Nostalgia Tagged Articles RSS Feed | Nostalgia RSS Feed on en Launch Media Network Ion Maiden: Taking Shooters Back to the Nineties Tue, 06 Mar 2018 15:43:00 -0500 Stephen Delucchi

Ion Maiden, developed by Voidpoint and published by industry veteran 3DRealms, is the genre- and time-jumping FPS prequel to 2016's top-down action RPG Bombshell. Players once more find themselves in the role of Shelly "Bombshell" Harrison, a smart-mouthed firebrand and the titular character of the original, though this time playing from her point-of-view. 

Ion Maiden takes a step back in time, being the first game to utilize the Build engine in nearly two decades. This is the same engine that brought to life Witchaven, Shadow Warrior, Blood, and of course, mostly famously, Duke Nukem 3D

The team at Voidpoint has created some truly beautiful sprites that look sharp in HD without losing the feeling of the classic Build engine games. And when hitting enemies with bombs, they give a satisfying -- and gory -- explosion very reminiscent of Duke Nukem 3D. Shelly will lob plenty of verbal harassment at enemies as she kills them, and she's certainly not above playing soccer with their dismembered heads. 

For fans of classics such as Blood or Duke Nukem 3D who are looking for something with a taste of nostalgia but with a new experience, this is definitely a game to keep on your radar.

Though an official release date has not yet been announced, you don't have to wait to give it a try. A preview campaign is currently available via Steam's Early Access, giving the player a mission just long enough to get into the rhythm of the game but short enough to leave you immediately wanting more. 

The preview campaign gives access to multiple weapons, including the bowling-bombs, revolver (Loverboy), and shotgun. The mini-gun will, sadly, have to wait for the full release. 


How Emulators Are Keeping Classic Games Relevant in a New Generation Mon, 17 Apr 2017 09:00:01 -0400 ThatGamersAsylum

I went to college for video game design. During our last semester, we were split off into teams and tasked with making a student game based off of pitches we had submitted the month before. The instructors selected the 10 or so best pitches and let each group choose which game we were going to work on.

The game my group chose to work on was most accurately described as X-COM meets Oregon Trail. The problem was, the younger members of our team -- myself included -- hadn’t ever played Oregon Trail. Thankfully, we were able to find an emulated version of the game on

In terms of video games, emulators are used to play games, usually older ones, on a system other than what they were made to run on. In short, the emulator re-creates the digital environment of the original OS so that it can then run software that was created for that OS.

At their worst, emulators are inextricably linked to piracy. But at their best, they are one of the strongest tools available to aid the preservation of video game history.

Emulators Preserve the Past

A Golden Future with All the Games from Our Past

Preservation becomes ever more pressing as old video game cartridges continue to age and degrade, eventually leading to corruption of the data held within.

This talk, while admittedly a little dry, is very eye opening
and helped inform my thoughts on this topic. 

But saving games becomes an ever more daunting task every day. Not only are old games slowly degrading, but new games are being released faster than historians can document them. Games are also becoming increasingly more reliant upon networks to be able to function. Just think about the MMOs that are shut down every year. These games can never be played again unless people are able to reverse engineer servers, as some have done in order to run vanilla WoW.

Some historians don’t believe that all games can be saved. They argue that our priority should be to record the existence of games and their content. What were their mechanics? How did they play? What were their stories about? After all, video footage is much easier to capture and store than video game data. And we already know how to store it for the future, with film historians having been doing it for years.

In this way, Let’s Plays are a big part of video game history. Recorded footage of people playing games sets up both their historical context and what the games consisted of.

This is our history folks. Soak it in. 

However, they only represent a particular viewpoint. Let’s Plays inherently skew the way a game was/is viewed or played by the nature of their construction -- trying to play things that cause interesting, funny things to happen, for example. Text adventures might be fun, too, but PewDiePie’s channel doesn’t play them very often, now does it?

As anyone knows, footage of a fun game is a crappy second best to playing it. And games can look a lot different in motion than in reality. Just recently while writing an article about animations I touched upon several games that looked much smoother in action than they felt in reality, like Final Fantasy 15.

That’s why it’s great news that the data from these games can be extracted and stored to preserve the game. The use of an emulator can make it playable. That almost makes it sound easy, doesn't it? Thankfully, we have copyright lawyers to get in the way!

Piracy -- The Hurdle Standing in Emulation's Way

The Existential Threat

It’s no secret that many video game companies view emulators as an existential threat to the video game industry. Even if they use them for backwards compatibility, which is technically legally their prerogative. Or, in Nintendo's case, used a hacked ROM off of the internet and sold it back to you .. ahem, anyway ... 

Despite this hypocrisy, piracy is a real problem. And emulators of modern consoles can wreak havoc on the video games industry if left unchecked. Even just recently, ROMs of Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valencia were made available from a leak within Nintendo. This has happened with multiple big profile Nintendo releases, such as Pokemon Sun and Moon.

While Sun & Moon sold well and it is hard to ascertain exactly how much this leak hurt sales, it is safe to say it is not a good thing. Few of us want the video games industry to become like the music industry or the anime industry where piracy is the expectation, not the exception.

The problem, however, is not emulating newer games so much as older ones -- the ones whose preservation is most pressing. Despite many companies having no plans to either use their old consoles or old properties in the future, they still have not been forthcoming about assisting museums or universities in preservation efforts.

Just recently, the long-canceled Primal Rage 2 was saved via emulation. 

Even if a company were to give the green light, the law would seemingly leave preservationists vulnerable to future legal action. In the case that preservationists weren’t vulnerable, they’d still need to have lawyers work out detailed plans as to what they could and could not do to prevent the company’s wrath.

What many want is a legal exemption that protects those seeking to preserve video games. Video games present a particular edge case because they degrade so fast, meaning that they have long since degraded once the game is no longer protected by copyright law.

Our History -- Perhaps Saved by Emulation

When All is Said & Done

As a young medium, video games don’t have a ton of history. Almost all of it is directly in our pasts. While game design itself can be traced back through centuries worth of games -- from chess to soccer -- video games only stretch back to the 70s. For all intents and purposes, even the eldest members of the medium still exist as playable fossils. An oral history could keep up with much of what there is to know.

But with this fleeting youth comes the realization that said fossils are almost dust. And that video games themselves have perhaps the shortest period between release and extinction that any medium has ever seen. Historians have reached the point where procrastination would result in permanent loss of history.

Back in college, I played Oregon Trail on my MacBook while screen-sharing it with my teammates over Skype. One friend kept getting lost and another kept getting bitten by snakes. It was the best type of damned mess. Over the course of a couple hours, we were able to relive what so many kids had lived through decades earlier; that is playing the game, not the actual journey that the game represents. This, I believe, is why video game preservation -- specifically through emulation -- is so important.

I’m not sure we humans have ever done great with tools that pose both great promise for us and great danger to us. The world has almost forgone nuclear energy because we are afraid of nuclear fallout. Likewise, emulators could safeguard our past, but they could also hurt our future.


Header Image Obtained from massmatt. Edited.

Video Games That Will Turn 20 Years Old in 2017 Sat, 28 Jan 2017 10:00:01 -0500 Naomi N. Lugo


Star Fox 64


April 27, 1997


Another fan praised gem from the Nintendo 64 was Star Fox 64. Again this game was groundbreaking for its 3D graphics and fans were immersed by its controls and branching paths. 


Yoshi's Story


Dec. 21, 1997


Yoshi's story released to a mixed critical reception, but it easily a classic from the Nintendo 64 era. The game was criticized for being possibly too easy, but this may be what got young gamers at the time hooked. It's bright and imaginative world invited all gamers. 


GoldenEye 007 


Aug. 25, 1997


GoldenEye is a game that gamers still want a remaster of today. At the time, the game broke grounds due to its realism. The game showed that video games made from movies could be done right. 




Sept. 30, 1997


Another original game to kick off a franchise on this list (spiritual successors aside). Fallout created a world of its own using retro elements in an unthinkable future. The SPECIAL system known and used in the games more modern counterparts can be seen in this original edition. 


