People generally sit down and play games for fun and entertaining experiences. In contrast, they generally only learn math out of necessity or for financial desires. Rarely does "math" and "fun and entertainment" interact to any significant degree, as shown by the vast amount of the population who despises the various forms of math, if not outright sucking at them. Certainly we can find math in some gameplay, given say a choice between various equippable items, but modern games readily simplify the process, giving clear comparisons if not outright displaying the superior choice. Games are certainly rooted in math, down to the programming, but players are absolved of such things, witnessing only the shiny results. However, a time and place exists for such contradictions as math and fun, and Number Munchers is just that contradiction.
I've played hundreds of games in my lifetime, but most of them are long forgotten memories. But sometimes those memories can be dislodged from the deep to remind you of something. Maybe it was just about how simple games used to be, or how they invoked the imagination so much while doing so little, or that games actually used to be difficult.
Pixel Boarder is one of those games. I'll be completely honest: I'm not very good at this game at all. I always forget which to push the joysticks to rotate in a particular direction, and I never seem to have enough speed to do anything cool. But that is really not that big of deal to me right now, mostly because of how much nostalgia this game was able to produce in such amount short time.
I'll spend a few paragraphs talking about Pixel Boarder and then explore my past history in winter video games.
You know the scenes I'm talking about. These are the kind of scenes that you have a save file just moments before so you can replay them over and over. These are the scenes you invite your friends over to see so you can show off your system in all its technical glory; the scenes that surpass mere nostalgia and still to this day retain legendary status in the gaming community. These are some of my favorite impacting scenes in gaming history. What are yours?
Many of us grew up playing video games, some of us wanted to make video games, but only a few (very exhausted and worn out folks) ever actually develop a video game that's available to the masses. Apple has been changing all that over the last few years though with their iPhone and iPod Touch platforms: if you've got $100, a Mac, and the creativity, time, and know-how to develop your own game, you can do it. That's exactly what my friend Rory Johnson did last year, who released Circle Challenge in January 2009.
Call it an experiment in Objective C, an attempt at touchscreen controls, or simply the output one man created out of some inner desire to finally do something with his spare time, Circle Challenge was actually released to the world. It is, nonetheless, a video game. A video game in maybe the vaguest sense of the term, but at least it's not a Bejeweled clone or a fart soundboard.
Ah, yes, the Street Fighter movie. No good phenomenon is safe from Hollywood's prying eyes, and Street Fighter was no exception. Street Fighter II was released in arcades in 1991, on consoles in 1992, and it quickly became a smash. Supremely polished with well-balanced 1v1 play, SFII jump-started the fighting game craze of the 90s, packing arcades as well as basements around the world. Capcom ultimately released 5 or so additional iterations of the game before moving on to Street Fighter Alpha and a continuation of the numbered series (along with a puzzle game, a simplified for-kids title and an outsourced 3d line).
Along with Street Fighter mania arrives the inevitable movie deal. Starring the Muscle from Brussels himself, the movie was pitched and billed as a good vs. evil tale. At this time, the Street Fighter storyline was not fully set it stone out and the screenwriters' eyes gleamed to this, taking heavy liberties with the plot arc and character backstories. It essentially took each the characters from Super Street Fighter II (minus Fei Long, who was somehow twisted into Captain Sawada). Each were then designated as either good or evil (allowing for swaps along the way) and they seemingly wrapped a story around that.
My favorite licensed game as a kid was Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers. Heck, this was one of my favorite games period. Rescue Rangers was a platformer released on the NES in 1990. It had the whole cast of characters from the cartoon, captured the soundtrack personally in 8-bits, and was just challenging enough to get me coming back over and over again. Probably the best part of it though was its two player simultaneous gameplay. This game single-handedly revealed the sadist tendencies that had lied dormant inside of me for so long (only to come out again many years later while playing The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures at college - I'll save that story for another day).
In this piece of nostalgia, I'll talk about the game's license (it is licensed games month at the First Hour), reminisce about the classic multiplayer, and revel in my speed run attempts during college. If you've ever played Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers, I hope you enjoy this; if you haven't, well, you're in for a treat too.
The year is 1999; the date, September the ninth. The plants did their job and release day is here. The office was even more busy and tense than usual as all eyes followed the first projections emerging from the printer. We had every reason to be confident. All our test groups, all forecasters, all street teams gave nothing but guaranteed success. The mistakes and unfortunate failures of the past would soon wash away. No longer would we be forced the constant reminders of financial inadequacy or our loved ones' questioning about job security. Yes, my stress is lower, yes, I'm getting more sleep. These bags will be removed, hard work pays off. Sega is back! Segata Sanshiro is smiling somewhere, proud of his children. The only question is, how could so many people be so very wrong and so very blind?
The year is 1999 and the wave of inevitability has already overtaken us. Not in our minds, mind you. Our minds believed that we had a real renaissance, a true phoenix inside a little white box. But the pieces were already in play and our actions merely delayed the truth. Sega could no longer prosper in this environment. The bridges were burned and one company can only take itself so far on its own. The climate is forever changed. Can you blame us for grasping onto misguided hope? Hardware is a man's business, certainly no haven for a child's imagination and desires. I guess our parents never warned us. No one wants or needs us anymore. The Ultimate Gaming Machine? Gaming has become passé. They said we needed a centralized entertainment console, a hub for the consumer to plug their lives into. We could connect them to a constant stream of bank withdrawals for products they are convinced to need. We replied, “We are a gaming company.” They spit on us and our toy. They were the smart ones.
I've been going through my large collections of games lately, which numbers in the hundreds, deciding if I can pass any of them off to gamers who can actually appreciate them for what they are. Not only do I have tons of games, but for 95% of them, I also still have their original box and manual. This makes some of them rather valuable for the collector, and hopefully I can provide.
However, there are a few games which I simply can not give up, some are worth quite a bit, others... well, they're mostly just meaningful to me. Let's take a nostalgic walk through some of the rare, obscure, and classic games I own that I could never give up.