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By Jonathan Balofsky On 20 Nov, 2017 At 01:52 PM | Categorized As Editorials, Featured, Old School Otaku, PC Games, Reviews, ROG News, ROG Retro | With 0 Comments

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RPGs are a beloved genre, but when it comes to video games, most of the best RPGs trace their roots to one series and that is Ultima, the series from Lord British himself, Richard Garriot. There is so much that can be said about the Ultima series that I will need to do this in parts. Today we look at Ultima Underworld, the spinoff that inspired so many games.

In this game, you explored things from a first person perspective, but unlike dungeon crawlers at the time, this one not a single flash screen affair. Rather, the game scrolled in real time which allowed a deeper sense of immersion than anything else at the time. This was more than just a dungeon crawler though, as there was a massive world to explore with multiple sidequests. It eschewed typical expectations for RPGs and instead created a new format and style for itself. The best games are not those that try to be the best or try to be the most unique for the sake of being unique. Rather the best games are the ones that set out to do something different because they are doing what is best for the game.

Ultima Underworld was the first indoor, real-time, 3D first-person game to allow the player to look up and down, and to jump. This would influence not only later RPGs but also first person shooters as well. The games also told a real story rather than the generic plots of many other RPGs, by expanding on the worlds introduced in Ultima and giving us a new part of it to explore. The result was a fully realized world that even the main series borrowed from. Ultima has always been a series of firsts and the  Ultima Underworld games continued that. This is the point where games started relying less on imagination and moved from telling you the details, to showing them. Suddenly what was once the norm in gaming, became obsolete very quickly.

I do not hesitate when I say that Ultima Underworld 1 and 2 influenced the creation of almost all first person open world RPGs that came out after. This includes multiple styles of games such as The Elder Scrolls as well as Bioshock and Deus Ex. In fact, Warren Spector himself worked on this game. In addition, the music for Ultima Underworld: The Sygian Abyss was done by George Sanger, the fat man himself, and one of his frequent collaborators David Govett, and they brought their best to this work. The soundtrack was created as a powerful work with  great combat music and the best feeling of immersion, with moments of dread and excitement being conveyed beautifully.

Ultima Underworld 1 and 2 can still be appreciated today. Even with the older style of visuals and game design, the games hold up surprisingly well, which is a testament to how well they were made. I encourage you all to try these games, and see for yourself why they helped make gaming what it is today. If you do check these games out ( available on GOG.com right here), you might also be interested in knowing there is a third game coming. Underworld Ascendant will see Warren Spector return to the director’s role for the game and once more bring his insight. Now is the perfect time to see why these games matter so much.

By Jonathan Balofsky On 18 Nov, 2017 At 09:20 PM | Categorized As Editorials, Featured, News, NINTENDO, Nintendo Switch, Opinion, ROG News | With 0 Comments

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Nintendo has been pursuing collaborations heavily lately, with games like Pokken Tournament, Fire Emblem Warriors, Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE and Hyrule Warriors just to name a few. This has me thinking about other collaborations Nintendo could do.

Nintendo’s collaboration with Koei Tecmo for Hyrule Warriors was considered strange at first. Yes it was a good game, but the fact is that it may not have been the best collaboration for Zelda. For Fire Emblem, it made perfect sense, but Zelda is a bit different. When it comes to the Legend of Zelda series, I feel there is one collaboration that would work more than all others: Hyrule Fantasy. A crossover between The Legend of Zelda and Final fantasy series would be the union of two of the greatest gaming series of all time.

A Zelda crossover with Final Fantasy may seem strange but it shouldn’t. Zelda has dabbled in RPG elements before, as seen way back in Zelda II, and the Final Fantasy series has gone into action at times. This theoretical game could be played as an action RPG similar to the Mana series, or more akin to classic Final Fantasy games. It could combine the series in a variety of ways, either by having the worlds merging elements like in Mario + Rabbids or merge gameplay elements like Hyrule Warriors. Another method could be a Zelda game that is simply much more RPG oriented and has references to Final Fantasy, with some enemies and such appearing, or some of the series staple weapons and abilities showing up. Finally, this could be a new Zelda setting that has Final Fantasy elements already, since alternate timelines and universes exist in The Legend of Zelda series already.

But then the question is, why do this? Well because as I said, these are two iconic series and are often compared strongly with each other. Zelda may not be an RPG series (Adventure of Link’s RPG elements not withstanding) but a spinoff game that delves into the genre would be welcome. Hyrule Warriors has shown that Zelda can work as an action game, and Nintendo’s previous collaborations with Square have shown that a an RPG spinoff game of an existing series can work wonderfully like with Super Mario RPG. In addition, this could be a game that celebrated all of The Legend of Zelda and Final Fantasy as a whole, maybe even bringing in elements from the more obscure games in both series. Not to mention, the music this collaboration could bring us would be something absolutely amazing.

Of course this is just my opinion on what the best Legend of Zelda collaboration would be. I would like to know your opinions, so please share them.

 

 

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The above was the opinion solely of the author and does not necessarily represent that of Real Otaku Gamer or its staff.

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Last week, I wrote an editorial about 7 NES games that should get online play on Nintendo Switch via the Nintendo Switch’s online service. However,  in the last few days, I began thinking more about what Super NES games would benefit from getting online play as well. Because the SNES had so many great co-op games, I had to think carefully about which games deserve it the most, and once again I left out licensed games, and/or games that Nintendo will not be able to get the rights to. With that said, let’s begin.

