Four Video Game Luxuries That We Take For Granted

Video games have come a long way. What was once just a toy is now a billion dollar industry capable of expressing ideas in a way that no other media is capable of. In the last 40 years, we’ve gone from four colors and a handful of sound effects to Hollywood-level masterpieces with scripts that would make Martin Scorsese do a double take.

4. Audio

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Looking back over gaming’s history, there are several modern staples that would have been hard to predict. Remember when you had to buy an expensive add-on for your Intellivision if you wanted the luxury of audible voices in your video games? And even then they were synthesized voices that bore only a slight resemblance to a human being.

3. Saving

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Back in the early 90′s, I distinctly remember wishing that my local FuncoLand had a list of the NES titles that utilized battery-powered save states. In most cases even the ability to enter a continuation code was an impressive feature.

2. Sequels

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Today if you’re playing a AAA title like Call Of Duty or Assassin’s Creed, a sequel will probably be on the shelves within a year, but we used to wonder if Nintendo and Sega would ever make sequels to Super Mario Bros. or Sonic The Hedgehog. Those days were rough.

1. Patching

Looks like fun, right kids?

Looks like fun, right kids?

When purchasing a DOS game in the early years of home computing, you had to cross your fingers and hope that the developers did their best. Unlike today they couldn’t just rush a title to the market and fix unplanned problems with patches. There were no reliable delivery system, so customers would have to write letters to the developer or find a dial-up bulletin board to see if other players had the same problem. And if there was a fix, patching was ugly.

Today, if a game has a major issue on launch day, a simple hotfix is typically available.

I’m not trying to tell the young whippersnappers to get off my lawn, but sometimes it’s important to take a step back and remember how far we’ve come. It reminds us that anything can happen in the future.

Is The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening Still Relevant?

If it wasn’t for the fact that A Link Between Worlds was a perfect game, I would’ve given up on The Legend of Zelda.

I tried really hard to like Skyward Sword, I swear. Giving up on that game was like breaking up with a longtime girlfriend. I still found Skyward Sword attractive, but she was so boring that I often found myself texting Dark Souls every time we hung out.

And what’s the deal with people caring about Hyrule Warriors? Are you kidding me? Dynasty Warriors has always been a poor life decision, regardless of whether or not Ganondorf is a playable character.

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Giving up on Zelda is not something I considered lightly. Zelda has played larger role in my life than any other franchise. It’s what made me a gamer. For over a decade, I purchased Nintendo consoles exclusively for Zelda. When I bought the GameCube, it wasn’t because they lowered the price to $99 — it was because it came with the Legend of Zelda: Collector’s Edition. The only reason I have a Wiimote Plus is because of Zelda.

I first contracted this disease when my grandma bought my sister a Game Boy for her birthday. It came bundled with Link’s Awakening, which was promptly handed off to me because she “got stuck.” Link’s Awakening was not the first time I enjoyed playing a video game, but it was the first time that I became truly engaged in one; Super Mario Bros. 3 is a classic, no doubt, but the story didn’t exactly evoke an emotional response in me.

This was the first time I actively searched for more information about a game, which was not an easy task considering the state of the Internet at the time. If I got stuck, I had to, like, talk to people at school (I know, gross). Long story short, I never gave my sister her Game Boy back.

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I’m sorry…WHAT?

One thing that makes Link’s Awakening (and A Link Between Worlds) different from a modern Zelda game is a metric a friend told me about called “Time-to-Sword.” It’s the time between starting a new game, and getting your sword. Historically, the lower the TTS, the more enjoyable the game is. Link’s Awakening’s TTS is less than five minutes. Skyward Sword has a TTS that’s closer to 45 minutes.

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So would modern gamers enjoy Link’s Awakening? It’s hard to say.

The biggest obstacle is the presentation. The current generation is obsessed with HD graphics. The graphics in Link’s Awakening come in two colors — green and slightly less green. Sure, DX came out a few years later and added some more color, but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s still a Game Boy game.

People probably also complain about how linear the game is, but those people can’t be helped.

Tell me what you think in the comments. And while you’re at it, tell me what games were instrumental in making you a gamer?

Retrovolve Reviews Ivan ‘Ironman’ Stewart’s Super Off Road

Off Road

Andy Reierson from our sister site, Retrovolve, reviewed one of 1989′s most beloved titles: Ivan ‘Ironman’ Stewart’s Super Off Road.

If you’re not familiar with Super Off Road, it either means that you’re too young to really appreciate Retrovolve’s antics or you wasted your childhood on stupid things like playing outside and spending time with your family. Either way, now’s your chance to catch up.

Enjoy.

