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.
Today, 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.
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.
“Worms: 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.
Somewhere 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 ofThe 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.
Asteroids 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.
So, while thrifting recently, I happened upon a SEGA Dreamcast, with 3 controllers and a memory card for a whopping 5 bucks. You might not know about the Dreamcast. “Isn’t that something that bloggers argue about in regards to upcoming anticipated movies based on intellectual properties they already love?”
SEGA’s Dreamcast is the straw that broke their console camel’s back. The console failed so hard, and so spectacularly that SEGA, a company that had gone toe-to-toe with Nintendo for over 3 generations of consoles, said “Fuck it… lets put Sonic on the Gamecube.”
So, if this console sucked so badly it killed an entire production segment of a company, I probably should have just left it sitting there in Frenchy’s in the goddamn comforter bag someone tossed it into. But I can make you this promise, dear reader: I love video games, and I can say with certainty that if I see a console, any working console, for 5 bucks… and I don’t have it… I’m buying that sonnuvabitch on the spot. Even if it didn’t come with a game.
“What the hell does any of that have to do with Virtua Tennis?” you’re possibly asking yourself. “The title clearly states this is a review of Virtua Tennis. I paid my 4 bits to see a Virtua Tennis review, an’ I’mma gonna sees a Virtua Tennis review.” Well, as it turns out, the Dreamcast I bought did have a game with it after all. After taking it out of the bag, and opening the disc tray, some kind hearted soul had shoved their copy of goddamn Virtua Tennis inside, a shiny piss-yellow coloured pearl in a giant blocky clam.