Most Recent: Retro

The Scientifically Proven Best Video Games of All Time #78: The Secret of Monkey Island

Did you miss The Scientifically Proven Best Video Games of All Time’s Introduction? Catch up on how we decided to sort the games and the rest of the Top 100.

Game publishers have been concerned with digital pirates illegally copying their games since the very beginning of the medium. Some have even gone so far as to include booby traps in their code for these would-be thieves. But when it comes to depicting actual pirates, gamemakers (along with major Hollywood players and one of the most celebrated fantasy authors of the last few decades) are content to pillage, plunder, and steal all the best ideas from each other.

It all began in 1967 when Walt Disney himself oversaw the construction of the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction at Disneyland. Over the years, the ride would go on to be recreated at Disney World, Tokyo Disneyland, and Disneyland Park in Paris. Borrowing a bit from Treasure Island, the ride’s exciting ship-to-ship battle, raid on a coastal outpost, group of prisoners trying to bribe a dog for a key, and the frothy ditty “Yo Ho (A Pirate’s Life For Me)” created the quintessential image of a pirate that was shared by kids the world over.

Tim Powers was not one of these kids. Already a teenager by the late 60s, Powers rose to prominence as one of the earliest authors of steampunk (and he, along with K.W. Jeter and James Blaylock, helped coin the phrase). In 1987, he published one of his most famous novels, On Stranger Tides. The novel tells the tale of John Chandagnac, an inexperienced youth who becomes the debonair pirate “Jack Shandy” and rescues the girl after he has a run-in with several undead buccaneers. (more…)

Posted in Features, PC, PS3, Retro, SPBVGOAT, Top Story, Xbox 360 | Tagged

It Came From 200X: Spider-Man

The tail-end of the 90s wasn’t a great time for superhero games. With the likes of Superman 64, Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker, and Spawn: The Eternal clogging store shelves, the average comic geek had few options for playable superheroics. That is, until Neversoft and Activision took it upon themselves to create one of the best comic book-based games of all time: Spider-Man!

Okay, so the title is lazy — but it also set the expectation that gamers could finally become Spider-Man like no previous video game could achieve. Launching in 2000 for the Sony PlayStation (with ports appearing over the next 12 months on the Nintendo 64, Dreamcast, and PC), this game oozed authenticity from minute one. From the very beginning, we were living an adventure narrated by Stan Lee, hanging out with the acrobatic Black Cat, swinging by the famous Baxter Building (home of the Fantastic Four), and putting an end to a daring bank robbery.

It was, quite frankly, a revelation. Suddenly, superhero games didn’t have to be cheap cash-ins like all of those terrible movie-based atrocities. There were a few pioneers on earlier consoles, to be sure — Batman on NES and Spider-Man and Venom: Maximum Carnage for SNES/Sega Genesis come to mind — but this gem captured my imagination like no other. However, does it hold up to those sugary-sweet memories in these darker modern times? (more…)

Posted in Features, Retro, Top Story |

The Scientifically Proven Best Video Games of All Time #38: Tomb Raider

Did you miss The Scientifically Proven Best Video Games of All Time’s Introduction? Catch up on how we decided to sort the games and the rest of the Top 100.

For better or worse, Lara Croft is the most famous woman in all of gaming. But all her fame might be a fluke, because the developers behind her creation claim it was all an accident.

Formed in the late 80s, Core Design was an unlikely candidate to be creating a wide open 3D title like Tomb Raider. The developer’s biggest claim to fame at the time was Rick Dangerous, a game that could charitably be called an “homage” to Indiana Jones. Other gamers might remember Chuck Rock, a platformer created by Core that starred a dimwitted caveman. But like many British developers of the time, they didn’t think about their limitations and just went for it. This definitely applied to Toby Gard, the artist behind Lara Croft’s original look.