Castlevania: Symphony of the Night

Oct. 2, 1997


Before the game was a meme, it was winning fans over to the Castlevania series. SOTN was the first in the series to break the mold and allow players to explore down non-linear levels. 


Grand Theft Auto


Oct. 1997


The game to start it all. While the original GTA might look vastly different from its modern counterparts, it was still able to strike a tone and start its own kind of crime-spree, open world sub-genre. With over 70 million copies of GTA V sold, it's safe to say that something was done right. 


Final Fantasy VII


Sept. 3, 1997


Some still consider FFVII one of the greatest games of all time, and at the time of its release it was breaking barriers. The game was first for Square Enix (at the time Square) to break into the 3D realm. What caught player's hearts though was getting a deep look into the main protagonist Cloud's fragile psyche as well as getting to know the characters at his side. 


The first month of 2017 is just about over, which means the hangover of 2016 is about due to let up. It's time to fully embrace the fact that it is indeed 2017 and look forward to all the hype surrounding this year's releases. 


There are some major titles to look forward to. Resident Evil 7 is days away, the first new Zelda game since 2011 will release with a brand new console, Red Dead 2 is real and confirmed... so overall, 2017 is looking pretty sweet. 


What's more, 2017 also marks a milestone for a whole lot of great games. 1997 was a particularly strong year in its own right for game releases. Those games that some grew up with, that have become staples within gaming itself, are turning 20 years old this year.


Time flies. 


So let's reminisce on great games from yesteryear, and see which franchises released their first titles and which legends made their names known in 1997.


Which game was your favorite release of 1997? What was the best year in games releases? Let me know in the comments below. 

Switching From Problem to Problem: What Plagues Nintendo's New Console Wed, 18 Jan 2017 07:00:01 -0500 Eric Adams

Nintendo seems to be getting panned for multiple reasons after hype was at an all time high before their official unveiling of the Nintendo Switch on January 12th. Some say Nintendo is being unfairly criticized and others say the company has earned the criticism. The following is a laundry list of what has been questioned online over the past several days: 

  • The Switch launch lineup and first year window
  • The pricing of accessories
  • The apparent lack of 3rd party support after it was touted by Nintendo
  • Battery life
  • Graphics and performance
  • Paying for and online service
  • Voice/party chat for online play
  • No news on Virtual Console games
  • Comfort of the controllers
  • Charging the Switch
  • The amount of units being shipped for launch

Those are only some of the questions people have asked less than a week from the conference, and most of these have been answered. Fans definitely have reason to be upset but they should take a step back and put down the pitchforks for a minute, and realize that we are still over a month away from the March 3rd release date. Anything can happen and will happen between now and then. Nintendo of America President and COO Reggie Fils-Aime has even said as much telling Nintendo fans to "stay tuned."

The New IP-Problem

Of all the possible complaints I listed above, only one stands out and it’s the first one. This is what Nintendo is having a recurring problem with. It’s why people are so up in arms about the lack of 3rd party support after Nintendo said there would be plenty of it. It’s also why people were bummed to not hear anything about any ports other than Mario Kart 8 Deluxe Edition. The outcry about the first year launch window, much less the launch day lineup, has been deafening. Can they still announce things as the year goes on? Sure. Will they definitely have an extremely hyped E3 conference? Absolutely. However, Nintendo has never been one to blow everyone away at E3. They don’t show up with all of these new games ready to be shipped out. People want a reason to buy the Switch and not releasing a solid title per month, if that, from March to the end of the year is troubling.

I believe Nintendo, a company who has created some of the most iconic video game characters of all time, is having a problem switching over from old characters to newer ones -- yes, the bad pun was fully intended. Nintendo has a reputation of milking its classic characters, which isn’t a problem for most part but it begs the question "can’t you do it again?" New IPs such as Arms and 1,2 Switch failed to generate a lot of interest after the initial reveal, and a few other reasons may have doomed them already -- 1,2 Switch not being included with the Switch at launch is one of them, and is rather ridiculous. It could have been the Wii Sports of this generation, but instead people will just wait to get it on sale. Arms would have been a great launch title too, the problem is, it isn’t a launch title. Can these two be solid as new games? Sure, but they have already been placed in a hole.

The same can be said for Snipperclips. Sure, it’s adorable but how long can a game like that really hold people over for? (Little Big Planet on the PlayStation is still going strong, so can Snipperclips?) I’m not saying Nintendo can't create exciting new games, Splatoon has been a testament that Nintendo still has what it takes to be innovative and fresh. They just need to stay that way and they haven’t been consistent in doing that.

The 3rd party problem

 Rumors can truly doom a conference. That is what I learned while watching the January 12th conference. Going into the event, rumors were rampant and, to be fair, overly optimistic about the possibility of strong 3rd party support. However, it was Nintendo itself who was touting the presence of 3rd party titles coming to the Switch. The below graphic shows the amount of partners Nintendo has when creating Switch games.

All of those were known prior to the conference. It is why people were left asking, "well, why are there only a smattering of 3rd party titles in the first year launch window?" Again, it is wise to remember that Nintendo still has a little over a month before the system launches and then E3 will follow 3 months later. There is plenty of time in the first half of this year to announce more 3rd party games, it just would have been nice to see a little more of that "support" Nintendo was touting.

It has always been about games

It’s in the name, people. Right there after video comes the games part. Of the list of complaints at the top, the games matter the most. Why would I buy a home/portable hybrid gaming console without any games that interest me? This question should be asked to every employee at Nintendo.

Reggie Fils-Aime did say to stay tuned, and I’m sure fans will do just that, but for how long can they get away with this? What if you don’t like Zelda? The next big title people would look for is Mario Kart 8, which comes out almost 2 months after the Switch's launch, and is a port of the WiiU version. The games have always been the focus and Nintendo seems to have lost that focus.

5 Reasons Diddy Kong Racing is Better than Mario Kart 64 Sun, 08 Jan 2017 06:00:02 -0500 Emily Parker


So there you have it, the points I emphatically bring up every time someone across the bar starts talking about Mario Kart 64.


I will admit that Diddy Kong Racing borrowed heavily from Mario Kart 64 and the latter was a more difficult game.


What do you think? Do you remember this all going down a lot differently? Let us know in the comment section below.  

Reason #1: The Music

Go ahead and press play above if you're ready for a kick of nostalgia. 


Famous Rare composer David Wise created these masterpieces. Every track is original, fun and heavily addicting. 


The music is definitely a close relation to tracks written for other Donkey Kong games, with fun jungle beats. It's the perfect push to get you across the finish line and blends well into cut scenes. I'm pretty sure I've been writing 20 percent faster with this playing in the background.



Reason #2: Unlockable Levels and Characters

Diddy Kong Racing has quite a bit of unlockable content. Beating the time trials will make you the very best racer, while finding all of the golden balloons and keys adds a fun exploration element to the game.


If you want to head to space to chase down Whiz Pig or play as Drumstick, you'll need to collect all of the golden balloons and all the boss amulets. The real test, though, is unlocking T.T., the time trial referee. He has the best stats in the game, though possibly the stupidest avatar.


Sidenote: Whiz Pig's golden pedicure is on point in space!

Reason #3: Boss Races

They cheat, they're mean and they add a fun challenge to the end of each zone. 


Diddy Kong Racing's five different bosses really gave the game a lot of personality. The second race against each of them was usually pretty difficult and required just enough playthroughs to start to feel like they were your real-life nemeses. 


Best (or worst) of all is the dastardly Whiz Pig himself. There are no power-ups to help against the final villain, and he simply flies over the obstacles -- although you still have to navigate them. To add insult to injury, if you do manage to beat him, he breaks up your super fun beach party to head off into space. 

Reason #4: Vehicle Types and Strategic Power-ups

I hated the hover-boat as much as anyone else, but you know what? I put the time in until I was good at driving the darn thing.


And you know what else I was great at? Flying the plane. No one would race me unless I picked another vehicle. 


The point is this: The variety of vehicles in Diddy Kong Racing were not only a blast, but made the game more engaging and strategic than Mario Kart 64.

Your favorite vehicle also dictated how you played the game's power-ups. Instead of being random, these power-up balloons had permanent locations around each track and collecting several of the same balloon type was rewarded, while making a mistake and picking up the wrong balloon could cost you the race.


