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.
Xbox Live Arcade and its contemporaries are interesting places to look back over. Since XBLA and PSN were some of the first high-profile digital storefronts for console gaming, a lot of companies decided to get a bit experimental with their low-cost, download-only releases.
For some developers, this meant the opportunity to experiment with new and exciting styles of game that probably wouldn’t have gotten greenlit by retail publishers at the time. For others, it was a good excuse to return to some of their classic properties that had lain dormant for a while — and a chance to bring these beloved names kicking and screaming into the digital, high-definition age.
Konami’s Frogger: Hyper Arcade Edition from 2012 very much falls into the latter category, as you might expect. And while it’s a far from essential part of any digital console library, it does manage to keep the essence of Frogger intact while providing some intriguing new ways to play — particularly if you have friends over.
One cannot talk about the Atari 2600 — or the Atari Video Computer System, as it was originally known — without mentioning Combat.
The original deathmatch, one of the original competitive multiplayer titles and a game that is still an absolute ton of fun to play today — Combat really is an all-time classic, with the only sticking point for a lot of people being the fact that it’s a two-player only affair, so you need another person readily available to get the most out of it.
Fortunately, I have a very understanding, supportive and helpful wife, so let’s get right to the blasting!
Yes, yes, yes, I know the “A to Z” angle in this series is already questionable and this one following Tempest makes it even more so, but we only just managed to find time to have a two-player match!
Indeed, today’s game is Atari Soccer, an arcade title which can only be played with two or four people simultaneously, so bad luck if you have either no friends or two friends. As a follow-up to Atari Football, it again had a cocktail cabinet form factor and exhausting trackball controls to blister your palms with.
Thankfully, the port in Atari Flashback Classicscan be enjoyed with nothing more than a couple of analogue controllers, and even for those who aren’t big soccer fans, the game makes for an entertaining, competitive pastime for a few minutes every so often.
It’s Pong! The grandaddy of them all. Well, okay, not the absolute first ever computer game ever EVER, but it was certainly the first widely successful one.
If you have the slightest familiarity with gaming, surely Pong needs little to no introduction, but you might be surprised to know that it actually still holds up rather well today. It’s gaming stripped down to its bare essentials, both in terms of graphics and mechanics — and it still works wonderfully as a competitive game.
Fortunately, with how well-known it is and how easy it is to program a convincing clone (even I could probably do it if I tried hard enough!) there’s no shortage of ways to play it these days… but if you really want the true experience, you gotta go Atari.
Towards the end of our first cycle of Atari A to Z, we came across an interesting little first-person maze game called Way Out, developed by Paul Edelstein and published by Sirius Software.
That game got a sequel! And like all good sequels, it provides more of the same, but better. Specifically, it provides split-screen competitive two-player action (with an optional AI-controlled computer opponent) and an unconventional but nonetheless effective control scheme that provides us with one of the earliest ever examples of “strafing” in 3D.
It’s also a very early example of a game that George “The Fat Man” Sanger contributed to; his distinctive music was a mainstay of ’90s PC gaming and beyond, so it’s interesting to see where his “roots” lie!
The MoeGamer Awards are a series of “alternative” awards that I’ve devised in collaboration with the community as an excuse to celebrate the games, experiences and fanbases that have left a particular impression on me in 2018. Find out more and leave a suggestion here!
Retro gaming can be a bit of a minefield at times.
Sometimes you’ll return to a game you absolutely adored in your youth only to discover that it’s an unplayable garbage fire by modern standards, for all manner of reasons.
And sometimes you’ll pick up a game that you really enjoyed in years gone by, only to discover that age has been extremely kind to it — and it’s actually even better from a modern perspective than it was originally. I’ve come across a few games like that recently, but if I had to pick one, ooh, ooooooh….
One of the things I find kind of interesting about how gaming culture in general has developed over time is how people feel about “arcade games”.
Back in the 8- and 16-bit eras of computers and consoles that I grew up with, the seemingly unattainable dream was to have “the arcade experience at home” — or, well, more accurately, an authentic arcade experience at home. This was kind of strange when you think about it, because a lot of home computer and console games already offered experiences of greater complexity, depth and duration than your average quarter-muncher, but still the dream persisted.
Once we got to a stage where our home gaming hardware was more than up to the job of providing an “arcade-perfect” experience, however, many people had become so accustomed to those longer, deeper experiences that the dream of “arcade games” kind of fell by the wayside for a significant proportion of the gaming audience. And consequently, I suspect a fair few people missed out on highly enjoyable cheese like Sega’s Ghost Squad.
Yes, yes, yes, I know it’s also on Xbox and Gamecube, but I’ve always thought of TimeSplitters as a PlayStation thing, so that’s where it’s getting categorised today.
Ahem. Anyway. TimeSplitters 2 is, unsurprisingly, the follow-up to the excellent TimeSplitters, a game developed by ex-Rare folks who previously worked on GoldenEye 007 and Perfect Dark on the Nintendo 64.
The original TimeSplitters has aged very well. Its sequel is even better. Let’s take a closer look.
Dragalia Lost doesn’t have linear progression. Sure, you have a player level, but that’s more a measure of how long and how much you’ve played rather than anything else. And sure, you have character levels — but there are numerous ways to build these up, plus a strong emphasis on building a selection of teams and characters rather than just one “main” group.
The nice thing about the way Dragalia Lost does this — much like Granblue Fantasy also does — is that it provides the fun, mechanical, progression-based aspect of MMOs without one of their most irritating aspects. Let’s take a closer look at what I mean.