Video Game Nostalgia

  • Batman Forever: The Worst Game I Ever Rented

    Gaming Nostalgia

    Batman Forever CoverI rented a lot of games when I was younger. Video stores, rental shacks, and even supermarkets offered the chance to play games I had never read about in Nintendo Power or GamePro, and some of my all-time favorite games were discovered among their shelves. But I also rented a lot of bad games. In the time before the internet, and particularly before online video game criticism was readily available (N64.com aka IGN), the only sources gamers had to find out what was good were either magazines and friends. Money and time was wasted, as Sturgeon's Law was in effect even then.

    And while I rented a lot of crap, none of it was as bad as Batman Forever, undoubtedly the most misspent $3 ever given to Video Spotlight. This was a game so unplayable it took me hours to get past its first stage. This was a Super Nintendo cartridge game that had a loading screen. Batman Forever was a crappily-made licensed game based on a crappy movie. Ugh.

    Fifteen years later and Batman fans really have great things to cheer about. Arkham Asylum was a triumphant superhero game and this week's Arkham City may very well surpass it. We should have at least a first hour review of Arkham City from Nate this week, so look forward to that, but first, let's take a quick rewind to Batman's lowpoint.

  • Nintendo Power #257 - Returning to Nintendo Power after Five Years

    Magazine Nostalgia

    Nintendo Power 257 CoverSo there's absolutely nothing nostalgic about discussing the latest issue of Nintendo Power, but since I haven't subscribed to the magazine in over five years, I thought I would talk about how much has changed.  Apparently, a lot has, or I just changed.  Either way, a year subscription just $5 on Amazon a few weeks ago, so I figured for less than 50 cents an issue I would be a fool not to sign up.  My last issue of Nintendo Power before this was from May 2005, issue 191.  The Nintendo DS was on that volume's cover as the second big round of games was rolling in including Nintendogs and Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow.

    But this article is about the August 2010 issue featuring Dragon Quest IX on the cover.  Being a Nintendo published game this isn't much of a shock, but there were both pleasant and unpleasant surprises on just about every page.  I'll cover a few I consider noteworthy.

    I will probably never do such a new magazine ever again as I much prefer to reminisce about old school stuff, but this should be fun either way.

  • PC Gamer - June 1996 - Star Wars goes Multiplayer

    Magazine Nostalgia

    pc Gamer June 1996 CoverWhen selecting my next magazine to read with rose-colored glasses, I decided to go with PC Gamer, a magazine that was hugely influential over my middle and high school years.  I never actually had a subscription to PC Gamer, I instead bought single issues of it in preparation for long vacations in the car as my family drove to Florida or New Jersey.  PC Gamer was always more "adult" for me.  I didn't have a lot of experience to base this on besides Nintendo Power and Game Players, but PC gaming was always inherently edgier and PC Gamer was written for a slightly older crowd.

    So of the 13 issues of PC Gamer I apparently still own, my first was the June 1996 featuring X-Wing vs. TIE Fighter on the cover.  The moment I saw this issue at the local Shopko, I undoubtedly became a man.  Not only was I a huge Star Wars fan, but I had loved the original TIE Fighter and the magazine came with a CD.  My very own compact disc filled with game demos and an AOL installation!

    Hopefully I won't go as in depth with this issue as I did with my first issue of Nintendo Power (I did, whoops).  I couldn't find this magazine scanned already online, so I did the scans myself, I apologize that they suck. Let's dive into PC Gamer 14 years ago.

  • Memorable Ideas from Forgettable Games - The Poker Race

    Gaming Nostalgia

    Excitebots CoverSome games are unforgettable. After forking over our birthday money at K-Mart, we bounce all the way home in the backseat of the station wagon, wrestle the plastic wrap away from the box, gingerly place the game in the system, and steady our feverishly shaking hands with an anaconda grip on the controller. We don't let go for hours. And when the credits roll, we tear up a little, knowing we'll always cherish that first time through.

    And then there are games that are largely forgotten weeks after release. Niche appeal, scathing reviews, or even just lack of hype can doom a game to obscurity and the Target bargain bin. But even these games deserve a second look...sometimes. Every once in a while, a kernel of brilliance can be found within these steaming piles of mediocrity. The purpose of this feature is to sift out some of these conceptual gems and put them under the microscope.

    Today we'll deal out the Poker Races from ExciteBots: Trick Racing, and see how easy it can be to add layers of strategy to a game by simply cramming another game into it.

  • Nintendo Power #37 - My First Video Game Magazine

    Magazine Nostalgia

    Nintendo Power 37 CoverWay back in May of 1992 for my eighth birthday, my cousins presented me with a subscription Nintendo Power.  I had never received anything as cool as my own magazine in the mail before, so when the June '92 issue arrived a few days later I was in heaven.  It would be another two years until I bought my own Super Nintendo, but my NES and new Nintendo Power subscription were enough for me.

