Wednesday, February 18, 2009


My dive into the World of Friendly Computing is taking longer than I'd like! I've had a few set-backs: work being insanely busy, almost getting crushed to death on Sunday (DAMN YOU IKEA FURNITURE!) and while my Commodore 64 works like a dream- the Indus GT floppy drive is having issues (like they are prone to do.) Instead of throwing together a half-ass review- I'm going to wait a bit longer to gather a few more games and fiddle with the drive. Have no fear- there will be awesome C64 action soon!

In the meantime- my Mum has written an AWESOME piece on Lemmings for DOS. She was hardcore addicted to that game, as well as some other DOS titles, and wrote a hilarious bit all about it.

Lemmings (1991) Psygnosis

Lemmings. They’re short and cute-if you’re into sweaters, wacky hair, and big noses. They have an “all for one and one for all” kind of attitude. They are on a mission to get from Point A to Point B.

…and they are addictive.

Not in that crack-can-rot-out-your-teeth kind of way, but in the my-kids-haven’t-eaten-in-two-days-and-I-have-scotch-tape-holding-my-eyelids-open-but-I-know-I-can-finish-this-level kind of way. Which might be the same thing, come to think of it…

My name is Wendy and I am a Lemmings addict. I started playing Lemmings as a stay-at-home mom. At first it was just an occasional game: in the evening after dinner was done, dishes were washed, and children were read to and tucked in. As I progressed in the game, I started staying up later, achieving an almost euphoria as I finished each mission. It was exciting and fun. I knew I could stop any time I wanted to. I was in control.

But then the missions got harder. Many times I had to replay the missions several times in order to move on, suffering many Lemming casualties. Each mission took longer to complete. I started sneaking on the computer during the day, saying I would just play for a few minutes, just one mission. But as I progressed, the missions got harder and harder to complete, until I was at the computer for hours, not eating, not sleeping, (great diet plan, by the way) not cleaning, not cooking. My husband would come home after a hard day at work, and I would be at the computer, glassy-eyed, hitting the keys, celebrating when they made it through, cursing when they didn’t, still wearing pajamas and a sweater with my hair all wacky (my nose stayed the same size, however).

At the third level, Taxing, I knew I had a problem, but I just couldn’t give up. Those lemmings were counting on me to help them move across the tundra, crawl up the brick walls, build stairways to heaven, float back down with umbrellas and proudly march into the little pyramid at the end of their journey.

But everything had to be timed just right. They had to start building their stairways at just the right point, and a lemming would have to block the way so that the rest wouldn’t walk off the cliff. Is it too far down for them to jump and land safely? And the carnage! Oh those brave lemmings that gave their lives so that their fellow lemmings could make it to the end of the journey to move onward to a better place.

Finally, I couldn’t take it anymore. I knew I needed help. So I stood up from the computer, took a deep breath, and then went to another computer to get cheat codes from the Internet.

But that was short lived. Back then, the idea of a cheat consisted of “when a lemming is building a bridge, count how many tiles he has laid down, then when he looks both ways he will stop. Be sure to have him start building another bridge before he is through looking both ways or he will fall to his doom.” Well, duh, I figured that one out on my own, what else do you have? Frustration started building up, it took longer and longer to complete the missions, and I finally had to do some laundry. After that, it was dinner, bathing kids, brushing teeth, tucking in. I finally crawled into bed, exhausted and spent, falling asleep immediately.

I never made it past the first couple of missions in the last levels-Mayhem. Your timing had to be so exact and you had to be so fast with the keys that it was more frustrating than fun. At that point I put it away and started drinking again.

Just kidding.

This game really was a lot of fun to play. At the beginning of each mission you are given a certain number of lemmings to start with and you are told the minimum number that must make it all the way to the end. For each mission you are also given tasks that the lemmings can perform (digging, stair making, umbrella holders, etc.) but the number of times you can perform these tasks is limited. After awhile you get the hang of how far they can fall without dying (they “pop”!) and how to manipulate the tasks to get the most lemmings to the end of the mission. You can stop a lemming from moving, making him a “blocker”, so that the other lemmings will turn around when they get to him. This is handy at the edge of a cliff; however, he can never be changed back to a moving lemming and, in the end, you must blow him up.

If the whole mission is going sour, you know nobody’s going to make it, and you want to cut to the chase, you can blow everyone up and start again. Like I said, lots of lemming carnage.