My favorite combination, flying the plane and getting 3 red balloons, was rewarded with a stash of 10 rockets. Accidentally picking up a green oil slick balloon when you were aiming for your third red balloon was a terrible mistake to make. 

Reason #5: Story and Open-World Lobby 

Timber's parents pull a Home Alone and leave him stranded on his cool racing island. When things start to go south, he reaches out to his good friend Diddy Kong to help him take down the evil Whiz Pig.


While it's not the most intricate tale ever woven, it helps you invest in the characters and sets the stage for the Adventure Lobby. This was a free roam, playable area that the player needed to explore just as much as the courses themselves. 


Having something to do outside of the tracks really keeps the player from breaking immersion, and I wish current lobby games would consider keeping Rare's approach to a more fleshed out experience.




I've been waiting to write this article since 1997.

I remember getting both the N64 and Diddy Kong Racing for Christmas that year, investing serious (serious) hours into it over the holiday break (yes, I obsessed over every golden balloon and time trial) and then heading back to school... where everyone was still talking about Mario Kart 64


It took some years, but I'm finally ready to lay it out for you. Diddy Kong Racing is, and always will be, the superior game. 

The 15 Best Star Wars Games for All You Nostalgia Nerds Wed, 04 Jan 2017 03:00:02 -0500 Serhii Patskan

1. Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic (2003)

Just think about the fact that KOTOR won over 40 GOTY awards from almost every major video game publication. It is without a doubt one of the best games of all time.


This was the game that mixed the elements of the traditional Star Wars universe and the new approach to storytelling. You were given an opportunity to become either a good Jedi, or a cruel Sith, travel between the planets on your own spaceship, and perform multiple tasks that would decide the fate of many other characters.


If you’ve never played Knights of the Old Republic you are missing on one of the most incredible plot twists in video gaming history. So, if you decide to play one Star Wars game in your spare time -- KOTOR is the way to go.



Is there a Star Wars game that you thought was better? Let us know in the comments section below.

2. Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II - The Sith Lords (2004)

The Knights of the Old Republic is undoubtedly the best series of games in the entire Star Wars franchise. The Sith Lords continued the story of the first KOTOR game and it was just as engaging. You couldn’t just sit and play for an hour or two, as the gameplay was so invigorating that you just had to finish it all at once.


Also, this sequel was the very first development project for Obsidian Entertainment -- a company that later worked on such projects like Fallout: New Vegas, South Park: The Stick of Truth, and Pillars of Eternity. It was a huge fit for a newcomer to follow in the steps of BioWare, but they managed to make The Sith Lords a worthy successor to the very best game in the series (see the next slide).


3. Star Wars: Battlefront II (2005)

While Battlefront from a year earlier had its foot in the multiplayer market, it had a pretty weak storyline for a single player campaign. So LucasArts decided to fix this in the sequel Battlefront II.


The story truly shined here with an engaging plot circling around the creation of the Death Star by Senator Palpatine and the emergence of Darth Vader and his own army. It wasn’t entirely a new concept, but the way it was executed had trumped everybody’s expectations.


4. Star Wars: The Force Unleashed (2008)

The story of The Force Unleashed closed the gap between Episodes III and IV. More than that, it offered a truly engaging action-adventure gameplay in the best Star Wars fashion.


As the title suggests, it’s all about the force in this game. Your characters had incredible powers to destroy everything on their way just with the power of their mind. And, if you were looking for a classical combat, then you could use your lightsabers that hacked and slashed with more power than ever before.


The visual presentation and the graphical design of the game was the best you could ever see in any of the Star Wars games up to that point. The levels were inventive and really let you experience the beauty of alien landscapes in all their glory.


5. Star Wars: The Old Republic (2011)

The hopes have been extremely high for this MMORPG set in the Star Wars universe, as it was developed by none other than BioWare. Although The Old Republic didn’t revolutionize the MMO genre, it was a quality game with hundreds of hours of content.


Many MMORPGs struggled to deliver the story in a proper way, but BioWare fully committed in this department. The developers made the story ever more fascinating with the help of excellent cutscenes and dialogue choices.


It’s not a flawless game. There are some elements that could have been much better, such as more variation in the quest lines, but overall, the game had a blast at the launch and it deserves the spot in our top 5 of the best Star Wars games.


6. Star Wars: Jedi Knight II - Jedi Outcast (2002)

Here is another installment that focuses on the Jedi. This particular game was greatly praised for its lightsaber combat as being the best in the franchise.


The story element was much better here than in Jedi Academy, but it did take a bit of time for the plot to evolve into something truly great. It featured a set of unique abilities that the main protagonist could learn after each mission, and that made the game ever more enjoyable.


Jedi Outcast was a perfect choice for those who really wanted to feel the power of the force.


7. Star Wars: Jedi Knight - Jedi Academy (2003)

The problem with Republic Commando was that it didn’t feature Jedi, but here you had a game that was literally all about Jedi and their most elegant weapon -- lightsaber. On top of that, the game offered a full customization of your hero, including the design of the lightsaber and your fighting style.


It was a rare thing to see so many customizable features in an action-adventure game back in the days. Maybe at first Jedi Academy received a short burst of criticism for its lackluster story, but it really wasn’t a big deal, since the action completely made up for it.


8. Star Wars: Republic Commando (2005)

When you played Republic Commando the other game came to mind -- Halo. You could definitely notice many similarities, but it didn’t mean that the game was bad, on the contrary -- it was one of the best first-person shooters based on the Star Wars lore.


Although it had no Jedi represented in the game and the single player campaign was one of the shortest in the franchise, generally the audiences really liked the concept of Republic Commando. Despite a massive success, Republic Commando never got its highly-anticipated sequel.


Even after more than 10 years the game still holds up in both the graphics and sound departments. So, if you want to know what happened in between Episodes II and III, then check this game out.


9. Star Wars: Battlefront (2004)

Unlike the latest Battlefront reboot that was released in 2015, this one had both a multiplayer and a single-player campaign, which was required back when not everybody had access to unlimited internet connection.


Actually, Battlefront was the first Star Wars game, which had its main focus on the multiplayer component. The levels have been designed so well that they have been almost identically copied in the reboot. The only thing that got upgraded was the graphics, which wasn’t too bad in the original either.


It is no secret that Battlefront was inspired by the success of Battlefield 1942, and even today you can see that both of the franchises are still going incredibly strong on the market.


10. Lego Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy (2006)

Lego Star Wars returned with the original trilogy in 2006 after an enormous success of the first Lego game based on Star Wars prequels. It utilized the same gameplay mechanics as the first installment, so you didn’t need to learn any new tricks.


This time you could play as Luke Skywalker or Princess Leia. Also, all characters could use Lego blocks to solve the puzzles, unlike the first game, where only Jedi could use the parts with the help of the force.


There were a lot more vehicle-based levels than before as well. But other than that you wouldn't be able to find any differences -- it was the same high-quality gaming experience.


11. Lego Star Wars: The Video Game (2005)

You may have disliked the prequel movies of Star Wars (which this game was based on), but you would most likely enjoy the fluid team-based gameplay of this Lego-themed action adventure.


Lego Star Wars was designed in mind for two players, and even if you didn’t have anybody else to play with, the game had an AI player that helped you throughout the entirety of the campaign. But of course, it was much more fun to play along with a friend, since you could try out different things in this way.


The best part of Lego Star Wars: The Video Game was the pod-racing segment from Episode I. It was just as intense as it was in the movies, and would definitely keep you glued to your screen for many hours.


12. Star Wars: Jedi Knight - Dark Forces II (1997)

What Dark Forces did good Dark Forces II did better. The levels became bigger, the graphics improved greatly, and although the AI of the enemies didn’t improve too much, it never distracted you too much from the excellent old school gameplay.


Dark Forces II also introduced the first multiplayer maps to the series, which added a whole new dimension to an already great game.


13. Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire (1997)

The game that took place after the events of Empire Strikes Back hit you with action right from the very first mission. It combined the arcade style of Rogue Squadron and the 3D-action experience of Dark Forces, but this time from a 3rd person perspective.


