Tag Archives: design

Aquaventure: The Game That Deserved a Release

One of the nice things about modern, curated compilations of games from old platforms is that they provide an opportunity for “lost” classics to finally get an audience.

In many cases, “lost” classics were completed and reached a full prototype phase, but just never ended up getting duplicated and distributed to the public. Sometimes this is understandable; at other times, it’s a bit of a mystery.

Aquaventure for Atari 2600, which you can play not only in Atari Flashback Classics but also as part of the Atari Collection 1 cartridge on Evercade, definitely falls into the latter category. This game is good, so why didn’t it get released?

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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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Atelier Ayesha: The Alchemist of Dusk – Chromatic Shift

cropped-atelier-megafeature-header-1.pngThis post is one chapter of a MegaFeature!
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While in many respects the Arland games had brought the Atelier series back to its roots, they also very much had their own distinctive sense of identity. In order to move on to a new subseries, there would need to be some sort of noticeable “shift”.

That was the challenge Gust was faced with after the success of Ateliers Rorona, Totori and Meruruhow to follow that up with something that still felt like Atelier, but which also distinguished itself from the pastel-coloured, distinctly “comfy” games that had come before? And with the new generation of fans who might have joined the series in the HD era, how to ensure that no-one went away feeling like the series had dropped something important to its core identity?

We got our answer in 2012 with the release of Atelier Ayesha: The Alchemist of Dusk — which ended up being the first installment in one of the most fondly regarded Atelier subseries of all time. So I guess they did something right. Let’s take a first look!

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Yars’ Revenge: This Game Has Bugs

Yars’ Revenge is, it’s fair to say, one of the most well-known and respected Atari 2600 games out there.

Indeed, back in the day it was one of the platform’s best-selling games, being one of several examples from the 1981-1982 period that actually broke a million copies sold. This was, as you might imagine, a pretty big deal back in the early days of video gaming.

It’s enjoyed enduring popularity over the years for good reason. So with it being part of the Atari Collection 2 cartridge for the Evercade retro gaming system, let’s take a closer look at what it’s all about.

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Super Robin Hood: Feared By the Bad, Loved By the Good

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!

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Waifu Wednesday: Totooria Helmold

The Arland series, as we’ve already discussed, saw Atelier returning to a lot of conventions from its past.

One of the most notable of these was each new mainline installment being named after and focused on the life of a single main character who was inevitably attempting to make use of alchemy under somewhat challenging and time-sensitive circumstances.

The second Arland game, Atelier Totori: The Adventurer of Arland, gave us a widely beloved protagonist who, in many ways, encapsulates what modern Atelier is all about. Bring on our charming Totori!

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The Adventures of Rad Gravity: Creative Vision

We talk quite a lot about “video game auteurs” these days, and how modern technology allows game designers to realise their visions like never before.

This sort of thing has been going on for quite some time, however — and in some respects, it’s even more impressive when a developer clearly expresses their creativity through a work from the earlier days of gaming.

Such is the case with The Adventures of Rad Gravity, a 1990 release for NES developed by Interplay, designed by Brian Fargo (of Bard’s Tale and Wasteland fame) and published by Activision. Oh, and no need to brave the second-hand market to find a copy any more, either — it’s part of the Interplay Collection 2 cartridge for the Evercade retro gaming system.

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Waifu Wednesday: Jessica Philomele

It’s that time of the week again, and there’s no way I could let my coverage of Mana Khemia: Alchemists of Al-Revis slip by without celebrating Jessica Philomele, arguably the most prominent female character in the game.

Jessica is the one who appears alongside main protagonist Vayne in the promotional artwork. Jessica is the first playable character that you meet once the game proper gets underway. And Jessica… was named something different in Japan?

We have a lot to talk about here — some of which may involve some mild spoilers — so hit the jump and let’s get started!

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Streets of Rage 2: Everyone’s Favourite

Speak to pretty much anyone familiar with the Streets of Rage series, and chances are their favourite installment is probably the second.

While the first game may have set the template for the series to follow by being a beat ’em up designed for the home rather than the arcade, the second is where it well and truly hit its stride. Streets of Rage 2 demonstrates what the humble Mega Drive is truly capable of in the hands of real masters of their craft.

And it’s a game that is still relevant, enormously playable and impressive to look at, even to this day. So let’s take a closer look.

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Waifu Wednesday: Viese Blanchimont

With Viese having such an important role in Atelier Iris 2: The Azoth of Destiny, it’s only fitting that we give her a bit of time in the spotlight.

While she may not get out and about quite as much as male protagonist Felt does, she’s the only one who can do “proper” alchemy with actual ingredients; she’s the only one who can make pacts with the Mana spirits; and, ultimately, it’s her alchemy skills that allow Felt and company to stand a fighting chance in the game’s final battle.

And, this being a Gust game, she is, of course, cute. Let’s take a closer look at this charming young alchemist.

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