Each mission gets a little more challenging, and sometimes you have to think outside the box to get your little guys to the end. The music is goofy; sometimes it’s happy, sometimes it’s gloomy, sometimes it’s eerie, depending on the background and the tasks you must complete to make it all the way through.

As the game progresses and gets more difficult, it also gets more frustrating. Timing is everything, and positioning the lemmings at the best point as they start their tasks and hitting the keys at the right time and at the right speed gets more and more important as you get further along. Of course, you want a game to get more challenging, but it cannot lose the element of why you started playing it in the first place (to have fun) or you will stop playing it.

Quite frankly, that is what happened in my case. With the limitations of using a computer keyboard to manipulate the lemmings, I got frustrated and stopped playing. Time marches on, old computers are replaced with new systems, and the disk gets put in a box in the closet.

I think that an updated version of Lemmings could be played quite well on a gaming system; this would certainly take care of the problems with using a keyboard. The only real problem that I could see is that you definitely need a full-size screen to play the game. You need to see the whole playing field in order to plan what you are going to do and where you will place your lemmings that must perform a task. By using the buttons on the controller, you would have much more control and your timing would be much improved over using a keyboard. Throw some goofy music in there and you’ve got yourself a new game for a whole new generation. I work full-time now, but my kids are grown, and I think I could just play a couple of missions in the evening…

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Clocktower (PS1)

Clocktower (Playstation) 1996 ASCII Entertainment

Clocktower was indeed ahead of its time. Unfortunatly, the innovative ideas the game pushed were held back by the lack of technology at the time. It's a point and click RPG taking place in a horror setting. The game centers around several characters, the main ones being Jennifer and her adopted mom Helen. Previously Jennifer had been living at the Granite Orphanage, when she was adopted by an eccentric old man named Mr. Barrows and taken to his castle with several of her friends. They were all then terrorized by a mad scissor weilding circus freak named Scissorman. Present day is one year after Jennifer escaped from the castle, and is now living with Helen, who is doing research on the Scissorman massacre. However, one night when Helen is working on her thesis, Scissorman reappears and begins his killing spree again. Players make their way through various stages and collect items and solve puzzles. The progression of the game is directly influenced by the choices made during gameplay. All the while, Scissorman is stalking you. Your defense? Hiding. There are no weapons in which to defend yourself- you simply must find a place to hide.

I played this title on PC back when it was released and was quite bothered by the apprehensive atmostphere the game creates. I hadn't touched it in years, and upon finding a copy for Playstation, I decided it needed another go. Anthony of Eat-Sleep-Game had never played the game, or even heard of it for that matter, and was willing to play it as well.

I must apologize for the screenshot quality. Sadly, the computer I use for screen capture is out of commission and requires some serious rebuilding. Instead of delaying this review further, or not including screens, I set my camera on a tripod and took pictures of the television screen. With the power of photoshop I have colour and contrast corrected the images, but they are still nothing great. I apologize! If anything, use it as fuel to try and play the game yourself so you can see the real graphics!

Jade: Okay. Gimme some of your initial thoughts upon playing. When you first put the game in what did you think?

Anthony: Clocktower doesn't feel like an "evergreen" game at first. What I mean is that within moments of first booting it up you have zero doubt as to how dated it is. The voice acting was probably on par for the time, but it's painful to hear now. The 3D character models look worse than I even remember PS1 games looking, and the general lack of music is, at first, bothersome.

But after doing some of the investigating and settling into the game, all of that really stopped bothering me. By the time the Scissorman first appeared, I realized that the general lack of music was a calculated decision, creating an atmosphere where you know something is wrong because music does appear, and helping to make the grating sound of his scissors more unsettling.

Jade: Yeah, the "cut scenes" of the character dialogue are pretty horrid, being that the characters are usually statues just standing there staring at each other with minimal movement. Also, the game has to load before everyone speaks, so there is a weird time delay before people reply to each other.

It makes the game seem cheap, and I felt that way when I first played it back when it was released. I do think that the environments, while they have not held up against time, are still really good for the time it was made. It reminds me of Tomb Raider, which blew me away with graphics at the time it was made.

For instance the church scene where the camera zooms in to the altar with the stained glass behind it -- even though the characters are polygon blobs -- the atmosphere and tone of the game made it a very shocking scene.