Like Rick Dangerous, Lara began life as a man with no name that bore a striking resemblance to Harrison Ford. Fearing a lawsuit, Gard redrew the character as a woman and began tinkering with a number of different personalities. The artist told IGN in 2008 that the proto-Tomb Raider began life as a “sociopathic blonde” before morphing into a muscle woman, a “flat topped hip hopster,” and a “Nazi-like militant in a baseball cap.” None of these looks fit the game that Core envisioned, but Gard’s final pass at it proved to be the winner. Laura Cruz, “a tough South American woman in a long braid and hot pants,” was born. (more…)

Posted in Features, Mobile, PC, PS2, PS3, PSP, Retro, SPBVGOAT, Top Story, Wii, Xbox 360 | Tagged

The Scientifically Proven Best Video Games of All Time #56: Ms. Pac-Man

Did you miss The Scientifically Proven Best Video Games of All Time’s Introduction? Catch up on how we decided to sort the games and the rest of the Top 100.

It’s easy to forget nowadays, but Ms. Pac-Man was actually created by accident. Like Doc Brown’s invention of time travel after a tumble from the toilet, Ms. Pac-Man was created when a group of game developers from MIT attempted to release an unauthorized sequel to Pac-Man known as “Crazy Otto.”

Before turning their sights on the biggest arcade game of the day, the development team, General Computer, first used their programming skills to create an “enhancement kit” for Atari’s Missile Command. Instead of creating their own game from scratch, the enhancement kit hooked into Atari’s code and altered it to provide a new gameplay experience. Essentially, General Computer created the first expansion pack.

Even though the enhancement kit required an original Missile Command cabinet, Atari later attempted to sue General Computer for copyright infringement. But rather than become mired in a protracted court case, the arcade giant and the enterprising college students reached a settlement. Atari would hire General Computer to design original arcade games so long as they agreed not to create any additional enhancement kits without the permission of the original game publisher. The developers quickly signed on, but first they took a nearly complete version of “Crazy Otto” to Midway, the North American distributor of Pac-Man. (more…)

Posted in Features, PC, PS2, PS3, PS4, Retro, SPBVGOAT, Top Story, Wii, Xbox 360, Xbox One | Tagged


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The Scientifically Proven Best Video Games of All Time #3: Super Mario 64

Did you miss The Scientifically Proven Best Video Games of All Time’s Introduction? Catch up on how we decided to sort the games and the rest of the Top 100.

For Mario’s first foray into “The Third Dimension,” Nintendo wanted to ensure that everything was perfect. In fact, the Nintendo 64, its unique three-pronged controller, and the controller’s analog stick designed to better simulate 3D movement were all created with the needs of Super Mario 64 in mind.

Nintendo had good reason to be worried about getting all of the details just right, as most video gamers had never even seen a 3D platformer before Super Mario 64. Aside from a few experimental titles from the late 80s and early 90s, 3D movement was only found in a handful of titles on the market at the time, the most famous of which was probably EA’s Fade To Black. Naughty Dog’s Crash Bandicoot, which included pseudo-3D movement, beat Super Mario 64 to store shelves by about five weeks, but a majority of the game took place on a 2D plane.

So Nintendo used Super Mario 64 as an opportunity to introduce players to what was, in their mind, an entirely new genre. Shigeru Miyamoto’s exacting attention to detail helped mold every part of the game. The first interaction players had with the game was the appearance of an actual cameraman (Lakitu the Cloud), and instructions on how to control the camera’s angle with the diamond-shaped set of C-Buttons on the right side of the Nintendo 64 controller. Actually, let me back up… the very first thing most players experienced after booting up Super Mario 64 was the interactive Mario face on the Title Screen. Miyamoto saw fit to even offer players a primer on polygons as the squares, rectangles, and rhombi that made up Mario’s face could be grabbed and manipulated in dozens of different ways. In a way, “It’s-a me, Mario! Hello!” was a coded message that encouraged players to jump right into this new 3D world. (more…)

Posted in DS, Features, Retro, SPBVGOAT, Top Story, Wii, Wii U | Tagged

“12 In 1” Retro Freak console launches exclusively throughout Europe

Those of us big on retro gaming had many consoles to play with before today including the RetroN 5, the RetroDuo, the SupaBoy, and the NES Classic Edition. But now, the retro gaming community can add another console to the list, the Retro Freak.