    I kicked off my new Magazine Nostalgia section a few weeks back with my own appearance in Nintendo Power #85, but I have a ton more to discuss.  I recently semi-organized all my video game magazines of which I have hundreds, spanning from Nintendo Power, EGM, Game Players, and more.  I know I won't ever be able to discuss them all, but I'd like to pretend to try, so why not cover the first one I ever owned?

    Do you have any interesting magazine stories? Let us know in the comments section!

  • Memorable Ideas from Unforgettable Games - New Game Plus

    Gaming Nostalgia

    Chrono Trigger Cover SnesMy apologies to Nate in advance for totally stealing his Memorable Ideas theme and twisting it from forgettable games into something far less interesting, but I have to write about this.

    New Game Plus is probably one of the coolest, most obvious, and underused features in video games today.  There is no better way to get me to immediately replay your game than to give me every single item, weapon, magic, and point of experience that I finished the game with at the start of the my next playthrough.  Yes, it makes everything Win Button easy, but it is so very satisfying returning to the boss the gave you so much trouble the first time and one-shotting him into oblivion.  New Game Plus should be a required feature of every RPG and adventure game.

    For the unaware, New Game Plus means starting the game over but loading your characters from when you last beat it.  You generally retain most non-story items and weapons, and keep your existing level and stats.  It's generally a nice reward for conquering a game, but as we'll see, can also be used for a variety of reasons.

  • Memorable Ideas from Forgettable Games - The Level Slider

    Gaming Nostalgia

    the World Ends With you CoverSome games are unforgettable. After forking over our birthday money at K-Mart, we bounce all the way home in the backseat of the station wagon, wrestle the plastic wrap away from the box, gingerly place the game in the system, and steady our feverishly shaking hands with an anaconda grip on the controller. We don't let go for hours. And when the credits roll, we tear up a little, knowing we'll always cherish that first time through.

    And then there are games that are largely forgotten weeks after release. Niche appeal, scathing reviews, or even just lack of hype can doom a game to obscurity and the Target bargain bin. But even these games deserve a second look...sometimes. Every once in a while, a kernel of brilliance can be found within these steaming piles of mediocrity. The purpose of this feature is to sift out some of these conceptual gems and put them under the microscope.

    Today's trip takes us all the way back to 2008, when a game called The World Ends With You dared to eschew every gaming convention it could think of, for better or worse. In the "better" column resides one particularly inspired idea, the Level Slider.

  • My brush with fame in Nintendo Power

    Magazine Nostalgia

    Nintendo Power 85 CoverToday's my birthday so I thought I'd build my ego up a bit and tell the world how I was once featured in Nintendo Power magazine.  No, I wasn't one of those dopey kids holding his Game Boy in a ziploc bag in front of Niagara Falls (though I did submit one just like that, sad). And no, I never had the pleasure of winning one of their contests to be featured as a background extra on the show Seaquest DSV (worst contest ever?).

    No, I won an Arena Challenge.  I was featured on their high score list.  There was my name, in lights and on glossy paper: Greg Noe.

    Everyone, quickly grab Nintendo Power issue number 85 page 93 and read on...

  • Memorable Ideas from Forgettable Games - The Checklist Grid

    Gaming Nostalgia

    Kirby Air Ride CoverSome games are unforgettable. After forking over our birthday money at K-Mart, we bounce all the way home in the backseat of the station wagon, wrestle the plastic wrap away from the box, gingerly place the game in the system, and steady our feverishly shaking hands with an anaconda grip on the controller. We don't let go for hours. And when the credits roll, we tear up a little, knowing we'll always cherish that first time through.

    And then there are games that are largely forgotten weeks after release. Niche appeal, scathing reviews, or even just lack of hype can doom a game to obscurity and the Target bargain bin. But even these games deserve a second look...sometimes. Every once in a while, a kernel of brilliance can be found within these steaming piles of mediocrity. The purpose of this feature is to sift out some of these conceptual gems and put them under the microscope.

    Today we'll take a look at how the Checklist Grids in last generation's Kirby Air Ride add a special something to one of the current generation's biggest innovations: the Achievement.

  • My Gaming History

    Gaming Nostalgia

    Super Metroid CoverI'd like to apologize for being so wordy this week at the First Hour, but the writers here love to write!  I recently asked Ian to tell me about his gaming history, thinking I'd get a couple line reponse about how his parents bought him a Game Boy or something, but along comes a serious epic that will probably seem very familiar to many of us reading along.

    If you've got your own story you'd like to tell, reply in the comments or send me an email, I'd love to host it here!

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