuade any of the 360 or PSIII fanboys to jump ship.  The capabilities of the system didn't appear to break any new ground.  Actually, it will probably just make the Nintendo haters scream foul that Nintendo is simply doing another marketing maneuver with a cute accessory and not putting any power into their system.

That is fine and all.  I have had no problem ignoring them for the last few years and will have no problem ignoring them in the future.  But, my big concern about the Wii U is the price.  Not the price of the console mind you (my guesstimate is that would be in the $299 range) but the price of the super seductive tablet controllers.

It is standard practice to only give one controller with a new console and I am guessing Nintendo will stick to this strategy.  However, unless you are forever alone, the rest of the world will buy anywhere from one to three more controllers.  That isn't too big a deal for your average 360 controller or even a Wiimote (even though it does get a little pricey when you start adding on the nun chuck and all the other necessary evils) but for, what appears to be, a relatively sophisticated tablet controller, the price could be sky high.

That was the first thing I thought of when I saw the controller (that and it kind of looked like an Etch-a-Sketch).  On top of which, is Nintendo going to come up with twenty-five versions of the controller (do we really need a Legend of Zelda Wiimote)?  The days of the indestructible NES controllers are now long gone - protect your Wii U controller like it is gold, because it very well may be worth more than that.

I guess I will wait patiently like the rest but I guess I should start saving my money now because 2012 may be a very expensive year.

My Water Bottle Sucks at Portal

E3 has brought me back from hiding.  I have dedicated myself to posting something...anything everyday for the rest of Summer.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Review: The Great Gatsby for NES - Fashionably Late to the Party

I know that I am a little late to the party, this game came out about a month ago and made 1UP's 101 Free Games, but I just got around to sitting down with it so sue me.

The Great Gatsby, the F. Scott Fitzgerald classic that pretty much everyone had to endure via high school English class was converted into a game by Charlie Hoey (follow him on Twitter!/flimshaw).  Hoey took some of the concepts of the book and converted it into an NES game.

Of course it isn't really an NES game.  It is an adaptation made for the Web in Flash.

However Hoey went out of his way to try to come up with a storyline to convince players that it was an original NES cart purchased at a garage sale.  The 'About' page is like the Blair Witch Project for the Web.  At first, you want to believe it but then realize it is too far-fetched to be true.

But, the story goes like this, Hoey found the game as a prototype name Doki Doki Toshokan: Gatsby no Monogatari (freaking fantastic fake name).  He picked it up for $.50 and put it online with a bogus (yet impressive) booklet and magazine ads from 1990.  Why would a prototype have a booklet?

I am not going to knitpick his story, it is there just to make the whole experience more real.  On to the game review, as that is what this is supposed to be and I have rambled on for three paragraphs.

This feels very much like an NES game.  The music, the graphics, the bosses, it all plays like an original NES cart.  Major kudos to Hoey for that.  The keyboard controls kind of suck but, it is just something I had to get used to.  I suppose I could have fired up a little Joy2Key to get my controller working but that would have made me have to wait until later to play and I have no patience.

My favorite parts of the game were the cliche 8-bit elements.  Falling chandeliers, jumping from one moving train car to the other, insanely outrageous bosses, coin collection, complete absence of physics are all there.  That, more than anything to me, is what made it an NES game.

The biggest drawback I suppose is there are only four levels so the game itself won't take you long to complete.  Anyway, definitely worth a half-hour of your time.  Graphics: NES Good.  Sound: NES Good.  Classic 8-bit cliches: Loads!

Check it out here.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Nintendo Reporting Record First Day Sales for 3DS - What'd you think?

Thought I would just stop in to talk about the fact that Nintendo is all over the news today claiming record first-day sales of the Nintendo 3DS but I have been out and about shopping at several stores and have seen no real interest in it.  I even was at the launch at a local electronics store and it was quiet.  People I have talked to don't seem to have any real interest either (some hardcore gamers).  Was it just my experience?  Is Nintendo pulling the wool over my eyes?   I do have to say the screen grabs that I have seen of Zelda and Icarus look pretty damn good.  I can't decide if I am ready to make a $250 plunge (especially since I am part of the 10% of the population that can't see in 3-D).

