Tag Archives: mechanics

Tanglewood: Outfoxed at Every Turn

Following the initial batch of ten cartridges for the Evercade retro gaming platform, one of the releases that people were most excited for was cartridge number 11: a double pack featuring arena shooter Xeno Crisis and platformer Tanglewood.

We’ll get to Xeno Crisis in due course, but I wanted to make a point of looking at Tanglewood first. Because while Tanglewood was, like Xeno Crisis, a successful Kickstarter project that ended up being released on both Mega Drive and modern platforms, it’s Xeno Crisis that has had the lion’s share of attention to date. And you know how much I love an underdog. Or an underfox, in this case.

Fortunately, Tanglewood is a lovely game in its own right, so I’m glad I decided to give it a look first. Let’s explore together!

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Petal Crash: Like the Game Boy Colour Never Left

One of the things I miss the most about eras of gaming gone by is the way that different platforms had their own distinct capabilities — and, by extension, their own distinctive look and feel for their software.

On the flip side, one of the things I enjoy the most about gaming today is the fact that a lot of developers are very keen to pay tribute and homage to these platforms of the past while incorporating modern design philosophies. In many ways, this idea of “enhanced retro” gives us the best of both worlds — the comfort of a classic platform’s familiar aesthetic, coupled with all the things developers and players alike have learned over the course of gaming’s history.

A great example of this at work is Petal Crash, a new puzzle game from Friend & Fairy, published by Freedom Planet developer Galaxy Trail. Let’s take a closer look!

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Star Ixiom: Still Shining

Let’s take a moment to catch up. Star Luster is a space combat game by Namco, originally released for Famicom in 1985. Despite it being an obvious homage to an incredibly popular Western game — Atari’s Star Raiders — it never came West.

35 years later, Star Luster finally got a worldwide release as part of the Namco Museum Collection 1 cartridge for Blaze’s Evercade retro gaming system. This was my first contact with a game that I ended up absolutely loving — and after looking into it further, I was surprised to discover it got a sequel for PlayStation in 1999. A sequel which got a fairly middling reception because the press of the time compared it unfavourably to its rough contemporary Colony Wars — and, of course, because relatively few people in the West had any clue that Star Luster existed.

35 years after the release of Star Luster and 21 years after the release of its sequel, I find myself in possession of a copy of that sequel: Star Ixiom, a game I’ve been looking forward to playing since I was first blown away by Star Luster’s sheer playability. So let’s take a look at what this space-based blastathon has to offer — and how well it holds up today.

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Atari A to Z: Hollywood Medieval

Back in the early days of home computing, developers were experimenting not only with how different game genres worked, but also with using game-like mechanics in various contexts.

One pioneer of these experiments was Douglas Crockford, who we’ve seen a couple of times on this series previously. Today we look at his Hollywood Medieval project, which combines music effectively arranged by the “player” with the game-like mechanic of navigating a maze — with your location determined by the musical phrases you’re hearing.

A peculiar experience to be sure! Check it out in the video below, and don’t forget to subscribe on YouTube for more.

Atari A to Z

Atelier Totori: The Adventurer of Arland – Following the Footsteps

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So we’ve talked about one of the main reasons Atelier Totori: The Adventurer of Arland became somewhat notorious around the world — now it’s time to get down to the nitty-gritty of what the game itself is all about.

Mechanically and structurally, it’s a very interesting game to contemplate, because while it’s still recognisably an Atelier game — and recognisable as a follow-up to Atelier Rorona, even — it feels like it draws influences from a much broader field to create an experience that is noticeably different from its predecessor, while remaining comfortably familiar as part of the Arland subseries.

Pack a lunch and don’t forget to bring your Adventurer’s License, then; it’s time to take to the road with Totori.

Continue reading Atelier Totori: The Adventurer of Arland – Following the Footsteps

Exploding Fist: The Way Fightin’ Used To Be

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!

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Log Jammers: Less Wind, More Log

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 1a 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!

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Solaris: The 2600’s Finest Hour

The humble Atari 2600 had an astonishingly long lifespan, being officially produced between 1977 and 1992. As you might expect, this means there’s an equally astonishing difference between the very first games for it and those which came out later in its lifespan.

Solaris by Doug Neubauer came out in 1986, putting it towards the latter end of that lifespan. To date it remains one of the very finest games on the Atari 2600 from technological, gameplay and design standpoints — although not one that gets talked about all that much. And all this makes it a title well worth checking out even if you don’t normally “do” Atari games.

Thankfully, it’s now easier than ever to try it for yourself, since it appears on the Atari Collection 2 cartridge for the Evercade retro gaming system. So let’s take a closer look!

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Earthworm Jim: Shiny, Groovy People

Earthworm Jim is, for many people, a defining game of the 16-bit home console era. Perhaps not in quite the same way as titles like Super Mario World and Sonic the Hedgehog, but it’s definitely a title people look back on fondly.

Probably the main reason for its enduring appeal is its incredible animation, which combines traditional hand-drawn techniques with digital pixel art to create something with a very distinctive and memorable aesthetic.

To my shame, I never played it back in the day. Thankfully, I can now correct that gap in my knowledge and experience thanks to the Mega Drive version being included on the Interplay Collection 1 cartridge for the Evercade retro gaming system. So let’s dive in and see what I’ve been missing!

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Olympic Games Tokyo 2020: The Game of the Games That Never Were

With a few exceptions, officially licensed video game adaptations of the Olympics tend to be little more than footnotes in video gaming history.

Often regarded by critics as collections of minigames rather than anything of real substance, they tend to enjoy a brief period of popularity around the time of the real-life Games they find themselves based on, then afterwards fall into complete obscurity, never to be seen again. Which puts Sega’s Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 – The Official Video Game (Tokyo 2020 hereafter) in a rather interesting position.

First releasing in Japan in July of 2019, a full year before the actual Tokyo 2020 games were set to begin, it now finds itself in the peculiar position of being an official adaptation of an event that never happened — and that, at the time of writing, we’re not 100% sure will happen as the global COVID-19 pandemic continues. Which makes it an interesting historical curiosity at the very least — but thankfully it’s also an entertaining game, too. Let’s take a closer look.

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