 

 

Number 7

Contra III The Alien Wars

 

The Contra ( or Probotector if you live in Europe) series is a truly amazing run n gun series from Konami, and the third entry is arguably the best. In addition to better visuals, the action is more intense, the weapons are better and everything just has a bigger feel. The game was an excellent co-op experience on the SNES, and with online play it would be a major standout, and enable a new generation to enjoy it with the same wonder gamers did on the SNES. Both the frustration from difficulty and having 2 players and the euphoria of beating the game would be experienced very differently online and that alone makes it worthwhile.

Number 6

Super Bomberman II

I wasn’t sure which to put on this list. Super Bomberman or its immediate sequel. I ultimately picked the sequel after re-watching a video from TopHatGamingMan, in which he talked about the game. and I ended up agreeing with him. Super Bomberman II is an excellent game both in terms of single player and multiplayer, and this is where the series began to take the form we know and love today. Far superior to the original Bomberman games, Super Bomberman II’s multiplayer would truly benefit from online play similar to the later sequel Super Bomberman R. In fact, Konami could actually use this to further promote Super Bomberman R, by showing the roots of the series, since despite being a much earlier game, Super Bomberman II is an absolutely awesome game.

Number 5

Sunset Riders

Sunset Riders is a beloved arcade classic run n gun game that received an excellent port to the Super NES, with all the characters intact. The game had amazing visuals and fun gameplay that was unlike any other before or since. A Wild West shoot em up that incorporated the best of the arcade era, combined with small amounts of platforming and a lot of awesome music, Sunset Riders was in a league of its own. Giving the game online play via Switch can actually be done in two ways. It could allow two player co-op or could go for full 4 player co-op since all for characters were available on the SNES version. Regardless, this one deserves a new audience.

Number 4.

Mortal Kombat II

Surprise! I didn’t pick the obvious choice of Street Fighter II for this list. While Street Fighter is a great series, I feel it would be almost a cliché to pick. Mortal Kombat doesn’t really get acknowledged for its history with Nintendo except for the disastrous port of the first game. However, inlike the SNES port of the original game, which was a disaster, Mortal Kombat II on SNES was almost arcade perfect. Not only that, the fighting itself was far improved over the original Mortal Kombat, as something many forget about the original game was that the fighting was actually pretty bad aside from the fatalities. Mortal Kombat II though, improved on every last detail and was where the series truly got good. The fact that the SNES version was amazing would allow for some great online fights as well.

Number 3

Saturday Night Slam Masters

I did not leave Capcom off the list though. Saturday Night Slammasters was one of their most underrated titles, but a truly excellent fighting game. This was Capcom merging their fighting games like Street Fighter, with the wrestling world and it came out beautifully. This was also Mike Haggar’s debut in a fighting game long before the Marvel Vs Capcom series, as well as being home to several other colourful characters. This was so different from Capcom’s usual fare and deserves more spotlight. Giving this online play on the Switch would show just how amazing the game was, as well as make Capcom realize they have some great fighting games they haven’t used in years. Plus it had art from Tetsuo Hara, co-creator of Fist of the North Star, so it has that going for it also.

Number 2

Secret of Mana

An RPG with multiplayer was almost unheard of for the SNES but Secret of Mana showed it could be done. This game has had its praises sung already, so I will just mention that enabling online play for it on the Switch would allow a feature that was missing from later ports to finally be used again. Who wouldn’t want to play this gem with their friends? And to do so online would be an excellent addition!

Number 1

Super Mario Kart

It was always going to be  Super Mario Kart at Number 1. This was the game that kicked off the Mario Kart series, as well as kart racer games in general. Fans have made mods that enable online play in emulated versions, but an official Nintendo release that adds online to the original game would be nothing short of incredible. Add in support for 8 player online racing and this will become one of the most popular games Nintendo can bring to their service.

 

 

 

 

This is just a small list of what could be done. Let me know what you think of this list though and what suggestions you have.

 

Thanks again to TopHatGamingMan, check him out on twitter here

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The above was the opinion solely of the author and does not necessarily reflect that of Real Otaku Gamer or its staff.

 

By Jonathan Balofsky On 13 Nov, 2017 At 11:19 AM | Categorized As Editorials, Featured, Opinion, ROG News | With 0 Comments

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It was 12 years ago today that wrestling fans received horrible news: the legendary Eddie Guerrero had passed away at the age of 38 due to heart problems. Eddie had touched the lives of so many and overcome so much in his own life, that it just seemed cruel for him to be taken in his prime. His death hit the industry hard and is still felt today.

Eddie Guerrero was the youngest son of Gory Guerrero, one of the best heels in Lucha Libre. He was born into a wrestling legacy and soon found himself getting into the business. Trained by the best and soon proving why he was the best, Eddie made a name for himself in countries like Mexico and Japan and developing friendships along the way with the likes of Art Barr, Chris Jericho and Chris Benoit.  Eddie got married to his wife Vickie and their daughter was born soon after. But hardships came just as much as the good did.