However, unlike Rogue Squadron, you could change the view while piloting an aircraft and see everything from the cockpit, which added greatly to the sense of speed. You could also pilot other types of machinery, such as AT-STs and even huge starships in an outer space.


And, if you really wanted to challenge yourself, then Shadows of the Empire contained an option of a hard mode that had been praised by fans for its high level of difficulty.


14. Star Wars: Dark Forces (1996)

This was the first 3D-action game in the Star Wars series for PlayStation 1. It offered 14 huge and well varied missions that took you on the surface of the ice planets, inside the alien mansions, and onto the very bottom of the sewers.


You played as a Kyle Katarn -- a former Empire soldier who turned into a rebel. Dark Forces took you on a journey to find the plans of the Death Star and then destroy it. Apart from the great story, this early Star Wars game had a huge arsenal of weapons, such as laser shotguns, ion blasters, mortars, etc.


In the times when DOOM was the lord of all first-person shooters, Dark Forces managed to take all the best features of the genre and improve upon them. Even today many fans consider it superior to DOOM.


15. Star Wars: Rogue Squadron (1998)

Arcade-styled Star Wars game for Nintendo 64 was something new and risky back in 1998. It was the year of the announcement of the new movie trilogy by George Lucas, so the stakes had been high for this one.


In the game you take on a role of a pilot who controls an X-Wing (and other four possible aircrafts) for one and only job -- to destroy as many TIE-Fighters, TIE-Bombers, and AT-ATs as you can. The difficulty was moderately challenging, so you would have a lot of fun playing this on a lazy night.


Rogue Squadron turned out to be really good and was a huge success that spawned two more sequels -- Rogue Leader and Rebel Strike.



The last couple of years have been amazing for all Star Wars fans. The two new movies -- The Force Awakens and Rogue One -- and a video game reboot of the Battlefront series from Electronic Arts reinvigorated the interest of millions of people all over the world.


The Star Wars universe is so rich that it inspired the production of over a hundred games in the last 30 years. Most of them have been alright, but only a small fraction deserves to be mentioned when speaking of the video games set in the galaxy far, far away.


Here are 15 of the best Star Wars games ever released, covering the periods of the 90s, early 2000s and a few games from the recent years as well. So fasten your seatbelts and let’s get started!

6 Nostalgic Game Openings and Theme Songs Thu, 20 Oct 2016 09:47:17 -0400 chopchamen

When we were young, we all had our favorite games to play -- complete with awesome video game music. Since then, growing up and developing an understanding for music has definitely upped the nostalgia factor when it comes to sitting down and enjoying a piece of the good ol' days. 

Whenever you first boot up whatever game filled your childhood, you're met with an opening and theme song that you'll just never be able to forget. Whether they're iconic for all gamers or more personal, some theme songs will always stir up that sense of nostalgia. Here are a few of the games and opening themes that do just that. Enjoy!

1. Dragon's Dogma 

Starting the original game and seeing an epic pan view take you around the world of Dragon's Dogma was a great experience. Seeing a dragon perched in a tower, or roaming around in a lake....this song playing in the background supported the visuals well! Unfortunately, I was unable to find the original opening with this song attached. You'll just have to play the game again for the full experience.

2. Zone of the Enders: HD Collection

The opening on the HD Collection for this "high speed robot action" game depicts some epic battle scenes and offers vague sense of the story for both games in the collection. It's epic to begin with, but you can also enjoy it much more when you know what the series is all about!

3. Silent Hill 3

Who can forget this psychological horror game? With some slightly disturbing visuals from the game, the rock song "You're Not Here" has been on the opening for Silent Hill 3, and has also been on the credits for the Silent Hill movie, and it's even been featured on the game Dance Dance Revolution Extreme!

4. Chrono Cross

The song accompanying the opening sequence for this fantasy game has been performed by a few orchestras and has always sent a chill down my spine. Chrono Cross has a very distinct soundtrack that is properly epitomized by this track. 

5. Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater

This opening scene has got some pretty cool effects in the video, and is very similar to a 007 film -- mostly because of the game being set in 1964, a couple of years after the first 007 movie. You can't deny that you want to sing along with this every time you hear it!

6. Red Dead Revolver

Most people recall Red Dead Redemption, but its predecessor Red Dead Revolver has a classic opening like an old western movie. This might even seem similar to a Quentin Tarantino film to some (but came before Django Unchained)!

There you have it! There are many, many games that deserve a spot, but these are just a few honorable mentions.

Do you remember any games from the past that had awesome openings, or were just awesome in general? Let us know in the comments!

Oregon Trail gets to give a new generation dysentery, but in a table-top format Mon, 01 Aug 2016 08:51:28 -0400 Justin Michael

Growing up in the early 90s, my elementary school had a pretty great library. Aside from the books, of which there were many, in the back of the library were a couple of Apple II stations setup with some educational software and some games -- one of the most frustrating games being The Oregon Trail. I can’t tell you how many times I came so close to reaching Oregon only to lose everything to that dangerous trail -- likely the same fate that met many a traveler in real life.

While it’s not likely that many of you have an Apple II just sitting somewhere in your house collecting dust, there is a new multiplayer alternative that should be hitting the shelves of your local Target tomorrow, August 1 for the reasonable price of $15.

Now not only you, but your friends and family can suffer the hardships of the trail as you make your way towards Oregon to the promise of a new life and a possible taste of nostalgia. If you want to see some of the game mechanics, make sure to watch the video above to see what you can expect from the masterminds over at Pressman Toys.  

Control Your Hype: 5 Things to Remember About Game Reveals Thu, 23 Jun 2016 05:59:14 -0400 The Soapbox Lord

Ah, game reveals. Those magical moments when an audience is bombarded with a trailer full of promises, potential, and possibilities. Publishers generally know how to make reveals massively appealing and whet our collective appetite for the title shown. When faced with these reveals, it’s hard to not jump out of one’s seat in child-like glee in sheer delight and excitement.

Remember when the lights dimmed at the Sony conference and Hideo Kojima walked onto the stage to reveal his new title Death Stranding?

The air was electric with a palpable sense of excitement you could feel even if you were watching the stream from home. I’ll admit I was rather giddy when Nintendo essentially devoted their entire time at E3 to showcase hours of footage from the upcoming The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (be still my heart!).

In fact, this year held several reveals which have cranked the hype up to 11. The return of Crash Bandicoot, hello childhood! Kratos returning in a Norse themed God of War with anger issues firmly in tow. Resident Evil 7 looks to be abandoning vapid, Michael Bay spectacle in favor of a return to the franchise’s horror roots. The Last Guardian finally has a firm release date, how long will that last? All of these reveals are just from Sony’s conference too! I haven’t even mentioned the rest of 2016’s E3.

If anything though, the amount of concentrated revealing and hype generation from this year’s E3 add more reasons to take a step back -- even if it is hard to stop drooling over Breath of the Wild footage -- and remain level-headed with a critical eye on these reveals. After all, the hype train cannot be allowed to barrel through everything. Speaking of hype…

1. All for the Hype and Hype for all!

Obviously, big reveals of what is on the gaming horizon, especially the ones seen at E3, are made to build hype and drive pre-order sales. There is nothing wrong with this. After all, the game industry is a business that needs money in order for developers to continue making the games we all know and love. However, as the consumer we need to keep in mind we are being shown these things for the express purpose of building hype.

Hype waggles tongues, spews Tweets, creates fan art, sells pre-orders, sparks discussion, and so much more. Hype is an integral part of the industry, and it is a vital phenomenon for games to continue to be made. There is certainly nothing wrong with being hyped for a game. (I am anxiously awaiting the arrival of Breath of the Wind after all, yet I am doing my best to keep my inner child restrained so as not to become over-hyped.) There’s nothing wrong with being excited for a game so long as the hype remains under control, and you do not pre-order the game.

2. Get Your Pre-orders Here!

If there’s anything the AAA culture likes more than gratuitous amounts of hype, it’s a plethora of pre-orders to accompany the hype to the prom. Pre-orders are important, since people who pre-order a game do not usually change their mind and cancel their order. This is a guaranteed day one sale, and the publishers love it.

