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.


seanstar on Monday, 02 August 2010. Posted in Retro Game of the Week

Editor's note: I never really got into the F-Zero games. I thought they looked cool and knew they had a cult following, but found them too intimidating to seriously try. Nevertheless, I had enough experience with F-Zero on the SNES to admire the series from afar. Seanstar has provided an interesting look at the entire series here, with the biggest take-away being that F-Zero games seldom disappoint (unlike certain other arcade racing franchises). -mossy_11


SNES-F-Zero-OriginalBox-f-smThe year is 2560. Burgeoning intergalactic trade and the social and economic boon that followed created a new class of wealthy investors looking for new and exciting forms of entertainment. And so was born F-Zero, an intergalactic grand prix of high stakes and higher speeds, bringing together characters of all species and cultures from across the universe...

In actuality, F-Zero was the brainchild of Nintendo's EAD studio. It debuted on the Super Nintendo in 1990. From the outset, F-Zero was notable for its technical prowess -- inventing the mode-7 3rd-person racing genre, creating never-before-felt physics that hugged the line between driving and skating, laying out a palette of vibrant and distinct worlds and machines, giving the SPC sound chip a fair workout, and all the while never compromising on fluid gameplay that flew with such speed it would put Sonic the Hedgehog on edge.

News Round-up: July 4 - August 1

mossy_11 on Sunday, 01 August 2010. Posted in News

magic-trackpadApple has released the Magic Trackpad, a multi-touch trackpad designed for use on desktop computers. It has a size and profile that matches Apple’s most recent keyboards. Priced at US$69, many have labelled the device too expensive, while others wonder if it is the beginning of a paradigm shift away from mouse input. Check out the MacScene forum thread for the community’s take, and see the official product page for more information.

steam_logo1Valve plans to give away some of their code for OpenGL on the Mac in order to accelerate and motivate further development of Mac versions of Steam games. They claim that this will eliminate the “real hard work” in putting games on the Mac.

apple-logoApple announced an update to the iMac line, with speed bumps and a move to discrete graphics cards across all models. They also introduced a new Mac Pro line that promises “up to 50 percent greater performance,” and a 27-inch LED Cinema Display, which will replace the existing 24-inch and 30-inch models. The new Mac Pros will be available “in August” while the Cinema Display is set for a September release.

Apple’s Q3 earnings revealed that the Mac is growing in popularity, despite the recent focus on iOS devices. The iPad has already sold more than 3 million units. The iPhone 4 sold over 8 million units despite its much-publicised antenna problems and limited international release.

Emulator updates after the break.

Phantasie III - The Wrath of Nikademus

jetboy on Monday, 26 July 2010. Posted in Retro Game of the Week

Editor's note: I'll admit I knew nothing of the Phantasie games before reading this, but jetboy does a great job of explaining the appeal of his favourite entry in the series. I'd appreciate it if someone could explain to me what exactly I'm supposed to do in the game, though, because I went wandering and now I'm completely lost. -mossy_11



My favourite game of all time, Phantasie III, was released for the Amiga back in 1987, and I emulate it using E-UAE (in combination with a handy, legal, ROM/OS package called Amiga Forever). Since most Amiga games were distributed on floppies, I also use a utility called WHDLoad, which allows you to install the floppy versions on your hard disk and remove the nostalgic switching between 100 floppies process. This is my suggested setup if you want to play Phantasie III using MacOS as your host OS, because while there are other versions (notably DOS and Apple II), the graphics and sound for the Amiga version are unequivocally better. While I love Apple, the Apple II version is clearly the worst, and it just makes no sense trying to play it. If you really canʼt get the Amiga version going, I suggest you go with the DOS version because itʼs somewhere in the middle. [What about the Atari ST and Commodore 64 versions? -ed.]

Apple's Interesting 3rd Quarter

Kuribo on Wednesday, 21 July 2010. Posted in News

apple-logoApple recently released the report on its third fiscal quarter, telling of their most recent trends, profits, and deficits. The results were surprisingly positive, according to the mammoth company's predictions. What's your opinion on their recent growth? Do you absolutely oppose iPhone 4? Let us know, and read on for the Q3 details...


  • Apple's net quarterly revenue was $15.7 billion, surpassing last year by $5.97 billion.
  • Fifty-two percent of all sales came from international purchases, indicating a reduced dependence on the United States alone.
  • The iPad, although only recently introduced, sold almost as many units as the Mac computer. There were 3.27 million iPads sold, compared to 3.47 million Macs.
  • Mac sales have increased to approximately ⅓ of the size reported last year.
  • iPod sales have dropped by eight percent from the last year, despite still being the unit in highest demand.
  • The recent iPhone 4 has proved cumbersome with its antenna issue (users are being compensated for their troubles with free cases, fixing the strange bug). However, sales were reported at 8.4 million iPhone 4 units. 

Generally, Apple representatives appear extremely pleased at the results. However, are you surprised by the details? What do you think about the iPad and iPhone 4? Do you absolutely love Apple's current direction? Do you feel the need to beg them to accept emulation apps in the App Store?

Feel free to voice your opinion!

[Via World of Apple.]

Metal Gear

dickmedd on Monday, 19 July 2010. Posted in Retro Game of the Week



Editor's note: This is a fantastic overview of the Metal Gear series that goes a long way to explaining its lasting appeal, and also provides an easy introduction to the uninitiated. I just wish the first two games weren't so hard. -mossy_11

Had a good game of Splinter Cell, Thief, Assassin's Creed, Hitman or Tenchu lately? If so, you owe a fair amount to producer Hideo Kojima for spearheading the development of the 'stealth/espionage' video game genre in his acclaimed Metal Gear series.

Chances are you have played, seen, or at least heard of the 3D Metal Gear Solid instalments on the PlayStation systems (the first two rank highly in best-selling lists), but you are unlikely to have played Kojima's original MSX2 creations, unless you live in Japan.

In the original Metal Gear you play as Solid Snake, a special forces operative assigned to infiltrate the military base/state 'Outer Heaven' in order to liberate your comrades and eliminate the enemy weapon, Metal Gear -- a giant, walking, nuke-firing Mecha -- which always seems to be in the wrong hands. The first game in the series establishes a recurring theme of the series: a mission undertaken by one barehanded agent -- you heard right, if you want a gun, you better try and find one. Via radio and radar assistance, you must avoid detection by carefully sneaking through various corridors and floors in order to guide Snake towards completing his mission.