Tag Archives: retro gaming

Life Skills I Only Learned From Retro Gaming

A good work ethic is one of those intangible things that I think you don’t just learn by attending school and doing your homework. I’ve been told I have an almost insane work ethic and I know part of it has to do with loving what I do and just trying to survive! But I’ve met people who feel no motivation from these same factors.

I dare you to find something that requires as much stress-management as this in your real life!
I dare you to find something that requires as much stress-management as this in your real life!

In retrospect, the ridiculously hard games of the 8-bit days and the complex RPGs of the 16-bit era taught me a few things that translate directly to real life. Was this the plan of the programmers of these games? I kind of have a hard time believing that was something done purposefully, but here’s a few things that video games taught me as a kid that I simply can’t live without today.

 

 

Resource Management

Perhaps the earliest thing I realized that video games had taught me was resource management. Take the common cycle of early CRPGS: You have X amount of health and X amount of gold. You go out and fight some baddies trying to make some more gold before running out of health. You might also have a special power or item to help you win a few battles, but these things run out. You have to remember that the gold you gain is great for buying new weapons, but if you don’t stay at the Inn and heal up, you won’t get very far with your new sword.

When I got my first job, I realized it wasn’t that much different with real money. It was tempting to blow it all, but I had to look at the big picture of how I used it and where it’d take me. In contrast, I saw many other kids who blew every paycheck they had and never had money for college, a car or other things that were ultimately more important in the big picture.

Tenacity

Metroid made me work hard. Harder than any other game I ever played. If you were going to play, you had to dedicate at least an hour to filling up your energy tanks before heading into new territory. Once you were there, you had no idea how deep you’d have to go to find a new item or make it to the next area. More often than not you’d die at the hands of some new monster or trip into a pit that you could not escape from. It was infuriating, but the pull of seeing what was beyond kept me coming back for more.

This tenacity translated easily into my work as a computer programmer. A difficult or seemingly impossible task was just another hurdle I could overcome if I put my mind to it. I often interviewed people to work on my team who would give up at the easiest programming problem during the interview. These people had no desire to pit their will against some silly computer, which is basically what I was doing with Metroid years before.

Managing Stress

Video games can actually stress you out. Even in something as basic as the original Super Mario Brothers, there are moments when you think, “I’ve come this far, I’m deep in Bowser’s castle, I’m going to die!” Multiply this by ten for early games that had few save points or no continues. After a while, these games taught me to sort of go into this calm, unthinking state when I got to the stressful part. I knew letting the tension get to me would ruin my chance of succeeding, I just had to silence that fear. Well, turns out real life works the same way. There are lots of stressful situations; tests, job interviews and other things where we just have to block out our fears and make it to the next level.

Perseverance Pays Off

The only games I ever played that consciously started to feel like work to me were some of the early SquareSoft RPGSs. Early RPGs made you work for every experience point and every new power. I remember getting obsessed with gaining every esper power for every one of my characters. It took weeks, but in the end, I had an almost unbeatable team and could just enjoy the rest of the game. There were tons of side benefits from working so hard, like my characters having super high levels early on.

I saw this to an even greater extent when playing MMORPGs later on. Spending a week hunting rats outside the city walls was boring, but when I got into more serious and dangerous areas of the game, my character was ready for anything.

Anything with serious rewards in life takes perseverance and sometimes long periods of monotonous or seemingly-unrewarding work. Getting a degree, learning a new skill, getting in shape – all of these things are “work upfront, rewards later” type endeavors, as were many of the early RPGs.

The music of these old games also helped motivate me. It made me feel like I was doing something really important (you know, like saving a fictional universe!) That heroic feeling was good motivation and something that sticks with you. I’m not going to go on a rant against new games and what they do or don’t teach. But I think it’s great whenever a game reminds you, “You don’t get something for nothing.” That’s just the way it is.

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.