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Charlie Sheen - Winning: The Video Game

I know that I have neglected this blog a bit while I have been doing my 1001 Albums I Must Hear Before I Die (check it out here if you would like -  I will be getting back to writing for this blog regularly again soon but to tide you over for now, I highly recommend the browser game Charlie Sheen - Winning.  Retro, arcade style graphics and sounds, and fun as hell.  The goal, in a Grand Theft Auto-esque manner, you must run down as many pedestrians (including mother's with their baby) while collecting prostitutes, drugs, etc. along the way.  Be sure to enter tiger mode right when you get it, you don't want that to go to waste.  Check it out here -  Winning!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Play (Some) Super NES Games from Your Browser with Joystick Support

I wrote up how to play your favorite NES games using and now they have a Virtual Super NES site -  so I adjusted the batch file I wrote for the new page.  Enjoy!

It is actually rather simple, the first thing that you will need is JoyToKeyboard - located

Install and configure.  You configure simply by double-clicking each of the buttons and assigning it.  Here is how I set mine up (but, depending on your controller and how you like yours set up, it may differ).  I use my PlayStation II controller with adapter, see

Once configured, you could actually go to the Web site and play right away but since I plan to use this more than once, I am going to write a .bat file that will call up both the browser and Joy2Key.

Open NotePad (Start > Programs > Accessories > NotePad)

You will need to know the path to Joy2Key and your browser.  I am currently working on my work laptop so this is Windows Vista (64) and Google Chrome.  You may have to adjust the paths depending on where you saved Joy2Key/what OS you are using/what browser you prefer.

In NotePad type (again for Vista (64), you will have different paths for different machines, the easiest way to find the path is to Start > Programs, find the program, right-click and choose 'Properties' then copy and paste the path),

START "Joy2Key" C:\Users\TheUser\Downloads\jtk374en\jtk374en\JoyToKey.exe
START "VirtualSuperNES" C:\Users\TheUser\AppData\Local\Google\Chrome\Application\chrome.exe

Then, hit File > Save As and change the 'File type' drop-down from text to All Files.  Finally name the file whatever you would like but put a .bat extension.  Then, next time you want to play Super NES games, just double-click the bat file and it will fire both Joy2Key and Google Chrome (or whatever your browser of choice (as long as you don't tell me it is IE6)) with preloaded.  Happy gaming!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Nintendo May Have Done A Little Editorializing Here

I have to say, I doubt that is how the votes came in for the top 5 games in 1987.  Castlevania, Rush N Attack, Mega Man, Athena,  etc. were all released but yet didn't make the top 5 but Pro Wrestling and Kid Icarus did?  I wonder who published all five of those games?

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Money Wasted on this not Horrible but not Good Game #5: Baseball

It was a cold Christmas morning in 1987 and I awoke to the greatest gift possible for a twelve year old - a Nintendo Entertainment System.   My nirvana faded as I became aghast when I noticed that the NES my parents had picked was the R.O.B. the Robot edition that came with R.O.B., the Zapper, Gyromite, and Duck Hunt.  No Super Mario Bros. was included in this package.  In fact, I had never owned my own copy of Super Mario Bros. until nearly two decades later when I re-bought the Nintendo and amassed a new library.

What my parents did pick out instead as an "additional" game was Baseball.  Not Metroid, Kid Icarus, or Zelda but Baseball.  Their heart was in the right place.  They knew as much about video games as I know about Taco Bell's meat substitutes but they did know that I was a baseball fan (in my younger days) so they figured it was a safe bet.  And, to be honest, it was.  I liked the game when I was a kid.  I didn't have much choice seeing as Gyromite isn't even a game and Duck Hunt, while fun, gets a little old after awhile.

It would be no secret that after I had started to pick up other carts like Castlevania, Metroid, Rygar, Contra, Double Dragon, and the like that Baseball didn't see much time in my NES.  I believe at one point Tag Team Wrestling may have even seen more play time.  So, when I happened to be going through storage this weekend and came across some games I picked up a good ten years ago, I was excited to see that Baseball was included.  I was getting prepped for some nostalgic bliss.