After some time in ECW in the United States, Eddie was signed to World Championship Wrestling where things took a turn for the worse. Eddie’s troubles piled up, augmented by the already turbulent nature of WCW, where wrestlers were essentially put into castes and the backstage environment was not a healthy one. Drug and alcohol problems got out of hand and Eddie pushed himself too far. Eddie’s relationship with Vickie and their now two daughters was growing shaky due to his growing problems, but it all got worse after Eddie was in a major car accident and came back to work too soon afterwards due to WCW’s policies.  He was unhappy in WCW where he was treated poorly but could not get out of the company yet.

As stated, Eddie was one of the best wrestlers of all time. He could make anyone look amazing in the ring and had such natural charisma that it rubbed off on even the most bland individual he was working with. He had matches that were the highlight of every show and was such a star in Mexico that promoters continued his gimmick long after he left.  However, they could not replicate the results without him. In WCW, the better he did, the more the higher ups seemed to dump on him and it took a toll along with everything else in his life at the time.

Eddie, along with Chris Benoit, Perry Saturn and his longtime friend Dean Malenko, eventually jumped ship from WCW to the WWE and things turned around for the better. Eddie was suddenly given a chance he wasn’t afforded in WCW. He quickly won over fans and higher ups liked what they saw. But his demons were also getting stronger. Addictions to painkillers and alcohol  had wrecked havoc on his life,. His marriage was ruined and he was spiraling out of control and eventually it got to the point that Dean Malenko had to inform WWE what was going on, because he feared finding Eddie dead in a hotel bed one day.

Eddie was given the choice to go to rehab and was eventually fired by WWE. But that was not the end of his story. Eddie did rehabilitate himself and rededicated himself to God. He cleaned himself up and began working on the independent scene for a while, including with talents like CM Punk. He also began to repair his personal relationships, eventually winning back and reuniting with his family, and WWE took notice. Eddie had turned himself around and was brought back to the company in a big way. Latino Heat had been his nickname for a while and now he showed just what Latino Heat was capable of. In his tag team with his nephew Chavo Jr ( they were nearly the same age), Eddie wooed fans like never before. He lied, he cheated and stole in his matches and the fans went crazy for him. He was the wiliest figure in the ring and no one could outsmart him.

Eddie eventually impressed WWE so much that he was given a run with the WWE championship and represented the company and title with pride and honor. He became and example of redemption in wrestling, and it was not just an act. Former WWE referee Jimmy Korderas told a story in his book, The Three Count: My Life in Stripes as a WWE Referee, about how a young fan in a wheelchair had waited after a show to meet Eddie and wasn’t able to. Jimmy went to Eddie, who was in the changing room and immediately took the WWE belt and went to meet the fan because he wanted to make him happy. There were stories about how Eddie would encourage people to tip waiters and waitresses better because a good tip could mean all the difference to them in terms of their money for the month. He would read the bible frequently and discuss his faith with those interested. He never tried to push religion on anyone, but simply was willing to talk about it. He was willing to talk to others going through the problems he had, and would offer his guidance.

Sadly, 12 years ago this day, Eddie passed away. He had overcome his demons but the damage had been done. His substance problem had caused heart issues and he was found dead in his hotel room bed by Chavo and Dean. Eddie was lionized afterwards and rightfully so. El Santo may have been called the Saint of wrestling but Eddie had a good claim on the title also. He inspired wrestlers to do better, both in the ring and in life, and later to take care of themselves. He showed that one could bring himself back from the bottom and come to the top.

Eddie is gone but will never be forgotten. He is the inspiration for positive changes in the industry, including how smaller wrestlers are perceived. A hero to may, Eddie will always live on in our hearts and minds.

Viva La Raza!

By Jessica Brister On 12 Nov, 2017 At 04:09 PM | Categorized As Books, Editorials, Featured, Opinion, Reviews | With 0 Comments

No GravatarWhen looking at epic fantasy series, many times a first book can be a little slow, typically concentrating on a lot of set-up for later books.  Initially, when I heard about The Way of Kings, the first book in Brandon Sanderson’s Stormlight Archive series, the most talked-about feature was the one-thousand plus page length.  When my husband brought home the hard-cover edition, I took one look at that thing and immediately put the title on the back-burner.  I went through Sanderson’s Mistborn series and liked it, but I thought that I was going to have a hard time getting into a first book that long.

I was totally wrong.

 The Way of Kings is one of the best fantasy books that I have ever read.  Actually, it is probably one of the best books I have ever read period, and I don’t say that lightly either.  As a former English teacher, I have many wonderful titles on my list of must-reads.  I have to say, though, The Way of Kings really is a fantastic read.  Here’s why:

Despite the epic length of The Way of Kings, the story is extremely fast-paced.  Sanderson is an expert at dangling little pieces of information at the right points to make the reader want to keep reading, despite the daunting size of the text.  The story revolves around a handful of characters living in the inhospitable land of Roshar, a land of storms and stone.  This book focuses on Kaladin, a former soldier turned slave, as he struggles with his purpose in life and the group of slaves he adopts as his own.  They truly are dealing with horrific conditions as the kingdoms of Roshar battle a mysterious enemy who killed their High King.  But as Kaladin tries to keep his men alive, he begins to realize that they are not much more than cannon fodder, and the righteous war that they were supposed to be fighting is beginning to turn into nothing more than a petty political scheme.

