Tag Archives: game design

Super Metroid: Grown-Up Nintendo

To my shame, despite having ready access to it — I bought it on the Wii’s Virtual Console storefront, I own a SNES Classic, and now it’s available on the Nintendo Switch’s online service — I had never played, let alone beaten, Super Metroid until this week.

I have now corrected this glaring oversight, mind you, which puts me in an excellent position to contemplate how this genre-defining game from 1994 remains just as relevant and playable an experience today as it once was.

Super Metroid is an absolute masterpiece. You probably don’t need me to tell you that. But I’m going to anyway. Let’s take a closer look at why it’s such a masterpiece.

Continue reading Super Metroid: Grown-Up Nintendo

The Zelda Diaries: Part 5 – Indoor Play

We’ve already seen numerous ways in which The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild distinguishes itself from its illustrious predecessors, but one of the more controversial changes for some was how it handled “dungeons”.

Rather than unfolding through a progression of discrete, large, self-contained dungeons that become more challenging as the game progresses, Breath of the Wild instead provides you with 120 shrines to discover and solve, with each taking just a few minutes at most to get through.

It’s a markedly different approach to classic Zelda — but it fits perfectly with the game’s non-linear, exploration-centric structure. Let’s take a closer look.

Continue reading The Zelda Diaries: Part 5 – Indoor Play

Delving Into Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest – #1

One of the games in Konami’s Castlevania Anniversary Collection that I was most interested to dig into was Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest.

I say this with the full knowledge that it has a bit of a reputation as being one of the least well-regarded Castlevania titles out there — but that was, in part, why I was curious to check it out for myself.

The other reasons I was keen to explore it was that the very concept and ambition of it intrigued me — and it’s one of the few early-era Castlevania titles that I’ve never, ever played before at all. So let’s take a first look!

Continue reading Delving Into Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest – #1

Delving Into Castlevania – #2

Last time around, we looked at how Castlevania’s overall mechanics and sense of game design can be traced forward to technical action games such as From Software’s popular titles.

Today, I wanted to focus on some other important and distinctive aspects of this original NES installment: specifically the platforming component, and the boss fights.

All of the elements we’ll have talked about by the end of today combine together to create the distinctive experience that is Castlevania — not just for this first game, but for much of the early series.

Continue reading Delving Into Castlevania – #2

Atari A to Z Flashback: Centipede

Not every retro game has stood the test of time quite as well as others. But one I think we can all agree remains just as fresh today as it was back in the day is Centipede.

Developed as a specific attempt to appeal to a broader audience than just the stereotype of young male gamers, Centipede’s bright colours, energetic gameplay, trackball controller and relatable concept made it a big hit with male and female players, both young and old.

This game was a favourite of my whole family growing up… and my mother was nigh-unbeatable at both this and its sequel Millipede!

Find a full archive of all the Atari A to Z videos on the official site.

428: Shibuya Scramble – The Mechanics of Storytelling

When we’re talking about conventional games — particularly today’s games — it’s important to consider them from a wide variety of perspectives.

Typically, we look at a game from several different angles: the way it’s presented through its sights and sounds; the way it plays through its mechanics; and, where applicable, how it handles its story.

When contemplating visual novels, the balance tends to be a little different. We tend to up the focus on narrative considerably, and in many cases mechanics don’t enter the picture at all — many visual novels simply don’t have any! That is, unless you’re 428: Shibuya Scramble, in which case your narrative and mechanics combine together to produce something exceedingly interesting…

Continue reading 428: Shibuya Scramble – The Mechanics of Storytelling

Shantae: You Stay

The Shantae series as a whole is a wonderful symbol of endurance, and of holding on to the things you believe in.

I’m not talking about the narratives of the games themselves — though for sure this theme certainly makes an appearance numerous times throughout Shantae’s career to date — but rather the fact that series creator Matt Bozon and the team at WayForward have always believed in the quality of these games, even during difficult times.

It’s gratifying to see that, at the time of writing, the Shantae series as a whole is finally coming to see some mainstream acceptance and appreciation with its latest installment 1/2 Genie Hero. But this doesn’t mean the earlier games aren’t worth checking out. Quite the opposite, in fact… so let’s go right back to the beginning.

Continue reading Shantae: You Stay