Retro Game of the Week

Conker's Bad Fur Day

HDL on Monday, 27 September 2010. Posted in Retro Game of the Week

Editor's Note: I remember seeing advertisements for this game on TV and thinking it looked absolutely hilarious in its reversal of "cute" cartoon characterizations. HDL gives you the low-down on just how deep and "mature" the humor ran in this uncharacteristically adult Nintendo 64 action-adventure/platform game. -mossy_11

Ever wonder what an obscene version of Looney Tunes would be like? If youʼve ever imagined vulgarities coming from characters like Bugs Bunny, you may have some idea of what this game has in store.


Unlike most games with a cartoony approach, Conker's Bad Fur Day makes no effort to hide its brusque nature, even before you start playing. Not long after the game is turned on, protagonist Conker the Squirrel cuts the iconic Nintendo 64 logo straight down the middle with a chainsaw. Even the gameʼs menu select screen is actually a tavern, containing many of the crazy characters Conker will interact with in his story. This approach was partially responsible for the gameʼs less-than-stellar commercial success, on top of being released only months before the GameCube in 2001.

Solar Jetman: Hunt for the Golden Warship

Pixelcade on Monday, 20 September 2010. Posted in Retro Game of the Week

Editor's Note: I've never heard of this game, but it looks interesting -- like a more complicated Lunar Lander with added story elements and better physics. Pixelcade gives you a run-down. - mossy_11

SolarjetmancoverWelcome readers back to the "games that you probably didn't know existed and have lots of gravity and physics involved in them" series. This week I bring to you Solar Jetman: Hunt for the Golden Warship. The game was developed by Zippo Games for Rare and released in the US by Tradewest, then in Europe by Nintendo. I'm not sure how that lineage goes but well there it is (as laid out by Wikipedia). I first encountered Solar Jetman at a yard sale in the early 90's and to my luck found a great game for a super low price. Upon bringing it home and powering up my NES I was hooked.

You control a small jet pod that is ejected from your main mothership. Should your jet pod be destroyed (1 hit unless your shields are running) you revert to a single lone space explorer. This does not end your game but makes you a very easy target. If you return to the mothership you'll be given another pod to continue the mission. The real challenge is getting the items you collect back to the mothership. With gravity being different you have to be creative on how to move them. Some will suck you right back to the surface while others will not even move an inch.

Shenmue Series

dickmedd on Monday, 13 September 2010. Posted in Retro Game of the Week

Editor's Note: The Shenmue games have always struck me as emblematic of Sega's downfall. Full of outrageous ambition and short-sightedness, yet charming, beautiful, and magical. The video game industry lost something special the day the Dreamcast died, and it was more than just the conclusion to this epic story. Read this for a trip back to a time when Sega made games like no-one else, and we loved them for it. -mossy_11



Prepare to step into another world. A world where shopkeepers and traders get up early to ply their trade, ladies step out of their front gate to sweep away the fallen leaves and gossip, young men kneel polishing their motorbikes, and old men go to the park to sit thoughtfully or practice Tai Chi. This is a world in which the sun rises and sets, skies aren't always clear, and, on a snowy day, you might witness the murder of your father at the hands of a mysterious man in long Chinese robes. You've just entered the fantastically vivid world of Yu Suzuki's Shenmue!


seanstar on Monday, 06 September 2010. Posted in Retro Game of the Week

Editor's Note: You Gotta Catch 'em All is surely one of the most insidious marketing ploys ever devised against children. While the existence of groups that condemn Pokémon as satanic is laughable, the ridiculous popularity of the franchise amongst children is not. But of course there's something more to the craze than clever marketing -- the series is renowned for its remarkable depth. Seanstar offers here a simultaneously fun, irreverent, and jaded look back at the beginnings of this apparent demon-spawn that makes for a fantastic read, whatever your feelings about the franchise. -mossy_11

Pokémon, or "You Gotta Catch 'em All, so go beg mommy and daddy to buy you the latest and greatest version of the same exact game because it's really a different game, we swear!" is the ubiquitous Nintendo handheld cash-cow that debuted in 1996, long before the Game Boy was in color. Consequently, the original "Red" and "Blue" versions of the game (and the Japanese Red and Green, and eventual Yellow, versions) were primarily differentiated by the fact that the Red version circuit board was mounted in a red plastic case, the Blue version in blue, the Green version in green, and the Yellow version in leftover Donkey Kong Land shells. Or maybe brand new Yellow. The world will never know. All versions could be played in full variable-hue monochrome if you had a Super Game Boy, the primary advantage of this mode being to showcase the fact that most towns had been named vaguely after colors by changing the game to the closest SNES-palette representation of the color in question as soon as you entered.