The nobility of the kingdoms in Roshar are obsessed with money, power, and Shardblades and Shardplates—extremely powerful weapons and armor from a different era, one which is lost in the echoes or Roshar’s distant history where the Knights Radiant protected the land from true horrors.  One book that recounts some of the former glory of these guardians is The Way of Kings, a text that Brightlord Dalinar Kholin is obsessed with.  The brother of the slain king, Dalinar believes that the book has some secret meaning that may affect the future of the kingdoms.  Not everyone around him is so sure, since many doubt Dalinar’s sanity.

Meanwhile, in a seemingly irrelevant but extremely important side story, a young woman named Shallan must figure out a way to steal an enormously valuable item from Dalinar’s niece, Jasnah, in order to restore her family’s position in society.  While getting close to Jasnah, Shallan soon discovers that Jasnah’s research may hold the key to the Knights Radiant and the real reason behind the war.

The Way of Kings covers everything from political intrigue to the horrors of war to racism and inherent bias.  There’s something for everyone.  Despite being such a lengthy novel, there’s not any filler.  Everything is important and as the story unfolds, the details masterfully build upon each other.  The story is also beautifully written.  Sanderson is an accomplished writer who creates prose that is truly an art form.  I do not say this about many contemporary authors.

One of the best aspects of The Way of Kings is the setting itself, which has a unique feel from most standard fantasy novels.  Roshar is a weather-beaten land where plants retract in and out of the rocks and most typical animals are crustacean-like beings with tough shells to withstand highstorms, which are fierce hurricane-like tempests that will destroy anyone and anything in their path.  Cities and towns are built specifically with these storms in mind, and travel can be a quite rough.  The lore and history as well as the cultures and people of Roshar are fascinating and add depth to the marvelous world Sanderson has created.

The main characters are memorable and relatable.  I happened to really connect with Kaladin, and I ended up learning a few things about myself through his eyes.  All of the main characters have multiple flaws but also many redeeming qualities, making them believable and realistic.  The reader is drawn in to their plights and is concerned for their well-being, wanting them to succeed.

There are multiple conflicts: some from other characters, some from the war, and some that are internal struggles, which creates a well-rounded story line.  Yes, it might be a hefty read, but everything pulls together so nicely that most readers probably won’t mind.  I certainly didn’t.  In fact, I felt a bit lost after finishing it.  I got that let-down feeling after I finish a book when it is so good that I never want it to end, and when it does end, I get depressed.  The Way of Kings did that to me.  Luckily, I was a little late to the game when I read it, so it didn’t take me very long to get my hands on the second book, Words of Radiance (review coming soon).

The Way of Kings did come out in 2010, so this review may appear to come out at an odd time, but don’t forget that the third book of the series, Oathbringer, will be out November 14, so this is a great time to play catch-up if you haven’t started on this series yet.  I cannot praise these books enough.  They really are the next great fantasy series of our time.

Oh, and those who enjoy listening to their books, the book tape version of The Way of Kings is amazing.  I did one read through and one listen through of the book and cannot say enough about the production of the audio book.

No GravatarGames That Should Be Revived : The KOF Maximum Impact Series

[KOF Maximum Impact is SNK’s first attempt to recreate the KOF Experience in 3D Graphics.]

SNK is a company that many people love the world over and is widely known for its arcade and home console releases. SNK, after creating a successful line of 2D King Of Fighters games, eventually decided to take their flagship fighting game and elevate it to the 3D Level. Thus creating their 3D Sub-series KOF : Maximum Impact. The title Maximum Impact was used to differentiate this game from your standard KOF game. While this is not SNK’s first attempt at creating a 3D fighting game, it is, in fact, one of their better endeavors.

 

[ The KOF Maximum Impact series follows the story of the brothers Alba and Soiree Meira respectively.  Image Source: KOF MI Reg “A”]

KOF Maximum Impact features an alternative storyline of the events of Southtown. Following the events of Real Bout Fatal Fury, in which within that continuity Geese Howard, the man who was known to be the top dog of Southtown at the time had fell to his death. Geese had a confrontation with his nemesis Terry Bogard. Without Geese being in the picture, as Southtown’s undisputed ruler, many gangs vie and fight for control of Southtown. Eventually, Southtown comes under the control of one crime boss known as Fate and order were restored for a time. That is, until a rival crime boss named Duke wanted Fate out of the picture, with both sides trying to assassinate each other to put an end to the turf war. This assassination eventually leads to Duke taking over all of Southtown, this, in turn, prompted Fate’s adoptive sons Alba and Soiree Meira to join The KOF Tournament in hopes to defeat Duke and avenge the death of Fate.

KOF Maximum Impact aside from having faces from the mainstream KOF Timeline has a list of unique characters all on their own.

