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.