Tag Archives: retro gaming

Giant Robots and Lost Gems

Today, we’re looking at three classic 8/16-bit games that have two things in common. One, they all feature awesome robots and two, they’re highly underappreciated. These games also feature some effects and gameplay ideas that were far ahead of their time. In fact, one of these games is part of the legacy from an amazing studio that’s just closed down. If you’re looking for some new ROMs to try out, these three are highly recommended.

 

Metal Storm

NES – Irem 1991

If you've ever played this boss battle with no save-state, you have known true terror.
If you’ve ever played this boss battle with no save-state, you have known true terror.

Metal Storm is a high-quality platformmer game in the vein of Mega Man or Metroid but with awesome twist; your mech can reverse his gravity and fly up to the roof at any moment. Some of the baddies can do it too, which keeps things interesting. The level design is brilliant: Can’t pass that huge pit? Why not reverse gravity and walk across the ceiling? You can even sort of hover temporarily by continually switching the gravity. You’ll have to master switching orientation quickly in the later stages to latch onto tiny platforms or even bosses in some instances.

 

Metal Storm is the earliest console game (and only NES one) I’ve ever seen that has parallax scrolling. The programmers constantly redrew the background to create that effect that was much more common in 16-bit systems. It really gave the world a level of depth.

 

Oh yeah, this game also has THE MOST INSANE BOSS FIGHT EVER. Just click the link and watch the video. I don’t think I ever sweated so much during a gaming session as when playing it on the actual console. Every boss in the game is brilliantly designed. The gravity-switch is not just a gimmick, it’s the very foundation of the gameplay.

 

Herzog Zwei

Sega Master / Genesis – Technosoft 1989

Herzog's split-screen two player mode is the grandaddy of things like Starcraft.
Herzog’s split-screen two player mode is the grandaddy of things like Starcraft.

Dune II is often credited as the first RTS game, but a little Mega Drive cart called Herzog Zwei beat them to the genre by a full two years! This is possibly one of the best 2-player games on the Genesis. The split screen interface is at times annoying and gives away what’s going on, but there were NO GAMES like this at that time. At least play this to pay respect to the forerunner that gave us things like Starcraft.

 

This game is kind of a micromanagement nightmare at its worse but it’s great strategy and exciting action at its best. You can spawn up to 50 units per player and launch all sorts of attacks against your robot opponent’s base. The AI is not so great, so play this one with a friend.

 

Metal Warriors

SNES – LucasArts 1995

The two-player VS mode is possible the most fun you can have on the SNES.
The two-player VS mode is possible the most fun you can have on the SNES.

Imagine taking the Megaman X or Metroid game engine and making it a 2-player hunt fest. Or if you prefer, a 1 player awesome mission-driven game. That’s what this very anime-influenced game brings to the table. The 1-player mode is great, you drive around in big bulky mechs, taking out other big bulky mechs. Occasionally, you have to get out and go hack a computer as a tiny vulnerable human, and hope someone doesn’t steal your vehicle while you’re out. With 6 different Mechs to chose from and the ability – and often necessity – to switch them three or four times per level, the gameplay is truly dynamic.

The thing that stands out the most in this game is that no one Mech suit can destroy the others easily. There is no ‘best suit’. Each suit stands a fair fight against another suit in the hands of an experienced player who knows how to use them. I always loved the lumbering Prometheus. This dude has NO JUMP, that’s right, he cannot leave the ground, but he has insane armor, attacks that can deal serious damage across the entire map, and he can even build bridges to cross gaps or seal off portions of the board. You have to carefully select which suit you’ll use in the Mission mode, since there are lots of suits laying around, often just as a tease to get you to trade. The missions often depend on having the right suit at the right moment and knowing when to ditch your smoking wreck as well. The one-player mode is full of challenges and interesting twists that keep you excited about the otherwise mundane story.

Each suit has pros and cons and no one suit can overpower the others.
Each suit has pros and cons and no one suit can overpower the others.

 

However, all this pales in comparison to the funnest two-player mode on any SNES game in existence. In split-screen mode, you go out to find and destroy your friend’s mech. It’s a great game of cat and mouse, especially when one of you loses your suit and has to hunt down a spare while being chased by a massive mech.  With tons of powerups and suits that fly, cloak, climb walls, sonic-the-hedgehog-dash, build bridges, swing chains and uh..sort..of..jet-ice-skate along (?), it’s tons of fun with the most replay imaginable.

 

Why did none of these games get the attention they deserve? I really can’t say. Bad timing, poor advertising, saturated market? The good thing is, these games age quite well. Try them out today.