I also think the "panic music" is perfect. When the panic music passes and it just become silent, I feel that works well too. Instead of crazy panic music being replaced by something soothing like background noise, they give you nothing...which doesn’t provide calm but more a sense of apprehension over when Scissorman will appear next.

Anthony: We know that the music and sound work, even if they feel dated, but now that I think of it, the most obvious reason this feels so retro is the lack of a tutorial. From the moment you start it's up to you and the instruction booklet to learn to play the game. Forced tutorials are a pretty modern convention, but the blatant lack of one just shows me how used to the current gaming standard I've gotten.

In a lot of ways I guess it was good that you were there to help guide me along, as Clocktower is a pretty daunting game (how you played it as a kid blows my mind a little). You're thrown into a world and just implicitly told to explore it and learn more about a murder case, with twists happening that you only kind of understand if you haven't played the older game that bore the same name. Do you think it's important that people play the original one first if they want to better grasp what the hell the PS1 game is about?

Jade: The first game was actually for SNES -- and no, I don’t think it really matters if you have played it or not. I played the PS1/PC version before the SNES one when I was younger, and I didn’t even realize there was a game before it until much later. The storyline is so hard to really decipher as it is, I was just under the impression the game was a standalone. They make reference to things that happened before (Jennifer surviving the previous Scissorman attacks) but I thought it was just the storyline of the game; something you were just supposed to accept.

You said you thought of it as daunting, but I wouldn’t say that as much as you just don’t really know what's going on. Unless you have played through the game a million times, it’s very hard to find the storyline. Everything you do has an impact on when and how the game ends. Like when you played through it Anthony, you only got to play three stages and got a shit ending. There are about 20 other events that could have occurred in the game, but because of how you played you only got three stages. In fact, because when playing the very first stage (Helen at the research facility) you did not pick up the flashlight, you were screwed at the very last stage of the game. To beat the game, you needed the flashlight. You didn’t pick it up? Tough shit. You can’t go back – you’re screwed. How would you even know you needed to pick it up? How would you even know you needed to flash it in a random fireplace? You have no idea that is unless you had scoured through the game endlessly, or read a walkthrough.

If you are playing blind (without a guide), and are just going around the game clicking random things, it is next to impossible for you to get any story out of it. Not until you have played through multiple times taking notes as you go, can you really uncover the storyline. There are "HINTS" that you can uncover, but honestly they just don’t do much. As a young kid, I was used to playing those confusing point and click adventure games on PC, so I was prepared to go through Clocktower with a fine tooth comb like some kind of homework assignment. Nowadays that doesn’t fly; games guide you to what you have to do next.

Anthony: Yeah, I guess I was just rushing through because I felt like ultimately if I made progress I was making the "correct" choices. Knowing what I know now about the multiple endings, I would spend more time combing over the environments during a second play through (though I still feel like the team behind Clocktower did something truly unique by creating a game that really has multiple endings). A lot of games claim to have multiple endings, but this isn't just reaching the same point and then seeing a different cut-scene, it's a completely altered experience. It's easy to get angry at this, but, after the dust settles, I applaud them for making it so the actions you do in the game matter in ways that most games would never dare to try today.

Jade: Did you find this game suspenseful? It isn’t really right to use the word “scary" since it really isn’t scary at all. When I was younger, I found it very suspenseful and was always on edge about when Scissorman was gonna jump out. After multiple playthroughs though, I became more annoyed than scared. There are a multitude of places to hide, so once I found a good spot I would always just rush back to it. Scissorman himself is pretty slow, so it gives you time to get back, but it became more of an annoyance having to drop everything you are doing and backtrack when he appeared. Not all hiding places can be used multiple times though, which blew my mind as a kid. You can hide in the shower once, and when you rush back -- Scissorman will bust through the glass! This gives these moments a bit more suspense, but doesn’t make it actually scary.

Anthony: Perhaps as a kid you were more forgiving, so it stayed suspenseful for longer than it does now; for me it wore out its ability to really jar me after the first night (of playing the game.) It was still fun to play through, but you're right when you say it started to feel more annoying than scary. You talk about the inability to re-use certain hiding spots, but I unfortunately never ran into that. It was very common for me to just return to the same closet in order to once again trick the goldfish-like memory of Scissorman. Maybe a modern remake of this game could have a lot of potential, as better sound design and creepier looking environments could help maintain the suspense even when Scissorman isn't around. Also, a modern AI could help out, as Scissorman quickly goes from scary to almost pitiful when you realize how incredibly dense he is at figuring out obvious hiding spots.