Sold exclusively throughout Europe at FunStock, the Retro Freak is a “12 In 1” retro gaming console that allows you to play all of your favorite classic video games from the PC Engine, TurboGrafx-16, Super Grafx, NES, Famicom, SNES, Super Famicom, Sega Genesis, Sega Mega Drive, Game Boy, Game Boy Color, and Game Boy Advance. This is a big step up from other competing retro consoles, which tend to offer support for just the big three (NES, SNES, and Sega Genesis).

While that list doesn’t quite include all of the consoles from the 80s and 90s, it does account for the major players and a few of the lesser known, but equally fun, ones.

Adding to the Retro Freak’s cool factor is the ability to play emulated games stored on an SD card. So if you don’t have a physical version of the game, you can still play it so long as the (often less-than-legally-obtained) file is present on an SD card. With that same SD card, you can save your game’s progress, and pick up where you left off later.

The Retro Freak comes with a SNES style controller, a three pin UK plug and an EU two pin plug. The Retro Freak also features an HDMI output with HD upscaling capability, advanced emulation options such as cheats and multiple save states, and upgradeable firmware.

Posted in News, Retro |

Interview: Serving Up Conversation About Joysticks, Pints, and Kickstarter With the Owner of Glasgow’s First Arcade Bar

One of the rare delights of following projects on Kickstarter is when you spot someone trying to build something in your own town or city, be it a video game, an album, a film, or, in this case, a bar. There is an instant, and intimate, connection of homegrown pride and creative curiosity. That’s especially true after Super Bario popped up on my radar late in its campaign.

For my sins, I never contributed to Super Bario when the project was live, despite my love of both video games and tasty craft beer. The arcade bar occupies a small space on King Street in Glasgow, Scotland, in an area teeming with art and creative spirit. It backs onto the Tron Theatre, while directly opposite there is Trongate 103, home to Glasgow Print Studio, Street Level Photography, and the Sharmanka Kinetic Theatre.

I have now become a patron of the bar, and try to pop in when I can, enticing friends who love video games, or those who remember being a kid standing before that monolith of entertainment… a cabinet of wood and a CRT display flickering sprites into our awestruck eyes.

Super Bario has proven to be a great success, a space for gamers to chill and enjoy a drink while sucking in the sweet smell of nostalgia. Amidst the craziness, I managed to chat with co-owner Shaun Murawski, who along with Scott McLauchlan and George Black, conceived of the arcade bar back in 2015, and fought hard to make it a reality with the backing of 166 donors. (more…)

Posted in Features, Retro, Top Story |

Video Game History Foundation wants to create a digital record of the industry’s past

Frank Cifaldi is a developer who has worked on Mega Man Legacy Collection and IDARB, but he is also the founder of the Video Game History Foundation, a new non-profit that seeks to preserve and digitize the history of video games.

The Video Game History Foundation launched their first “Digital Collection” yesterday, focusing on The NES Launch in 1985. Cifaldi is also seeking donations to expand the scope of the Foundation, as detailed on their “What We’re Doing” page:

The heart of the Foundation is its digital library, an online repository of artifacts related to the history of video games and video game culture. The ultimate goal is to create a searchable, organized, always-online archive of verified, high-quality material that is accessible to researchers and historians as a public education resource.

All donations to the Video Game History Foundation are tax deductible, and I can’t wait to see what collections they come up with next.

Posted in 3DS, DS, Etcetera, Mobile, News, PC, PS2, PS3, PS4, PSP, Retro, Switch, Vita, Wii, Wii U, Xbox 360, Xbox One |