 

 

BeatScribeFaceBeatscribe is a full time indie composer, musician and writer. By day he creates soundtracks for various mobile gaming companies, by night creates megaman-inspired chiptunes, in the afternoons he drinks tea.  Check out his latest releases, tutorials and retro ruminations at www.beatscribe.com.

Saturday Morning Cartoon NES Games

Due to the recent announcement of a remastered version of the classic Duck Tales NES Game, I thought we should take a look at some of the NES games that came out based on Saturday morning (or every morning) cartoons of the 80’s and 90’s. There are some quality games here, packed with nostalgia in more ways than one, and some surprisingly great music too. Check out some of Blind’s Remixes along the way and a final verdict of if you should bother with these games or not.

Duck Tales

Capcom 1989

Verdict: Worth playing, numerous times. Definitely on the top of the heap.

Here I am in Woodman's Stage..I mean, the Amazon...
Here I am in Woodman’s Stage..I mean, the Amazon…

DuckTales was one of the many games that Capcom put out in the 90’s that used Megaman II’s game engine. It was a genius move, since Megaman’s engine is a true masterpiece of 8-bit technology. DuckTales definitely feels like a Megaman game right away. However, there are a lot of nice changes in dynamics and controls to keep things interesting. The cane pogo-stick/golf swing move keeps things exciting and unique. The quality level of everything from music to level design is extremely high. I love how there are tons of mysteries and secrets hidden throughout the levels. It gives you a great replay value. The Moon level song is probably one of the most soothing songs ever written on the NES. However, it is totally inappropriate for the level, it’s just too calm!

This game definitely deserves to be remastered. It set the bar pretty high for the competition. As you’ll notice, some cartoon-based NES games didn’t even make my list.

 

 

 

Chip N Dale Rescue Rangers

Chip N Dale enter a strange world were nothing is proportioned as it should be...
Chip N Dale enter a strange world were nothing is proportioned as it should be…

Capcom 1990

Verdict: Worth Playing At Least Once or With a Freind

 

Chip N Dale Rescue Rangers was one of my favorite cartoons as a kid. This game pretty much plays like any standard platformer from the time. You can pick up crates, throw them, stack them, but other than that, it’s your basic game play. There are some creative ideas like shutting off water faucets in order to reach different parts of the stage. The music is pretty good but not all that memorable. Still, it’s good for a trip down memory lane.

The 2 Player mode is also pretty cool. I don’t recall many games on the NES that had simultaneous play like this. It was much more common in the SNES days. This is the saving point for a game that’s pretty standard in other respects.

 

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Konami 1989

Verdict: Play it if you’re a sucker for punishment.

Real sewers are never this cool...
Real sewers are never this cool…

TMNT was arguably one of the biggest franchises in the 80’s and 90’s. There are tons of totally awesome TMNT video games out now for NES, Genesis, Arcade, SNES but this was the first. Was it great? Well, it was pretty cool at the time and the music was pretty rocking. However, this game was HARD. Not like, “challenge accepted” hard, but like, “this is not fair” hard. With no save point and the dreaded underwater level, many gamers just gave up. The Killer Seaweed tune from the underwater level is quite memorable.

 

 

Bucky Ohare

Konami 1992

Verdict: Play it or at least download the soundtrack!

His slogan: "Let's toast some toads!" (face palm)...
His slogan: “Let’s toast some toads!” (face palm)…

I always had a soft spot for Bucky O’Hare. Sure, it was sort of like Ninja Turtles ripoff in space, but there was something unique about it too. I remember having all the action figures. They were huge, detailed and colorful and just awesome. The game too is colorful, innovative and pretty fun. The music is my FAVORITE of all these cartoon based games. The only weak spot in this game is sometimes the quality level drops in certain levels. While most of the game is top notch backgrounds, innovative levels and awesome bosses, you’ll sometimes find yourself on a screen with about six unique tiles. I mean, come on, you couldn’t even make corners on the platforms? Check out the original theme song too, its like Joe Esposito (Karate Kid song) rapping. Just wow.

 

 

BeatScribeFaceBeatscribe is a full time indie composer, musician and writer. By day he creates soundtracks for various mobile gaming companies, by night creates megaman-inspired chiptunes, in the afternoons he drinks tea.  Check out his latest releases, tutorials and retro ruminations at www.beatscribe.com.

