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Tag Archives: TGWP

The Games We Played – Tetris (Game Boy)

Tetris (Game Boy) (Images courtesy Gizmodo & LooseCannon)
By Andrew Liszewski

This week marks the 20th anniversary of what I consider to be one of the greatest gaming consoles of all time, Nintendo’s Game Boy. Besides the fact that it was the only console you could stash in your school bag and play almost anywhere, the limitations of the Game Boy’s Z80 processor and dot matrix LCD display meant that developers really couldn’t rely on fancy graphics, cut scenes or other gimmicks to sell titles. They basically had to focus on gameplay. And arguably the poster child for simple but addictive gameplay on the Game Boy was the title that Nintendo decided to include at launch, Alexey Pajitnov’s Tetris.

Like Windows’ Solitaire, Tetris is the kind of game that you can enjoy for 5 minutes or 5 hours, which made it the perfect title to include with the Game Boy which could be used for killing 5 minutes in the dentist’s waiting room, or a 5-hour car ride. In addition, the basic gameplay mechanics and easy-to-learn controls meant that everyone could play Tetris, so suddenly those ‘new-fangled’ video games weren’t just for kids anymore.

And I won’t even get into Tetris’s ridiculously repetitive but surprisingly catchy soundtrack, lest I get it stuck in my head again… Damn!… Too late.

[ MobyGames – Tetris ]

The Games We Played – Mario’s Tennis (Virtual Boy)

Mario's Tennis (Virtual Boy) (Image courtesy MobyGames)
By Andrew Liszewski

Ok, I’m going to get this out of the way. I actually liked Nintendo’s Virtual Boy, and anyone who disagrees with me can kiss my stinging, watery, burning, bloodshot eyes! Now I’ll be the first to admit that the VB wasn’t the pinnacle of gaming devices. It awkwardly fell somewhere between a console and a portable game, but its size meant you always had to play it while sitting at a desk, which got uncomfortable real quick. However, for $20 on clearance, with a stack of games for $2 each, I happily overlooked the downsides.

Mario's Tennis (Virtual Boy) (Images courtesy MobyGames)

And of the 10 or so Virtual Boy games I’ve ever tried, Mario’s Tennis was, and still is, the most entertaining of the lot for me. You got to choose from seven different characters like Mario, Luigi and other staples in Nintendo’s roster to compete in a singles/doubles match/tournament, but other than that, Mario’s Tennis was pretty basic. Thankfully it had solid tennis gameplay (given the era) and of course a novel, but convincing, 3D effect. I know a lot of people complain about the VB’s infamous red on black display, but I never had a problem with it, and due to a broken set of ‘legs’ I actually discovered that wearing the VB like a mask while laying on your back facilitated hours of gameplay without the discomfort.

P.S. If anyone has a set of Virtual Boy legs in good working condition they’d like to part with, I’ll gladly take them off your hands.

[ MobyGames – Mario’s Tennis ]

The Games We Played – Super Scope 6 (SNES)

Super Scope 6 (SNES) (Images courtesy Wikipedia, MobyGames & Emuparadise)
By Andrew Liszewski

The Wii might be the current champion when it comes to having an overload of accessories and peripherals, but let’s not forget that Nintendo has been dabbling in fancy add-ons all the way back to the original NES with the Zapper. So when it was time to release a successor to the NES known as the ‘Super’ Nintendo, the company obviously had to come out with a ‘super’ version of the original Zapper. And that’s how I assume the Super Scope came to be.

Unlike the Zapper, which could be easily held in one hand, the Super Scope was like a miniature bazooka designed to be rested on your shoulder while you targeted the screen via a non-magnified scope on top. I wouldn’t say it was the most comfortable thing to hold for prolonged periods, but it was satisfying. Now unfortunately the library of Super Scope-compatible games never grew to be extensive, but thankfully the scope came with its own game called Super Scope 6. The ‘6’ of course led you to believe you were actually getting 6 original games, but that wasn’t the case. It actually came with 2 different titles called Blastris and LazerBlazer, which each had 3 different modes. So I guess if you add all those up you do technically get 6. (Lame.)

I definitely enjoyed the Super Scope for a while since it was part of a Super Nintendo Christmas package, but unfortunately the novelty did wear off rather quickly. Partly due to the limited selection of games, and partly due to the fact that the scope gobbled up 6 x AA batteries. I mean what kid likes to waste their hard-earned cash on batteries?

[ Wikipedia – Super Scope ]

The Games We Played – Sea Wolf (C64)

Sea Wolf (Image courtesy Lemon64)
By Andrew Liszewski

Radar Rat Race might have been the first C64 game I ever played, but it didn’t take long for our household to amass a healthy collection of Commodore game cartridges. Another title that became a regular in our 64’s cart slot was a game called Sea Wolf, which was really nothing more than a shooting gallery/Space Invaders homage wrapped in a naval combat theme, but it had 2 things going for it that made it particularly enjoyable.

1) It was the first game we had that supported real multiplayer. Not that player 1 goes first followed by player 2 crap. No, Sea Wolf allowed you to go head-to-head with another player at the same time, on the same screen, trying to sink as many battleships, destroyers or PT boats as you could before your opponent did. There’s nothing like a little competition to make things more interesting.

2) It was the first game we had that required the Commodore 64’s paddle controller, which I’ve already discussed in my Lemans post, and still dearly miss to this day. Now I’m hopeful that titles like Sea Wolf might eventually make their way to the Wii’s virtual console, but it just wouldn’t be the same without those paddles.

[ Lemon64.com – Sea Wolf ]

The Games We Played – Star Fox (SNES)

Star Fox (SNES) (Images courtesy MobyGames)
By Andrew Liszewski

My appreciation for Star Fox on the Super Nintendo has grown over the years, and I think it’s because the game’s a perfect example of a developer doing more with less. There’s no denying the Super Nintendo was not a 3D gaming system, in fact, Star Fox probably wouldn’t have existed had Nintendo not agreed to the development of the much hyped Super FX 3D accelerator chip. But even with that extra bit of hardware inside the game cart, the graphics and effects seen in Star Fox were pretty crude. The ship design was basic, enemies at times consisted of nothing more than 3D un-textured trapezoids, but nevertheless everything worked, and came together to become a memorable title.

Star Fox (SNES) (Images courtesy MobyGames & Uzziah.org)

As I recall, Star Fox was technically a rail shooter, which meant that you weren’t flying around a completely open world. But since you had control over your ship’s speed with braking and boosts, you never really felt restricted while navigating your pre-planned course. And while the game was really nothing more than a mindless shooter, the novelty of the 3D combined with great gameplay made it stand out from the crowd. But to be honest, while I have very fond memories of Star Fox, the Fox McCloud puppet on the game box still kind of creeps me out, and even though he was on my side, I would have loved to been able to shoot down that annoying Slippy Toad character.

[ Wikipedia – Star Fox ]

The Games We Played – Radar Rat Race (C64)

Radar Rat Race (Image courtesy Lemon64.com)
By Andrew Liszewski

This week on TGWP I wanted to dig back through my gaming memories as far as I could go, all the way back to the beginning in fact. Like with most families, the Commodore 64 entered our home because my parents thought it would help me in my grade school career with tasks like word processing and what-not. And like with most families, the C64 ended up being a video game console more than anything. Now I’m not sure if the cartridge came bundled with the system or not, but I do know that Radar Rat Race was the very first video game I ever played, on any system. And you know what they say, you never forget your first.

In the game you played as a rat, racing through a maze, trying to collect pieces of cheese while avoiding other rats and randomly placed cats that served as stationary traps more than anything. Besides steering your rat around the maze, the only trick you had to avoid nasty confrontations was to leave a trail behind you that other rats couldn’t cross, and if you were cunning enough, it could be used to trap them as well. Because it was the first game I ever played, I have a lot of very distinct memories of Radar Rat Race, and if you’ve ever wanted to get that Three Blind Mice song stuck in your head, I highly recommend checking out the ‘gameplay’ video I’ve included below.