I cleaned it up and threw into the NES.  It all came back to me instantly - the music, the word baseball made up of...wait for it...baseballs (very clever Nintendo).

Now, before anyone gets all crazy, I do realize that this was a launch title, it is a simple baseball game where strategy doesn't play a big role, and even admitted that I had a fond memory of the game in my youth.  I just wished that I would have left it in my memory instead of playing it again. 

I don't like to nitpick (hold back your laughter) but why didn't they give the teams names (I'm looking at you too 10-Yard Fight)?  I don't think that it would have taken too much programming prowess to pull this off and it certainly wouldn't have inflated the cart to exceed the maximum storage space, so why not just do it?  Anyway, I chose to be R (I could have been A, C, D, P, or Y as well) and decided to play against P.

The game started and it didn't look too bad.  It was the classic early NES title graphics and it didn't make me feel any ill will towards it.  I could even get past the whole "letters for team names" thing. 

The sounds were the classic NES beeps and boops.  Nothing remotely realistic to baseball but nothing outside of what was normal for that time period.  Thus far, doing ok. 

Then I started to play it and I remembered why I stopped playing it in my pre-teen years.  Not that it was horrible, hence the title, but it was below average in terms of game play.  It was maddening more than anything.  Whenever the computer would get a base hit, it would be traveling at basically the same speed as my infielders and they would just run next to it.  That happened repeatedly throughout the game.  The batting and hitting were simple yet inconsistent.  It just had some serious control flaws and being able to control the game you are playing is kind of important.

On top of which, it was boring.  Perhaps they were trying to give that "real baseball feel" but the game just dragged.  Did the pitcher need to shake off so many pitches each and every pitch?  Did the computer have to throw to the first baseman pretty much every time I got on base?  I hadn't stole the whole game, why would I choose to now? 

Overall, not a horrible game but not a good game either.  Graphics: ok for the time.  Sound: ditto.  Gameplay: sucks.  Realism: it is as boring as real baseball but not too much like real baseball.

Play it on Virtual NES:

More Money Wasted Reviews:
- Money Wasted on this Horrible Game #4: Al Unser Jr. Turbo Racing
- Money Wasted on this Horrible Game #3: Platoon
- Money Wasted on this Horrible Game #2: Championship Bowling  
- Money Wasted on this Horrible Game #1: 10-Yard-Fight

Friday, January 21, 2011

Titan Warriors - a Killer Unreleased Shooter Lost in Space

When you look at the games that Capcom released for the NES in 1988, your eyes may enlarge at some of the titles: 1943; Bionic Commando; Mickey Mousecapade; Legendary Wings; Gun.Smoke; Mega Man 2.  But, that list is missing a game, Titan Warriors - a damn good overhead shooter.

A sequel to the freaking hard arcade game Vulgus, Titan Warriors conceptually has the 1942/43 feel but set in space with more cliché space-like enemies (think Xevious).  Vulgus should be noted for being the first game developed by Capcom in 1984 (arcade only but did port in the Capcom Generation 3 for PSI and Saturn and Capcom Classic Collection for PS2, XBox, and PSP). 

The reasoning for Titan Warriors being thrown in the scrapheap of unwanted NES titles is unclear. 1UP's Frank Cifaldi hypothesized it is because of Nintendo's strict, "no more than five titles a year" policy and Capcom was set to go with their five (while I can easily make a claim for Titan Warriors over Mickey Mousecapade and Gun.Smoke).  Perhaps they also felt they had too many overhead shooters (with Legendary Wings and 1943) and didn't want to become typecast as shooter-only company.

For whatever reason, it is a damn shame it wasn't released.  The following year saw a push back from shooters as RPGs, JRPGs, and adventure genres became prevalent - Dragon Warrior, Destiny of an Emperor, Willow, Shadowgate, etc.  And, as a side note, 1989 saw a whole lot of really shit games and accessories - PowerGlove, Jaws, Uncanny X-Men, Operation Wolf, Ghostbusters II (the last one didn't come out for the NES that year but it did come out in theaters and deserves a mention since that movie sucked so bad I was surprised I wasn't in it).