The Most Baffling Video Game Songs of All Time

Designing a video game requires hundreds of tiny creative and technical decisions that all amount to a finished product. You might think music was a no-brainer in the early days, with limited sound chips and minimal memory, but from the beginning their have been some totally baffling video game songs that make you wonder what the developer or composer were thinking. Here’s a few of those confusing moments that you may or may not have heard before. You might be surprised at how enjoyable some of these pieces are, they just don’t fit in their respective games.

Metroid – Norfair

Metroid has one of the best NES soundtracks out there. It’s memorable, heroic and creepy in all the right places..except for this one. Don’t get me wrong, I think this is a lovely piece of music. In fact I listen to it regularly, but after all this time and so many listens, I have no idea how this song makes me feel! Is it supposed to be scary? Relaxing? I find it rather relaxing until those weird unsettling pauses occur. It sort of makes me picture a lifeless puppet dangling in the wind. Wierdly, it reminds me of a 90’s math-rock/emo band called Ethel Meserve.

Continue reading The Most Baffling Video Game Songs of All Time

The Best Legend of Zelda Games You’ve Never Played

Zelda Games You've Never Played
Zelda Games You’ve Never Played

I’ve noticed most people either dabble with Zelda games or have completely uncovered every secret and know every dungeon inside and out. There are tons of great Zelda Rom Hacks out there. So many that I decided just to cover one from each original game. If you want to have that fresh, new adventurer feeling all over again, check out these amazing hacks. Remember, these are just code patches so they’re completely legal as long as you apply them to your legally obtained ROM. Patching the original rom is not hard, just follow our IPS patching tutorial to learn how to do it.

Zelda Challenge: Outlands

Original Game: The Legend of Zelda
Platform: NES
What It’s Like: Like Playing Zelda for the first time again, but with more headaches.

Zelda Outlands it filled with amazing new challenges.
Zelda Outlands it filled with amazing new challenges.

Outlands is one of the first romhacks I ever played and it is amazing. The game keeps all the original graphics, sound and music but redoes almost everything else. The dungeon locations are all different. There are tons of secrets and new enemy behavior. The 2nd quest is one of the most ridiculously hard things ever contrived in a video game. No joking, you won’t even get your sword in the first hour of play. All that aside, this is a truly enjoyable romp for a Zelda fan. Have fun finding the sixth dungeon without consulting a FAQ.

Zelda II – Part 3

Original Game: Zelda II: The Adventure of Link
Platform: NES
What It’s Like: Uncovering a whole new 8 levels of Zelda II.

Sometimes I feel like I'm playing Metroid in Zelda 2 Part 3.
Sometimes I feel like I’m playing Metroid in Zelda 2 Part 3.

Ice Penguin has made a bunch of Zelda hacks but most would agree this is some of his finest work. Almost every area is remade and the dungeons are particularly awesome. There’s a lot of little graphical updates too that add some new flavor to the game. There is a new plot and other little surprises along the way. You might get off to a tough start with this hack since it’s pretty tough until you have built up your levels a little bit. Just wait until you encounter Thunderbird! While not everyone loves Zelda II, if you are a fan, this game will definitely satisfy your craving for more. Check out any of Ice Penguin’s other hacks too. They’re all of a similar caliber.

 

Zelda Parallel Worlds

Original Game: Legend of Zelda: A Link To The Past
Platform: SNES
What It’s Like: Like a professionally-made SNES sequel to Link to the Past

The makers of Parallel Worlds must have dedicated months to this pristine hack.
The makers of Parallel Worlds must have dedicated months to this pristine hack.

The level of detail in this hack is just amazing. There’s a whole new story, awesome dungeons with monstrous changes and insanely tough boss battles. The dungeons require a level of dedication that few gamers possess. Some have 4 different inside/outside sections, pretty much just to make you pull your hair out. There is tons of backtracking required whenever you get an item or a key. The craziest thing to me was the fact that I didn’t even get my sword until passing most of the first area. It really changes the gameplay.

Zelda’s Birthday

Original Game: Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
Platform: N65
What It’s Like: A mini-Zelda game of the highest quality

It's like nostalgic memories I never actually had...
It’s like nostalgic memories I never actually had…

While this game is only three dungeons long, it’s completely redone with new story line, acting sequences, side quests and multiple endings. They even redid most of the music or at least sort of remixed it. It’s not really long, but that might be part of its charm, really. It’s just a great fun nostalgic game. Highly recommended.

 

 

 

BeatScribeFaceBeatscribe is a full time indie composer, musician and writer. By day he creates soundtracks for various mobile gaming companies, by night creates megaman-inspired chiptunes, in the afternoons he drinks tea.  Check out his latest releases, tutorials and retro ruminations at www.beatscribe.com.