 The primary reason as to why The KOF Maximum Impact series should be revived is predominantly so the actual series can get finished. As of the time of writing this article, KOF Maximum Impact never got the final game within its series. Nor any did any of its non-sequel spin-offs most notably being KOF Maximum Impact Regulation A2. For a series that was actually good rather than bad? This is a bad thing for a company to have on its record. The secondary reason is mostly that the KOF Maximum Impact series was a breath of fresh air in a series that tried too hard to stick to an otherwise textbook formula.  An example being in three of the mainline King Of Fighters arcs. SNK focused on nothing more than the Orochi Storyline (ranging from KOF: 95 – 97 arcs. KOF: 2003 – KOF XIII arcs and KOF Neo Blood and Howling Blood arcs respectively). KOF Maximum Impact for the time brought a new and innovative concept and story line to an otherwise stale plot angle. This with its completely original story line was a major draw in for the fan base that KOF Maximum Impact has. Also, unlike its mainline counterpart, KOF Maximum Impact had a dark and gritty feel which was reminiscent of the previous generation King Of Fighters titles. I.E KOF 95 and KOF 96 which was also another major draw into the series. Minus the mixed reviews, it got from the series hardcore 2D fan base, regardless of the fact according to SNK themselves. KOF Maximum Impact sold well over in Japan. However, KOF Maximum Impact 2 / KOF 2006 had mixed reception as it did amazing in the states as one of the highest selling King Of Fighters games. However, over in Japan it only did average at best.

 

How can this title be improved?: 

[ KOF Maximum Impact Regulation “A2” was one of the KOF Maximum Impact titles that had gotten canceled as a result of KOF XII’s poor sales ]

KOF Maximum Impact can be improved by having a more diverse cast of mainline KOF characters within its games, rather than just the more popular KOF Characters. For example, a line up of  “Robert Garcia,” “Ryo Sakazaki,” and “Takuma”  rather than just “Ryo Sakazaki” and “Takuma,” or for another team have Iori Yagami, “Vice,” and “Mature” rather than just Iori Yagami by himself as the only representative of his KOF team.  It’s this crucial lack of diversity which was KOF Maximum Impact’s greatest oversight. Now “KOF Maximum Impact” also had several O.T.G otherwise known as On The Ground combos, which allow you to continue a combo on a downed opponent. This system did not go over well over with the more tournament level KOF Players.  This can be fixed if they took more of the combo elements of their mainline 2D Counterpart and ported them over to 3D specifically thus stabilizing an already combo heavy game. Storyline wise? Personally, KOF Maximum Impact already fixed this within KOF Maximum Impact 2 by giving each of the characters their own uniquely fleshed out story lines. If they were to revive this series, perhaps they can take a nod from Guilty Gear Xrd Rev 2 and add an in-game encyclopedia for the games more confusing storyline and lore aspects as some questions even left the most knowledgeable of KOF Fans struggling to put the pieces together. Structure wise? The game should go from a more “1” vs “1” aspect to a “3” vs “3” aspect like the other games within the King Of Fighters series have, This would attract a bigger following rather than the humble amount of fans it has now. As for the last suggestion as to how “King Of Fighters Maximum Impact” can improve upon itself? Just simply tie up any loose ends that the series has.  This is because KOF Maximum Impact as a whole did not deserve to be canceled halfway through.

KOF Maximum Impact as a whole is one of the more better established KOF Spinoffs as there have been weaker titles within “The King Of Fighters Continuity”. I.E: “KOF Kyo”, “KOF Ex / Howling Blood” in which in the latter game you did not even get to fight the main antagonist. etc. So looking at it from reviewers standpoint KOF Maximum Impact, at least had enough of a following to warrant a final game within its series. But as it stands currently? SNK had stated within an interview that they have no plans for “The KOF Maximum Impact” series at this time. Considering that the last numerical installment within the series was during the year 2006 and it’s 2017. It would be nothing short of a shame of this spin-off entry within the King Of Fighters continuity was fated to be put to the sidelines in favor for story-lines that aren’t as good as this current chapter within “The King Of Fighters” franchise.

 

 

By Nate VanLindt On 11 Nov, 2017 At 08:45 PM | Categorized As Comics/Manga, Editorials, Featured, News, Reviews | With 0 Comments

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Spoiler Alert!  If you haven’t read the December 1973 issue of Captain America And The Falcon (#168) yet, this article contains detailed information about the plot and storyline!  Don’t come complaining later if you ruined it for yourself!

Now, with that out of the way, let’s take a look at some comics!  Recently, I came across a good-sized lot of Captain America And The Falcon comics from the early to late Seventies.

Forty-two issues spanning a solid seven years of Captain America with a fair number of gaps of course.  Like a lot of kids, I grew up reading the occasional Cap story, but I never really collected it.  I picked up this run because a fair chunk of the later issues was the final run written and drawn by none other than Jack ‘The King” Kirby himself, almost twenty issues.  Most of the earlier issues were written by an assortment of writers including Stan Lee, Roy Thomas, Tony Isabella, and even Marv Wolfman.  Having never had access to this much Cap before, I figured I was in for a treat.  What I hadn’t expected was what a surprise I was in for as well.

I read a lot of Marvel Comics as a kid.  My favorite was Spider-Man.  Most of my comic collection as a child consisted of Marvel and DC from the Seventies and Eighties.  But I read those comics with a child’s eyes.  Coming back to them as an adult and reading them with an adult’s perspective shows a complex multi-layered dynamic between the characters that I’ve never realized existed before.  It’s something that isn’t in a lot of today’s modern comics; a subtext commentary about our society at the time the books were written.  It turns out Captain America And The Falcon was a book that was notably not afraid to address the issues of the day, namely racism and the inequity between blacks and whites in 1970s America.  There are comments and statements throughout the book, often between Cap and Falcon, about how African-Americans are treated in the USA.  It’s not just here or there either.  Stan Lee addresses it, Jack Kirby addresses it and bringing us to Captain America And The Falcon #168, Roy Thomas & Tony Isabella address it.