Retrovolve Plays NFL QB Club 2002 So You Don’t Have To

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Our friends at Retrovolve are obsessed with old school gaming, which isn’t entirely surprising. Old school games like Super Mario Bros. 3 and Grim Fandango are widely considered to be some of the best games that the industry has ever seen. But the Retrovolve crew isn’t playing those games. They’re playing games that have never been loved by anyone.

This week, for instance, Andy Reierson played NFL Quarterback Club 2002, a game that’s currently rocking a 67 percent on MetaCritic. The series, which had yearly releases since 1998, never saw another sequel. NFL Quarterback Club 2002 killed the franchise.

Enjoy.

The Trash Bin: State of Emergency Makes Mass Murder Tedious

State of Emergency

Hello, and welcome to The Trash Bin, where we review old, unimportant games and regret the decisions we’ve made in our lives. I’m your host, a seething mass of  bitterness shaped like a man.

Since becoming a vampire, my urban mayhem skills have improved greatly. As Vampire: the Masquerade, The Lost Boys and BloodRayne have shown us, vampires are experts at causing chaos and destruction in a heavily populated area and getting away with it by sheer fuckyouitude. I recently learned this was true during a visit to Burger King with my cabal.

With this in mind, I figured that my vampiric tendencies towards dry, cool, action-movie destruction would make me awesome at State of Emergency, a PS2-era title that sparked some controversy at the time but has been largely forgotten. After locking Mykal Lakim in the basement, so I could actually play the game, there was a problem: my second-hand controller won’t let me actually save the game. Its broken. I’m annoyed, but I wasn’t planning to play this thing all the way through anyway.

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I’m treated to a brief, nonsensical introduction about how the federal government had been replaced by “the corporation,” but that’s where the cyberpunk stops and the teenage suburbanite fantasy begins.

I choose chaos mode, because I’m pretty sure that’s the mode that involves the most chaos. After being presented with a choice of two avatars, I choose one that looks kind of like Tommy Vercetti from Vice City. I run around breaking and killing, only to discover that this game forces you to distinguish between enemies and civilians. I am appalled and horrified. Everyone knows that video games aren’t the place for that kind of thing. I run around wreaking randomized havoc. It’s mildly exciting and cathartic, but only mildly.

My score vastly improved when I was backed into a corner by corporate security thugs and street gangs who were working together just to kill me. Why these two factions are working together is unclear. Apparently this is the story-free version of the game.

Halfway through the campaign, I switch avatars about to a skinny woman with a curvy figure and short skirt. All the weapons look bigger in her hands.

Alas, as much as I’m enjoying the urban destruction, it gets tedious just as I begin the story mode. If I had purchased the title when it had just been released, I probably would have played it a lot longer to drown my sorrows in digital gore. But it’s too late now, or I’ve grown jaded to cartoon violence.

Controls: I figured them out pretty quick, which is okay.

Graphics: Too cartoony to take seriously, which kinda works in the game’s favor, mostly doesn’t.

Sound: What you’d expect from an early 2000s game about rioting.

Best Part: I have lost my morbidly curious desire to play Hatred, which had really been depressing me for the past few days.

Intellivision Flashback vs. ColecoVision Flashback: Retrovolve Weighs In

Retrovolve Flashback

The Intellivision Flashback and ColecoVision Flashback are both on store shelves now, so Andy Reierson over at our sister site Retrovolve did an educational and entertaining video about what you should expect from each one.

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Alcoholic Luigi Had Better Produce a Great RPG

Kain Blood OmenIt was around midnight when the front door slammed open. I took a quick look around the room. Kain was sharpening his glowing sword, and Rayne was reading her blogs in the most erotic way possible. I realized that this could mean only one thing.

“Okay, whose turn was it to watch Lakim? Because it sounds like he went outside without supervision.” [Read more...]

Retrovolve Reviews Test Drive 4

Test Drive 4In the second episode of a new retro game review series over at Retrovolve, Andy Reierson digs into the PlayStation classic Test Drive 4. During said digging, he uncovers a mine of metaphors that will make you ponder the meaning of life. Or maybe just how much you love toast.

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Happy 15th Anniversary, Sega Dreamcast

Sega Dreamcast Today, September 9, 2014, marks the 15th anniversary of the Dreamcast’s United States launch

To celebrate, I figured I’d send you on over to our sister site, Retrovolve, where Andy Reierson has posted a fairly detailed history of Sega’s final home console.

Get your party hats.

Andy Reviews WWF SmackDown! 2: Know Your Role

WWF SmackDown! 2You may remember Andy Reierson from our short yet pithy video series on the Ouya. (And if you don’t, you must check that out immediately. The videos are here and here.)

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