Super Mario Bros. (NES)

Super_Mario_Bros_cover[1]Yesterday may have been Video Game Day–as confirmed by nothing less of a source than daysoftheyear.com--but today… today is the 30th Anniversary of one of the industry’s most ground breaking accomplishments.  Super Mario Bros. turns 30 goddamn years old today.

There is seriously nothing that I can add to the conversation about this game.

I could marvel at its design–so innovative that its high water mark has only ever really been topped by other games in the same franchise.  I could talk about it cementing Mario as a pop culture icon.  I could share personal anecdotes about trying to reach The Negative World, or playing the game while looking at the TV in a mirror, or wrestling the controller away from a superior Player 1 shouting “Hurry up and die, so I can play!”.  Something Something Iconic Soundtrack, etc., etc.

But everything… everything–good and bad–has been said better by someone else.  Go read and/or watch their stuff.  It’s good, really.

Instead, I’m going to be a lame dad, and share the names my daughter, Charlotte, gave the Goombas (and Koopa Troopa) found on World 1-1.  That’s right, I’m turning a review of an unparalleled gaming classic into a shitty Facebook post.

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Masters of the Universe: The Power of He-Man (Atari 2600)

b_MastersOfTheUniverse_INTV_frontToday, Sept 12, was apparently Video Game Day.  I don’t know who decided it, or how official it is, but I saw it when Ken Jeong retweeted Community‘s twitter account… so it must be legit.

So, in the spirit of this very real, totally not randomly assigned “holiday”, I decided it was high time to do something I’ve wanted to do for about 30 years.  I decided I would finally play Masters of the Universe: The Power of He-Man for the Atari 2600.

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Review Grab Bag (1-5-15)

Grab Bag 1 5 15

Happy New Year, folks.  It’s 2015 and after an 18 month hiatus, the Review Grab Bag is back.   If you don’t remember, or didn’t realize in the first place, the RGB is where I throw up a paragraph or two about stuff that I have something to say about, but not much of a something.  This time around we take a look at 3 Sci-Fi movies that have very little in common, and an Atari 2600 cult classic.

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Mario Kart 8 (Wii U)

Mario Kart 8Another Nintendo console means another installment of the definitive Kart Racing franchise.  Mario, Bowser, Donkey Kong and their friends return to the Rainbow Road in Mario Kart 8.  Like every home console version that’s come before it, Mario Kart 8 tries to keep its style while adding new gameplay elements, tracks, characters and functionality.

Since I was disappointed in the Gamecube release Mario Kart Double Dash I ended up skipping the Wii release, and having never owned any flavour of DS handheld, it’s been a while since I really spun my wheels in a Mario Kart game at all.  With that said, for me, Mario Kart 8 is a return to form.

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Toki Tori 2+ (Steam)

Toki Tori 2+ Banner

Toki Tori 2+ is a puzzle platformer from mostly-Indie developer Two Tribes.  A sequel to a remake of a Game Boy Color game from 2001,  it’s available as a downloadable title for the Wii U console, and off Steam for PC and Mac systems (Linux specs are listed, but apparently not supported).  You can also pick it up on your iPhone.  It’s regular price on Steam is $14.99, and I would assume the Wii U version is comparable.  I was able to pick it up as part of a recent Humble Bundle and paid… significantly less.

In the game, you play as a yellow flightless birdlike blob that tries to sing and stomp its way home before its whole world rips apart.  At least, that’s what I think is happening.  It’s hard to say, because there’s not really any explanation for what’s going on.  Along the way lots of other cute little creatures help and hinder your progress.  The only reason I started playing it was because I thought it was something cute and easy Charlotte and I could run through.

Well… it starts out that way, anyway.  Turns out, the game is actually a giant “Shut The Fuck Up” letter addressed to my entire whiny generation of aging gamers.

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Phoning It In: Worms: Armageddon (Playstation)

Here’s a review I wrote on Epinions.com 13 years ago today.  It’s for a fantastic party game from a time when I attended parties, Worms:  Armageddon.  The Worms series had been around for a number of years, even back then.  Now the franchise is a staple title of the downloadable game market.

Oh Dear!