Perhaps I should prologue my love for classic shooters.  There were out of this world shooters on the NES (and don't even get me started on the Genesis and Super Nintendo).  Playing through this I found it to be graphically equal, if not ahead, of its time, the soundtrack is phenomenal, the bosses are a little cliché (how many skulls were used as a boss in the 1980's/early 90's?)  But, overall, a great game. 

Also - it is a tough game to boot.  I actually have only gotten to level 5 of 6 in it so I plan to finish it today or tomorrow but had time to do my review today and know I will be booked all weekend (did I mention that the Bears have to beat the hell out of the Packers on Sunday and that requires a minimum of two day's prep time for me).  If, by chance, the last level sucks horribly, I will come back and recant everything I said - but don't see that happening.  Give it a try via VirtualNES - you won't be disappointed.  Also, you can take a look at my post on playing VirtualNES with joystick support - if you like using your controller over the keyboard.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Play for Cash in the 90's - Color Dreams Scam?

I saw this when flipping through an old issue of EGM this afternoon and wondered, besides the amazing hair and shades, if this was just a BS scam from Color Dreams.  I am confused - was a game an instant winner when you bought it or did you play to get certain achievements?  And, there was a Hellraiser video game?  Help me out Internet, I have so many questions.

I'm Still Alive - And Other Musings

Where I Be
I have been a little M.I.A. lately prepping for my classes, doing a little side development work, reading, gaming, drinking, and being lazy.  But now that the new year is in full swing, I have dedicated myself to getting back to doing reviews of not only games but continuing on my 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die thing.  The last two days I wrote up Janis Joplin, Johnny Cash, Nine Inch Nails, and Bob Marley.  Good stuff.  Here is the link to the page -

Bears vs. Packers
Since I am discussing things that, more or less, have nothing to do with gaming or anything particularly geeky, I am looking forward to this weekend's Bears Packers game.  And, by "looking forward to" I mean I have been unable to sleep and have needed direct injections of Jack Daniels to the veins just to maintain some sort of sanity.  To say that I am a devout Bears fan is like saying Charlie from Always Sunny is a devout rat killer.  Anyway, here is something to get you in the mood, via Walter Payton's Facebook fan page.

Finally...Something Relevant
I guess I should have something that remotely behaves like anything that should be on this blog so here is the 3DS lineup trailer which just came out.  Looks pretty cool, too bad I can't see in 3D...doh!

Editors Note: Why is Hunter S. Thompson the large image at the top of this post?  Because he is freaking Hunter S. Thompson - how dare you even ask such a question!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Review: Survivor: The Living Dead - a Great, Free, Zombie Killing Adventure

I started to play Survivor: The Living Dead and it does pretty much everything right.  It takes on the concepts and the bone-chilling audio of some of the great zombie films; it has an entertaining and funny introduction; it has a complete retro, 16-bit feel; it is TOUGH.  I have played about an hour-and-a-half and have just moved past the first stage.  This is a game that presents itself as an action game but, in the end, comes off more as a puzzler. 

But, no matter how tough and simple in nature (there is really only one level, the house), I keep coming back.  I want to beat the whole thing.  I want to get all of the unlockables and play through both the story and endure phases. 

Hydorah (which I talked about earlier this week in my Al Unser Turbo Racing review ( is a tough, crazy, enemy infested, plague while this has a billiards playing, "how to set myself up best for my next move" mentality.  Both games, which are completely different (and free - see links at the bottom), are great retro throwbacks that bring fun back into the equation with gaming (as opposed to twenty minute cut scenes).

I listened to this week's NoobToob podcast (highly recommended - and they discussed what they think makes a game great and this would fall into, what they describe as, a game that I keep coming back to because I just need to beat it.  It may infest my dreams.

I think joystick support would be a MAJOR plus to the next upgrade but, outside of that (and can use Joy2Key (which I discuss here if need be), I really don't have too much in the complaint department.  A tough action puzzler that I will gladly write a follow-up...the moment I beat it (so don't expect it any time soon).  Overall, graphics - 16-bit good.  Audio - fabulous.  Fun - as hell.  Grade - A-.