Nearly every game shown at this E3 is already available for pre-order from Amazon and other retailers. Some of the reveals we saw at E3 were shorter than a regular television commercial and revealed as much information as Mei’s parka reveals skin. Despite knowing as much about these games as we do about when George R.R. Martin will finally finish A Song of Fire and Ice, some people will eagerly plop hard-earned money down on one of these uber-hyped titles.

Because pre-orders never disappoint!

Publishers use these reveals to garner a response from us consumers which they know will provoke a response. While the response is not always what the publisher wants (Infinite Warfare trailer anyone?), usually a reveal leaves us fans breathless in anticipation and fervently scouring interviews for any details we can flush out of hiding. However, hype and pre-orders can lead to disappointment.

3. A Crash Course in Disappointment

What do Titanfall, Evolve, Watch_Dogs, and Destiny all have in common? That’s right! They were major releases accompanied by ridiculous amounts of hype, heaps of meaningless E3 awards, and scores of pre-orders. After all, it was Destiny that was the most pre-ordered new IP in gaming history.

Despite all these games had going for them, they had as much impact on gaming as a wet napkin has against a paper bag. Of all of these games mentioned, Destiny is the only one going strong in some form, yet it has had to work hard to reel in fans who became disenchanted with the game soon after release. How many of you reading even remember Evolve?

While none of these titles were bad games, the hype behind them had inflated expectations to major levels that would be difficult for any game to stand strong in the face of such expectations.

Speaking of expectations, let’s have a gander at Square Enix.

Squenix revealed at last year’s E3 it was finally working on a remake of the beloved Final Fantasy VII. And this E3 found Squenix showing more footage of Final Fantasy XVwhich looks like it might actually release sometime this generation. Now Square Enix has a massive undertaking on their hands. Not only are they attempting to remake a much-loved classic (something I wrote about before), they are going to deliver a game after ten years of development and expectations.

A bromance ten years in the making. 

Unlike Duke Nukem Forever, people have kept up to date with Final Fantasy XV and actually want it to be released. While I doubt the game will be a bad game, there will be plenty of fans who will be disappointed with the final game after anxiously waiting ten years.

4. Misleading? I Dare Say!

Let’s go back to 2012. Ubisoft revealed a trailer for a gorgeous looking game called Watch_Dogs. It was stunning. The graphic fidelity on display wowed all who saw the trailer, and the game looked fun and interesting to boot.

The game dropped off the radar for a few months before popping back up with a new trailer. Fans were suspicious of the footage as it seemed to show the same areas as the original trailer, yet the new trailer did not seem to have the visual quality of the reveal trailer.

Fast forward to release, and PC players were reporting the game was nowhere near what was shown, and suffered from performance issues and those lovely Ubisoft bugs. In fact, the PC version had been changed to appear more like the console versions of the game. Some industrious modders remedied this problem, allowing PC players to play the game in a state closer to the reveal trailer.

Obviously, the reveal trailer had been made to run on a high-end PC, as the PS4 and Xbox One were not released at this time. The misleading part came when Ubisoft said nothing about the shift in platform development later and frantically denied any “downgrading” had occurred. They then tampered with the PC version in order for it to appear closer to the inferior console versions. Not cool, Ubi. Although it is possible they may have done this on more than one occasion.

Of course, Ubisoft is far from the only publisher to have used misleading trailers to drive hype and pre-orders. Remember that target footage of Killzone 2? Again, disappointment set in upon release.

Neither of these holds a candle to Aliens: Colonial Marines, though. Gearbox used blatantly dishonest “target” footage which was a far cry from the game being “developed” -- but that is a can of worms to discuss another time.

5. Would You Kindly Get Excited?

Publishers are (generally) smart and know how to manipulate our emotions with trailers and reveals. As I mentioned earlier, the reveals may not always elicit the response they desired, but they will generate a response of some sort and create buzz. These companies prey on our nostalgia, as evidenced at this year’s E3 when Sony announced they were finally bringing the Crash Bandicoot series back. These companies hope we will turn a blind eye to anything critical said since we are anxious to relive the games of our youth. Unless you’re a youngling that is, but your time will come soon enough.

While it’s exciting to see the games we grew up being released with current graphical fidelity for a new audience as much as the old, we have to be wary of the reveals that prey on our nostalgia. That being said, Crash is back! Ah the memories! Such great games! Alright, alright. I’ll control myself for the rest of this.

Again, I feel the need to reiterate this point, but there is no problem with being excited for a game after a reveal. Hype has been a part of gaming since the arcade and NES days, and it will not be going away anytime soon. Hype can be healthy and allow some games to receive attention they might not otherwise. The problem comes when we allow the hype to run rampant and potentially ruin the game for us by inflating our expectations.

Now as much as I have tried my best to keep my excitement in check, it’s time to drool over that gorgeous Breath of the Wild footage yet again!

Lumo Review: An Enlightening Indie Game Thu, 16 Jun 2016 08:52:51 -0400 HaruOfTime

Lumo is a charming puzzle and platforming indie game developed by Triple Eh?, where you play as a wizard and explore a maze-like dungeon full of puzzles, obstacles, and traps. One of its most prominent features is that it has an isometric, angular camera view that was used in many video games in the 80's and 90's. 

The game can be appreciated by both younger and older audiences, with its modern take on a classic genre and its cute graphic style. There are also plenty of nostalgic references throughout the game that are sure to keep older players entertained.

It starts out strong...

I enjoyed the first few hours of Lumo, finding it to be an engaging game, at least for the first levels of the game.

I found it fascinating how the game had minimal instructions, but was still able to be relatively intuitive with each new puzzle and mechanic that was introduced.

But after a while, the game's difficulty spikes substantially...

...throwing in frustrating and seemingly impossible puzzles. The ice levels are particularly frustrating, with ice physics that will cause the character to slip off platforms or into death traps.

One ice puzzle in particular required moving ice blocks so that you can climb on top and reach a door. However, thanks to the horrific physics of the ice floor, you can slip and push an ice block into the wall and cause it to shatter, wasting your efforts. There were times that I was almost done setting up the ice blocks, only to slide out of the room, causing the puzzle to reset.

The angled camera view will give a false sense of depth perception, as well. And this only compounds this issues with difficult puzzles. I've missed many jumps because it was so difficult to tell how far platforms were, leaving me to plummet to my death.

While the camera isn't impeding through most levels, there are some puzzles where it becomes bothersome.

For example, this puzzle requires you to avoid falling into the lasers. However, due to the game's isometric view, it was difficult to determine my relative location to the lasers, causing me to die multiple times.

The depth perception problem could be remedied with the ability to change camera angles. While the game does allow some movement of the camera, it only shifts the camera slightly.


Lumo is a surprisingly challenging puzzle and platforming game. It starts off sweet, but sort of turns sour from some of its difficult puzzles. Yet despite that, it still is a neat little indie game full of nostalgia and surprises.

Waxing Rhapsodic About Shadow Of The Colossus Thu, 09 Jun 2016 04:45:35 -0400 Captynplanet_8219

For most people who play video games, there is that one title which will always have a special place in their hearts. Whether it was a game that got them into their favorite genre, something that spoke to them on a personal level, or just something they had an unforgettably good time with, people form attachments to their favorite games that stay with them for a very long time.

For me, Shadow of the Colossus is the game that my mind always wanders back to when I think about important titles in my life. 


I won't lie -- I wasn't completely enthralled with Shadow of the Colossus when I first played it. My 13-year-old gamer inhibitions wanted airships and summons, and all I was seeing on the screen was a kid with only a bow and a sword who didn't talk except for when he yelled for his horse.

Don't get me wrong, I thought the game looked great; I still do in fact. Shadow of the Colossus was one of the prettiest games that came out for PlayStation 2, and it ended up looking better than a decent amount of games made for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. But graphics haven't ever been a huge selling point for me.

"You mean there's no ultimate weapon I can get by grinding for 20 hours?" I mockingly asked my television screen.     

"No there isn't, but we promise if you spend a bit of time with this game you're sure to love it!", the imaginary disembodied voices of Team Ico hearkened to my immature ears. 