Jade: Well there were sequels -- I gave Clockwork 3 a go and it was a terrible game, in my opinion. The suspense that was meant to be present in the Clocktower games was created well in other titles though. Games like Siren and Fatal Frame, where you have no weapon and must run and hide, were clearly influenced by Clocktower. However, there was more technology to work with in the PS2 days, so this is understandable. Another game that really reminded me of Clocktower was the beginning of the game Haunting Ground, where you are being chased and must run away in an unfamiliar area…which is the suspense that Clocktower was aiming for.

Silent Hill, anyone?

Clocktower itself might not have been what the developers were hoping for, but it really did pave the way for other horror games. Being the Silent Hill guru that I am, I could see direct cues from Clocktower. Almost every item you pick up in SH has one set purpose, and then it's never used again. And it usually is a really weird purpose -- like in SH2 where you use a can opener to open a can containing light bulbs, or use a 6 pack of juice to empty a garbage chute. Clocktower has the exact same random item feel -- you use lead balls to test the depth of wells and toss a box into fire to find a key. The biggest difference is that developers got better at guiding players in what they were supposed to do next. In Clocktower there is no indication of where or on what to use your items. Also if you miss steps in earlier stages of the game, items that you could use later (if you hadn’t missed other items) do not disappear, they still show up in the game- but you cannot manipulate them. This drove me crazy! I would see a tape recorder on the ground, but not be able to do anything with it. I would waste hours trying to figure out why I couldn’t do anything with this recorder -- since I knew it served a purpose -- but until a later play through, where I found the flashlight, I was just left tearing my hair out. In most current games, even if the puzzles are really tricky, they will give you some inkling that you are headed in the right direction. I stated before there are HINTS in the game, but they are HIDDEN, found only if you click on random shit! Who hides the ability to progress the storyline!??!  

Using the ASCII GripV

Jade: This ASCII GripV -- the one-handed controller that Clocktower brags about in the manual -- is actually pretty awesome considering when it was made. It fits in your hand nicely and also has a good rubber grip. Playing Clocktower with it really didn’t feel any different than using the actual controller. In fact, I kept bringing my other hand up to hold the controller with two hands -- out of some weird Pavlovian response. Clocktower really only uses one button and the D-pad, so the controls are simple enough to use on the one handed controller without too much trouble. And, just to try things out, I put in a different RPG. The controller was made specifically for point-and-click RPGs (according to the advertisement on the Clocktower manual anyway), but once you try to play a game that requires a lot of button pressing, you will feel clumsy and overworked. Also, two buttons are on the bottom of the controller, much like the Wii nunchuck, but because of the unfamiliar button layout I found myself turning the controller over to see which button it was, because it felt so alien in my hand.

Anthony: I agree, the GripV was ahead of its time. When tons of controllers were only just starting to consider ergonomic design, the GripV was putting comfort and ease above all else. Too bad it really only works for a slow paced game like Clocktower, as I could have easily seen myself using it to throw down some Resident Evil while I simultaneously sipped on a soda with my free hand.

Hopefully our revisit to the creepy Barrows Castle will inspire everyone to do the same. Despite its faults- Clocktower is a really good game. With the ease of using GameFaqs to guide you, players now can enjoy the game to the full extent without multiple play throughs.

Next I plan to do a rundown on some Commodore 64 titles, and the console itself!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Retro Game Get!

As promised, here is a helpful list of places and ways to bulk up your retro collection, or simply locate some of your favourite titles that may seem hard to find now. I am providing this list to help out- but in no way are any of these suggestions a concrete way to guarantee you will find something. Part of loving retro games, is not getting discouraged when wading through nasty swap-meet boxes of crap. You never know when you might find an Earthbound strategy guide amongst broken coffee cups (true story!)

1. Craigslist.

Craigslist is worldwide- and thus a great place to begin for everyone. It’s better to keep searches broad, like “Genesis games” than to narrow it down to actual titles. While you will find people who are hoping to get rich by trying to pass off games as rare- you will also get Mum’s just trying to clean out their kid’s crap. Kids go off to college and leave shit behind- take advantage of it! As always, make sure to check the condition of the games/systems before you buy!

