Alice in Wonderland: Curiously Entertaining

When I’m tired, bored, depressed or, most commonly, a combination of all three, there’s something that I occasionally like to do.

Once I’ve cleaned up the mess from doing that, I like to delve into what I will euphemistically refer to as my vast collection of digitally preserved retro video games and pick something at semi-random. I’ll scroll through a platform I typically don’t give a lot of attention to, pick out something that I probably wouldn’t typically make the choice to play under normal circumstances, and then give it an honest go.

And so it was that as last week drew to a close and Friday evening became Friday night, I found myself playing Digital Eclipse’s official Game Boy Colour adaptation of the classic Disney movie Alice in Wonderland. A couple of hours later, I’d accidentally beaten the damn thing, and I didn’t feel the slightest bit sorry.

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Atari A to Z: Xagon

Today’s Atari 8-bit game is a bit of a mystery! It looks as if it was originally released as a public domain title, but there are a couple of different versions floating around the Internet, both attributed to different people or groups.

Xagon itself is a fun take on the “jump on all the things” genre popularised by Q*Bert. This time around, though, you’re hopping on hexagons, and there are a number of interesting mechanics going on, such as platforms that “balance” one another out, the ability to hop on the spot and all manner of other things. It’s a very competent game that wouldn’t have looked out of place as a commercial release.

Check it out in the video below, and don’t forget to subscribe on YouTube for more!

Atari A to Z

Wiz ‘n’ Liz: Hunting Wabbits for Fun and Profit

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Three years after the well-received The Killing Game Show first hit home computer screens, Martyn Chudley and friends were back with a new title, this time for both Amiga and Mega Drive. I give you Wiz ‘n’ Liz: The Frantic Wabbit Wescue.

Having gone by “Raising Hell Software” for their previous game, some alleged behind-the-scenes trouble with Sega forced the team that would eventually become Bizarre Creations to go nameless for a period; the introductory screens for Wiz ‘n’ Liz credit Chudley and his co-designer Mike Waterworth directly by name rather than attributing the game to a company. The actual name Bizarre Creations would appear for the first time with their next game — but more on that next time!

For now, let’s take a look at Wiz ‘n’ Liz which is, by all accounts, a thoroughly strange game, but another beautiful example of how Chudley and his team were consistently capable of creating exceedingly attractive, highly addictive games that would constantly keep you coming back for more.

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Around the Network

Hello everyone! It’s the end of of another week, so you know what time it is — weekly roundup time!

Things have been proceeding well at the new day job — be sure to stop by Rice Digital if you haven’t already, as it’s a great place to hang out if you’re fans of Asian video games and other forms of popular entertainment. And we’ve got some super-cool stuff coming up in the next few weeks and months to tie in with some big releases! Please look forward to it.

In the meantime, though, let’s check out what you might have missed this week in the various places I’ve been Doing Things Online…

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Atari A to Z Flashback: RealSports Soccer

Yes, it’s yet another RealSports game! We’re nearly done, though. Hang in there!

This time around, we take a look at RealSports Soccer for the Atari 5200 which, like its American Football counterpart, offers a somewhat more realistic, in-depth experience, perhaps at the expense of some accessibility. It’s still a much more approachable game than either incarnation of RealSports Football, however!

Check it out in the video below, and don’t forget to subscribe on YouTube for more!

Atari A to Z

Evercade A to Z: Boogerman

Boogerman: A Pick and Flick Adventure is a game I was prepared to write off as yet another ’90s mascot platformer filled with grossout humour.

And to be fair, it certainly is that, but it’s actually a pretty solid game, too. With strong animation, good quality music and sound effects and some responsive controls, it’s a surprisingly good platformer — albeit one that has a bit of trouble with its overall pacing.

Check it out in the video below, and don’t forget to subscribe on YouTube for more!

Atelier Ayesha: The Alchemist of Dusk – Wonder and Danger in the Twilight

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So far, we’ve seen how Atelier Ayesha: The Alchemist of Dusk starts a new age for the Atelier series, both with its overall sense of design, and with the specifics of its alchemy mechanics.

Today we’re going to look at what protagonist Ayesha gets up to when she’s not working away in one of her several workshops: the ways in which she is able to explore the world around her, discover many new and wonderful — and sometimes horrifying — things, and how she protects herself from danger when things get tough.

Yep, it’s time to look at combat and exploration in Atelier Ayesha: The Alchemist of Dusk, another area where the game feels both comfortably familiar and fresh.

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Project Eris and the PlayStation Classic as a “Retro Box”

While we all know that original hardware is best (and dedicated hardware that pays homage to the conventions of original hardware is almost as good), it remains desirable for many retro gaming enthusiasts to have at least one “retro box” within easy reach.

Up until now, my main living room PC has fulfilled this role very well, thanks to a hodgepodge collection of emulators I’ve acquired over the years, plus the excellent Launchbox to keep things organised. This has worked absolutely fine for me for a while now, allowing me to dip into a vast library of digitally preserved games across a variety of platforms whenever I feel like it — and, rather helpfully for what I do here, easily capture video and take screenshots. But then I got a PlayStation Classic for Christmas.

I’m not one of those people who gets a new mini console and immediately wants to hack it to pieces in order to completely destroy its individuality and uniqueness — my PC Engine Mini is staying pristine, for example. But in the case of the PlayStation Classic, I’d seen numerous people online saying that it made a particularly good multi-purpose “retro box”. So I decided to investigate.

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Atari ST A to Z: Questron II

Several years after the original Questron, Strategic Simulations Inc. put out a sequel. This time around, it made it to Atari ST rather than the Atari 8-bit — but fundamentally, there was a lot that was quite similar about it.

Trouble is, the computer role-playing game genre had been developing at a rapid pace in the years between the two Questron titles; most notably, the Ultima series on which it was very obviously based had become much more complex and elaborate — particularly with regard to storytelling, and in incorporating more diverse, interesting objectives for the player to accomplish.

Questron II is still worth a look, though — particularly as its ST port is a very early title from the well-loved Westwood. Check it out in the video below, and don’t forget to subscribe on YouTube for more.

Atari A to Z

Waifu Wednesday: Lenna Charlotte Tycoon

Final Fantasy V, despite being one of the most mechanically solid installments in the series, doesn’t get a ton of love — partly because it got localised very late; partly because the quality of those localisations has varied considerably over time; and partly because in the grand scheme of the franchise as a whole, it’s comparatively bastard hard.

After many, many years of saying “I should probably beat Final Fantasy V sometime”, I am finally working on that goal — specifically by playing it on my totally normal, pristine and absolutely definitely completely stock PlayStation Classic that my brother rather generously bought me for Christmas. (More on all that another day, I feel.) And I thought Lenna — or “Reina” as she’s called in the version of Final Fantasy V I’m playing — was deserving of some love.

So let’s give her some love. Our pink-haired princess is one of Final Fantasy’s most capable heroines, so it’s high time she saw some appreciation, I say!

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The best of overlooked and underappreciated computer and video games, from yesterday and today