Pixelcade on Monday, 30 August 2010. Posted in Retro Game of the Week


Incoming Transmission from Atari Mission Control circa 1982. Message as follows: "Your mission is to travel to alien planets, wipe out enemy bunkers, gather fuel units and make the solar systems safe for you and future generations of space pioneers." End Transmission.

I was a bit young to have played Gravitar at launch -- being just 3 years old at the time -- but I discovered it later in my life at a local arcade, pushed back in a corner, collecting dust. What attracted me to the machine was the awe-inspiring hand drawn artwork of the marquee and what I could see on the sides of the machine. Graphically, this game was highly outdated by then. It was a vector-based game (meaning it used a different monitor system) in a time of pixels and higher sprite counts (which is saying something since it was only about 1985).

Lufia & the Fortress of Doom

mossy_11 on Monday, 23 August 2010. Posted in Retro Game of the Week

There’s something magical about the 16-bit era of Japanese role-playing games (JRPGs). The sprite graphics had grown just enough in detail to express a wide range of emotions, while the larger capacity of cartridges for the Super Nintendo and Sega Mega Drive/Genesis allowed the creation of huge and highly detailed worlds. Moreover, the mechanics that were in their infancy during the days of the NES had matured and shed much of the baggage that previously weighed them down.

A lot remained to be done to perfect the JRPG formula, but its scope and complexity were no longer constrained by technology -- developers could at last create an epic adventure with a fully-realised story and several core characters, all tied in to a deep gameplay system. It would be some time before the arrival of the true masterpieces of the era -- Chrono Trigger, Final Fantasy VI, Super Mario RPG, and a few others -- but a flurry of fine efforts kept gamers more than satisfied through the early 90s, including Final Fantasy IV, Illusion of Gaia, Phantasy Star III, and the topic of this article, Lufia & the Fortress of Doom (Estpolis in Japan), which preceded another of the 16-bit JRPG greats: Lufia II: Rise of the Sinistrals.


Radical Castle

jetboy on Monday, 16 August 2010. Posted in Retro Game of the Week

Editor's note: Radical Castle is one of the earliest graphical adventure games, and is a key component in the point-and-click revolution ushered in by the Macintosh in the mid-to-late 80s. If you have any interest in adventure games, you should play this. -mossy_11



Radical Castle is a 1986 World Builder adventure classic designed by Christopher Kent Wigginton, which was originally distributed as shareware on multiple cover disks. I first came across Radical Castle around 1988. As a kid I would wait around in mumʼs office fiddling with her Mac Plus. The office had an intranet that I used to search for shareware/freeware apps. When mum returned to her office she was often surprised to see little gadgets on her computer, such as eyes that followed the mouse and Oscar the Grouch in the trash. Radical Castle fit in well with these gadgets.

You play the role of a squire who has fallen out with the king over a secret meeting you had with the princess. Although you are repentant and honestly thought that the princess was a serving wench, the king still isnʼt happy. He gives you a choice between death and a long quest to find an oracle that an evil wizard has stolen.

River Raid

Pixelcade on Monday, 09 August 2010. Posted in Retro Game of the Week

Editor's note: I wasn't alive when River Raid came out, and I didn't get to play it until recently, but I like this game. Maybe this article will be a trip down memory lane for you. Maybe it will be a window into an era of gaming you missed. Either way, give it a read, then go try River Raid. It's awesome. -mossy_11

River_Raid_2600_coverThe year was 1982. Atari were cleaning up the home video game business, Dexy's Midnight Runners were trying to convince Eileen for a date, and E.T. was racking up the long distance charges trying to phone home. What does all this have to do with video games? Well, it's the year the first (and greatest) independent game company, Activision, released River Raid.

And there I was, a little tyke sitting in my parents bedroom, with the TV flickering and color shifting, flying my fighter down the river to GLORY! This was one of the very few games I had as a child; one of the six in my Colecovision collection. River Raid was my first home experience with vertically scrolling games. It remarkably offered a different challenge almost every time I played. The audio (which I now hear in stereo) was very impressive, and still sounds good today.