Download Survivor: The Living Dead -

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Money Wasted on this Horrible Game #4: Al Unser Jr. Turbo Racing

Al Unser Jr. Turbo Racing (or Turbo Racing as it would become known) is an incredibly dull racing game.  And, that is while being compared with some unbelievably bad racing games that the NES had to offer.  I suppose the racing game genre has always been lacking in the pre-fifth gen systems but this one just seems to slaughter my inner soul a hair more than some of its racing counterparts.

Instead of instantly focusing on what is wrong, let's take a look at some comparative racing titles for the NES (many of whom had been released years earlier than Turbo Racing) so that I can give a clear comparison so that it doesn't appear that I am picking on poor Al Unser and to show that the NES was capable of making a decent racing game.  I liked the R.C. Pro-Am games, Rad Racer, Super Sprint, Bump N' Jump, and Bill Elliott's NASCAR Challenge, all good games.

Turns from hell
What the aforementioned games did that Turbo Racing didn't was know the limitations of the NES.  As I was playing Turbo Racing I found myself not being able to control the curves because they would come out of nowhere.  It pissed me off immediately.  There I would be just racing along and be slammed into a hairpin turn that I didn't have the time to slow down.  As a side note, why did all of the racing games have a button for brake, does anyone ever actually use the brake button in racing games instead of just laying off the gas?

Why is my car the only one to go out of control?
I know that this is common in, pretty much all, 8-bit racers but for some reason, this aggravated me more than most as other cars would simply be within a pixel of me and I would spin out while they would just go merrily on their way.  Was my car made of paper?  I realize that I would have to wait another year, and enjoy my Genesis, for Road Rash but, for some naive reason, I wouldn't expect this from Data East - they made Bad Dudes, yet they were going to let me be pushed around like a little bitch.  I reiterate, they made Bad Dudes.  Any car that hit mine should have at least given me a fighting chance, or at least had us both go up in a horrifying inferno.

Why can't a racecar drive in grass?
If you miss one of the insanely quick turns and do end up off the road, your car will come to a standstill.  Apparently, a car capable of going 160 miles per hour has a very difficult time traveling over grass, unlike say a standard riding mower which can do that without problem.  At least I think that it is grass, it is hard to tell.  I noticed several reviewers of this game gave its graphics high marks and that is when I realized that the crack epidemic may have reached out to retrogamers because the game as a whole was graphically inept but not nearly as bad as the music (or lack thereof) but overall, not good.

It's hard because it sucks
As I played through (and I sure as hell am not going to lie to you and tell you I beat this, because hell no) I found myself getting more frustrated at the difficulty of the game.  Not that the game was difficult in a good way, say Super Meat Boy fun tough. No this was Silver Surfer and Adventures of Bayou Billy tough because the game developers fucked up and made a bad game.  I have been playing Hydora (check it out here - for the PC lately (a review will eventually follow I'm sure) and that game is tough as hell, but I keep playing it.  Why do I keep playing it?  Because it is a good game that is enjoyable to play. 

I realize there was a different standard back in the NES days when it comes to gaming and sports titles that got their title from sports figures would make high selling games (see John Elway Football - sad, sad, sad) and this just fell into the realm (kind of like games based from movies) where the dollar signs in the eyes of the publisher outweighed a good product and Turbo Racing suffered for that.  It would be hard to believe that someone could purchase Turbo Racing and then a year later purchase a Super Nintendo with F-Zero. 

Anyway, final analysis. Graphics: suck.  Audio: the music blows and the sound effects are your standard racing noise. Playability: boring and the controls make for less fun than castration.  Controls: think of the controls in Sunsoft's Platoon and now put that kind of quality in a racing game.  Realism: I can't lie, I don't watch racing.  I have never watched racing.  I will probably never watch racing.  Yet, just from seeing perhaps, 10 seconds of racing in my life, I can tell you this game isn't like racing. 

More Money Wasted Reviews:
- Money Wasted on this Horrible Game #3: Platoon
- Money Wasted on this Horrible Game #2: Championship Bowling
- Money Wasted on this Horrible Game #1: 10-Yard-Fight