I didn't listen, and returned Shadow of the Colossus to Blockbuster -- only to snatch it back up when I saw that it had almost gotten a perfect score in the gaming magazine that I was subscribed to back then. And after I finished my first playthrough I was hooked.

Shadow of the Colossus definitely isn't your normal Japanese-developed RPG. Where a lot of JRPGs back then (and even now) had random encounters throughout the world maps, Shadow of the Colossus doesn't have anything like that. The game is a series of sixteen boss battles with enormous creatures that seem to be a mixture of organic matter and stone, and that's it.

It's stark, but its starkness is one of the things that makes the game so magical. And Shadow of the Colossus is stark in more ways than just the lack of enemies to fight. The protagonist, Wanderer, only has a sword and a bow throughout the whole game, and that's all you get in terms of equipment. Your trusty horse Argo is the only real companion accompanying you, and the plot in Shadow of the Colossus is pretty minimal.

All of this doesn't really matter, though. If there were a million weapons to go out and get, it would take away from the game's integrity. Shadow of the Colossus is just as much about the bosses as it is about the main character, and if the devs had decided to add a bunch of extraneous material it would have taken away from the experience in my opinion.

At the risk of sounding cliche, I'll go so far as to say that there is a feeling of purity to Shadow of the Colossus. Wanderer has traveled to a distant land in order to revive his deceased love, and in order to do that he is charged by a deity to kill the colossi, and that's exactly what you do in the game. There are no side quests, there is no collectible card game, there is no blitzball.

Shadow of the Colossus doesn't try to surprise you, and it doesn't try to trick you. Wanderer uses his sword to guide the player in the general direction of the next boss fight, and getting to each colossi is pretty straightforward. But when I saw the colossi for the first time I had a moment of, "wait I'm about to fight that?..." which I haven't really gotten from many games since then.

Shadow of the Colossus made me feel small. And anything that has that kind of effect on someone -- whether it be a game, painting, book or some other type of art -- is important. Hopefully Team Ico's long awaited project The Last Guardian, which is supposed to finally come out in 2016, can evoke a similar feeling.  

If you can pick up a copy of Shadow of the Colossus and a PlayStation 2 on the cheap, I highly recommend it. There is a reason that it's commonly listed as one of the best games to come out in the 2000s.

Looking Back: Metroid Prime Hunters Tue, 07 Jun 2016 09:34:45 -0400 Austin Katz

With Metroid Prime: Hunters just being released on the Nintendo eShop, and Metroid Prime: Federation Force coming out soon, I thought I would look back to look at the innovations that Hunters had to offer. 

It was the first game to use a duel screen and a touch screen. Thanks to the DS's capabilities, Hunters was able to capture a new style of gameplay which the user was more immersed into the Metroid universe than ever before. The player got to see not only though the eyes of Samus Aran, but got to interact with the screen as well as see displays of your inventory and map.  

Players for the first time got to experience a local and online multiplayer mode with friends and strangers. With this new mode, anyone can share in the fun of shooting each other. Players were able to choose a variety of different bounty hunters and modes such as Battle, Survival, Defender and more. 

The game lacks a certain purple, flying, and sometimes metal space pirate, but makes up for it in new enemies. The goal of the game is defeat new bounty hunters with new designs and patterns that players must overcome and defeat to beat the game!

Even though the graphics are not great by today's standards, they still hold up to be relatively visible and certainly look better than what the N64 had to offer. 

So yeah -- Hunters was great and hopefully Federation Force, will borrow some concepts that made Hunters so good!

Top 5 Text-Based Games Wed, 10 Feb 2016 08:22:24 -0500 Alec Pearce


Avalon: The Legend Lives


This 25-year-old text game is one of the oldest examples of an RPG, offering a "fantasy game world of magnificent proportion." It is a text-based, online multi-player experience that still exists today, making it possibly the longest-running online RPG in history. The scope of the game is huge and offers an equally huge number of possibilities depending on your character and preferred play style. 


Avalon is responsible for many of the modern features we see in RPGs and MMORPGs nowadays. These include, but are not limited to: dynamic weather effects, player housing, skill-based real time PvP combat, and common modern features like scripted quests.


It is amazing to think that hugely successful games, such as Oblivion, Skyrim, Fallout, Guild Wars and World of Warcraft, may have taken inspiration from Avalon. This should make any fan of RPGs want to give it a go.


Check out the official site for details on how to download and play! 




Next up is a series of games that are hugely fun and popular members of the text genre. Zork was split into three separate games when it was originally published; Zork: The Great Underground Empire - Part I (aka Zork I), Zork II: The Wizard of Frobozz, and Zork III: The Dungeon Master. They became renowned as being especially engaging, with rich storytelling and more specific command usage. The latter meant that instead of simply typing "hit x" you could instead input, "hit x with elvish sword." This added a layer of additional intricacy to the game that had previously been missing.


These games are exceptionally fun to play and, as mentioned, offer a high level of old-school quality when it comes to storytelling.


Have a go here!


Colossal Cave Adventure (aka Colossal Cave, ADVENT or Adventure)


Developed by Will Crowther, this is pretty much where it all started for text-based gaming. It is exactly what it says on the tin, i.e. it's an a cave! You are told that it is rumoured to be full of treasure and other riches and thus you explore said cave using one or two-word commands. By interacting with objects, enemies and the environment, the goal is to accrue as many points as possible - the in-game equivalent of finding all the treasure.


Funnily enough, Crowther was actually an avid and experienced caver in real life, which is most likely where the inspiration for the game's setting came from. Rightly dubbed as the mother of all text-based adventure games, Adventure is a must play for the genre.


Download or play it here


The King of Shreds and Patches


This horror game is set in an Elizabethan London and subjects you to immense terrors as you progress through it. Invited to dinner by an old friend, what starts off as a normal situation quickly becomes anything but and soon you become deeply involved in a captivating storyline. It includes themes of conspiracy, dark magic, and cults with truly ominous twists and turns. Although it's a long game, it will certainly have you enthralled for many hours. It is well worth a try.


Download and play it here!




I'm going to throw you right into the deep end with this 'cryogenic nightmare' as it is an extremely challenging text game. The protagonist is connected to a network of computers, deep underground, that are responsible for all the essential systems of the planet above. Unfortunately, an earthquake snaps the character out of his deep slumber, causing the systems to go haywire and endangering the citizens of the planet. These angry folk believe you are trying to kill them on purpose and it is your job to defuse the situation before they attempt to murder you.


Suspended is incredibly challenging, having you control six robots rather than one man and each robot has a certain function that it must carry out which raises the game's difficulty. Completing it, therefore, is quite the accomplishment.


If you're up to the challenge, play Suspended here!


Did you know it was National Reading Day on the 22nd of January? I'll be honest, I completely missed it...*ahem* so in honour of NRD, as I shall now call it, here are 5 of the best text based video games you may want to play.


Obviously, this is completely based on my own opinion and experience. You may completely disagree with my list and that's fine! Let me know what your favourite text games are would be in the comments. 


So without further ado, let's get to it.

Spyro heading for Unreal Engine 4 Wed, 03 Feb 2016 04:17:13 -0500 Engela Snyman

The name Spyro evokes more nostalgia than a Quake LAN-Party. It was a staple of the early PlayStation era, and probably one of the most popular console games of the nineties. But when the game left the hands of its creator, Insomniac, the feel and overall emotion of the original just sort of faded away. And most of us just went back to our PS2s (or emulators) to enjoy the original as it was meant to be enjoyed.

But a few years ago, an indie developer by the name of Hoix posted a short video showcasing a fan-made Spyro game called Spyro: The Dragon Eclipse.

The video shows an updated version of the game, with okay-but-not-great graphics, (if we're being honest). In the about section of the channel, it had a short description of what the game would be like.

"Spyro Eclipse [aims] to bring back all the nostalgia of the original games."

Now that sounds great. Who wouldn't want to dive back into the Artisan home world? Or perhaps take a grand flight through the Dreamweaver's castle again? But very little information came out for about three years. And then finally, a few months ago, IAmMurloc (we are assuming is the creator) posted a few updated screen shots.

