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By Jonathan Balofsky On 29 Nov, 2017 At 06:47 PM | Categorized As Editorials, Featured, News, NINTENDO, Old School Otaku, Reviews, ROG News, ROG Retro | With 0 Comments

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I have already written about my love for Zelda II, a game I feel is criminally underrated, but now it is time to look at its sequel. The Legend of Zelda : A Link to the Past is regarded as a major turning point for the series, the moment Zelda took a massive leap forward in storytelling and presentation. My own experiences were not the same as most people when it came to ALttP, as I played this after Ocarina of Time, and not when it first came out. That being said, it was still an amazing experience for me.

Let me take you back several years, my brother’s friend David had just loaned him some SNES games and among them was The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. While my siblings enjoyed the fighting games and beat em ups, this one occupied my time the most. I was an awkward youth and this became an escape from bullying I was experiencing, a place I could step into and just have a great adventure. After David took the games back, my mother saw how much of an impact the game had on me, and found a copy of the game at a video game store we often visited ( similar to how she would later get me a copy of Zelda II one year later). Thus I now had a game to help me deal with problems I had at the time.

The Legend of Zelda : A Link to the Past is indeed a great experience and deserves all the praise it gets. It was here that the series formula would be established for years to come, as would be seen in later games such as Ocarina of Time and Wind Waker. Just like the original Legend of Zelda and Zelda II introduced epic adventures to a new video game audience, The Legend of Zelda : A Link to the Past was an introduction to epic fantasy for a new audience. The game was on a scale like little else before it, even previous games in the series. In this game, after recovering the pendants and getting the master sword at last, you would fight the evil wizard and think the game was nearly done. But no, that was just the beginning, and you had a much bigger experience waiting for you to explore.

The Legend of Zelda : A Link to the Past also was important for another reason. Not only did it add some amazing music such as Zelda’s Lullaby that would become iconic parts of the series, but it also greatly advanced the series in terms of narrative. This game introduced really characters with personalities to the Zelda series and was the first game to have a major storyline as part of the game. It is something that all later games built on.

While I still prefer Zelda II: The Adventure of Link, as my favourite game in The Legend of Zelda series, The Legend of Zelda : A Link to the Past is indeed an amazing game. It is one of my favourite games and will always hold a special place in my heart. This is a game that is not played, it is experienced, and this is an experience everyone should have. This really is something special indeed. I do not have the same problems today that I did back then, and I thank A Link to the Past for that. It helped change my life and no doubt that of many others as well.

 

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

By Jessica Brown On 29 Nov, 2017 At 11:52 AM | Categorized As NINTENDO, ROG News, ROG Retro | With 0 Comments

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Yes, you read that right: two brand-new games for the original Nintendo Entertainment System!

Developer Mega Cat Studios has put a lot of their retro heart and soul into Creepy Brawlers and Justice Duel, two original titles built from the ground up to be played on an actual NES game console. Both recently released titles come with an actual box, instruction manual, and physical NES cartridge, giving you that same giddy feel you would have had getting that latest game you wanted for Christmas circa 1989.

Creepy Brawlers is like a horror-themed Punch-Out!! game with some really unique (and challenging!) twists to it while Justice Duel offers a quirky jousting game that allows up to four players to get in on the craziness!

It’s worth pointing out that Mega Cat Studios has been at this for a while now and their website offers a variety of original games of various genres on both the Nintendo Entertainment System and Sega Genesis/Mega-Drive.

If you’re looking for some unique gift ideas for retro-gamers this holiday season, you should definitely take a look at some of the unique, original titles that Mega Cat Studios has to offer!

By Jonathan Balofsky On 28 Nov, 2017 At 11:09 PM | Categorized As Editorials, Featured, NINTENDO, Reviews, ROG News, ROG Retro | With 0 Comments

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I can remember the first time I ever played Super Mario 64. I has played the Mario games on NES and SNES and felt they were the pinnacle of 2D gaming, and playing a 3D Mario game for the first time was like nothing else. I was in awe of what I saw and played constantly. But now decades after playing it, I have to ask myself if the game really does hold up well today or if it was just good for the time.

The first thing I will note, is that this does not take into account ports such as Mario 64 DS or the Wii U virtual console version, just the N64 original. After popping in the cartridge and sitting down to play, I tried to go back to my youth but found that I couldn’t. You cannot recapture that sense of wonder you had as a kid, but looking at the game with an older perspective still allowed me some new insight.

Rather than viewing the game as the height of the series, I now see it as having been Mario’s second beginning. Many 3D platformers from that time ( and  3D games in general from that era) have not aged particularly well, while Super Mario 64 still has a sense of polish that has aged it like a fine wine. There are issues such as the dated visuals, but bizarrely enough, the game actually manages to look good today in spite of that. Perhaps it was because of the art style but the game still has a charming look to it.

But what about the controls? There is a reason I did not want to look at a port or the Virtual Console version on Wii U, and that is because I wanted to experience the game using an N64 controller. This is what the game was designed around and modern controllers do not handle many N64 games well. I was surprised just how well Super Mario 64 uses its control scheme. Every detail is accounted for and everything has a function.  These controls would soon become the norm for Mario, after receiving an introduction of sorts in Donkey Kong 94, but were given true life in this game.

There is also the fact that the game design is so unique that people have found so much to do with the game for years after release. New speedrun tactics are constantly being used and some people are even finding new secrets decades later. Compare this to other games of the era, and Super Mario 64 is leaps ahead of the competition. Of course, compared to the modern Mario games, this one is lacking as the modern games do many things better. But it is important to remember, that Super Mario 64 was where modern Mario derives from. In fact, all of modern gaming does in fact derive from Super Mario 64 in some way. So yes, Super Mario 64 does hold up well today, and it is a game that all generations should experience at some point.

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No one did arcade games like SNK with the Neo Geo. Everything with them was on a completely different level than the rest of the industry, with games that were both intense and fun. Sports games on the Neo Geo often took sports that didn’t seem like they would action packed and made it work, like with Neo Turf Masters. So imagine what they could do with Soccer/Football, a game known for its passionate fans.

Soccer Brawl was like an early predecessor to later games like Sega’s Soccer Slam and Super Mario Strikers/Mario Smash Football. It was less of a sports game, rather than an action game that used sports as basis for the action. The game is set in the future with soccer that is played with bionic people or cyborgs as the players. And with that description, how can this not be awesome?

Soccer Brawl is is a two-player game where your team is representing one of eight countries,. These countries are Germany, Japan, Brazil, The United States, Italy, Spain, England and South Korea. After selecting a team, you will then select one of two stadiums which will be a dome or an open field. Then you begin with a 5-on-5 match and the action gets intense. Forget all the rules for the game, because in this, there are no fouls and anything goes. This makes the game much closer to an intense brawler than you would expect.

Many cite Midway’s arcade sports games as being the games that defined what an arcade style sports game should be. Those people should look instead to SNK and games like this, because Soccer Brawl makes NBA Jam look tame in comparison. SNK threw out any pretense of realism and made it all about fun and action. This is a game that sadly hasn’t received the attention it deserves. Neo Turf Masters is well known ( deservedly so) and I cannot understand why Soccer Brawl doesn’t also get as much attention. Every modern sports game that uses arcade style action to differentiate itself ends up owing something to this game. I urge you all to check it out as it has just been released via Arcade Archives on modern systems. This is a damn good game, and one that I would love to see SNK revisit in the future.  It is too good to just be left in the past.

 

 

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.