2. Locale Swap Shops.

I’m unsure of what name to designate these stores with, but they should be crowned STORES OF AWESOME. There are still small, family-owned business, which carry older titles and consoles. I live in California, thus I am only able to recommend places in California-if you know of any other places PLEASE COMMENT!! I will be adding this FAQ as a page of reference so please- Help each other out!! The Alameda Game Exchange is a fan-fucking-tastic place. They get a lot of trash talk on yelp, but please do not let that discourage you. The owners are a husband, wife, and their young son- and they are doing a huge service to us retro gamers. They carry everything- and I mean EVERYTHING. They also FIX close to everything. In my spare time I take in broken SNES systems and fix them for people (no, I cannot fix your system…read: SPARE TIME) and finding parts is hard work! These awesome people will do it all for you! Also- they will help you find games. The owner has a few stores and controls the inventory for all, so if they don’t have something at one store, he will try and find it for you at another. They do have some high prices for rarer titles. They know what games are rare and what games are not. You can find almost everything with the manual and a box. You can haggle with them- but I wouldn’t recommend it. They know games, and cannot be fooled. Be respectful and it will be a godly place! You can also see me there almost twice a week…spending waaaaaay too much money…
Also there is Fair Game in Sacramento. They have 2 stores, and are along the same lines as Alameda Game Exchange. I should mention that both of these stores do take in games and systems for trade- which is how they get the majority of their stock. I have been going to Fair Game for years also, and the staff is wonderful. They have always been knowledgeable and friendly with me. Once again, these are my experiences and others might not have had such a rosy time. Still though, keep the golden rule in mind. These stores are getting harder and harder to find- so yeah, they will charge $50 for a copy of Secret of Mana in the box with a manual; and no, they will not budge on that. This is their livelihood, and you should respect it. Fair Game also provides hard to find items- like AC adaptors and such for older systems. Check them out! The links are under RETRO SUPPORT in the sidebar.

3. Auctions, Garage Sales, and Swap Meets

Alright- you are getting into some dangerous territory here. I think of these bad boys as Retro Gambling. You never quite know how the day will turn out, but if you go in open-minded it can be a really fun experience. It also requires a great deal of patience. As a child, I spend a great deal of time at Denio’s Farmers Market and Auction in Sacramento. This place is basically a huge garage sale and vendor spot for Northern California, as well as the birthplace of Jimboy’s Tacos! My sister and I would run around collecting bootleg Sailor Moon goods and video games. A story that I have told many a coworker, is when I first played Starfox on the SNES…and how angry and frustrated I became. In my rage, I destroyed one of the two snes controllers we had at the time. This was during the time period when it was IMPOSSIBLE to locate a controller on its own, without a system. With my cousin (it was his system) threatening to strangle me in my sleep, I frantically ran through Denio’s trying to find a new controller. Low and behold- there were tonnes of them! Story time aside- locale swap meets can be treasure troves. If really, really old systems are what you are looking for I highly recommend it. And older computer parts should come pretty cheap if you are trying to build a retro gaming rig. Also bring CASH- a lot of places will not take cards or cheques! The only major drawback is- does this shit work? You are usually buying blind and will have no idea how things work until you get it home. Sometimes you can get lucky and the seller will test things out (or shit will be so decrepit you KNOW it doesn’t work.) Mostly I recommend swap meets because they are fun- or at least, I think they are fun. You can go home with a box full of Colecovision games, an accordion, a blanket with the face of the Virgin Mary on it, and a bushel of delicious oranges. I call that a fucking fantastic day.

4. The Dreaded…eBay

I use eBay as a last, last, last resort to things. Ebay in my opinion, is more trouble than it’s worth. Sadly it is really the only place to find certain things. Not all sellers on eBay are horrid people. I have certainly gotten some killer deals and found awesome rare stuff for reasonable prices. This however, is usually not the case. People will try their damnest to rip you off. Beware of people who show a picture of a game with a box, but NOWHERE on the page will it mention a box. That game could look like anything. Be very, very selective. Ask for more pictures, pictures of the label, of the contacts (the metal part on the inside of cartridges) of the undersides of disks, etc. Be a picky buyer. Also- KNOW what you are looking for. Does a game or a system seemed priced kinda high? More than likely- it is being priced too high. Earthbound is a rare game- but you shouldn’t be paying $100 for it. Do some research beforehand and you will avoid being ripped off, and you will avoid fueling people who are trying to take advantage of others. This is in no way a jab at people who run legit business through eBay- in fact I encourage people to locate them and talk em’ up on here! I have had bad experiences through eBay and I want to make sure they are not repeated.