Throwback Thursday: Quackshot Starring Donald Duck

Happy Thursday to you all! Time for another edition of Throwback Thursday! We all have fond memories of buying or getting our favorite video game consoles over the many years. I remember the back story of how I always got my systems for some weird reason. Everything from mom and dad hiding the screen of an NES game playing for my birthday, to me grabbing the last Wii that Walmart had it stock, getting there in the nick of time. I remember mom and dad taking me to Philadelphia on my birthday to visit some friends, and stopping at Lionel Kiddie City to get my Sega Genesis system. But who buys just the console? You need an extra game to go with it! So along with Sonic The Hedgehog, I also picked up two other games. Today, I am going to review one of them that I got that same day: Quackshot!

Continue reading Throwback Thursday: Quackshot Starring Donald Duck

Throwback Thursday: NHL Hockey for the Sega Genesis

With the NHL playoffs really heating up, and teams most people in the hockey world thought would never advance far blowing people away, it got me thinking back to the days of old, playing NHL Hockey for hours on end, thinking this was the most awesome sports game ever. The days where every goal my older brother scored on me was “cheap,” ah, how fondly I remember them. I even used to keep a blank tape in the VCR, and when I had an amazing goal or epic bone-crunching hit, I’d record it and show it to my mom, who did her absolute best to feign enthusiasm.

Well, it’s been 20 years since the first NHL Hockey game (which if it had a year attached to it like all of the games that followed it, would be NHL Hockey ’92) was released by EA, and needless to say, EA has gotten a bit more advanced in their game development department. Yet, to this day, when you ask people about their options on the best hockey game ever made, or even the best sports game ever made, more often than not you have people pointing back to the NHL games from the Genesis era. Usually, it is NHL ’93 or NHL ’94 (which many people herald as the greatest sports game of all time) that people site as their favorite, and personally, I think those games have the original NHL Hockey to thank for testing the waters and seeing what needed to be worked on and added to make the game better.

Rare is it that sports games withstand the test of time, especially when it comes to hockey, which is arguably only America’s 3rd or 4th most favorite sport. I mean seriously, do you ever hear about how awesome Madden ’98 is these days? Nah. How about NBA 2k1?  Not likely. What about Sports Talk Baseball? Don’t bet on it.

So what is it that makes the Genesis hockey games so beloved by hockey fans and non-hockey fans alike? Right out of the gate, Electronic Arts created a formula for a hockey game that simply worked.

A far cry from its predecessors like Ice Hockey and Blades of Steel for the NES, NHL Hockey looked and played much more like a real hockey game. All of the NHL’s teams were there to be played, with jerseys in the team’s proper colors and the team logo emblazoned at center ice. One major part that was missing was that they did not have the player name licensing agreement until the following year, so unless you knew the numbers of your favorite team’s players, that’s all those guys were…numbers. Nevertheless, the players were each given their own individual stat ratings and abilities, which at the time, was a huge accomplishment Another aspect of the game were the settings that really made this game set the tone for future games in the series. The entire team’s roster was accounted for, and if you chose to, could change lines between the scoring lines and checking line as you saw fit. Penalties, whether you loved them or hated them, could be set they way you wanted. To be able to turn penalties off, on, or on except for off-sides, was nothing short of revolutionary at the time.

The gameplay had all of the major elements that made a hockey game work, from fighting to slap shots, and especially considering it was the first go that EA had with it, NHL Hockey, even when compared to the others in the series, is still very playable. It is light years ahead of previous hockey games in terms of playability and realness, although it admittedly falls short when compared to even NHL ’93. They made sure that ’93 was faster and smoother, and obtaining the NHLPA player naming rights cemented the game as a true squeal to ’92.

Is NHL Hockey the most memorable one of the series? Certainly not. But it set the framework for some of the best sports games of all time, and considering that was twenty freakin’ years ago (way to make myself feel old), I think it’s definitely worthy of praise, and has its own unique charm that differs from the others in the series.

Also, the intro music is totally boss.

Now, go play a game featuring the Hartford Whalers vs. the Minnesota North Stars…because you can.