I am bad at pool. Real pool, that is. But also video game pool. Although I am marginally less bad at video game pool than I am at real pool.
Data East’s Side Pocket, seen here as part of the Data East Collection 1 cartridge for the Evercade, at least makes the experience of being bad at video game pool pleasantly entertaining by providing a smooth jazz soundtrack, some pretty ladies and a series of completely unreasonable trick shots with which to challenge yourself. Plus no onlookers who have had a few too many pints laughing at your incompetence. Ideal.
Many developers — particularly from the 8- and 16-bit eras — tended to end up primarily associated with a particular type of game. But some, like Data East, proved themselves capable of turning their attention to many different mechanical genres.
For quite a while, games that ostensibly simulated “real” sports and activities weren’t necessarily concerned with realism — they were concerned with being fun video games first and foremost.
A good example of this is Electronic Pool for Atari ST by Microdeal. This game resembles real-life pool but doesn’t follow many of its rules — and in doing so it manages to create an entertaining arcade-style experience. (One might argue that it’s quite similar to Data East’s Side Pocket, but this certainly isn’t an official adaptation of that…)
Throughout the 8- and 16-bit home computer and console eras, we saw numerous developers “paying homage” to one another’s work — and often developing their own interesting twists on the formula in the process.
One cannot look at Data East’s 1989 release Midnight Resistance and not think of Konami’s Contra from two years prior, for example, but in practice the two games play quite differently, developing their own distinct identities in the process.
These days, Contra is by far the better known game, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t explore Midnight Resistance for yourself. And, as luck would have it, Midnight Resistance can be found in its Mega Drive incarnation on the Data East Collection 1cartridge for the Evercade retro gaming system — so let’s take a closer look!
Ah, the early ’80s — a time of exploration and experimentation in the world of video games. What subject matter would make for a good game — and particularly, what would make a good arcade game that would encourage people to part with all the small change in their pocket?
In 1982, Data East came up with BurgerTime, an unusual game that casts players in the role of chef Peter Pepper (no relation to his near-namesake who, it is said, once picked a peck of pickled peppers) and tasks them with making burgers by… uh… walking on them.
Does it make sense? Absolutely not. Is it fun? Yes. Is it monstrously difficult in both its original arcade and NES incarnations? Hell yes. And you can enjoy the latter version as part of the Data East Collection 1cartridge for the Evercade retro gaming system, too. So let’s take a closer look!
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 1. Let’s take a closer look!
If there’s one thing the Neo Geo is good at, it’s… well, it’s fighting games, but if there’s more than one thing the Neo Geo is good at, puzzle games are definitely in the mix too.
Money Puzzle Exchanger is a 1997 release from Japanese developer Face that began its life on the Neo Geo MVS system before later being ported to Game Boy and PlayStation. These days, it’s pretty easy to get hold of in its initial incarnation thanks to it being part of Hamster’s Arcade Archives series, whose various releases have found their way to numerous platforms over the last few years.
And that’s fortunate, because Money Puzzle Exchanger is a great game that is well worth your time and… well, money.
Magical Drop III, first released in 1997, is widely regarded as the best installment in Data East’s series of frantic puzzlers.
The series as a whole is noteworthy in that it provides a distinctly more fast-paced take on what is typically regarded as a relatively sedate genre, but Magical Drop III took the core mechanics established in its early incarnations, polished them to a fine sheen and created one of the most addictive puzzle games of all time… not to mention the origin of the “Fairy Bounce” meme.
Magical Drop III got released on all manner of platforms, but today we’re primarily concerned with the European PlayStation release, which includes a port of the Saturn version, itself somewhat rebalanced from the arcade and Neo Geo versions, as well as a port of Magical Drop Plus 1!, an enhanced version of the first game in the series that was originally released in the West as Chain Reaction.