This is just the basics of obtaining games. A lot of times, you just have to be in the right place at the right time. I worked at GameStop for years, and would get lucky when people would bring in boxes of retro games and realize GameStop wasn’t buying them- and I would (we weren’t supposed to do that, but I did it all the time!) Another good thing to keep in mind is that when you do get your hands on games, is to take good fucking care of them. Even games that aren’t rare- they will be someday and it’s easier to take care of them now then to find them later. If I had known what a bitch it would be to find SNES games in boxes, I would have kept every box and not let my Gran write my initials on the cartridges! Keep your games and systems in good condition and who knows, years down the road you might make some kid who is collecting “retro Xbox 360 games” very very happy.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

You know a game is good when it has incredibly annoying parts that normally would cause you to pitch it out a window…and yet you look past them over and over. Bust a Move is such a game. The concept is simple- 2 dino buddies work together to pop balloons and clear the screen. It involves grouping 3 balloons of the same colour together and bustin’ em. Super simple idea; with a myriad of possibilities. The levels range from easy to are-you-fucking-serious. It also (like most retro puzzle games) relies a bit on luck. The bubbles you are given to shoot correspond to the colours that are already on the screen, but other then that- they are random. In a Dr.Mario-esque way you can have a good game or a disaster based on what bubbles the game gives you. Now, a seasoned BAM player can work around this difficulty most of the time, however at other times there is just nothing that can be done. There are power-ups and such too, like fire that will blow up the bubbles around it regardless of colour- but really the game is very simple and straight-forward. Ah, the makings of a great puzzle game! SIMPLICITY!

I am indeed a seasoned BAM player. I would even say I’m damn fucking good at this game. I have made my way through all the levels many, many a time. Each time I have done so, has been a journey through a range of emotions- everything from bored to sitting on the edge of my seat sweating. This is the kind of game you will pick up and put down (Hardly anyone sits down and says “Alright…gonna play through until level 65…” You may sit down and suddenly find yourself at level 65 with hours passed and your bladder full- but I think it’s safe to say it’s rare people sit down with that goal. Moreover, there is a handy password deal that allows you to pick up where you leave off if you die, or need to turn off the game. And let it be known, that it’s almost worth it to lose because Bub crying is pretty adorable. It really softens the blow

This game has one song. That’s right -- ONE. Every stage, (except the final one) exactly the same tune. It starts with the childlike shout of "READY? GO!" and then….the song starts. A game with this many stages and only one song would normally drive people to stabbing- but for some reason it works. I always sit down thinking, oh this time I’m going to put it on mute and rock to my own tunes. Maybe I will for awhile, but soon I find myself zoning out to the happy little ditty. The game is so involving that you sort of become accustomed to the music, and forget that you’ve heard the same 50 second loop for the past 50 levels (but trust me- your roommates will not be as forgiving.)

The backgrounds change, and in some stages they move, which REALLY adds a level of difficulty if you are easily distracted. And let’s be honest here: look at these little guys...

They are adorable! Bub a little more so than Bob…Bob looks a bit…

...touched… Bub and Bob (who have also been referred to as Dragons) are lil dino guys who operate your bubble machine. I remember when I first saw this game it was in the arcade. It had the happy music and the cute chubby dinodragons, and took up hours and hours of my time (and money) at the Jimboy’s tacos by my mom’s work. Eventually, when I learned of a Super Nintendo version, I was all over that shit. I could hang out with Bub, Bob, and the Belugas in the comfort of my own home! Since I already knew what the game was like, I was incredibly confused when I saw the actual cartridge. Look at this box:

What the hell is this?! That looks like the Millenium Falcon shooting a rocket at a hostile cloud of candy. And it appears to be happening in the vast emptiness of space. This box is incredibly misleading. Imagine for a moment that you have never seen the gameplay before and you pick up the box -- you would expect something drastically different when you got it home and started it up. I mean compare the two bubble launchers:

They are completely different. The title leads me to believe there is some form of dancing involved, the ship makes me think of 2001 A Space Odyssey, and the rainbow bubbles do not fit the equation in any way (I understand that the game was originally dubbed Puzzle Bobble and for some crazy reason they changed it stateside).

If you see the PAL version of the box, it’s much better. Cute, buckteeth dinos tossing bubbles around. It is beyond me why they included the Starship Enterprise rendition in the USA release. Either way -- I think it adds to the wacky charm of this game.

