All posts by Pete Davison

Former games journo (GamePro, USgamer) and expert on all those Japanese games and visual novels the mainstream press likes to go "ew, pretty girls" at. I write things at great length.

Atari A to Z: Mouth Trap

Back in the 8- and 16-bit days, everyone was encouraged to try their hand at programming. The 8-bit microcomputers came with BASIC built-in, while 16-bit platforms played host to packages such as STOS.

Mouth Trap, part of a compilation called Games Galore, was put together by Darren Ithell as a demonstration of what the BASIC-like STOS programming language was capable of producing in the hands of someone who knew what they were doing. And the result was a rather convincing, enjoyable game that wouldn’t have looked out of place in an arcade.

Returning to it today, it’s still an enjoyable game, too — an interesting twist on the single-screen arcade game formula, with more than a hint of dot-eating funtimes, albeit without the maze. Check out the video below, and don’t forget to subscribe on YouTube for more!

Atari A to Z

Dark Chambers: What a Dandy Dungeon This Is

The history of how a lot of old games came to be is deeply fascinating.

One such tale that I’ve found rather interesting is how Atari’s Dark Chambers came to be. This is a game that has its roots in John Palevich’s Dandywhich is the reason the all-time classic cooperative top-down dungeon crawler Gauntlet exists, but then there’s also several versions of Dark Chambers out there to enjoy, too.

The Evercade retro gaming handheld allows us to experience the Atari 2600 version for ourselves as part of its Atari Collection 2 cartridge. So let’s take a closer look!

Continue reading Dark Chambers: What a Dandy Dungeon This Is

short;Play: Ion Fury

I’m not so hot on them these days, but back in the ’90s I absolutely loved first-person shooters — and for me their pinnacle of pure fun factor was Ken Silverman’s Build engine.

It was with some excitement, then, that I booted up Ion Fury for the first time; this is the first Build engine game to be produced for about 20 years, and promised a somewhat different twist on the “enhanced retro” experience that is quite a popular aesthetic approach these days.

I was not disappointed. This game is like being back in the ’90s again. Join me for some foul-mouthed fun in the video below, and don’t forget to subscribe on YouTube for more.

Incantation: Having a Wizard Time

Nintendo’s widely beloved Super NES continued to get new games long after the Sony PlayStation and its rivals had brought in the “next generation” of gaming in 1994.

As you might expect, many of these titles from the latter days of the 16-bit era have very much flown under the radar over the years, and a lot of them have become expensive rarities that only those with deep pockets can hope to collect.

Incantation, a 1996 release by Titus, and a game that subsequently fell into the hands of the Interplay brand, is one such example, with carts commanding three-figure prices on the collectors’ market. As of the time of writing, you no longer need to pay through the nose for it, though, since you can find a modern rerelease of it on Interplay Collection 1 for the Evercade retro gaming handheld. Let’s take a look!

Continue reading Incantation: Having a Wizard Time

Atari A to Z: Saboteur!

I never played Clive Townsend’s classic open-structure 2D platformer Saboteur! until his recent Nintendo Switch version, which I absolutely loved.

Imagine my delight, then, when I saw that some talented AtariAge members had taken it upon themselves to port this classic game to the dear old Atari 8-bit. How would it come out, I wondered.

Pretty damn well, as it happens; some speed inconsistencies aside, we have a very true port of a ZX Spectrum classic here — now available for any Atari fans to enjoy! Check out the video below, and don’t forget to subscribe on YouTube for more.

Atari A to Z

Burnin’ Rubber: Let’s Bump ‘n’ Jump

Data East may be a slightly lesser-known company than the big hitters of the 8- and 16-bit era, but they still put out some cracking arcade games during this period, many of which got home ports.

One fine example is Burnin’ Rubber, which is also known, depending on where you are in the world and what platform you played it on, as either Bump ‘n’ Jump or Buggy Popper.

It’s a top down racer that predates Bally Midway’s better-known classic of the genre Spy Hunter by a full year, and you can play an official modern rerelease of the NES version right now on the Evercade retro gaming handheld as part of its third cartridge, Data East Collection 1Let’s take a closer look!

Continue reading Burnin’ Rubber: Let’s Bump ‘n’ Jump

Around the Network

Good evening everyone! I’ve left this until late in the day once again so I’m pretty tired. Apologies if this is less coherent than usual… but eh. Roll with it.

It’s been a fun week! I finished Mana Khemia: Alchemists of Al-Revisand got cracking on my ongoing Evercade coverage, so please enjoy more of that in the coming weeks! Plenty more cool stuff coming up soon, too; I’ve had to dust off the ol’ NTSC PS2 (and my scary buzzing voltage transformer, which I’m replacing as soon as possible!) to get ready for Mana Khemia 2: Fall of Alchemy, which only came out in North America, so I’m looking forward to diving into that very soon.

For now, though, let’s check out what you might have missed in the last week.

Continue reading Around the Network

Atari A to Z Flashback: Gravitar

It’s another Atari 2600 port of a classic arcade game! This time around we’re taking a look at Gravitar, one of the most legendarily difficult games of all time.

Its Atari 2600 incarnation is arguably somewhat more accessible than the challenging arcade version, since it has a variety of different ways to play that affect the number of lives you have and even whether or not you have to deal with the titular gravity.

It’s still a beefy challenge, though — but if you have the patience, there’s plenty of rewarding gameplay to be found here. Enjoy the video below, and don’t forget to subscribe on YouTube for more.

Atari A to Z

Mana Khemia: Alchemists of Al-Revis – Narrative, Themes and Characterisation

 

cropped-atelier-megafeature-header-1.pngThis post is one chapter of a MegaFeature!
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The two Mana Khemia games are sometimes unofficially regarded as a continuation of the Atelier Iris trilogy.

It’s fairly easy to see why: the overall presentation is very similar to Atelier Iris 3: Grand Phantasm in particular; the setting, in which human alchemists cooperate with elemental beings known as Mana to Do Alchemy, fits right in with its immediate predecessors; and thematically, there’s a lot in common, too.

Specifically, Mana Khemia: Alchemists of Al-Revis follows the mould of its precursors by contemplating how alchemy, an inherently neutral power by itself, can be used for both good and ill depending on the individual. But this time around, the whole thing is on a rather more personal scale than the world-saving narratives of Atelier Iris. So let’s explore further!

Continue reading Mana Khemia: Alchemists of Al-Revis – Narrative, Themes and Characterisation

Final Fantasy Marathon: Freelancin’ Ain’t Easy – Final Fantasy III #2

As yet bereft of the iconic Jobs that would go on to define this particular installment in the Final Fantasy series, our heroes are tasked with seeking out a naughty old Djinn.

It’s not a quest they can really walk away from, either; a significant number of people in the vicinity have been turned into ghosts by this malevolent dark power — and of course, no-one but a bunch of freelancin’ kids could possibly go and sort out the whole problem.

While it’s a daunting challenge at first, it doesn’t take long for our heroes to build up their confidence at fighting — and before you know it they’re toppling their first significant challenge, proving themselves worthy of the title “Warriors of Light”.

Enjoyed the video? Don’t forget to subscribe on YouTube for more!