 

This issue of Captain America caught my attention, not just for the iconic cover, but also because it was a self-contained one issue story that was made into a Book And Record set which I happened to own as a child.  I’ve probably read the entire book at least fifty times, but having lost my Book and Record collection over the years, I’d almost forgotten that the story existed and had no idea that it was actually a regular issue that was released in the early Seventies as well.  So over twenty years later, I sat down to read it again.

The story starts out with Cap and Falcon out on patrol.  One of the first things you notice though is the tone of which Falcon speaks.  His dialect comes out in the writing and he sounds like he’s straight off the street in the Seventies.  This fits of course, but I never noticed it as a kid.  Captain America has a much more refined mode of speech but their banter back and forth flows naturally.   Things got surprisingly adult very quickly though, with Steve Rogers (and if you don’t know that’s who Captain America is…well, I can’t help you.  Or I just did, take your pick) worrying about the morality of having fallen in love with the daughter of the woman he used to be in love with in the 1940s.  And Falcon reassures him by telling him that it’s just ‘an old-fashioned [love] triangle’ that’s got him down.  Okay, so apparently that’s just par for the course for most people.  Who knew?

While I’m still reeling from the implications of that little bombshell, a mystery villain attacks Cap and Falcon out of the blue, spouting dire threats at Cap specifically.   Here’s where things get really interesting.  Falcon sneaks up on “The Phoenix” while he’s attacking Cap and kicks him in the back from behind.  Standard superhero stuff.  But then the Phoenix responds.

As you can see in the panel, Sam Wilson (that’s the Falcon for those of you who also didn’t know) refuses to sink to his level and makes with the witty banter in return, offering him a fair fight and the Phoenix responds again.  He then proceeds to pile drive Falcon in the chin with the butt of his um…laser rifle.  Yeah.  In 1973.  Hey, it’s a superhero comic!  But as you can imagine, the above exchange left me nearly open-mouthed.  Had I seriously read that dialogue properly?  Apparently, I had.  And make no mistake, this is a theme that is rife throughout the Captain America And The Falcon series.  It’s not unique to this issue.  However,  they did choose to make this particular issue into a Book and Record set for kids.  But don’t worry, the shocks don’t end here!

Cap then drives off Falcon to try and keep him safe and then goes hunting for the Phoenix on his own.  He finds a likely victim and ends up getting captured by the villain himself.  A chained Captain America asks him who he really is and why he holds such hatred for him and in true villain fashion, Phoenix gives Cap his life’s story.

He’s the son of Baron Zemo, a Nazi scientist who worked on weapons development for the Third Reich.  That’s right, Nazis.

But not just Nazis, Nazis and their families.  Zemo’s son portrays his father as a loving family man, working tirelessly for the benefit of the German war effort, until an attack by the despicable Captain America bonds his mask to his face and he becomes mad with anger and revenge and turns on his family, eventually meeting his doom.  Now his son is out, for blood, rising like a phoenix to wreak vengeance upon our not-so-hapless hero.  Phoenix loses in the end and loses his life too.  Falcon drops in to save the day, Phoenix spouts more racial epithets and Cap joins in to stop him, but his own weapons destroy him and Cap has an introspective moment about the nature of hatred.  Even this scene was emotionally charged and reminds us of our history.  

And as I read through more issues, the same types of themes reoccurred.  One of the Kirby issues (Captain America And The Falcon #194, February 1977) has Steve dreaming about an ancestor from the American Revolution and when he tells Sam Wilson, Falcon accuses Cap’s family of owning slaves, possibly even his own ancestors!   Isn’t that literally the exact thing that’s been in the news the last year or two?  It’s basically a conversation about white guilt, ignorance, and forgetting the past in less than 3 paragraphs!  Absolutely stunning.

Stop and think about all of this for a minute.  We have the child of a Nazi following in his father’s footsteps and coming to America to assassinate Captain America.  It does at least explain his brutally racist remarks to Falcon.  But take this book out of context for a moment.  Overlay it with the politics and mood or the country today.  It’s like we never got past that era.  We have the same racism.  We have neo-Nazis spreading across North America and Europe like a virus.  It’s FORTY-FOUR years after this comic was written and we still have the same issues for African-Americans in America as we did in 1973!  It’s right there in black and white for all of us to read in a comic primarily intended for children.

If anything, in many ways things have gotten worse instead of better, but we talk about the ‘rising racial tension in America’ like it’s shocking and new.  It’s not.  It never left.  It’s a social convention that’s been lurking about beneath the surface that we mostly avoided talking about except for the people directly suffering from it.  And it’s all wrapped up in a neat little red, white, and blue package for anyone to see in a comic written before I was even born.  Not in literature, nor in a journal article, or even an editorial.  In a superhero comic book.  THAT is how pervasive the endemic problems in our society are.  THAT is what we need to realize.  That every little thing shows us something is very wrong and we continue to ignore it, even in our kids’ comics.   Racism, white supremacy, the changing structure of relationships and learning to accept them, none of it is new. We’ve just forgotten it isn’t.  Maybe we need to look to the past and have some open discussions about these issues.  Perhaps we should put aside the politically charged arguments and the political correctness and simply look at our world…through the panels of a comic book.