Nostalgia is probably hitting full force right about now, but stay focused! It's easy to see the vast improvement from the first video -- and damn does that look good. Hoix also said that the game would feature all the old characters, with a new story, and all the other good stuff we used to love about the original, like platforming, gems and portals.

My nostalgia senses are in overdrive.

For now, it's not a whole lot to go on, but it is a promising start to a very promising product. I mean, a brand-new Spyro game with all the old characters, classic environments, and sassy Spyro wrapped up in better graphics, and maybe smoother gameplay? There's very little wrong with that picture.

NES turns 30: Happy Birthday! Mon, 19 Oct 2015 10:17:09 -0400 tobes325

The Nintendo Entertainment System, or NES as it is more commonly know, reached a milestone achievement over the weekend. October 18th, 2015 marked the console's 30th birthday in North America.

The NES launched with 18 games in North America, featuring the most extensive launch lineup considering Japan got 3 titles and Europe got 8. I was born three years after the console launched, and my parents were kind enough to buy me and my brother a NES; this was the catalyst that started my love affair with video games.

I have great memories playing the console; I used to sit in my dining room with my old fashioned box television playing the likes of Super Mario Bros and Duck Hunt; another one of my favourites was Kickle Cubicle. I can't quite believe it is 30 years old already. It's amazing to see where Nintendo have gone over the years from their handhelds to their home consoles, and they've managed to keep a steady fanbase throughout. 

Sony also tweeted the console giants marking this special occasion thanking them for 'paving the way', there may always be those console wars between the big guns, but it is nice to see that support can come from rivals too! 

If you never got around to playing on the NES you can still pick up quite a few gems from the '80s/'90s on the eShop for Wii and Wii U. Graphically they're pretty basic compared to todays standards but it's always good to gain some perspective of where it all began! Duck Hunt is not quite the same without your trusty red lightgun, but the Wii remote is a worthy substitute.

Have you got any fond memories of the NES era? Favorite games? Let us know in the comments below.

We want a Resident Evil 2 remake - and it has nothing to do with nostalgia Sun, 02 Aug 2015 08:30:06 -0400 Stan Rezaee

Horror gamers have been asking for a remake of Resident Evil 2 for so long that Yoshiaki Hirabayashi, the producer of Resident Evil HD, announced that the idea has been pitched to Capcom's leadership. The decision should be obvious, since it has been hailed as the best title in the series and one of the greatest horror games of all time.

Resident Evil 2 was released 17 years ago for the PlayStation - hence, many younger gamers are wondering why so many consider it a timeless classic. This isn't about an old-school fan base wanting to live out a nostalgic era, but an examination of why Resident Evil 2 is held in such high regards in the gaming community.

To understand what Resident Evil 2 achieved, we need to go back and reexamine this PlayStation classic.

One night in Raccoon City

In the aftermath of the Arklay Incident, S.T.A.R.S. has been disbanded and the surviving members have begun their own investigation into the Umbrella Corporation.

Two months later, Leon S. Kennedy (a rookie cop on his first day) along with Claire Redfield (Chris Redfield’s sister) arrive, to a dark and quiet Raccoon City with an eerie atmosphere. Within moments of their arrival, both characters meet up and are fighting for their lives, as an outbreak of the T-Virus has turned the community into zombies.

Leon and Claire make a run for the police station in the hopes of finding other survivors and a way to escape the city. However, the police station has been overrun with zombies and there are only a few survivors. Leon finds a mysterious woman named Ada Wong, while Claire finds a little girl named Sherry Burkin who is being pursued by her mutated father, William Burkin.

A tale of two heroes  

The two storyline setup made Resident Evil 2's plot one of the most memorable. Despite being a single game, the experience will be completely different based on the character, as each one will have a unique perspective of the same scenario.

Leon’s story is a familiar horror scenario - it focus on his efforts to work with Ada in an attempt to escape Raccoon City. Claire’s story is about an ordinary person who is put into an extraordinary situation while having to act as a guardian for a defenseless child.

If Claire’s storyline feels familiar, it's because her character and personality are a homage to Ellen Ripley from Aliens. Both heroines are forced to fight for their lives while acting as a mother figure to a child. Like Jill Valentine in the previous game, she is actually a real character and not the “useless chick” that is often present in Hollywood horror.

Looking back now

Resident Evil 2 was one of the earliest games to introduce a strong story and character development. It is highly admired because it introduced us to many memorable characters like Leon, Ada, and Claire, along with villains like Mr. X and the Licker. Yet it would be an injustice to not acknowledge the introduction of the mysterious HUNK who has now become part of the game's lore.

Most important of all is that it established the foundation for the series to grow as time passed. While the original played out like a traditional horror film, Resident Evil 2 allowed the series to grow by breaking away from tropes that would have held it back.

The only issue today’s gamers will have with a remake of Resident Evil 2 is the many plot holes in the story that arose as the story arch evolved with new installments in the series. The narrative was rewritten in some ways in Resident Evil 3: Nemesis, set 24 hour before and after the events of Resident Evil 2, and in Resident Evil: Outbreak, a series of side stories set during the Raccoon City outbreak. 

However, these are plot holes that could be forgiven since the game was created during a time when video games were just starting to grow as a storytelling medium.

Resident Evil introduced gamers to the horror survival genre, but it was Resident Evil 2 that perfected it while establishing the foundations of the series to grow into a pop culture phenomenon.

Why do you think Resident Evil 2 deserves a remake? Is it about more than nostalgia? Let us know in the comments below!

Capitalizing on Nostalgia: Why 'Final Fantasy VII Remake' Could Be Only the Beginning Fri, 17 Jul 2015 02:30:01 -0400 K.W. Colyard

Lately, Hollywood has what many consider a bad habit. They're rebooting film franchises left and right. Here, have a Ghostbusters reboot. Have Teen Wolf. Have Batman. Whenever folks start to complain about this pattern, lamenting the fact that there are no original ideas in Hollywood anymore, I want to shake them by the lapels and scream, "Do you remember American Graffiti?"

No, of course they don't. My generation doesn't remember American Graffiti, because it wasn't made for us. Even the biggest geeks don't recall George Lucas' 1973 film classic, because it looks nothing like Star Wars or THX-1138.

See, American Graffiti was pure nostalgia for come-of-age Baby Boomers who were settling into adulthood in the early '70s. Set in 1962, the film follows four high school graduates on the last night of their last summer vacation before college. It perfectly captures mid-century American car culture - central to the plot are a 1958 Chevrolet Impala and a 1956 Ford Thunderbird - and what it meant to be a young adult in the post-war era.

There's a reason American Graffiti came along in 1973 and not earlier. Sure, Lucas wasn't really old enough to make the film any sooner, but I mean a reason bigger than that. It's because the film would not have been nearly as lucrative. Its target audience - young Boomers - would have had the disposable income in the early 1960s, but the movie would have meant very little to them at the time; it's an accurate representation of teen culture, but it didn't have the glossy sheen of nostalgia to add to its attractiveness. 

And that's what so many fail to understand when they complain about franchise reboots. They are, more often than not, timed for optimal financial return. Like it or not, the production company's business model is not centered on creating a pure art form; it's designed to make money. As such, production companies are rehashing old ideas, not because they have nothing else, but because those ideas sell, and sell well. They're selling nostalgia, and moviegoers are paying to relive their childhoods.

But what does all this have to do with video games?

In recent years, particularly with the release of the latest console generation, the video game landscape has begun to look remarkably similar to those of film and television. Blockbuster titles from the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3's later years began to pop up, remastered, on Xbox One and PlayStation 4. Some, such as The Last of Us, turned around more quickly than others.

Just like the film industry, the video game world has a long history of rereleasing hit titles on newer consoles. The porting practice has made popular games truly timeless, making it possible for gamers to bring their favorite titles to newer, incompatible consoles.

Ports of older games - such as DuckTales or Earthworm Jim - often receive generous upgrades to visual and audio quality. Such will certainly be the case with Final Fantasy VII Remake: a ground-up rebuild of Squaresoft's 1997 smash-hit. But that upcoming game is poised to change the state of video game remakes as we know them.