Worms Armageddon [U] [SLUS-00888]-frontWorms: Armageddon” recently crawled on to my Playstation. I played the original “Worms” game for the computer about two years ago for the first time, and fell in love with it. Basically, the series is a mixture of the classic games “Lemmings” and “Scorched Earth“. You and up to 3 friends have a team of 4 worms, who try and blow the living daylights out of one another. The last team standing wins the war.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
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Metroid: Zero Mission (Game Boy Advance)

Metroid_--_Zero_Mission_(box_art)Metroid has been around for almost 27 years.  The original game was released in Japan in 1986, and it got a North American release around the same time the next year.

The original game features a space bounty hunter in a high powered suit named Samus Aran.  Samus has come to the planet Zebes to stop a group of Space Pirates from exploiting an alien species, Metroids, in a bid to rule the galaxy.  The game was incredibly successful, influential and ground breaking.  It’s exploratory gameplay was among the first of its kind.  An incredibly eerie atmosphere, created by fantastic music, level and creature design marks it–arguably–as the invention of the Survival Horror genre of video games.  It’s practically like playing a video game of Alien.  And, of course, Samus Aran is the world’s first (recognized by Guinness Book of World Records) Playable Female Protagonist in a mainstream title, what’s more, is that the discovery of Samus’ gender comes as a surprise ending (Unless you know Justin Bailey…)

So, what happens almost 20 years later when you’ve created one of the most successful franchises of all time?  That’s right, kids… it’s time for a remake/reboot combo.  Enter:  Zero Mission.

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Final Fantasy Tactics Advance (Game Boy Advance)

FFTA GBA CoverSomewhere in the real world, 4 bullied kids with low self-esteem are brought together after school.  Mewt is the runt of the class and too smart for his own good.  Doned is a poor unfortunate soul in a wheelchair.  Ritz has the displeasure of being a young girl with white hair.   Doned’s older brother Marche catches flack for being “The New Guy”.   After losing a snowball fight with the school bullies, the kids gather together in a lonely room and pick up a copy of The Never Ending Story Final Fantasy: The Book and get sucked into a fantastic world known as Ivalice.

His friends lost to him, protagonist Marche has trouble adjusting to the fact that he’s not in Kansas anymore.  In Ivalice, bands of adventurers known as clans cross the country side looking for bounties, treasures and… well… adventure.  Clans often compete against one another and/or monsters in battles known as “Engagements”.  Each engagement is presided over by a Judge, the law enforcing class of the governing body of Ivalice.  Marche joins a clan, figuring that they’re his best hope to finding his friends, and a way back home.  Over the course of the game, Marche discovers that his friends aren’t as eager as he is to return home, and that convincing them–and himself–to go back home is going to be difficult work.

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The Cursed Crusade (Xbox 360)

Cursed CrusadeThis is my seventh attempt at an introductory paragraph for this review.  The problem I’m having is I cannot seriously discuss any element of this game.  In this moment, I am failing as a reviewer on all fronts.  I really want to be objective.  I don’t want to blast every element of the game, because I can see just the slightest sliver of potential.  But the simple fact remains that this game is just so terrible, so awful, such a failure on almost every level imaginable, that it’s actually draining my ability to discuss it rationally.

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Asteroids (Atari 2600)

asteroids_atari2600-large-070209Asteroids is a classic arcade game by Atari from 1979.  In 1981, a port of the arcade classic was released by Atari on their Atari 2600 console.  Like so many other 2600 ports, Asteroids‘  differences in both gameplay and graphics were very noticeable.   Asteroids had a completely different look and feel to it at home than it did in the arcades.  Using the Atari joystick instead of simply using buttons.   Also noticable is the required use of coloured pixels instead of a vector display.

That’s it.  I can’t take this seriously anymore.  I really wanted to, but I can’t.  No matter how much I want this game to hold up even today…  I can’t do it.  I could try and tell you about how (somehow) this game used a lot of memory for a home console cartridge, and that it was the first to use some kind of dual side switching memory technique.  I could tell you about how much fun I had with this game as a kid.  I absolutely love this game, still.  But even I can’t convince myself that it holds up today.  I started out wanting to compare apples to apples, and keep my state of mind geared solely towards 80s Atari games.  It’s not going to happen.  I firmly remember this game being a solid 9 or 10 when I was a kid.  That’s just not the case anymore.

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