[ Lemon64.com – Radar Rat Race ]

The Games We Played – Oregon Trail

Oregon Trail (Image courtesy MAKE: Blog)
By Andrew Liszewski

Well, with a bastardized updated version of Oregon Trail coming to the iPhone at the end of the month, I thought it was only fitting that this week’s ‘The Games We Played’ should cover that classic title that taught us all how easy it was to lose family members to dysentery.

But, I thought I’d do something different this week. Instead of reminiscing about the thousands upon thousands of buffalo I killed (while only carrying 100 pounds of meat back to my dying family) I figured the trip down memory lane would be a lot funner for all of us by simply playing the game again. So if you head on over to VirtualApple.org, you’ll actually be able to enjoy a Java port of Oregon Trail right in your web browser. Now you’ll need to have Java installed, but that’s a minor inconvenience to spend some quality time with an old friend. Just be careful on those river crossings!

[ Virtual Apple 2 – Oregon Trail ] VIA [ MAKE: Blog ]

The Games We Played – The Legend Of Zelda: Link’s Awakening (Game Boy)

The Legend Of Zelda: Link's Awakening (Game Boy) (Images courtesy MobyGames)
By Andrew Liszewski

I don’t drop the ‘L’ word very often, so when I proclaim my love for the Legend of Zelda series, you know it means something. And that love affair started with this game, The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening, which I not only consider to be the greatest Game Boy title of all time, but one of the greatest titles on any platform, ever. Oddly enough, for the longest time I had no interest in the Zelda series, since the top down perspective made me think it was a turn-based strategy game, which I loathe. But I needed a game to pass the time on a long family vacation, and a friend of mine was good enough to loan me his copy. After just a few hours of playing, my eyes were opened.

The Legend Of Zelda: Link's Awakening (Game Boy) (Images courtesy MobyGames)

I haven’t replayed Link’s Awakening since I finished it so many years ago, but I remember it felt like it would never end, and I couldn’t understand how Nintendo managed to cram such a large game into a single cartridge. Of course Link’s Awakening was actually the fourth game in the series, and even though I had a bona fide case of Zelda fever after playing it, I only went back and tackled the previous Super Nintendo title, A Link to the Past afterwards. But since Link’s Awakening, every Zelda title has been a must-have for me. (Except for The Wand of Gamelon, nooooo thank-you Philips.)

[ MobyGames – The Legend Of Zelda: Link’s Awakening ]

The Games We Played – Rocket Jockey (PC)

Rocket Jockey (PC) (Image courtesy Retro Thing)
By Andrew Liszewski

I’ve got nothing against the concept of sequels, sometimes it’s nice to have a new adventure with familiar characters and locales. But when it comes to video games, I prefer titles that provide an altogether new experience. Like say, the experience of being a jockey riding a nearly unsteerable rocket while careening around a gladiator style arena. It might sound far-fetched, but that’s exactly what a game called Rocket Jockey provided. Whether you were simply racing to the finish in the ‘Rocket Race’ mode, enjoying a little deathmatch action in the ‘Rocket War’ mode or attempting to score a goal, or prevent others from doing so, in the ‘Rocket Ball’ mode. (My personal favorite.)

Rocket Jockey (PC) (Images courtesy GameSpot)

But obviously riding a rocket around an arena while crashing into walls can only provide so much fun. And that’s why the rockets in Rocket Jockey featured grappling cables that could be used to temporarily tether your missile to a wall, pole or other objects in order to ‘steer’ it around the course. It was a very unique experience, but thanks to solid gameplay mechanics, it actually worked very well. But the grappling cables could also be used to latch onto other rockets in order to pull them off course, giant balls which you had to maneuver into a goal for points, or even other jockeys who were unfortunate enough to fall off their ride.

Unfortunately Rocket Jockey had its issues which prevented it from becoming a truly classic title (and dare I say, spawning a sequel) like promised multiplayer that only arrived via a patch months after the title was released, and steep system requirements (yep, those were cutting-edge graphics at one point.) But the fact that there have been several grassroots efforts to remake the game with the Unreal Tournament or Quake engines over the years proves the game has been sorely missed by a lot of us.

[ GameSpot – Rocket Jockey ]