Ah, the 8-bit era of games, that weird and wonderful time when neither the plot nor premise of a game had to make any kind of sense whatsoever. This was the era of plumbers doing mushrooms and throwing fireballs at turtles with abduction fetishes. This was the era of speedrunning porcupines, of bubble-spitting dinosaurs, of a game in which one boss was literally a fried shrimp. All that is to say that I have very fond memories of this era, as these were some of the first games I ever played.
Lately, there has been a resurgence of interest in creating games that pay homage to that era, or to update those games for a modern audience. The past couple of years have seen remakes of games like Ducktales and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, as well as retro-themed games like Mercenary Kings and Retro City Rampage, among many, many others. We’ve even got books like Ready Player One that actively celebrates retro gaming culture in all its forms. What I’m saying is, there’s no shortage of games and other media specifically designed to ‘take you back’ to that area. So what does it take to stand out in that crowd?
Continue reading “Opening Turn – Shovel Knight”
Everything old is new again.
This old idiom, while applicable to a great many things both artistic and not, has a much deeper meaning for those whose musical passion lies in the revitalization of old video game music. For these musicians, it isn’t so much that trends move in cycles, but rather that they are playing an active role in interpreting old music for audiences in new and interesting ways. Whether through the preservation of the original styles or by the creation of new and novel interpretations of classic game tracks, it’s clear that the growing interest in the video game music community is exceeded only by the amount of talent that those in the community draw from.
Enter The Returners, a band whose name (on top of the obvious reference) literally means ‘the ones who bring something back’. In two years since the band’s inception, they have made a name for themselves playing sets at Nerdapalooza and its spiritual successor Orlando Nerd Fest, as well as an impressive number of shows at smaller venues in and around their home base in Austin, Texas. Most recently, they played at PAX South, opening for The OneUps and Paul and Storm. The combination of high profile conventions and several local shows has succeeded in earning them a growing fanbase and a similarly growing anticipation for their first recorded album.
Continue reading “Immune to Silence: Refining the Classics”
The Legend of Zelda is a series that, at this point, needs no introduction. It has been continually developed for over twenty-five years, and was definitely instrumental in popularizing the combination of puzzle, exploration, and adventure elements that is the series trademark. Games from the series regularly appear on lists of the greatest games ever made, and it is one of the two series that must be present on any piece of Nintendo hardware that is released.
Continue reading “A Link Between Worlds, or How to Change a Formula Without Breaking It”
Okay, time to come clean with you guys. I’ve never gotten into Pokemon before. I don’t exactly know why, either. Maybe it was because when it first came out, I was slightly older than the target audience they were intending it to be for. I’m not really sure. I even gave it a try once, when, at the insistence of a friend in college, I gave Pokemon Diamond a shot. And sure, it seemed like the kind of game that should have grabbed me immediately, because I really do enjoy games that have monster collection mechanics. Perhaps it was that during college, I didn’t have the time that those sorts of games would require of me, or maybe it was just because that game in particular just didn’t click with me.
Now, years later, that same friend insisted to me that it was because Pokemon Diamond was really one of the worse entries in the series, and that I should give it another shot with Pokemon Y. After hearing that quite a few things were getting updated in this entry, I grudgingly agreed that maybe it would be a good point in the series for me to jump in, and I gave it a shot.
Continue reading “Opening Turn: Pokemon X/Y”
Fire Emblem is one of those series that is spoken of with quiet reverence, in the dark corners of the collective gamer consciousness. Mostly, this is due to the first several games of the series not getting an American release and, as everyone knew at the time, games which weren’t released over here were infinitely more awesome. The series has always been one that has captured my interest, because it combines a whole bunch of things that generally draw me to games: plot, strategy, stat tweaking, and soul-crushing difficulty. For some reason that I cannot quite put my finger on, though, the most recent couple of games in the series, Path of Radiance and Radiant Dawn failed to hold my attention the way previous games had. I was hoping that the series wasn’t in full decline, what with some of Nintendo’s other questionable offerings as of late. However, other people told me that Awakening really was worth playing. And so, keeping with my trend lately of playing games at least six months after they’re cool, I ventured forth to see if the game could renew my interest in the series.
Continue reading “Better Late than Never: Fire Emblem: Awakening”