Final Fantasy VII Remake isn't the first game to be rebuilt from scratch. After all, the Pokémon franchise has already successfully revived its first three generations, and Square's own Final Fantasy III got its first North American release as a Nintendo DS remake. However, these games are outliers in an industry that favors long-awaited sequels to revivals, and Final Fantasy VII Remake stands out as a Triple-A console title: a unicorn, even in the porting world.

Square Enix's long-awaited Remake is in a position to take the industry by storm, revitalizing the JRPG genre and ushering in a parade of classic game remakes. The porting trend has, arguably, floated the Xbox One and the PS4 long enough for companies to bring out exclusive titles to beef up the consoles' relatively small game libraries. With so many great JRPGs waiting in the wings for revival, it looks as if Final Fantasy VII Remake might be the hero we've been waiting for.

Although it may seem as if the video game industry is boarding the nostalgia train pretty late, it's actually right on schedule. Those of us who played Final Fantasy VII and The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time as elementary school students are now adults with careers and families. Not only do we have the money to buy these remakes and relive our childhood experiences, but we're also compelled to pass them along to the children in our lives. Seen in this light, there's no better time to remake the games we all grew up enjoying.

If you don't like the concept of film franchise reboots, then it's probably safe to say you aren't looking forward to the trend reaching gaming. Keep in mind, however, that nostalgia sells and is usually a win-win. Think about it: you get to relive a childhood classic with the most up-to-date graphics your money can buy, while your purchase funds new, original products from publishers and developers, which you will - in turn - purchase and play. Reviving old favorites isn't a cop-out; it's just good business.

I avoided the bandwagon, and it changed my life. Sun, 28 Jun 2015 13:23:05 -0400 KungFro

One of my all time favorite games is Chrono Cross. It was my first RPG, so, naturally, it holds a special place in my heart. But here's the kicker - most of my friends hate it.

Elementary school me, looking for a way to challenge my creative energy, sought inspiration in all worlds beyond our own. The very first time I set foot into a GameStop, I locked eyes with Chrono Cross, completely taken with its blue-eyed cover characters. My mother saw my excitement and agreed to purchase the game for me. I couldn't have been happier.

Serge and Kid, my first RPG travel pals.

I spent countless hours with my blue-eyed companions. They kept me entertained and I kept them alive. We were pseudo-symbiotic for years. Still, despite our fabricated interdependence, my deepest connection to Chrono Cross was not with its story, but with its music.

One of the game's world map songs is called "Dream of the Shore Near Another World." This instrumental track single-handedly prevented me from ever completing the game in my younger years, as it could easily lull me to sleep. There was something so comforting about the strings, I was unable to willingly part with them. They kept me safe, somehow, from my most childish fears.

Wanting to express my gratitude for the track's impact on my life, I wrote an email to the soundtrack's composer, Yasunori Mitsuda. I told him how much I loved the game and his music, completely unaware of the fact that he'd require a translator just to read what I'd written. I just about died when I saw that he emailed me back.

Mr. Mitsuda thanked me for my support and expressed his hopes that it would continue on in the future. I was starstruck. That simple interaction spurred me into pursuing the arts, hoping to be as big an inspiration to another as Mr. Mitsuda was to me.

Here I am today, a person who found my start in a game that many people hate, simply because it wasn't the sequel they'd imagined. Even now, at 21 years old, I often revisit this soundtrack when I'm having trouble sleeping. The nostalgia is one of my most prized possessions and the gentle push that spurs me on.

Do you have any games that you love, but everyone else seems to hate? Any similar experiences you'd like to share? Tell me about it in the comments!

The Witcher 3 dev team pays homage to old school gamers Tue, 26 May 2015 19:50:12 -0400 girlwonder

Let’s be real here. As a child, one of the sweetest moments of getting a video game was cracking it open to find a crisp manual. Ah, did I strike a memory chord there? All those memories of the many, many manuals you immersed yourself in just came rushing in, didn’t they?

Modern day video games have left the ever so treasured manual behind. Usually when you open up a case nowadays, you meet with a single sheet displaying a redemption code, or an ad for an upcoming game. None of which that are as satisfying as a physical booklet unveiling the secrets of the game you’re about to play. The only thing that sets apart purchasing a physical copy and a virtual download is essentially the resale value.

But wait!

All hope is not lost. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt dev team packed in a whole lot of nostalgia in their physical copies. Inside you’ll find the map of the Northern Realms, the soundtrack for the game, some stickers, the Witcher Universe Compendium booklet and alas a game manual. All jam-packed into the standard physical copy.

Just when you thought it couldn’t get any better, CD Projekt RED includes a nice personal touch dedicated to you, the gamer, and thanks you for your on-going support.

The dev team for The Witcher 3 gave us a quick trip down memory lane, and added a few more extras to satisfy our desires. I definitely commend them in this successful effort and hope to see similar trends in the near future for upcoming games. It’s always great to get that sweet nostalgic buzz every now and then.

Action Henk! (Early Access) First Impressions Mon, 16 Feb 2015 17:01:55 -0500 Ford James

When someone utters the words 'Early Access' to you, what comes to mind? Unfulfilled promises? Broken mechanics? Yet another open world survival game? Fortunately, Action Henk is none of these.

Created by RageSquid Games, a small indie developer based in the Netherlands, Action Henk plays like the love child of the original Sonic the Hedgehog games and the more recent Trials series. The name of the game, Action Henk, is also the name of the protagonist. His appearance is that of a child's plastic action figure, though his movement and flexibility Is undoubtedly a lot higher. Each level is set in a children's bedroom with a track set up for Henk that often reaches all four corners of the room, winding, dropping and snaking it's way around. And it's worth mentioning too that the game looks absolutely gorgeous on the highest graphics settings which, by the way, are very well optimised and even an average system should be able to run at 60fps or above. Action Henk is ideal game for speedrunners or anyone who is looking for a game that's easy to pick up and put down again. I would say it's a relaxing game but I'd be lying due to the frequent frustrations of 'He only beat me by 0.2 seconds! **grumble**'. However if you're not too bothered about being a completionist, then it would definitely be a relaxing game.

Currently in the game (as of 15/02/2015) there are seven sets of levels, each consisting of 6 'normal' (time trial against bronze/silver/gold ghosts) levels, 1 boss (time trial against an unlockable character) level and if you manage to get gold on those 7 tracks, you unlock a bonus level which consists of collecting all the coins across a smaller arena style level as quick as possible. In total that makes 54 levels with presumably more to come as the game progresses through and exits Early Access.

For the current Steam price of £6.99 or your regional equivalent that's undeniably a fair amount of content, especially due to the high amount of replayability. It's worth noting too that for the ultimate completionist, when you achieve a gold medal on a track you unlock the rainbow medal which is even quicker. You also unlock the ability to download the #1 ghost in the world for that track and try to beat them. You get to utilise a couple of different mechanics to get from start to finish on each track, the most common of which is Action Henk's butt slide which is important to perform on any downwards slope to gain as much speed as possible. Notice the flames coming out as he slides... ouch. Another predictable one is the jump mechanic, the longer you hold it down the higher you jump (to a certain degree). With this it's important to get just the right height so you can hit as much of the next slope as possible, or to minimize the time in the air. The third and so far final more unique mechanic is a grappling hook, known in game as a hookshot. This allows you to swing on platforms above you to try and garner enough momentum to swing through some tracks as quickly as you can.

Other aspects worth mentioning are the unlockables; for purchasing in Early Access you unlock a special 'Blue Blaze' costume for Henk, then as you unlock the bosses by defeating them you can unlock more costumes for them too. The sound design in the game is fantastic too; bouncy sound effects supplemented by a great, fast paced, energetic background soundtrack. At the end of the day, most Early Access games aren't worth the investment due to the uncertainty in the development and the unfinished game. Action Henk is one of the exceptions to this; it's incredibly polished and while not an incredibly original idea, it's one that's executed very well indeed. As it's still in Early Access that implies there's still more work to be done on it and as long as they produce more content and maybe a couple of new mechanics similar to the hookshot, it'd definitely be in contention for my game of the year so far. Score-wise, I think Action Henk deserves a strong 8/10.

If you're interested in seeing more gameplay, you can check out a video of mine on Action Henk here: