One of the interesting things about fully exploring retro gaming is discovering the subtle differences between different versions of a game.
Back in the early to mid ’80s, there were sometimes quite significant differences between the various platforms’ take on an established game. This was due to a combination of factors: most frequently it was down to the technical limitations of the host platforms, but sometimes it was due to the programmers responsible for the ports not having all of the resources they needed, and consequently having to do the coder’s equivalent of holding things together with sticky tape.
Namco’s port of its classic arcade title Dig Dug for the Famicom — easily accessible today as part of the Namco Museum Collection 1 cartridge for the Evercade retro gaming platform — is a good example of (probably) the former. Either way, it’s a distinctive version of Dig Dug that is well worth playing, even if you’re well familiar with the arcade original!
Continue reading Dig Dug: Diggin’ Dirty →
Helicopters are cool. At least they used to be in the ’80s and early ’90s. I’m not sure we’d get a TV show where the helicopter was the star today.
Anyway, with how fashionable helicopters were in this time period, it’s not surprising that we got a fair few video games where helicopters played a leading role. And one such example was FireHawk, developed by the Oliver Twins and published by Codemasters and Camerica in 1991 as an unlicensed cartridge for the Nintendo Entertainment System.
It’s not one of the Oliver Twins’ better-known pieces of work, but it is a fun time. And, as luck would have it, we now have easy access to it as part of the Oliver Twins Collection for the Evercade retro gaming platform. So let’s take a closer look!
Continue reading FireHawk: Lafia Strike →
The Tower of Druaga is an important part of gaming history — yet it’s also a game that has somewhat divided opinion over the years.
Back in its native Japan, it was widely loved and appreciated for its revolutionary nature at the time of its original release; in the West, however, it was lambasted for its slow pace, obtuse mechanics and monstrous level of difficulty.
Regardless of your feelings on it, you can now play the Famicom version as part of the Namco Museum Collection 2 cartridge on the Evercade retro gaming system. So let’s take a closer look, and see why this game is so important.
Continue reading The Tower of Druaga: Persevere, Sir Knight →
For quite some time — particularly during the crossover from the 8-bit to 16-bit home computer and console eras — shoot ’em ups were regarded as the “dumb” side of gaming; critics often thought we could “do better”.
These days, of course, the more discerning gamers among us will, of course, be able to recognise that 1) there are a wide variety of different types of shoot ’em up out there, many of which are intricately designed works of mechanical artistry, and 2) they’re absolutely not as mindless as some people might like to make them out to be. And, moreover, they haven’t been for a long time.
Not sure about that? Look back on Namco’s Galaxian, originally released to arcades in 1979 and ported to a wide variety of platforms over the following years. The version we’re primarily concerned with today is the Famicom version from 1984, which you can now enjoy worldwide as part of the Namco Museum Collection 1 cartridge for the Evercade retro gaming system.
Continue reading Galaxian: The Thinking Man’s Fixed Shooter →
The Oliver Twins are an important part of British gaming history, and Super Robin Hood is a particularly noteworthy title — its original incarnation on the Amstrad CPC was the duo’s first commercially successful game, and the first of many games Codemasters would publish for them.
The version of Super Robin Hood we find on the Oliver Twins Collection cartridge for Blaze’s Evercade retro gaming system is a substantial reimagining of this game rather than a note-for-note remake. The original Amstrad CPC version came out in 1986 while the twins were still at school, whereas the NES incarnation found on the Evercade cart hit the market in 1992. This was after the boys had decided to do this programming thing full time — and after they’d really figured out a few things about what makes a solid game from a design perspective. At least their poor old CPC didn’t have to work 23-hour days any more!
While the twins’ myriad Dizzy titles are their more well-known work, there’s a lot to like about Super Robin Hood — particularly this later reimagining. So let’s take a closer look!
Continue reading Super Robin Hood: Feared By the Bad, Loved By the Good →
Much like its predecessor, the NES version of Technōs Japan’s classic beat ’em up Double Dragon II: The Revenge is a distinct affair from its arcade-based counterpart.
This was an era of gaming where arcade-perfect ports on home platforms weren’t really possible — so in a fair few cases, developers simply opted to make brand new games that were true to the spirit of the arcade original rather than simply attempting to ape the quarter-munching experience.
In many cases, this resulted in more substantial games that provided an experience with much more longevity for home play — and while it has a few design features that might make modern gamers wince, Double Dragon II: The Revenge for NES is one such example. And conveniently, you can enjoy it in several ways right now: as part of the Nintendo Switch Online NES app; as part of the Double Dragon & Kunio-kun: Retro Brawler Bundle for PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch; and as part of the Technos Collection 1 cartridge for the Evercade retro gaming platform.
Continue reading Double Dragon II: The Revenge – Who Needs Arcade Perfection? →
Like most game genres, fighting games went through a period of experimentation and flux in their early days as developers and publishers attempted to figure out the “best” way to do things.
In the days of 8-bit home computers and consoles, we saw a variety of different games attempting to simulate martial arts with varying degrees of realism — and certain elements of these early titles can be traced all the way forwards to today’s most competitive fighters.
One early, influential title was Beam Software’s The Way of the Exploding Fist. This is best known in its home computer incarnations for Commodore 64 and 16, BBC Micro, Amstrad CPC and Acorn Electron, but there was also supposed to be an NES version. For one reason or another, this console version never saw the light of day, but more recently Piko Interactive managed to rescue this prototype, clean it up a bit and release it to the public. And now you can enjoy it on the Evercade retro gaming platform as part of the Piko Interactive Collection 1 cartridge. Let’s take a look!
Continue reading Exploding Fist: The Way Fightin’ Used To Be →
One of the most common arguments in favour of pocket-sized handheld gaming devices is that they’re eminently suitable for bite-sized nuggets of gameplay that will keep you distracted for a few minutes at a time.
The Evercade retro gaming platform is no stranger to this concept, with plenty of the games across its complete library ideal for a quick rag on while you wait for your Pot Noodle to finish festering, your significant other to get out of the bog and/or Amelia Watson to start streaming. And many of these “quick hit” games can be found on the eighth cartridge in the library: Mega Cat Studios Collection 1, a compilation of “modern retro” titles where today’s developers make new games for yesterday’s systems.
A fine example is Mega Cat’s self-developed Log Jammers, an exceedingly unsubtle homage to Data East’s Neo Geo title Windjammers, originally released for NES in 2017 and now available for fun on the go thanks to the Evercade. Grab your axe and let’s get rolling!
Continue reading Log Jammers: Less Wind, More Log →
The shoot ’em up genre is, it’s fair to say, fairly dominated by spaceships. It makes sense — a sci-fi tale allows for pretty much unbridled creativity, taking the player on a journey through the stars into the great unknown, battling off hordes of unimaginable horrors from many light years away.
But the fantasy genre is ripe for exploiting in this way, too; much like the more outlandish side of sci-fi, a lot of fantasy has never seemed too concerned with respecting the usual laws of physics, time and space. And as such there’s no good reason why we couldn’t have just as satisfying a time blasting our way through a fantasy tale as we could if we were behind the controls of some sort of comically overpowered spaceship.
Namco evidently felt this way back in 1987 when they released the fantasy-themed vertically scrolling shoot ’em up Dragon Spirit to the arcades. And then they remembered it was still a very good idea a couple of years later when they released quasi-sequel Dragon Spirit: The New Legend for Famicom in 1989, with a North American NES version following in 1990. And this 8-bit home console version can now be enjoyed by a whole new audience today, thanks to its inclusion on the Namco Museum Collection 2 cartridge for the Evercade retro gaming system. So let’s take a closer look!
Continue reading Dragon Spirit: The New Legend – In Case of Emergency, Use Dragon →
Mappy is perhaps not one of Namco’s most well-known arcade games from the early days — here in the West, anyway — but it’s still one that the company frequently acknowledges and pays tribute to.
Many of the cars in the Ridge Racer series feature “sponsorship” by the series, for example, and the first Mappy title, which we’re concerned with today, was successful enough to spawn several sequels. There was even an animated series made in 2013 as part of Namco’s ShiftyLook initiative, but sadly this is no longer officially available.
Whether you’re a longstanding fan of the series or a newcomer, you can now enjoy the original Mappy’s NES port as part of the Namco Museum Collection 1 for the Evercade retro gaming platform. So let’s take a closer look!
Continue reading Mappy: Your Move, Cat →