NES Essentials: Wrecking Crew

Wrecking Crew is one of Nintendo mascot Mario’s more underappreciated adventures — and a fairly underappreciated entry in the NES’ overall library, in fact.

First released for Famicom in June of 1985 and subsequently as one of the 17 launch titles for the Western Nintendo Entertainment System, Wrecking Crew is something of a departure from what you might typically expect from a Mario game — even outside of the main Super Mario Bros. series.

It’s a puzzle game with a strong emphasis on strategic thinking and forward planning rather than fast action or precise platforming, and it’s actually been one of my favourite games in the NES’ library since I first encountered it via the Wii’s Virtual Console service. Let’s take a closer look.

Continue reading NES Essentials: Wrecking Crew

Sega Ages: OutRun – Chasing the Horizon

Trivia of the day: the shiny red car in the original OutRun is not, as many people assume (and as both numerous sites on the Internet and some incarnations of the game’s original manual claim), a Ferrari Testarossa; it’s just a car designed to look uncannily like a Ferrari Testarossa — in other words, it’s a thoroughly unlicensed knockoff.

The fact that the car in OutRun is almost-but-not-quite a Ferrari is probably why this first game in the series has been so widely ported and still remains relevant today, while the officially Ferrari-branded OutRun 2 and its expanded quasi-sequel OutRun 2006: Coast 2 Coast remain tragically trapped in licensing limbo.

The original OutRun has been ported to enough platforms to make the original Final Fantasy and Ys games blush over the years, as well as putting in occasional guest appearances in games such as Shenmue 2 and Yakuza 0. The latest direct port at the time of writing is for Nintendo Switch as part of the Sega Ages collection and is the work of emulation maestros M2, so let’s once again put our foot to the floor and get driving.

Continue reading Sega Ages: OutRun – Chasing the Horizon

Atari ST A to Z: Purple Saturn Day

You know how these days Japanese games are often stereotyped as being “weird”? Well, in the early to mid ’90s, it was French developers who were saddled with this perception.

To be fair, it was at least partially justified — although it may perhaps have been a little more polite to refer to these developers’ works as being “creative” rather than “weird”.

They don’t come much more creative/weird than Purple Saturn Day, a game developed by a branch of ERE Informatique that claimed to be receiving their inspiration directly from an interdimensional technological god-entity named Exxos, and a title that put an interesting sci-fi twist on the multi-sports formula.

Find a full archive of all the Atari A to Z videos on the official site.

How Heavy Are the Dumbbells You Lift?: Moe-Tivational

My arms ache. And it’s all because of this stupid anime.

I’ll be 100% honest with you here, dear reader: my initial interest in How Heavy Are the Dumbbells You Lift?, the new anime from Doga Kobo (Yuru Yuri, Plastic Memories, Gabriel Dropout) was for less than wholesome reasons — as I’m sure it was for many other people, given the provocative nature of the teaser image that was initially circulated.

But after watching the first episode, I signed up for the gym. Three episodes in at the time of writing and I’m already making more positive lifestyle choices. What state will I be in by the end of the run?

Continue reading How Heavy Are the Dumbbells You Lift?: Moe-Tivational

Waifu Wednesday: Jessica de Alkirk

I thought I’d go classic for this week’s Waifu Wednesday.

I’ll freely admit that it’s been a very long time — far too long, in fact — since I played Lunar: Silver Star Story Complete on PS1, but back when I did play it for the first time, I fell in love. Several times. With the game, with its setting, with Working Designs’ localisation… and with Jessica.

’90s waifus still got it going on, y’know.

Continue reading Waifu Wednesday: Jessica de Alkirk

Warriors Wednesday: Overly Ambitious

There I was, thinking that things were going a bit too well and things felt a bit “easy” as I started the Wei campaign on Normal difficulty. “Why not try Hard?” I thought.

This, it turns out, was a bit of a mistake. It appears that at the start of this campaign I’m in a bit of a limbo, where having acquired over a hundred levels’ worth of passive abilities in the previous storylines, my characters are now a bit too tough to have any real challenges placed before them on Normal, but not quite tough enough to stand up to the challenges Hard presents them with.

Oh well. At least now we know, eh?

The Zelda Diaries: Part 4 – Peace and Quiet

I’m not an especially active or outdoorsy type… but I’ve always enjoyed the atmosphere of being out in nature. You know, so long as it isn’t trying to bite, sting, cut, burn, poison crush or otherwise bring me to harm in one way or another.

Some of my fondest memories are from childhood, when I had the good fortune to be able to go camping with both my class at school and my Cub Scout pack. My most longstanding, happiest recollections of those trips do not involve the many activities we participated in — but rather simple things, such as gradually drifting off to sleep to the soothing sound of rain on canvas (occasionally punctuated by class clown Christopher Smith farting) or feeling a quiet sense of awe at the almost complete silence around us, save for the leaves on the forest’s trees rustling in the wind.

Breath of the Wild is making me extremely nostalgic for all this sort of thing. And, best of all, I don’t have to go out in the blazing hot British summer sunshine and/or torrential British rain to enjoy it.

Continue reading The Zelda Diaries: Part 4 – Peace and Quiet

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