A final note:

For those of you who are interested, Captain America And The Falcon is not remotely the only mainstream book that handles themes like these.  Marvel and DC in the 1970s both covered a variety of sociopolitical issues.  Notably, Black Panther, Luke Cage, Hero For Hire, and the Power Man And Iron Fist comics for Marvel and Green Lantern/Green Arrow for DC were heavy hitters.  Drugs, racism, poverty, and social inequity all get some serious contemplation between super-powered brawls.  If you get the chance, take a second look at some of those old comics.  You might just be surprised what’s inside them! 

 

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Something that often doesn’t get mentioned a lot when discussing Nintendo Switch’s online service is that some games will have online play. While we do not know how this will work just yet, we can make some guesses. If the games do allow online co-op or other such multiplayer, then here are seven NES games that truly need online play. (Note, there will be no RARE games or licensed games on this list)

 

Number 7: Bomberman

Okay, Let me just say that yes the NES Bomberman is very basic compared to later entries. It didn’t have many of the series staples that would come later, but it is still a very fun game. Bomberman has always been a great series for multiplayer and either of the NES Bomberman games would be very much worth having with online play. It is still fun and challenging and would make for a great time.

Number 6: Tecmo Bowl

An all time classic, Tecmo Bowl is a football game that is easy to learn and quick to get the hang of. That being said, it is still challenging and in 2 player mode, the game requires strategy as well as timing.  This was in spite of its seemingly simple inputs that quickly showed themselves to have a lot more to them. Obviously this would continue to lack the NFL license due to EA having that exclusively, but that doesn’t matter. This is a sports game that just works!

Number 5:Double Dragon II

Beat Em Ups are awesome, we all know that, and Double Dragon II was one of the best available for the NES. Improving on the original in every way, including finally bringing in co-op mode, Double Dragon II is an all time classic about getting revenge for a loved one, and kicking ass while doing so. The enemies are iconic, the sound effects are memorable, and the fact is that this is a game that is a must for 2 players.

Number 4: Ice Hockey

Nintendo’s Ice Hockey is a deceptively awesome game. It seems bland with its generic title, but then you get tot he gameplay and it is amazing. This is pure arcade style fun, and the game offers so many options for variety. You can speed things up to insane levels, or alter the character sizes, just for two examples. The game is a classic example of easy to learn but difficult to master, and it is one of Nintendo’s best NES games.

Number 3: Life Force

I had to include a space shooter on the list and Life Force was the best choice. This game offered unique gameplay, great power-ups and excellent co-op. It also was one of the first NES space shooters to switch perspective between horizontal and vertical during gameplay. The game holds up well all these years later, and I feel that a new generation will love it also, especially if they can play online with their friends!

Number 2:Contra/Super C

This one is a toss up as Konami seems to only re-release Super C instead of Contra 1, but that is besides the point. The Contra series is an absolutely legendary run n gun series, that only gets better with two players. Two players running through hordes of enemies while trying to not get hit. With online play, players from around the world can team up and take on the enemy together, which would only make a Contra game even better. The series is just better with two players and online would make it even more awesome.

Number one: Bubble Bobble

There was no other option. This is one of the best ( and arguable THE best) co-op games on the NES. Its gameplay is still as great today as it was back in the day, and multiplayer is a major part of the series. In fact multiplayer is needed if you really want to get the game beaten. This is the perfect example of a co-op game on NES that would benefit from having online multiplayer added in, and no one can deny that. It would make an all time great even better and show why this game gets the praise it does.

 

But this is just my list. What suggestions do you have?

 

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Disclaimer: The above is the opinion solely of the author and not necessarily that of ROG or its staff.

 

 

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I am a major fan of retro gaming, and with regards to that, the Neo Geo holds a special place in my heart. The games had so much to them and they felt like nothing else at the time. Today, I wish to highlight 7 Neo Geo games that you can play right now via Arcade Archives on PS4, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch. I will only include one entry per franchise, as otherwise this list would be a little repetitive.

 

Number 7: Magician Lord

Magician Lord was a launch title for the Neo Geo and holds up surprisingly well all these years later. It has challenging gameplay yet is still fair and most of all fun. The game allowed you to transform the main character in different ways to take on enemies, sort of but not quite like Altered Beast. The game was very action oriented combined with excellent platforming gameplay that would come to show why the Neo Geo was a force to be reckoned with. With fans both old and new, Magician Lord is one to try!

 

Number 6: Neo Turf Masters

A golf arcade game doesn’t sound like an extremely exciting game that would be beloved decades later, but Neo Turf Masters is a different kind of beast.  The game has fast paced action combined with excellent fluid animation that still looks great today. I would even go so far as to say that Neo Turf Masters is the direct inspiration for games like Everybody’s Gold and Mario Golf. Neo Turf Masters is still as fun today as it was when it was first released, and it may interest you all to know that this was made by the same team that made the Metal Slug games. The game was easy to learn but difficult to master and that is something that I can appreciate.