I have already stated that I kick major amounts of ass at the single player mode in this game, but let’s talk about the versus mode. When 2 people play against each other, the game changes slightly. You are still using dino-slave labor to pop bubbles, but when the bubbles are popped, you send them to clutter the other player’s screen (ala Super Puzzle Fighter.) The first one to fill up their screen loses. When I play against other people, like with all puzzle games, I feel sorry for them because of the assbeating I dish out. Anthony refuses to play against me anymore- and my roommate was smart and realized she shouldn’t even try. But enough of my shit talking -- let’s get one thing straight: playing against the AI is FUCKING INSANE. As I stated on Rebel FM- you get your ass beat. The cute little characters and bubbly music are a facade for a painful, merciless beating. I have never beaten versus mode against the AI. I know it’s possible, and tonnes of people are gonna comment saying, "WOW JADE U SUCK-IT’S SOOOO EASY".Well let me say to you: No, it isn’ isn’t easy AT ALL. If you can beat it, great job, you are a fucking machine -- because this game doesn’t fuck around.

Can I also say that the ghost guys are referred to as Stoners?

I suppose it’s fitting. I can recall struggling against this versus mode and CONSTANTLY getting my ass beat by the Belugas.

Screaming and swearing at those cute purple whales as they wiped me across the floor. Oh the memories!! The way I look at it is there are 100 stages in the single player mode- that was what I concerned myself with.

I know this game has been remade a bajillion times on every platform known to man. I for one, was really excited to hear about the DS version, since that meant I could take it with me everywhere and play against other people wirelessly. Sadly I was very disappointed with the dumb rubber band touch screen bullshit. You use the stylus to “fling” the bubbles with a slingshot sort of action. Also, having the aiming over 2 disjointed screens is awkward and aggravating. Why bother with that? Just use the d pad! I guess the controls put a spin on the game, but that’s not what I’m looking for in Bust a Move. I’m looking for the old school arcade action that I know and love. This game isn't hard to find, and you should not pay a lot for it. Don’t let anyone tell you it’s “rare” or anything like that -- because it isn’t. If someone is charging you over $30 for the cartridge without the box, they are ripping you off (the PAL version might be a bit more, but not by a lot). The Alameda Game Exchange in Alameda, CA and Fair Game in Sacramento, CA are good places to look besides the dreaded eBay. I will be including a FAQ in this blog/site/deal with how to go about obtaining these games I speak of. I know ROMs are available for almost all games now, but I want to help those who are interested in collecting the actual items.

This review was a bit of a test run, and hopefully wasn’t too painful to read! Next up is the awesome horror point-and-click adventure Clocktower.
So here is it. The first entry in what I’m hoping will be a fun stroll down memory lane for people. I won’t do too much introduction, since I’m including that in the sidebar and such. My name is Jade and I’ve been playing games as long as I can remember, and they have always been a huge part of my life. I have an immense amount of respect for older games because they made it possible to keep the industry moving forward to make more games. Just like music, new things are made by building on old things. Even if retro games aren’t your thing- at least have respect for where the new awesome games and concepts came from.

WHAT THIS BLOG IS: This blog (hopefully) is going to be an entertaining place to relive past memories, or learn about games you might not have known existed. I have a pretty vast collection of games on many different consoles, and will try my hardest to mix it up. I won’t lie though- the Super Nintendo is my favorite system, so expect to see a lot of SNES games. Originally I wanted to create a horror game blog, and honestly most of the games I’m going to post about are going to be horror related, or at least really weird and obscure. Yeah, there will be the occasional well-known retro game (like this test-run entry- which is Bust A Move,) but I didn’t want to lock myself into doing just one genre. However this blog just started, so it might move in any number of directions. I hope to keep it a positive direction no matter what though. I appreciate any constructive comments people have, and feel free to email them to thosedustypixels(at) or leave them on here in the comments section.

For now, I am the only one posting on here- but that is also going to change. The next review will be a dual discussion on a retro horror game that is to be announced later in this entry. As for how frequently this deal is updated- that is something I do not have nailed down yet. So I thank everyone for their patience ahead of time!

Also- a HUGE shout out to Attract Mode for suggesting the title Dusty Pixels. It beat out The Retro Orgasm...but just barely!

Enough with introductions! READY? GO!