Video Game Review: Gauntlet (Arcade)

Few games made me go broke faster than the arcade version of Gauntlet. That being said, I still loved the absolute shit out of it at an age when losing a quarter felt like losing twenty bucks.

When I eventually got the version that was ported to the original Nintendo, I was ecstatic because I would no longer have to lose boatloads of quarters or tokens. Granted, that version of the game wasn’t as epic and grandiose as its arcade counterpart.

What’s great about the arcade version is it’s graphics and sounds. Also, it plays so fluidly where I always found the NES port to be buggy and laggy.

Sure, you get severely overwhelmed in all versions of this game but that’s sort of the appeal. There’s just something cool about being absolutely swarmed by a ghost army and then having to run for your f’n life every time the Grim Reaper or multiple Grim Reapers appear onscreen.

I guess I had always assumed that eventually you would reach the end of this game. However, I played this for two hours straight and after a while, the levels, despite their number, start to repeat.

This is an endless game. I’m sure it was designed that way to deliberately squeeze as much change out of ’80s kids as humanly possible but that doesn’t make me mad, it makes me kind of respect the game’s developers.

Because, really, this isn’t even a game you play to beat, it’s a game you play to see how long you can hang.

Rating: 7.75/10
Pairs well with: Gauntlet II

Video Game Review: Mercs (Arcade)

As I’m trying to get the most out of my RetroPie’s MAME section, I wanted to revisit another classic arcade game that I used to play the shit out of but haven’t touched in almost thirty years.

Mercs took a lot of my hard earned money when I was in sixth grade. They put one in at the arcade next to the chicken wing spot my family would go to. I’d always run next door and then baffle my mother when I’d come back ten minutes later, already depleted of the five bucks she gave me.

I actually liked this game so much that I ended up getting it a year or two later on the Sega Genesis. However, the arcade version is still the superior one.

This takes the side scrolling beat’em up gaming style and makes it a shooter that actually scrolls from bottom to top as you move up the level, blowing up everything from shacks, tanks, jeeps and human beings trying to shoot you first.

It’s highly energetic and just a badass experience.

For fans of the Ikari Warriors games or Commando, this is basically more of the same but for lack of a better term, this is like those games on steroids.

It’s also not too long where Ikari Warriors felt like it went for friggin’ weeks.

This has solid graphics, smooth gameplay and you can kick its ass in about a half hour. Granted, it’s good that I can play it without quarters now, as my playthrough probably would’ve cost me the same as a down payment on a Kia Sorento.

Rating: 7.5/10
Pairs well with: other button mashing arcade shooters of the late ’80s/early ’90s.

Video Game Review: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Arcade)

I fed this arcade game so many quarters in 1990 that I never had money to buy anything else. I usually had to persuade my mum into giving me more quarters, as well as giving me an extra allowance just for comics.

Anyway, I’m glad that I can play this whenever I want now and the quarters are free because with MAME, I only have to hit “select” to add credits.

This was and still is one of the all-time greatest side scrolling beat’em up arcade games in history. Sure, the genre was going strong by the time that this came out but it took things to a new level. Maybe that’s because the Ninja Turtles were the biggest thing in pop culture in 1990 but even then, this is such a perfectly polished and energetic game that it’s greatness can’t be brushed off simply because it’s associated with a massive franchise.

The controls are superb, the gameplay is fluid and this isn’t a beat’em up that gets dull or all that repetitive. Each level feels fresh and new, the levels aren’t too long and even if you are fighting a dozen enemies at once, you don’t get so overwhelmed that you have to blow through quarters just to get off of one screen.

What’s also great is that this was a four player game. So you and four of your friends could jump in together and kick Foot Clan ass. Even if you didn’t have friends with you at the arcade, there was never a shortage on kids ready to jump in and give you a hand. I actually met some friends this way.

This was an arcade game that I would often play to completion. It was perfectly balanced on its difficulty and every kid felt like they could beat it without completely going broke. There are days where I played through it twice in a row.

The Nintendo port that came out after this was never as good. It always felt like the cheap, incomplete and buggy version of its superior arcade father. Granted, the NES version did add some interesting new levels and characters.

Rating: 9.75/10
Pairs well with: other side scrolling beat’em up arcade games from the era, especially involving turtles.

 

Video Game Review: Pit Fighter (Arcade)

Pit Fighter was kind of the precursor to Mortal Kombat. It’s nowhere near as good or iconic but it gave us real people digitized to create the fighters in the game. To an eleven year-old in 1990, this game looked badass.

However, this is just a straight up button masher. There’s no real strategy, just don’t get hit and hit the baddie more than the baddie hits you. However, if you’ve got a pocket full of quarters or infinite quarters thanks to playing this on MAME, you can just buy your way to the finish.

The controls are fluid and work well. However, the game itself isn’t fluid and the action can be kind of wonky. While it’s a decent attempt at a next gen fighting game (for its time), it’s bogged down by its sloppy play and it’s pretty repetitive. Also, the three fighters you can choose from aren’t really to dissimilar because they don’t really have any sort of unique move sets. You can punch, kick and jump: not much else.

Still, revisiting this and beating it was fun for the half hour or so that it took.

Also, the arcade version is much better than any of the versions that were ported to consoles.

Rating: 5.75/10
Pairs well with: other arcade fighting games from the early ’90s.

Vids I Dig 071: Generation Gap Gaming: ‘Super Mario 64’ Secrets And History

From Generation Gap Gaming’s YouTube description: It’s a Me Mario – Were you obsessed with collecting all the power stars in Super Mario 64 back in the ’90s like me? Then you’re gonna love the secrets, Easter eggs, and history I’m gonna share in this video. Let’s get started.

Documentary Review: The Commodore Story: Changing the World 8-Bits at a Time (2018)

Release Date: February 23rd, 2018 (London and California premieres)
Directed by: Steven Fletcher
Written by: Steven Fletcher
Music by: Harry Filby, Matthew Fletcher, Tristan Kane

WavemStudios, 120 Minutes

Review:

I never owned a Commodore 64 but I had a cousin that owned one. Every time I went to his house, all we did was play games on it. To me, it was a really cool experience and very different than playing games on consoles. All I owned were a Nintendo and the Atari 5200, so using the Commodore was always a treat.

And while I don’t have a lot of experience with Commodore, I did have some experience with Amiga, as my mum had one for work. I got to play it whenever she wasn’t using it for graphic design and it always sort of brought up the same feelings I got with the Commodore 64.

The reason I bring up Amiga, is that this is just as much a documentary about that company, as it is Commodore. In fact, there’s even a lot of stuff in here about Atari too, as many of the people interviewed worked for two or all three of the companies in some capacity.

If you like the history and culture of the tech industry or video games, this is certainly a worthwhile documentary to check out. It’s certainly a must watch for retro gaming junkies like myself.

This was a crowdfunded documentary that really should have pleased its investors. It’s meticulously produced and presented with great interviews, stellar editing and a really good flow. Plus, it’s incredibly informative, as all the people in this give personal stories and their two cents on the business end of things regarding the evolution of all these companies discussed and ultimately, how Commodore ceased to exist.

I was entertained and engaged for the entire duration. And honestly, it made me want to fire up my Commodore emulator.

Rating: 8.5/10
Pairs well with: other tech industry documentaries.