 

Number 5: Spinmaster

This one is just fun, no other way to say it. It is a side scrolling platformer run n gun game but more akin to Mega Man than anything else. It has some of the best visuals of any Neo Geo game, visuals which stand on par with games from today in fact, and has a charm that just cannot be artificially replicated. This is a game I can play over and over again non stop and still be enthralled by. The combination of platforming and shooting is extremely well, and the different power-ups you get are all fun to use. If it seems like I am gushing a bit, it is because I am. Spinmaster is an amazing game that has sadly fallen from the minds of many. I daresay this is one of the best Neo Geo games of all!

Number 4: King of Fighter 98

A King of Fighters game was of course going to be on the list and this one deserves the spot. Considered by many to be the finest in the series,  KOF 98 combined everything that was good about the previous entries into a Dream Match game. The fighting was refined, the music was incredible, even by today’s standards, but most of all, it was just fun. This is a game that should be on every fighting game fan’s radar and is a must play at least once. SNK fighters did not get the same attention from many gamers that Capcom fighters got, but KOF 98 will show you why SNK also delivered greatness.

Number 3: Magical Drop II

The Magical Drop series  is a series of puzzle games very similar to the Puyo Puyo series, but with its own unique identity as well. The games have a colourful cast of characters and a fantastical sense of charm. Magical Drop II refined the series gameplay from the first entry and added new modes and gameplay options, as well as an improved single player campaign. The Japanese version also contained another gameplay mode as well named Hirameki, in which players are given preset puzzles to solve. I should also point out the arcade archives series contains the Japanese versions of the games as well.

Number 2: Metal Slug X

X or 3? X Or 3? I debated for a while which to include but I finally chose X, as it feels more refined. X was a remake of 2 that corrected all of the flaws of the original and added in numerous changes and improvements. Many of the highlights in 3 were also present in X, including transformations and weapons. Metal Slug is just an incredible series and one of the best Run n Gun series ever. WHile many view Metal Slug 3 as the best, I feel X is a better entry point as it is better paced and balanced for both veterans and newcomers.

 

Number 1: Waku Waku 7

 

Waku Waku 7 is one of the most off beat fighting games ever made. It parodies numerous genres, animes and tv shows while adding its own spin on things and being a great game. The fighting was excellent, and I daresay even better than the KOF series, and the music was on another level altogether. Waku Waku 7 was sadly lost among the other fighting games on Neo Geo, but in truth, was a step above them all. Like other entries on this list, it is easy to learn but difficult to master and very rewarding. There really isn’t another fighter like it and that is a shame. This is a fighting game done right that deserves more attention. It is a damn good one.

 

 

Well that was the first list. I’m plan on highlighting more Neo Geo games going forward. Leave your feedback and suggestions for what you think deserves a mention.

 

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The above is the opinion of the author of the piece and not necessarily that of Real Otaku Gamer.

By Jonathan Balofsky On 8 Nov, 2017 At 06:03 PM | Categorized As Editorials, Featured, News, NINTENDO, Reviews, Reviews, ROG News | With 2 Comments

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The Legend of Zelda is one of Nintendo’s premiere series and one beloved by gamers worldwide. However, there is one game in the series that tends to be poorly regarded. Zelda II: The Adventure of Link was the first sequel in the series but made drastic changes to the gameplay. Instead of playing from a bird’s eye view like the first game,  Zelda II only uses that for the over world, while using side-scrolling gameplay for towns and dungeons. This brought platforming to the series which made for a very different game. In addition, the game had an RPG style levelling system that hasn’t really be done in the series since. It is definitely the odd one out, but is it a bad game?

I have a confession to make. Zelda II: The Adventure of Link, is actually my favourite NES game. In fact, it is my favourite game in the Zelda series altogether ( I could not get into Breath of the Wild at all but I did try). I first played it when I was twelve, well after Majora’s Mask came out. My mother got it for me from a pawn shop, and I spent the summer playing it. Playing that classic game long after I played Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask was quite an interesting experience.

I can see the complaints people had about how different the game was, but I do not agree with them. The game is different yes, but at the time it came out, there was only one other game to compare it to. I actually feel the fact that it is so unlike the other games makes Zelda II unique in a good way. This isn’t to mention that the game actually introduced many ideas that remained in later games, such as Dark Link, names of characters in Ocarina of Time being taken from names of towns in this game, and on that point, towns first appeared in this game and have been a key part of every Zelda game since. Furthermore, the magic system in later games is directly based on the magic system in this one. Zelda II contributed a lot more to the series than people realize.

There are issues of course, mainly the difficulty. The game gets very hard very early on, before most would be ready for it. Getting to Death Mountain means reaching a point of vastly increased challenge and its still an early part of the game. The platforming is not especially difficult due to controls but only when enemies get involved similar to the early Castlevania games. But even then, I don’t feel the difficulty is something that should detract from the game itself. When I think of the game, I just think of fun, because even going back to this game last year, I still got that same sense of joy.

Zelda II: The Adventure of Link is one of the most underrated games of all time. It has gotten a lot of hatred that is simply undeserved and unmerited. If anything, I would love to see the game get a remake with a modern look, and maybe tweaking the difficulty to manageable levels. The UbiArt Framework would be amazing for such a remake but there are of course other engines and styles that could be used for a remake. It would give people a chance to finally see why this game is truly amazing.

If you have only heard the negatives about the game and have never played it yourself, I urge you to try it for yourself. It may not be a traditional Zelda, but neither was Breath of The Wild. It is a truly excellent experience.